Florida Repertory Theatre - Excellence in Ensemble-Based TheatreJan 26, 2022 10:21AM ● By Jessica Wagner
Photo Courtesy of Florida Repertory Theatre
Florida Repertory Theatre is a First-Class Regional Theatre located in Fort Myers Downtown River District. It is known for its top-notch performances, directors, and designers that travel from all over the country and proudly boasts 12 glowing reviews in The Wall Street Journal as “one of the best Repertory Theatres in the United States.”
We were able to catch up with Greg Logenhagen, Florida Rep’s Artistic Director since 2018, to chat about the Theatre, what it means to Southwest Florida, and all it has to offer.
When asked how Greg would describe the Theatre to a friend, he explained, “When you come to Florida Rep, you are treated to some of the best theatre artists and artistry that you will find anywhere. Florida Rep is one of the last ensemble-based theatre company’s in the U.S. In this setting, directors, actors, scenic designers, lighting designers, and costume designers all benefit from having past experiences working with a specific group. These artists and designers develop an excellent shorthand when they come together on a project which allows for more depth of character and staging in the production. The outcome from producing theatre this way is a finished product that exponentially enhances the experience for one’s patrons. I’m honored and proud to be Florida Rep’s Artistic Director. This theatre’s commitment to excellence is second to none.”
Greg further explains, “We are a professional producing organization. This means that we go from concept to completion with our productions. We start with season selection, then move into design meetings with the artistic team. Once concepts are approved and finalized, our skilled in-house carpenters, electricians, painters, audio specialists, costume builders, etc., build the show from the ground up. You could say everything needed for the production is created by hand, by our in-house artisans and craftspeople. This means the amazing technical- and physically-realized work that you would see in a Broadway show also happens right here in Fort Myers. The only difference is that as a Not-for-profit, we keep our tickets affordable so that all in the community can access the work we do at Florida Rep.”
Florida Repertory Theatre came to be in 1998 by Bob Cacioppo and Carrie Lund, who created the 501c3 nonprofit organization. Since 1998, the Theatre has grown tremendously and now provides over 201 full-time positions. The Theatre is also a major economic driver in Fort Myers, as “The Rep generates over $285,000 in local government revenue and over $364,000 in state government revenue to contribute to a total economic impact that exceeds 6 million dollars, annually,” explains Greg.
Not only is the Florida Repertory Theatre a producing, professional organization, but it is also a teaching institution. There are roughly 18-24 interns each season and “most of our interns and apprentices come from around the U.S. to study and learn experientially at Florida Rep. Additionally, Florida Rep’s education program reaches over 45,000 young people and their families across the five-county area. Everything from bringing live theatre into our schools, to teaching theatre classes, to providing a theatre camp each summer inside the historic Arcade Theater, right here in downtown Fort Myers,” stated Greg.
When asked what his favorite part about the Theatre is, Greg emphatically explained, “We bring people together to have a common experience. We can affect people in a spiritual and emotional way, so much so that they might take some of the beauty experienced in the theatre home with them… A wise person once said that theatre explores what it is to be human, the way we think and feel about ourselves and others. I think good theatre can act as a catalyst; a wonderful way for people to feel cleansed and refreshed whether that’s through tears, laughter, or both! The human connection that can occur with live actors in a live setting is unique only to theatre and I think many folks who have experienced the magic of live theatre carry that love for theatre with them for the rest of their lives.”
Greg is not only the Artistic Director, but he also plays the part in many of the productions, as well. His most memorable production was when he was actually going through something himself. He explains, “Years ago I went on stage while trying to pass a kidney stone… I was in the hospital that same morning and had been given a series of medications to help with the pain. I slept most of the day away, heavily sedated. Near curtain time I was poured into our vehicle and chauffeured downtown to the theatre. While I don’t remember too much of the performance that evening, I’m told the show went perfectly well and that I did not drop a single line… In truth, I will never know. The whole experience is still pretty foggy for me.”
Whether you’re interested in going to see a show or want to learn more about how to be involved, Greg and the entire Florida Repertory Theatre welcomes you! “We are always looking for volunteers. Anyone with an interest in any facet of theatre is encouraged to call our box office at 239-332-4488. We engage volunteer talent to usher, help with marketing, set and costume creation, fundraising... The list goes on! Some of our greatest financial supporters also volunteer their time at Florida Rep,” states Greg.
The Florida Repertory Theatre’s current season runs through May and includes Driving Miss Daisy (playing now), Into the Breeches!, A Doll’s House - Part 2, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and Maytag Virgin, as well as PlayLab celebration of new play works and three education conservatory productions including William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – The Experience, The SpongeBob Musical, and American Idiot featuring music by GreenDay.