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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news April 22-30, 2022


Grouped under headings that include art openings, film, outdoor art fairs and festivals and theater are advances, announcements and articles about the actors, artists, filmmakers and events making news in Southwest Florida this week:


1      ACTORS (alphabetically)


Emilie Baartman part of the ‘Head over Heel’s ensemble at New Phoenix

Emilie Baartman appears in the ensemble of Head over Heels the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre. The actor/singer/dancer’s stage credits include flight attendant Gloria in Boeing Boeing for The Naples Players, Macbeth: The Murder Mystery for the CFABS Players, Pam Lukowski in The Full Monty (New Phoenix Theatre, 2020) and Heather in Getting Sarah Married (Mighty Corson Art Players, Brandon, South Carolina 2019). Go here to view here extensive stage and other credits.



Gerrie Benzing plays Madame de Volanges in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Gerrie Benzing plays the part of Madame de Volanges in Lab Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons. She recently starred in the role of Lee for New Phoenix Theatre in The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Other recent credits includeJinx in The Naples Players’ production of The Savannah Sipping Society after making her TNP debut in 2021 in the role of Rule in Calendar GirlsGo here to see all of Gerrie’s stage and extensive other theatrical credits.



Paola Andrea Cifuentes is Morticia in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Paola Andrea Cifuentes stars as Morticia in The Addams Family Musical. It’s a role that plays to all of Cifuentes strengths. “Morticia is very elegant,” Paola comments. “She is the matriarch and takes family very seriously. If anything, that’s something that I can relate to. Family is very important.” And in the musical, Morticia sings and dances. In fact, not only does Cifuentes dance the tango, she collaborated with co-star Parrish Danesh to choreograph the Tango de Amor that brings the play to a close. You will find the rest of Paola’s profile here.



Kiana Cintron performs in ensemble of ‘In the Heights’ at Broadway Palm

Kiana Cintron performs in the ensemble of In the Heights at Broadway Palm. Her other credits include Wanda in Escape to Margaritaville (Prather Entertainment), Sonia in Godspell, Dance Captain in Newsies! (Florida Repertory Theatre), Nina Zarechnaya in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (FSW Theatre Program), I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, (in which she portrayed seven different characters (FSW Theatre Program)), Tilly in She Kills Monsters (FSW Theatre Program), the Assistant Choreographer Lara in A Chorus Line (Florida Rep Conservancy) and Claire in This Random World (FSW Theatre Program). Go here for the rest of her theatrical credits.



Lisa Clark plays Alice Beineke in ddams Family Musical’

In The Addams Family Musical, Lisa plays the role of Alice, the sickeningly sweet, rhyming replete but  deeply disturbed alliterating mother of Wednesday’s fiancée, Lucas Beineke. Lisa is an actor and musical director. Her stage credits include the roles of Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, Ethel in Footloose and Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. She served as music director for several of Fort Myers Theatre’s shows over the past year, including A Christmas Carol and Grease. 



Steven Coe plays the rakish Vicomte de Valmont in Lab’s ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Steven Coe next appears as the impudent, bitingly witty rake Vicomte de Valmont in Lab Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons. His evolving body of work includes Chris in Killer Joe, Jim Fingal in Lifespan of a Fact for Players Circle Theatre, Joe Gillis in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Sunset Schmoulevard, Sandro Botticelli in the regional premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Botticelli in the Fire, John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Thomas Novachek in David Ives’ Venus in Fur for The Studio Players, Andri in Andorra, The Boy in Veronica’s Room, and Doug in Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By. But there’s so much more. Go here to view Coe’s extensive theatrical credits.



Erin Coleman is one of the ‘dancestors’ in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Erin Coleman is making her SWFL theater debut as one of the ancestors in The Addams Family musical at Fort Myers Theatre. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Erin graduated with a vocal music education degree from William Jewell College and was very active in her musical theater community there. She then spent eight years in New York City where she was a familiar performer with the St. Jean’s Players in Manhattan and The Heights Players in Brooklyn before making the move to Fort Myers in 2021.



Amanda Collins plays Emilie in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Amanda Collins is an aspiring young actor. She plays Emilie in Dangerous Liaisons. Pervious credits include Bad Idea 1 in Avenue Q, Stephanie in The Tempest and Allie/Lizzie in Let Nothing You Dismay for Lab Theater as well as shows for Florida Repertory Theater, Lehigh Senior High and Fort Myers Theater. She is currently studying theater at Florida Gulf Coast University.



Parrish Danesh plays Gomez in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Parrish Danesh is local actor. He currently stars as Gomez Addams in The Addams Family musical at Fort Myers Theatre. His previous stage credits at Fort Myers Theatre include the roles of Teen Angel & Johnny Casino in Grease (March 2022), Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol the Musical (December 2021) and Reverend Shaw Moore in Footloose the Musical (September 2021). Go here for more.



Chloe Elliot-Chan portrays Madame de Tourvel in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Chloe Elliot-Chan returns to live theater with her portrayal of Madame de Tourvel in Lab Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons. The appearance also marks her Lab Theater debut. She is a senior in the Theater program at the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she has performed in department productions including the 9/11 retrospective, Sweet & Sad, and most recently, in the filmed production of W. B. Yeats’ On Baile’s Strand.



Jessie Getlik is Flapper/Moon dancestor in ‘Addams Family’

Jessie Getlik is a former Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Line performer who has relocated from New Jersey to Fort Myers. After performing for theme parks, golf clubs and cruise ships for the past ten years Jessie can be seen in various Live at Chocs! events at Chocolattes and is thrilled to make her Fort Myers Theatre debut as one of the dancestors (Flapper/Moon) in The Addams Family Musical.



Giszelle Girton appears as Penny in ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’

Giszelle Kirton appears in the role of Penny in The Naples Players’ production of Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid. Her character is a defiant 16-year-old who, like many teenage girls, finds herself at odds with her socially-obtuse mother. As card-carrying member of the nerd clique bound for Yale, she has no purported interest in boys until a physically-abused woman by the name of Mary Anne takes refuge at the B&B Penny’s mom runs. Kirton plays the part with convincing edginess, and her transformation into a boy-crazed teen intent on snaring the high school football star is a wonder to behold.

Go here for the rest of Girton’s theatrical credits.



Shelley Gothard plays Hannah in ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid

Shelley Gothard lays Hannah in When We Were Young and Unafraid, on stage in the Tobye Studio Theater at The Naples Players through April 24th. Shelley Gothard has been involved in many productions at The Naples Players and other local theaters. She was last seen as Mrs. Marchmont in TNP’s production of An Ideal Husband and in the Ensemble of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.



Nikki Hagel stars as Pamela for New Phoenix in ‘Head Over Heels’

Nikki Hagel appears in the role of Pamela in Head over Heels, the jukebox musical which utilizes the Go-Gos’ songbook that plays at New Phoenix Theatre during the month of April. Previous roles include Frederick Frankenstein fiancee Elizabeth Benning in Young Frankenstein, Georgie Buckatinsky in The Full Monty and the memorable role of sax-playing Magenta in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, all for New Phoenix Theatre.



Amy Hughes plays Mary Anne in ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid

Amy Hughes appears in the role of Mary Anne in The Naples Players’ production of Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid, which plays in the Tobye Studio Theatre at The Naples Players through April 26. Previous credits at TNP include Chicago, Legally Blonde and Music Man. However, this is her first show back after becoming a mother.



Mark King plays Major Domo in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Mark King appears in the role of Major Domo for Lab Theater in Dangerous Liaisons. Mark has previously appeared for The Lab as Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q and comedian Eddie McCuen in The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s. Other stage credits include FSW Black Box Theatre’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The SeagullUrinetown and Tarzan at Florida Rep, Les Misérables and All Shook Up at Cultural Park, Young Frankenstein and Shakespeare’s Scottish Play at North Fort Myers High School and The Addams Family and The Miracle Worker at The Alliance for The Arts.



Terry Lavy channels inner Jackie Coogan for role of Fester in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Terry Lavy came to SWFL in 2005 with no acting experience. Challenged by a friend, he auditioned for A Christmas Carol (2021) without knowing it was a musical. He became the Ghost of Christmas Present and sang in public for the first time since childhood.  Terry loved the people and the experience and so followed up by becoming the grieving killer, Wilson, in The Great Gatsby (2022) For Uncle Fester in the Addams Family musical, he is channeling his inner Jackie Coogan. Fester is a strange and curiously romantic fellow.



Anna Joy Lehman is Wednesday in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Anna Joy Lehman appears next in The Addams Family Musical at for Fort Myers Theatre. She plays Wednesday. Now 20, she’s fallen in love with a normal boy and wants to introduce him and his parents to the family, an event that has disaster written all over it. An actress, dancer, and singer/songwriter, Anna graduated in 2020 from the Institute for American Musical Theatre in New York City, where she trained with Broadway professionals as a triple threat for the stage and screen. She has extensive stage credits, which you can see here.



Carrie Lund stars in ‘Miracle on South Division Street’

Players Circle co-founder Carrie Lund stars as matriarch Clara Novak in Miracle on South Division Street. Carrie’s onstage career spans more than 35 years. She has performed regionally in theaters in New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In Southwest Florida, Carrie has starred in more than 100 productions. As a member of the Actor’s Equity Association, she acted 451 weeks over 21 years. In Florida Rep’’ 19th season, she acted in the one-woman show Erma Bombeck, At Wit’s End, and all nine Wall Street Journal reviewed shows. Some of her favorite credits include Private Lives, Talley’s Folly, August Osage County, God of Carnage and Becky’s New Car. Go here to view all of Carrie’s stage and other credits.



FGCU soph Bella Marshall plays Princess Philoclea in ‘Head over Heels’

Isabella Marshall plays the part of Princess Philoclea in Head over Heels for New Phoenix Theatre. She has performed in various roles throughout her life, but her favorites date back to high school, where she appeared in Nunsense, Little Shop of Horrors, Curtains, Once on This Island, Into the Woods and In the Heights.

For more on Ms. Marshall go here.



Sonya McCarter plays Marquise de Merteuil for Lab in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Sonya McCarter will appear in the role of master manipulator Marquise de Merteuil for Lab Theater in Dangerous Liaisons. McCarter’s acting credits include Confusions (which consisted of three one-act plays, The Still Alarm by George S. Kauffman and Alan Ayckbourn’s Between Mouthfuls and A Talk in the Park), Camae in Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Louise Parker Neese in Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage, Corryn Fell in Gideon’s Knot, Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, and as a grieving mother in the virtual presentation of For Black Women Who Experienced Genocide When The Police Murders of Their Sons Was Too Much by Keith A. Wallace for The Best Seats in Your House. Please go here to see all of McCarter’s theatrical credits.



Aimee Naughton part of ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

Aimee Naughton appears for New Phoenix Theatre in the ensemble of Head over Heels the Musical. Her previous stage credits include the roles of Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Sister Mary Amnesia in both Nunsense and Nunsense II for Cultural Park Theater. Aimee holds a Bachelor of Music Education (BME) from Florida State University.



Paulette Oliva plays the part of Agnes in ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’

Paulette Oliva plays the part of Agnes for The Naples Players in Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid. Oliva has performed Off-Broadway and at numerous regional theaters. Some of her favorite shows and roles include Gypsy/Mama Rose, Sister Act/Mother Superior, Master Class/Maria Callas, Carrie/Mother, The King and I/Anna, Sweeney Todd/Mrs. Lovett, and the East Coast regional premiere of Next to Normal/Diana. The rest of her bio is here.



Samantha Pudlin in ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

Samantha Pudlin  is a resident Southwest Florida thespian. She is appearing in the ensemble of Head Over Heels for New Phoenix Theatre. Pudlin’s recent stage credits include the roles of the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors, Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, all for Cultural Park Theatre. Her other credits include Nurse Kelly in Harvey, Protean in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, a dancer and member of the ensemble in Sweet Charity and Boylan Sister and a member of the ensemble in Annie, all for CPT.



Tyler Reis plays Pugsley in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Tyler Reis plays the part of Pugsley in The Addams Family Musical at Fort Myers Theatre. Reis is currently a 4th Grader at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, where he is part of the Dance and Theater Department. He was recently Fritz in The Nutcracker and Pinocchio in My Son Pinocchio the Musical both at his school.

Go here to see where else Tyler has performed and what else he’s been in.



Cameron Rogers plays Chevalier Raphael Danceny in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Cameron Rogers plays the part of Chevalier Raphael Danceny in Laboratory Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons. Previous roles include the groom in The Wedding Story (one of three single-act plays comprising the Alliance for the Arts’ production of Auditions, Diners and Weddings),Brad in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show for New Phoenix Theatre and Gus P. Head in Lab Theater’s production of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play.



Daniel Sabiston is Azalon in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Daniel Sabiston appears in the role of Azalon for Lab Theater in Dangerous Liaisons. His previous stage credits include Trinculo in The Tempest, Alan in Torch Song for The Studio Players, various roles in the summer spoof Sunset Schmoulevard, Poggio di Chullu in the regional premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Botticelli in the Fire, an oh-so-mean bully (not bunny) rabbit by the name of Serling Hunter in Kayleigh O’Connell’s Projekt Grotesquerie, Ezekiel Cheever in The Crucible and the Journeyman in Andorra, all for the Laboratory Theater of Florida.



Cassie Sampson plays Queen Gynecia in ‘Head over Heels The Musical’

Cassie Sampson appears in the role of Queen Gynecia for New Phoenix Theatre in Heed over Heels the Musical. Sampson has been involved in over 20 productions at Cultural Park Theater, both on and off stage, since making her CPT debut in Godspell in 1996. Her credits include Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense 2: The Second Coming, Leann in A Piece of My Heart, Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors, Gwendolyn Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest, Becky Two Shoes in Urinetown, Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense, Chelsea in On Golden Pond and Annas in Jesus Christ Superstar. Go here to view the rest of Cassie’s stage and other credits.



Bernardo Santana plays Paul in TNP’s ‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’

Bernardo Santana appears in the role of Paul in Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid, which runs from March 30 through April 24 in the Tobye Studio. A Naples-based SAG-AFTRA actor, Bernardo’s local stage credits include Bernard in Boeing Boeing, Principal Harry Clark in Footloose, Eddie Brock in Born Yesterday, Peter Shaw in Silent Sky, George Wilson in The Great Gatsby, Eddie Kurnitz in Lost in Yonkers, Don Harper in Rapture Blister Burn and Phil in Dead Account, all for The Naples Players. Go here to see the rest of his stage and film credits.



Emarie Spiller is Lady’s Maid in Lab Theater’s ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Emarie Spiller is an emerging young talent. She plays a Lady’s Maid in Dangerous Liaisons for Lab Theater. Her prior credits God in Bible HerStory for the Alliance Youth Theatre, Gerty in Failure: A Love Story, The Crucible, the captain (#25) of the Wolves indoor soccer team in the summer intern production of Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, and Cheryl in Lab’s production of Evil Dead: The Musical. She is also stage manager for Dangerous Liaisons.



Cassy Terwilliger in ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

Cassy Terwilliger is in the Head Over Heels ensemble. The role marks her New Phoenix Theatre debut. Terwilliger has been active at Cultural Park Theater as both a performer and musical director for the last four years. Some of her most recent notable roles include Mary Sunshine in Chicago, Diana in Lend Me a Tenor, Penelope Pennywise in Urinetown, Sister Mary Regina in Nunsense and Nunsense 2: The Second Coming, and Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.



Bianca Vilia Veranich is Grandma Addams

Bianca Vilia Veranich plays Grandma Addams in The Addams Family Musical at Fort Myers Theatre (although you might not know it under that wig). Bianca has previously appeared at Fort Myers Theatre in the roles of Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Mops and several other ensemble roles in A Christmas Carol and Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank. A long-time musical theatre lover, Bianca is the Education Director at Fort Myers Theatre, where she adores directing and inspiring the next generation of artists.





Scott Carpenter directs ‘Head over Heels the Musical’ for New Phoenix

Scott Carpenter directs Head over Hees, the jukebox musical based on the Go-Gos’ songbook, that’s coming to New Phoenix Theatre April 7th through May 1. Scott has directed numerous productions, including the Florida premiere of the spoof Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody,  RumorsSame Time, Next Year, Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical, South Pacific, Mame, and Steel Magnolias. He is also a consummate actor. Go here to view all of Scott’s theatrical and other credits.



Paul Graffy directs ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ for Lab Theater

Since 2001, Paul Graffy has appeared in more than 30 productions and directed over a dozen others at such theaters as The Naples Players, Artis Naples, TheatreZone, The Studio Players, The Naples Dinner Theater, the Laboratory Theater of Florida and The Players Circle. But he also has a passion for directing. Paul has directed 14 productions, including Hedwig and the Angry Inch for Lab Theater in 2018, Beth Henley’s Southern Gothic tragi-comedy Crimes of the Heart for Lab Theater in 2018, Les Liaisons Dangereuses for The Naples Players in 2014 and Steel Magnolias for The Naples Players in 2013. He is now directing Les Liaisons Dangereuses for Lab Theater.



Eliseo Roman directs Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘In the Heights’

In the Heights plays on the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre main stage through May 14. Eliseo Roman directs. He certainly has the theatrical chops to direct the show, having been in the original Broadway production, where he worked first-hand not only with Lin-Manuel Miranda, but that show’s director, Tommy Kail, choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler and Alex Lacamore. Roman returns to Prather Productions after last year’s directorial debut of On Your Feet!, the musical about the lives and careers of singers Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Roman portrayed Gloria Estefan’s father, Jose Fajardo, on Broadway from 2015 to 2017, a role for which he earned a Drama Desk Award. Go here to see the rest of Roman’s theatrical credits.



‘In the Heights’ choreographer Rebecca Kritzer in the spotlight

In the Heights plays on the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre main stage through May 14. Rebecca Kritzer provided the choreography (and is Assistant Director) for the show.

Kritzer has a long history with In the Heights. As a cast member in the show’s first national tour, Rebecca had the privilege of not only working with the musical’s original creative team, but performing with the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. She subsequently performed in the show regionally at The Actor’s Playhouse, Theatre Under the Stars and Olney Theatre Centre. At the latter venue, Rebecca also served as Associate Choreographer and Dance Captain.

Her part in the national tour was actually the first professional job Kritzer ever booked. But her classical training in dance, along with hip hop and all forms of Latin dance, prepared her for the audition.

The balance of this spotlight is here.






DAAS’ April show features the art of Whitney Hackett

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is showcasing the art of visual artist and local business owner Whitney Hackett during the month of April.

Hackett’s paintings are full of vibrancy, with a vintage feel. She explores memory and nostalgia through her body of dreamy and celebratory paintings. Her innocent appreciation for everyday life encourages a childlike playfulness in her work. Through the enshrinement of simple things, she elevates the ordinary to extraordinary. The juxtaposition of her imagery speaks to the interconnectedness of all life, the way we assign meaning to the material world, and the honoring of our existence.

Whitney grew up in Fort Myers, where she currently lives and works as an artist. She is currently the owner of Quartz and Clover, an eclectic store in the heart of downtown.

The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, April 1, 2022, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with Fort Myers Art Walk. The artist will be in attendance and is eager to engage viewers about her art and their own memories.

The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, May 1, 2022.

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is located at 1815 Fowler Street, in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s business hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. More information about the venue can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



DAAS May show features art of Lawrence Dineen

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is showcasing the art of visual and tattoo artist Lawrence Dineen during the month of May.

Dineen draws inspiration from music, family, past experiences, and his first love, Graffiti. His art ranges in style from urban to dark macabre. He is not limited to one worldview, and recommends we don’t either. The bright colors in his street style awaken the brain while his darker macabre style takes viewers down the path of inner torment and Dineen’s personal struggles. That being said, he always finds the beauty amongst the dark.

“Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and neither is my art,” says Dineen, who considers himself a self-taught artist in all facets of his work. “Remove the rose-colored glasses to see what I see.”

Lawrence was born just south of Philadelphia in Wilmington, Delaware. He became interested in art at an early age and was heavily influenced by street art and graffiti.  In third grade, he entered a pencil drawing of a rhino into national competition and won first place. From that time on, he was motivated to pursue an art career.

Throughout his school years, Lawrence’s love of art ebbed and flowed. Following some personal tragedies and convinced that his art would never go anywhere, Dineen walked away from his passion, putting his pens, markers, and spray cans down. Not for too long though. Eventually he returned to what made him happy, creating.

During this artistic revival, Lawrence painted with friends in a local graffiti crew known as Cangoods. He also worked as a barber, while producing art at his studio. After a long career in cosmetology, Dineen took his love for creating art to the skin and became a tattoo artist at Ancient Art Tattoo Studio in North Ft Myers Florida.

Art lovers, collectors and enthusiasts are invited to meet the artist during the Fort Myers Art Walk reception on the first Friday of May from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, May 29, 2022.

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is located in the Butterfly Estates complex at 1815 Fowler Street, Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s business hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 10:oo a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except on the first Friday of each month when it has extended hours for opening night receptions in conjunction with Art Walk.

More information about the venue can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show opens at Davis Art Center on May 6

The City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee will be exhibiting its 2022 Biennial Individual Artist Grant Recipient Show during the month of May in the historic Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in the heart of the downtown Fort Myers River District.

Opening on Friday, May 6 with Art Walk, the exhibition showcases the work of visual and performing artists who received grants from the City of Fort Myers in 2020 and 2021. But this is no ordinary 2D/3D visual arts show. Rather, it will be headlined by artist Lily Hatchett performing her renowned Paper Grotto Live! to musical accompaniment by Kat Epple and feature a 3:36 minute trailer of multi-Emmy recipient and nominee Connie Bottinelli’s new film, Driving Mrs. M.

Go here for the rest of this announcement.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show abstract artist Katherine Boren

Katherine Boren is an abstract and textural relief-collage artist. By employing a monochromatic palette and combination of nontraditional, unexpected materials, her works emphasize the reflection of light, varying textures and shapes, and differing grades of color saturation.

“My current work experiments with multiple mediums in two dimensions,” Katherine shares. “It is also influenced by personal, local, and world events.”

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show pop artist Pat Collins

Pop artist Pat Collins creates mixed media works with a focus on painting & printmaking, including murals, interactive mixed media constructions/installations. Many of her artworks comment on current issues and human rights. For example, the pieces in her March, 2022 solo show, Action Reaction Interaction, in the Florida Gulf Coast University ArtLab combine those interests with social commentary on life during current times. Read here what Pat has to say about her current body of work.






Nanci Theoret’s ‘Art for All’ article compares public art programs

Be sure to pick up a copy of Florida Weekly and read, read, read Nanci Theoret’s excellent article “Art for All: How Outdoor Public Art Defines Our Community.” BTW, Art Southwest Florida contributed the “courtesy” photographs included in the feature, but that’s not why you should read this piece. It really makes the argument for why every community, including Fort Myers, the Cape, Bonita and Naples, benefits from having a vibrant public art program.




‘Greater Tuna’ closes out Off Broadway Palm’s season on April 30

Greater Tuna began as a simple party skit based on a cartoon in Austin, Texas. By 1985, it became the most produced play in the United States, finding an instant audience coast to coast.  A successful New York run led to an HBO special produced by Norman Lear.  And through the end of April, the Off Broadway Palm brings the laugh-a-minute comedy to Southwest Florida.

Greater Tuna is a comic satire that the Washington Post calls “a [hilarious] tribute to the art of acting.” Just two actors portray 20 men and women (and a dog) in a tour de farce of quick-change artistry during which they treat audiences to all the glorious quirks, foibles, and downright insanities of the citizens of the fictional South Texas town Tuna.

Directing Greater Tuna is Off Broadway Palm’s artistic producer, Paul Bernier. Portraying the over 20 roles will be Michael Santora and Michael Weaver, who will have many quick costume changes, use inventive voice work, and pull off some very creative timing.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees through April 30.

Ticket prices range from $45 to $65, with discounts available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

So, if you’re looking for Texas-size laughs, join the Off Broadway Palm for Greater Tuna.



‘In the Heights’ at Broadway Palm through May 14

In the Heights plays at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre now through May 14. With music and lyrics written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the groundbreaking Tony-Award-winning musical tells the story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.

You will find the rest of this advance here.

Here’s another slant on the show.

And go here for play dates, times and other information.



Pedigreed direction and choreography make ‘In the Heights’ unique bi-cultural experience

No matter who you are or where you live, you have undoubtedly heard the name Lin-Manuel Miranda. Children, their parents and, yes, their grandparents too, know Miranda through the Disney film Encanto, which won best animated feature at this year’s Academy Awards. Speaking of which … Miranda’s runaway hit from Encanto, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” opened this year’s Academy Awards and another song from the film received a best song Oscar nomination.

Most folks know Lin-Manuel Miranda as the creator of the 2015 Broadway smash Hamilton, which won 11 Tony Awards. When the show came to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center for a two-week run in 2020, the demand for tickets was so great that the producer held a digital lottery two days prior to each performance to allow lucky theater-goers win two tickets for the rock-bottom price of just $10 each. The lotto only served to ramp up the excitement that swirled around the show.

But before Encanto and Hamilton there was In the Heights – a groundbreaking Tony-Award-winning musical that tells the story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. And like Hamilton, this show deserves to play to sold-out audiences too.

You can listen to the full spotlight on WGCU.



Dangerous Liaisons plays at Lab Theater through May 7


Dangerous Liaisons is on stage at Lab Theater through May 7. The play tells a tale of seduction in which sex is used as a weapon. Set among aristocrats before the French Revolution, the classic drama (adapted from the 18th-century novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos) explores decadent sexuality, morals, and manipulation as the ultimate game played – with tragic results. This play is sensual, with a biting wit and a healthy dose of lust, intrigue, and sexual gamesmanship that will keep you on your toes until the final scene.

Go here to read the rest of this advance.

Please read here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Using Go-Gos songbook, ‘Head over Heels’ musical preaches unconditional love

The jukebox musical Head over Heels is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through May 1. Featuring the songs of The Go-Go’s and a storyline adapted from Philip Sidney’s 16th century romance The Countess of Pembroke’s ArcadiaHead Over Heels preaches unconditional love and acceptance of yourself and everyone you know, no matter their gender or sexual identity. With a plot promising a usurped kingship, unlikely lovers, and gender-fluid disguises, Head Over Heels uses some of the greatest pop rock hits of the late 20th century to create a hilarious, exuberant celebration of love. Go here for the rest of this advance.

And you will find the show’s play dates, times and ticket information here.



‘Head over Heels’ cast and crew not just saying gay, they’re singing it out loud

Head over Heels opens at New Phoenix Theatre on McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers on April 7th. The musical production is a resounding rejection of the divisiveness of the Don’t Say Gay Bill that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law on March 28. “When we picked this show the political climate was not quite this rancid regarding the LBGTQ community and transgender,” observes Director Scott Carpenter. “Right now, with the Governor signing the bill into law, the Don’t Say Gay Bill, I think it’s extremely important that we’re doing this show right now. Not only are we saying gay, we’re singing it out loud to everybody with the music of the Go-Gos.”

Listen to the full story on WGCU here.



‘Miracle on South Division Street’ on stage at Players Circle through May 1

Miracle on South Division Street by Tom Dudzick is on stage at Players Circle Performing Arts Center at the Shell Factory through Sunday, May 1.

Set in Buffalo, New York, the hilarious comedy tells the story of the Novak family. Ever since Clara’s father had a miraculous vision in his barbershop, the Novak family thought they were special. But 65 years later, a deathbed confession causes the family legend to unravel with unexpected hilarious results.

This funny and poignant comedy stars Players Circle co-founder Carrie Lund as Clara, the matriarch of the Novak family, who runs a soup kitchen for the poor and needy in her fathers converted barbershop. Her grown children include Beverly, the oldest who works in a salad dressing factory (played by New York City actress  Julia Greene ) and Jimmy, the youngest (played by New York actor Kyle DePasquale). Missy Tucker, who recently was in Florida Rep’s Westside Story, plays the middle child Ruth, who comes to her mother’s house to ask her family’s permission to produce a play about “the true story” of the family legend.

“Carrie and I are friends with the playwright, Tom Dudzick and were involved with the third production of this play in 2013 during our Florida Rep years,” notes Players Circle co-founder Robert Cacioppo. “The show was a huge success. Often the actors couldn’t continue saying their lines because the laughter was so intense. This cast is every bit as special and the play is every bit as hilarious. But, it feels more poignant this time. Part of the backstory that the audience will discover was that Clara’s barber father and his wife were refuges from Europe in 1942. They came to America to escape the terror of war. It’s hard not to think about Ukraine. But rest assured, the laughs will be plentiful but the story will also sweep audiences away.”

Set Design is by Steven McLean; lights, sound and costumes by Tyler Omundson; and stage management and props by Renee Ludwig.

Performances are Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00. The show runs through May 1, 2022. Tickets are $50/$35 and can be purchased by calling 239-800-3292 or online at

Players Circle Theater is housed at the Shell Factory at 16554 North Cleveland Avenue, North Fort Myers. There is a  full-service bar in the elegant lobby adjoining theater. Patrons can also enjoy dinner in the adjoining Southern Grill Restaurant or in the lobby prior to the show. For dinner reservations call 239-995-3999.



Sarah Treem’s ‘Young and Unafraid’ examines life before Violence Against Women Act

When We Were Young and Unafraid is in the Tobye Studio Theater through April 24.

Sponsored by Terry Libby and Larry Siegel, the story, set in the 1970s, examines the harsh realities of life before Roe v. Wade, before the Violence Against Women Act, and before women had places to turn in times of distress. Smart and exciting, it will leave you on the edge of your seat with a renewed appreciation of a woman’s rights.

Sarah Treem (writer of the edge-of-your-seat Netflix series House of Cards) created this powerful play about an unassuming, cozy bed and breakfast that moonlights as a battered women’s shelter.

The rest of this advance is here.

Go here for play dates, times and other info.



‘When We Were Young and Unafraid’ most consequential SWFL play this season

When We Were Young and Unafraid is on stage in The Naples Players’ Tobye Studio Theatre through April 24. It is perhaps the most significant play to be produced anywhere in Southwest Florida during the 2021-2022 season.

What makes Young and Unafraid so consequential is the light it shines on the tremendous strides we’ve made in the level and quality of care and support we now provide to survivors of domestic violence. House of Cards writer Sarah Treem does this by taking us 50 years back in time to a bed and breakfast in the Pacific Northwest that doubles as a safe house for women fleeing domestic violence. It is run by a woman named Agnes with the help of her 16-year-old daughter, Penny.

Go here for the rest of this review.

Or better still, listen to it on WGCU.




6     FILM


12th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival to open with ‘Calendar Girls’ documentary

The Fort Myers Film Festival will open its 12th annual festival on May 18 with Calendar Girls, a 2022 film about a group of Southwest Florida senior volunteer dancers who are determined to prove that age is just a number. The Calendar Girls give it all they’ve got, and they have a lot to give — impressive makeup, handmade costumes, elaborate dance routines, and, most notably, their unparalleled enthusiasm and sparkling personalities. Through revealing conversations and choreographed dance scenes, the film captures the challenges of being a woman over 60 and the delicate balance of family, home and dance. With laughter and tears, relationships and identities change as new dreams are discovered. The rest of this advance is here.



Edison Ford Winter Estates holding evening of films on April 22

In the lead up to this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival, the Edison Ford Winter Estates will hold an evening of films under the stars on Friday, April 22. Three films will be featured:

  • Nursery Favorites;
  • The Koreshans: Legends and Legacies of Estero’s Urban Pioneers; and
  • retrospective that showcases the 12-year history of the Fort Myers Film Festival and includes a preview of Calendar Girls, the documentary that will open this year’s film festival on Mary 18.

The rest of this announcement is here.



Kinetophone film ‘Nursery Favorites’ an early Ediosn ‘talkie’

The 1913 Edison kinetophone film Nursery Favorites will be one of three films shown on April 22 on the lawn of Henry Ford’s winter residence on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. One of more than 200 sound films released in 1913 and 1914, Nursery Favorites brings everyone’s favorite Mother Goose characters to life. Go here for more.



Edison Ford Estates screens Safron-Main Sail documentary on Koreshan legacy

The Edison Ford Winter Estates is hosting an evening of “films under the star” tonight. In addition to one of Thomas Edison’s very first “talkies” and a lookback at eleven years of the Fort Myers Film Festival, the night will feature The Koreshans: Legends and Legacies of Estero’s Urban Pioneers, by Ilene Safron and Main Sail Video Productions.

Viewers will learn a lot about the Koreshans in is expertly-crafted documentary, which presents a series of re-enactments, 3D animations, breathtaking drone-made aerials and interviews with contemporary scholars.

You will find the rest of this post here.

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