Buzz Worthy

Theater surviving tough fate

Can I share a secret with you?

When I see performances near the Five Points vicinity of downtown Sarasota — i.e., Sarasota Opera, Golden Apple Dinner Theatre and Florida Studio Theatre — I sometimes park at the Selby Public Library.

And the first thing I think to myself, when I luck out and find a space in the crowded parking lot, is how a couple of unlucky library patrons will have to hike to the library for the sake of a reporter trying to get in the theater on time to review a performance.

Parking wars give new meaning to the term “survival of the fittest.”

But if you’re a frequent attendee of the performing arts in this area of town, then you know how complicated finding parking can be during the height of a busy arts season.

So when I heard that the City of Sarasota is beginning work on new 700-plus space parking deck I couldn’t have been happier — until worries started surfacing about the fate of the Golden Apple.

The parking lot project would take place in the theater’s backyard, its parking lot in the rear.

When word got out about the construction, Golden Apple owner Robert Turoff said his phones suddenly stopped ringing for ticket sales.

He got worried.

Was this the end of his family’s 38-year theater dynasty?

For a moment, he thought it was — especially with struggling through a theater occupancy rate of 65 percent and, to top it off, still trying to sell the Lakewood Ranch property that was supposed to serve as the theater’s second venue before the economy crashed.

But Turoff said the library is offering to let patrons park in its lot after 5 p.m.; plus, there will be valet parking and public service announcements to let people know that the Golden Apple and other businesses affected by the construction will be open for business.

Like they say in theater, the show must go on. So Turoff is hopeful things will work out.

“I thought it was going to be a complete wash out,” Turoff said of the troubles of the season. “Until now.”

Turoff is a fighter who would like nothing more than see his craft stay alive. The Golden Apple will announce its summer season soon and is gearing up for its next musical comedy, “The Andrews Brothers,” which opens April 7. By the way, today is your last chance to see the musical hit “Li’l Abner” at the venue.

If you have thoughts on how the theater can be more visible or parking tips, e-mail me at jholmes@bradenton.com or leave a comment at heraldbuzzworthy.blogspot.com.

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