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Florida Studio Theatre, also known as FST, is a professional non-profit theater located in downtown Sarasota, Florida, and is one of the major cultural resources in the Gulf Coast region. Founded in 1973, FST is a LORT-D contemporary regional theatre and is the third largest subscription theatre in the country (according to a TCG study from 2011). Each year, more than 225,000 attendees are served by FST’s six main programs: its Mainstage Series, Cabaret Series, Stage III, Children's Theatre, Education, and New Play Development.

FST consists of five theatre spaces—the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets, and Bowne's Lab Theatre—all located on a two-block theatre campus.

Current Operating Budget: Over $8 million

Number of subscribers: More than 36,000

Mission

Florida Studio Theatre holds the following mission:

  • To make theatre accessible and affordable to as many people as possible.
  • To present theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains.
  • To create a public forum for the issues of our day that will foster positive change in our community and beyond.
  • To operate within and for the public trust.

History of FST Theatres

MAINSTAGE

Keating Theatre

Formerly the Sarasota Woman’s Club, it is amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Sarasota. Founded in 1903, the Sarasota Woman’s Club aimed to create a meeting place for social events, activities, and forums. The town’s first library and the host of numerous committee gatherings, the Woman’s Club also maintained a census and birth registration, an area PTA, and a Red Cross Auxiliary.

The Sarasota Woman’s Club relocated in 1976 and the building became slated for demolition. Marian McKenna, an FST patron and supporter of the arts, purchased the building and later sold it to Florida Studio Theatre.

Today, FST’s Keating Theatre seats 173 and hosts FST Mainstage and Children’s Theatre productions.

Gompertz Theatre

In 2003, FST purchased the building that would eventually become the Gompertz Theatre. Originally a movie theater in the 1920s, The Great Depression caused the theatre to close. But by the 1940s, the theatre reopened and hosted a variety of road shows and performances. In 1951, the theatre was known at the Palm Tree Playhouse, but it closed again in the 1960s.

In the mid-70s, Asolo Theatre purchased the space for production purposes and their Stage Two Theatre program, before selling it to Anita Katzman. It was then reoccupied by Siesta Key Actors Theatre and Theatre Works in the 1980s. The building was acquired by Florida Studio Theatre and renamed the Gompertz Theatre in honor of Mrs. Leila Gompertz, who made the lead gift enabling the purchase. Today, FST’s Gompertz Theatre seats 237 and hosts FST’s Mainstage productions.

CABARET

Goldstein Cabaret

In 1996, FST opened its doors to the Cabaret Club, which was renamed the Goldstein Cabaret in 2003 in honor of Ann and Alfred Goldstein. It was the first FST theatre dedicated solely to cabaret performances. From the first production of The Jazz Club to 2019’s The Wonder Years: The Music of the Baby Boomers, the theatre has been home to over 71 productions.

John C Court Cabaret

After two years of fundraising to build the Hegner Theatre Wing and add two performance spaces, the John C. Court Cabaret opened in 2013. The Cabaret was named in loving memory of FST Board Member Georgia Court’s late husband, John Court. Today, it’s been home to over 12 original musical revues including Unchained Melodies (2019), Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves (2017), and Laughing Matters vol. 5 (2016).

IMPROV & STAGE III

Bowne’s Lab Theatre

Also part of the Hegner Theatre Wing, Bowne’s Lab Theatre was named for the maternal side of John Court’s ancestor—John Bowne, who is widely considered to be the founder of religious freedom in America. The theatre opened in January 2014 as a space for all things experimental.  

Bowne’s Lab Theatre houses FST’s Stage III Series, which is dedicated to the producing socially significant productions and plays that are both challenging in content and unique in form. This program features a variety of productions, from Edward Albee’s The Goat to Shear Madness.

Stage III also encompasses FST Improv. Founded in 2001 by Rebecca Hopkins, FST Improv  performs fully improvised shows every Saturday and select Fridays year round. FST also produces the annual Sarasota Improv Festival. Now in its twelfth year, the Festival brings troupes from all over the world to Sarasota.

Notable Productions

  • Unchained Melodies (2019) by Richard Hopkins and Rebecca Hopkins with Arrangements by Jim Prosser – Broke record for the m

    FST consists of five theatre spaces—the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets, and Bowne's Lab Theatre—all located on a two-block theatre campus.

    Current Operating Budget: Over $8 million

    Number of subscribers: More than 36,000

    Florida Studio Theatre holds the following mission:

    • To make theatre accessible and affordable to as many people as possible.
    • To present theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains.
    • To create a public forum for the issues of our day that will foster positive change in our community and beyond.
    • To operate within and for the public trust.

    History of FST Theatres

    MAINSTAGE

    Keating Theatre

    Formerly the Sarasota Woman’s Club, it is amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Sarasota. Founded in 1903, the Sarasota Woman’s Club aimed to create a meeting place for social events, activities, and forums. The town’s first library and the host of numerous committee gatherings, the Woman’s Club also maintained a census and birth registration, an area PTA, and a Red Cross Auxiliary.

    The Sarasota Woman’s Club relocated in 1976 and the building became slated for demolition. Marian McKenna, an FST patron and supporter of

    MAINSTAGE

    Keating Theatre

    Formerly the Sarasota Woman’s Club, it is amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Sarasota. Founded in 1903, the Sarasota Woman’s Club aimed to create a meeting place for social events, activities, and forums. The town’s first library and the host of numerous committee gatherings, the Woman’s Club also maintained a census and birth registration, an area PTA, and a Red Cross Auxiliary.

    The Sarasota Woman’s Club relocated in 1976 and the building became slated for demolition. Marian McKenna, an FST patron and supporter of the arts, purchased the building and later sold it to Florida Studio Theatre.

    Today, FST’s Keating Theatre seats 173 and hosts FST Mainstage and Children

    Keating Theatre

    Formerly the Sarasota Woman’s Club, it is amongst the oldest surviving buildings in Sarasota. Founded in 1903, the Sarasota Woman’s Club aimed to create a meeting place for social events, activities, and forums. The town’s first library and the host of numerous committee gatherings, the Woman’s Club also maintained a census and birth registration, an area PTA, and a Red Cross Auxiliary.

    The Sarasota Woman’s Club relocated in 1976 and the building became slated for demolition. Marian McKenna, an FST patron and supporter of the arts, purchased the building and later sold it to Florida Studio Theatre.

    Today, FST’s Keating Theatre seats 173 and hosts FST Mainstage and Children’s Theatre productions.

    Gompertz Theatre

    In 2003, FST purchased the building that would eventually become the Gompertz Theatre. Originally a movie theater in the 1920s, The Great Depression caused the theatre to close. But by the 1940s, the theatre reopened and hosted a variety of road shows and performances. In 1951, the theatre was known at the Palm Tree Playhouse, but it closed again in the 1960s.

    In the mid-70s, Asolo Theatre purchased the space for production purposes and their Stage Two Theatre program, before selling it to Anita Katzman. It was then reoccupied by Siesta Key Actors Theatre and Theatre Works in the 1980s. The building was acquired by Florida Studio Theatre and renamed the Gompertz Theatre in honor of Mrs. Leila Gompertz, who made the lead gift enabling the purchase. Today, FST’s Gompertz Theatre seats 237 and hosts FST’s Mainstage productions.

    CABARET

    Goldstein Cabaret

    In 1996, FST opened its doors to the Cabaret Club, which was renamed the Goldstein Cabaret in 2003 in honor of Ann and Alfred Goldstein. It was the first FST theatre dedicated solely to cabaret performances. From the first production of The Jazz Club to 2019’s The Wonder Years: The Music of the Baby Boomers, the theatre has been home to over 71 productions.

    John C Court Cabaret

    After two years of fundraising to build the Hegner Theatre Wing and add two performance spaces, the John C. Court Cabaret opened in 2013. The Cabaret was named in loving memory of FST Board Member Georgia Court’s late husband, John Court. Today, it’s been home to over 12 original musical revues including Unchained Melodies (2019), Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves (2017), and Laughing Matters vol. 5 (2016).

    IMPROV & STAGE III

    Bowne’s Lab Theatre

    Also part of the Hegner Theatre Wing, Bowne’s Lab Theatre was named for the maternal side of John Court’s ancestor—John Bowne, who is widely considered to be the founder of religious freedom in America. The theatre opened in January 2014 as a space for all things experimental.  

    Bowne’s Lab Theatre houses FST’s Stage III Series, which is dedicated to the producing socially significant productions and plays that are both challenging in content and unique in form. This program features a variety of productions, from Edward Albee’s The Goat to Shear Madness.

    Stage III also encompasses FST Improv. Founded in 2001 by Rebecca Hopkins, FST Improv  performs fully improvised shows every Saturday and select Fridays year round. FST also produces the annual Sarasota Improv Festival. Now in its twelfth year, the Festival brings troupes from all over the world to Sarasota.

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