By: Lauren Speirs
Jim Corsica (left) in Guys and Dolls
The Naples Players has held an important role in the history of our community ever since its inception in the living room of Henry and Mary Watkins in 1953. Our long-time volunteers have seen us through several decades of growth and change, and continue to make this theater unique. Many have been with us since before our 5th Avenue location even existed!
One such volunteer is on stage in Southern Comforts. Jim Corsica is celebrating 25 years of volunteering at The Naples Players and we couldn’t be more grateful to have him back again and again. Jim’s first show with us was The Fantasticks at the Kon-Tiki Theater on Davis Boulevard – the old movie theater that previously housed TNP before our move to our current home on Fifth Avenue South. “One of the things I’ve been able to do since coming to The Naples Players is check a lot of things off of my bucket list. Back in 2004, I auditioned and got cast as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and it was one of the thrills of my life!”
The bucket list continues to be checked off with Southern Comforts. “This play is my first two character play. I made a commitment to myself around 2001 to do things that also
Jim Corsica (right) All Shook Up
represent a challenge in some way. Each play or musical I’ve done has something unique about it.” Speaking of Southern Comforts, Jim is excited about all of his fellow onstage and backstage counterparts. “I was so happy to hear Alyssa Haney is our stage manager – she is fierce backstage!”
Jim was born and raised in Rochester, New York and spent over a decade in both Ohio and then Wisconsin. Before retiring, Jim was a high school math teacher and when he moved to Naples in 1996, he taught at The Community School of Naples for five years and then Gulf Coast High School for five years. Jim arrived in Naples with plenty of acting experience from the Racine Theatre Guild and The Lakeside Players, both in Wisconsin. “The theatre in Racine was modeled after the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis so I learned to act in the round (audience on three sides of the stage). Coming here and acting on a proscenium stage (audience on one side of the stage) felt like a vacation.”
With so much time spent at The Naples Players, it’s tough to decide which plays were Jim’s favorite. “It’s a tie between Guys and Dolls, Other People’s Money, Over the River and
Jim (right) in Other Peoples Money
Through the Woods, and Deathtrap. Over the River and Through the Woods was the most personal role I ever did because I played an Italian grandfather and it reminded me of my own family (which had two Italian grandfathers) so I had lots to draw from for the character. In Other People’s Money, I played a corporate raider, deconstructing companies and selling off the parts for a profit. I said to the director when I auditioned, ‘I know this guy!’ In the final scene, I had a four-and-a-half page monologue as if I was talking to the stakeholders; when you listen to his reasoning it makes a whole lot of sense, besides the fact that it’s the death of the factory. Guys and Dolls was my first Broadway-style musical with 25 plus people in it. My friend came to see it and said, ‘you never told me you could sing!’ and I said, ‘you didn’t ask.’ The fact that I can do musicals has been a lot of work and a lot of fun. Deathtrap was the first play to break my heart – I didn’t get cast the first time I auditioned in Wisconsin but then wound up performing it on two separate occasions, one of which was with The Naples Players.”
Jim has graced our stages several times, but he has also joined the backstage volunteer family. “In Mary Poppins, I was moving set pieces and in Les Misérables, I rolled the barricade over my left big toe! I’ve worked backstage probably ten times. It’s my other favorite thing to do. I think I have about three black running crew shirts at home!” Jim also auditioned for Mike and Judith (Santos) and took part in Stage 2 Improv for three years.
When asked what keeps him coming back, Jim says, “I love it. It’s the primary volunteer activity that I do, although I think I get more out of it than I put into it! The bottom line is that I’ve met some wonderful people in 25 years. Some I’ve worked with over and over again. Some just one show and then they’re gone. I’ve watched some of the kids move onto bigger and better things. Lana Love is on The Voice right now (October 2022) and she was my daughter in All Shook Up maybe ten years ago!”
All of us at The Naples Players are grateful to every single volunteer and we are humbled to have wonderful people like Jim volunteer their time for 25 years and counting – Thank you, Jim!