A little over two months after announcing the selection of its architectural firm, Gulfshore Playhouse unveiled the first exterior rendering of its new state-of-the-art and education center to a more than 250-person audience at the 8th Annual Bubbles, Baubles and Broadway Gala on March 26.
The complex will be designed by world-renowned architectural firm, H3 – a design studio within Arquitectonica specializing in theatres and arts and culture buildings. The architectural firm has designed some of the most prominent theatres in the country, including the Claire Tow Theatre and Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center, the Theatre for a New Audience in New York, and the renovation of Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The new home for the professional regional theatre will be situated on a three-acre parcel at the corner of 1st Avenue South and Goodlette-Frank Road, which will extend the core of downtown to the east of 5th Avenue.
The new theatre, which faces Goodlette-Frank Road, will be an expressive sculptural design inspired by the white sand and golden sunsets of the Gulf Coast. The theatre has also been designed to connect with Naples’ downtown landscape featuring gardens with walking paths, lush terraces and contemplative spaces.
The design of the theatre showcases the vibrant and animated lobby, which includes 30-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass windows that frame views out to the surrounding streetscape. Patrons arriving at the playhouse will enter into an energetic and airy lobby space, with multiple levels and overlooks designed to encourage people watching. The lobby will also serve as a welcoming and engaging space for audience members, visitors, students, and families, and feature a café/bar and lounge areas to relax and enjoy.
The sense of anticipation carries into the theatre itself. Plans for the complex will include a 400-seat mainstage proscenium theatre with sloped stadium seating, side boxes, and a striking arched proscenium, which will be used for large-cast musicals, classics, and world premiere comedies and dramas presented in an intimate setting. The mainstage will be the size of a traditional Broadway stage, which will be used for productions transferring to a Broadway theatre, when appropriate. The space will also provide audiences with better comfort, superior sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics.
“This new space is authentic, innovative and unlike any architecture we have in Southwest Florida. It will truly be a dynamic destination location and beautiful addition to Goodlette-Frank Road,” said Founder and Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury. “This new space will also allow us to expand our community engagement and education programming and bring to life larger world-class productions created just for Southwest Florida audiences.”
A separate 125-seat studio theatre will provide a home for Theatre for Young Audiences, cabarets, jazz performances, and edgier fare, as well as a rental space for meetings, convenings, and other performances.
A large rehearsal room, with an indoor-outdoor emphasis, will double as public spaces that can be used for special events, weddings and galas.
The Education Wing will provide additional spaces for students, including rehearsal rooms, classrooms, performance spaces, and a student lounge for studying and rehearsing lines. The theatre and education center will support the expansion of Gulfshore Playhouse Education with programs focused on preprofessional training in acting and musical theatre, as well as expand its in-school and after-school education programs and provide opportunities for family engagement and life-long learning.
“What is unique about this theatre is that there’s an education component. Not all theatres have the ability to do that. Often, they don’t fit, like a New York theatre wedged between other buildings, but here, we included an educational wing that also serves a community purpose,” said lead designer and Arquitectonica Principal Bernardo Fort-Brescia.
Gulfshore Playhouse expects to triple its capacity in the new theatre and education campus, resulting in more than $10 million annually being contributed to the local economy by visitors and residents with the potential to shop, dine and stay at local businesses and hoteliers, according to national averages.
The new theatre and education center is part of Gulfshore Playhouse’s Next Stage capital campaign, which includes funding for the building costs, endowment, and a building transition fund. A portion of the funds already raised were used to purchase the land in November of 2017. Quiet phase fundraising is currently underway. Project assistance is being provided to Gulfshore Playhouse by Pizzuti Solutions, and financing is in place with BMO/Harris Bank.
Gulfshore Playhouse is committed to enriching and strengthening the cultural fabric of our region by producing professional theatre productions of a national standard that celebrates the diversity of our audiences, draws people together to discover a new understanding of oneself, and gives back in a spirit of outreach and service.
For more information about Gulfshore Playhouse or its new facility, visit www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org or call 239-261-PLAY (7529).