Valrico's James McCabe playhouse inspires a community's love of theater

Sounds of laughter, conversation and song invite me in, asking me to stay.

On a recent visit to the theater, Greg Summerall, Village Players Board Vice President, greeted me with enthusiasm as a new friend of the theater. He tells me that "This theater belongs to the community. People can give if they want to make it a better place for all." The McCabe is supported by ticket sales and memberships (of course, donations are gladly accepted to assist with upkeep of the old building, costumes and props.)

Sitting in the theater on this cold evening, I hear the trains roaring by on the tracks just around the corner. Adding to the orchestra of noise in the air are the footsteps on the old wooden floors that indicate the hours of entertainment the theater has bestowed upon its guests for years. Chairs stacked by the walls await the incoming audience for the next big opening night. A balcony overflowing with old furniture and props reminds me of my own time spent in the theater back home in the Midwest. Chairs, desks, lamps and oddities are a few items living above the unsuspecting guests. The wooden roof lined with theater lights has transformed this old building into a playhouse.

The building has a small air conditioning system that attempts to cool guests on warmer nights, but only a fireplace is available for heat during the cool months. Guests may consider bringing their blankets or a warm jacket to keep the chill at bay during those winter shows.

The stage is small and backstage is tiny. Don't be surprised to see actors streaming out of the front door to create space for fellow actors preparing to take the stage. Despite small budgets, expect a good showing each time. "Actors  buy and maintain their own costumes as well as some props" Summerall explains, but those in love with acting and the theater gladly support their craft by donating, assisting and returning show after show.

The theater is preparing for its upcoming show, Risque 4bidden Broadway, which runs Jan. 22-30 at 8:15 p.m. Fri.-Sat. The James McCabe Theater is located at 506 Fifth Street in Valrico.

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The James McCabe Theater, home of the Village Players, houses the plays of modern day and some from long ago.  The building itself was built in 1915 and was originally the home of the Valrico Civic Club.  Today, the site is the home of theatrical productions with dedicated actors, Broadway shows, and amateur artists. The building was deeded to the Village Players in 1994 and remains a historical site with a heart that belongs to the community.

As I climbed the concrete stairs to the theater, cats scattered from the giant front porch.  The honorary pets have made the theater's surrounding area their home, finding food and affection from the actors. The nostalgic atmosphere spills from front door, hinting at the aura of coziness that lies within the white brick walls.

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