If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to see the theater from an actor’s perspective, now you can. The Naples Players are now offering Thursday Theatre Tours at the Sugden Community Theatre on Fifth Avenue. This free opportunity is by appointment only and allows theater enthusiasts to explore three floors of costumes, sets and creative environments.
Carla Grieve has been an integral part of the Naples Players since the early ‘90s. When she started, plays were performed in a rented-out movie theater off of Goodlette Frank Road. The theater premiered its first show in 1953 but eventually became too small for the Players’ needs. In the fall of 1998 the Players moved into their brand new theatre on Fifth Avenue. The original theater has since been torn down.
“I’ve played the role of every position,” Grieve said. “I’ve acted on stage, ushered, helped with costume and set creation, giving tours of the facility, everything. We’ve always had people interested in taking tours but recently it started becoming more and more popular and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nicer if we made it more formal?’ So now it is more organized.”
The Naples Players started advertising tours at the beginning of February and have not yet had a Thursday without a reservation. Grieve takes groups of twelve visitors behind the scenes to view new sets and backdrops as they are being built. She also gives them the opportunity to stand on the stage and look out to the 326-seat performance room before taking them to the orchestra pit and teaching them about the lighting.
Guests are given the opportunity to see the theatre’s green room, dressing rooms, and the awe-inspiringly large costume and prop design and storage room that consists of the entire third floor. Hundreds of wigs, shoes, corsets, clothes and accessories cover every inch of the floor, walls and ceiling creating a fashionista’s paradise.
“They get to see where everything is created,” Grieve said. “It takes most people’s breath away to see everything we have and all of the equipment and machines. There are usually some people working on costumes for coming shows around and sometimes guests ask workers questions.”
“I talk about how you don’t have to be a skilled seamstress to work on costumes or be a part of a show. Most of the jobs that are done through the Naples Players are done by volunteers. Anyone you see on stage singing and dancing are all volunteers. It is really easy to become a part of what we’re doing.”
The time table in a show from the start of auditions usually starts eight weeks before a show actually runs. Rehearsals are typically five nights a week from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Naples Players also offer Kidz Act, which is a series of acting classes for 5 year-olds to teenagers. At the end of each series the young actors put on a full show complete with backdrops, costumes and props. Adult classes are also available.
Thursday Theatre Tours are offered every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and last approximately one hour. The tours are limited to groups of twelve, with reservations required at least two weeks in advance. To make a reservation, call 239-434-7340, ext 10.
“Tours are free,” Grieve said. “But if someone is impressed and sends us donation, we certainly won’t mind.”
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