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Review for The Marco Players, Marco Island, FL, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

“The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation.”
Stella Adler

The Marco Players has been the driving force behind presenting “truth” for the last 20 plus years—frequently through the use of humor. And if you want to know the impact they have had on the community, do the math. Start by reflecting on the myriad of audiences who have been served over the course of that time frame by the dedication of the organization itself and those who opt to participate in whatever capacity meets their needs.

Let’s start with the most common perception of the word “audience” as it relates to theatre—butts in seats. People come to theatre primarily to be entertained—except, perhaps, those who are dragged kicking and screaming by theatre-loving mates. Even then, everyone usually comes away with something satisfying that they hadn’t expected. Entertainment generates happiness—a sense of well-being, provokes new thought and relieves the “ho-hum” of daily life. With an 83-seat capacity, you can crunch the numbers on how many theatre-goers have been inspired, stimulated or had their troubles disappear for a couple of hours. Thousands!

Ticket-buyers are not the only ones whose well-being is enhanced at The Marco Players. This organization has provided an opportunity for countless experienced and wannabe thespians to tread the boards. Ages, backgrounds, genders, ethnicities—all have been welcomed with open arms and given the opportunity to ply their skills, learn new ones, or rejuvenate, hone and enhance old ones. Technical aspects aside, every actor will tell you that a pseudo “family” is born with every production, leading to new friendships, new interpersonal experiences and the satisfaction of conquering a challenge, be it as simple as learning the lines or overcoming the heebie-jeebies of stage fright. In the 2021/2022 Season, six fully-staged productions will provide the opportunity for 39 actors to pray their audiences will applaud when the curtain comes down. And that’s not including the Readers’ Theatre presentations that provide opportunities for actors who do not have the time, inclination or ability to learn lines. (My personal opinion is that Readers’ Theatre is a more difficult challenge for an actor because there are none of the other trappings of costumes, props and sets to fall back on to create a character. But I digress...)

And then there are the directors. While many of the local community and professional theatres in SWFL demand experienced directors, The Marco Players lays out a red carpet to both experienced and new directors. We are fortunate here in our area to have a cadre of old pros who are willing to serve as mentors to the up-and-coming, including Marco’s Artistic Director Beverly Dahlstrom. (Forget the “old” when it comes to Dahlstrom!). Over the lifetime of The Marco Players more than 100 directors—give or take—have been able to keep their hand in, try new genres, or learn the ropes without fear of failure.

“World Premiere” is not a new thing to The Marco Players and to a playwright, it is pure gold. What most people don’t know is that the most respected play publishing companies will not consider a work that has not been produced and reviewed. Most of the other community and professional theatres in our area will not touch unpublished or non-established work. Those of us who ply the pen are privileged to work with an organization that is willing to take the risk with untested works. Between the 2020 and 2022 Seasons, at least four original works have been presented as World Premieres. Kudos to The Marco Players for being square one for a future Tony!

And for every production, every performance, there is a cadre of support personnel—set designers, set construction personnel, costumer designers, and props coordinators, crews to move the set pieces and place the props, dressers, ushers, ticket takers, reception hosts. For all, it’s a chance to be part of a larger effort, to get out of the house, to use their brains, to meet new people — all those things that contribute to a greater good and to making one’s own life better into the bargain.

While primarily The Marco Players is a volunteer organization, it couldn’t operate without it’s paid staff. At the end of the day, these are the unsung heroes who believe in the power of theatre and who go the extra mile for each and every production. When other organizations were forced to close their doors during the COVID pandemic, The Marco Players kept on keeping on, finding unique ways to connect with its community both locally and in parts north. That connection meant the world to people whose lives were turned upside down by a new reality.

And finally, The Marco Players in non-pandemic times attracts approximately 8,500 visitors to Marco Island every year. The local restaurants and shops all benefit from its presence.

If you want to know the value of non-profits in our world, do the math, and look no further than The Marco Players as a shining example.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Create a strong fundraising discipline.

Role:  Volunteer