by Kristen Coury Producing Artistic Director
What was to be a celebrated time of gathering playwrights, actors and directors from across the country for the annual New Works Festival soon became a scrambling
hurricane evacuation effort. The aftermath of Hurricane Irma’s landfall forced the cancellation of Gulfshore Playhouse’s first show of the season due to significant damage to The Norris Center, as well as the cancellation of its fall education programs due to lack
of rehearsal space. However, if there’s anything actors can attest to, it’s the motto: the show must go on. And, so it has for Gulfshore Playhouse – in a grand and masterful way.
Spearheading the nationally recognized professional theatre, Kristen Coury has been a driving force and curator of strengthening the arts for Southwest Florida by creating and producing world-class shows with straight-from-Broadway actors, directors, designers and creative teams. In early November, Gulfshore Playhouse moved up the start of “Leading Ladies” to provide a special give-back opportunity to the community with $10 tickets for preview performances on select dates.
The result was a sold-out opening and strong showing throughout the entire run of the production. Audiences were certainly ready to laugh, be entertained and connect through live storytelling. On the heels of a cancelled fall education program, Gulfshore Playhouse announced the Teen Acting Company – an audition-only program for teens to receive pre-professional training in acting, voice and movement, attend professional performances and talkbacks, and work with visiting artists. The program is thriving and will culminate with a May 14 production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
However, the greatest post-Hurricane Irma gift of all was the official land closing on a three-acre parcel of land that will be the future home of Gulfshore Playhouse’s state-of-theatre professional regional theatre and education center at the corner of 1st Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road. Gulfshore Playhouse recently unveiled first-glimpse
plans of its new complex at its Celebrating the Next Stage event. Plans for the complex currently include a main stage proscenium theatre, a flexible studio space, programs for children, a welcome garden, and a grand lobby featuring a lounge and cafe.
Designed to be a cultural landmark, the theatre will serve as an economic driver helping to extend the core of
downtown to the east of 5th Avenue and to enliven the things that are already there. “This new complex will enable us to create an outstanding theatre-going experience by producing a broader more diverse season, including large-cast musicals, world premieres, and fresh content created in conjunction with Broadway producers. The new Gulfshore Playhouse is a lens that will focus our passion to create compelling work that uniquely resonates
locally, regionally, and nationally,” said Coury.
While quiet phase fundraising is underway, Gulfshore Playhouse is moving full steam ahead with its current
season, which includes this month’s world premiere of “Scapino.” Adapted by and starring Broadway veteran
Jeffrey Binder, “Scapino” will take the stage from Feb. 17 to March 18. In this hilarious Mafioso twist of Molière’s
classic comedy, no one knows who will end up married and who will end up whacked!
For more information about Gulfshore Playhouse, upcoming shows or its new facility, visit www.
gulfshoreplayhouse.org or call 239.261.PLAY (7529).