BRADENTON -- Over the past five months, the Manatee Performing Arts Center has hosted a couple of musicals, a movie, a camp that taught aerial dance to youngsters and a few private events.
Now it's getting ready for its official opening.
The Manatee Players will host its Crystal Gala on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the center at 502 Third Ave. W. in downtown Bradenton. The gala starts at 5:30 p.m. and will include a reception with hors d'oeuvres and an open bar, followed by entertainment from Sarasota's John and Alexandra Nock, who are contestants in "America's Got Talent" this season.
"They're flying back from New York just to be here," said Denny Miller, the marketing manager for the Manatee Players.
After the performance, there will be dinner prepared by Pier 22, followed by music and dancing.
At this point, you probably can't go unless you know someone with a spare ticket. All 300 tickets to the event sold quickly at $175 apiece.
The original plans called for the Nocks to perform with their "AeroSphere," a huge helium balloon. As part of their act, they suspend themselves from the balloon and perform circus acts.
That was supposed to happen outside the center, so even people who couldn't get tickets would be able to watch, but the stormy weather in recent days caused the Nocks to change their plans, Miller said. Now all the entertainment will be inside the theater. (And since the AeroSphere won't fit, the Nocks are doing something else.)
The Manatee Performing Arts Center opened in March with a production of "Miss Saigon." The Manatee Players' first full season in the center begins Aug. 8 with "Les Miserables."
You can get more information about the gala, or find out about tickets to "Les Mis" or the upcoming shows, by visiting www.manateeplayers.com or calling 941-748-5875.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.