Pelican Players extend theatre reach with local authors

BILL HODGES PHOTO
Audience seating for Pelican Players’ Reader’s Theatre is cabaret style, which creates an ambience conducive to socializing. Both performances in July of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir drew audiences of well over 100.

By PHYLLIS HODGES

Pelican Players, a popular nonprofit performing arts organization headquartered in Kings Point, Sun City Center, is adding an interesting twist to its offerings this year.  It is giving local authors an opportunity to submit a script for its Reader’s Theatre.

Not familiar with a Reader’s Theatre?  In these productions, the cast usually is at a table, sitting on stools or standing to deliver the performance from scripts, not memorized. There is no set or stage movement; the cast members bring their characters alive with vocal variety and facial expressions. The performances are free and open to the public monthly from May through October in the Kings Point North Club.

Pelican Players’ Board President Mary Winter said that this is the group’s way of giving back to the community for its support.  “With these productions, we also can develop new talent and give opportunities to those performers who are intimidated by learning lines. They get to dip their toes in the water,” she said. Developing new directors is also a facet of the group, as is its new endeavor of performing original scripts from area writers.

The group’s last Reader’s Theatre production was The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which was a 1947 movie that became a radio show, then a TV series. There were two performances—July 27 and 28—because so many people auditioned for the 11 parts.

The Aug. 17 Reader’s Theatre production of The House in Bloomington will be the first production written by a local author, Mark Sondrini. It is a narrative short story about a dysfunctional family of three during the aftermath of a bitter divorce, following their lives through to the tragic end. Directed by Rick Swenson and narrated by Jeanne Laffer, it has five main characters:  Wendy Smith, Harold Emanuel, Lisa Velasco, Kevin Steinke and Beverley Paulson. Jim Smith and Ken Winter will provide the sound and sound effects. The play starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Kings Point Veterans Theater in the North Club.

Mark Sondrini’s The House in Bloomington was selected as Reader’s Theatre Aug. 17 Pelican Players production in Kings Point. He worked as a design engineer and project manager for several companies for nearly 40 years before retiring to write professionally.

Mark Sondrini, who lives in Ruskin, heard about the Pelican Players’ search for local writers through the Adult Writer’s Group at the Hillsborough County Library. “I decided to adapt my script for the Players’ Reader’s Theatre, and it was chosen,” he said. “Since it was my first script, I was surprised and excited. I was graciously asked to participate in the audition process.”  His writings include four science fiction novels, more than 25 science fiction short stories, two juvenile mystery novelettes, three adult mystery novels and one stage play (this one). He has several novels underway and in research now.

Pelican Players draws members, audience and participants from Bradenton, Brandon and all areas in between.  In addition to Readers Theatre and mystery theatre productions for area organizations, the group presents three stage plays each year. Over the River and Through the Woods, which debuts Aug. 10, at 7 p.m., and also shows Aug. 11 and 12, is about Nick, a single Italian-American guy from New Jersey who has dinner with his beloved, but annoying grandparents, every Sunday.

Tickets are $15 at the Kings Point North Club ticket office. To gain entry to KP, tell the visitor entrance attendant where you are going. For more information, email pelicanplayers.rep@gmail.com or visit facebook.com/PelicanPlayersSCC/

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