Largo resident Karl Meinecke believes community theater's value is that it's an intergenerational experience.
''Except for synagogues and churches, it's one of the last big places you can find that,'' he said.
Meinecke, who teaches drama at Pinellas Park High, devotes six weeks each summer to City Players, the community theater group based in Clearwater.
"I first performed with the group in 1977, in Once Upon a Mattress," said Meinecke, 49. "I've been hooked ever since.''
The organization will present Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific Friday through Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
The cast, with founding member Betty Jane Pucci directing, includes Capria Pichette as Nurse Nellie Forbush and Gene Kachurak as the French planter Emile de Becque.
A major draw for the 42 actors to devote their time is "to be on a professional stage like Ruth Eckerd,'' Pucci said.
The classic love story of South Pacific, based on James Michener's World War II novel, Tales of the South Pacific, holds both drama, found in the interracial love story, and comedy, with the likes of Luther Billis played by Ed McNally.
With a full orchestra providing the music, the audience can expect to hear I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair, Some Enchanted Evening and Bali Ha'i.
Several families are participating in the production. McNally is joined by his two sons, Zach, 18, (playing Joseph Cable) and Dacey, 13, (a Seabee), and his mother-in-law, Elaine Forestier, the show's choreographer.
Caitlin Greene's real life and stage life merge when the 16-year-old plays Liat, the daughter of Bloody Mary, played by her mother, Jo Mabini Greene.
Patrice Pucci, Betty Jane Pucci's daughter, is acting vice president for the City Players board of directors, and is also French coach and makeup artist.
Meinecke, who plays the professor, also considers the Puccis, and City Players, which evolved from the Clearwater Community Chorus and became a theater group in 1972, a healing environment.
"I've known the Puccis my entire adult life, and it does feel like a family. This summer, in June, my father died. Being involved with this familiar group has been extra-therapeutic for me.''
Piper Castillo can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4163.