SARASOTA, FL. - When the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre went dark after 42 years in downtown Sarasota, everybody said it was the end of the line for the longest running dinner theatre in the country.
The Turoff’s had been fighting to keep the Golden Apple open for years, and finally they had run out of funds and the landlord had kicked them out. But the Turoff’s didn't forget Winston Churchill’s words, and on Monday they shocked the Suncoast community.
Last time we showed you Bob Turoff you could see the heartbreak in his eyes. When he couldn't pay the rent the landlord closed the doors on the Golden Apple, locked the Turoff’s out and started a search for a new tenant.
That was supposed to be the end of the Golden Apple, but like Winston Churchill, the Turoff's never, ever, ever gave up and today the Golden Apple is rising from the ashes.
"We are back. We are back and we are excited… Means some marvelous shows for the Sarasota audience," says Robert Turoff.
With a determination that Churchill would admire, even when they were evicted from their theatre and it went dark due to non-payment of rent, the Turoff’s never gave up.
Now, they say they're re-born thanks to a partnership with the Nederlanders, the owners of many of the most distinguished theatres and concert venues in the country, including 9 theatres in New York. "They formed a group and the group has signed on my lease with me and that means we're back in business."
The partnership allows the Nederlanders to present some New York productions on this stage, and the rest of the time the Golden Apple will present its own shows.
"It was like coming home. This was 42 years, every day of my life coming in this theater, so it was a reunion with an old friend," says Kyle Turoff, PLATO Artistic Director.
"It was a wild feeling walking in, wild wonderful, awesome, and I can't wait to pull up my sleeves and go to work," says Roberta McDonald Turoff.
Meanwhile, opening its season this week is Waist Watchers, The Musical presented by PLATO.
PLATO is a sort of off shoot of the golden apple. PLATO stands for Professional Learning and Theatrical Organization. It’s a not-for-profit run by Kyle Turoff, who is the daughter of Robert and Roberta.
"It's built around teaching young people theatre, getting the young people intertwined with professionals. Not only are we about to produce Waist Watchers, but over the holidays we doing the 12 Days of Christmas, which is done by our by Kids 4 Kids program," says Kyle Turoff.
PLATO had staged its shows at the Golden Apple, so it too lost its home when the theatre closed. This show is being held at the Waterfront Ramada Inn on U.S. 41.
Kyle says her family never gave up on the golden apple. "My mother kept saying, it's not over till the fat lady sings and I see no fat lady singing. We never gave up. The community never gave up,” says
The Turoff’s say the golden apple will continue to be a dinner theatre. The first play will open sometime in late December. The Nederlanders group will present a New York production of Viagra Falls.