Behind-the-scenes at Players by the Sea Theatre


The First Coast offers a wide variety of theatrical offerings from which to choose. Audiences may be unaware, however, as to just what goes into mounting a season of theatrical productions.

The process starts with the selection of productions for any given season and moves forward from there – from assigning a director and a creative team to actor auditions, set design, lighting and sound and rehearsals.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at Players By the Sea’s current stage production “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventure of Louis De Rougemont (As Told By Himself)” directed by Jason Collins and featuring a troupe of three actors: Matt Tompkins, Kasi Walters and Tamara Arapovic.

Season announcement

The beginning of the production process starts with deciding on what productions to feature for the season. Players by the Sea presents nine productions per season, featuring a variety of genres.

The 2015-2016 season marked the milestone 50th season for the community theatre. Following “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment,” the final production of the 50th season will be the musical “Memphis” on stage July 22-Aug. 13.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” Collins said of the theatre’s behind-the-scenes work to produce shows back-to-back. The 2016-2017 season was announced in May, and the next three shows have already been lined up, according to Collins.

Season 51 opens Sept. 16 with the musical “Into the Woods.”

Planning and auditions

Following the season announcement, scripts are divided up among directors. Collins said he was asked to do “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” in November or December of last year.

Then it’s a matter of polishing the script and creating a wish list as far as set design, costumes and props go. As with any not-for-profit organization, PBTS productions must remain within the allotted budget.

The next step involves choosing the creative team who will create set design, props, costumes, lighting and sound and actor auditions. Auditions for “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment” took place in the beginning of March.


Once the actors have been chosen, rehearsals begin.

During rehearsals for “Shipwrecked!,” the actors had to learn how to do puppetry, to make fluid movements with the props.

“It’s all about learning how to move and make them look real,” Collins said. “A lot of our rehearsal is taking these things and making the audience believe.”

The rehearsals also offer an opportunity for actors to say their lines aloud, get stage direction from the director and navigate the set.

After a series of initial rehearsals take place, a cue-to-cue rehearsal is held to rehearse lighting and sound. Collins estimates that on average there are a total of 25 rehearsals per production, more for musicals.