There’s a new theater company in Southwest Florida. Its name is Gold Theatricals. A division of Gold Entertainment, Gold Theatricals represents the next step in the highly-successful career of Jay Goldberg, who has more than 50 years of concert, festival and special event experience.
Gold Theatricals has no home, and that’s just as Goldberg and Executive Director Lucy Sundby want it. The first prong of their unique business plan is to fill open dates at area theaters with high-quality musicals and plays that have rarely or never been seen before in Southwest Florida.
For this part of Gold’s mission, Sundby will draw upon her extensive body of work as both an actor and improv teacher and performer. In addition to dozens of local shows, Lucy performed in the world premiere of Dexter The Improv Musical with darkly dreamy Dexter writer Jeff Lindsay and studied with Chicago City Limits in New York City, Kevin McDonald from The Kids in the Hall and The Improv Nerd – Jimmy Carrane.
“I have a lot of good relationships with a lot of theaters in the area. So I like the fact that I can reach out to them and say we’d like to do this show, what are your open weekends? And work together for that collaborative thing that we’re looking for.”
The key word here is collaborative. The show will be promoted to the host theater’s already-existing patrons. But there will be many others who will travel to that theater just to see a Gold Theatricals production. Sundby anticipates that many of the latter will return to support the host theater’s other productions.
The second part of Gold Theatricals’ three-prong business plan involves restricting runs to one to three performances. Goldberg, says Sundby, describes the decision to perform single shows or weekend runs to packed houses is “the business of the business.” Gold Theatricals’ Mother’s Day weekend show, Assisted Living the Musical, is a prime example of this strategy.
“Assisted Living has a huge following. They already sell out theaters all the time, and we have a large theater to sell out. So we planned for them for three shows because we know what they bring to the table.”
The final element in Gold Theatricals’ business model is to hand-pick the finest actors and directors for the productions it brings to the stage.
For Assisted Living, that’s Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett.
“Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett. I’ve actually known them for probably about 15 years. I’ve worked with them and performed with them, and they’re lovely people. They’re great to work with. Their show is hilarious. People come to see it.
A.R. Gurnery’s Love Letters will be Gold Theatricals first show, and for that, Sundby has tapped Jessica Walck as director and Debi Guthery and Michael Nichols as her cast.
Guthery has performed in national tours and regional theaters across the United States. She has played the title roles in Hello, Dolly!, Mame, The Drowsy Chaperone and Sylvia, for which she won a best actress award. In addition to performing in more than 60 plays and musicals over the course of her career, she has also performed to rave reviews in her own one-woman musical comedies. Now calling Naples home, Debi entertains audiences throughout Southwest Florida at country clubs, private parties, corporate events, galas, weddings and more.
Nichols appeared on Broadway with Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf in the world premiere of David Mamet’s November. He also appeared in Steppenwolf Theatre’s Broadway production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Gary Sinise. Off-Broadway, he performed at The New Victory Theatre in Tom Sawyer and with The Pearl Theatre in Exit the King. Locally, Nichols has performed with The Naples Players in How the Other Half Loves, The Lion in Winter and Beauty and the Beast.
And that, in Sundby’s estimation, makes them the perfect power couple to star in Love Letters, which tells the story of two lifelong friends who correspond with each other over the course of nearly half a century as their friendship goes through myriad changes ranging from romance to periods of estrangement as they individually experience college, adulthood, marriage, divorce and death.
“I don’t think that letters is something people do any more. Emails obviously. I know my grandmother used to write me letters, and I always got really excited to see a letter. It’s something that I think is a lost art form, and it’s something really beautiful and you really see that play out in the show. I mean you can read a letter and get excited and emotional, but seeing somebody else, someone so talented reading these letters and really showing the emotions in those letters. It’s beautiful.”
Love Letters, Assisted Living and The Best of Broadway will each be performed at the 850-seat Charlotte Performing Arts Center in Punta Gorda, a venue that’s part of Charlotte High School on Carmelita. But Gold Theatricals will also be producing a show south of the Caloosahatchee. On March 3rd and 4th, it’s bringing the world premiere of American Monster to Fort Myers Theater.
American Monster is a courtroom-style multi-media presentation during which Jeff Mudgett will plead his case to the audience that his great-great-grandfather was Jack the Ripper – the notorious figure from 1888 whose murders of at least five women in or near the Whitechapel district of London’s East End are one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of English crime.
“He’s mostly speaking about his great-great-grandfather, HH Holmes, who was America’s first serial killer in Chicago during the World’s Fair and it’s a fascinating tale. But what’s really exciting is that he has some proof that he’s going to show during this performance that his great-great-grandfather was, in fact, Jack the Ripper.
For this show, Fort Myers Theater’s tiered seats will be turned into a jury box, and Mudgett will present his evidence to the audience sitting as jurors. At the end of his presentation, the audience will vote to either convict or acquit Holmes of the London murders.
And the timing couldn’t be better. American Monster lands at the height of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street across town at Lab Theater.
“What is so great about them, these shows is that they’re all really high-quality. You are definitely getting what you pay for in a ticket to come see one of these shows
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