Manatee Players' many decades at Riverfront Theatre in Bradenton shouldn't be forgotten

wtatangelo@bradenton.comJanuary 27, 2013 

A Bradenton Herald headline warned of the "Red Menace."

The Boston Braves were in town practicing for the upcoming baseball season.

"The Long Night," starring Henry Fonda and Ann Dvorak, could be seen at local cinemas.

Also on March 11, 1948, the Manatee Players launched its premiere production, "State of the Union," and with it brought a permanent community theater company to the Bradenton area.

Nan Browning, Jimmy Denton, Faye Walton and Durwood Hyde were among those in the cast.

"There have been many difficulties to overcome, but the Players are a tenacious bunch," proclaimed an editorial in the Herald celebrating the theater company's debut.

In December 1953, the Manatee Players' brand new Riverfront Theatre opened its doors with a production of the heartwarming play "I Remember Mama."

The troupe has continued performing at the venue on the waterfront in downtown Bradenton for nearly six decades, winning numerous awards including major ones on national stages.

Judging by the company's current, sold-out production of Cole Porter's musical "Anything Goes," which just last year could be seen again on Broadway, The Manatee Players will be entertaining audiences for many more decades.

But, as regular Bradenton Herald readers are well aware, that remarkable run at the Riverfront Theatre will end when the Manatee Performing Arts Center opens in March with a production of "Miss Saigon."

The new multi-use venue will surely be a huge boon for downtown Bradenton, but it's important we don't forget all the fabulous fun and hard work that happened inside the Riverfront Theatre.

To help preserve those memories, The Manatee Players and the Bradenton Herald are reaching out to all the actors, volunteers and board members from the community theater company's rich history for photos from past productions.

Email scanned photos to me at wtatangelo@bradetnon.com.

That doesn't work for you?

Give me a call at 941-745-7057 and I'll see what can be done to get those photos saved for posterity and viewed by our fellow theater enthusiasts.

It would be a shame not to do our best to commemorate all the magic made by several generations of Manatee Players at the Riverfront Theatre.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057.Follow Twitter.com/wtatangelo.

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