Florida Rep Raises Over $500,000 At Annual Gala
Florida Repertory Theatre's 2018-2019 Season in downtown Fort Myers is coming to a close in May after a record-breaking 21st year. Artistic Director Greg Longenhagen is pleased to announce that "Million Dollar Quartet" broke all previous box office records with over 14,000 people in attendance, and "Native Gardens" is playing to sold-out houses and an extended late-season run through May 19.In addition to its successes onstage, Florida Rep's fundraising gala raised more money and saw more attendance than any in the company's history. Held April 13, the Renaissance-themed gala raised $545,950.00 and boasted 260 guests and 60 staff and artists in attendance. The event included live and silent auctions and featured performances from the company's Education Department, a cabaret with guest and ensemble artists, and a special appearance from the cast of "Million Dollar Quartet." The company is already planning the 2020 event, to be held again at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa on March 28. "We are having an incredible 21st year," said Longenhagen. "Following on the heels of the extraordinary success of 'Million Dollar Quartet,' which introduced 30-50 first-time attendees to Florida Rep at each performance, we extended the run of 'Native Gardens,' one of the funniest and hottest new plays in America, currently playing in the ArtStage Studio Theatre. Add to that the unprecedented generosity we saw from our donors at the gala made this a season of milestones, and we're proud to share that success with our closest supporters and with the entire community." Due to overwhelming demand for tickets, the theatre also extended the runs of "Becoming Dr. Ruth" in October as well as "Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical" and Noël Coward's "Hay Fever" in early 2019. Also this season, noted sex therapist and holocaust survivor, 90-year-old Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, visited Florida Rep and participated in talkbacks, book signings, and enrichment events in conjunction with the season opener, "Becoming Dr. Ruth." Florida Rep produced the regional premiere of "Damascus" by Bennett Fisher in November, and played the psychological thriller to a sold-out five week run. The theatre's first outing with August Wilson's American Century Cycle, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Fences," garnered critical acclaim in January when Charles Runnells of "The News-Press" called the production "a powerful night of theatre full of terrific performances, poetic dialogue and rich symbolism." Florida Rep's season continues into the summer with its 6th Annual Playlab Festival of New Works, to be held May 9-12, also in the ArtStage Studio Theatre. The PlayLab is an action-packed weekend festival where six new plays are read by a cast of professional actors and directors with talkbacks following each performance. The festival also includes a performance of the world-premiere play for young audiences, "Refugee" by Eric Coble on May 12, and a keynote address by Susan Gurman, one of the country's leading literary agents." The theatre's 2019-2020 Season begins on September 24 with "Always...Patsy Cline," a heartfelt celebration of the most popular female country singer in recording history. The upcoming season includes eight more productions lined up in the Historic Arcade Theatre and ArtStage Studio Theatres, and boasts rib-tickling comedies, electrifying thrillers, powerful dramas, a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, and a Tony-winning BEST Musical. For information on the PlayLab and current and upcoming seasons, visit www.FloridaRep.org or call the box office at 239-332-4488. "Our mainstage season productions are not all Florida Rep has to be proud of this season," continued Longenhagen. "Florida Rep's robust Education Programs for young people ages 4 to 18 and beyond grew almost 20% in attendance and 30% in revenues this year over last. For the first time, Florida Rep took a group of 30 students to perform and compete at the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta. We are proud to say they came home with the Freddie G. Excellence in Dance Trophy." Florida Rep Education's popular Conservatory Program for teens that are serious about pursuing theatre as a career is in its final stages of rehearsal for Disney's "Newsies," and will open a professionally directed and designed production of the musical in the Historic Arcade this May. The production runs May 10-19 with nine public performances showcasing a cast of 50 teens from across Southwest Florida. Tickets and information about the "Newsies" is at www.FloridaRepEducation.org. "These programs are tremendous opportunities for young people to learn how to express themselves, learn empathy, and hone skills in teamwork and collaboration," said Longenhagen. "As an arts organization in Southwest Florida, we see it as our responsibility to enrich the quality of life in our community by instilling in the next generation a deep appreciation for the arts." Florida Repertory Theatre is a fully professional regional theatre that works with an ensemble of actors, directors, and designers on contract with Actors Equity Association, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and United Scenic Artists. Florida Rep is one of Lee County and Southwest Florida's most important cultural and educational institutions, has been named "Best Performing Arts Group" numerous times by "Gulfshore Life Magazine" and "Florida Weekly," and its works have been lauded nine times by "The Wall Street Journal's" drama critic and bestselling author, Terry Teachout, as "one of America's top repertory companies." Tickets for "Native Gardens" are $55 in the ArtStage Studio Theatre and tickets for Disney's "Newsies" are $10 for students and $20/$25 for adults. PlayLab tickets are $20/reading and available in an All-Access Pass for $99. Tickets are available online at www.FloridaRep.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM. New this season, Florida Rep's parking lot will open 2 hours before each performance and offers guests limited FREE PARKING across the street from the Arcade Theatre. Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at www.FloridaRep.org.