Tuesday, August 4, 2009

There's no doubt - American Stage class act

American Stage Theatre Company did it again.

It broke yet another attendance record. The second one in its 30th anniversary season.

The record-breaking show was its recent production of "Tuesdays With Morrie," which sold 4,601 tickets. While area theaters south of the Skyway Bridge are battling to get patrons in the doors during a rough economy, American Stage makes it look all too easy.

One could attribute the feat to the opening of its new theater in downtown St. Petersburg. But its holiday show, "A Tuna Christmas," which was produced in the old theater, brought crowds in too, selling just 148 seats less than "Tuesdays."
Artist director Todd Olson couldn't be happier.
"It is so exciting to have two of the highest attended plays in our history happen in the same season,” he said in a press release. “Since the recession has been declared it seems like every week, somewhere in the country, another professional theatre has closed its doors. Somehow we are having the most successful season we have had in our three decades of existence. What a great way to celebrate our 30th anniversary season.”

But why? Maybe it's that American Stage is truly the premiere professional theater of St. Petersburg, offering many quality, thought-provoking shows that interest residents. Or the fact that it doesn't have to duel for as much attention with area theaters, unlike here. In the Bradenton/Sarasota area, there are many highly talented professional and community theaters competing for patrons.

Plus, offering several Pay-What-You-Can nights surely attract those on tight budgets. But even regular ticket prices are affordable.
Whatever the reason, people continue to flood the doors. The theater's current production of John Patrick Shanley's award-winning "Doubt" is fairing well, too. The show has been extended through Aug. 23.

In other American Stage news, the theater is looking for musical directors and accompanists for events in the new Susan R. Hough Cabaret at the Raymond James Theatre for next season. Highlighted will be the music of Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mercer, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim and more. Those interested should email Olson at candtolson@aol.com. No phone calls.

-January Holmes

picture above is of "Doubt," now playing at American Stage

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