Our Mission: "To represent, enrich and stimulate people through the art of live theatre by providing entertainment, education and an artistic outlet. The Manatee Players and its performance venue serve as a significant cultural, educational and economic resource for the Florida Gulf Coast region."
Our Staff (scroll down for Bios)
Janene M. Witham
As Executive Director, Janene brings her team building attitude to the helm of the Manatee Players vision. Her experience spans multiple sectors- arts, marketing, education, corporate, entrepreneurship, non-profit and community. With a belief in the importance of grassroots/collaborative marketing and fundraising, Janene is focused on broadening the support of the Manatee Performing Arts Center. She is a graduate of the 2005 class of Leadership Manatee and the 2003 class of Manatee County Citizens Academy. Active in our community, she is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, 1st CLASS chapter of ABWA, American Fundraising Professionals, a life member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and a past chair Manatee County's 14th Street CRA advisory board. Ms. Witham holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Winchester Center. She is a proud mother of 2 wonderful children Brett and Hannah and would like to express her gratitude to her Tim for his continued support.
Producing Artistic Director
Prior to his move to Florida, Rick was the Entertainment Director for the USO of Metropolitan New York and the organizer of the Miss USO Contest. Other directorial credits include numerous shows at the Surflight Theatre in New Jersey, Theatre By the Sea in Rhode Island, The Arundel Playhouse in Maine, Wolford Hause Dinner Theater in Virginia, New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire, Westbank and Duplex Theaters in New York City and on many cruise ships. He has served on the faculties of Wagner College on Staten Island and The Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in New York City. Rick is now the Producing Artistic Director of Manatee Players where he has been recipient of several Handy and Sarasota Magazine awards, named Best Director at the Florida Theatre Conference, three time winner as Best Director at the South Eastern Theater Conference and two time winner as Best Director at the American Association of Community Theatre's AACTFest. Rick is the newly elected President of the Florida Theatre Conference, Past President of the Florida Association of Community Theatres, Community Theatre Festival Chair for SETC, and Florida State Representative to the American Association of Community Theatres.
Bill is starting his sixth season as Technical Director. He has his Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Social Studies Education and Integrated Curriculum from the University of South Florida. He spent over 15 yrs in Manatee County as a teacher. He had been volunteering, then working as the master electrician and sound designer at the theater for over 11 yrs before he received his promotion to TD. He has also been the Lighting Designer at the Manatee Players for such shows as 1940's Radio Hour, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Always... Patsy Cline. He has also served as the master electrician and Lighting Designer for Les Miserables: School Edition, Swing, Oklahoma and Cats at the Lemon Bay Performing Arts Center. He has won numerous technical awards over the past 4 yrs at the State, Regional and National levels. Most recently he designed lighting for The Wedding Singer. The show went on to be one of nine shows from around the world showcased at the International Thespian Festival. He sends his love to his wife Toni, for her undying support and constant help with everything backstage. He also sends special thanks to Tom Sell and Tom Sparks for their incredible help and dedication.
Denny is thrilled to be in his 12th year on the staff of the Manatee Players! He has appeared in over 60 shows with the Manatee Players since 1982. Prior to joining the staff, he was on the Board of Directors for 17 years. Denny has a BFA in Theatre from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. In 2006, he represented Manatee County in the Bright House Network’s Senior Idol competition in Clearwater. He looks forward to the new “home” YOU are building him on 3rd Avenue West! Look for Manatee Players on Facebook!
This is Kristin's fourth year as the Production Manager for Manatee Players! Kristin has been involved, either on stage or back stage, in over 70 productions at Manatee Players since the age of 12. Last season, she stage managed our productions of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, HAIRSPRAY, and SINGIN IN THE RAIN. Some of her favorite stage management experiences here include CRAZY FOR YOU, GYPSY, WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, DAMN YANKEES, OKLAHOMA, SWEENEY TODD, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, BIG RIVER, FOLLIES, ELEPHANT MAN, PIPPIN, and BROADWAY MEMORIES. Kristin graduated with a BS in psychology with honors from University of Florida and worked for several years as a social worker and case manager serving at-risk youth in Manatee County. Although Kristin has been involved with many other theatre companies, she considers Manatee Players to be her second home and is proud to be a part of the staff of such a wonderful company!
Leona began her theatrical career as an intern and Assistant Public Relations Director with the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival after receiving a BA in Theatre Arts from Rutgers University and an MAT in English Education from Seton Hall University. Many entertainment-related jobs followed including Group Sales Coordinator for the Alhambra Dinner Theatre (Jacksonville, FL), Public Relations Coordinator for Central NJ Macy's Department Stores and Public Relations Director/Stage Manager of the Morris Stage Concert Hall (Morristown, NJ). Leona was also Membership Manager for WNIT Public Television Station (South Bend/Elkhart, Indiana), appearing as on-air 'talent' during their pledge programming drives. Upon moving back to Florida, she held the position of Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Manatee County and was grant writer for ArtCenter Manatee while volunteering on the Executive Committee of the Lakewood Ranch Band Boosters Association and appearing in 2 Manatee Players' productions. Throughout her career, Leona has frequently returned to the classroom to teach, which is why she loves her current position-it is the perfect combination of all she has done in the past.
Mary E. Johnson
Mary is the newest member of the Manatee Players staff. She has 18 years experience directing and managing the financial operations of three not for profit organizations - Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, Women's Resource Center of Sarasota County and Suncoast Communities Blood Bank. Mary received her AA degree from SUNY @ Cobleskill, NY and her BA from Towson University, Baltimore MD. She moved to Sarasota in November 1999 from Baltimore, MD. "I am thrilled to be joining this successful and award winning theatre family and fulfilling the mission of the organization.
Travis M. Rogers
Box Office Manager
This is Travis' seventh year as a staff member of the Manatee Players. You may recognize him from past performances at the Manatee Players during the last several years. Originally from New York, he studied voice and theatre and performed with the New York State Choir. Several of his other credentials include acting in several commercials, performing with The All-Eastern Choir and with the Iowa Touring Theatre Company. After relocating to Florida in the early 90's, Travis' first show at the Manatee Players was in 1996.
Box Office Assistant
Marie Van Duzee
Assistant Technical Manager
Costume Shop Manager
Chairman Dr. Anthony Pizzo
Vice-Chairman Fay Murphy
Secretary Susan Romine
Treasurer L. Hal West
Andy Fox • Arline Spino • Barbara Turner-Grace • Cheryl S. Gutner
David Schrott • Eva T. Slane • George Najmy • J. Clifford Curley
Jack Hawkins • Jason Lipton • Jeff Evans • Joni Korzen • Linda Diem
Mack Goode • Nina Richardson • Pamela Richard • Pat Pickelsimer
Pat Whitesel • Randy Hanson • Steve Bayard • Tom Moseley
Mark P. Barnebey, Esq.
Honorary Board Members
Patrick B. Daugherty, Parliamentarian
Mrs. Bill (Allene) Koehn • Mary E. Parker
Jim Reynolds • Cora May Stone • Natalie R. Gundrum
Capital Campaign Chair Emeritus
Capital Campaign General Chair