The big Broadway blockbuster "Miss Saigon" will be the first production staged at the Manatee Performing Arts Center when it finally opens next March.
Next comes the musical theater golden oldie "Fiddler on the Roof," scheduled to run May 2-19, 2013.
Well, the calendar is wide open.
The Manatee Players announced a gift of $250,000 last week from the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, and $1.5 million of other financing courtesy of the Manatee Community Foundation.
Construction on the new performing arts center, a major component of the Bradenton Riverwalk scheduled for completion in October, is moving forward.
But the Players still need to raise $1.4 million in seven months to reach the March 2013 deadline.
To help make that happen, the Manatee Community Foundation assembled $100,000 to match additional contributions to the Players during the "The 36-Hour Giving Challenge -- Where Community Meets Philanthropy."
The online fund-raiser, www.givingpartnerchallenge.org, starts at 6 a.m. Tuesday and runs through 6 p.m. Wednesday.
And here's why you should give -- regardless if you're a fan of the musicals currently being given award-winning productions by the Players.
The Manatee Performing Arts Center's 380-seat Cora May Stone Hall, with an orchestra pit that holds 40 and backstage truck access, has the potential to draw all manners of entertainment.
National recording artists, best-selling authors, touring ballet companies, stand-up comedians, operas and films(!) -- Stone Hall already has a movie screen ready to go -- are all strong possibilities.
In addition to the main auditorium, there's a studio theater that will seat approximately 100.
And the fully equipped lobby -- kitch
en for catering, etc. -- will be available as well for up to 300 people.
So, yeah, the Manatee Performing Arts Center is going to be much more than just a new theater for the Players.
It will serve as a community meeting facility with rental areas for myriad forms of amusement, private events and conferences.
And that means a huge boon for downtown Bradenton.
So whether you are a lover of the arts, commerce or both, consider visiting www.givingpartnerchallenge.org and dropping a few bucks.
Still not convinced?
Potential donors are encouraged to visit www.manateeplayers.com or call Janene Witham, the new executive director of the Manatee Players, at 941-749-1111.
The same number can be used to arrange a hard-hat tour of the Manatee Performing Arts Center with Denny Miller, the Players' marketing manager.
I took one and left convinced the community will greatly benefit from the venue's completion.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.