NEW PORT RICHEY — Almost two years to the day after opening, Jimmy Ferraro is shutting down his 68-seat Studio Theatre on Main Street and canceling the four summer shows scheduled from June 10 to Sept. 25.
But he is far from giving up theater or theater ownership.
"It is no secret that we have outgrown our intimate Studio Theatre," he said. "We decided that the summertime would be (the) best time to reorganize and find a new location that would better accommodate our guests. And so we will be closing for the summer."
Tickets had gone on sale last month for the four shows, but "no tickets were processed," Ferraro said.
Besides the paucity of seats, the second and perhaps more important reason for the move is the perennial downtown New Port Richey problem — handy parking. Studio Theatre patrons could either park along the street or walk at least two blocks to the nearest public parking, neither one a good option in rainy, dark, hot or cold weather, especially for the predominantly senior clientele.
"I didn't realize how important (adjacent parking) was," Ferraro said. "I hate to have to leave the downtown area, but … "
Ferraro is determined that his next theater will be convenient to his current fans. So far, he's looked at a place in Trinity and is searching for something between Holiday and Port Richey with good parking and good visibility. The next theater will have about 100 seats, he said. That means at least 50 nearby parking spots, preferably more.
"We want to keep the intimacy" of the previous small venue, he said, but still have enough seats to accommodate groups and individual patrons.
This was Ferraro's fourth theater venture in west Pasco. The first was the Flamingo Dinner Theatre in the former Days Inn on U.S. 19, just south of State Road 52, in 1991. The second, Angel "Garden Cafe'' Theatre, operated in Holiday for four years, ending in 1998. The third, the Angel Cabaret, a dinner theater, was in the Southgate Shopping Center from October 2001 to December 2004.
In between, Ferraro was artistic director at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre and starred in, directed or managed several national touring theater companies.
Ferraro said he is pleased with the reception his theater has gotten in the community.
"We closed down with a bang — full houses," he said.