BRADENTON – When the hit comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum opens at the Manatee Players Riverfront Theatre on Thursday, it will earn the distinction of being the last show to ever open at the iconic theater, which has sat at the end of Old Main Street since 1953. In late summer, the Manatee Performing Arts Center will debut as the new home of the Players in what the city hopes will be the dawn of the Riverwalk era.
|The current theater at the end of Old Main Street|
The new theater is the keystone to Bradenton's vision for revitalizing its downtown. Nestled between 41 and 301, the new location bridges the area which has traditionally been the downtown district, with the newly-developed portion east of 41 known as the sandpile, giving that area its first true destination location. City officials hope that the facility will draw people across 41 where the recently-opened Riverwalk sits and where new businesses are beginning to boom.
Manatee Players has promised to open with a blockbuster musical that the theater says it will announce in April. Meanwhile, nostalgic fans still have a chance to see one more opening night at the quaint old Florida theater which borders the Twin Dolphin Marina and Pier 22. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a vaudevillian comedy about a crafty Roman slave struggling to win the love of a beautiful woman for his master, in order to win his own freedom.
Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $26 including facility fee for adults, $15 including facility fee for teachers and $13 including facility fee for students. Tickets may be reserved by calling 748-5875 Monday – Friday from 9-5 and one hour before curtain on performance days or on the Manatee Players’ website: www.manateeplayers.com.
The award-winning non-profit community theater says its mission is to "represent, enrich and stimulate people through the art of live theatre by providing entertainment, education and an artistic outlet." This year, those ambitions will grow in a 14-show season on the two stages of its new venue. The company will come in with a bang, bringing a schedule that includes such timeless hits as Grease, Young Frankenstein, Peter Pan and even Shrek: The Musical.
|The Manatee Performing Arts Center on 3rd Avenue West|
August 8-25: A major show to be announced in April
September 12-29: GREASE
October 24-November 10: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
December 5-22: PETER PAN
January 9-26, 2014: THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
February 13-March 2, 2014: SHREK: THE MUSICAL