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Performing and Visual Artists in the news in January, 2024


This is who and what’s creating news in Southwest Florida’s visual and performing arts community during the month of January, 2024:


1     ACTORS


TJ Albertson returns to SWFL stage as Jeff in ‘Which Way to the Stage’

TJ Albertson returns the stage in the role of Jeff in Which Way to the Stage for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts. Prior to his intervening 3-year absence, TJ had turned in outstanding performances in Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, the priest in The Crucible, Anorexia Nervosa in The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Soldier in Andorra, Tyler Johnes in And the Winner Is … and Timmy in Hand to God. View the rest of Albertson’s theatrical credits here.



Brittany Ambler plays Bonnie Parker in ‘Bonnie and Clyde The Musical’

Brittany Ambler plays Bonnie Parker in TheatreZone’s production of Bonnie & Clyde the Musical. Ambler was last seen at TheatreZone rocking out as Sherrie in Rock of Ages during TheatreZone’s 2023 season. A proud Illinois Wesleyan University BFA Musical Theatre graduate, Brittany’s favorite regional credits include the Narrator in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Natalie in All Shook Up, Doralee in 9 to 5, Louise in Patsy Cline, Inga in Young Frankenstein, Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, Miss Scarlet in Clue On Stage, Kellie in Hands on a Hardbody, Rita in Lucky Stiff, Lin in Great American Trailer Park, Sarah in The Toxic Avenger, and Suzy in Marvelous Wonderettes. Go here for more on Brittany.



Brittany Ambler uniquely qualified to portray Bonnie Parker

Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical plays at TheatreZone in Naples January 11-21. Robert Koutras stars as Clyde Barrow; Brittany Ambler plays the part of Bonnie Parker. Based on the book by Ivan Menchell, the musical recounts the electrifying true story of the notorious duo from the unique perspective of their relationship against a background of extraordinary music.

“Brittany is just so versatile in the roles she can play,” notes TheatreZone Artistic Director Mark Danni. “While I’ve seen her play very strong characters, I’ve also seen her be very vulnerable and, of course, that is the essence of Bonnie Parker.”

Ambler has done her homework.

Read the balance of this Spotlight here.



Brittany Ambler riffs on Bonnie Parker and ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ musical

Brittany Ambler plays Bonnie Parker for TheatreZone in Bonnie and Clyde the Musical. The character has been one of Brittany’s dream roles since high school, so naturally she’s dived into her character’s early history to better understand what caused her fatal infatuation with Clyde Barrow.

“She was an outgoing, mischievous child,” says Brittany, who became intrigued by “how she grew up, her siblings, family life and stories of when she was a kid.”

Read the rest of Brittany’s riff here.



Emilie Baartman is Myrtle Mae Simmons in ‘Harvey’ at The Naples Players

Emilie Baartman plays the part of Myrtle Mae Simmons in The Naples Players’ upcoming production of Harvey. Emilie’s stage credits include Brooke in Noises Off (Lab Theater),  Lucinda in Into the Woods, Kia in The Last Schwartz (New Phoenix Theatre), work in the ensemble of Head Over Heels (New Phoenix Theatre), flight attendant Gloria in Boeing Boeing for The Naples Players, Macbeth: The Murder Mystery for the CFABS Players and Pam Lukowski in The Full Monty (New Phoenix Theatre, 2020). Go here to see what else she’s been in.



‘Harvey’ star Emilie Baartman prioritizes inclusivity on and off stage

Some people just can’t help but live and breathe theatre 24/7, and Emilie Baartman, playing Myrtle Mae Simmons in The Naples Players’ (TNP) upcoming production of Harvey, is at the top of that list.

From a young age, Emilie remembers attending community theatre camps and watching her dad perform on stage.

Go here to read the full TNP spotlight.



Frank Blocker is Sheriff Schmid in ‘Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical’

Frank Blocker plays Sheriff Schmid in Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical at TheatreZone. Frank appeared most recently as Kurt’s Dad in TheatreZone’s collaboration with FGCU’s Theatre Lab for Heathers: The Musical. Bonnie & Clyde is Frank’s seventh TheatreZone production. He also appeared  The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2019, Chairman), Me and My Girl (2018, Sir John Tremayne), Amadeus (Salieri, 2017), Urinetown (Caldwell B. Caldwell) and Copacabana. Go here to see all of Franks extensive (and impressive) theatrical credits.



Alex Brown is Professor Plum in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Alex Brown appears in the role of Professor Plum in Clue on Stage for Fort Myers Theatre. Alexander’s stage credits Jafar in Disney’s Descendants: The Musical, The Addams Family Musical (Mal Beineke), Diary of Anne Frank, Bye Bye Birdie, Godspell and Sound of Music. 



James Major Burns plays Rev. Brewster in ‘Elvis: A Musical Revolution’

James Major Burns plays Rev. Brewster/Jackie Brenston for Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Elvis: A Musical Revolution. Previous roles include Mr. Greenway in Elf the Musical (2023), Jamal in Escape To Margaritaville, Jimmy Thunder Early in Dreamgirls, Scarecrow in The Wiz, The Leading Player in Pippin, Boy/Waitress in The Colored Museum, Donkey in Shrek The Musical and Sebastian in The Little Mermaid.



Tijuanna Clemons is Mama in Zora Howard’s ‘Stew’ at Lab Theater

Tijuanna Clemons appears in the role of Mama in Lab Theater’s production of Zora Howard’s drama Stew. She last appeared as Mame Wilks in August Wilson’s Radio Golf – her 4thAugust Wilson play, with her other roles being Ruby in King Hedley II, Bertha Holly in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Louise in Seven Guitars, all for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts. Go here to see what else Tijuanna’s been in.



Ryan Porter Craig plays Scottish assassin Todd in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Ryan Porter Craig appears as Scottish assassin Todd in Unnecessary Farce. Previous credits include Father Chenille in Drinking Habits at Belle Theatre, the Wolf and Prince Charming Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods (at new Phoenix Theatre), the voice of Audrey II for Belle Theatre in Little Shop of Horrors, multiple roles for Gulf Coast Symphony in their holiday revue, Snowbird Follies, the dual roles of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical and King Basilius for New Phoenix in Head Over HeelsFind out more about Ryan here.



Waner Del Rosario plays Mr. Green in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Waner Del Rosario plays the part of Mr. Green in Clue on Stage for Fort Myers Theatre. Del Rosario made his theater debut in the roles of Garry/Roger in Noises Off earlier this season at Lab Theater. No stranger to performing, he holds awards in extemporaneous speech, and teaches Public Speaking for Camp HSR!, a homeschool day camp. As a graduate of the CHANGE Program in Fort Myers, an acting class that is focused on increasing equity and diversity in the performing arts, where he benefitted from the wisdom, coaching and encouragement of Sonya McCarter.



William Draper reprises the role of The King in ‘Elvis: A Musical Revolution’

William Draper portrays The King, Elvis Pressley, in Elvis: A Musical Revolution at Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, a role he played for Prather Entertainment at its Dutch Apple venue in Pennsylvania. Memphis born and raised, William was immersed in the music of Elvis Pressley compliments of his grandparents, who played Elvis’ albums on a giant record player all the time. Draper debuted at Broadway Palm earlier in 2023 as Palm after his debut this summer as Prince Eric in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. His recent stage credits include Emmett in Legally Blonde, Billy Cane in Bright Star, and Rocky in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and aside from Elvis, his favorite role to date has been Cinderella’s Prince and The Wolf in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. For more, read here.



Carolyn England is Mary Meekly in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Carolyn England plays the part of Mary Meekly in Unnecessary Farce. Carolyn’s previous stage credits include Imogene Fletcher in Four Old Broads (Belle Theatre), Frieda in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (New Phoenix Theatre), Dorothy Tree Hapgood in Daniel Sullivan’s Inspecting Carol (also for New Phoenix Theatre), Rose in Engagement Rules and Lucy Stickler in Murderers (both for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts).



Jorja Evans is the dead body in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Jorja Evans is the dead body (and a stage hand) in Clue on Stage at Fort Myers Theatre. Her previous credits include Taylor Wedell in Mean Girls High School Edition for Melody Lane Theatre, work in the ensemble of Les Miserables in Melody Lane Theatre’s 2023 encore production of the musical, one of Jesus’ modern-day disciples in Godspell for Fort Myers Theatre, Amy March in Little Women, work in the ensemble of Elf Jr., Miss Honey in Matilda, Jr., Mrs. McKee in The Great Gatsby, Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Ursula in Fort Myers Theatre’s summer show The Little Mermaid Jr. (2020).



Alex Fullerton featured in ‘A Grand Night for Singing’ at Southwest Florida Theatre

Alex Fullerton is featured in Southwest Florida Theatre’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing. A regional actor based in New York City, Alex’s stage credits include Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain (for both Prather Entertainment and Alhambra Theater and Dining in Jacksonville), Crazy for You, Peter Pan (also directed by Amy McCleary) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Alex also spent a year performing at sea with Disney Cruise Line.

Alex has a BFA from the Boston Conservatory.



Keith Gahagan is John D’Agata in ‘Lifespan of a Fact’

Keith Gahagan appears for The Studio Players in the role of John D’Agata in The Lifespan of a Fact. Among his numerous stage credits are Mr. Green in Clue: On Stage for the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs,Harper for The Studio Players in Lewis Black’s One Slight Hitch, postman Charlie Martin in On Golden Pond, Senator Charles Whitmore in the Studio Players’ production of Jason Odell Williams’ dramedy Church & State and Curt in Don’t Talk to the Actors. Go here to see the rest of Keith’s stage and other credits.



Jessie Getlik plays Miss Scarlet in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Jessie Getlik plays Miss Scarlet in Clue on Stage at Fort Myers Theatre. She made her Fort Myers Theatre debut as one of the dancestors (Flapper/Moon) in The Addams Family Musical and was last seen in the role of Cruella De Vil in Disney’s Descendants: The Musical at Fort Myers Theatre. She Also played Aunt March in Little Women for Fort Myers Theatre. Read the rest of Jessie’s credits here.



Kate Glennon is Priscilla Pressley in ‘Elvis: A Musical Revolution’

Kate Glennon plays the part of Priscilla Pressley for Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Elvis: A Musical Revolution. Glennon’s previous credits include Frozen (The Palace Theatre), Carrie (Theresa Lang Theatre), Case Closed (New York Theatre Festival) and Social Studies (The Park Theater). Follow her at IG: @kateeglennon.



Steven Michael Kennedy plays Mark in ‘Which Way to the Stage’

Cape Coral actor, director and theater instructor Steven Michael Kennedy plays Mark in Which Way to the Stage. Steven’s acting credits include Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Lab Theater), Melanie Daniels in Lab Theater’s parody of The Birds, Princeton in Avenue Q,  Leonardo da Vinci in Botticelli in the Fire and the role of Dan Anderson in the first U.S. licensed production of Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. Read the rest of Steven’s credits here.



Robert Koutras is Clyde Barrow in ‘Bonnie & Clyde The Musical’

Robert Koutras stars as Clyde Barrow in TheatreZones’ production of Bonnie & Clyde the Musical. He was previously seen at TheatreZone in Home for the Holidays, as Lonny in Rock of Ages, King Arthur in Camelot, and Jimmy Ray Dobbs in Bright Star. Koutras’ other credits include the Off-Broadway production of Sessions (Original Cast), Doody in the Asian tour of Grease, and Marty in the national tour of The Full Monty. Go here to see what else Robert has been in.



Robert Koutras uniquely qualified to play Clyde Barrow

Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical plays at TheatreZone in Naples January 11-21. Robert Koutras stars as Clyde Barrow; Brittany Ambler plays the part of Bonnie Parker. Based on the book by Ivan Menchell, the musical recounts the electrifying true story of the notorious duo from the unique perspective of their relationship against a background of extraordinary music.

Although young and poor, Clyde Barrow possessed undeniable charisma. People naturally gravitated towards him. His charisma and meticulous attention to detail in planning their heists explains why he, rather than his older brother, Buck, led the Barrow gang. And although she knew that Clyde was trouble, Bonnie couldn’t help but fall for his boyish good looks and charm. And it’s Robert Koutras’ own bad boy good looks and innate charm that uniquely qualifies him for the role of Clyde Barrow.

The rest of this Spotlight is here.



Rachael Lord is Blanche Barrow in ‘Bonnie & Clyde the Musical’

A professional EMC actor, singer, dancer, poet and fantasy writer, Rachael Lord plays the part of Blanche Barrow in TheatreZone’s production of Bonnie & Clyde The Musical in January, 2024. Rachael’s other stage credits include Larken Barken in A Doublewide, Texas Christmas (Off Broadway Palm, 2023)Greta Ohlsson in Ken Ludwig’s Murder on the Orient Express (Off Broadway Palm, 2023)Andrina/ensemble in Disney’s Little Mermaid for Broadway Palm (2023) and Kari in Always a Bridesmaid (Off Broadway Palm 2023). View Rachael’s other stage and theatrical credits here.



Eduardo Marin in ‘Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical’

Eduardo Marin plays several parts (cop, Charlie, Bud, Guard and Alcorn) for TheatreZone in Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical. You may have previously seen Eduardo as the clever and charismatic King of the Roma, Clopin Trouillefou, for The Naples Players in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.



Maliyah Mattis makes Broadway Palm debut in ‘Elvis’ ensemble

Maliyah Mattis makes her Broadway Palm Dinner Theater debut in the ensemble (and as swing) of Elvis: A Musical Revolution. Previous stage credits include Miss Esther Sherman in Fame for Cultural Park Theatre (2023), the Princess Who Kissed a Frog in Disenchanted the Musical for The Belle Theatre (2023), Yellow Heather (Heather McNamara) in Heathers the Musical Teen Edition for The Belle Theatre (2023) and Anything Goes for North Fort Myers High School (for which she was runner-up for Outstanding Performance in a Female-Identifying Role at the 2023 High School Musical Theatre Awards).



Peyton McCarthy is Billie Dwyer in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Peyton McCarthy plays Billie Dwyer in Unnecessary Farce. Previous credits include Ruby Sue Bennett in Four Old Broads at Belle Theatre in the Cape, Daisy Buchanan for Fort Myers Theatre in The Great Gatsby, Annelle in Steel Magnolias (which was her Fort Myers Theatre debut), Dr. Harriman in Mind Games, Mother in Yellow Boat, and Siobhan in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 



AJ Mendini featured in ‘Grand Night for Singing’ at Southwest Florida Theatre

AJ Mendini is featured in Southwest Florida Theatre’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing. AJ made his debut with Southwest Florida Theatre this past December with Snowbird Follies. Recent credits include Eddie in Dogfight, Claude in Hair, Jesus in Godspell at Fort Myers Theatre, Princeton in Avenue Q and Enjolras in Les Miserables. A recent Southwest Florida transplant, the New Jersey native is an accomplished performer and arts educator who has worked professionally throughout the Northeast. Go here to read more about AJ.



Louis Monaco plays FBI Agent Frank in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Louis Monaco plays FBI Agent Frank for The Belle Theatre in Unnecessary Farce, a role which he acquits with expert comedic timing. Prior credits include Uncle Billy and others in It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show (Cultural Park Theater, 2021) and Keaton in Small Planet (Cultural Park Theater, 2021).



Candace Moore in cast of ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Candace Moore is Ensemble Woman in Clue on Stage for Fort Myers Theatre. Her previous stage credits include the lead, Jo March, in Little Women for Fort Myers Theatre (a role that saw her bring intention, joyfulness and youthful verve to the part) and spunky ballet dancer Connie Makenzi in A Chorus Line. Moore has been performing on stage since the age of thirteen.



Candace Knoch Moore draws praise for playing dead

Congratulations are in order for one Candace Knoch Moore. In Clue on Stage at Fort Myers Theatre, she dies not once, but twice. First, in the guise of Bodde Manor’s femme chef and then later as a singing telegram girl. To be clear, Moore deserves high praise not for how she portrays dying. In fact, she comes to the stage already dead in the first instance, a kitchen knife protruding from her back. She’s shot dead in the latter instance and, true to life, drops to the floor like a rag doll. Read the full story here.



Jim Moyer plays part of Colonel Parker in ‘Elvis A Musical Revolution’

After playing Santa in Elf The Musical, Jim Moyer returns to Broadway Palm in the role of Colonel Parker in Elvis A Musical Revolution. A regular at Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, Jim has been part of Buddy Holly, White Christmas, Will Rogers Follies, Holiday Inn, Happy Days and Elf the Musical.

Jim is retired from a long career in the business world and is enjoying his time now doing what he loves.



Rodney Randall is Colonel Mustard in ‘Clue on Stage’

Rodney Randall appears in the role of Colonel Mustard in Clue on Stage at Fort Myers Theatre. Prior credits include Mr. Salt in Willy Wonka, evil Monsieur D’Arque/ensemble of Beauty and the Beast for Fort Myers Theatre, the ensemble of Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Go here to view the rest of Rodney’s theatrical credits.



Elizabeth Robb plays Yvette in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Elizabeth Robb is Yvette in Clue on Stage at Fort Myers Theatre. Previous stage credits include work in the ensemble of Elf the Musical (Fort Myers Theatre, 2023), the Genie in Aladdin (Fort Myers Theatre, 2023), Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Fort Myers Theatre, 2023), Evie in Disney’s Descendants: The Musical (2023) and Babette in Beauty and the Beast (2023).



Cassie Sampson plays superfan Judy in ‘Which Way to the Stage’

Cassie Sampson plays Judy for Theatre Conspiracy in Which Way to the Stage. She previously appeared as Sleeping Beauty in Disenchanted the Musical (The Belle Theatre, 2023), the Witch in Into the Woods for New Phoenix Theatre, Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors, Cinderella’s stepmother in Into the Woods for Belle Theatre, and was a member of the ensemble of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical and Queen Gynecia in Heed over Heels the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre. Read the rest of Cassie’s stage credits here.



Lexi Rae Smith plays Ann Margaret in ‘Elvis A Musical Revolution’ at Broadway Palm

Lexi Rae Smith is a Chicago-based actor who appears through February 17 as Ann Margaret (and Dixie) in Elvis A Musical Revolution at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. She was seen previously by Off Broadway Palm audiences as Jovie in Elf the Musical (2023), Sue Larson in Not Now, Darling and as a principal in 2022’s Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show. Lexi’s regional credits include Anna King in Dear Soldier Boy, Little Red in Into the Woods, Rusty in Footloose and Emma in Just Desserts: A Musical Bake-Off (Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse). You will find the rest of Lexi’s stage credits here.



Jesse Stauffer plays Mayor Meekly in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Jesse Stauffer plays Mayor Meekly for The Belle Theatre in Unnecessary Farce. Previous roles include Inspector Kemp in Young Frankenstein (New Phoenix Theatre), Mr. Dussel in The Diary of Anne Frank (Fort Myers Theatre) and Charlie in Toast on 10, Douglas Winings’ short film in the Laboratory Theater of Florida’s 2021 24-H0ur Screenwriting Challenge.



Kimberly Suskind featured in ‘Grand Night for Singing’ at Southwest Florida Theatre

From Greater Philadelphia, Kimberly Suskind is an actor, singer, dancer and the Artistic Director of Robin Dawn Academy’s Gypsy Playhouse. She is currently featured in Southwest Florida Theatre’s production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing. Kimberly has worked at many professional regional theatres across the country, including Walnut Street Theatre (PA), Cape May Stage (NJ), Delaware Theatre Company (DE), The Theatre Barn (NY), Eagle Theatre (NJ), Bucks County Playhouse (PA), Nightcap Cabaret (PA), Metro Stage Company (MA) and Village Theatre & Civic Light Opera (WA). You will find Kimberly’s extensive and impressive credits here.



Chris Treece goes undercover as Eric Sheldon in ‘Unnecessary Farce’

Chris Treece plays the part of police detective Eric Sheldon for The Belle Theatre in Unnecessary Farce. Among Chris’ previous stage credits are Paul in Drinking Habits, multiple roles (Big Bud Dean, Coach Ripper, Veronica’s Dad and Kurt’s Dad) in Heathers the Musical and Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors.



Kristen Wilson is Mrs. White in ‘Clue on Stage’ at Fort Myers Theatre

Kristen Wilson appears in the role of Mrs. White in Clue on Stage for Fort Myers Theatre. Kristen’s recent stage credits include Lenny McGrath in Crimes of the Heart (Cultural Park Theatre), Edith Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank (Fort Myers Theatre), Principal Clark in Footloose (Fort Myers Theatre), Mama Mae in Bye Bye Birdie (Fort Myers Theatre), Mrs. Phelps in Matilda (Creative Theatre Workshop), and Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone (Creative Theatre Workshop). Go here to see the rest of Kristen’s extensive theatrical credits.





Carmen Crussard directs ‘Which Way to the Stage’ for Theatre Conspiracy

A uniquely insightful, stage savvy and immensely talented actor, director and instructor, Carmen Crussard directs Which Way to the Stage for Theatre Conspiracy. She previously directed Lauren Yee’s The Hatmaker’s Wife for Theatre Conspiracy. For Lab Theater, Carmen has previously directed Mitch Albom’s And the Winner Is …., The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940s, The Smell of the Kill, Play On!, Scrooge TV: A Modern Christmas Carol and The Second Book of Ruth, all for Laboratory Theater of Florida. (She was also Assistant Director for Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.) Other directorial credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., Wizard of Oz and The Addams Family.

As the Youth Theatre Director for the Alliance for the Arts since 2012, she has directed such wondrously ambitious, wonderfully-staged and densely-packed musical productions as The Addams Family, Pippin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Calvin Berger, Monty Python’s Spamalot the Musical, Heathers the Musical, Almost, Maine, Peter Pan, Jr. and Xanadu, Jr.

Carmen also works full-time as the Theatre Director at Cypress Lake High School Center for the Arts, where she most recently directed Holiday Inn.

For more on Carmen’s theatrical credits, please read here.



Sonya McCarter directs Zora Howard’s ‘Stew’ at Lab Theater

Sonya McCarter is an actor, director and instructor. She is directing Zora Howard’s Stew for Lab Theater. Sonya’s other directing credits include Radio Golf for Theater Conspiracy, Pass Over for Lab Theater, Dorothy Marcic’s SISTAS: the MusicalFairviewThe Color Purple, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s The Piano LessonKing Hedley IISeven Guitars, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye and George C. Wolff’s The Colored Museum.

Read the rest of Sonya’s theatrical credits here.



Amy Marie McCleary directs/choreographs ‘Elvis A Musical Revolution’ and ‘Grand Night’

If you want to get something done, goes the old adage, ask a busy person. Especially a busy woman. Like Amy McCleary. She just directed and choreographed Elf the Musical for Broadway Palm, Snowbird Follies for Southwest Florida Theatre and Madagascar Jr. All while moving into a new house and preparing for the holidays! Now she’s directed and choreographed Elvis: A Musical Revolution at Broadway Palm and Rodgers & Hammerstein: A Grand Night for Singing for Southwest Florida Theatre.

McCleary is a multi-faceted musical theater artist who works as an actor, director and choreographer in local and regional theater. Most Southwest Florida theater lovers know McCleary through her work as Prather Entertainment Group’s resident director/choreographer. In that capacity, she has staged more than 50 productions, including FootlooseThe Wizard of Oz (2022), Escape to Margaritaville (2022), Singin’ in the Rain (2022), Beehive the 60s Musical (Dutch Apple Theatre), Holly Jolly Christmas (which she created), The Sound of Music, Happy Days, Holiday Inn, Kinky Boots (choreography by Chris Kane), Beauty and the Beast, Momma Mia, Jesus Christ Superstar, Saturday Night Fever, Little Shop of Horrors, Memphis, Hairspray, Grease, CATS, Swing, Sister Act and Peter Pan, among others. As choreographer, Amy has staged dances for Evita, Cabaret, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, All Shook Up, The King and I, Les Miserables, Annie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the 2009/2010 national tour of The Wedding Singer. She also did the choreography for Prather’s 2018 production of Chicago, for which she won a Broadway World Award for Best Choreography (Professional).

· Among McCleary’s favorite director/choreographer credits are Grease (Broadway Palm 2021), Beehive: The 60s Musical (Broadway Palm 2021), Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Broadway Palm), Yeston & Kopit’s Phantom (Broadway Palm), the 2015 national tour of Memphis the Musical, the international tour of The Wizard of Oz (Choreographer), Footloose, Sister Act, I Love a Piano, Hairspray, 9 to 5 (Little Theatre on the Square), CATS, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (for the Herb Strauss Theatre), Spamalot (Herb Strauss Theatre), Hairspray (UNCG), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical and Some Enchanted Evening.

Next up for Ms. McCleary is Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, with Swing! and Addams Family to follow that.




Lauren Miller stage manages ‘Stew’ for Lab Theater

Lauren Miller is stage manager for Lab Theater’s Stew. She was also Director Anne Dodd’s stage manager for Sirens and directed Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some), I and You, and a one-act play as part of the 24-Hour Playwriting Project a few years agoSee the rest of Lauren’s theatrical credits here.



Samantha Pudlin directs ‘Clue on Stage’ for Fort Myers Theatre

Samantha Pudlin directs Clue on Stage for Fort Myers Theatre. Samantha has served as both a director and youth theater educator over the past 12 years, and served as Assistant Director for Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Pudlin’s recent stage credits include Martha Watson in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Lucy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown for Fort Myers Theatre, Gabrielle in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella at The Belle Theatre, one of the disciples in Godspell at Fort Myers Theatre and the role of Meg in Little Women for Fort Myers Theatre. Samantha has an Associates degree from Florida SouthWestern State College and is working on her Bachelors Degree in Integrated Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University.





‘Elvis: A Musical Revolution’ at Broadway Palm through February 17

Elvis a Musical Revolution plays on the main stage at Broadway Palm through February 17th. This official Elvis Presley bio-musical takes a closer look at the rock star and cultural icon whose impact shaped the history of music. Spanning from his childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi to his triumphant 1968 “Comeback Special” and his ascent to be “The King.” You’ll hear iconic hits including All Shook Up, Heartbreak Hotel, Burning Love, Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock, Blue Suede Shoes and more!



‘Elvis: A Musical Revolution’ chronicles the King’s many triumphs and travails

Elvis: A Musical Revolution comes to the Broadway Palm main stage December 30 and runs through February 17. While the bio-musical features some forty numbers from Presley’s storied catalog, it also chronicles his triumphs and travails and pervasive influence on American music – and the bands emerging in the late ‘50s and ‘60s across the proverbial pond. Read the full review here.


‘Run for Your Wife’ in Off Broadway Palm through February 25

The Off Broadway Palm Theatre presents Run for Your Wife through February 25th. Written by the “master of farce” Ray Cooney, this comedy is said to be one of the funniest and most popular of all his plays.

Run For Your Wife is the story of London cab driver John Smith who has two separate lives, complete with two wives, Mary and Barbara. He has successfully kept his two lives separate by spending mornings with Barbara and evenings with Mary. Hilarity ensues when he is injured during a mugging and the police return him to the wrong home at the wrong time. To complicate things further, John’s picture appears in the local paper and the police show up to investigate how two men named John Smith with two different addresses were both mugged on the same day.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Ticket prices range from $55 to $70 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.



‘James and the Giant Peach’ at Cultural Park January 18-28

Timoth Allen McDonald’s James and the Giant Peach is on stage at Cultural Park Theatre January 18-28. With lyrics and music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the story follows James Trotter, who spends time in an orphanage before being sent ot the only family he has – his cruel Aunts Spiker and Sponge. In an effort to change his situation, James creates a magical potion, but the magic gets away from him and instead he creates a giant peach and human-size insects. Before the aunts can monetize the giant fruit, the insects, with James’ help, cut the peach from the tree and the adventure begins. Go here for play dates, times and tickets: Box Office – Cultural Park Theatre (



Fort Myers Theatre’s ‘Clue on Stage’ a hilarious farce meets murder mystery

Clue: On Stage is coming to Fort Myers Theatre in January. Based on the iconic 1985 Paramount movie, Clue is a hilarious farce-meets-murder mystery that takes place in a maze of nine rooms on one small stage. In this theatrical version of the classic Hasbro board game, six guests are invited to a dinner party thrown by an anonymous host. They are given aliases–Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, Professor Plum, and Miss Scarlet. Though discouraged from revealing personal information, we quickly discover that all of them are being blackmailed by the same person – their host.

Read the full advance here.

Go here for play dates and times.



‘Stew’ on stage at Lab Theater January 19 through February 3

Stew by Zora Howard opens January 19th at The Laboratory Theater of Florida. This fast-paced family dramedy bubbles and simmers like the titular meal that Mama, her daughter, and grandchildren work to make one important Saturday morning. Unease and tension grow with the heat of the kitchen with a twist at the end so clever you’ll want to watch the show twice.

Read the advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



‘Grand Night for Singing’ a fresh take on Rodgers & Hammerstein canon

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s A Grand Night for Singing plays at the Music & Arts Community Center through February 10. Directed and choreographed by Amy Marie McCleary, this first-rate musical revue features Whitney Grace, Kimberly SuskindAlex FullertonAJ Mendini and Alexandra Tarsinov. Over three decades after The Sound of Music took Broadway by storm, this fresh take on the R&H canon opened the 1994 Broadway season with flair and distinction, garnering wildly enthusiastic notices and earning two Tony nominations, including Best Musical.

Read a preview of the revue here.



‘Which Way to the Stage’ a fresh, witty ode to theater

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts (AFTA) presents the playful and profound comedy Which Way to the Stage January 18 through February 3. The dramedy tells the story of Broadway superfans Jeff and Judy, who eagerly await their idol, Idina Menzel, after her performance in If/Then at the stage door every night. But when a sexy stranger enters the scene and upends their decades-long friendship, the musical theater aficionados have to go off-book to rewrite their own finale. Read the rest of this advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and cast info.



‘Bonnie & Clyde’ recounts duo’s relationship against backdrop of extraordinary music

TheatreZone opens its 19th season with Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical. Set to a Tony Award-nominated musical score of power ballads and jazz and blues numbers by the legendary Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War, Dracula), Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical follows the arc of youthful fantasies gone horribly wrong.

Based on the book by Ivan Menchell, the musical recounts the electrifying true story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow from the unique perspective of the duo’s relationship against a background of extraordinary music.

“The music in Bonnie & Clyde is rousing and dramatic,” notes founding TheatreZone Artistic Director Mark Danni.

“Power ballads and jazz and blues numbers evoke the era and capture the relationships between the couples. The beautiful orchestration by John McDaniel uses guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin, flute, and many more instruments to express the emotions in the musical.”

Read the rest of this advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and a full cast list.



Characters of Buck and Blanche Barrow contrast with those of Bonnie and Clyde

On stage now through January 21 at TheatreZone is Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical.

The focus of the musical is, quite naturally, on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, but the relationship between Clyde’s brother and sister-in-law, Buck and Blanche Barrow, provides not only an interesting subplot, but juxtaposition – particularly the contrast between Bonnie and Blanche.

Where Bonnie is fearless, Blanche is filled with foreboding and trepidation. Where Bonnie is all in, Blanche would love for her and Buck to be all out.

“Blanche tries to keep Buck from falling into the same traps as Clyde,” remarks TheatreZone Artistic Director Mark Danni. “She wants Buck to live a straight-and-narrow life. But Buck and Clyde are very tight. Buck has to be there for his [little] brother.” The rest of this Spotlight is here.



‘Bonnie & Clyde’ preview on WGCU

Frank Wildhorn and Don Black score enables TheatreZone to delve into the influences that prompted Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow to embark on robbery and killing spree that led to their untimely, bullet-riddled demise. Listen to this preview of the musical on WGCU.



‘Unnecessary Farce’ delectably diverting

The Belle Theatre rings in the new year with a farce that’s actually funny, namely Paul Slade Smith’s Unnecessary Farce. Smith’s clever and droll script contains all the attributes of traditional farce – cringe-causing absurdly awkward situations (think Everyone Loves Raymond), small misunderstandings that cascade into full-blown confusion and chaos, overlapping dialogue, sexual innuendo, plot twists and turns and, of course, slamming doors … oh so many slamming doors. With ingredients like these, it’s no wonder the play has been produced more than 325 times across the United States, and around the world.

Read the rest of this advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and a cast list.



Naples Players brings Mary Chase classic, ‘Harvey,’ to the stage

The Naples Players brings the Mary Chase classic, Harvey, to the stage in January.

You know the story. It is a spring afternoon at the Dowd family home, and a tea for the high-society ladies of the Wednesday Forum is in full swing. The hostess, Veta Louise Simmons, is hoping that the event will allow her daughter, Myrtle Mae, now in her twenties and still unmarried, to mingle with the mothers and grandmothers of some of the town’s most eligible bachelors. However, to Veta’s horror, her brother, Elwood, arrives home unexpectedly … in the company of his closest friend, Harvey, a six foot one-and-a-half inch tall white rabbit—a friend nobody else can see. Read the full advance here.



As specter of AI looms, ‘Lifespan of a Fact’ ever more timely

Artificial Intelligence or AI is a hot topic at the onset of 2024. It became the central issue in last year’s writer’s strike, with the members of that industry expressing fears that if movie studios used the technology to write scripts in whole or in part, their role would be diminished or even made completely obsolete. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville came under fire for using AI-generated voiceovers from Anthony Bourdain’s television shows, radio and podcast appearances and audiobooks in his Roadrunner documentary about the late travel-chef. And former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has labelled AI as “an existential risk,” warning that “many, many, many, many people” could be killed or harmed by “evil people” misusing the technology. With this as context, Lifespan of a Fact seems ever more prescient and timely. Read the full advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and cast information.





Inaugural Augmented Reality mural comes to downtown Fort Myers on January 5

The Fort Myers Mural Society has partnered with Grand Illusion Creative, Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau and BrandXR, the leading no-code augmented reality platform, to produce Fort Myers first augmented reality mural. The mural will be unveiled during ArtWalk January 5th, 2024 and be on display to the public throughout the 2024 season.

The Fort Myers Mural Society has painted nearly 200 murals throughout Southwest Florida since its inception in 2016. It has also participated in dozens of public community events.  However, adding augmented reality into murals will bring art to life in a way that is particularly appealing to a younger demographic because it integrates their Smartphones and similar devices into the art viewing experience.

“Through AR, we plan to redefine the way we experience art,” says Shari Shifrin, founder of the Lee County-based Fort Myers Mural Society. “Combining public art with new immersive technologies, we are bringing one of the oldest forms of storytelling to life in an exciting interactive and immersive way that everyone has free access to.”

In essence, augmented reality murals fuse internet-based technology into murals, street painting and graffiti to create a one-of-a-kind mixed reality experience. After downloading a free app, viewers simply point their Smartphone or tablet at the mural. When they do, the images become animated, creating an immersive and interactive viewing experience.

Because AR operates through a combination of 3D visual images, sound and motion, the stories it empowers artists to tell are universal as they are not confined by the limitations of language, race, gender, age or politics. In this way, “ARt” has the potential to turn individuals from passive observers into active participants.

The mural that will be unveiled during ArtWalk utilizes an Instagram filter, accessible through the popular social media platform. Art lovers simply download the Electrifly Augmented Reality Art app for free and visit the public mural at their leisure as often as they like.

The Mural Society’s partnership with Grand Illusion Creative, the VCB and Brand XR represents a significant milestone in the integration of Augmented Reality technology and the world of public art here in Southwest Florida. Once the mural is unveiled, Fort Myers will join cities around the country from Miami to Los Angeles that are using ARt to enliven the experience of engaging with murals. And like Miami and L.A., Fort Myers expects to see increased interest by heritage and cultural tourists since ARt will give people the impetus to discover dynamic visuals in out-of-the way places and neighborhoods they may not have previously visited.

Fort Myers Mural Society is a SWFL based artist group that strives to make a difference in the community.  Their work does not fit in one medium.  You have seen the artist members works all around town at outdoor art festivals, art galleries, creating interactive murals with non profits, social media campaigns and chalking in the streets.  These are just a few things they choose to bring to the community to interact with. With AR-activated murals, the Fort Myers Mural Society is poised to redefine how audiences engage with murals and enable patrons of all ages to dive into the rich world of mural art and connect with Fort Myers in exciting, immersive and memorable way.

For more information, please visit



Fort Myers Mural Society unveils SWFL’s first augmented reality mural

Imagine gazing at the Mona Lisa, and having her wink back. Or adding sound to Edvard Munch’s Scream. Welcome to the world of Augmented Reality Art! During Art Walk on January 5th, Fort Myers joined the growing list of Florida cities that engage viewers through the newest street art genre, augmented reality murals.

Located inside Grand Illusion Creative Resources on First Street, the mural depicts a 3D sculpture of a 1969 Volkswagen Bug emerging from a wall containing a pop art mural as backdrop. But when a viewer downloads either a filter available through Instagram or a specially-crafted app on their smartphone, tablet or other device, the Bug takes flight and launches them on a journey during which they see some of the most iconic masterpieces in art history.

Read the full spotlight here.

Or listen to the 4:05 minute story on WGCU.



Deadline for 38th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition is January 15

The deadline for submitting work for inclusion in the Alliance for the Arts’ 38th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition is January 15. This show is the Alliance’s longest running exhibition. The show features pieces created by artists, both emerging talents alongside established artists, working in a wide variety of media from all over the state of Florida.

“Every year this exhibition is a testament to the strength of Florida’s artists,” says gallery manager Emily Radomski. “We welcome submissions from artists of all backgrounds and working in all mediums to create an exhibition which displays the diverse and rich talent of artists working in Florida today.”

Categories for entry include sculpture, painting (including oil, acrylic, collage, watercolor and mixed media), photography, prints and drawing. An entry may consist of 1 to 3 artworks. All entries must be submitted online no later than January 15. Artists can download the prospectus and submit their work online at

The opening reception for the All Florida Exhibition will be March 1 from 5 – 7 p.m. The juror will be on hand to present awards including $1,000 cash for Best in Show, a 2nd Place gift certificate, $100 cash for 3rd place and Juror’s Choice Award(s) of Alliance for the Arts membership(s).

AFTA members may use coupon code Member10 to receive $10 off the entry fee. Current students and teachers, with a valid .edu email address, may use coupon code Education10 for $10 off the entry fee.

For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit



Laura Guerrero is juror for 38th Annual All Florida Show

Laura Guerrero will serve as juror for the Alliance for the Arts’ 38th Annual All Florida Show. Guerrero is a Colombian-American curator and arts administrator based in Miami, Florida. She is the Programs Coordinator overseeing exhibitions at Oolite Arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from the University of Virginia, where her specialty was contemporary Australian Aboriginal art and Medieval/Renaissance art. Her curatorial debut in Miami was the Oolite Arts 47-artist alumni showcase, “It Was Always About You…” which she co-curated alongside former Oolite CEO, Dennis Scholl. Prior to working at Oolite, she worked in the Collections Department at the Fralin Museum of Art.





New study makes case for stronger support of local arts organizations

Every five years the Americans for the Arts takes the pulse of the arts and culture sector of the national and local economies. Although many Lee County arts organizations were unable to participate in the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study because of staffing and funding limitations attributable to the pandemic and Hurricane Ian, the 19 that did generated $135.3 million in economic impact in 2022, proving that the heartbeat of the arts in Lee County is Olympic-level strong.

Read the full story on



A closer look at the Arts & Economic Prosperity results for Fort Myers

In October of 2023, the Americans for the Arts released its Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 survey results. AEP6 makes clear that when a county or municipality funds the arts, it is investing in an industry that stimulates the economy, supports local jobs and contributes to building a healthy and vibrant community. And in Fort Myers, arts and culture is more than food for the soul. It also puts food on the table for scores of people who live and work in the City. Go here for the specifics.




Fort Myers adds historic points of interest to Otocast mobile phone app

Since 2017, the City of Fort Myers has subscribed to a free mobile app called Otocast so that residents and visitors can access information about the artistic landmarks that dot our cityscape and residential neighborhoods. At present, descriptions, artist bios, current and historic photographs and audios are live on the app for 49 of the 53 murals that circumscribe the river basin adjacent to Luminary Hotel as well as 30 of the sculptures and monuments that comprise the City’s permanent public art collection.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.



Text, photos and audio for First National Bank building on Otocast

Art Southwest Florida previously reported that text, photos and audios have been added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for thirteen historic points of interest. Included in that number is the First National Bank building located on the southeast corner of First and Hendry Streets.

In the Otocast audio, you’ll discover how archrivals Harvie Heitman and Walter Langford competed with each other by building opulent banks, how Walter Langford put Heitman’s drama society out on the street and how Tampa contractor G.A. Miller’s construction crew had to roll the gargantuan entry stone down Monroe, around the corner and down First Street like an army of ancient Egyptians on the morning of January 5, 1914. The audio will also tell you about the architect who designed the building, what it shares in common with Carnegie Hall, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the New York Public Library, and the pride the community took in the building even before it was completed that August.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.



Text, photos and audio for Kress Building added to Otocast

Art Southwest Florida previously reported that text, photos and audios have been added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for thirteen historic points of interest. A 14th location has now been added to Otocast, the Kress Building on Broadway across the street from the Franklin Shops on First. Most people today associate the nearly 100-year-old building with his anchor tenant, Starbucks.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.

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