Previews: DR DAVID AND FRIENDS perform benefit concert for the New Tampa Players' Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre

Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre will perform in the benefit concert

By: Dec. 01, 2023

In the heart of Land O' Lakes, the stage is set for a remarkable musical extravaganza featuring Dr. David Berger, MD, affectionately known as "Dr. David" of Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care, Wholistic ReLeaf, and a health education company. Dr. David is a dedicated pediatrician and a man of many musical talents.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, at Tiki Cove, guests will be treated to an afternoon of joy and musical celebration, all supporting children and adults with special needs.

The event starts at 2 p.m., and Dr. David and friends will take center stage at 2:30 p.m., enchanting the audience with renditions of beloved musical favorites and sharing his passion for music.

Adding an extra layer of enchantment to the event, young actors from New Tampa Players' Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre will grace the stage, bringing the magic of theater to life.

Nora Paine, the Producing Artistic Director of the Penguin Project, says, "All Penguin Project chapters have a dance that is done at the end of every Penguin Project production all across the United States. It is Glee's version of Journey's Don't Stop Believing. It is a Penguin Project tradition."

The collaboration between Dr. David and the Penguin Project/Ampersand Theatre for this benefit concert has a heartfelt origin. The doctor's daughter, Naomi, has been a peer mentor for the Penguin Project since its inception in 2018.

Paine shares, "Their whole family has been super supportive of the Penguin Project and helped us reach out in their circles. Dr. Berger is a Penguin Project cheerleader!"

Reflecting on the transformative power of the Penguin Project, Dr. David says, "To see children with special needs, some who have never acted or even spoken in public, act out a full musical will warm anyone's heart."

Paine echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the positive influence and transformative power of the Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre.

Paine elaborates, "Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre are the power of having a community who is behind and cheering you on, even while you do difficult things. With Penguin Project and Ampersand Theater, our artists do difficult things that many of us could not do-- dance in public, speak in public, and sing in public. They push past the anxiety and the fear, and they do it. And on the other side of that experience is a crowd of people who are cheering and clapping for them.

This has a profound impact on our artists and our peer mentors. We have artists and peer mentors who have never spoken in public who are now singing karaoke, doing television interviews, and speaking in front of crowds. Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre help our artists and peer mentors find their tribe of people. Playdates, birthday parties, and many other social occasions have found their beginnings in Penguin Project."

Following Dr. David and Friends, the Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre will take to the stage at 3:30 p.m. The musical magic continues with the second set by Dr. David at 4 p.m., leading into a family-friendly DJ Dance Party at 4:45 p.m.

Tiki Cove provides a picturesque backdrop with an all-sand beach by a lake. A barrier will be set up between the water and the beach for safety. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase, and attendees with special dietary needs are welcome to bring their own.

The impact of support on these programs and the individuals they serve is significant. At New Tampa Players, Penguin Project productions receive the same professionalism and attention to detail as mainstage productions. Technical elements are supervised by local designers and artists, with Ampersand Theatre contributing to these aspects. Costumes are meticulously tailored to each artist's measurements and sensory needs.

Paine emphasizes, "Penguin Project and Ampersand Theatre help our artists and peer mentors find their tribe of people. The organizations serve over 60 artists and their families, creating a supportive community that extends beyond the stage."

Ampersand Theatre, an extension of the Penguin Project, focuses on empowering adult artists in all aspects of production. Paine shares, "The goal of Ampersand Theatre is to help our artists learn all that they need to know to make their own decisions about what productions to do and produce them themselves in the years to come."

Paine invites volunteers to contribute their time and skills to support these organizations.

"We need volunteers to help with sets, costuming, props, rehearsal assistants, snacks, box office and concessions, and everything in between. Please email me at"

Join Dr. David and Friends at Tiki Cove, located at 2700 Land O'Lakes Blvd., on Dec. 3 for a magical music, theater, and community support journey. Let the rhythm of compassion and the melody of inclusivity resonate in this joyous celebration for a cause that makes a difference. Tickets are limited, and guests can secure their spots by visiting With suggested donation prices set at $10 for children and $15 for adults, ticket purchases and donations are considered charitable contributions for tax purposes, allowing attendees to contribute to a worthy cause while enjoying an afternoon of entertainment.