The Players Centre for Performing Arts sells out its first gala in Lakewood Ranch.
Michelle Bianchi, the managing director of The Players Centre for Performing Arts, was thrilled the 2018 Smitten Gala was sold out weeks in advance.
But when she was arrived Saturday, Feb. 10 at Lakewood Ranch Country Club for the event, she was even more impressed.
"We were not only sold out, but there were six people waiting at the door."
Bianchi managed to make room for the overflow crowd, and the country club squeezed an extra table into the room.
Looking around at the dining room packed with 210 people, Bianchi couldn't stop smiling. And it wasn't because The Players was going to make a financial windfall from its first such event since it was announced it was building a $30 million theater complex in Waterside at Lakewood Ranch.
"This is more about letting people know we're here," she said.
The Concession's Lou Marinaccio, who has been at the forefront of The Players' effort to build the new complex, came up with the idea for a gala and Players Artistic Director Jeffery Kin turned it into a dinner-dance.
Kin looked at the big crowd as the event was getting started and proclaimed, "We are smitten with all of you. I am looking out at all the smiling faces and feeling the love. Our future looks very bright."
"There's not any question that we live in an amazing place in terms of art and culture," said Sarasota County Commissioner Mike Moran, who attended the event with his wife, Lori.