Monday, October 5, 2009

New Season at the Schoolhouse

New season at the Schoolhouse

Many improvements made to island's Herb Strauss Theater

Victor Legarreta, left, and Madison Mitchell stand on both sides of The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater's sign on Periwinkle Way, which promotes upcoming productions to passersby. The theater will raise the curtain on its 2009-10 season on Oct. 15.

As the folks at The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater prepare to raise the curtain on their 2009-10 season of comedic productions and musical revues, they are still putting a few finishing touches on improvements made during a very busy summer "off-season."

"We've made so many changes," said Victor Legarreta, artistic director for the historic Sanibel playhouse. "There's new carpeting, new paint, a new concession stand and we did a lot of work outside, too."

According to Madison Mitchell, the theater's marketing director, they have installed new carpeting throughout the building, installed dimmer lights inside the theater and a concession stand and bar in the main lobby. Above the stand, a new flatscreen television will promote upcoming productions as well as facility sponsors.

"The newest addition is the outdoor patio," explained Mitchell, making her way down the front stairs and walking to the east side of the building. "It's a really nice place that people will have to sit before or after a show."

A decorative white trellis is featured at the entrance to the patio, which winds along a red brick walkway to an area with shaded bench seating, an intimate spot which Mitchell explained will be officially dedicated to the past presidents of The Schoolhouse Theater - formerly known through its long history as the Pirate Playhouse, The Old Schoolhouse Theater, The J. Howard Wood Theater and The Periwinkle Playhouse.

On opening night for the 2009-10 season, which will be Thursday, Oct. 15, a dedication celebration will be held beginning at 6:30 p.m., with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails to follow at 7 p.m.

Among the other changes to the facility is new exterior paint and expanded landscaping throughout the parking lot, including painting all of the curbs pink.

"We're also attempting to go green a little more," added Mitchell. "We're doing away with our mailers and are asking people to go to our Web site - - for information about upcoming shows."

On the roster for the 2009-10 season at The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater are the following productions:

"Lovely Night: The Music of Oscar Hammerstein" - Sponsored by Henderson Franklin, Attorneys at Law, this will be a rousing tribute to the music of Oscar Hammerstein II, a composer of some 850 songs including "Getting To Know You," "The Sound of Music," "Ol Man River" and ""Oklahoma!" Running Oct. 15 through Nov. 7

"Plaza Suite" by Neil Simon - Sponsored by Bank Of The Islands and Royal Shell Vacations, this play offers one of Simon's most hilarious works based upon the trials and tribulations of relationships. Running Nov. 12 through Dec. 5

"Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)" - Sponsored by Brian Johnson VIP Realty and Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream, the production features a trio of actors performing a side-splitting rendition of every Christmas tale, guaranteed to be an evening of holiday merriment and laughter. A play written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez. Running Dec. 15 through 31

"Unnecessary Farce" - Sponsored by 'Tween Waters Inn, this comedic farce from Paul Slade Smith follows two inexperienced police officers who try to catch the mayor in an embezzlement scandal. Too bad that everything that could go wrong actually does! Running Jan. 14 through Feb. 6

"Fly Me To The Moon: A Tribute to The Rat Pack" - Sponsored by Lily & Co. and the Bell & Beggs Team, this musical revue features the unforgettable music made famous by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Running Feb. 18 through March 20

"Something's Afoot" - Sponsored by Congress Jewelers, this British musical farce by James McDonald, David Vos and Robert Gerlach offers a colorful assortment of characters thrown together in a murder mystery... where everybody is a suspect! Running March 25 through April 24
All performances begin at 8 p.m.
With only two weeks remaining until their first production hits the stage, Mitchell and Legarreta are both equally excited to begin the season.

"It's definitely been a very productive summer, to say the least," said Mitchell, who pointed out that she is most looking forward to staging "Plaza Suite" in November.
"I'm going to be in it," she explained with a laugh. "Actually, I'm really looking forward to opening night so we can show off everything that's new and refurbished."
Legarreta added that he's excited to see the Florida debuts of "Unnecessary Farce" and "Something's Afoot."

"We'll have some of the popular people who have played here returning," he noted, explaining of the latter, "It's a murder mystery musical. A very big cast. It's kinda like 'Clue' but with a British twist... and singing!"

To purchase tickets or for more information about The Herb Strauss Schoolhouse Theater, visit the box office at 2200 Periwinkle Way, call 472-6862 or go to their Web site at

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