Catching a Show at Cultural Park Theatre
Published in Community Lifestyles Cape Coral October/November 2014 issue
The oldest theater group in Lee County is celebrating 52 years of providing entertainment to Southwest Florida residents and visitors.
Executive Director Michael Moran said the Cultural Park Theatre began with a group of 10 thespians in the early 1960s who enjoyed putting on plays and performances, performing for folks at the Yacht Club.
The shows became very popular once the entertaining began, which led the group to changing their troupe name to the Cape Coral Community Players.
“They performed anywhere and everywhere they could find space,” Moran said.
The Cape Coral Community Players saved up their earnings, and together, built the Cultural Park Theater. The little house, at 528 Cultural Park Blvd., has remained the same over the decades it’s been in use, with the exception of upgrades to the decor and sound system.
The original group was scheduled to have their first stage production in November 1963.
“They had to cancel the first show they ever did because it happened on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated,” Moran said. “They canceled their first performance in honor of the president.”
He said the troupe decided it was far more tasteful to be closed that day.
“From there they have just grown tremendously over the years,” Moran said. “January through May you have to call early to get a seat in this place. The summertime gives us a little more play room.”
When the Cultural Park Theatre first began holding performances, there were one or two a year. Now the theater hosts approximately 26 of them a year.
The theater has numerous seasons throughout the calendar: Broadway shows September through May; concert series September through May, summer concert series and summer camps.
The concert series, now in its fourth year, is the newest of the programs offered for residents.
“It has grown substantially,” Moran said. “When we started four years ago, we had to chase after artists and now the phone rings by people who want to be a part of the season.”
The music varies, so it is appealing for all patrons. This year the series includes mostly tributes of different styles of music.
This year’s season kicked off with a Patsy Cline tribute by Linda Fazioli. The season will also have David Morin as Elvis Presley Friday, Oct. 31, Saturday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 2, performing four shows, both matinees at 3 p.m. and evening shows at 8:30 p.m.
“He is a knock-your-socks-off performer,” Moran said. “He covers the Elvis venue, from young Elvis to the end.”
Other performances include a Charlie Vee tribute to Barry Manilow in February; Simply Streisand Carla Del Villaggio as Barbara Streisand in March; Neil Zirconia as Neil Diamond in April and Cultural Park Theater’s Reveilli Revue in May.
Tickets for the concert series are $20. The theater seats 184 people.
The Broadway shows will include “You’re Never Too Old” in October; “And Then There Were None” in November; “Fantasticks” and “Christmas Spectacular” in December; “Monty Python’s Spamalot” in January; “Dixie Swim Club” in February; “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” in March; “Fools” in April and “Odd Couple” in May.
Moran said the Cultural Park Theater has the most reasonable tickets in the area for their Broadway season. Tickets are $19 for adults; $17 for seniors; $13 for students with ID and $10 for children under 12 years old.
In 1991, the theater began holding children and adult education classes and summer classes. There are three educational programs offered for every age group.
The most popular class is the Broadway Babies program for children ages 5 to 7, which has already begun for the fall session.
“The program is an introduction for young students to come in and start learning the basics of acting, singing and dancing,” Moran said. “They get together to meet for eight weeks, one day a week and put a program together for friends and family at the end of the class.”
The theater also offers Musical Theater Performance Level I and Level II. Music Theater I is geared for children 7 to 10 years old and the Musical Theater II is for 11- to 16-year-olds.
Moran said the more advanced classes work on all aspects of musical theater, such as acting, singing and dancing. The older kids work on character development during the course.
The last of the educational programs is an Adult Acting class. The class does not begin at a certain level, but rather teaches as if students were learning the craft for the first time. The instructors, Moran said, work individually with each of the students in the class.
The summer camp is another favorite among elementary- to high-school-aged children, attracting 45 to 50 students every session. The camps, which run all summer long, are held for two weeks at a time, focusing on developing stage presence, acting, singing and dancing, as well.
At the end of the two week session, the students put on a showcase for their families and friends.
The two-week camp is $240 and is held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about the Cultural Park Theater, any of its upcoming performances, classes or to purchase tickets, contact the box office at 239-772-5862 or go online by visiting CulturalParkTheater.com.