Sugden Theatre, located on 5th Avenue in downtown Naples, offers locals and visitors alike a one of a kind experience. Sugden was named “Best Live Theatre” in Southwest Florida six times by The Reader’s Poll from The Naples Daily News, and ranked as one of the Top Ten Community Theatres in the United States by CNN and Money Magazine, The Sugden Theatre has found its niche among our community. Founded in 1953, The Naples Players Organization began performing in what is now Gulfview Middle School. The Players traveled from high schools to homes to random other theatres before they were able to establish a permanent home in the lavish downtown area in 1989. Today, the company stages productions year-round, has over 480 memberships, and features the talents of volunteer actors, directors, designers and crew drawn from across Southwest Florida. The Theatre currently plays to an audience of over 65,000 patrons and season subscription holders annually.
Sugden Theatre has two halls for different theatrical effects. The Blackburn Hall is a 326 seat proscenium theatre with European Style seating, meaning the aisles are located only on the outside of the seating area. This hall offers performances from the Naples Players Company and The KidzAct program. The KidzAct program is a youth theatre series started in 2002 branching from traditionally produced youth musicals performed in the summer. A second hall, Tobye Studio Theatre, is a 100 seat “Black Box” theatre in stage parlance, meaning the stage can be easily changed to offer different seating and performance variety. In this theatre the company can perform ‘edgier’ plays for a smaller, more intimate audience.
In September 2008, The Naples Players were cited as one of the reasons why Collier County Florida is one of the top 5 best places for a long life in the United States by CNN and Money Magazine. Sugden Theatre offers a melting pot of volunteer theatrical talent representing all stage disciplines from across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Southwest Florida has made a name for itself due to what is offered here and Sugden Theatre is surly a place not to be missed.