PCT will take over the New Phoenix Theater location
Players Circle Theater will be moving from its current home in North Fort Myers at the Shell Factory to the New Phoenix Theatre in the heart of the McGregor corridor (next to SPADA, First Watch, Norman Love, Golden Rind, Sweet Bean and Melting Pot) in Fort Myers.
“This is a dream come true. The Shell Factory has been a wonderful landing spot for us, these past 4 years, but theater is a business and this new location is impossible to beat. We will be just a mile from Gulf Harbour, across the street from The Landings and surrounded by some of our area’s finest restaurants. One board member said ‘It’s better than downtown!’ Which is so very true,” said producing director and co-founder Carrie Lund Cacioppo.
Players Circle Theater will be retaining its name, and rechristening the New Phoenix Theatre located at 13211 McGregor Blvd., #1 and “2. After the Danny Sinoff performance May 8, they began moving their $250,000 worth of lights, seats and risers to the new space. “We are incredibly grateful to New Phoenix founder, Brenda Kensler, for her support. We first heard she was contemplating throwing in the towel in mid-December. We met her, and she, being a truly generous woman of the theater, gave us her whole-hearted support. She literally cried at the thought of Carrie and I taking over the space and continuing her dream of bringing high quality theater to the area,“ said artistic director Robert Cacioppo. “There are so many pluses to the new space: It’s already zoned for public assembly and has generous well lit parking. It offers us a space we will totally control, beautiful restrooms exclusively for our patrons, an area for rehearsals and for a shoppe to build our sets, dressing rooms with bathrooms, higher ceilings for better lighting, all things we currently don’t have at the Shell Factory. And to be in a location that 92,000 cars pass daily, well, that is a game changer for Players Circle.“
Players Circle Theater will officially take over the New Phoenix space on July 1 and begin its five-year lease. During the summer months of July, August and September, the necessary preparations will take place including interior renovations, preparing the space for production, installing new signage, advertising, selling tickets and subscription and securing artists.
“We love the intimate theater we created at the Shell Factory and so did our audiences. A theater where no audience member is ever more than five rows from the action, said Bob Cacioppo.
“Robert and Carrie plan on creating a similar space in our new home which we know will thrill new and old patrons alike,” said board chairman,Dr. Gerald Laboda. “We hope that the community will help us execute this dream by buying tickets, subscriptions and donating.”
The new season will begin Oct. 17. Players Circle plans on keeping the theater running 12 months a year. At first with professional theater, then adding children’s programs, classes, music and comedy shows. The 2023-24 season will be as follows (more details to come in future releases).
BREAKING LEGS Oct.17 – Nov. 11
HO! HO! HO! THE CHRISTMAS SHOW Nov. 28 – Dec. 17
BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE Jan. 2 – 28
PROOF Feb. 6 – March 3
SIX DANCE LESSONS IN SIX WEEKS March 12 – April 7
GODSPELL April 16 – May 12
A six-show flex pass for the discounted pricing of $270 is currently on sale. These passes have been the most popular subscription option, as they are truly flexible and can be used all at once or for multiple shows. Exact showtimes and pricing are being determined in the next few weeks. Players Circle Theater is currently accepting donations, seeking show sponsorships and selling playbill advertising for its inaugural season. For more information, to donate or to get on Players Circle mailing list call 239-800-3292 or go online at playerscircletheater.com.
Carrie Lund Cacioppo and Robert Cacioppo have been leaders in the SW Florida theater movement for close to 40 years. Carrie has acted in over 100 productions and founded the first professional theater in this area on Sanibel in a little one room schoolhouse called the Pirate Playhouse in 1984. In 1991, Carrie and Robert inaugurated the New Pirate Playhouse, built for them at 2200 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel where a year later the first Actors Equity Theater in the area commenced. In 1998, they founded, named and created Florida Rep and took over the floundering Arcade Theater, bringing great success to that organization and are credited with helping in the revitalization of downtown Fort Myers. During their 20 year tenure at the Rep, they garnered many “Best Arts Organization Awards” and 9 rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal, being called “One of America’s Top Regional Theaters.”
When they parted ways with Florida Rep, it had become the largest not for profit arts organization in the history of Lee County. In fall of 2019, Carrie and Robert founded Players Circle Theater and started performing at the Shell Factory. Trials of Covid and Hurricane Ian made Players Circles’ road a rocky one over the past four years, but fine work was produced, innovative programming was created and with the help of grants and patron generosity, Players Circle kept afloat.
“This opportunity to be back in our neighborhood, to have such a beautiful theater, in such a prime location after the past few years of struggle, is really too good to be true. We will be forever grateful to Pam Cronin and the generosity given to us at the Shell Factory. We are grateful to the many theater lovers we met in North Ft Myers and we are confident they will drive the 12 miles to our new home. We both can’t wait for the start of next season. Get your tickets today. And support, support, support. And did we mention, new location, new location, new location,” said Carrie Cacioppo.