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Olympia Peforming Arts Center opens to fanfare

The new/old Olympia Performing Arts Center is much like the town it calls home. On Tenth Avenue in Palmetto, the newly-restored theater is charming, small and friendly, with “an everybody knows your name” feel to it.

Joel and Cindy Jarvis bought the almost-century old theater and have spent many years and many dollars getting it ready to raise the curtain again.

The first show, “A Magical Evening Broadway Revue,” opened on June 19, to an enthusiastic audience.

Magician Michael Kent headlined the variety show which included vocal performances by Berry Ayers, Garie Jean Williams, Heather Kopp, Jay Bilderback and Roy Johns.

Marilyn and Jim Shirley came for the premiere show and gave it two “thumbs up” reviews and proud mom Jacquie Williams watched her daughter, Garie Jean, perform. Actor Craig Weiskerger came to cheer on his local colleagues.

Frank and Lisa Hotze and Sue and Tom Melton were in the audience and so was a group of teens that included Kristin Jarvis, Richard Reyna, Dakota Cahill and Danielle Davis.

A small group lingered on the covered patio for the after-party.

Artistic director/house manager/executive director Matt Mayo added “bartender” to his list of job titles and poured wine for the guests.

Cindy and Joel worked the crowd, talking about their plans for the future.

The current OPAC schedule includes a special Fourth of July celebration, mystery dinners and concerts.

The Green Bridge Improv troupe performs every weekend. Call 721-0800 or visit for the complete calendar.

Welcome to the neighborhood, OPAC. Break a leg!

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations as a volunteer or an employee.