Nestled in the beautiful Plaza del Mar shopping center, on the border island of Manalapan, south of the island of Palm Beach, is the popular Plaza Theatre. The 250-seat theater recently expanded its space, taking over an adjoining space last month, increasing to 17,000 square feet of real estate and building upon its two years of success.

The theater itself opened more than 20 years ago as the Pope Theatre, which was renamed Florida Stage. Following the exit of Florida Stage in 2011, the theater remained available, awaiting the right person to come along, and again fill the niche of theater on the barrier islands. That person was Alan Jacobson. Having decades of experience in theater and the entertainment world, Alan knew the value of the theater’s history, and of the space itself.  He also knew what the community loved to see.

Along with dedicated volunteers, Alan cleared out the building of debris and all remnants of its former occupiers, and opened the doors on the Plaza Theatre in February 2012 with a powerhouse: Donna McKechnie’s one-woman show, My Musical Comedy Life.

During its subsequent two-year run, he has brought in world-renowned performers such as Avi Hoffman and Renee Taylor. Whether focusing on the nostalgic, such as the hit show, Brighton Beach Memoirs, or the contemporary, featuring Waist Watchers, Alan’s finger is on the pulse of what the audiences love. By 2013, the fledgling theater was nominated for the prestigious Carbonell Award for its production of Driving Ms. Daisy, and had presented numerous cabaret performances and workshops, as well as launching its Conservatory. The Conservatory offers educational courses and workshops in the arts, taught by renowned local, and guest artist performers.

This month’s opening of the new space, Club Plaza, gives a permanent home to not only the Conservatory, but to the ever-growing cabaret series. The new space gives the Plaza Theatre patrons a table and chairs, full-bar and light dinging experience with the new Piano Bar, along with intimate evenings of entertainment. The new schedule for the space begins April 3 through August 16, with additional shows in the planning stages. It will also include a jazz series, as well as small, intimate, contemporary shows to broaden its audience reach. Club Plaza opens April 3rd, with two weekends worth of performances of Garland!: A Tribute to Judy Garland, followed by a rocking piano bar until midnight.

“Our mission is to enlighten and to entertain through the arts. Whether through our programming, adult classes, camps or even open mic nights, we are providing entertainment that is inclusive to everyone,” says Jacobson. “We have productions that appeal to the Jewish community, the Italian and Irish communities, the LGBT community, and everyone in between,” he continues. “If you love classics or contemporary, musicals, comedy or romance – our seasons have something for everyone.”

The rest of the season’s shows include the current production hailing the immortal Mae West, DIRTY BLONDE; the upcoming tribute to Andrew Lloyd Weber, MUSIC OF THE NIGHT, and the summer production of COUGAR – THE MUSICAL. The Plaza Theatre’s 2014/2015 season includes the one-man show EXCEPTIONS TO GRAVITY, starring world famous performance artist Avner the Eccentric; the ever-popular nostalgic FOREVER PLAID; the charming musical SHE LOVES ME; along with the gripping drama of THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES; the sensual sounds of PHANTOM, and the world premiere of THAT’S BALLROOM!, a Chorus Line style show about the world of ballroom dancing.

Tickets can be purchased online at the Plaza Theatre website; in person at the Plaza Theatre box office located at 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, in the Plaza Del Mar Shopping Center; or by calling 561-588-1820.