Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fresh Act, Era, for Players

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Fresh Act, Era, for Players

Article excerpt


The reactions were swift and often emotional last week -- a mix of happy and sad -- after the Players Theatre announced that it would be leaving its home of 80 years in favor of a new theater complex in Lakewood Ranch.

The amateur theater, the area's first performing arts group, has operated at its current site on U.S. 41 and 9th Street in Sarasota since 1936, and a lot of people just expected the company to be there forever.

But with parking severely limited and the building in need of major repairs and enhancements, the theater's board and staff is doing what seems to make the most sense -- selling the property (at a hopefully high price) and moving elsewhere.

The move isn't a surprise, but the destination is for some who expected the Players to stay near downtown Sarasota. Instead, organization now known as the Players Centre for the Performing Arts, will build a three-theater complex at the Waterside development of homes, condos and businesses. Developers broke ground just last month on this new southern section of Lakewood Ranch, between Fruitville Road and University Park, east of Interstate 75.

Like "The Jeffersons," the Players are movin' on up (or at least east.)

The new location won't be as close for some people who have voiced complaints in Facebook posts. But it will be convenient for many more people who live away from the downtown core. Our region is expanding, and Lakewood Ranch doesn't seem as far away as it once did.

For the moment, at least, the Players will be the only arts organization in an area that has been steadily growing over the past 20 years. I'm surprised it's taken this long for an arts group to move to the area.

We are creatures of habit. My car can practically drive itself to the current theater (but it doesn't get to see the shows on stage). …

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