If you’ve visited the Florida Gulf Coast many times, you might think you’ve seen and done all there is. But you would be surprised to know that there is more to Anna Maria and the surrounding coastal towns and cities than beaches and restaurants. There is a thriving community of artists and performers that call the area home and provide many ways to try something new on your beach vacation.
Anna Maria Island may only be a quaint Florida island, but it is filled with fascinating spectacles in theatre, and the island is just minutes from Sarasota, which is home to many opera performances, orchestral concerts, and art galleries.
The Island Players
For 70 years, the Island Players have entertained audiences all over Anna Maria Island. Their history is as much a part of island culture as the white sand beaches. The Island Players were founded in 1949 in an effort to bring artistic experiences to the towns all along Anna Maria Island. It is the oldest community theater in Manatee County.
Over the years, the building served as a municipal building, schoolroom, and a church meetinghouse. As the building began to deteriorate, the town couldn’t afford the maintenance. The Island Players were planning to build their own theater, but via an arrangement with the city, they made the building repairs, added tiered seats and created the island’s first theater.
The Island Players perform five productions per year, between October and May.
The current season is eclectic. You can see the ironic I Hate Hamlet, a deconstruction of modern perceptions on the playwright. Andrew Rally, an aspiring artist, thinks of Shakespeare as little more than “algebra” in this clever dark comedy.
Tickets are $20 and season passes are available.
The Anna Maria Island Concern Chorus & Orchestra
Amateur and proConcertal musicians come together as part of the Anna Marie Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra (AMICCO). This 69-year-old organization performs four concerts per year from December through March as well as a Symphony on the Sand in November. Audiences come from Bradenton, Sarasota, Manatee County, and from Tampa/St. Pete, as well as Anna Maria Island. Patrons are never disappointed and thrill to music chosen from classics, opera, and the signature sound of American music.
The Manatee Performing Arts Center
The Manatee Players have come a long way since they began in 1948. They began when members of the Bradenton Junior Women’s Club organized the community theatre. Their first Christmas performance brought in $1,600. The group was elated and public demand began to grow. Their first full season of performances was in 1949 and the troupe continued to perform at various locations around the island. At the time, season tickets cost $12.50.
While current season tickets are a little more, the Manatee complex is still one of the most family-oriented and budget-friendly theater spaces in the area.
Sarasota Opera House
This opera house is glorious. Some guests come for the tour alone. It is a breathtaking hall that showcases special events, celebrity talks, and, of course, some of the most majestic opera performances in the state. Review the Recital Series, the Youth Opera Concert, and other events on their website.
This is only a few places to see some amazing Sarasota shows. Other Sarasota concerts and theatres include the Florida Studio Theatre and the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Sarasota has a distinct artistic sensibility. It is impressive to see all this come to life in front of your eyes as you explore small student theater houses and big opera halls in your travels.
Book Your Anna Maria Vacation
Ready to experience something new or just enjoy your old familiar things to do on Anna Maria? Book your ideal beach rental home or condo and spend your days lounging in the sand and exploring the area in the evenings.
Choose your accommodations: