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Phyllis Madonna’s final musical revue

Phyllis Madonna performs "Happy Talk" during Phyllis' Musical Review at the  Alex Madonna Expo Center. Photo by Joe Johnston 03-06-09
Phyllis Madonna performs "Happy Talk" during Phyllis' Musical Review at the Alex Madonna Expo Center. Photo by Joe Johnston 03-06-09 The Tribune

Phyllis Madonna will perform on stage for the last time this year at the 23rd annual fashion and variety show in her name to raise critical funds for the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo.

“My body is not young anymore, although my mind tells me I am awfully young,” said the 81-year-old Madonna, who will open the show and then join the audience during four raucous performances of “Lights, Camera, Action!”

Local notables including San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero, San Luis Obispo council members and county supervisors will model clothing or sing and dance in acts inspired by classic movies.

Madonna and her team of 200 volunteers and participants are hoping to raise $200,000 for the Women’s Shelter Program, whose funding was cut in July when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program from the state budget revision bill.

“More than $300,000 vanished from our state funding, and as far as we know it’s not coming back,” said Beth Raub, the program’s director of volunteer and outreach services.

Although the cuts forced the closure of transitional domestic abuse shelters in some counties, she said, the San Luis Obispo County shelter has been able to continue its service because of Madonna’s fundraiser.

Proceeds will keep open a confidential safe house where abused women and children can stay for up to 10 weeks. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2,807 bed-nights and 8,421 meals were provided at the safe house; 54 percent of its clientele were children.

Last year, the event raised $150,000 for the program. And despite the difficult economic times again this year, no one is giving up trying to meet the $200,000 goal — especially Madonna and her dedicated show organizer, Cheri Humphrey, retail manager for the Madonna Inn.

Local volunteer Tom Creel offered to rebuild the stage especially for this production, which Madonna believes will be the best yet.

Madonna first sang and played the accordion for an audience at age 6, and this show will mark her exit from a life on the stage. But she said she’ll do anything “in this whole world to help women,” who she describes as society’s “underdogs.”

If 500 seats are filled at each show, organizers will meet the $200,000 mark — but this won’t be the last of the fundraiser.

Madonna added with enthusiasm: “The show will go on far after I’m gone.”

If you go

Phyllis’ Musical Revue, 23rd annual show benefiting the Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo.

When: Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.

Lunch show: 11 a.m. $70 ramp, $60 general. Featuring a chicken spinach salad and dessert.

Dinner show: 5:30 p.m. $120 ramp, $110 general. Featuring pre-show wine tastings from eight local wineries and a filet dinner, followed at 10 p.m. by music and dancing.

Where: Alex Madonna Expo Center, San Luis Obispo.

Information: Tickets may be purchased by calling 784-2441.

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