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BulletinNovDec2017

Cultural Entertainment In the Tampa Bay Area Series American Stage Theatre Company Rodolfo Eichberg, MD eichberg@tampabay.rr.com The company was founded in 1977 as The Palisades Theater of Florida, taking residence at Eckerd College. Its programming was targeted primar-ily at students and educators. In 1979 the Junior League of St. Petersburg provided funds to convert an old cin-ema house in the downtown area into a 179 seat performance space. In 1984 this facility was condemned by the city so the power company offered an alternative site. The group changed its name to The American Stage Theatre Company and moved into a new 130 seat facility. The Company is one of only five original companies in the country signing the new Small Professional Theater con-tract with the Actor Equity Association in 1985. In 1986 they launched the Shakespeare in the Park outdoor program, offer-ing ten performances of The Taming of the Shrew. A record 8,000 plus spectators saw these performances and started a community tradition which continues to this day. Renovation of the new facility was complete by 1996, in-creasing capacity to 148 seats, plus the addition of a visual arts gallery. In 1998 Anna of the Tropics was performed in the re-gion in which the story is based - Ybor City - its cigar factories, and the traditional lector who read the news and stories to the workers while they rolled the cigars. In 2007 American Stage entered into a partnership with St. Petersburg College to build a new state of the art theater in the downtown area. Raymond James Financial acquired naming rights, and continues to be a steadfast supporter. The Company moved into the new facility in April of 2008. 2010 is the year of major accolades. The Tampa Bay Busi-ness Journal named The American Stage Theatre Company the “Nonprofit of the Year” and the St. Petersburg Times selected the move to the new facility as the arts scene most important event of the decade. The current Producing Artistic Director is Stephanie Gul-arte. Several events during this season will celebrate the 40th anniversary. Production highlights over the past four decades include The Boys Next Door (1989), Death of a Salesman (1991), Anna of the Tropics (2004), Lysistrata (2008). The latter was the final production at the 3rd Street S. location. The first production at the current facility was Tuesdays with Morrie, the emotional story of a student who visits his wise teacher, afflicted with amy-otrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), every Tuesday until his death. The author is Mitch Albom, a sports reporter with the Detroit newspapers. I have had the good fortune of seeing many of their produc-tions over the years, and can say without a doubt that I was nev-er disappointed. The 2017-18 season will include: The Royales, The Producers, Strait of Gibraltar, and several other interesting plays. Shakespeare will be represented with Much Ado About Nothing. If you enjoy live theater, cross the bridge and see one of their upcoming productions. You will not regret it. American Stage Theatre Company 163 3rd Street N. St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-823-7529 www.americanstage.org 20 HCMA BULLETIN, Vol 63, No. 4 – November/December 2017


BulletinNovDec2017
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