A little trivia for you!
The Naples Players was conceived in 1952 as friends gathered for a sunset cocktail party at the home of Henry and Mary Watkins. Leonard Latham, a theatre director from Cape Cod was in that gathering and suggested that Naples could do well with a live theatre.
It wasn’t long before another meeting was held and The Naples Players was born. The first set of minutes took place on January 19, 1953 at the Naples Women’s Club. Eight days later the troupe became a membership-driven organization with dues of one dollar. Committees were formed for play reading, casting and staging. By the third meeting, the members had $47 in the treasury and a $35 budget for their first set.
The first show, “I Remember Mama,” ran for one night on March 20, 1953 at the then Naples high school (now Gulf View Middle School).
Over the next few years the members concerned themselves with the running of a community theatre. Only one issue continued to plague the theatre – the desire for a venue of its own. On January 20, 1956, a petition of incorporation was signed, notarized and submitted to the state. In June the members purchased three acres, described as “just over the bridge in Coconut Creek.”
116 members strong, The Player’s first musical, “H.M.S. Pinafore,” was staged 1958. With the recession of the late 1950’s, the Players still managed to produce four plays a year through 1960, while actively seeking a permanent home. Regrettably, the late 1960’s saw the Players insolvent and the Coconut Creek property was sold.
Joyce Heptner relocated to Naples and became The Players’ first Executive Director and Ted Tobye, then President, organized the Steering Committee for the New Theatre Building. Sites were studied, demographics defined and designs discussed. The final result was the 1998 debt-free opening of Sugden Community Theatre on 5th Avenue South, with the play “Me and My Girl.”
Today The Naples Players stage more than 220 performances a year, many of them sell outs. With a subscriber base of more than 4,000, children’s program that reach over 600 children annually, and having been voted Best Live Theatre for ten consecutive years in the Naples Daily News Southwest Florida Choice Awards, the momentum continues strong as ever.
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Please contact Sergio & Jan Hernandez 239.821.5290, to learn more about what makes Naples, Florida, such a special place to live. Their knowledge of the area and expertise will help you appreciate the many things Naples has to offer, while making your home buying experience a work of art.