The Players Centre for Performing Arts holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of the Sarasota community. After 90 years of laughter, tears, and everything in between (including a global pandemic), The Players accelerated plans to move from their home in downtown Sarasota (838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34326). The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization will vacate the space in October 2020.
The Players family sees this step as the first of many exciting developments. A temporary location and plans for a 91st season will be announced soon (decisions depend on the health of the city and state). Staff offices will relocate to The Players Studio (1400 Blvd of the Arts, Suite 200, Sarasota, FL 34236). Never fear, the theatre continues moving forward on the brand-new facility in Waterside Place of Lakewood Ranch.
“The Board of Trustees and staff had to address many challenges and make a decision,” says Interim CEO and Managing Artistic Director Jeffery Kin. “Should we move now when the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us closed? Do we wait it out in our location until May and then move? For financial reasons, and to keep our staff intact as we have not laid off or furloughed any of our employees at this point, we know we need to move now. Our leaving this space and downsizing to a smaller venue for the next few years is the only logical choice.”
The Players is in a unique position. The current building sold in November 2018 and the nonprofit organization has been leasing the space since. This lease agreement with the new owners ends in October 2020. While the contract was renegotiated allowing the organization to stay through May 2021 to finish the 91st season, unfortunately the uncertainty of COVD-19 has shuttered theaters across the country for an unknown amount of time. The Players staff and board care deeply for the health and safety of patrons and volunteers and feel this early departure makes perfect sense.
A community theatre is more than a building; it’s much more than bricks and mortar. It’s the feeling and energy that transcends a physical space. The mission of The Players Centre, to entertain, educate and engage the community through high quality live theatre will continue wherever The Players performs and teaches.
“There has been an interesting analogy going around the various arts groups. It’s about all of us ‘being in the same boat.’ I like to say, ‘We’re all in the same storm, but we are in completely different boats,’” says Kin. “This storm is forcing your community theatre to rethink its future.”
Many community members invested time, treasure, and talent into The Players. The Players family appreciates all the continued love and support and wants to give those that love this 90-year-old organization proper time to say goodbye to the old building.
- That’s Entertainment: The Players 90th Birthday Celebration – August 2020. Join The Players as they celebrate 90 years of theatre in a Zoom gala!
- Props, costumes and more will be for sale at The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime and in the lobby of the theatre.
- Farewell Tours – Early Sept. 2020. Reservations will open soon, the bar will be open, groups will be small, but patrons can say their own goodbye, see the theatre for the last time and enjoy a few surprises.
- A Few of Our Favorite Things – Oct. 2020. A reimagined look at the proposed finale show previously scheduled for the 91st Broadway Series will go virtual! The Players will ask for performances submitted virtually to put together a digital homage to this Sarasota institution.
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – 2020. The Players fourth annual production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will again be presented outdoors!
- Check The Players website for more exciting upcoming events!
Those patrons that have flex passes (tickets to be used for future events) may use them for any events listed or any that follow. Subscribers can rest assured there will be a 91st season. The slate of shows will change, but the value will be just as strong. Dates will follow the announcement of our new performance location.
Staff at The Players will be happy to talk to any patrons, volunteers and community members about upcoming plans and productions as they unfold. Please call 941.365.2494, or look for news on www.theplayers.org.