On May 2, The Players Theatre, the oldest community theatre in Sarasota and second oldest in Florida, announced plans to sell their existing building and property and move east of I-75 in Sarasota County to be the arts and entertainment piece in the new Lakewood Ranch Waterside, Schroeder-Manatee Ranch’s (SMR) newest village in Lakewood Ranch. In an exclusive, invitation-only event held at Michael’s Wine Cellar on May 2, The Players Managing Director Michelle Bianchi Pingel and Artistic Director Jeffery Kin unveiled a complete rebrand for the theatre, the future move and the launch of a major $25 million capital campaign.
“We are very excited about the opportunity Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is providing to us,” said Bianchi Pingel. “This project has been in the works for over a year and will position the theatre for continued growth and sustainability for the next 100 years. We have outgrown our existing facility in regards to both audience capacity and in our aspirations to provide a wealth of beneficial programs. This opportunity is directly aligned with our mission to continue growing – and it makes sense.”
The new Players Centre for Performing Arts will be constructed on 4.5 acres in the center of the development and is slated to include a 480-seat main stage auditorium with balcony seating, a 125-seat black box theatre, and a 100-seat cabaret stage with food service. All stages will be equipped with state-of-the-art theatrical equipment; lighting and sound will be handled by professionals with quality theatrical LED lighting and professional sound systems to support amplified productions, sound effects and acoustic musical performances.
Several lobby spaces will accommodate receptions and events as well as serve as galleries for local visual artists. It will also serve as the main campus for the Arnold Simonsen Players Studio, the education arm of the organization.
The Players recently announced the relocation of their performing arts school slated to open March 2017 in the new Rosemary Square development in the City of Sarasota. As part of The Players strategic plan, the Rosemary Square school location will become a satellite location once the new theatre campus is built out east.
“From an artistic standpoint, the new campus is very exciting,” said Kin. “This is our opportunity to produce multiple shows at once, attract new patrons and students to the area, and better accommodate our future needs. There will be ample parking for audiences and additional space for our growing performing arts studio.”
Half of the funds needed for this project will come from the sale of the existing property, Players’ officials said. The other half will come from naming opportunities of the new facility and through the generosity of donors and sponsors.
For more information, visit LakewoodRanch.com or ThePlayers.org or call 941.365.2494.