I met Sylvia Marnie (President) at Anna Maria Island’s Island Players theater earlier this week. I wanted to interview her after I saw the first play of the season, Agatha Christie’s The Unexpected Guest. What a great way to start their 70th Season! Sylvia was in the theater with her lead stage manager, Denise Handley, when I got there on Tuesday. She took me on a tour of the theater and I found it amazing how much stuff they fit in the little space they have! Dressing rooms (one for guys, one for girls), two make-up counters with mirrors and lights, costume closet, light fixture closet, props shelves, a shop for building sets, kitchen, toilet, Oh my!
The first thing I wanted to know was why she was involved with the Island Players. Well, Sylvia was one of three lady magicians for 15 years back in England where she was born. Her magic act was in mime and comedic. She would grab the biggest fellow she could find in the audience and bring him onstage to be in her act, putting him in the box to be sawn in half! She married Allan Marnie and they moved to the states where she did her act on cruises and other venues before moving down to Florida. She was out of the theater for a few years after they moved to Anna Maria Island and then found Island Players theater.
She needed to get back on the stage and thought she’d audition for a nonspeaking part in the upcoming play. But, the director had other plans and cast her as the lead woman in Hotel Suite! Even though it terrified her she went on with it and, when she felt the wood of the stage under her feet again, it was like coming home. That was 16 years ago!
Sylvia went on to become a member of the Board of Directors and then became President just this past May. One of the great things about having her as President is that she has an artistic mind and a very strong business background. She is used to having employees to lead and now is learning to lead volunteers. She is loving it!
When I asked which play her favorite for this season is she wouldn’t let on. She thinks it might upset the directors and I can understand that. She said that each one is definitely worth seeing! So, then I asked her if she was planning to act in them all (she played Laura Warwick in the first play this season) and she said, “No!!!!” It takes so much time and she would like to focus on being President.
Her favorite part about being involved with this group? “The human interaction. When you get it right it goes to a high level. Only humans do that!” Also, the making of something from nothing and then tearing it down and starting all over again. She told me she is so impressed with the giving attitude of people here in the U.S.A. “Without volunteers we have nothing.”
Speaking of volunteers, the Players have a group called Off Stage Ladies which is now directed by Roe Duncan. I spoke to Dorothy Eder about the group because she’s been involved with them a very long time. She told me that the Ladies are responsible for important fund raising providing so much for the theater. They also feed the cast and crew on the Sunday before the play starts, called “Long Sunday” because they are there all day getting ready for the opening. The Ladies are always looking for more to join them and Dorothy says you will have so much fun with them!
The Island Players are looking for more volunteers in the box office, and with light, sound, props, and back stage. They also want more actors! Sylvia Marnie is a ball of fire and so excited about bringing passionate people in to make sure the island has a vibrant art culture. For more information about how to buy tickets to see a play, or to became a volunteer to make it happen, visit www.theislandplayers.org
Photos courtesy of sarasotapost.com,