Naples Players get new manager, and he's the mayor

The Naples Players perform a rehearsal of Les Miserables by the Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre on Monday, June 24, 2013. The musical will be performed at the theatre from June 28 - July 28.

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The Naples Players perform a rehearsal of Les Miserables by the Naples Players at Sugden Community Theatre on Monday, June 24, 2013. The musical will be performed at the theatre from June 28 - July 28.

Naples Mayor John Sorey on NewsMakers 11-11-12.

Naples Mayor John Sorey on NewsMakers 11-11-12.

Naples Players Executive director Jim Rideoutte will retire Dec. 31. Long-term board member John Sorey will take over as executive director Jan. 1.

Naples Players

701 5th Ave S, Naples, FL

The city of Naples’ largest theater will soon also house its head official. Mayor John Sorey will take over the post of executive director of The Naples Players when Jim Rideoutte, its executive director for 14 years, retires Dec. 31.

Sorey, 69, a retired consultant and board member for 14 years, is expected to take over as executive director Jan. 1. Rideoutte said he had been contemplating the move for several months.

“Particularly when I was in the revenue service, I saw managers who stayed too long. I would rather retire two to three years before I needed to than two or three years after I should have,” he said.

Rideoutte felt he was leaving Naples Players “on a high mark” after its subsequent productions of “Les Miserables” with an adult and a teen cast last summer. “I want to go out on top,” he said.

Rideoutte actually took the position as an interim director in 2000 and stayed on to manage the Players’ business affairs, giving its artistic directors room to handle the theatrical decisions.

Rideoutte said he had already applied to join the board of the Naples Airport Authority and would continue to volunteer for regional and governmental board work.

“I have still have too much of a damn high activity level to sit around and watch TV,” he said.

Sorey says he recognizes the potential for conflict between his city position and that of executive director for a community theater at the heart of its downtown. Naples Players own the building, but the city owns the land, Sugden Plaza, on which it sits at 701 5th Ave. S. That relationship is already governed by a long-term lease.

However, a dearth of parking on city streets and in the garage around the Sugden theater was the subject of some controversy this week when City Council broached the subject of limiting events downtown.

“I will be very careful about ensuring that I abstain on any issue that has any appearance of conflict,” Sorey said. “You always have that issue being part of City Council.

“In an abundance of caution, we’re asking for the state ethics commission to address this,” he said. “I will not take the position or do anything for the Players until we receive their opinion.”

Sorey has been a board member with Naples Players nearly as long as Rideoutte has been its executive director. He’s most proud, he said, of working with the strategy to create and expand KidzAct youth theatre classes during his two years as its president 2001-2003.

Sorey also said the board had discussed long-term strategies in June. Its current philosophy of maintaining a separation of executive director handling financial matters and an artistic director handling theatrical ones was one it plans to continue. He said he is working for half of the market range salary for an executive director, which would be, in effect, a contribution to the Player’s continued financial health.

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