Michael Pasquini, a lighting designer, found his passion at The Players. Our move to Lakewood Ranch reaches more people like him.

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Michael Pasquini, a lighting designer, found his passion at The Players. Our move to Lakewood Ranch reaches more people like him.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts impacts thousands of people yearly by engaging and exposing Suncoast residents and out-of-town patrons to high-quality shows, programs, and inspiring workshops. Michael Pasquini, a professional lighting designer who’s worked alongside companies like Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the Sarasota Opera House, Florida Studio Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, American Stage in St. Petersburg, the Sarasota Orchestra and more, is one of those life-changing success stories from participation in shows and programs at The Players Centre. Sparking creativity among all ages that, in turn, fosters a better community has remained our purpose for nearly a century. 

Michael graduated from Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts program and earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Florida State. He then began his nine-year involvement with The Players Centre in the late 1990s and received hands-on experience that ultimately helped pave his career path. Now, he’s working with us to create a spectacular lighting setup for our 92nd season at “Studio 1130,” our new temporary performance space located in The Crossings at Siesta Key!

The Players Centre’s eventual move to Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch, along with your generous donation to the Center Stage Capital Campaign, helps us broaden the impactful reach of arts and culture to more people, like Michael, across our renowned “Cultural Coast.” Read about Michael’s life-changing experience at The Players Centre below, and learn more about our community’s future, starring you!

Q: How did you get involved with The Players Centre and learning about lights?

A: I was 13 years old, when my family moved to Sarasota in 1997. My mom was looking for a performing arts organization in which my sister, Monica, and I could participate as we had in Louisville, K.Y. It wasn’t long until she discovered The Players Studio and we took acting, voice and dance classes. Our first showcase on stage at The Players was magical. Stepping onstage in front of that large audience was nerve-racking and exhilarating.

By the 1998-99 season, I was working backstage as a light board operator on “The Secret Garden,” spot operator on “Barnum” and assistant stage manager on “A Little Night Music.” During summers in high school, from 1999 to 2001, I was an assistant to the director of The Players Teen Camp. It was during the first season working backstage that the then-technical director, Chris McVicker, showed me how to change the lamps in lighting fixtures.

Q: How was your experience at The Players Centre life-changing? 

A: I have always been interested in things that light up. When I was asked to be the light board operator for “The Secret Garden,” I quickly became fascinated with how the onstage appearance changed with the press of a button. While I initially pursued acting and stage management, I always found myself wanting the opportunity to design the lights for the shows I worked on. There have been several people involved with or did shows at The Players that have gone on to achieve their own professional careers, including Cassie Abate, Joey Cantalupo, Charlie Barnett, Patrick Bedell, Nick Jones and my sister, Monica.

Q: In your opinion, how valuable is community theatre on the Suncoast?

A: Community theatre is an excellent outlet for those interested in starting out or who want to learn more about what it means to perform and work backstage in the performing arts. It’s also a great opportunity for those who want to continue to work and volunteer in theatre in a nurturing, fun and safe environment. To know that Sarasota has blossomed into the arts community that it is and to know that The Players has been around longer than any other performing arts organization in town speaks volumes as to its importance in helping those “get a foot in the door.” It’s a great learning tool and resource for every aspect of production as well as fostering community.

Q: How does The Players Centre’s move to Lakewood Ranch promote the arts regionwide?

A: Growing the footprint that The Players can reach is important in opening the possibilities for others to be exposed to this great organization. Bringing in new people to the arts as well as giving an outlet to those who love and cherish the opportunity to thrive in such a friendly, close-knit community is something The Players has excelled at for a long time.

Q: How can the Center Stage Capital Campaign benefit the entire Suncoast? 

A: The people – it’s truly a community of people who come together to bring the shows to life and a community of people for which we perform. There are definite financial benefits as well, but the ability to have a shared experience in the theatre live and in-person is like nothing else. The enrichment of those who participate, and the discipline learned, carry over into so many aspects of life.

Q: In what ways does a new, multi-use facility expand the influence of arts and culture?

A: Being able to perform shows in a venue appropriate to what is being produced will provide an opportunity to work in ways that are either new and exciting or tried and true. This will foster an ability to allow those working on productions to share an experience with the audience that can’t be attained anywhere else or in any other way. 

Amanda Heisey

Amanda Heisey

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