By Samantha Joseph
STUART -- The last time he played there, Richard Marx saved a thrilling surprise until the end of his show at downtown's Lyric Theatre.
He invited friend and Grammy-winner Olivia Newton John -- who was in the audience -- onstage to perform with him during the encore.
Theater goers shouldn't expect a repeat of that impromptu performance, event organizers said, but they can expect to see a pop superstar at the height of his talents when he next takes the stage there Nov. 28-29.
His songs, such as "Right Here Waiting" and "Hold On to the Nights," have become international, platinum-selling hits. And soulful slow ballads became his signature.
"Richard Marx has probably written more songs than you'd think, because you've probably heard other top artists singing them," said Kia Fontaine Hamill, the Lyric's assistant executive director.
Among these songs is "Dance with My Father," made famous by Luther Vandross, who performed it at the 2004 Grammy Awards.
Born in Chicago, he was the son of a jingle writer, and was soon performing his father's work.
Show promoters say Mr. Marx has been singing, then, from around age 5.
He released his debut, self-titled album in 1987. It resonated with audiences. On it were four hit singles, and the album sold 4 million copies in the U.S. alone. Global fame followed, thanks to his earnest, heartfelt lyrics on hits, such as "Right Here Waiting" and "Now and Forever," which spent 13 weeks at No.1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart.
Barbra Streisand, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, Natalie Cole, Travis Tritt, Daughtry, Lifehouse and actor Hugh Jackman, are among the national and international performers to sing Mr. Marx's songs.
And the artist has collaborated in writing sessions with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and Sara Bareilles and Nickelback's Chad Kroeger, showing his stylistic range, according to information from the Lyric.
The Lyric Theatre is located at 59 S.W. Flagler Ave., Stuart. For more information, call (772) 286-7827.