SCC Performing Arts Club ends long run on high note
By LOIS KINDLE
Eighteen years ago, three Sun City Center residents – a New York actor, a radio man and a psychiatric nurse – had a dream of entertaining, enriching and educating their neighbors through entertainment and brought it to fruition by forming the Sun City Center Performing Arts Club or PAC.
“Based on their sizes, backgrounds and demeanors, they were such an unlikely trio,” said Ellen Kleinschmidt, current PAC president. “But when Lew Resseguie, Ed Brown and Barbara Brtva met, something wonderful happened.”
Between 2003 and 2015, PAC performers presented 27 musicals that created many magical moments of live theater for area residents.
“It was our joy to entertain the audiences,” said Judy Brown, PAC treasurer and technical director. “No words can adequately describe our love and gratitude to the performers and people behind the scenes who worked so hard to ensure the highest level of quality for each performance. “(We are grateful) to our audiences and everyone who supported PAC and shared our love of the theater.”
According to Ed Brown, in 2006 when the Sun City Center Community Association indefinitely delayed plans to renovate Rollins Theater, PAC used money from donations, grants and ticket sales to make much-needed improvements, including a computerized sound system, new stage lighting, additional and more comfortable seating, a new main curtain and more. The theater was transformed into what he called “a first-class theatrical venue.”
The club also invested funds in an interest-gathering reserve account with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.
Sadly, like most things in life, PAC’s days are coming to an end. The 501(c) 3’s final act will include dissolving its charter June 30 and disbursing its funds to other charitable entities.
Monies from its Community Foundation of Tampa Bay account will be distributed as follows: $20,000 to the Blake High School Thespians Booster Club; $10,000 to the Sun City Center Charitable Foundation’s Lew Resseguie Veterans Endowment Fund; $5,000 to the Pelican Players; and $500 to Donate Life America, in memory of longtime PAC sound man Jim Smith.
“The remaining balance in its reserve account will be used to establish the Lew Resseguie Sun City Center Performing Arts Club Endowment with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to benefit theater arts organizations throughout Hillsborough County (through annual distributions of interest),” said Wilma Norton, the foundation’s vice president of community connections.
The group recently decided to make a significant donation to the PAC endowment fund in honor of co-founders Brtva and Brown, who wrote and produced many PAC shows.
Kleinschmidt, who was with PAC during all but one of its run of shows, said the first ones were all musical revues narrated by Brown, accompanied by Chuck Wirick on piano. Then the club began using full orchestra tracks for musical plays. Eventually, performers Teri Council, Kathy Straub and Kleinschmidt were given the opportunity to write shows. They created three: “Aged to Perfection,” “Apartment 14G” and “Valentine’s on Route 66.”
Other PAC contributions
In addition to full seasons of stage performances, PAC contributed to area youth by offering theater seminars in local high school and colleges, helped design a new sound system for Lennard High School, participated in Hillsborough County Library programs and founded a group called PACkids for elementary school singers and dancers who performed holiday concerts at area retirement communities, the opening of the SouthShore Regional Library, the annual Ruskin Seafood Festival and other local venues, in addition to learning performance-related skills and gaining self-confidence.
PAC members performed at Fun Fest and other South Shore events. Its “Wall to Wall Christmas” concerts benefited The Make-A-Wish Foundation, and its PAC Lite summer series kept year-round community residents engaged.
Kleinschmidt said the group also awarded scholarships to promising local students interested in theater, conducted on-site professional auditions with a New York talent agent and presented acting and directing seminars to people interested in all aspects of theater.
You can help ensure theater arts thrives in Hillsborough County by donating to the Lew Resseguie Sun City Center Performing Arts Club Endowment: visit https://cftampabay.org/give-now/, click on Endowments and Reserves and scroll to Give Now at the bottom of the page