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One of Sarasota’s greatest characteristics is the abundance of arts, music, theatre and culture. For those of us who were raised in New York City and appreciated Broadway and other theatre districts, moving to Sarasota feeds our art and music-appreciating soul. No wonder The Sarasota Players is on everyone’s radar as we head into the winter season here in Florida’s “Cultural Coast.”
Celebrating its 94th season, The Sarasota Players aim to deliver top quality productions and engage the community with the arts (among other things) by producing outstanding live theater and small-scale musicals. Hands down, The Sarasota Players is the “go-to” artistic outlet for locals and visitors to experience live theater and training, serving as a non-professional community theater led by artistic director, Steven Butler.
Butler grew up in Sarasota and has a significant role in the day-to-day operations that includes overseeing all productions, directing some of the productions, and perpetuating a tradition that spans over 86 years.
The organization aims to entertain, educate, and engage the community through high-quality live theater, emphasizing artistic excellence, knowledge, inclusivity, integrity, passion, and authenticity
has been involved in planning the 94th season of plays and small-scale musicals. Butler, who grew up in Sarasota, has a significant role in the day-to-day operations of the local community theatre, perpetuating a tradition that spans over 86 years as the first and oldest performing arts center in Sarasota. Butler has a big role to play, but he has the experience behind him to keep The Sarasota Players front and center in Sarasota’s world of non-professional theatre with its many volunteers and professionals contributing their experience and expertise to the stage.
Butler’s personal and professional history stems from his early years growing up in Sarasota and graduating from Booker Elementary and in 1984 at Sarasota High School. A year later, he appeared (ironically) on the same stage of what he now commands. His acting debut as Zebulon, one of the brothers in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” gave him the spark he needed to pursue his acting passion.
During his time away from Sarasota, he was the Executive Director for the Florida
Theatre Conference (FTC). In his early theatre years, Butler worked as a professional actor
throughout the country and eventually embarked upon directing. He is the Founder for Actors’ Warehouse (Gainesville, FL) which was honored to represent the United States at Mondial Du Théâtre International Amateur Theatre Festival (Monte Carlo,
Monaco). Being of service to the theatre community has led Mr. Butler to have a presence on a
regional level with the Southeastern Theatre Conference (Vice President of Administration), on
the national level with the American Association of Community Theatre (Board of Directors)
and on the international level with the International Amateur Theatre Association (United States
“It’s nice to be ‘home’ again,” says Butler. “The Sarasota Players is a true community theatre and it’s our responsibility to invite every facet of our community to be on our stage or have a seat in our audience and appreciate the work we do.”
Ring in the holiday season and buy tickets to A Tuna Christmas – commentary and withering satire of small-town Southern life and attitudes and is sure to strike a chord with any theatre-goer. Three local actors will take on the challenge of transforming into over 20 different characters throughout the show that includes costume changes, wigs, accents, and voices.
The Sarasota Players, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 1130, in Sarasota’s Rosemary District, 34239, 941-365-2494
Editor’s Note: KUDOS! To Steven Butler as director of The Players Club “Sidebar Series” and the play “Pass Over,” written by Antoinette Nwandu. In an intimate Black Box setting, the Sidebar Series are shows that fall off the beaten path and are designed to intrigue and engage audience members. This poignant drama featured two of Sarasota’s highly talented actors: Todd Bellamy, II, and Zion Thompson, who captivated the audience as two teenage African-American boys who address the challenges of social issues and the dire need to raise awareness in our country as they try to navigate through and establish themselves in our country. The setting is “anywhere inner city USA” on a street corner, their poignant acting brought tears to the audience and was one of the most thought-provocative plays I have ever seen. William Ashburn rounded out the talent pool in his dual role as the demeaning police officer and as “Mister.” While the show’s run has ended, I urge you to explore future Sidebar productions.
The play and its cast were as talented as any off-Broadway show I have seen in 40 years!
~ Andrea Mastrocinque Martone