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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

Legendary stand-up comedians come alive for Hernando show

Tribune correspondent


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Who would miss a chance to see George Burns, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and Jimmy Durante on stage one more time?

Though the stand-up comedians have all died, their fans will get a chance to watch their memories live on when impersonators Peter Salzer and Lynn Roberts perform at the Hernando Performing Arts Center on Nov. 16.

Salzer has been performing as a George Burns tribute artist for the past 15 years.

"His humor was always topical and clean and appealed to a broad age range," said Salzer said.

Roberts, who started performing when he was 14 has spent 50 years in entertainment. Early in his career, Roberts developed a musical variety act, singing and playing more than a dozen instruments. People would tell him that he sounded or looked like certain music stars, so he started to impersonate them. Roberts will perform as Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope.

"I grew up watching those guys. I play violin as Jack Benny and piano as Jimmy Durante," Roberts said. "Often times after the show when I go out into the lobby, someone will ask me if the other guys are going to come out to talk with them too. They think it was four different actors."

George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen, were a successful comedy, song and dance team in vaudeville and in movies in the 1920s and 1930s. From there, they went on to host their own popular radio show. By 1950, they both had moved to television in "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." After Allen passed away in 1964, Burns continued in show business until his death at age 100 in 1996.

The "George Burns & Friends" show starts Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Hernando Performing Arts Center, located at Hernando High School, 700 Bell Ave., in Brooksville. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Reserved seating is available. Tickets can also be purchased at the door, cash or check only.

Season tickets for 2013-2014 are also available from the Hernando Performing Arts Guild for $80. Five shows are included in the season tickets: "George Burns and Friends;" "Christmas with the Marlins" on Dec. 7; a tribute to Johnny Cash by Bill Forness and One More Round on Jan. 18; comedian Ted Holum followed by musician Brian Roman playing the hits of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett and Tom Jones on Feb. 22; and the Central Florida Rat Pack performing a tribute to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, and Dean Martin on March 22. All shows start at 7 p.m.

Tickets for any individual show are $25. Group discounts are also available for each individual show. For groups of 6 -10 people, ticket pricing is discounted to $20.

A special discount ticket price of $20 is available for all active and retired military in November, first responders (firemen, police, EMTs) in December, all medical field professionals in January, educators in February, and for the March show, wear green in honor of St. Patrick's Day to receive a discount.

The Hernando Performing Arts Guild will use the proceeds from the shows to provide scholarships to Hernando County high school seniors who wish to pursue their education in the performing arts.

For ticket reservations, call (352) 799-5577 or for more info visit

Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at

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