IT WILL be wall-to-wall leopard print at Maria Venuti's 80th birthday bash, when the much-loved entertainer will be taking to the stage to see in her ninth decade in style.
Maria, who suffered a devastating stroke in 2016, will be joined at The Star Event Centre in Sydney on March 7 by a cast of celebrity friends, including 'Queen of the Cross' cabaret performer Carlotta, musical theatre star Trevor Ashley and jazz vocalist Emma Pask.
The fundraising event will be the first time Maria will sing publicly since her stroke five years ago.
Maria's daughter Bianca Venuti said her mother's stroke has had a big impact on her life, but singing is a driving force in her recovery journey.
Also read: Bianca Venuti: Mum's stroke one year on
Turning 80 is a big milestone, and Mum has had her eyes on this day for a number of years to do something really special," said Bianca.
"Mum has been working really hard with a music therapist to be ready for the show. While she struggles with speech since her stroke, singing is controlled by a different part of the brain, which is quite amazing.
"Mum is a born performer and it is wonderful to see her face light up when she belts out a tune."
Other singers joining Maria on the day will be former Hi-5 star Nathan Foley, opera soprano Amelia Farrugia and musical theatre star Marney McQueen.
"We are so grateful many of her talented and loyal friends will be joining Mum on stage or supporting her from the audience," said Bianca.
"It would mean so much to us to have a vibrant crowd on the day, ready for fun."
All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Stroke Foundation to support programs which help survivors and their families after stroke.
Stroke Foundation NSW State Manager, Rhian Paton-Kelly, said Maria and Bianca were "wonderful ambassadors" for the foundation, helping raise awareness of the disease and as faces of the campaign Australia's Biggest Blood Pressure Check in 2017.
I would like to wish Maria Venuti a very happy 80th birthday on behalf of the Stroke Foundation," she said.
"Maria is a true entertainer who continues to make people smile. I am so impressed with her determination to keep reaching her goals in her recovery and look forward to seeing her sing on her birthday."
- Maria Venuti's LXXX 80th Birthday at The Star Event Centre, Pyrmont, March 7, 1.30-5.30pm. Dress code: leopard print.
- Tickets $85 to $190 (plus booking fee). Click HERE to book.