Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines “life’ as “a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings” and ‘amplify,’ “to make larger or greater (as in amount, importance, or intensity).” Separately, they are two innocuous terms, but united on a theatrical stage with a local charity as the recipient of all proceeds earned, they are an unforgettable, delightfully entertaining experience.
Picture this scene. You are sitting in raised seating in a community theater as the house lights dim and a spotlight focusses center stage. A local radio, television or community celebrity reads individually prepared biographies as you are treated to a variety show by some of the most talented performers in the Tampa Bay area.
No sooner have the lilting strains of one professionally-sounding, mellow-toned singer’s voice faded on the stage, then the next act, a young comedian, pokes fun at every day life and the foibles of being human; you laugh so hard that tears are running down your cheeks and your side hurts. A poet is next, who reflects on life and challenge.
This is followed, in close succession, by a mind reader who astounds you and an equally baffling magician; the talent just keeps coming. Up to two entertaining hours pass in what feels like an instant. After the final act and the standing ovation, you join your fellow theatergoers and mingle with the performers in an intimate setting outside of the main theater. You have just enjoyed the Life Amplified experience!
Life Amplified is a spoken word and variety showcase, one women’s answer to helping local, “Mom and Pop” charities, the grassroots ones that don’t receive the attention or have the resources of the other large national ones that are competing for your charity dollars. It is a wonderful way to spend a portion of your entertainment budget while helping others in need.
Entrepreneur and founder, Deb Kelley, the architect of Life Amplified, a writer, reporter, playwright, theater critic, graphic and web designer, explains the reason why she started Life Amplified, more than five years ago, on her website (lifeamplifiedshocase.com).
“Life Amplified is a talent showcase with a timely platform/message benefiting a selected local organization and is the philanthropic side of The WriteOne Creative Services.” Deb stresses that Life Amplified is not a charity, just one determined women’s attempt to help her community.
“Life Amplified is a 100% volunteer spoken word and talent variety showcase began in January 2013 to benefit worthy local organizations helping our community. With shows bi or tri-annually each year, all proceeds raised go to the selected organization. Until there aren’t charities in need, Life Amplified will be there to help.”
Deb had been a freelance writer for AOL Patch for years. After three years of interviewing founders of charities and “listening to their incredible stories,” she decided to do something about it. An interview with now defunct Tampa Pitcher Show secured her first venue; Life Amplified was born as a spoken-word-showcase. Originally, a one-time event, its successful debut in 2013 made it an annual event. Offers from local performers transformed it into the variety showcase that graces the stage today. Prior to Tampa Pitcher Show’s closing, Carrollwood Players, a local community theater that Deb sat on the board of, offered their theater for Deb’s shows.
Many local charities have been the recipient of Life Amplified dollars. The first show, featuring two singers, nine poets, a comedian/impressionist and a mind reader was a huge success despite Deb’s lack of production experience.
The proceeds have benefited K-9’s for Veterans, human trafficking awareness, bully prevention, the Crisis Center of Tampa, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as well as EQUUSOLUTIONS who use equine therapy for survivors of PTSD and MST. When Animal’s Coalition of Tampa’s building was severely damaged by arson, it was Life Amplified’ s, Paws Up show that made them the recipient of the shows funds.
The community has recognized Deb’s tireless efforts with many awards and accolades over the years. Deb Kelley, through her Life Amplified “KIDZ HELPING KIDZ” show, emceed and performed entirely by children, was recognized by Fox TV as their ‘Hometown Hero.’ The ‘sold out’ event was performed to a standing-room-only crowd. Bay News 9 also recognized Deb as Bay News 9 Every Day Hero in 2016.
Life Amplified is one woman’s answer to not standing on the sidelines. How much can one person do? You’ll never know until you try. I’ve always heard that if you want something done, ask a busy person. Somehow, they find the time to get it done.
I think Deb summed it up best when she said, “in the time it takes to make an excuse, you can make a difference!” Visit her website (lifemaplifiedshowcase.com) or Facebook page (facebook.com/lifeamplifiedvarietyshowcase) for more information.