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American Stage Calls on Community to Save Park Show

The 'Save the Park' campaign will launch in July 2024, with more details to come.

By: May. 31, 2024
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It began in 1986, with Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. American Stage would hold ten performances – all free – at Demens Landing Park for just two weeks in April.  Materials and time were donated, sets built, picnics packed.  8,000 people attended, and a tradition was born.

As St. Pete grew, so did American Stage’s annual show in Demens Landing. The original two-week run was extended to five weeks, four shows per week became six. “Shakespeare in the Park” was renamed to “American Stage in the Park.” Music was added, then musicals, with the production of 2006’s Crowns. The theatre has devoted its park show to musicals ever since, most recently Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  On opening night, Hair was announced as next year’s musical.

Now, American Stage is fighting to save it.

That’s the reality behind “Save the Park,” the theatre’s upcoming fundraising campaign to save its annual show in Demens Landing Park. Beginning this July, American Stage will rally the community for help to save a treasured tradition in the Tampa Bay arts scene.  

The announcement joins a troubling trend that has plagued theatres nationwide since the onset of the pandemic: rising costs, and dwindling attendance.

“We have not been immune to the post pandemic struggles. Lower attendance, lower donation income, and lower grant income coupled with rising labor costs, higher union rates, growing materials costs, and sky-high royalty and rental amounts have put American Stage in a precarious position,” Producing Artistic Director Helen R. Murray says in an open letter penned to the St. Pete community.

American Stage is not going anywhere, but without support, Park might be. The goal of the “Save the Park” campaign is to alleviate the theatre’s urgent financial concerns, and position the nonprofit for the future.

“We absolutely love engaging with our park audiences, seeing the memories made and the connections that happen when we sit under the stars and enjoy theatre together,” says Murray in the open letter. She concludes it by posing two important questions to its readers: “How many core memories have been made at park? How many have yet to be created? “

The “Save the Park” campaign will launch in July 2024, with more details to come. For additional information, please contact the American Stage Development Team at


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