Manatee Performing Arts Center (lovingly known as Manatee Players)

Bradenton – Three musicals about Jesus and a show about a whorehouse are coming to Bradenton. Those shows, and nine others, are part of the Manatee Players 2014-15 season.  It’s the company’s second full season at the Manatee Performing Arts Center that was recently renovated.

The season includes seven shows in the larger Stone Hall and six in the Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater. The company’s first season of presenting shows in two theaters proved to be a big success, and audiences have responded to the more varied offering made possible by the intimate Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater.

The Stone Hall shows (all musicals) are:

  1.  “Disney’s Tarzan” (Aug. 7-24),
  2. “Dames at Sea” (Sept. 11-28), “
  3. “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (Oct. 23-Nov. 9),
  4. “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Dec. 4-21),
  5. “Brigadoon” (Jan. 8-25),
  6. “Into the Woods” (Feb. 12-March 1, 2015)
  7.  “Jesus Christ Superstar” (March 19-April 5, 2015).

The Kiwanis Studio Theater shows mix plays and musicals:

  1. “Morning’s at Seven” (Sept. 11-28),
  2. “Godspell” (Oct. 31-Nov. 17),
  3. “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (Dec. 4-21),
  4. “The Foursome” (Jan. 15-Feb. 1, 2015),
  5. “Agnes of God” (Feb. 19-March 8, 2015)
  6. “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (April 9-26, 2015).

Most shows are classics, or at least well-known to theatergoers, but a few aren’t so familiar. “Tarzan” is of course based on the 1999 animated film, which features music by Phil Collins. It ran for a little more than a year on Broadway in 2006-07. The same company that created the flying effects for this season’s production of “Peter Pan” for Manatee Players will be back for this show.  “Morning’s at Seven” is 1939 drama about four aging sisters. Its three Broadway runs have not been hugely successful, but it’s popular with regional theaters.  “The Foursome” is a Norm Foster comedy about four buddies who play golf.

They picked “Godspell,” the 1970s Stephen Schwartz musical, to balance out “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”.  They don’t expect any community objection to “Whorehouse,” which despite its title, is a light and splashy musical, but by staging “Godspell,” which is based on the Gospel of St. Matthew, at the same time, they are offering something for families.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors,” gives Manatee Players a chance to explore opera.   “Amahl” will be the first opera Manatee Players has done in decades.  Historically, about 60 years ago, operettas were a regular part of their schedule.

The Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W. in Bradenton. For information about the season or any of the shows, call 941-749-1111 or go to manteeplayers.com.

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