Dozens of people turned the Jager Tavern and Grill into a musical cabaret Monday night in a fund-raiser that could help turn an empty strip mall storefront into the new home of the PLATO theater troupe.
Executive and Artistic Director Kyle Ennis Turoff, Broadway performer Annie Morrison, Turoff's parents Roberta MacDonald and Bob Turoff and local performers Alana Opie and Kathryn Parks were among those singing songs for donations to the Professional Learning and Theatrical Organization, the non-profit that hopes to open a new theater by early next year.
PLATO was started more than a year ago as a way to prevent the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre from closing, but the landlord evicted the theater company after more than 40 years in downtown Sarasota. Bob and Roberta Turoff ran the Golden Apple through its entire history.
"Here we go again," Bob Turoff said as he surveyed the crowd at the tavern, which is in the same strip mall near Ed Smith stadium where PLATO hopes to open its new home. Kyle Turoff said the organization needed to raise about $70,000 to take over the lease and make improvements to turn it into a working theater with offices and space for classrooms.
The large space has a second-story loft. Production designer Steve Patmagrian transformed the empty space to give visitors a chance to see what it could look like, with a large curtain, chairs and some special lighting.
Turoff said if the company receives enough donations, PLATO could open the new space in January.
Guests at the event were invited to request songs for a donation, and the program focused mainly on show tunes. Gary Kauffman provided musical accompaniment and Bob Trisolini served as the host.
For more information about PLATO: 363-1727; platoarts.org