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The big stage for former Broadway showman Joe McGrath has moved to a Mesa, Ariz., recreational vehicle resort, and he’s making it a showcase for name entertainers, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.
McGrath, entertainment director at ViewPoint RV & Golf Resort, is booking 2007 concerts by Pam Tillis, Gary Lewis & the Playboys and Beatlemania. All are acts you’d expect to see in clubs in Las Vegas, Branson, Mo., and Nashville.
McGrath is riding a new wave, bringing nationally recognized talent to RV park auditoriums that in the past have been associated with dinner dances and flea markets.
Minutes southeast of ViewPoint is the Monte Vista RV Resort where Frankie Avalon, John Davidson and the Gatlin Brothers will be among this year’s headliners. They’ll also appear at the Paradise RV Resort in Sun City.
Linda Profaizer, president of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), a Falls Church, Va.-based trade group, said the transition to name entertainment reflects an effort to meet consumer demand as Baby Boomers emerge in the RV market.
“They want to be entertained,” Profaizer said. “And there is a movement on the part of parks to upgrade themselves and provide what the customers want. The entertainment varies by location in the country, from country and western to the blues.”
ViewPoint, a gated complex in east Mesa, is situated around two golf courses, lighted tennis courts and other amenities that McGrath likens to a cruise ship in the desert.
It has a 12,000-square-foot ballroom and a seasonal population that swells to nearly 4,000, said Stacy Deprey-Purper, the resort’s general manager. Going celebrity started last year after a survey of ViewPoint residents to compile their wish list for resort services, she said.
McGrath said the performers coming to ViewPoint have the national recognition and big-time credentials to move the local RV resort stage into the spotlight with larger, better-known entertainment venues.
“It makes logical sense,” said Randy Vogel, the Mesa Arts Center’s assistant director of theaters and operations. “You have the RV resorts fighting and vying for all that business. They’re just trying to make their resorts a better place to stay. But we’ve found that it has negligible impact on us. They’re catering to their clientele and they’re bringing in some great artists.”
Rachel Parsons, spokeswoman for the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said booking big acts in the bigger and swanker retirement villages is happening nationwide.
“There is a trend of catering to folks who own RVs and want their vacations to be as luxurious as any five-star hotel,” Parsons said. “You can get that staying in any luxury RV park.”