Players Center plans small shows for new Sarasota Mall space

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As he prepares for his 15th season as Artistic Director of Production at The Players Center for Performing Arts, Jeffery Kin knows he has no time to stop.

Like most other arts organizations, The Players canceled the majority of their planned 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but managed to put on a few outdoor plays and musical revues at the Bazaar on Apricot and Lime. and Selby Botanical Gardens.

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With no performances to offer, he eventually left his longtime home on the North Tamiami Trail (which has since been demolished) and found a temporary location in a former Banana Republic store in the Crossings at Siesta Key Mall, while continuing to raise money for a new theater complex to be built in the Waterside community of Lakewood Ranch.

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After 18 tumultuous months, it’s “back to the real world,” Kin, the art director, said in an interview. “We feel a little rejuvenated and look at the theater from a new perspective. “

At special events for sponsors and donors on Monday and Tuesday, Kin, CEO William Skaggs and some performers announced the company’s 92nd season of six shows and showcased his temporary space in the mall that was once known as the name of Southgate Plaza.

A display window at the new temporary home for the Players Center for Performing Arts in a former retail store at the crossroads of Siesta Key.

Clothing racks and shelves will be replaced as staff transform the 5,400 square foot store into a theater with a stage, backstage and changing rooms and room for approximately 140 spectators.

There won’t be room for the kind of big, booming musicals audiences are used to, but Kin said he didn’t dwell on the limitations.

“I tried not to look at what we cannot do, but rather what we can do,” he said. “Our scene before was so big that it was often a challenge to do some of the smaller pieces we wanted to do. This is an opportunity to draw attention to shows that we have thought of and which we believe could get lost on the big stage.

The new season will begin October 5-17 with “[title of show]”- a musical by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell about a couple of writers creating a new musical for a festival on their efforts to create the show. The unusually represented title is a reference to a submission form where they must insert the name of their show.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it’s an inspiration and a look at why we do the work we do. ‘[title of show]’does it with a lot of heart and good music,’ Kin said. “It’s a great way to open up space. It’s about creating, creating a new space, creating a new season.

It will be followed by William Finn’s “Falsettos”, Tony winner in 1992, about a married man who realizes he is gay and moves in with his lover while trying to maintain a semblance of more traditional family life with his. ex-wife and her son. . It takes place from November 2 to 14. The show, which debuted in 1992, is the combination of two earlier one-act shows, “March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland”.

Times have changed in the way people think about same-sex relationships and what makes a family since the show opened, which Kin said could “add some relevance that may not have been apparent when it first appeared. openness. I love shows that are a little bit old and how an audience will watch them now. “

Zoe Smith and Lacey Knispel perform a song from the upcoming 92nd season during a premiere program for the Players Center for Performing Arts.

“The Marvelous Wonderettes,” December 7-19, is a Roger Bean revue featuring pop songs from the 1950s and 1960s performed by four friends at their high school prom. The theater had a production several summers ago “and everyone said,” Why are you doing this in the summer? So many people are not here to see it.

It will be followed Jan. 18-30 by “Forbidden Broadway,” Gerard Alessandrini’s long-running parody of Broadway shows, stars and gadgets, from his early hits to modern favorites like “Wicked”. “It’s a real celebration of live theater,” Kin said.

“Beehive”, which traces the successes of singers of the 1960s, as well as cultural changes, will take place February 15-27. This is new for the Players’ Center.

“I like to give our ladies the means to go further. These are not the ‘Wonderettes’. It’s more rock ‘n’ roll, a little more daring and it’s going to be a big challenge for some of our singers.

The final production will be “Some Enchanted Evening”, a review of songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, covering all of their shows from “Oklahoma” to “The Sound of Music”. Kin said the theater last presented it in 2009. “I wanted us to think about these amazing shows and these amazing songs,” especially at a time when the theater can’t produce the great musicals. by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

The new space will feature scaled-down productions – there is no flight space and the wings will have limited space – to fit on a stage 18 feet wide and about 20 feet deep.

Shelves and racks once used for clothing displays line the walls of the Players Center for Performing Arts temporary home in a former Banana Republic store.

“It’s going to give us a lot of opportunities to invest in smaller shows that we couldn’t do behind the scenes. It gives us a chance to be more creative in the way we make them work, ”he said.

The theater also hopes, over the course of the season, to be able to do additional outdoor productions in different locations.

While the performances are on the move, the theater company continues to operate its studio and classes on Boulevard des Arts and Avenue Centrale, where rehearsals will take place until the shows are ready to move into the new space. It also has a stage store a short distance away where it can build sets, store props and costumes, and house its technical operations.

Players’ Center for the Performing Arts

Siesta Key Sailing

3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 1130

941-365-2494; theplayers.org

season 2021-22

“[title of show]” – October 5-17

“Falsettos” – November 2-14

“Les Merveilleuses Wonderettes” – December 7-19

“Broadway forbidden” January 18-30

“Hive” – February 15-27

“An enchanted evening” March 15-27

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