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Woman's Club hosts opening weekend of Yesteryear Theater

January 24, 2018
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Correction: In the print version of this story, it was misstated that Sal Perrotto asked to sing a solo during the performance. Perrotto sung on stage at the request of one of the performance organizers.

For a few hours Friday and Saturday night, the Woman's Club was filled with sights and sounds of the mid-century.

Dean Martin, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and James Bond - or, at least, their impersonators - charmed their audience during the opening weekend of Yesteryear Theater.

Article Photos

Holly Faris was dazzling in pink while playing Bette Midler.

James "Jerry" Nolan, his partner Bill Peters, and musical director Bob Burgess worked together with the Woman's Club to bring this concept of golden-era entertainment to Fort Myers Beach for months.

Nolan has been organizing similar shows at Junkanoo's on the Beach for the past several years. But with the coming construction, it was time to find a new venue. He hoped at the same time to create an entertainment venue unique to the area, something new for the beach to enjoy.

Nolan connected with Bev Milligan, a member of the Woman's Club, and the project blossomed.

"This project through the Woman's Club is very promising," Nolan said. "For the weeks to come, I hope it will grow and benefit all parties."

The Woman's Club was the island's first school house, a teenager's dance hall and a community meeting place. With help from decorators Sue Madden and Kay Cummings, the historic building has been transformed inside with photos and memorabilia fitting the era of the performances.

The Yesteryear Theater brings in professional-grade impersonators to perform as well as some up and coming artists to be recognized - part of Friday night's show included a performance from Jimmie Bush, Jr. Robert Cabella, who plays Dean Martin, is one of the top Martin impersonators in the county. He even won a contest in Martin's hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.

Cabella as Martin sang crowd favorites and engaged the audience during his performance.

He was audience member Mary Ellen Borman's favorite - and he serenaded her during one of the songs. Borman said she enjoyed the evening at the Woman's Club.

"It was very fun," she said. "The setting was so relaxed."

Borman wasn't the only one to be singled out. Holly Faris, who played Bette Midler and Liza Minnelli, picked out beach resident Scott Safford to assist her throughout the evening - also earning him a spot as the butt of some of her jokes, too.

"It was great," Safford said. "It's something everyone should go to."

Safford and his wife, Jacki Liszak, brought their employees at the Sea Gypsy Inn to the performance as a team-building night out. Liszak and Safford both grew up listening to that era of music because their parents did, Liszak said, and she wants to help younger generations enjoy it too.

"They're legends," she said. "You have to tell younger people about those legends, and the best thing to do is to show them."

The theater concept also brought something new for the islanders to do, she said.

"It was a super fun night supporting the Woman's Club and community," she said. "We don't have a theater community on Fort Myers Beach."

The show will go on, with several more performances scheduled over the next few months. The next shows are: Friday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 3 at 6 and 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. This performance will feature Bobby Valli singing Jersey Legends, Robert Cabella as Elvis Presley and Tom Pizzi.

For information and to purchase tickets, call Nolan at 810-4587 or email at



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