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  1. Bizarre News

Carrollwood Players take the stage for 36th season

CARROLLWOOD — Tampa's oldest community theater, Carrollwood Players, opens its 36th season this week on a new stage with one of two musicals, selected for the first time by votes through donations by patrons.

The volunteer group debuts The Addams Family Musical on Friday, Sept. 2. It runs through Sept. 24 as part of a season that includes La Cage Aux Folles, A Christmas Carol, The Red Velvet Cake War, Death Trap and Proof.

The opening play revolves around Wednesday Addams falling in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family, a man her parents have never met.

Deborah Kelley, the organization's publicity co-chair, said the board previously selected the musicals, but decided to do something different as a fundraiser, too. The board selected the others after review by a play-reading committee.

The theater group, formed in 1981, presents its shows in a rental space at 4333 Gunn Highway, where Jim Johnson, who recently assumed the role as president of the group, said he and other volunteers built the stage over the past three weeks.

"The previous stage was installed for our first season in our current home, in 1993-1994," Johnson said. "At more than 20 years old, there was a lot of creaking and instability. The new stage is more stable, and a lot quieter — many actors have already commented on how much better it is."

Johnson said he accepted the role as president after being on the board for almost five of the past six years. As president, he hopes to help the organization continue to grow.

Kelley said the organization is seeking to grow the number of actors and other volunteers. With that growth, there is a five-year plan to have its own facility.

"We want to expand beyond a shopping center," Kelley said.

Tickets for the productions range from $20 to $27. For more information, visit

Times correspondent Lenora Lake