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Small group has big dreams for South County performers

Published on: January 13, 2016

By PENNY FLETCHER

Lew Resseguie assists in the choreography of the song “I’m Gonna’ Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair” from the musical South Pacific, performed by Ellen Kleinschmidt, Teri Council and Kathy Straub. Penny Fletcher photo.

Lew Resseguie assists in the choreography of the song “I’m Gonna’ Wash that Man Right Out of My Hair” from the musical South Pacific, performed by Ellen Kleinschmidt, Teri Council and Kathy Straub. Penny Fletcher photo.

It isn’t hard to picture Kathy Straub standing on a table singing “Ricochet Romance” — originally made famous by Theresa Brewer in 1953 — when she was four years old. Holding more than one degree in music, Straub, like others in the SouthShore Players, have songs in their hearts and don’t intend to stop performing as they age.

On Tuesday nights, the Choir Room at the Sun City Center Methodist Church is “generously loaned” to the SouthShore Players, which is an outgrowth of what was once the Performing Arts Club of Sun City Center.

Still a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, this group has plans to keep performing arts alive in the South County area long after its founders are gone.

“Our purpose is twofold,” said Ellen Kleinschmidt. “One is to build a performing arts center and the other is to donate to performing arts programs in local elementary, middle and high schools.”

Kleinschmidt, a retired elementary school music teacher, is a singer, actress and vocal coach, and serves as vice president and music director of the SouthShore Players. Voted Teacher of the Year in Hillsborough County in 2006, she said it was very unusual for a music teacher to receive that award, which usually goes to math and science instructors.

Kleinschmidt and the others participating in the group needed no persuasion to perform together after hearing the vision of the Players, founder and president, Lew Resseguie.

Resseguie had more than 30 years of success as an actor and singer in New York City, with more than 50 network commercials, several national tours of Broadway shows, films, concerts at the Kennedy Center and the White House. Resseguie said he especially enjoyed his role as Sgt. Sam Dwyer in the daytime series The Edge of Night and in the first-ever Broadway Pops Concert at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra.

The newly formed group is already a member of the American Association of Community Theaters, and has gathered a talented board including Judy Brown, Barbara Brtva, Carlyn Laurent, Jim Smith and Don Churchill.

Meanwhile, actors Kleinschmidt, Resseguie, Straub, Teri Council, Michael Peacock and Dan Tackitt will be performing Broadway Goes Pop, featuring songs and stories from the roaring ’20s through the 1970s on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Sun City Center’s Community Hall, 1910 S. Pebble Beach Blvd.

Tickets are available for $12 in advance at the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce and at both locations of American Momentum Bank (Sun City Center and Apollo Beach); tickets will be $15 at the door.

“We plan to put half the proceeds (after costs) from the show toward the performing arts programs in the schools and the other half into the building fund,” said Resseguie. He said a theater with everything needed for serious theater productions would cost about $15 million, plus a donation of about 10 acres of land.

“We’re looking for donations of both land and money,” Kleinschmidt added. “We could also use a knowledgeable grant writer.”

The Players say they hope someday not only to be a home for community theater but also to attract top-notch internationally known names to perform in the state-of-the-art theater they imagine.

To purchase tickets for Broadway Goes Pop with a credit card, or to find out more about the SouthShore Players, call 813-789-8271 or visit www.SouthShorePlayers.org.

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