Theatre guild building undergoes extensive cleaning, renovations
BY KERRY FIRTH
The Vero Beach Theatre Guild is the oldest community theater on the Treasure Coast, offering extraordinary local entertainment since 1958. From its humble beginnings when plays were presented at the old naval base or high schools and props and costumes were kept in people’s garages to its current state-of-the-art campus, the guild was built on the generosity of a community with a thirst for live theater.
Throughout the years, it has undergone numerous transformations, the latest being in 2016 with the addition of a new three-story east wing designed to house new dressing rooms, rehearsal space and costume storage. The next two years saw many physical changes and finally all items stored off-campus were moved to the new wing. In 2019, the theater became a year-round operation presenting seven main stage productions and three staged readings in the Apron Series. By all accounts the theater was staged to live happily ever after.
That was, of course, until 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted the world and the curtain fell, as the guild’s season was suspended indefinitely after the fourth production had opened. Not to sit idle, the management team busied itself with another renovation during the shutdown.
“We took advantage of COVID and literally transformed the entire building with just the materials we had,” guild president Lisa McNamee said. “We took out the floors and got it down to the original terrazzo and took out the carpet in the auditorium. We removed all 120 seats, moved the front row back so it’s away from the stage and extended the spacing between rows to 6 feet so everyone can move in and out comfortably. We painted everything inside and out, put sound baffles in the auditorium and changed the air filters in all 11 air conditioners to make sure the building was clean and healthy.
“With a matching grant from the cultural council, we were able to reconfigure the administrative space making the lobby larger, the box office smaller, and adding two offices out of a storeroom,” she continued. “We also installed mirrors and a dance floor in the rehearsal room, updated the bathrooms and made the campus ADA compliant. By the time we reopened in November 2020, we had a shiny, healthy new campus.”
ACTING CLASSES PLANNED
The guild has instituted some new programs including acting classes taught by Michael D. Naffziger, a Tony-nominated theater educator and director. January classes will cover the fundamentals of auditioning and provide the tools to walk into an audition with a new level of confidence. Classes are held on Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Participants can take one or all of the classes. Class size is limited to 25 people and cost is $20 per session.
“We’ve rented out our facility to St. Anastasia School for their students to utilize once a week for classes and rehearsals and to perform their show on stage,” McNamee said. “We’ll be presenting a program called Unsung Heroes in February, which will talk about the police and sheriffs as friends. We are also starting a summer theater learning center in 2023 for children 8-18 under direction of Michael Naffziger. And soon we’ll be offering our space for rent for meetings, fundraisers and parties.”
The five remaining shows for the 2022-2023 season are poignant, hilarious, thought provoking and mysterious.
• Jan. 13-29: Visiting Mr. Green is a comedy about a retired dry cleaner and a 29-year-old corporate executive who are brought together by accident and their enduring relationship that develops.
• Feb. 10-12 and 17-19: The Lifespan of a Fact is a hilarious story of a magazine fact-checker who battles over facts vs. fiction.
• March 3-26: The Boy From Oz is a musical that chronicles the life of Peter Allen as he catapults his career from humble beginnings in Australia’s Outback to the big stages in London, New York and Los Angeles.
• April 14-16 and 21-23: Equus is a psychological puzzle that leads both the psychiatrist and the boy who blinded six horses in a violent act of passion to unravel the complex and disturbing reason why.
• May 5-21: Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile is a shocking murder mystery set on a honeymoon voyage down the Nile River.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.verobeachtheatre-guild.com, by calling 772.562.8300 or by coming to the box office at 2020 San Juan Ave., Vero Beach. The box office is open 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday, and one hour before showtime.
Dec. 29, 2022