‘A New Family’: The Players offered Mike Phelan a renewed sense of purpose. Our move to Lakewood Ranch offers a community stage for all.

A New Family

Community theatre draws people together through inspiring performances produced at all levels by dedicated local volunteers, ranging from ticket takers and ushers to set designers and onstage actors. For nearly a century, The Players Centre for Performing Arts has preserved and expanded arts and culture across the Suncoast by championing this genre that unites both residents within our neighborhood and out-of-town visitors seeking entertainment. Community theatre creates a tight-knit family in regions where it’s embraced – and that’s certainly been part of our vision since our founding in 1929.

Mike Phelan, a volunteer actor and generous donor with The Players Centre, is familiar with that valuable sense of community we’ve fostered for people of all ages. He became involved with us more than a decade ago and has appeared in 13 spectacular shows! The Players Centre’s  relocation to Waterside Place at Lakewood Ranch, a move that will be accomplished through your generous donations to the ongoing Center Stage Capital Campaign, helps us extend easy access to the arts and impacts our community by reaching more people, like Mike, across Southwest Florida.

Read about Mike’s renewed sense of purpose sparked by The Players Centre and learn more about how you can star in staging a better future for our community!

Q: What prompted you to get involved as a volunteer actor and donor at The Players Centre?

A: I went through a painful divorce in 2009, and I reached out to The Players. In doing so, I found a new family, a new community and a new sense of purpose.

Q: What shows did you volunteer for and in what other ways were you involved?

A: I appeared in Anything Goes (2009), Country Christmas Carol (2009), Fiddler on the Roof (2010), The Who’s Tommy (2010), Pete’s Repair Shop (2010), Oklahoma! (2010), BIG – The Musical (2011), The Producers (2011), Undaunted (2011), Seussical the Musical (2011), The Full Monty (2012), The Drowsy Chaperone (2016) and Young Frankenstein (2016). I was also involved in several staged readings and other special events and served as the unofficial historian for The Players Theater from 2009 to 2012.

Q: Why did you decide to donate to The Players Centre?

A: In 2020, under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave $10,000 to The Players and another $5,000 in 2021. They were there for me when I needed them. I wanted to be there when they needed me.

It was one way to give back. Although, in the final analysis, you cannot put a price on what I got from The Players. Their love and support during my divorce was priceless. My donations were a mere drop in the bucket.

Q: In your opinion, how does community theatre reach people unlike other art forms?

A: Community theatre is live and immediate. These are amateur actors – people just like you – who are onstage in front of you, who have worked for weeks to be able to perform for you.

They are not doing it for money. They are doing it for love of the theatre.

Q: What makes The Players Centre a special organization in an area known for arts and culture?

A: The warm and welcoming environment makes The Players a special organization. There is a home at The Players for anyone who wants one.

The opportunities are limitless: performing, ushering, set construction, stage crew, continuing education, children’s programs, musical support and administrative help.

Amanda Heisey

Amanda Heisey

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