Over a decade has passed since Kristen Coury arrived in Naples after a career working on Broadway for Walt Disney Theatrical Productions and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Group as well as directing a feature film.
Today, as founder and CEO of Gulfshore Playhouse, Coury is spearheading a transformation in Naples’ cultural scene with the creation of a new state-of-the-art theatre and education center that will serve Southwest Florida with Broadway-quality professional equity theatre and education.
AN EYE TO THE FUTURE
Gulfshore Playhouse, Naples’ premier professional regional theatre is embarking on a $45 million capital campaign for its new campus that will be located on a three-acre parcel in Naples Square at the corner of First Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road.
Destined to be a cultural landmark for downtown Naples, Gulfshore Playhouse has announced the selection of its
architectural firm for its new theatre and education center. A major presence on the national and international architectural stage, H3 is a design studio within Arquitectonica that specializes in theatres and arts and culture buildings and has designed some of the most prominent theaters in the country, including the Claire Tow
and Vivian Beaumont Theatres at Lincoln Center, the Theatre for a New Audience in New York, the renovation of Radio City Music Hall and the Denver Performing Arts Center, the nation’s second largest center for the arts after the Lincoln Center. The design team will be led by Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Ariel Fausto.
“We’re extremely pleased that Gulfshore Playhouse will build its new professional theatre in the City of Naples. The theatre will be a bold extension of the core of downtown to the east of Fifth Avenue South and complement
the businesses, retailers and new housing projects already there as well as future projects,” said City of Naples
Mayor Bill Barnett. “It will truly transform downtown Naples and add significant and lasting value to the
cultural life of Naples for generations to come.”
THE NEW THEATRE
Plans for the complex include a main stage proscenium theatre with sloped stadium seating which will be used for large-cast musicals, classics and world premiere comedies and dramas. “Theater and the arts symbolize the soul of any community and this project will do the same for the city of Naples,” said Fort-Brescia. “We are so pleased to be part of giving life to this dream through its architecture.”Anticipated plans also include a separate studio theatre, a grand airy lobby, bar, gardens, and an exclusive patron lounge as well as an education wing featuring rehearsal rooms, classrooms, and space for children’s theatre events.
The complex will support the expansion of Gulfshore Playhouse’s education programs focused on pre-professional training in acting, voice, and movement as well as expand its in-school and after-school
education programs. “I envision the day when our parking lot will be filled with school buses as students file through our doors, excited to see our next production. We will produce theatre for children and by children who otherwise would not be able to experience participating in live storytelling,” said Coury.
“The reality is that there are very few art institutions taking on a new initiative of this size, and even fewer professional theatres with female producing artistic directors leading the way,” said Gulfshore Playhouse board chairman Bob Harden. “The new Gulfshore Playhouse is truly a testament of this community’s
philanthropic spirit and commitment to the arts.” To learn more about the new building and the Capital
Campaign, please contact the Administrative Offices at Gulfshore Playhouse at 239.261.PLAY (7529).