Although Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck has been a driving force of selecting shows at The Naples Players for years, she believes there is something profoundly exciting about this coming season of shows. “Next year’s season is our most ambitious selection yet,” said Walck. “We are challenging ourselves, our talent, and our audiences in new and creative ways like never before – technically, emotionally, and artistically.”
Walck is impressed with the theater’s ability to incorporate new ideas and challenge itself while remaining true to the experience that drives over 65,000 patrons through the theater’s doors each year. “The Naples Players has a great reputation for putting on fun, entertaining shows that make people think—whether it’s a musical, drama, or comedy,” she said. “There’s comedy in every good drama, and there’s drama in every good comedy.”
However, new concepts are afoot for the theater. For the first time in the theater’s recent memory, there are no repeat shows from The Naples Players’ previous 66 years of productions. “But that doesn’t mean people haven’t heard of or don’t know of next season’s shows—it’s quite the opposite,” Walck said. “The season is a crowd pleaser. We’re producing shows that have been very popular at the professional level, and making those stories relevant to the Naples community.”
And while nearly all patrons will be familiar with the story of Mary Poppins or The Wedding Singer, Walck is certain that the less familiar contemporary stories are sure to be revered by audiences for years to come. “We have a real knack for showcasing different forms of art in different spaces, whether it’s a grand mainstage musical, something intimate in our black box theater, or Shakespeare out on the Baker Stage.”
But Walck believes there’s more room to experiment with productions in the black box theater. “We are producing a new musical, and for the first time, a musical in the Tobye Studio Theatre. Although producing a musical in our black box proves to have many technical challenges we are excited to embrace the difficulties and bring this new show to the community.”
Generous patrons Bruce and Robin Bache Gray have committed the underwriting support to this upcoming season that has allowed The Naples Players to progress and experiment in their show selection with confidence. “Bruce and I are incredibly excited about this next season,” Robin said. “There exists a dynamic mixture of high-profile, thought-provoking, and comedic shows that creates an exciting challenge for both the theater and its audience.”
Producing new work by local artists is essential for the theatre as it continues to take a leadership position in the local community and beyond. That leadership extends to partnering with other organizations to create meaningful experiences. With this in mind, the new musical in the Tobye Studio Theatre, Yours,Truly will first be performed in concert in an upcoming partnership with Artis-Naples.
“We have so much wonderful art here in Naples—and discovering the synergy that is possible through collaboration is exciting for the community to participate in and watch evolve,” Walck said. “It’s just another added layer that makes our upcoming season one of our best yet.” The Naples Players kicks off the Bruce & Robin Bache Gray 67th Season with The Wedding Singer on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.