Gulfshore Playhouse Raises Record Number Via Immersive Theatrical Experience

On March 7, 2022 Gulfshore Playhouse hosted its most successful fundraising event to date, raising $2.5 million. However, this record-breaking achievement did not come from any traditional fundraiser, but from producing a world-class theatrical performance as those produced in their home theatre.

“This year, we decided to produce more of a show than a fundraiser – a large-scale production of uncompromised quality that gave our patrons and donors a taste of what we will produce in our new Baker Theatre and Education Center,” said Founder, CEO, and Producing Artistic Director, Kristen Coury. “We are deeply grateful to our generous supporters who showed up in astounding numbers on Monday, with a sense of excitement and unparalleled generosity that was spectacular.”

Gulfshore Playhouse and its “7th production of the season” received more than a standing ovation. Over 375 guests attended the “Under the Big Top” circus-themed event held at the Ritz-Carlton Tiburon Golf Resort. Attendees donated over $1 million in the room and event chairs Patty and¬†Jay Baker¬†matched every one of those donations. All of the proceeds will go to the Annual Fund for Artistic Excellence, which this year accounts for 86% of this year’s budget and helps ensure The Playhouse can continue to produce world-class theatre and unique educational opportunities here in Naples as well as ramp up effectively to open the new Baker Theatre and Education Center in 2024.

The exhilarating event featured vocal performances from Broadway actors Michael Halling and Carolann Sanita who were joined on stage by cirque nouveau troupe Quixotic Fusion. Guests were awed by a range of acts including fire eaters, acrobatic dancers, aerialists, and more. The vintage circus theme further came to life as guests, encouraged to “dress courageously”, stepped up to the challenge in themed attire. This included event chairs Patty and Jay Baker who disguised themselves as a clown and a lion respectively.

Attendees praised the immersive event. Patron George Kraus said, “This was the best fundraiser I’ve ever attended…ever!” with many others sharing similar sentiments. The Ritz-Carlton Tiburon tent was transformed into an immersive circus experience thanks in part to the scenic design by David L. Arsenault, lighting design by Jimmy Lawlor and costume design by Renee Baker.

The night emphasized the exciting future of Gulfshore Playhouse. With an anticipated opening in late 2023, now is the time for Gulfshore Playhouse to “ramp up” operations as it prepares to transition into a facility with expanded capacity. In a stirring speech, Founder, CEO and Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury described how communities used to come together to help their neighbor “build the barn”, and now she was asking the community in the room to join together in helping fund this most important year, as they create infrastructure, hire at least 15 new positions, and invest in new software and training for the new building. “Theater provides the opportunity to walk a mile in another person’s shoes,” Coury stated, “which increases empathy. And so this new building will create experiences that will not only be healthy for our community, but for our very souls.”

In 2023, Gulfshore Playhouse will produce a gala themed “Masquerade,” which will be chaired by Naples Philanthropists Sandi and Tom Moran.

Michael Halling is a Broadway veteran who is known for his work in “My Fair Lady” at the Lincoln Center, “The Boy from Oz” as Hugh Jackman‘s standby, as well as Harry Connick Jr.’s standby in “The Pajama Game.”

Carolann Sanita toured as Marian in the first national tour of “The Music Man” and internationally as Maria in the European and Asian tours of “West Side Story.” She is the founder of CSV Vocal Studio and continues to teach locally and regionally.

Quixotic is an innovative performance art collective that fuses imagination with technology, dance, projection mapping and live music to create fully-immersive, multi-sensory experiences.

Broadway World

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