Posted by Mark Washburn on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 8:52:09 AM By Mark Washburn / February 23, 2015 Comment
The Wall Street Journal calls the Florida Repertory “one of America’s Top Repertory Companies.” As a fully professional theatre company serving all of Southwest Florida, Florida Rep (as it’s called locally) performs in the beautiful Historic Arcade Theatre in the Fort Myers River District annually throughout its October to May season. The Florida Rep produces a charming variety of musicals, comedies and dramas. Celebrating 17 years of award-winning regional theatre, Florida Rep is located in the heart of the Fort Myers River District on Bay Street between Jackson and Hendry Streets. Currently, the following productions are running or will run this season: Around The World in 80 Days, Dividing The Estate, Fascinatin’ Gershwin, and Split in Three. There are several very good restaurants near the theatre to go to for pre-theatre dinner or a glass of wine: Prime De Leon, Spirits of Bacchus, Twisted Vine Bistro, The Veranda and The Connection Café. Built in 1908 in an elegant old-Florida style, The Arcade Theatre was first used to showcase vaudeville acts where Thomas Edison, a Fort Myers resident, saw his first movies in this auditorium sitting with his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. As vaudeville’s popularity declined, The Arcade evolved over the years into a movie theatre with an extra wall built to divide the stage in half, thus creating two screening rooms. In the late 1980s, the theatre had fallen in disrepair until renowned ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov stepped in and hosted a joint benefit with the City of Fort Myers to save the historical building. The big fundraiser raised enough money to completely restore The Arcade, and the City of Fort Myers began to rent it out to local performing arts groups, like the Florida Rep. Now the beautifully restored 393-seat Arcade is the permanent home of the Florida Repertory Theatre since 1998, Southwest Florida’s premiere professional theatre company.
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