SUN CITY CENTER — A new vision, a new name and a new status as a national, nonprofit charitable arts organization could mean "the start of something big" for the SouthShore Players, who have traveled like gypsies for well over a year with no permanent place to rehearse or perform.
Formerly, the Performing Arts Club of Sun City Center, known for bringing musical entertainment to the community for 14 years, the veteran actors parted ways with the Sun City Center Community Association in late 2014, after the residents voted against building a new performing arts center to replace the aging Rollins Theater.
But that's all in the past, and as the SouthShore continues to grow, the "players" see a real need to create theater that not only entertains, but enriches and educates its growing and diverse population, a mission it proudly displays on a new logo.
The reinvigorated group will stage its latest showcase, Broadway Goes Pop, at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the Sun City Center Community Hall, 1910 S Pebble Beach Blvd.
The players have formed a new board of directors of local visionaries with broad ties to the SouthShore area, intent on becoming a catalyst for building a yet-to-be-named, 1,000-seat performing arts center on 10 acres of property near Interstate 75 so people have access to it.
"Looking back, I realize, had we done things differently, maybe that theater would be up in SCC, but I think it's a blessing it isn't because this is going to serve the greater good," said Ellen Kleinschmidt, vice president and music director of the SouthShore Players.
"We've got some good people behind us, and we're moving forward with a solid plan," added Kleinschmidt, a retired elmentary music teacher and former Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. "When you build it, they will come. Just where and when, we don't know."
With construction of the center projected at $15 million, the SouthShore Players and its active and transparent board intend to leave no stone unturned, reaching out to community leaders, including Hillsborough County school superintendent, Jeff Eakins, to find benefactors and friends who are passionate about the arts and want to volunteer.
Even though it could be five or six years down the road, the group intends to do it right, constructing a center based on professional architectural and Actors Equity standards, equipped with two rehearsal halls, restrooms and plenty of space to host national musical touring companies, events and classes for children and adults.
For the time being, the SouthShore Players have found a temporary home to rehearse once a week at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church, who through its good graces, has offered an outpouring of assistance while the actors were in limbo.
The group's latest show is a musical revue of Broadway songs that have seen new life as pop hits spanning seven decades.
It'll start with the Roaring '20s, move to the Golden Age of Broadway — featuring Rodgers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin selections — and wrap up with modern Broadway pop hits from composers such as Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Weber.
"Our overriding concept is we always put quality entertainment on stage," said SouthShore Players president Lew Resseguie, who directed the SCC PAC after he retired from professional theater and television.
Fifty percent of the net proceeds from the show will be donated to the Performing Arts Center Building Fund, and the other half to an area school's performing arts department.
"We don't anticipate making lots of money this time, but the purpose is getting our name back into the community," Kleinschmidt said. "That's more important than money.
"When we build the center, the community can expect this type of quality entertainment and more."
Broadway Goes Pop is not intended to be a one-night stand. The SouthShore Players want to stay active, branching out to other venues across the state, possibly performing before clubs, organizations, senior communities and even corporate events.
"I love being a part of something that not only brings me joy, but brings joy to others," said original cast member Michael Peacock said.
Contact Kathryn Moschella at [email protected]