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Sarasota theater company relocates to Bradenton area

MANATEE -- Two months after being evicted from its home in downtown Sarasota, the group behind the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre will be producing shows in the Bradenton area.

The Professional Learning and Theatrical Organization (PLATO) has landed a new performing partner, the Ramada Inn at 7150 N. Tamiami Trail, between Whitfield and Bayshore Gardens.

"It's great to be in Manatee County," said Kyle Ennis Turoff, president and artistic director of PLATO. "We noticed a lot of people were coming down the Trail to see us and we are looking forward to meeting them halfway."

While Manatee County is also home to the community theater troupes the Manatee Players and the Island Players of Anna Maria, PLATO will be Manatee's only professional company.

In March, PLATO received Internal Revenue Service approval to form as a nonprofit organization and operate the Golden Apple. A seasoned director/producer, Kyle Ennis Turoff is the daughter of former Broadway actress Roberta MacDonald and husband, Robert Turoff, the couple who opened the Golden Apple in 1971.

Rick Kerby, the producing artistic director of the Manatee Players, performed in the Golden Apple's 2005 staging of "Sweet Charity."

"The Turoffs have a long history and lots of experience, and as a fellow arts organization, we wish them well," Kerby said. "This area can support many theater companies, as we've proven, and I hope they have many years ahead of them."

PLATO performances will take place in the Ramada's Harborside Ballroom, which has been transformed into a 150-seat theater. The professional company's first show in the new space is Alan Jacobson's "Waist Watchers: The Musical." Directed by Kyle Ennis Turoff, the comedy is about four women and their love/hate relationships with food, dieting and exercise.

"Waist Watchers" will run Nov. 15 to Jan. 6. Tickets are $35 and refreshments with a full bar will be available for purchase.

Other performances at the Ramada include PLATO's Magic Box Theatre inaugural presentation, "Rumpelstiltskin," by Beth Duda and Adam Ratner. Directed by Jared Walker, this modern twist on a classic tale will be performed 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Saturdays from Nov. 17 to Dec. 8.

At each performance there will be a joke contest so children are encouraged to bring their favorite laugh-maker to share. Tickets are $10.

PLATO'S education program ByKids4Kids will celebrate the holiday season with "The 12 Days of Christmas" featuring an appearance by Santa Claus at each show. This children's performing group, directed by Walker and Eric Berkel, has performances 7 p.m. Dec. 11-12; and 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 15. Tickets are $8 for children and $10 for adults.

Finally, PLATO introduces its team of multitalented seniors, the PLATO Platinum Players, performing their original show "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." Performances are 2 p.m. Dec. 15, as well as 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 16. Directed and choreographed by Walker, Berkel and Helen Holliday, tickets are $15.

Local actors of all ages might want to contact PLATO.

"Manatee County has a lot of talent, as seen on the Manatee Players stage," Kyle Ennis Turoff said. "And we look forward to having them on our stage."

Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow