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When the newly organized Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island brings an illusionist to town Aug. 13, it will be the theater’s second magic show.

The first one was putting together an entire theater season within about a two-month window, when the group was formed to replace now-defunct Marco Players.

Its inaugural season was announced Monday evening at Marco Island Center for the Arts, which created, and will be parent to, the new organization. Six plays, three readers theater sessions and a special event, Lyndy’s Magic Parlor, have been booked, and a full house was at the center to toast its introduction. 

What they learned was that activity at the Marco Town Center venue, where theater lovers been chuckling or weeping — sometimes at the same show — for the last 22 years won’t miss a beat. The Arts Center Theatre produces its first show in less than three weeks, beginning an August readers theater series.

Marco Island Center for the Arts Executive Director Hyla Crane greets the audience at a party to announce the inaugural season of the Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island on Monday, July 11, 2022.

Marco Island Center for the Arts Arts-Center Theatre ACT are the producers, and the talent is local, emphasized Hyla Crane, executive director, who discussed the season via email.

“We are a community theater,” she explained. That doesn’t mean there aren’t outside events coming: “We are still working on our co-productions, partnerships and our presented-event schedule. These will roll out as fast as we can negotiate and get dates set and contracts signed.”

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The Arts Center Theatre is hoping to work with other theater companies and entertainment groups to bring a varied spread of entertainment to the theater.

Crane attributed the completed season to “incredible work by Charlie Blum and Jeff Hoover who came up with the majority of the suggestions.” Both have extensive experience with entertainment presentation and theatrical productions; both also worked with the Marco Players, the previous resident of the theater.

Charlie Blum announces the plays that will be a part of the premiere season of the Arts Center Theatre on Marco Island on Monday, July 11, 2022.

The musical, a new genre for this theater, was Crane’s idea, and she has her fingers crossed that there can be two next season. This year, she said, the group was delighted to have a solid season planned.

“It has been a literal whirlwind to make this all happen in such a short time. We are just so excited that we have been working like Energizer bunnies,” she said. 

“There must be a guardian angel watching over us.”

Auditions and ticket prices are yet to be announced. Those interested should check back on the organization’s website at Facebook page marcoislandart.org or its Facebook page

Summer readers theater

All performances begin at 7 p.m. All are free. 

Aug. 7 — “Paradise and Mr. Prince”: By Mitch Eil

Aug. 14  — “An Evening of One-Acts”: Plays by Alex Costell, Leslie Sanderson, Maryann Clavin

Aug. 21 — “The Swingset”: By Kristyn Estes

Special events

More performances area being planned. Ticket prices will be announced soon. 

7 p.m. Aug. 13 — Lyndy’s Magic Parlor: Magician Lyndy Phillips teases his audience, performs an array of magical feats and weaves family-friendly comedy throughout his show. Count on audience involvement. 

Lyndy Phillips of Lyndy's Magic Parlor

2022-2023 season

Ticket prices and auditions will be announced soon. 

Oct. 26-Nov. 13 — “Apartment 3A”: by Jeff Daniels. Annie Wilson goes into life crisis mode after she catches her boyfriend in a rather unusual spot for infidelity and takes it out on the viewers of the PBS station where she works, threatening to send Big Bird packing if donors don’t start calling. To get a grip, she moves into an apartment across town to start anew. And what a start it turns out to be.

If that playwright’s name sounds familiar, it should, said Crane: It’s the same Jeff Daniels who starred in “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Good Night and Good Luck” and in the TV series “The Newsroom.”

Nov. 30-Dec. 18 — “The Fantasticks”: Book and Lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt. A classic now, “The Fantasticks” works allegorically, focusing on two young lovers and the rocky road their relationship must travel, to vault over romance to true love. With the record for the longest American theatrical run, The Fantasticks features tunes that have entered the Great American Songbook, such as “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.”

Jan. 4-22 — “The Odd Couple”: By Neil Simon. Unger and Madison are at it again, but this is the female version. Still, Florence Unger and Olive Madison play the same friends at odds philosophically, but roommates physically, that made Neil Simon’s a contemporary comic classic.

Feb. 8-26 — “Plaza Suite”: By Neil Simon. If one Neil Simon play is good, two can only be better. “Plaza Suite” lets us look in on three couples who each occupy Suite 719 at the Plaza Hotel at various times in a single season. All have love on their minds. But it doesn’t come easily, the wedding anniversary couple, the deluded playboy who thinks he can replay his high school obsession or the reluctant bride who locks herself in the bathroom.

March 15-April 2 — “Hollywood Arms”: By Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton. This dramedy, based on Burnett’s own memoirs, follows a young woman’s dreams of stardom, surrounded by two other generations of women on welfare in a one-room apartment. There’s the tough and tender, pill-popping Christian Scientist grandmother and a beautiful but distant mother whose struggles with alcohol ruin her writing aspirations. In and out of the young woman’s life comes an absent and alcoholic father who wants to be the daddy he never was. 

 April 19- May 7 — “The Foreigner”: By Larry Shue. Two Englishmen, Froggy and Charlie, arrive as guests at a rural fishing lodge. Charlie is so terribly shy that Froggy begins telling people Charlie cannot talk because he is a “foreigner” from an exotic country who doesn’t understand English. The lodge’s guests begin revealing secrets they assume are safe with him around, and Charlie soon discovers himself in the midst of holiday scandals.

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.