Final Curtain Call For The Players Centre’s Downtown Theater

Tiffany Razzano

SARASOTA, FL — After operating from its theater at 838 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota since the 1970s, The Players Centre for the Performing Arts is moving out this month. Longtime fans and supporters are invited to say goodbye to the downtown space on Friday evening.

Lights Out at 838 starts at 6 p.m. on Friday and will take place in the venue’s parking lot. Those attending are invited to sit in their car or bring lawn chairs to set up.

The program will feature about an hour of goodbye speeches from Player Centre’s leaders and performances of songs from past productions, said Amanda Heisey, marketing director.

“It’s a celebration of life for the building,” she said. “It’s an evening of songs and speeches to cheer on the theater as we turn off the lights for the last time.”

As The Players Centre for the Performing Arts prepares to build a new venue, supporters can say goodbye to the old theater Friday. (Courtesy of The Players Centre for the Performing Arts)
As The Players Centre for the Performing Arts prepares to build a new venue, supporters can say goodbye to the old theater Friday. (Courtesy of The Players Centre for the Performing Arts)

The Players Centre, Sarasota’s oldest performing arts organization, has been planning its move into a new facility at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota County for several years. While this move has been in the works, the timeline has sped up because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.

Originally, the plan was to leave the current theater by May, Heisey said. Because they can’t stage a normal 2020-2021 season in their current indoor space because of the pandemic, though, they decided to vacate sooner and will move out by the end of October.

They will continue to host workshops and other programs at The Arnold Simonsen Players Studio space at 1400 Boulevard of the Arts, she added.

Construction at the new Lakewood Ranch location hasn’t started yet. Heisey said she’s hopeful they break ground before 2023.

This new space will feature a 480-seat main stage auditorium with balcony seating, a 125-seat black box theatre, a 100-seat cabaret theatre with dining and a campus for The Players Studio. Learn more about donating to their capital campaign for the project online here.

In the meantime, The Players Centre will partner with other venues and organizations to stage productions until they’re able to move into their new home. They’re looking for outdoor venues with space to accommodate theatergoers safely as the pandemic continues, she said. The theater will announce several new ongoing partnerships by the end of the year.

This article originally appeared on the Sarasota Patch