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The Players Centre for Performing Arts is Coming to Lakewood Ranch

The Players Centre for Performing Arts is Coming to Lakewood Ranch

The Waterside Place Development in Lakewood Ranch is proud to be the future home for The Players Centre for Performing Arts. April 9, the organization unveiled their plan for its new campus and plans to break ground by the end of the year. 
The campus itself will reside on 4.5 acres, include three buildings, and span a total of 70,000 square feet. According to The Observer, “These include a 480-seat main stage auditorium with balcony seating, a 125-seat black box theatre, a 100-seat cabaret theatre with dining and The Arnold Simonsen Players Studio where education takes place.”
Initially started in 1936, The Player’s Centre began when there were only 8,000 residents of Sarasota and 5,000 annual visitors. The Players Centre became a reality when it moved into a real theatre at the corner of north Tamiami Trail and 9th Street. It was built of pecky cypress, had 246 seats, a lobby with a welcoming fireplace, a large, deep stage and full-capacity lighting system. If you can imagine, they began with only 256 members who contributed just $2 each for subscriptions.
A few fun facts of The Players Centre:
  • Montgomery Clift made his acting debut on The Players stage during the 1932-1933 season.
  • Teenager Jayne Meadows performed on The Players stage and went on to stardom.
  • In the 1935-1936 season, The Players Theatre presented an operetta written expressly for The Players by Arthur Davison Ficke, one of America’s foremost modern poets.
  • Verman Kimbrough, cast as the lead in “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” had a distinguished international operatic career. He became president of the Ringling School in 1933 and Mayor of Sarasota in 1938-1939.
  • Excitement reigned when Bette Davis attended the opening night performance of “Grand Hotel.”  
  • Peter Strader, a native Sarasotan, was named Producing Director in 1955.
  • Charlton Heston, in town for the filming of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” participated in a play reading of “Candida,” taking the place of an ill actor.
  • Tony Award Nominee, Polly Holliday performed in two shows at The Players Theatre before moving on to be a television star playing Flo in the sitcom “Alice.”  
  • Sara Inbar, who performed at The Players, earned a part in “Mama Mia” on Broadway.
  • Sasha Hanna, a talented dancer who appeared in many of The Players musicals, joined the cast of “Cats” on Broadway.
  • Ashley Rose Orr attended The Players Performing  Arts School and went on to Broadway as Gretl in “The Sound of Music.”
In celebration of the new Center Stage Capital Campaign, The Players Centre gathered its closest supporters at a London Bay Homes model in The Founders Club. Guests and friends of The Players Centre enjoyed appetizers, drinks and a performance by Kathryn Parks.
The Players Centre will also be keeping a studio in Rosemary Square to maintain their presence in downtown Sarasota.
For additional information on how you can help, or donate, contact Tippy and John Holz, the co-chairs of the $30 million campaign. 

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