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Bay Street Players gearing up for special benefit to support Historic State Theater in Eustis

The Bay Street Players are preparing to hold a special benefit dinner and performance to support the operational needs of The Historic State Theater in Eustis.

The inaugural event, titled “Play Your Part,” will be held Saturday, March 14. It will be an outdoor benefit along Magnolia Avenue in the heart of downtown Eustis and will feature a menu showcasing the food and drink of restaurants in the community. A special premier performance of the Tony Award-winning musical “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” based on the life of legendary performer Billie Holiday, will immediately follow the dinner.

The Historic State Theater in Eustis.

Cocktails will start at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6. The premier of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” will then be held at 8 p.m. at the theater, located at 109 North Bay Street in Eustis.

The proceeds from “Play Your Part” will directly benefit the Julia Nora Vatter Technical Theatre Fund, which was established in 2009 in the legacy of the active member of the theater community whose life was sadly lost at a young age. The fund supports the ongoing technical needs of the theater – often the costliest operational expenses. In coming years, “Play Your Part” will support various other programs at the theater, including the Ed Dawkins Memorial Scholarship Fund, a need-based scholarship awarded to students to offset the cost of tuition for the Bay Street Players Young People’s Theatre, among the longest-running youth theatre education programs in the nation.

Tickets to “Play Your Part” are $100 for an evening featuring a three-course dinner, inclusive of drinks, and seating at the premier of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” directed by Carlos Francisco Asse. A special chance drawing, in collaboration with Merry Jewelers of Downtown Eustis, will be offered to ticket holders with the chance to win a unique set of jewelry valued at $3,500. Tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at (352) 357-7777 or at [email protected] and monetary donations to in any amount are welcome and tax-deductible. For more information, contact Sue Wharff at [email protected]. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Joseph Vatter at [email protected].

The Bay Street Players at The Historic State Theatre is a non-profit organization whose mission, since its founding in 1974, is to provide quality entertainment to the community. The theater carries out its mission via three primary goals: entertainment, education, and engagement. The facility hosts no less than five main-stage productions each year, supplemented by a regular schedule of limited-engagements, benefits and special events. It also brings cultural experiences to young people who have limited exposure to the arts by offering them the opportunity to learn in a live-production environment by operating the Young People’s Theatre Program, which has been continuously running for more than 40 years.

The theater also provides a creative outlet for more than 1,000 volunteers of all skill sets and demographics, and community engagement extends far beyond its walls. It consistently participates in many local events, including First Fridays, GeorgeFest, the African American Heritage Festival and the Amazing Race for Charity, among others. In recent years, the theater has hosted TedX Eustis and the Lake County Folk Festival.

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