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About American Stage

American Stage is Tampa Bay's best professional regional equity theatre. Founded in 1977, our mission is to create the most satisfying live theatre in the Tampa Bay area, accessible to all members of the community. The vision is to preserve the greatest human stories from our past, while creating the most defining stories and storytelling of our time. American Stage presents its Mainstage Series in the 182-seat Raymond James Theatre year round and the annual American Stage in the Park each Spring. The theatre’s other programming includes: “After Hours” Series, School Tour, Youth/Adult Classes, Summer Camp, and Teen Summer Institute. Raymond James is the Mainstage Sponsor, The Tampa Bay Times is the Newspaper Media Sponsor, WEDU is the Media Sponsor, and WUSF 89.7 is the Radio Sponsor of American Stage. American Stage is also sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Florida Department of State, and the Florida Arts Council.

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TIMELINE

October 2, 1977
American Stage was founded as The Palisades Theatre Company, which had a temporary residence at Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) from 1977 to 1979. Initial programming consisted of a touring educational production, which later grew into the School Tour.

1979
The Junior League of St. Petersburg provided funds to convert an old cinema house in downtown St. Petersburg into a 179-seat performance space. With a non-union acting company in residence, the theatre originated its Mainstage subscription series, a five-play series now in its twenty-seventh season.

1981
The demise of the federally funded CETA program resulted in the loss of a substantial portion of the theater’s budget, which forced programming restrictions on American Stage, including a hiatus of the educational tour. Upon the departure of the founding artistic directors, John Berglund and Victoria Holloway took over leadership of the theater, and the name was officially changed to American Stage.

1984
The City of St. Petersburg condemned the American Stage facility, and the local power company offered an alternative site which provided over 10,000 square feet for an intimate 130-seat performance space with a lobby, a costume shop, a rehearsal hall, and office space. The new surroundings helped American Stage flourish, and the theatre lived in that same location for the next quarter of a century.

1985
American Stage became the first non-profit theatre company in the Tampa Bay region to operate under a full contract with Actors' Equity Association, and was one of the five original theatres in the country to pioneer the Small Professional Theatre contract.

1986
American Stage in the Park (also known as Shakespeare in the Park) was launched in the Spring, offering 10 free outdoor performances of The Taming of the Shrew. More than 8,000 people attended, and a community tradition was born. The following fall, the School Tour was reinstated.

1987
The St. Petersburg City Council designated American Stage as “St. Petersburg's Resident Professional Theatre Ensemble” in recognition of the theatre's productions for the benefit of St. Petersburg residents.

1991
The Florida State Legislature designated American Stage a Vital Local Cultural Organization due to the theatre's outreach efforts, community support, and artistic excellence.

1992
American Stage was one of 13 professional companies nationwide to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts’ Advancement Program. In addition, American Stage was able to purchase its property, and began a three-year renovation project to the facility.

1996
Renovation on the facility was completed, including the redesigned 148-seat space, a new sound system, a new lighting board and dimmers, and remodeling of the costume shop and rehearsal space. Renovations were in compliance with ADA standards.

1998
Shakespeare in the Park added eight performances in Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park, following the regular run in St. Petersburg

2004
Pulitzer Prize Winner Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz became the then highest-attended Mainstage production in the history of American Stage. The play also had a successful 10-day run at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

2005
American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by The Weekly Planet (8th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (4th year in a row).

April – May 2006
American Stage changes a 20 year tradition of presenting Shakespeare in the Park with the regional premiere of Crowns by Regina Taylor, a gospel musical directed by Todd Olson

2005-2006
The 27th Mainstage series has two consecutive productions with over 4,000 attendees (Dial M for Murder and The Big Bang!), the first time this has happened in the theater’s history

Dinner with Friends becomes the theatre's most attended production of all time. Four other productions from this season place in the top ten highest attended productions of all time.

American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (9th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (5th year in a row).

2006-2007
This season was one of great change. It was announced in January that American Stage entered into a partnership with St. Petersburg College that will build a brand new state of the art building in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. This will be the first time in Pinellas County history that a brand new building has been constructed for a professional theatre.

American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (10th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (6th year in a row).

2008-2009
American Stage Theatre Company celebrates its 30th Anniversary Season. In December, the administration offices are moved into the new building.

A Tuna Christmas becomes the highest attended play in the Theatre's history. American Stage also surpasses 3,000 subscribers for the first time.

American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (11th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (7th year in a row).

Tuesdays with Morrie, the first play performed in the new Raymond James Theatre, becomes the highest attended play in the Theatre's history.

2009-2010
The first full season in the Raymond James Theatre saw a tremendous amount of growth for American Stage. Driving Miss Daisy and Fences both broke attendance records by each selling over 5,000 tickets, the first two plays to ever accomplish this feat in our history. Our production of Blithe Spirit also broke attendance records and became the third most attended production in our history.

American Stage in the Park celebrated it's 25th anniversary with a production of Hair, which enjoyed over 15,000 in ticket sales and became the highest attended Park production in nearly two decades.

In its wrap up of the past decade, the St. Petersburg Times chose the opening of American Stage's new home in the Raymond James Theatre as the most important event for the Tampa Bay arts scene during that time.

American Stage sold over 3,100 subscriptions to the 2009-10 mainstage season, the most in the theatre's history.

American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (12th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (8th year in a row).

2010-2011
American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (13th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (9th year in a row).

2011-2012
American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (14th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (10th year in a row).

2012-2013
Todd Olson celebrated his 10th year as artistic director at American Stage.
American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (15th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (11th year in a row).

2013-2014
Todd Olson celebrated his 11th and final year as artistic director at American Stage, before departing to assume the duties of Executive Director at the Columbia Festival of the Arts in Maryland.

American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by Tampa Bay Magazine (12th year in a row).

AMERICAN STAGE'S HISTORY

American Stage was founded as The Palisades Theatre Company on October 2, 1977. The mission was to promote interest in live professional theatre, as well as encourage the study of theatrical arts, and the programming consisted of an educational production for children that toured various facilities in the county. American Stage was in temporary residence at Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) from 1977 to 1979. When a new space was required, the Junior League of St. Petersburg provided funds to convert an old cinema house in downtown St. Petersburg into a 179-seat performance space. With a non-union acting company in residence, the theatre originated its Mainstage subscription series, a five-play series now in its twenty-eighth season.

In 1981, the demise of the federally funded CETA program resulted in the loss of 75% of the theatre's total support revenues and 48% of its total budget (approximately $120,000). The financial limitations forced programming restrictions on American Stage, and the educational tour was put on hold in favor of funding the Mainstage series. The two artistic directors both chose to leave the theater, and the leadership positions were offered to John Berglund and Victoria Holloway, who had worked with the theater in various other positions since 1980. The name of the theater was officially changed to American Stage.

In 1984, the City of St. Petersburg condemned the American Stage facility, as well as adjacent buildings in the neighborhood of the converted cinema house. With the help of the local media, the theatre's fate was made known to the community, and almost immediately, the local power company offered an alternative site at less than half its fair market value. The theatre's staff moved the contents of American Stage into a nearby former auction gallery by using all means necessary, including shopping carts. The new facility provided over 10,000 square feet for an intimate 130-seat performance space with a lobby, a costume shop, a rehearsal hall, and office space. The new surroundings helped American Stage flourish-- In 1985, American Stage became the first non-profit theatre company in the Tampa Bay region to operate under a full contract with Actors' Equity Association, and was one of the five original theatres in the country to pioneer the Small Professional Theatre contract.

In 1986, American Stage Shakespeare In The Park was launched with a free outdoor production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Ten performances for 8,000 patrons began a community tradition now eagerly anticipated every Spring by the entire Tampa Bay region. Following the success of the 1985-86 season, the company was able to reinstate the educational touring program for children with Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

In 1987, the St. Petersburg City Council designated American Stage as "St. Petersburg's Resident Professional Theatre Ensemble" in recognition of the theatre's productions for the benefit of St. Petersburg residents. In 1991, the Florida State Legislature designated American Stage a Vital Local Cultural Organization due to the theatre's efforts towards community outreach, community support, and artistic excellence. In 1992, American Stage was one of thirteen professional companies nationwide selected to participate in the National Endowment's Advancement Program, a two-year program designed to enhance institutional advancement through institutional planning.

In the 1992-93 season, the American Stage purchased its current facility and adjacent properties, located in the heart of Downtown St. Petersburg. In addition, the first Capital Campaign was launched to finance a three-year phased renovation project. In the 1994-95 season, American Stage completed the second phase of the massive renovation project, opening the season in its newly redesigned 135-seat space. The company scheduled and completed the final renovations to its physical space in 1996, which included the installation of a new sound system, a new lighting board and dimmers, and remodeling of the third floor costume shop and rehearsal space.

In May 1998, at the request of civic and corporate leaders in Tampa, American Stage revived a practice from 1991 and moved the Shakespeare In The Park production to downtown Tampa. A Midsummer Night's Dream played for eight performances, and was followed by two more years of Shakespeare in the Park in Tampa. In 2002, American Stage took a departure from its regular Shakespeare In The Park productions and presented a rap-style The Bomb-itty of Errors, a hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors. This Southeast premiere was an artistic success as well as an audience-development success, gaining the company younger and more diverse audiences. This success was continued in 2003 with Romeo & Juliet directed by Andy Goldberg, the creative force behind Bomb-itty, which garnered the highest ticket sales American Stage had ever seen for a Shakespeare In The Park production. In 2005, the 20th anniversary of Shakespeare in the Park, the company welcomed back The Bomb-itty of Errors, followed by a remounting of The Taming of the Shrew, the first Shakespeare story told in the Park.

Looking to the future of American Stage, the American Stage staff and Board of Trustees raised its first substantive Endowment Fund in 2000, reaching $360,000 and gaining eligibility for the State of Florida's matching grant of $240,000. The staff of American Stage is making plans to enlarge the endowment in the coming year.

In 2004 - 2005, American Stage produced five Tampa Bay premieres, including the 2003 Pulitzer Prize Winner Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, which was the highest-attended Mainstage production ever. The play also had a successful 10-day run at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. It reached new audiences that were previously unfamiliar with American Stage, including the population of Ybor City, on which the play was based. American Stage also was proud to present the world premiere of I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett, which boasted the highest attendance of any single indoor event (excluding Shakespeare in the Park) in the history of American Stage.

The company continued steady growth for programming in 2005-2006, including new educational programs, outreach initiatives, and a spectacular Mainstage Season. For the first time in the theatre's history, subsribership reached over 2,000 (totaling 2,217 subscribers). Also, five-out-of-six mainstage productions ranked in American Stage's top ten attended productions of all time, with Dinner with Friends becoming the highest attended productions of all time.

The 2006-07 season was one of great change. It was announced in January that American Stage entered into a partnership with St. Petersburg College that will build a brand new state of the art building in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. This will be the first time in Pinellas County history that a brand new building has been constructed for a professional theatre.

In 2008-2009, American Stage Theatre Company celebrated its 30th Anniversary Season. In December, the administration offices are moved into the new building.

Tuesdays with Morrie, the first play performed in the new Raymond James Theatre, becomes the highest attended play in the Theatre's history.

American Stage also surpasses 3,000 subscribers for the first time. American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (11th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (7th year in a row).

2009-10 was the first full season in the Raymond James Theatre, and saw a tremendous amount of growth for American Stage. Driving Miss Daisy and Fences both broke attendance records by each selling over 5,000 tickets, the first two plays to ever accomplish this feat in our history. Our production of Blithe Spirit also broke attendance records and became the third most attended production in our history. American Stage in the Park celebrated it's 25th anniversary with a production of Hair, which enjoyed over 15,000 in ticket sales and became the highest attended Park production in nearly two decades. In its wrap up of the past decade, the St. Petersburg Times chose the opening of American Stage's new home in the Raymond James Theatre as the most important event for the Tampa Bay arts scene during that time. American Stage sold over 3,100 subscriptions to the 2009-10 mainstage season, the most in the theatre's history. American Stage is awarded “Best Theater Company” by the annual survey of the “Best of the Bay” by Creative Loafing (12th year in a row) and Tampa Bay Magazine (8th year in a row).


For tickets, please call the American Stage Box Office at (727) 823-PLAY (7529) or

 
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