Architects Unveil Big Plans for Players



The black box theater currently at the disposal of The Players sits backstage at the company theater in Sarasota, but when a new $28-million facility opens in Lakewood Ranch, a 125-seat state-of-the-art space will available for those small comedies and tragedies best suited for that stage. “The new building is not only going to meet our needs now,” says Michelle Bianchi-Pingel, managing director and CEO at The Players. “We are building for our needs well into the future.”

The black box is just one feature that will be available when The Players Centre for Performing Arts opens. A 480-seat main stage with balcony seating will be the central performing space in the 70,000-square-foot multi-use venue, but there will also be a 100-seat cabaret and outdoor events plaza. New renderings released by architecture firm SchenkelShultz show how the venue can redefine entertainment space in the Lakewood Ranch community. “The arts center is more than just a venue to house the program elements,” reads a statement from Dan Laggan, managing partner at SchenkelShultz, and Tom Gallagher, principal and director of the New York Studio of Westlake Reed Leskosky, a New York City studio working in conjunction with the local firm. “It is being designed to allow activity to seamlessly flow from the inside to the outside where something exciting and new is always happening.” 

Relocating into the new facility will allow a growth in the dramatic offerings for the area too. Program expansion will include smaller musicals that will be performed in the cabaret space, an area that can also host jazz artists and other acts. Youth outreach efforts will also grow, Pingel says, with an expanded Education component at the center and the location of all education operations in the same building as company management. A scene shop will open on-site. Pingel says the many changes to the business model will change The Players experience for those in the company and those coming to be entertained.

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