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Sugden Community Theatre

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701 5th Avenue South
Naples, Florida 34102


Sugden Community Theatre - Welcome
The Sugden Community Theatre is the home of The Naples Players, a community theatre located in the City of Naples in Southwest Florida. Our actors light up the stage with musicals, comedies, dramas, children's' theatre, original plays and much more. From the artful to the thought-provoking, The Naples Players provides affordable quality entertainment.

Sugden Community Theatre - History
The Naples Players Board of Directors announced the name of the new community theatre building on Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue South at a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 13, 1997. The new theatre is called "The Sugden Community Theatre" in honor of Herbert and Peg Sugden. The Sugdens donated $1 million to the not-for-profit theatre company in March as an effort to help restore Fifth Avenue South and Old Naples as the hub of community activity. Residents of Naples for more than 23 years, the Sugdens recall when Fifth Avenue South was the center of town activity. "We used to shop and go to church on Fifth," commented Herbert Sugden. "Peg and I felt it important to ensure that this area remains active and the new theatre will be a cultural draw for people to the area."

At the ceremony the than President of The Naples Players, Ted Tobye made the announcement to a crowd of invited guests, donors, and city and county officials. "The Players are extremely grateful to the hundreds of donors and volunteers who have made this dream a reality. We are exceptionally thankful for the Sugden's generosity and felt the best way to demonstrate our gratitude was to recognize their philanthropic actions in a very public manner. Now everyone visiting the new community theatre can share in our gratitude with a state-of-the-art facility made largely possible by the Sugdens.

The Naples Players - History
The Naples Players was founded in 1953 by a group of local residents with a passion for performing and producing theatre. The first production was I Remember Mama by John Van Druten which was performed at the Naples High School (now Gulfview Middle School). The group soon incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation and continued performing at locations throughout the community - restaurants, schools, country clubs, even the Carribean Gardens, where the Players performed John Patrick’s Teahouse of the August Moon.

In 1975, a forty-seat playhouse was opened on Davis Boulevard which allowed the Players the small luxury of having a home base. But the limited seating capacity still required that other spaces be secured for larger musicals and plays. Ten years later, the Kon Tiki movie theatre on Goodlette Road was converted for the Players new home. The opening production was the classic musical Guys and Dolls. During these years the Players produced such plays and musicals as Sweet Charity, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Crimes of the Heart, Once Upon A Mattress, Man of La Mancha, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gypsy, Detective Story, The Boys Next Door, Little Shop of Horrors, and some original works, The Sensuous Senator and Burglar in My Bed.

As the Players’ membership and audience grew, the Playhouse suffered crumbling facade and debilitating mechanical breakdowns, and it soon became clear that a new location was necessary. Following an arduous fund raising campaign, a unique partnership with City of Naples in choosing a suitable location, impeccable leadership by long-standing Board President Ted Tobye, over $6 million was raised to build the Sugden Community Theatre in the heart of old Naples which was completed in 1998. Named after major donors Herb and Peg Sugden, the new theatre boasts two performing spaces, three rehearsal studios, dressing rooms, a scenic and costume shop, and administrative offices. The opening production was Me and My Girl, was presented in the 326 seat theatre, Blackburn Hall. The smaller 100 seat theatre, the Tobye Studio, while not yet properly outfitted, opened with Bravo, Caruso.

Today, The Naples Players remains a viable and creative community theatre, featuring the talents of volunteer actors, directors, designers and crew, drawn from the greater Naples area. The 2003-2004 season includes fourteen productions, of 236 performances, playing to an audience of 65,000 and featuring casts and crews several hundred strong. The Naples Players KidzAct, offers musical theatre workshops year round. The Naples Players offers theatre workshops in acting, singing, dance, improvisation and technical theatre skills. There is a full time paid staff of 20 and over 300 dues paying members who form the basis of the Players’ creative pool, over 500 volunteer ushers and over 300 Guild members who support the Players in the area of fundraising and community outreach. The current budget is $1.6 million. The Players also host performances by other local Naples area non-profit arts groups including the Naples Jazz Society, Classic Chamber Concerts and a roster of children’s theatre companies performing ballet, opera, puppetry and musical theatre. The Naples Players ... expressing the soul of our community. To learn more about The Naples Players, and the Sugden Community Theater please visit their website.

Information courtesy The Naples Players
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