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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news March 22-31, 2019

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These are the actors, artists, filmmakers and events who are in the news in Southwest Florida this week:

 

‘Thrift Shop Musical’ comes home to Broadway Palm April 4 (03-30-19)

Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical opens April 4 on the main stage at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. It’s a funny, yet inspirational, musical comedy about the quirky characters that run The Second Chances Thrift Shop. You’ll meet the hilarious lead clerk who always brings sunshine to the day with humor, the couple who work in the collection area and discover that you can find love later in life, the young mother and new shop manager trying to start over, and more! When the thrift shop is threatened to be sold by the greedy landlord, the team won’t stand for it. Spend a year with the loveable, yet quirky, group and see how they band together to save the shop and in the process, discover it’s not just old treasures that are getting Second Chances!

The show is the brainchild of Broadway Palm co-founder Tom Prather. He started working on the project in earnest early in 2015, and by that summer, the script was done. The songs came from Broadway Palm regulars Chris Russell (music) and Megan Orlowski (lyrics).

Musical styles included a rock/soul number, some standard musical-theater songs, a 1920’s soft shoe featuring a drag queen, a rap song about the thrift shop’s rules, and a ukulele song called “If Our Love Is Gone.” There’s even a reference to the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis hit “Thrift Shop” in one of the songs.

According to Prather, the thrift shop is a metaphor for people opening a new chapter in their lives. Every character in the show is getting a second chance at life, in one way or another.

The show’s characters were partly inspired by the people Prather met at the Iona-Hope Episcopal Church thrift shop. He volunteered at the south Fort Myers shop every Wednesday when he wasn’t in Arizona or working at Broadway Palm’s sister theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre. As he worked putting tags on items, hanging clothes and doing whatever else needed to be done, he picked up lines and material from the employees and shoppers filing through the store – although none of the characters in the show are either real or autobiographical. To the contrary, Prather developed the characters with specific Broadway Palm actors in mind.

After premiering in the Off Broadway Palm in 2015, the musical enjoyed a limited engagement in May of 2016 at the Sugden Community Theatre on a bigger stage, which necessitated some editing, revisions, shorter scene changes and new music. The show was then performed at The Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in 2017.

With its return to Broadway Palm’s main stage, this beloved show has now come full circle. Second Chances runs April 4 through May 12.

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TNP inviting playwrights to submit for Readers Theatre new play competition (03-30-19)

The Naples Players’ (TNP) Readers Theatre is now accepting original one-act scripts for its 16th Annual “An Evening of New Plays” contest for Southwest Florida playwrights. Winners will have the opportunity for their plays to be cast, directed, and staged at one of the most highly-rated theatres in the country.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for talented playwrights to get their work in front of an audience,” observes Jessica Walck, Associate Artistic Director.

In addition to having their play cast and performed at TNP’s “An Evening of New Plays” on Sunday, January 19, 2020, finalists will each receive a performance royalty, memorial plaque and tickets to TNP’s “An Evening of New Plays.”

Readers Theatre is devoted to developing playwrights, directors and actors through staged readings of original works as well as fresh and inventive one-acts. The Readers Theatre program allows The Naples Players to test new plays before producing them and provides critical feedback to playwrights, along with access to performance and directing opportunities through flexible and shortened rehearsal processes and augmented performance demands. Both veteran and novice actors, directors, and playwrights can call Readers Theatre home, and this flexibility helps Readers Theatre remain as one of the foundational programs of The Naples Players.

Only non-musical one-acts are accepted. Only one play per writer can be submitted. Each play must:

  • be the writer’s own original work, not an adaptation;
  • not commercially published or produced, though it may have been work-shopped or presented in staged readings;
  • should not exceed 20 minutes in length;
  • may have been entered in an earlier contest, so long as it was not an earlier finalist.

Once the play is submitted, no script changes can be made for purposes of this competition.

To submit a play, playwrights must submit three copies of their script in standard stage play format to: “An Evening of New Plays 2018,” The Naples Players, 701 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL 34102. Plays may also be submitted electronically to: tnpreaderstheatre@gmail.com.

A title page with the name of the play, synopsis, and list of characters must be attached to each script. Include a separate page, unattached to the script, with the name of the play, playwright and contact information. This is to help assure anonymity during the judging process. For scripts to be returned, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The judging panel may recommend up to four finalists to the Readers Theatre Committee for review and final approval by Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck. Authors retain all rights and give performance rights to The Naples Players for “An Evening of New Plays” and limited readings in other venues, including possible outreach and electronic media.

Deadline for submission is July 31, 2019 and winnerswill be notified by October 31, 2019.

Readers Theatre is The Naples Players’ affiliate theatre group, led by TNP’s Associate Artistic Director Jessica Walck. Performances are held throughout the year in the intimate 100-seat Tobye Studio Theatre at the Sugden Community Theatre in the center of 5th Avenue South, Naples. Readers Theatre perform a series of one-act plays and full-length works with scripts in hand and without props or costumes. Readers Theatre performances focus on the written word.

The Naples Players (TNP) Sugden Community Theatre is Naples’ oldest and premier theatre group and a vital part of the exciting experience of Downtown Naples. Celebrating its 66th season, and as one of the top theatres in the country, they offer a variety of plays and musicals in three intimate spaces, Blackburn Hall, the Tobye Studio Theatre and outside BakerStage – all located in one building on Fifth Avenue South.

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‘I Love You’ well-acted, beautifully sung, highly entertaining (03-29-19)

On stage through April 6 in FSW’s Black Box Theatre is the delightfully entertaining and playfully hilarious 1996 musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This witty revue examines dating, romance, love, marriage and loss in all its glorious forms. And in spite of its age, the topics covered and their treatment remain surprisingly timely, perhaps even timeless.

Under the direction of Stuart Brown, the show is (as you’d expect) extremely well-acted and beautifully sung. While all of the cast members have strong singing voices, those of the three female performers are exceptional – whether singing soulful solos or harmonizing with their male counterparts or the cast as a whole. They’re accompanied by third-generation Cape Coral pianist Julius “Juice” Davis (who’s also a gifted songwriter with published music in gospel, R&B and other musical genres), whose rendition of composer Jimmy Roberts’ upbeat tunes gives the whole show a concert-like quality.

Joe DePietro divided his musical into 19 separate vignettes. Some are fall-0ut funny; others are tender and touching. Each one resonates to some degree and at some level, regardless of age and demographics. As a consequence of this cornucopia of scenes and sequences, every audience member is likely to leave with a favorite or two – providing considerable fodder for those post-theater conversations that dominate the ride home or the apres-theater drink.

Go here for the rest of this review.

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‘I Love You’ actor Lexie Ann Cole only just now getting untracked (03-29-19)

On stage through April 6 in FSW’s Black Box Theatre is the delightfully entertaining and playfully hilarious 1996 musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This witty revue examines dating, romance, love, marriage and loss in all its glorious forms. The show features a cast of six that includes Lexie Anne Cole.

Cole’s involvement in I Love You is ambitious, to say the least. She not only plays ten different characters and sings a solo, she’s the show’s stage manager, as well. It’s a role she’s played previously at Lab Theater, where she stage managed The Way We Get By, starring former FSW students and Stuart Brown protégés Steven Coe and Kendall Millang. (She cut her teeth in this department at The Lab, serving as assistant stage manager in The Best Man, in which she also had a small part.)

She characterizes herself as a perfectionist.

“I like to be organized and help other people stay organized,” she professes. “I like spreadsheets and making schedules. It’s fun for me to do.”

You’ll find the rest of this article here.

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Spotlight on ‘I Love You’ actor Lexie Anne Cole (03-29-19)

Lexie Anne Cole is a theater student who is enrolled at Florida SouthWestern State College. She currently appears in various roles in Joe DePietro’s I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Among her previous acting credits are FSW’s production of Brandan Pelsue’s Wellesley Girl (Supreme Court Chief Justice Donna Landesman), A Chorus Line (Tricia, for Florida Rep), Heathers: The Musical (Ensemble/Principal Gowan, Florida Rep), Lab Theater’s production of the 1997 Tony-winning comedy/drama The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Lala Levy) and Lab Theater’s production of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (political candidate William Russell’s smitten campaign aide Catherine).

The rest of Lexie’s profile is here.

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Triple threat, FSW’s Kiana Pinder finds element in ‘I Love You’ musical (03-29-19)

On stage through April 6 in FSW’s Black Box Theatre is the delightfully entertaining and playfully hilarious 1996 musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This witty revue examines dating, romance, love, marriage and loss in all its glorious forms. The show features a cast of six that includes Kiana Raine Pinder.

Pinder sat out the FSW Theatre Program’s last show, Wellesley Girl. At least from the standpoint of performing. Instead, she staged managed to gain experience in all facets of stage production. But another benefit she derived from the experience was a keen appreciation for the dynamic involved in taking direction and applying the director’s guidance in bringing a character to life.

“When you’re in that moment, dissecting the character and trying to bring her to life, it’s hard to give up your preconceptions about who the character is and how she should act,” Pinder said during a break before Wellesley Girl’s final dress rehearsal. “Standing on the outside, it’s so obvious what he wants. Having seen that, it will be easier in the future for me to give up my own preconceptions and embrace the director’s vision without getting flustered, to create a character that’s more in line with what the director wants. I’ll be able to think on my toes, apply [the director’s suggestions] quicker and let the character expand.”

Kiana had the opportunity to put these insights into practice in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change not once, but more than half a dozen times. That’s because she plays seven different characters in the 10 vignettes in which she appears.

Please go here for the rest of this story.

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‘I Love You’ actor Jorge Cabal continues to evolve theatrically (03-29-19)

On stage through April 6 in FSW’s Black Box Theatre is the delightfully entertaining and playfully hilarious 1996 musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. This witty revue examines dating, romance, love, marriage and loss in all its glorious forms. The show features a cast of six that includes Jorge Cabal.

This past fall, Cabal played Max in Wellesley Girl. Prior to that, he portrayed Chuck the Dungeon Master in She Kills Monsters for Florida SouthWestern State College. He’s also appeared in Cultural Park’s production of Neil Simon’s Fools. In high school, he not only performed in a number of productions, he also wrote, directed and starred in a play of his own.

When he was interviewed for Wellesley Girl, Jorge revealed that his dream would be to play the characters from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. “It would be incredible to play multiple characters in different costumes at the drop of a hat,” he said at the time. “I’m a very character-driven type of guy, so I’d very much like to be able to tackle that one day … or any other eccentric character for that matter.”

For more on Jorge, please read here.

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Next Fort Myers Art Walk on April 5 and 6 (03-29-19)

The River District will come alive on April 5 1 when Art Walk returns to downtown Fort Myers. Now a two-day event, Art Walk will continue Saturday, April 6, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. With exciting new exhibits and live art demonstrations, rain or shine, this is a “must attend event.”

New exhibits include exceptional art in a variety of mediums done by a bevy of local artists and some national and international artists as well.  You can meet the artists and talk art at the self-guided Friday night event, which brings together art enthusiasts, collectors and community friends who celebrate the arts each month. The Friday night Art Walk sees First Street closed to traffic. Local artists set up in the street selling their art, and face painting is offered at several locations along First Street. And at the Broadway and First Street intersection, the Fort Myers Art League will be hosting a “Make It/Take It” table for children of all ages.

Saturday Art Walk is a quieter affair with most of the galleries open for examining the art at more leisurely pace. This new and improved version of Art Walk includes 14 galleries and art stops, including:

  • American Legion Veterans Gallery showing Art done by Veterans
  • Art League of Fort Myers – new exhibits each month
  • Arts for ACT Gallery – features three or more art exhibits every month plus co-op members art
  • Bootlegger Alley Gallery – outdoor gallery open only during Art Walk in The Patio de Leon
  • Grand Illusion Gallery – art, tee shirts and more
  • Marc Harris Wildlife Photography – on Jackson Street
  • Miville Art Gallery – art and photography in the Franklin Shops
  • Ollie Mack Gentry Photography – photography  at 2180 West First Street
  • Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center – Main Gallery Exhibit and Capitol Exhibit on the 3rd Floor
  • The Barrel Room – Jazz art – on Bay Street
  • Timeless Gallery – gallery and gift shop featuring steampunk art and more
  • Two Newts Gallery – co-op gallery located off West First Street at 2064 Bayside Parkway
  • Unit A – urban contemporary gallery of internationally-acclaimed artist Marcus Jansen located in Gardener’s Park

As this survey of participating galleries reveals, Fort Myers Art Walk spans the core of downtown Fort Myers and includes the Gardener’s Park area and West First Street. Most of the action is located on First Street, but you can obtain a Fort Myers Art Walk map at any of the galleries that will lead you to all the art venues and Art Walk partners.  “Enjoy cultural venues, restaurants, bars and businesses, plus live music,” touts the River District Alliance. “Watch live art demos on First Street, eat amazing food, shop the unique local boutiques or just enjoy the atmosphere.”

So whether you prefer the energy of night or the calm of day, there’s something for everyone during this new-and-improved weekend of art that Fort Myers still calls Art Walk. There is free street parking and $5.00 at any of the parking garages.  In season ride the free River District Trolley. Fort Myers Art Walk is a Pet and Family Friendly free event! Fort Myers Art Walk is hosted by The River District Alliance, a non-profit organization. For more information, please visit www.fortmyersriverdistrictalliance.com.

 

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Update on FMFF articles, advances and profiles (03-28-19)

Here are links to the articles, advances and profiles posted on Art Southwest Florida in the lead up to the 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival:
  1. Fort Myers Film Festival opens April 10 with red carpet gala at Davis Art Center
  2. FMFF director Eric Raddatz continues Film Man tradition begun by Hendry and Bryant
  3. The ‘Great Train Robbery’ screens at Edison Ford during FMFF
  4. Spotlight on ‘Tale of Two Halgrims’ documentarian Ilene Safron
  5. BendyKat – out of the tunnel and at a crossroads
  6. ‘#SLUT’ provides unique slant on bullying and sexual predators
  7. Spotlight on ‘#SLUT’ writer and star Sophia Watson
  8. Spotlight on ‘#SLUT’ director Jenna Kanell
  9. ‘Surviving Lunch’ shines light on bullying and school violence
  10. Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ filmmaker KT Curran
  11. Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ leading lady Avery Arendes
  12. Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ bully Parker Padgett
  13. Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ supporting actor Kaycie Lee
  14. Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ supporting actor Mercedes Gutierrez
  15. ‘Patrik’ is for all of us who feel like this fast-paced world is passing us by
  16. Spotlight on ‘Patrik’ filmmaker and SAG-AFTRA actor Evgeniya Radilova
  17. Like Rauschenberg, filmmaker Radilova spearheading Chinese cultural exchange
  18. With original music and inspiring story, ‘Birds Eye’ lyrical ode to human spirit
  19. Spotlight on ‘Birds Eye’ director Scott Poiley
  20. Spotlight on ‘Birds Eye’ writer, actor and filmmaker Erin Beute
  21. ‘Roaring Tides’ a twisted love story that seeks deeper understanding
  22. Meet ‘Roaring Tides’ filmmaker and accomplished actor Aly Mang
  23. ‘On the Way to Lovetown’ pits hot ex-teacher against most wanted criminal
  24. Spotlight on ‘Lovetown’ filmmaker Marija Pyter
  25. Baghdad Photographer’ depicts impact of war on Iraqi family through pictures
  26. Bringing ‘Baghdad Photographer’ filmmaker Mejd Hameed into focus
  27. Documentary ‘Light in the Darkness’ illuminates PTSD
  28. Spotlight on ‘Light in the Darkness’ documentarian Daniel Gartzke
  29. ‘The Things We Don’t Say’ posits a dying man’s conversation with dead wife
  30. Meet Fort Myers Film Festival short filmmaker Soleidy Mendez
  31. Meet Fort Myers Film Festival filmmaker Jordan Axelrod
  32. ‘Iku Manieva’ highlights impact of drug cartel wars in Mexican Sinaloa Sierra
  33. Alliance screening Eliades Ochoa documentary during FMFF in April
  34. More on ‘Eliades Ochoa From Cuba to the World’
  35. Spotlight on ‘Eliades Ochoa’ documentarian Cynthia Biestek
  36. Combo of emotion and raw realism makes ‘CASHED’ compelling short film
  37. Spotlight on ‘CASHED’ actor, screenwriter and filmmaker Serena Ryen
  38. Spotlight on CASHED’ director Ethan Itzkow
  39. Spotlight on FMFF poignant film ‘Ready’
  40. Spotlight on ‘Ready’ filmmaker Melissa Farman
  41. Short film ‘Peggy’ proves it’s possible for a woman to be too damn perfect
  42. Spotlight on ‘Peggy’ filmmaker Justin O’Neal Miller

Stay tuned. More’s coming.

 

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Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (03-28-19)

One of the films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is a groundbreaking documentary that examines the United States immigration system through the eyes of two unforgettable protagonists whose life stories reveal the human cost of deportation. That film is Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and in it acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland (Kind-Hearted Woman, Country Boys, The Farmer’s Wife) weaves a parallel love story that takes us into a raw, unfiltered world often lived in the shadows.

Elizabeth Perez is a decorated U.S. Marine veteran living in Cleveland. Now she’s fighting to reunite her family after her undocumented husband, Marcos, was deported following a traffic stop for running a yellow light. Meanwhile, Marcos is alone in Mexico, working as a soccer referee, struggling with depression and fighting the urge to cross the border illegally to see his family. When Elizabeth’s efforts hit a legal brick wall, she must plan for the unthinkable alternative: leaving the U.S. with her children to live in exile in Mexico.

You’ll find the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Marcos’ filmmaker David Sutherland (03-28-19)

David Sutherland is an independent filmmaker who describes his filmmaking technique as “cinematic portraiture.” His process requires a great deal of intimacy between filmmaker and subject and combines technical virtuosity with an intense human connection to the film’s subjects. “The documentarian’s methods more closely resemble an ethnographer’s than a television director’s,” stated the Baltimore Sun. “He steeps himself in the minute details, emotions and struggles of his subjects’ lives, trying to see the world through their eyes. Never mind closing the distance between viewer and object viewed, this filmmaker all but obliterates that distinction through his own intense identification and empathy with the people he films.”

His 2013 film Kind Hearted Woman delved into the troubled life of a young Native American mother. His previous film, Country Boys, took seven years to bring to fruition as Sutherland returned again and again to the hills of Appalachian Kentucky to crystallize the coming-of-age ordeal faced by his two teenage subjects. The film aired in January 2006 to great critical acclaim, and became one of the most widely viewed programs on PBS that year.

The remainder of David’s profile is here.

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‘A Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story’ embraces race and equality (03-28-19)

A Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story will screen at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival. It tells the story of two groups of twelve-year-old boys who stepped onto a baseball field in an act of cultural defiance that would change the course of history.

In 1955, the South was defined by segregation. Baseball was no different. The Pensacola Jaycees All-Stars were Florida’s first entirely African American little league baseball team. All the other teams back then were wholly white, and they refused to play the Jaycees. In fact, when told that they must, they’d forfeit rather than play.

You’ll find the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Long Time Coming’ documentarian Jon Strong (03-28-19)

Jon Strong is an Orlando-based director and editor. His directing/editing credits include Long Time Coming: A 1955 Baseball Story, Untitled Syrian Refugee Documentary (2017), The Thank You Project (2014 short video), Brown Sugar (2013 short), Chloe’s Wedding Day (2012 video short), Children (2010 short), Connection (2009 short) and My Heart (2009 short documentary). He has also served as a cinematographer, writer (Long Time Coming, Brown Sugar, Children and Connection), producer, second unit director, assistant director and sound engineer. Jon also appeared as an actor in a 2009 short film titled A Loss of Balance Despite Himself.

The rest of Jon’s profile is here.

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Kyra Belan being featured in solo show by Manhattan’s Ceres Gallery (03-27-19)

Dr. Kyra Belan is known for her magical realism style of art. The Ceres Gallery in Manhattan, New York will be exhibiting her drawings, paintings and mixed media work in a solo exhibition that runs from April 2 through April 27, 2019.

Belan’s artworks are about social issues and two of her series will be exhibited during this show: the Lady Liberty Series, dealing with the current political issues,- particularly as they relate to women – and the Amazing Women Series, which celebrate the outstanding women that made or are making important contributions to our culture and politics. Her preoccupation with the latter subject stems from her realization that the percentage of portraiture that is dedicated to women of achievement is currently unacceptably small. Her goal, therefore, is to help correct this inequity by drawing attention to iconic women through her art.

Ceres is a gallery dedicated to exposing feminist and social issue arts to the world through its visibility in the prestigious Chelsea Gallery District. Dedicated to promoting women artists since 1984, it is the only such exhibition space in the city of New York.

In addition to art, Belan is also an author, mythologist and art historian.

She served as a professor of art and art history and a founding gallery director at Broward College for two decades. She has enjoyed more than 50 solo art exhibitions and numerous group shows. Go here to see all of Dr. Belan’s awards, accolades and achievements, as well as a list of the books she has published.

If you’re in Manhattan on April 4, the opening of “Kyra Belan: From Myth to Reality” is scheduled from noon to 8:00 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6:00 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 8:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Director Stefany Benson at 212-947-6100.

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Sheldon Fine Art is featuring William Hobbs’ ‘Patterns in the Wave’ (03-27-19)

Sheldon Fine Art is featuring William Hobbs’ Patterns in the Wave at its Fifth Avenue South gallery in downtown Naples.

The 19th century saw the development of great American landscape and seascape traditions. Spreading out from the Catskill region of New York, this style of powerful realism became known as the Hudson River School. It is upon these historic foundations that William Hobbs grounds his painting style, envisioning it as a continuation and extension of their endeavors. Following in the traditions of Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt, his paintings explore the power of the natural world.

The natural content of Hobbs’ work is driven by a fascination for wilderness. As an avid hiker, backpacker, and water-sport enthusiast, his art grows out of countless hours observing in the field. Further, his graduate level education and research in biology and ecology informs his art.

His paintings are both scientific studies and artistic renderings. Hobbs sees no difference between the two. In the deepest of scientific explorations, he finds aesthetic beauty. His art is a process in which he interacts with and explores the intricacies of nature.

Moving water is a common theme in his paintings. From crashing surf and the rolling waves of the sea, to the flow of forest streams and waterfalls, these paintings often explore the patterns of water in motion. It is his desire that these studies impress upon the viewer a wonder for nature and the God who developed it. Hobbs believes wonder is the heart motivation for productive admiration and protection of the natural world.

Hobbs’ artistic style has become known for detail. He is most inspired by nature’s complexity and thrives on exploring the intricate detail of the natural world in his paintings. Finding nature to be fascinating at every scale, he seeks to create paintings that can be appreciated up close as well as from a distance.

He renders these scenes in oils on canvas. He appreciates the permanence of oils and finds this time-tested media to be the best method to capture the facets of nature that intrigue him.

William Hobbs studied and painted for a number of years along the coast of New England, where he was active in the Seacoast Art Association of New Hampshire. He now paints from his home in northeastern Pennsylvania where he is associated with the Pocono Mountains Arts Council. His art is represented in a wide range of private and corporate collections throughout the United States as well as in Germany and France, including the collections of Sanofi Pasteur, Portland Steel, and the Weiler Corporation.

Hobbs paintings have won many awards and he exhibits in a growing number of shows and galleries. It is the artist’s hope that the viewer will discover in his paintings, the bright optimism of a world full of the life and motion that inspire me.

Reprinted from www.sheldonfineart.com. The gallery is located at 460 5th Ave S, Naples. For more information, please telephone 239-649-6255.

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Mally Khorasantchi exhibit at FGCU ArtLab closes tomorrow (03-27-19)

Mally Khorasantchi Recent Paintings 2019 is on view in the ArtLab Gallery in FGCU’s Library West through March 28. The show includes large-scale paintings that incorporate elements from the artist’s personal history and social commentary. With no horizon lines or perspective to give order or focus, and using both bold and delicately painted abstracted symbols, lines and shapes, Khorasantchi seeks to convey the chaos and order found in nature and of things manmade. She is interested in the juxtapositions of rhythm and remnant, intellect and emotion, beauty and discord, and invites multiple interpretations based on individual experience and memory.

Born soon after the end of World War II in Dusseldorf, Germany, Mally (Breuer) Khorasantchi discovered her lifelong love of drawing and painting as a young child. Khorasantchi studied with several noted professional German artists who nurtured her artistic development and, by the 1990s, she had two solo exhibitions of her work in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Khorasantchi immigrated to United States and became a permanent resident of Florida in 1992 and an American citizen in 2006. A successful, full time professional artist since 2005, her work has been collected by private and corporate clients both in the U.S. and abroad.

The State of Florida’s Capitol building in Tallahassee featured a solo exhibition of her work during the summer of 2014. A solo exhibition of her paintings was shown at the Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York, in the fall of 2014. That same year, the United Arts Council of Collier County conferred its prestigious “Stars in the Arts Award” on Khorasantchi.

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Time’s almost up to see Alliance’s 33rd Annual All Florida exhibition (03-27-19)

The Alliance for the Arts’ 33rd Annual All Florida Juried Exhibit closes March 30, so you better hurry if you want to see the show.

The show features work by 60 Florida artists, winnowed by juror R. Lynn Whitelaw from a field of more than 660 submissions. And from his 60 finalists, Whitelaw chose three winners, two Juror’s Choice winners and an honorable mention.

Whitelaw picked Christina Wyatt’ Two Young Girls as Best in Show. The honor carried a $1,000 cash prize.

Second Place winner Karen Tucker Kuyendall won a $250 Golden Colors Gift Certificate for Shout Hallelujah Come on Get Happy.

Geoffrey Hamel’s Untitled 2 took 3rd place honors and $100 in cash.

Lynn Foskett won Honorable Mention and a Gift Certificate from Frameworks for Succulents (Garden Chair). Glen DePasse and Carve Stone were awarded Juror’s Choice Awards.

“My overlying interest was to showcase exciting examples of contemporary art in Florida that reflect artistic talent and innovative work that respect, or experiment with, materials,” Whitelaw told the large crowd that attended the opening. “My only regret is that there were a large number of wonderful works that fit my criteria, but I had to make hard decisions to cull the show to 60 pieces.”

Lynn Whitelaw was the founding Director and Curator of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, located on the Tarpon Springs Campus of St. Petersburg College (SPC), a position he held for 17 years. Over the years, Mr. Whitelaw’s curatorial efforts have resulted in over 140 exhibitions shown at Hillsborough Community College, the Tampa Museum of Art and the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art.

Joining Wyatt, Kuykendall, Hamel, Foskett, DePasse and Stone in the show are Jeff Abbott, Jaime Aelavanthara, Brooke Anderson, Joanne Barrett, Penelope Breen, Melissa Carcamo, Hilda Champion, Steven Chayt, Muffy Clark, Sammy Cottrell, Alison Curtis, Vic Delnore, Christine Di Staola, Jessie Dilich, Sharon Eng, Cheryl Fausel, Julie Gauthier, Janet George, Judith Harthorn, John Ippensen, Ameena Khan, Ann Kozeliski, Yvonne Krystman, Jay Lana, JoAnn LaPadula, Pat Leggett, Diane Lublinski, Olivier Lutaud, Bruce MacKechnie, Inna Malostovker, Claire Melli, Robert Moore, Carol Murphy, Melissa Nece, Elizabeth Ogata, Jose Pardo, Katrina Parker, June Powell, Gregory Presley, Christine Reichow, Lynne Renzenberger, Robert Richard, Paula Rucket, Carol Schmidt, Carolyn Steele, Nancy Terrell, Guy Tieman, Rachel Ulrich, Havelyn Villar, Laura Waller, James Woodfield, LouAnn Wukitsch, Patricia Zalisko and MANO.

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard. Its 10-acre campus is southeast of the intersection of McGregor and Colonial Boulevards.

For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit www.ArtInLee.org/AllFlorida2019.

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Laura Waller’s ’55th St., NYC No. 2,’ part of the Alliance’s All Florida show (03-27-19)

The Alliance for the Arts’ 33rd Annual All Florida Juried Exhibit opened last Friday with an awards ceremony. Although juror R. Lynn Whitelaw could only name three winners, an honorable mention and two juror’s choice awardees, all 60 works he juried into the show are noteworthy and deserving of recognition.

One of those works is Laura Waller’s 55th St., NYC No. 2. But it’s the subtitle of the piece that tells the tale. And that would be “Strung Up and Strung Out, a commentary on our times,” divulged the artist at the opening on March 8.

The painting is part of a new series that will be the subject of a show at Elizabeth Moss Gallery in Falmouth, Maine in September. The series is centered around motifs gleaned from Manhattan at night, particularly in Times Square and the Theatre District. The Falmouth gallery that’s hosting the exhibit is calling it “In the Limelight.”

Waller and her husband visit New York City every December. Laura doesn’t paint en plein air. Instead, she takes a slew (that’s a technical term for hundreds) of photos that serve as both motifs, mnemonic triggers and painterly inspiration. This past December she collected even more material than she normally shoots.

“When you’re walking in the City, there are all these magical sites, especially down Broadway with the neon lights and everyone is looking down on their cellphones [instead of at the building, the lights and the cityscape towering overhead],” Waller laughs ironically. “The ubiquitous cellphone that’s everywhere.”

But that was just one of many anomalies.

Waller also happened upon a model of the Statue of Liberty chained to a suitcase and storefront so she couldn’t be hijacked. Laura found the imagery so full of import and social commentary, that she had to capture it on linen.

But Waller’s interest is in the angles, geometrical shapes and broad swaths of color that spire far above street level. Laura especially delights in the water towers that top virtually every skyscraper and tall building in the city.

“They’re all up there [like gargantuan spiders] with their spindly legs hanging down.”

Another object that insinuates itself into the skyline are the jibs, booms and operator’s cabs of the immense cranes that are reconfiguring the city’s Lego-like architecture on a real-time basis. Waller is sensitized to cranes and big booms. Many are featured in her Port Side series, which presents an up-close and personal view of the cargo ships, freighters and other big boats moored in Port Tampa Bay.

“If you think about that, there are people who spend their days looking down on the city from the vantage of a operator’s cab,” Waller muses expansively. “They’re doing the drone view,” she adds, rather than taking part of the ebb and flow of the workers, shoppers and tourists who clog the streets and sidewalks far, far below.

Waller’s new Limelight series continues the artist’s abstract exploration of large spaces that focuses over the past three seasons primarily on the commercial freighters and cargo ships that sit at anchor in Port Tampa Bay. As is the case with 400 and 500 foot vessels, you cannot take in a 40, 50 or 60 story building all at once. Because of their size and scale, you can only experience a skyscraper or aggregation of such edifices by focusing on some detail or component part, and that’s definitely the case with 55th St. NYC No. 2. You can train your eyes on the American flag or the wires bisecting the vertical and horizontal planes that comprise the surrounding buildings, but it’s impossible to take in all of these various components at the same time..

Just like the paintings in her Port Side series, there’s a very abstract quality to Waller’s Limelight paintings when viewed up close. The emphasis on flat color, geometrical shapes, parallel lines and other forms is vaguely reminiscent of Mondrian’s use of the pure geometric forms underlying all existence to convey absolute reality. But as you retreat from proximity to the canvas, the composition becomes representational. Even then, however, your mind has to finish the image because the actual subject extends hundreds of feet off canvas.

“I like to present subject matter where, if you made a viewfinder with your hands, you can go anywhere within the composition and find something interesting to look at,” Waller said of her Port Side series. “This lets viewers choose which part of the composition to connect with, and that enables them to have a different experience each time they look at the painting…. [T]hey get to choose the relationship they forge with the composition.”

As she did with the Port Side series, Waller feels equally compelled to uncover what lies beneath the surface of massive, imposing structures – buildings and industrial plants which are historic as well as others not yet complete. “It is their dynamic sense of scale that I seek to convey through tight, focused composition of color and form.”

Waller has introduced one subject into her Limelight paintings that viewers won’t find in her ships at port. The new series of urban landscapes will be include people. ” I seem to be including more people in my work, especially of New York, but they are usually not the stars of the canvas,” Laura shares. “They  compete with the manmade structures which, in NY, typically minimize their presence.”

Laura Waller’s 55th St., NYC No. 2 is on view along with the other 59 works included in the Alliance’s 33rd Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition now through March 30. For more information, please visit artinlee.org or telephone 239-939-2787.

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Waller’s ships at port combines abstract sensibility with representational view (03-27-19)

[Here’s a look back at Laura Waller’s ships at port series, which were part of a two-artist show titled Along the Coast that the Alliance for the Arts exhibited last May.]

Tampa artist Laura Waller cajoles viewers to join her on an abstract exploration of massive commercial vessels where they alone control the path and destination of the journey.

To appreciate what Waller has accomplished with the paintings in this series, it is helpful to harken back to some lessons taught roughly 150 years ago by the Impressionists. Then, painters such as Manet, Monet and Renoir operated from the premise that in real life, our eyes are only capable of focusing on a single spot at any given point in time. The rest of the picture is supplied not by our optic nerve, but our minds. We know what’s in the background or periphery of a scene, but we don’t actually see it in the depth or detail previously provided by realists and hyper-realists like DaVinci, Rubens and Vermeer.

Waller applies a similar concept to her paintings of massive cargo ships and commercial freighters. Except from a great distance, you simply cannot take in a 400 or 500 foot vessel all at once. Because of their size and scale, you can only experience a ship like this by focusing on some detail or component part.

“By focusing on some detail or portion of the vessel, I’m asking the viewer to join with me in an exploration,” Laura explains. “The vanishing point is well off canvas, so you know it’s a massive ship that goes way back. You know it’s there, but I’m asking you to experience it in a different way.”

But Waller’s compositions provide an even greater degree of immediacy. If you stand close to the linen support, you see a collection of one-dimensional shapes and colored planes. But as you stand back, an image emerges that depicts some part of the vessel that suggests or implies the existence of the entire ship in much the same way as viewing a tusk, trunk or tail connotes the presence of an elephant.

This result obtains because of the way in which Waller creates her compositions. “When I paint, I’m standing at the length of the brush from the support,” explains Laura. “It’s only when I stand back that the form emerges from the brushwork.”

Up close, there’s a very abstract quality to these paintings. The emphasis on flat color, geometrical shapes, parallel lines and other forms is vaguely reminiscent of Mondrian’s use of the pure geometric forms underlying all existence to convey absolute reality. But as you retreat from proximity to the canvas, the composition becomes representational. Even then, however, your mind has to finish the image because the actual subject extends hundreds of feet off canvas.

“I like to subject matter where if you made a viewfinder with your hands, you can go anywhere within the composition and find something interesting to look at,” Waller adds. “This lets viewers choose which part of the composition to connect with, and that enables them to have a different experience each time they look at the painting. If you do a representational painting of the entire ship, you’re telling the viewer what to see. But here, they get to choose the relationship they forge with the composition.”

Laura’s developed an interest in cargo ships, freighters and tugs after a friend suggested she visit the Port Tampa Bay for nontraditional Florida motifs.

“I didn’t really want to do cruise ships because the shapes are not that interesting compared to other ships, so when someone suggested the working port, I became intrigued.”

Of course, you just can’t go wandering about a commercial port handles more than 37 million tons of cargo annually, ranging from liquid and dry bulk to containers and automobiles.

“I got one of the big companies to sponsor me. They gave me a hard hat and an adorable security guard in a golf cart, and we rode around and took pictures, which I took them back to the studio to paint.” Painting on location was not an option because while the port was happy to assign a security guard to show her around, they couldn’t spare someone to sit with her all day as she painted.

Still, her time in the port was as exciting as it was novel. “I’ve always been intrigued by what I call ‘drop-ins’ – where you’re dropped into a new environment, someplace you’ve never been before. It’s a new world. There are very few women in the port. People can’t see the port when they drive by, so they don’t really know what’s in there.”

In addition to the time she spent being squired about the port by security, Laura also accessed the port aboard her son’s power boat, and she did have occasion to cop a ride on a 12,795 ton, 472-foot-long freighter named Clipper Newhaven that sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

“You cannot go in or out of the harbor without a harbor pilot taking over the ship. There are only two female harbor pilots in all of Florida, and I got to go with the one at the Port of Tampa when she took Clipper Newhaven out to sea,” Laura recounts. Although Laura did not identify her by name, that would have been Capt. Carolyn Kurtz. She is one of 23 harbor pilots working for the Tampa Bay Pilots Association. The rest are all males. (The only other female harbor pilot in Florida works in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Out of 1,200 harbor pilots nationally, just 30 are women.)

“When we got out in the Gulf, a pilot boat pulls up alongside the ship and [Capt. Kurtz] tells me we’re going down to get off the ship,” Laura continues, a wry smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Well, I didn’t realize until that very moment that they don’t stop the ship. It’s going along at 12 knots, and [Carolyn] says, ‘Don’t get upset, Laura, and don’t look down, but we’re going to climb down that rope ladder hanging off the side of the ship. I’ll go first, and when it’s your turn, just take one step at a time and when you get to the bottom, reach back, and I’ll pull you onto the pilot boat.’ I didn’t look down, but I was thinking the whole time that if I die, I’m going to have the best obituary – crushed between two ships.”

Obviously, she did just fine and now has a Laura Croft moment to share at art exhibition opening receptions.

Laura found it interesting to not only learn all the different parts of the ships she painted, but their history, as well. When a collector acquires one of these nautical works, they not only get a nuanced, ever-changing painting, they become privy to the history of the vessel. And through a vessel tracker app, they can follow the ship’s whereabouts on their phone. In fact, the tracker even sends out notifications.

Laura has no plans to add to the series. In her mind, it is now complete. Instead, she is now painting commercial and residential buildings under construction, as well as industrial processing site. “After a private hardhat tour of an historic cement plant in Maine, I was inspired to explore similar industrial sites as part of my ongoing investigation into urban landscapes.”

As she did with ships at port, Waller feels equally compelled to uncover what lies beneath the surface of massive, imposing structures – buildings and industrial plants which are historic as well as others not yet complete. “It is their dynamic sense of scale that I seek to convey through tight, focused composition of color and form.”

And as with her ships at port, the new series of urban landscapes will be devoid of either animal or human figures. “I am primarily in what humans have built; the awe-inspiring powerful character and tension of interior or exterior spaces,” Laura explains. In her capable hands, each of these new constructions becomes an intimate personal portrait that reveals complex multi-layers, underpinnings and exoskeletons.

Along the Coast runs through May 26 at the Alliance for the Arts. For more information, please visit artinlee.org or telephone 239-939-2787.

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More on Tampa artist Laura Waller (03-27-19)

The Alliance for the Arts’ 33rd All Florida Juried Exhibition contains 60 works of art by 60 different artists. One of those artworks is a painting of the New York cityscape rendered by Tampa artist Laura Waller.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Laura Waller received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Newcomb College and Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Concurrent with studies in sociology, psychology and social work, she developed a passion for art and art history.

After an eleven-year career as a professional therapist, Laura became a certified financial planner and founder of the successful Waller & Wax Advisors firm in Tampa, FL. Throughout her thirty-year career in finance, she continued to paint and study independently with prestigious artists in Arizona, Florida, and Maine. Waller was selected in 2013, 2014, 2015, and again for 2018, for artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center.

As a full-time artist, Waller works out of her studios in Maine and Florida. Her Working Waterfront: Port Tampa Bay paintings were featured in a winter 2015 solo exhibition at the Clayton Galleries in Tampa. Her Working Waterfront: New Work paintings were featured in a summer 2016 solo exhibition at Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth, ME. New paintings from her Port Side series were featured in a solo exhibition open from January 27 to March 11, 2017 at Clayton Galleries in Tampa, FL.

Alliance members and area art lovers may remember Laura from the 27 Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition in 2013. At that show, Baker Museum of Art Director and Curator Frank Verpoorten chose Laura’s painting, Owl’s Head, as the exhibition’s Best of Show. Last May, she was featured in a two-artist show titled Along the Coast with fellow Tampa artist Sarah Hull.

Waller was awarded the Arts Council of Hillsborough County Individual Artist Grant in 2016. Laura’s paintings are collected by individuals and corporations nationwide.

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FMFF director Eric Raddatz continues Film Man tradition (03-26-19)

In his April, 2019 editorial, Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief David Sendler writes “though he’s the prize-winning presentation editor of Florida Weekly newspaper, you’ve got to credit him as Film Man in the halls of Southwest Florida.” Truer words have never been written, but Eric’s accomplishments over the past nine years are even more significant when you add historical context.

The year was 1908. An enterprising young man by the name of John Towles Hendry disappeared behind a heavy black curtain in the back of spare rectangular room hidden behind a saloon in downtown Fort Myers between Hendry and Jackson. On the other side of the curtain, a standing-room-only crowd fidgeted impatiently. Hendry’s wife stretched her fingers, limbering up at an upright piano pushed up against one of the walls. When Hendry started the film seconds later, he didn’t just elicit gasps of excitement and amazement. He introduced Fort Myers to the world of motion pictures.

For six years, neither Hendry nor his Royal Palm Theatre (which evolved in 1913 into the Grand) had any competition. Then a Michigan drugstore mogul and banker named Peter Tonnelier built a 500-seat theater he called The Court on the western edge of present-day Patio de Leon, and from early 1914 until the Grand’s destruction by fire in February of 1915, Jno T. Hendry and K.A. Bryant engaged in an epic battle for residents’ spare quarters and dimes.

Go here for the rest of this story.

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The Great Train Robbery screens at Edison Ford during FMFF (03-26-19)

Once again this year, the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will be a screening venue during the Fort Myers Film Festival. On Thursday evening, April 11, EFWE will show three films, The Great Train Robbery, local filmmaker Ilene Safron’s latest documentary, A Tale of Two Halgrims, and Jordan Axelrod’s 25-minute short film Coach. It’s an appropriate partnership given Fort Myers’ long love affair with pictorial storytelling and the man who invented much of the technology that made filmmaking possible.

The town’s fascination with film dates back to September 1, 1908. On that date, an enterprising young man by the name of John Towles Hendry introduced Fort Myers to the realm of motion pictures in a tiny one-room affair with bench seats and a hunk of canvas tacked up on one wall. The premiere was so heavily attended that Hendry had to play the film over and over again for three solid hours while his wife provided musical accompaniment for the silent movie on an upright piano for the SRO crowds who crammed into the Royal Palm Theatre.

Read here for more.

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Fort Myers Film Festival opens April 10 with red carpet gala at Davis Art Center (03-25-19)

The 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival descends on beautiful sunny Southwest Florida April 10-14, 2019. With historic venues, dozens of exceptional independent films and numerous meet-and-greet/photo opportunities, this year’s festival promises to be more exciting, more glitzy and more fun than ever before.

One big departure associated with this year’s FMff is the venue for the April 10 black-tie red-carpet opening night gala. This year, it will be held in the palatial 86-year-old Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center smack dab in the middle of the historic downtown Fort Myers River District.

With its entrance sandwiched between Jim Sanborn’s dual-drum bronze light sculptures and waiting atop a short flight of limestone steps, the doors open at 5:00 p.m. for cocktails and musical entertainment. With photo ops and paparazzi at every turn, the Davis Art Center’s cavernous grand atrium is the perfect place to mix and mingle with the legion of local and international filmmakers who will be on hand for the opening night festivities.

Read the rest of this announcement here.

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‘#SLUT’ provides unique slant on bullying and sexual predators (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is #SLUT. Written by Sophia Watson and directed by Jenna Kanell, the film stars Watson, Cassidy Bigham, Evan Castelloe, Keller Fornes, Jesse Gallegos, J. Michael Grey, Candace Haynes and Dominique Madison.

The synopsis provided by the filmmakers states that the short is about a young author whose life is mysteriously impacted through his writing about an innocent girl at an average, everyday high school who, after being bullied at school and on social media, falls prey to a handsome predator in a position of power. “If she can’t get out before it’s too late, lives will come crashing down.”

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘#SLUT’ writer and star Sophia Watson (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is #SLUT. It was written by and stars Sophia Watson.

Sophia Watson is an actor, writer and producer. She was just 7 when she first appeared in film.

Besides #SLUT, Sophia has played numerous roles in film and on television, including Megan in the 2018 short film A Very Sappy Jasper County Christmas, Sarah in the popular Nashville television series, Juliet Clifford in eight episodes of the 2016-2017 TV series Message Received (“Desperation Day” (2017), “Happy Birthday to Me” (2016), “Truth or Dare” (2016), “The Bitch is Back” (2016), “The Bermuda Triangle” (2016), “Shimmer and Hide” (2016), “Asher, Asher We All Fall Down” (2016) and …..

The rest of Sophia’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘#SLUT’ director Jenna Kanell (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is #SLUT. Written by Sophia Watson and directed by Jenna Kanell, the film stars Watson, Cassidy Bigham, Evan Castelloe, Keller Fornes, Jesse Gallegos, J. Michael Grey, Candace Haynes and Dominique Madison.

Jenna Kanell is an actor and filmmaker. She rocketed to fame following her role as Kim in the horror film The Bye Bye Man (with Douglas Smith and Lucien Laviscount). She has also been seen in films like Dandelion (2018), the Princess Avengers: World Cleansers TV series (as Princess Stella), The Good Die Young (2018), The Front Runner (2018) …..

You’ll find the rest of Jenna’s profile here.

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‘Surviving Lunch’ shines light on bullying and school violence (03-25-19)

On Saturday, April 13, the 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival will screen the feature film Surviving Lunch produced by Source Productions. Based on true stories about real American teenagers ripped from today’s harrowing headlines, this timely and important film shines a light on bullying and school violence.

The film revolves around a Latina girl from New York who moves to Florida with her mother after her father is killed before her eyes in a school shooting. Trying to keep to herself and recover from her grief, Gabriella notices a boy being relentlessly bullied in the lunchroom. With the memory of her father fresh in her heart, Gabriella is determined to find a way to stop the bullies – even if it means standing up to the meanest kid in the school.

“I chose the title Surviving Lunch specifically because, while talking to young people across America about bullying and violence, lunch time at school has always been a particularly complicated time to navigate,” says writer and director KT Curran. “Even something as simple as what table you sit at during lunch can become a painful process of humiliation and rejection. Many kids actually eat their lunch each day in the bathroom in order to avoid bullying.”

“What’s interesting about high school lunch is that everybody is there,” says Parker Padgett, who plays the role of Robert, the bully in the film.

Read the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ filmmaker KT Curran (03-25-19)

On Saturday, April 13, the 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival will screen the feature film Surviving Lunch. Based on true stories about real American teenagers ripped from today’s harrowing headlines, this timely and important film shines a light on bullying and school violence.

The film was produced by Sarasota-based SOURCE PRODUCTIONS for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, an exciting, educational touring theatre and video production company for young adults (ages 14-30). SOURCE’s Artistic Director KT Curran wrote and directed the film.

Curran is a nationally-published playwright, screenwriter, editor, director and Equity actor. She has worked extensively in theater and film for more than twenty-five years, performing and directing both nationally and internationally. KT has written twenty-five plays, five films, a web series, commercials and several documentaries for young adults. Eleven of KT’s plays are nationally published and performed by groups across the United States.

Her film directing and screenwriting credits include two features, Surviving Lunch and The First Time Club, and three short films, The Holding Cell, When the Party Ends and Boost.

The rest of KT’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ leading lady Avery Arendes (03-25-19)

The SOURCE PRODUCTIONS indie feature Surviving Lunch will be screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

The film revolves around a Latina girl from New York who moves to Florida with her mother after her father is killed before her eyes in a school shooting. Trying to keep to herself and recover from her grief, Gabriella notices a boy being relentlessly bullied in the lunchroom. With the memory of her father fresh in her heart, Gabriella is determined to find a way to stop the bullies – even if it means standing up to the meanest kid in the school.

Avery Arendes stars as Gabriella.

Go here for the rest of Avery’s profile.
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Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ bully Parker Padgett (03-25-19)

The SOURCE PRODUCTIONS indie feature Surviving Lunch will be screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. The film shines a light on lunchroom bullying and schoolhouse violence, and playing the bully is Sarasota native Parker Padgett.

“What’s interesting about high school lunch is that everybody is there,” says Padgett, who plays the role of Robert. “It’s kind of a microcosm of the real world, so to speak, where you are surrounded by hundreds of different people every single day. There’s always going to be that one person who just wants to get at you. Maybe high schools do it on purpose ….”

For more on Parker Padgett, go here.

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Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ supporting actor Kaycie Lee (03-25-19)

Kaycie Lee is a SAG-eligible film actress who lives and goes to school in Sarasota.

Her latest project is a strong supporting role in the SOURCE PRODUCTIONS indie feature film Surviving Lunch, in which she portrays a high school girl named Lacey who is willing to sacrifice her own identity just in order to fit in.

You can access Kaycie’s full profile here.

 

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Spotlight on ‘Surviving Lunch’ supporting actor Mercedes Gutierrez (03-25-19)

The SOURCE PRODUCTIONS indie feature Surviving Lunch will be screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

The film revolves around a Latina girl from New York who moves to Florida with her mother after her father is killed before her eyes in a school shooting. Trying to keep to herself and recover from her grief, Gabriella notices a boy being relentlessly bullied in the lunchroom. With the memory of her father fresh in her heart, Gabriella is determined to find a way to stop the bullies – even if it means standing up to the meanest kid in the school.

Mercedes Nicole Gutierrez plays Maria.

Go here for the rest of Mercedes’ profile.

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‘Patrik’ is for all of us who feel like this fast-paced world is passing us by (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened by this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Patrik, a story about an accomplished elderly actor who suddenly finds himself left behind by our modern fast-paced life. On his way to receiving his final and ultimate lifetime recognition, he gets mercilessly swallowed up by events. Patrik is a human story about trying to age gracefully while being pushed aside by the next generation. Ultimately it is a story about how a real human connection is the ultimate reward any of us can hope for in this lifetime.

Although the film was only recently released, it has enjoyed considerable success and acclaim. In addition to being accepted so far into nine film festivals, Partik has won the Gold Award at Spotlight Film Awards, Best Short Film at the GSF Awards in Cannes, Best Short Narrative at L.A.’s Olympus Film Festival and the Silver Award at Latitude Film Festival. It was also Semi-Finalist at the Utah Film Festival.

Read the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Patrik’ filmmaker and SAG-AFTRA actor Evgeniya Radilova (03-25-19)

Evgeniya Radilova is an actor, producer, director, model, fire twirler and international woman of mystery. She hails from Bulgaria, where Evgeniya became one of the best known faces on screen and the stage. A descendant of four generations of artists (her mom was an actor, her father a director), she became the youngest actress to play on the professional stage. Shortly after graduating from the National School for Music (where she learned piano), she hosted Masters of the TV, one of the biggest television shows on Bulgarian National TV. She hosted the show for three years.

Find the rest of Evgeniya’s profile here.

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Like Rauschenberg, filmmaker Radilova spearheading Chinese exchange (03-25-19)

One of the films being screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Patrik, a short written, directed and produced by Evgeniya Radilova. You may have seen the Bulgarian-born actor/filmmaker on television or in film. She’s played opposite Ellen Burstyn. She’s appeared on five prime time television shows: Limitless, Law and Order SVU, Elementary and Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. She received a Best Actress award for her performance in the indie film Let Them Have Their Way. But what you don’t know about Radilova is that she shares a connection with Captiva’s favorite son, Robert Rauschenberg. Both established cultural exchange programs involving artists in China.

While Bob’s interests certainly included China, the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (ROCI) was more expansive, extending to Tibet, Malaysia, Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, East Germany and Russia. On an egalitarian plane, Rauschenberg conceived of ROCI as a means of forging communication with other nations through the language of art by providing carefully-selected venues where artists, sculptors, poets and authors from around the world could meet and exchange creative ideas in the spirit of collaboration.

Read the rest of this story here.

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With original music and inspiring story, ‘Bird’s Eye’ lyrical ode to human spirit (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is Bird’s Eye. A spellbinding 13-minute drama, Bird’s Eye tells the story of a rigid music professor who loses her sight only to find perfect clarity in an unexpected place – within the walls of an at-risk urban high school. Scott Poiley directs. The film was written and produced by Erin Beute, who stars in the film as music instructor/composer Dr. McAllister as well.

We meet Dr. McAllister as she labors at the piano, fitfully trying to piece together fragmented notes and bars into a magnum opus. Try as she might, the work remains out of reach/ The harder she pushes, the more it evades her.

Please go here for the remainder of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘Bird’s Eye’ writer, actor and filmmaker Erin Beute (03-25-19)

Erin Beute is a filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. Of significance to those planning to attend the Fort Myers Film Festival April 10-14, Erin wrote, stars in and co-produced a 13-minute drama titled Bird’s Eye, which has been juried into this year’s FMff.

Erin Beute is a SAG/AFTRA actor known for The Vampire Diaries (2009), Outcast (2016) and Shots Fired (2017). Her film credits include leads in Tooth Fairy 2, If Only, The Five Stages and The Bell and supporting roles in Waves of Grace, Ring of Fire and The Whisper Home. In addition to The Vampire Diaries, her television work includes guest star appearances in Drop Dead Diva, Last Stop (Pilot) and Coma, and co-starring roles in Charlie’s Angels, Magic City, Burn Notice and The Glades.

The rest of Erin’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Bird’s Eye’ director Scott Poiley (03-25-19)

Scott Poiley is an award-winning writer, producer and director of Bird’s Eye, a powerful 13-minute short film which is an official selection of this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival.

Poiley didn’t start out to make films. Rather, he was on a trajectory to become a dancer. But like the protagonist in Bird’s Eye, Poiley’s evolving musical theatre career was derailed by physical infirmity. In Scott’s case, he was forced to stop dancing when he discovered he had an enlarged heart.

Find the rest of Scott’s profile here.

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‘Roaring Tides’ a twisted love story that seeks deeper understanding (03-25-19)

Among the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Roaring Tides, “a twisted love-story that dives into the deeper understanding of what we all go through as humans and couples in this lifetime. The film explores love, loss, and the heartache of human existence – the confusion and power struggles we go through, while ultimately discovering our truth and purpose.”

The 10-minute short stars and was written and directed by Aly Mang, and represents her directorial debut. In addition to being juried into the 2019 Fort Myers Film Festival, 2018 Chain NYC Film Festival, 2018 Chelsea Film Festival, 2018 Long Beach International Film Festival and 2018 Official Latino Short Film Festival, Roaring Tides earned Aly the Best New Director 2018 award by NYC Chain Film Festival.

The rest of this advance is here.

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Meet ‘Roaring Tides’ filmmaker and accomplished actor Aly Mang (03-25-19)

Among the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Roaring Tides, “a twisted love-story that dives into the deeper understanding of what we all go through as humans and couples in this lifetime. The film explores love, loss, and the heartache of human existence – the confusion and power struggles we go through, while ultimately discovering our truth and purpose.”

It stars and was written and directed by Aly Mang, who was named Best New Director 2018 by NYC Chain Film Festival. Roaring Tides is Mang’s directorial debut.

Mang is a SAG-AFTRA actor. Her film credits include the psychological thriller Chronicles of a Serial Killer (Ann), the horror feature Hinsdale House (Gia), the western thriller Deadman Standing (Violet), the thriller Don’t Look There (Amy Jo), the Rock indie Lower East Asides (Terri), Horror Time (Emma/Persaphone), Roaring Tides (Audrey), Grow’n (Rosa), Tilt (Joanie) and featured roles in blockbuster hits John Wick 2 ….

Go here for the rest of Aly’s profile.

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‘On the Way to Lovetown’ pits hot ex-teacher against most wanted criminal (03-25-19)

Among the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is On the Way to Lovetown, a 15-minute love story/action film from Magic Hour Productions, an independent production company dedicated to producing character-driven narrative films and documentaries.

In the film, the road to a city named “Lovetown” becomes the site of a roadside fight to the death between a hot ex-teacher named Sunny and most wanted criminal Monroe. Featuring a strong female protagonist, the story unfolds in an unexpected way, with Sunny saving her loved one and avenging her family. The film stars Brandon Stacy, Brian Gross, Theresa Ireland, Jared Degado and JoAnna Luna as Sunny and Mark Ofuji as Monroe.

Find the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Lovetown’ filmmaker Mariya Pyter (03-19-19)

Mariya Pyter is a Russian director, screenwriter and producer living and working in the United States, with experience in theater (Open Space Theater, Russia), film and television (Dr. Phil, CBS, TNT, REN TV, NTV).

Mariya’s directing credits are numerous. She has two television series in post-production, the comedy pilot Runners and the YouTube variety show The Hot Take! Among her other credits are:

The rest of Mariya’s profile is here.

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‘Baghdad Photographer’ depicts impact of war on Iraqi family through pictures (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is Baghdad Photographer.

In this 13-minute film, filmmaker Mejd Hameed tells the story of the hardships suffered by an Iraqi family as a result of the wars and violence that have ravaged Iraq for decades. He does this through a series of photographs taken by the family matriarch over the course of two generations, beginning with a portrait of a pregnant young mother and her husband attired in regular clothing. The next photograph shows the same woman, her husband and the little boy they had, but this time the husband is dressed in a military uniform. The ensuing portrait depicts the woman dressed in black to mourn her deceased husband. In this shot, she poses with her grown son and his pregnant wife. Now a man, the boy is attired like his father before him in military garb. In the final poignant picture, we see the mother and daughter-in-law both dressed in black because both the husband and son have been killed fighting in the Iraqi army.

Go here for the rest of this review.

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Bringing ‘Baghdad Photographer’ filmmaker Mejd Hameed into focus (03-25-19)

Mejd Hameed is an Iraqi filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. He is a member of the Iraqi Artists Syndicate, Union of Iraqi Dramas and the National Band of Representation. His filmmaking credits include Baghdad Photographer (writer and director), Ahrar (writer and director), and Zero Hour (writer). His acting credits include Date (2017), Smile Again, Goodbye Nineveh, Zero Hour and Mesopotamia. Born in 1981, he has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Baghdad.

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Documentary ‘Light in the Darkness’ illuminates PTSD (03-25-19)

One of the films being screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Light in the Darkness, a documentary dedicated to illuminating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by director, editor and producer Daniel Gartzke.

A hidden epidemic, PTSD affects eight percent of the American population, or one in 13 people. For those it grasps, hope can seem like a distant dream.

But what exactly is PTSD? What factors give rise to it? What symptoms do people with PTSD typically display? And how do people suffering from PTSD cope?

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘Light in the Darkness’ documentarian Daniel Gartzke (03-25-19)

One of the films being screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Light in the Darkness, a documentary dedicated to illuminating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) filmed by director, editor and producer Daniel Gartzke. Gartzke has previously directed two other documentaries, Fox2-0 (which he also edited) and Retrogreade Motion. He currently filming a documentary titled EcoSPEARS: The Journey to Clean America’s Waterways.

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‘The Things We Don’t Say’ posits a dying man’s conversation with his dead wife (03-25-19)

One of the short films being screened at this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Things We Don’t Say by Soleidy Mendez. The film is a short drama about a clinically depressed man named Pierre who, believing his death from Parkinson’s disease in imminent, decides it time to have a long overdue conversation with his deceased wife Rose.

The film not only heightens our awareness of the lonely life which many isolated elderly people lead, but the importance of expressing our thoughts and feelings with those who mean the most to us. Filmmaker Soleidy Mendez drew the inspiration for the film from Geetha Chandra. The Vice-President of Finance for an international company based in New York, Chandra had always dreamed of becoming a writer. In that vein, she penned a letter to her husband listing all the reasons she was thankful for him. Unfortunately for Pierre, that conversation comes after his wife has passed.

You will find the rest of this advance here.

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Meet Fort Myers Film Festival short filmmaker Soleidy Mendez (03-25-19)

Soleidy Mendez is an award-winning actor, screenwriter and filmmaker. She hails from the Dominican Republic, but now resides in New York City. Her most recent achievement was winning the USA 2018 Nespresso Talents, which featured her work at the Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals.

She is a graduate of the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and studied at the New York Film Academy to develop and hone her screenwriting and filmmaking skills.

Read the rest of Soleidy’s profile here.

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Meet Fort Myers Film Festival filmmaker Jordan Axelrod (03-25-19)

Jordan Axelrod is a filmmaker known for Seven Ten Split, Carol’s Last Chance and, most recently, Coach.

Axelrod possesses numerous ties to the Fort Myers Film Festival. He cut his filmmaking teeth at FMff as a volunteer while he was still in junior high. After earning a degree in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, the Fort Myers native’s 20-minute short film, Seven Ten Split was juried into the Sixth Annual Fort Myers Film Festival. The film went on to receive honors as best in the Student Film category. Last year, Jordan had another film, Carol’s Last Chance, juried into the Fort Myers Film Festival, and this year his documentary, Coach, is an official FMff selection.

Read the rest of Jordan’s profile here.

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‘Iku Manieva’ highlights impact of drug cartel wars in Mexican Sinaloa Sierra (03-25-19)

Among the short films included in this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Iku Manieva.

The 7-minute-30-second black-and-white documentary was filmed in 2017 in the Sinaloa Sierra, a mythical territory in Northwest Mexico now controlled by competing drug cartels. Over time, their violent conflict has resulted in countless deaths and human rights violations among the local inhabitants. With more than 1,800 families being displaced and 3,000 people in exile between 2012 and 2018 alone, the violence has transformed entire communities into ghost towns.

Read here for more.

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Alliance screening Eliades Ochoa documentary during FMff in April (03-25-19)

The Alliance for the Arts has partnered with the Fort Myers Film Festival to present Eliades Ochoa From Cuba To The World on April 11. The evening will begin with a reception featuring light refreshments at 6:30 p.m. followed by the 100 minute documentary at 7:00 p.m.

He became known the world over in the late 90s as an original member of legendary Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club, but Eliades Ochoa’s passion for his country’s musical heritage led him to pursue a life dedicated to music much earlier than that. He began by playing his guitar in the streets of Eastern Cuba, then joined a slew of folk groups, until finally the success of Buena Vista Social Club came along.

Spreading his love for traditional Cuban folk music was always Ochoa’s main goal, and that love shines through in this new documentary, pulling together rare pictures, archive material and new interviews, preserving not only his incredible journey, but the richness of the musical heritage of his country for generations to come.

Director Cynthia Biestek studied Documentary Film and Video at New York University. She traveled to Cuba with a Documentary Workshop group, and fell in love with the vibrant culture, the music and the friendly locals.

The evening is free to attend, but a $10 suggested donation keeps programming affordable and accessible. For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit ArtInLee.org/Ochoa.

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More on ‘Eliades Ochoa From Cuba to the World’ (03-25-19)

Positivation Films will be screening the documentary film Eliades Ochoa From Cuba To The World at The Fort Myers Film Festival. The film lovingly narrates the story of Eliades Ochoa, one of the founding members of the Buena Vista Social Club, whose music left an indelible imprint on the international community’s perception of Cuba.

Ochoa grew up immersed in Son Cubano, a genre of music originating in east Cuba in the late 1800s that blends the clave rhythms of the Bantu region with Hispanic vocal styles. Both of Ochoa’s parents played Son Cubano, as did his brothers, with his sister providing vocal support, so Ochoa taught himself to play Son on the guitar. Soon, he was playing locally, collaborating with well-known Cuban musicians and touring with a group around the island.

You can read the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Eliades Ochoa’ documentarian Cynthia Biestek (03-25-19)

Positivation Films will be screening the documentary film Eliades Ochoa From Cuba To The World at The Ft. Myers Film Festival. The film tenderly narrates the story of Eliades Ochoa, one of the founding members of the Buena Vista Social Club, whose music left an indelible imprint on the international community’s perception of Cuba. The documentary was produced and directed by Positivation Films founder Cynthia Biestek.

While studying documentary film and video at New York University, Cynthia traveled to Cuba with a documentary workshop group, where she promptly fell in love with the vibrant culture, infectious music and friendly locals. Four documentaries, and counting, have been the product of that ongoing love affair:

See Cynthia’s filmography here.

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Combo of emotion and raw realism makes ‘CASHED’ compelling short film (03-25-19)

Among the short films being screened this year by the Fort Myers Film Festival is CASHED, a dark comedy written and produced by and starring Charlotte County native Serena Ryen (Modern Day Jesus and Grave Mysteries (2017)).

CASHED follows a young woman by the name of Jess as she struggles to find peace (and pot) among the unique challenges of life as a Millennial in a super-expensive and mega-stressful urban setting like Brooklyn, New York. After a rare night off from work to celebrate her 25th birthday, Jess wakes up late the next morning suffocating under the burden of debt (in the form of crushing student loans that loom over every ATM withdrawal), regret (not only is job security a joke, but rent in the City is higher than anywhere else on the East Coast), and a desperate quest to take the edge off.

Notwithstanding the film’s title, don’t categorize CASHED as just another stoner-comedy. At it’s heart, the  film explores the deeper question of what drives us to “take the edge off” when we feel mentally and emotionally depleted – whether in the form of a glass (or bottle) of wine as soon as we hit the door at night, binging on chips or Netflix or, in the case of the film’s female anti-hero, cannabis.

“There may be an inclination to find humor in Jess’s desperate effort to scrape enough roaches together to roll a joint, but there is an overriding impulse to empathize with her life’s dilemma,” says Broadway World film critic Herbert Paine. “It’s this balance of emotion combined with raw realism that makes ‘CASHED’ such a fine and compelling film.” [Read the full Broadway World review here.]

And go here for the rest of this advance.

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Spotlight on ‘CASHED’ actor, screenwriter and filmmaker Serena Ryen (03-25-19)

Serena Ryen is a stage and film actor, screenwriter and filmmaker. In the latter capacity, she wrote, produced and starred in CASHED and, going forward, is committed to making art that inspires empathy and ignites questions.

Her theater credits include Cleopatra in Cleopatra: Adventure of a Princess (ArtSpot International Tour), Ms. Square/Mama Square in Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical (Playhouse on Park, CT), Ismene in Antigone (The Cincinnati Playhouse, OH), Sleeping Beauty in the world premiere of Disenchanted! A Musical Comedy (NJ Playwrights’ Contest), Martha Dobie in The Children’s Hour (Roundtable Theatre Lab, NYC), Mary/Belle in A Christmas Carol (The Cincinnati Playhouse, OH), Charlotte Corday in The Revolutionists (The Cincinnati Playhouse, OH), Maddie in High School Alien (The Cincinnatie Playhouse, OH), Michelle in the world premiere of K Comma Joseph (UP Theater Co., NYC) and Allison in the world premiere of Broken Wing (WorkShop Theater, NYC).

Here’s the rest of Serena’s profile.

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Spotlight on ‘CASHED’ director Ethan Itzkow (03-25-19)

Ethan Itzkow is a stage and film actor who recently ventured into the realm of indie film direction and production, with CASHED (2018) marking his directorial debut. The 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival will screen CASHED in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center as part of the “Unforgettable Shorts” block at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.

His theater credits include Chiron in Titus Andronicus (New York Shakespeare Exchange), Jacob/various other roles in Freedom Train (TheatreWorks USA national tour), Edmund in Shakespeare Brawl Crawl (Occupy Verona, NY), Robert Tudor in New York Renaissance Faire (Robin Flannagan, NYRF) and Jack in Into the Woods (Lee Strasberg Institute), among others.

Here’s the rest of Ethan’s profile.

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Spotlight on FMff poignant short film ‘Ready’ (03-25-19)

Among the short films juried into this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival is Ready, a riveting motion picture about Sylvia and Adam, a mother and son who live together on a sprawling but crumbling estate. Struggling with clinical depression, Sylvia can barely function, and it falls upon Adam to take care of both himself and his mother, including keeping track of her medication and making sure she takes the correct doses at the appropriate times. But through the black fog of her depression, Sylvia is clear about one thing. She must push her boy out of the nest before his chance at childhood is forever lost. We join them in the film as Sylvia creates one final, lasting memory for Adam to take with him. On their last night together before she releases him into the world, they stage a party to celebrate the end of their relationship.

Poignant and painful, the short is the creation of Melissa Farman, an accomplished actor who is best known for playing opposite Claire Danes in HBO’s award-winning Temple Grandin (she was Temple’s blind college roommate, Alice) and portraying Bristol Palin in the HBO telefilm Game Change (which starred Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris).

The film was screened earlier this season during September’s T.G.I.M. (Thank God for Indie Monday), for which WGCU producer/reporter John Davis, 96.9 FM radio personality and actor Jason Drew, Diva Diaries Stephanie Davis and SalusCare founder and director Marc Collins served as celebrity judges.

“I really, really enjoyed that film,” said John Davis. “I thought it was shot beautifully, the actors were amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the symbolism, such as the daisies signifying both innocence and death.”

Davis was struck by the way in which Farman blurred the line between little boy and caretaker (which gave impetus to Sylvia’s decision to finally let Adam go). He also liked how the viewer is led to believe the story is about the little boy leaving when, in actuality, it is as much about Sylvia’s departure from her tormented existence.

“I really liked it,” Davis concluded. “A Plus!”

“There was a beginning, middle and end,” touted Jason Drew. “It made you think. It made you feel. It raised a lot of questions on an emotional-psychological plane, things that made you go, ‘hmmm.’”

Read the rest of this advance here.

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Spotlight on ‘Ready’ filmmaker Melissa Farman (03-25-19)

Ready is Melissa Farman’s first film. With Ready, the SAG actor and neophyte filmmaker wanted to portray the women she knew as a child, whose sublimations inspired her own artistic sensibilities. She wrote, directed and produced the film after participating in writers’ rooms on the TV shows on which she appeared and shadowing directors such as Mary Harron, Mick Jackson and Jay Roach (to name a few), who encouraged her to develop her own material and execute her vision as a storyteller.

On the acting side, Melissa is best known for playing opposite Claire Danes in HBO’s award-winning Temple Grandin (she was Temple’s blind college roommate, Alice) and portraying Bristol Palin in the HBO telefilm Game Change (which starred Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris). You may have also seen her in Season 5 of Lost, where she played a young (and pregnant) Danielle Rousseau. Other credits include the television series Timeless (Irene Curie), an episode of NCIS: New Orleans (“If It Bleeds, It Leads,” 2016), thirteen episodes of the Western drama series Strange Empire (where she played Dr. Rebecca Blithely), the 2013 TV movie Call Me Crazy: A Five Film (she was Izzy), an episode of Elementary (“Dirty Laundry,” 2013), the 2012 TV movie The March Sisters at Christmas, Perception (Joan of Arc, 2012), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (“Trends with Benefits,” 2012), The Moth Diaries, NCIS (“Tell-All,” 2011) Law & Order: SVU (“Sugar,” 2009), Cold Case (“Witness Protection,” 2009) and the 2008 short film Love, Lies and the Internet.

For the rest of Melissa impressive resume and credentials, read here.

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Short film ‘Peggy’ proves it’s possible for a woman to be too damn perfect (03-25-19)

If you didn’t have the chance to attend the T.G.I.M. screenings on August 6, you missed a handful of really fine films, and kicking off Season 9 was a short film by Justin Miller about a woman named Peggy.

Peggy is hosting a birthday party for her little boy. But we don’t meet Peggy initially. Instead, we meet two guests as they are dressing for the party and wrapping a present for the birthday boy.

The backyard party is something out of Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Although it doesn’t have a narrow gauge railroad, Ferris wheel, carousel or petting zoo, it does have an immense bounce house and other features that none of the other parents have a chance of replicating when it comes time to stage parties for their own children. In fact, from the cake to balloons, the grounds reek of perfection and that earns Peggy the near-unanimous opprobrium of her friends, neighbors and even her husband, who echo a common refrain in their internal dialogue: “Fuck you, Peggy!”

Several guests have converted their contempt into passive-aggressive action by bringing along birthday gifts that Peggy is certain to abhor. One brings a dart gun, and Peggy’s own husband gives his son a brand new puppy which he hopes will drive his wife crazy by doing his business all over Peggy’s perfectly-kept house, much to her vexation and chagrin.

Go here for the rest of this review,

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Spotlight on ‘Peggy’ filmmaker Justin O’Neal Miller (03-25-19)

Justin O’Neal Miller is a filmmaker whose production credits include Peggy (short 2018, which he wrote, as well), Pisser (short 2017), The Roach (short 2017/writer), If We Are Apart (short 2016), Restitution (short 2013/writer) and A Lady Can Live Through Anything (short 2010/writer).

Peggy has enjoyed considerable film festival success since its premiere in October of 2018. Because viewers kept repeating “we want to see more of that,” he’s been transforming the short into a half-hour comedy series with the same cast.

The rest of Justin’s profile is here.

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Today is final day of Naples Festival of the Arts (03-24-19)

The 30th Annual Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts wraps up today on Fifth Avenue South. Last year, 230 artists from around the country were selected for their artistry and craftsmanship to exhibit in this show. Together, they brought an extensive variety of artworks ranging from original oils and acrylics on canvas, panel and galvanized aluminum to watercolors on paper, 2D and 3D mixed media collages, limited edition prints, photography, digital art, metal sculpture, wood carvings, ceramics, hand-crafted jewelry and fashion accessories, leather works, fine furniture and home decor items, and numerous great gift ideas. The fair takes place on Fifth Avenue South, which is cordoned off to vehicular traffic during the two-day show. That helps explain why the artists who responded to the surveys sent out by Sunshine Artist Magazine rated this as the #24 art festival in the country last year. For more information, please visit http://www.naplesart.org/content/downtown-naples-festival-arts-1.

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Hot Works’ second Naples Fine Art Show returns to Galleria March 30 & 31 (03-24-19)

Hot Works LLC is hosting the Naples Fine Art Show at the Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt on Saturday and Sunday, March  30 and 31. Hot Works emphasizes quality not quantity at its fine art shows, with Festival Director Patty Narozny focusing on originality, artist accessibility, cultural diversity and community enrichment. There is also a youth art competition and show to foster art education among aspiring young artists. The Galleria Shoppes at Vanderbilt is located at 2343 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples FL 34109.

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Hot Works’ Naples Fine Art Shows promise to be intimate, boutique affairs (03-24-18)

Hot Works LLC has announced that it will be holding two weekend art shows in Naples during the upcoming season. Both will be held at the Galleria Shoppes on Vanderbilt. The 1st Bi-Annual Naples Fine Art Show will took place on Saturday and Sunday, December 15 and 16. The second returns to the Galleria Shoppes on Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31, 2019.

The shows are organized and conducted as intimate, boutique affairs that feature original work by roughly 100 150 nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. Genres include painting (oil, acrylic and watercolor), drawing (pastels, colored pencil and pen-and-ink), photography, digital imagery, sculpture (metal and stone), clay, ceramics, wood working and carving, glass, fiber art (including batik and tapestry), art jewelry and more.

The size and arrangement of these shows encourages art lovers and collectors to engage the artists about their inspiration, process and what makes them unique within the highly-competitive realm of fine arts and fine crafts. But Executive Director Patty Narozny employs a number of other time-honored techniques to make Hot Works’ shows a positive experience both for participating artists and patrons.

First and foremost, she enlists a team of art professionals with more than 120 years of combined experience to judge the work of the hundreds of applicants who wish to participate in Hot Works’ shows. Narozny is choosey, and her interest goes well beyond digital images and paper applications. She visits many of her artists in their homes and studios to make sure that their work makes a contribution to the quality of her shows and a statement in the collections of the people who patronize them.

But Narozny also understands that most of the folks who come to her shows are far from experienced collectors. In fact, many are newbies – or have yet to take the plunge and buy their first artwork. They are still in the process of defining their tastes and have yet to figure out what they like and why is speaks to them. With that in mind, she builds variety into every Hot Works show.

Further, she and her team strive to ensure that the work presented covers a wide range of price points. There is art for every budget.

Last but not least, purchasers can buy with confidence. Because Narozny does her homework so meticulously, they know they’re not only getting an original work of art from a credentialed artist, they are getting value as well.

While the business side of the equation is serious work, attending a Hot Works show is a relaxing, casual experience. It’s like taking a leisurely stroll through a park filled with artwork. There’s no pressure to do anything more than look and envision what that great painting, photograph or sculpture might look like in your home or office. And if you need a little help in the latter category, all of the exhibiting artists are only too happy to bring one or more artworks to your house after hours so that you can see exactly what it looks like on your bookcase, floor or wall.

If you haven’t been to a Hot Works fine art show before, it’s a treat you deserve. For more information, please visit http://www.hotworks.org or email info@hotworks.org.

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Bonita Bay Masters takes place at The Promenade March 30 & 31 (03-24-19)

The Bonita Bay Masters Art Festival will be held at The Promenade in Bonita Bay on Saturday and Sunday, March 30 and 31. This location on SR 41 was at one time the host of The Bonita Springs National Art Festival. A boutique show produced by Boulderbrook Productions, this event is capped at 39 artists. The festival takes place from noon to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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Alliance’s next CHANGE course scheduled for March 30 & 31 (03-23-19)

The Alliance for the Arts CHANGE Program is offering its next class on March 30 and 31. Titled “Acting Social Workshop – What Is Your Mask?,” the 2-day course explores through a lens of diverse identities how society connects who we are and how we were raised with our economic status and contributions.

Students will utilize the arts and social discourse to explore ways to articulate and express identity. The workshop promises to foster an appreciation of the common and unique experiences that shape our character, our personality, our distinctiveness and the essence of our identity.

As part of the course, facilitators Jarrett Eady, Jonathan Harrison, Derek Lively, Sonya McCarter and Stephen Hooper will have students view a performance introducing the theme. Students will then participate in a group exercise and group discussion exploring race, stereotyping and privilege. With guidance from the facilitators, the participants will thereafter collaborate to create an artistic demonstration of their exploration of identity. Family and friends will be invited to attend the demonstration on the second day of the workshop and participate in the talkback activity. (Talkbacks allow the audience to ask questions and express their thoughts and ideas on issues revealed in a work of art or performance through the form of meaningful discussion.)

The class will be taught at the Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919. Saturday workshop hours are 1:00-4:00 p.m.. Sunday hours are 1:00-3:30 p.m. with the performance and talk-back beginning at 2:30 p.m. The cost is $20 for Alliance members or $25 for future members. The performance is free to attend.

Registration is required and can be completed online at ArtInLee.org/Education or by calling 239-939-2787.

The CHANGE Program (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) provides performance opportunities and a platform to convene dialogue on social issues that challenge our community through creative, artistic expression. This project is supported in part by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the Florida Humanities Council. For more information on this program, visit ArtInLee.org/CHANGE.

Later this year, the CHANGE Program will offer an Acting Intensive and Playwriting class.

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Meet the CHANGE ‘What is Your Mask’ workshop facilitators (03-23-19)

The Alliance for the Arts CHANGE Program is offering its next class on March 30 and 31. Titled “Acting Social Workshop – What Is Your Mask?,” the 2-day course explores how society connects who we are and how we were raised with our experiences, economic status and contributions through a lens of diverse identities.

The course will be taught by these five facilitators:

Jarrett Eady: Jarrett is a fourth generation resident of Fort Myers and an alumnus of Fort Myers High School. He attended Florida State University, where he majored in Political Science with minors in History, Urban Regional Planning and Black Studies. He currently serves as Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the School District of Lee County and has served as a Professional Development and Leadership Specialist, 9-12 Social Content Lead and District Director of the Advancement via Individual Determination Program with the School District of Lee County’s Department of Curriculum and Staff Development. Jarrett’s community and civic involvement in Southwest Florida includes serving as the President of the National Pan-Hellenic Council of Southwest Florida, as the Chairman of the Lee County Black History Society and Williams Academy Black History Museum, and as the Parliamentarian of the Xi Omicron Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

Jonathan Harrison: Jonathan is an adjunct Professor in Sociology at Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University whose PhD was in the field of racism and anti-Semitism. Dr. Jonathan Harrison has devoted his career to studying and teaching on the topics of gender identity, sexual orientation, world religions and sociology of diversity. In 2006, he moved to Florida from the United Kingdom. He teaches sociology in the Liberal Arts program while researching race, gender identity, sexual orientation and world dance. In the summer of 2015, his research paper on African American history in Fort Myers was published in the Florida Historical Quarterly. Harrison has also appeared on WGCU Gulf Coast Live and in the Fort Myers News-Press to discuss his research.

Derek Lively: Derek is professional actor and has appeared in productions ranging from Shakespeare to Eugene O’Neill and has worked in regional theaters and Off-Broadway, including The Public Theater and LaMama E.T.C. His solo show, Welcome To My Soul, which he wrote and performed, led to a first-look development deal with NBC (Universal). He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA. Go here for more on Derek’s numerous credits and achievements.

Sonya McCarter: Sonya is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Alliance for the Arts as well as a director and actress. Her heart’s passion is to help facilitate engaging, compelling and meaningful theatre in Fort Myers that features strong African-American characters and stories. Sonya has appeared in television (Burn Notice), film (The Florida Project) and theatre. Her directing credits include: The Bluest Eye, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Seven Guitars and Raisin in the Sun. She holds two Master’s Degrees in Oral Interpretation of Speech and Theatre Arts.

Stephen E. Hooper: Stephen has been working in theater as an actor, director and producer for nearly 35 years. Favorite stage roles include Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men (Peninsula Players); Juror #2 in Twelve Angry Men (Florida Rep); and Mittler in Dispatches From Hell (Alliance for the Arts). Steve most recently directed Repossessed at the Alliance for the Arts and is a proud member of Theatre Conspiracy Playwrights. Read here for all of Stephen’s credits and achievements.

The CHANGE Program (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) provides performance opportunities and a platform to convene dialogue on social issues that challenge our community through creative, artistic expression. This project is supported in part by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and the Florida Humanities Council. For more information on this program, visit ArtInLee.org/CHANGE.

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‘Guys & Dolls’ on Broadway Palm main stage through March 30 (03-23-19)

Guys and Dolls is on the Broadway Palm main stage now through March 30.

The story revolves around Nathan Detroit, the ultimate gambling man and operator of “the world’s largest floating crap game.” He spends his days staying one step ahead of New York’s finest and evading marriage to his chorus girl fiancée of 14 years. Things really heat up when dashing, big time gambler Sky Masterson meets up with a refined Salvation Army girl Miss Sarah Brown. Masterson, who’ll bet on anything, gets talked into what appears to be an unwinnable bet involving the girl, setting up an unpredictable chain of hilarious events.

Guys and Dolls features one of the best musical scores in American theatre history with hits that include “Luck Be A Lady,” “I’ve Never Been In Love Before,” “Sue Me,” “A Bushel And A Peck” and more! The musical is the winner of eight Tony Awards, a New York Drama Critics Circle Award and a Grammy for Best Cast Album.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $45 to $70 with group prices available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting BroadwayPalm.com or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

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‘Mama Won’t Fly’ gives new meaning to road trip comedies (03-23-19)

The Off Broadway Palm Theatre is presenting Mama Won’t Fly playing now through April 28, 2019. Laugh your way across the USA with this ferociously funny comedy by the writers of The Savannah Sipping Society and The Hallelujah Girls.

A race against the clock begins when Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt agrees to get her feisty mother all the way from Alabama to California in time for her brother’s wedding. Savannah’s problem: MAMA WON’T FLY. With only four days to make it to the ceremony, this determined daughter has no choice but to drive cross-country with her equally willful mother, Norleen Sprunt, in Mama’s vintage sedan. As Savannah steels herself for this hastily conceived road trip, another outrageous complication arises: the bubbly, over-eager bride-to-be arrives unannounced. Delighted to finally meet her future in-laws, Hayley Quinn is convinced that travelling together to her wedding is the perfect way to bond. The folly of her decision quickly becomes apparent when the journey begins and comedic chaos ensues.

The rest of this advance is here.

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Comedy team of Galyean, Schulte and Pandow make ‘Mama Won’t Fly’ special (03-23-19)

On stage through April 28 in the Off-Broadway Palm is Mama Won’t Fly, a female road trip comedy by the writers of The Savannah Sipping Society and The Hallelujah Girls.

So here’s what’s going on. Mama’s son is getting married on a beach in sunny California. Mama and her daughter, Savannah, live in Alabama (roll Tide!) but, to Savannah’s shock and consternation, Mama won’t get on the Boeing 737 Max (okay, I ad libbed this one) that Savannah’s booked seats on and insists they’ll have to drive to California in her vintage and recently-repaired Buick sedan. At the last minute, Mama’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law/Savannah’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, Hayley, shows up to accompany her new in-laws to the wedding. And the road trip from hell is on.

There’s no getting around the fact that the premise and script for this show are highly contrived. Most of the unscheduled stops that Mama, Savannah and Hayley make en route to the latter’s nuptials test the bounds of credulity, but hey, Mama Won’t Fly is a farce in the tradition of The Lucille Ball Show, National Lampoon Vacation and Little Miss Sunshine. But even if you’re not a fan of the farce, there’s more than ridiculous situational comedy, a trunkful of lame laughs and the cozy confines of the Off Broadway theater to warrant an afternoon or evening of your time.

Such as the performances of Dena Galyean as Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt, Donna Schulte as Mama Norleen Sprunt and Katie Pankow as Haley Quinn.

Please go here for the rest of this review.

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Spotlight on ‘Mama Won’t Fly’ actor Dena Galyean (03-23-19)

The incomparable Dena Galyean is Savannah Sprunt Fairchild Honeycutt in Mama Won’t Fly. This beleaguered character must contend with a cantankerous mom and her maddingly bubbly soon-to-be sister-in-law as they race across the country for Haley’s impending nuptials, overcoming one inconceivable mishap after another. Dena Galyean is one of the hardest working thespians in all of Southwest Florida. And she always seems to land fascinating roles. Among her most recent – and memorable – are Susan B. Anthony in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of The Agitators, Nora Helmer in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House (also for Theatre Conspiracy) and Stella Kowalski in The Studio Players’ production of Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire at the Golden Gate Community Center.

Read here for the rest of Dena’s profile.

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Spotlight on ‘Mama Won’t Fly’ actor Katie Pankow (03-23-19)

Katie Pankow stars in Off Broadway Palm’s production of the hysterical comedy Mama Won’t Fly. She plays bride-to-be Hayley Quinn, who makes the questionable decision to meet her future in-laws by driving across country with her future mother and sister-in-law but anything that can go wrong does go wrong, and more. Katie Pankow is a talented actor who frequently performs locally. Her acting credits include Grounded and Swell Party for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts, and Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (December, 2018 at the Hippodrome State Theatre), Poppy Norton-Taylor in Noises Off (January 12-February 17, 2018), Belle (along with Mrs. Fezziwig, Martha Cratchit and many others ) in A Christmas Carol (December 8-29, 2017) ….

Read here for the rest of Katie’s profile.

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Spotlight on ‘Mama Won’t Fly’ actor ML Graham (03-23-19)

In the cast of Off-Broadway Palm’s Mama Won’t Fly is ML Graham. ML (Mary-Lisa) Graham is an equity actor and singer. She holds a BS in Creative Arts from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has performed as a classical and choral music soloist in a variety of theater, outdoor drama and cabaret shows, and as a cruise ship performer. (ML performed on the SS Constitution cruise ship while living in Hawaii.) Her local stage credits include …. [Read here for the rest of ML’s credits.]

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CFABS holding auditions for STAGE IT! 10-Minute Play Festival today (03-23-19)

The Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs is holding auditions today (March 23) for its third annual international playwriting competition, the STAGE IT! 10-Minute Play Festival.

The Festival features four performances of the top 10 plays from April 24-26 in the Moe Auditorium and coincides with the release of the CFABS’ published book of winners. There will be a plethora of roles for every age, race and type. Actors may be cast in multiple plays, giving them a chance to stretch into multiple roles and work with different directors.

Rehearsals are coordinated according to actors’ schedules with all plays coming together during the week prior to performances. Auditions will be cold readings from the scripts.

“Truly, it’s the best time you can have rehearsing a play and performing,” notes Film and Theatre Coordinator Frank Blocker. “Most acting classes consist of scene work presented at the end of class in front of your classmates. In this production, it’s the same time and work commitment, except the ‘final’ is four performances in front of live audiences that LOVE the 10-minute play format. We’ve built a great brand at CFABS with the short play format and hope you can come PLAY WITH US!”

The auditions are in the Moe Auditorium and Film Center, Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

All-cast rehearsals will take place on April 24 and 25, with performances on:

 

  • April 26, 7:00 p.m.
  • April 27, 2:00 p.m.
  • April 27, 7:00 p.m.
  • April 28, 2:00 p.m.

“Get your name in the book and be part of the history of Center for the Performing Arts Bonita Springs.”

For more information, please telephone 239-495-8989 or visit http://www.artcenterbonita.org.

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‘Ripcord’ on stage at Cultural Park Theatre through March 31 (03-23-19)

On stage now through March 31 at Cultural Park Theatre is David Lindsay-Abaire’s award-winning comedy Ripcord.

The play pitches four-year Bristol Place Assisted Living Facility resident Abby Binder against newcomer Marilyn Dunne. These feisty, willful women will do almost anything to get their own way.

During her tenure at Bristol Place, Abby has been the sole occupant of a double room – not because of low occupancy, but because she’s a bully and no one wants to live with her. But then Marilyn Dunne is assigned to her room, and it’s a fate worse than death. Dunne is a perky newcomer who inhales life and breathes out fairy dust. Positive and blessed with the gift of gab, she instantly rubs Abby the wrong way. “If I have to have someone in here, why can’t it be someone quiet?” she pleads with an orderly. “What about that woman without the voicebox? She seems nice.”

Try as she might, Abby cannot induce Marilyn to move out of “her” double. It’s not that Marilyn is stubborn. She actually likes Abby almost as much as she likes the view from Abby’s double room. The women appear to have reached an impasse when, suddenly, Abby comes up with a novel solution.

Marilyn claims that nothing makes her angry, while Abby says that she is never, ever scared. So the women make a little wager. If Abby can make Marilyn lose her temper, Marilyn has to move out. But if Marilyn frightens Abby first, she not only gets to stay, she gets Abby’s bed near the window with its lovely view of the park. It’s on like Donkey Kong as a wild and wooly game of one-upmanship quickly ensues.

For fans of the 1980’s sitcom The Golden Girls it’s easy to imagine the set-up for Ripcord. Just picture Rose and Dorothy making a bet to push each other to break from their respectively brave and cheerful personalities. Now imagine throwing the boundaries of 1980’s television out the window and you have Ripcord, David Lindsay-Abaire’s expertly-engineered situation comedy. The plot quickly escalates from funny to hilarious as Marilyn and Abby’s attempts at besting each other accelerate to increasingly disastrous outcomes in ways that are funny and unexpectedly relatable and heartwarming.

Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire had made a name for himself with more dramatic works including Good People and his Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit Hole. Before those more serious plays, Lindsay-Abaire was known for writing comedies including the hit Fuddy Meers about a day in the life of an amnesiac abducted by a mysterious stranger.

Lindsay-Abaire is a master of the set-up and punch line. You might be able to imagine where the plot is heading, but when the worst case scenarios actually occur, you still find yourself laughing in disbelief.

For tickets or more information, please call the box office at 239-772-5862.

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‘Million Dollar Quartet’ at Florida Rep through April 21 (03-23-19)

Broadway’s rock ‘n’ roll sensation Million Dollar Quartet is at Florida Rep. through April 21. The musical reprises a jam session that made music history in 1956. It occurred when Memphis record producer Sam Phillips brought four of his newest clients together to make music. That fab four consisted of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Million Dollar Quartet took Broadway by storm and provides an electrifying glimpse of the four legends before they became rock ‘n’ roll icons. The musical features over twenty rock ‘n’ roll hits, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire” and many more!

“This musical is like nothing the Arcade Theatre has ever seen,” maintains Artistic Director Greg Longenhagen. “Not only will the music blow the roof off of the Arcade, but the story is compelling. And looking at these four musicians at the start of their iconic careers is touching, funny, and extremely exciting. Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash changed the music industry, and I can’t wait for you to hear their story and their music.”

Florida Rep has assembled an A-list cast for the musical. Several of them are playing their roles for a fifth, sixth, and even the tenth time. Florida Rep ensemble member Brendan Powers (Hay Fever) returns this season as record producer Sam Phillips and is joined by Joe Boover as Elvis (Florida Rep debut), Gregg Hammer as Johnny Cash (Florida Rep debut), Jeremy Sevelovitz as Carl Perkins (Florida Rep debut), and Brady Wease as Jerry Lee Lewis (Shear Madness).

Also joining the cast are Julie Kavanagh as Dyanne (Too Marvelous for Words), Daniel Bailey playing bass (Florida Rep debut) and David Sonneborn on drums (Florida Rep debut).

Associate Artistic Director and ensemble member, Jason Parrish (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) directs, and is joined by Resident Set Designer Jordan Moore (Cabaret), ensemble Costume Designer Stephanie Genda (Cabaret), Lighting Designer Julie Duro (Twelve Angry Men), Sound Designer Katie Lowe (Damascus), Music Director David Sonneborn (Florida Rep debut) and Stage Manager Kathleen Barrett (Florida Rep debut).

Tickets are priced at $59 and $53 for regular performances but go up to $65 and $59 on March 12. Preview tickets are $35 and $29 and are selling out for the March 19-21 performances. A limited number of $25 Two-Day-Deal tickets are available 48-hours in advance of each performance by calling the box office at 239-332-4488.

Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. New this season, Florida Rep’s parking lot will open 2 hours before each performance and offers guests limited free parking across the street from the Arcade Theatre.

Florida Repertory Theatre performs in the Historic Arcade Theatre and the ArtStage Studio Theatre on Bay St. between Jackson & Hendry with limited free parking in the Fort Myers River District. Visit Florida Rep online at FloridaRep.org, and by following the company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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‘I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change’ looks at modern love in all its forms (03-23-19)

Opening March 28 at the FSW College Theatre is I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Written in 1996 by Joe DePietro, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was the second longest running show in the history of Off Broadway. Its theme is so universal that it has been translated into 17 foreign languages. Hilarious and insightful, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change pays tribute to those who have loved and lost, to those who have fallen on their face at the portal of romance, and to all those who dare ask, “Say, what are you doing Saturday night?”

The rest of this advance is here.

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Confronting blatant & institutional prejudice, ‘Andorra’ still relevant (sad to say) (03-23-19)

In honor of Holocaust remembrance month, The Laboratory Theater of Florida is producing the Southwest Florida premiere of Andorra by Max Frisch.

One of the most oft-produced plays in Europe, Andorra is a parable about racism and the poison of prejudice. Set in fictionalized Swiss-esque Andorra, Andri is adopted by a teacher and raised as a Jew alongside Can’s own daughter, Barblin. Throughout the play, Andri faces with blatant prejudice and complicit silence from his fellow townspeople. As he is assailed at every turn by a sense of his otherness, Andri eventually begins to internalize it. Told he is different, he begins to feel different from his neighbors. Eventually he comes to behave as they expect Jews to act.

Frisch’s message is twofold. The “other” is brought into being by society’s alienation, and their “attributes” are not an actuality but a fulfillment of expectations.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

‘Andorra’ play dates, times and ticket info

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Spotlight on ‘Andorra’ lead Steven Coe, who plays Andri (03-23-19)

Steven Coe will play the part of Andri in Lab Theater’s production of Max Frisch’s Andorra, which opens with a half-price preview on March 28. Actor Steven Coe is one of Southwest Florida’s hardest working actors. He has a reputation for placing himself in challenging roles and situations that build confidence. For example, while he was playing The Boy in Veronica’s Room for Lab Theater, he was also on the Murder Mystery Dinner Train over at the Seminole Gulf Railway.

You will find the rest of Steven Coe’s profile here.

 

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Spotlight on ‘Andorra’ actor Danica Murray (03-23-19)

Danica Murray will play the part of Barblin in Lab Theater’s production of Max Frisch’s Andorra, which opens with a half-price preview on March 28. Danica is a dual enrollment theater student at Florida SouthWestern State College. Murray characterizes herself as a comedic actor, but she fully embraces dramatic parts, such as Barblin in Lab Theater’s production of Max Frisch’s Andorra and Marie in FSW’s production of Brendan Pelsue’s futuristic dystopian drama Wellesley Girl.

This Spring, Murray will simultaneously earn both her high school diploma and Associates of Arts degree. But she’s already amassed an impressive resume, thanks in large measure to her participation in Florida Repertory Theatre’s Conservancy program.

Go here for the rest of Danica’s expanding resume.

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Spotlight on ‘Andorra’ dad and teacher, Rob Green (03-23-19)

Rob Green will play the part of Barblin’s dad and the Teacher in Lab Theater’s production of Max Frisch’s Andorra, which opens with a half-price preview on March 28. Since returning to the boards following a three-year hiatus, Rob has appeared as Gerald Halverson in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Murderers, the Archangel Gabriel in David Javerbaum’s An Act of God, the wheelchair-confined Queen of the Hollywood Melodrama Blanche Hudson in the outrageous Lab Theater summer spoof Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A Parody of the Horror and Burton in in Burn This. Prior to his acting hiatus, Rob was Hal Robinson in The Graduate, Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman and various roles in Miss Witherspoon, Polish Joke, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Picasso at The Lapin Agile. [Go here for more on Rob.]

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Amy and Jesse Hughes headline ‘Guys & Dolls’ cast (03-23-19)

Guys & Dolls in on stage through April 7 in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players Sugden Theatre. Amy Hughes and Jesse Hughes headline the large and talented cast of this masterful and unforgettable musical.

Amy and Jesse Hughes are remembered for notable performances as Marian and Harold Hill in TNP’s Music Man. In Guys & Dolls, the couple (who are married in real life) play Sarah Brown and Sky Masterson respectively.

TNP newcomer David Shaffer plays Nathan Detroit, with Jessica Walck (Sylvia, Chicago) portraying Miss Adelaide.

Reprising the successful and memorable TNP Guys & Dolls production from 15 years ago, Joseph Loiacono returns to perform again as Arvide Abernathy.

Jim Corsica is Nicely-Nicely Johnson. Bev Canell (oft referred to with the upmost admiration as “The General” within the walls of the Sugden Community Theatre) is reprising her unforgettable role as General Cartwright.

Completing the cast is Len Becker as Harry the Horse, Bob Patteri as Big Jule, Paul Lopresti as Lieutenant Brannigan, Jason Eugenides as Benny Southstreet, Evelyn Kasper as Agatha and Jack Weld as Rusty Charlie.

Ensemble members include Gaby Biagi, Mackenzie Black, Julia Cornwall, Sophia Costa, Adam Fasano, Frankie Federico, Jeremy Giovinazzo, Wiefta Jean, Kevin Kenneally, Elizabeth Marcantonio, Harry McCartney, Stephanie Nelson, Jack Norkeliunas, Ella Pflaumer, Thomas Richardson, Ryan Roberge, Logan Szittai, Sharon True, Perry Ventro, Lindsey Walsh and Elyse Yun.

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TNP & Garage Doors of Naples offer sensory-friendly ‘Guys & Dolls’ show (03-23-19)

The Naples Players (TNP) and Garage Doors of Naples are partnering on Tuesday, April 2 to present a special sensory-friendly performance of the American musical classic Guys & Dolls in Blackburn Hall. As sensory-friendly screenings become more common in local movie theaters and even on Broadway, The Naples Players is proud to participate in the national shift towards making it possible for individuals with special needs and their families to experience the same quality theater as everyone else.

What are sensory-friendly screenings, and why are they important?

For many people with special needs, sensory stimuli (including loud noises and strobe lights) are overwhelming and sometimes painful. “Some things just feel so intense,” explains Tina J. Richardson, a woman with autism. “I’m not over-reacting. My sensory processing is unique to me.”

In addition, many people with special needs cannot sit still for long periods of time. This also makes it difficult for them to attend traditional performances where moving around or making noise is prohibited and typically draws judgmental stares. However, the slight changes introduced in sensory-friendly performances can transform the theater into a place as welcoming, comfortable and non-threatening as their own home.

During sensory-friendly performances, the house lights remain on during the performance, sound is turned down, movement during the performance is not restricted, and the performance is capped at 50% capacity. In addition, audience members receive a guide to the show that tells them where there might be a sensory trigger, so they can prepare themselves in advance.

Special pricing for The Naples Players sensory-friendly performances helps make great theater affordable for families and is made possible through a grant from Suncoast Credit Union.

Considered one of the greatest musicals of all time, Guys & Dolls is filled with some of the most iconic show tunes that will put a spring in your step and a smile on your face. You’ll be reminded of just how much fun it is to see a revival of an American musical filled with such classic musical numbers as “Luck Be a Lady”, “A Bushel and a Peck”, “If I Were a Bell”, and “Marry the Man Today.”

Guys & Dolls runs through April 7, 2019 in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players at Sugden Theatre at 701 5th Avenue South in Naples. Tickets for the special one-night Sensory Friendly Performance on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 are $20 for adults, $10 for students/educators and are available at www.NaplesPlayers.orgor by contacting the Box Office at (239) 263-7990.

The Naples Players (TNP) Sugden Community Theatre is Naples’ oldest and premier theatre group and a vital part of the excitingexperience of Downtown Naples.

[NB: The extraordinary photos accompanying this advance are by Neubek Photography. For more on them, please visit https://neubek.com/about/ or telephone 617-519-7423.

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Final DAAS exhibit at Royal Palm Square close tomorrow with farewell party (03-22-19)

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts’ final exhibition at its Royal Palm location closes on March 23 with a 6:00 p.m. reception and farewell party. The even twill not only represent attendees last chance to enjoy DAAS’ Royal Palm location, but the collection it has been displaying all month of fine art illustrations by Tavo Quiros.

Quiros’ story is quite remarkable. In 2008, he developed severe psychotic symptoms which were ultimately diagnosed as a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder. His attendant inability to focus led to a three-year-long hiatus from his career in the arts. But after doctors managed to stabilize his condition in 2011, he began sketching, drawing, and ultimately-painting again. He started exhibiting his work at Gallery 212 in Miami a short time later, marking the beginning of his career in the world of Pop Surrealism and fine art illustration.

Tavo’s art is a reflection of the vivid hallucinations and hyper-spiritual delusions he experienced during his illness and his classical training in the arts prior 2008. Quiros attended OTIS College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, with a semester abroad spent in Rotterdam, Netherlands at the Willem de Kooning Academy. Dutch architecture, graphic design, illustration, and street art soon became sources of inspiration. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (focused on Illustration) and took on a variety of jobs as a graphic designer and illustrator until deciding to focus on gallery work.

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DAAS CO-OP moving to Butterfly Estates by March’s end (03-22-19)

DAAS CO-OP is moving to the Butterfly Estates at the end of March. The gallery will close its Royal Palm Square location with a farewell party and closing reception on Saturday, March 23.

”We can’t express how grateful we are to the administration of the Royal Palm Square for the years at this location,” comments DAAS founder and president David Acevedo. “It is a bittersweet feeling, but we feel like it’s the right move and we look forward to working with the good people of the Butterfly Estates.”

The move to the Butterfly Estates marks DAAS’ return to the River District after a seven year absence. Acevedo and Xavier Brignoni operated the transformative daas Gallery on Broadway in the River District from 2008 until 2012, when they banded together to form The Union Artist Studio on the campus of the Alliance for the Arts. As he had with Art Walk, Acevedo played an instrumental role in forming the SoCo Art & Cultural District after he and Brignoni opened DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts in the Royal Palm Square.

“Everyone is invited to attend [the farewell party and closing reception] and get information about the new space,” Acevedo adds.

The new location is located at 1815-3 Fowler Street and will open on Tuesday, April 2, to be followed by the gallery’s first official opening reception on Friday, April 5 in conjunction with the Fort Myers Art Walk. More information is available on the gallery’s website at daascoop.com.

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DAAS CO-OP announces group show for first Butterfly Estates exhibition (03-22-19)

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts’ first exhibit at its new location at The Butterfly Estates is a group show appropriately entitled “A New Beginning.” It features the art of gallery members, some of whom have been a part of the project since it opened its doors in 2016 at DAAS’ former location. The opening reception is Friday, April 5 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. The exhibition will be on display from April 2 to 27, 2019.

This event marks the third year of business for this cooperative gallery. In April of 2016, visual artists David Acevedo and Xavier Brignoni founded the DAAS CO-OP in an effort to provide local artists a space where they could work as a team in a cooperative system. Since its inception, the gallery has won two awards and established itself as one of the main artistic venues of southwest Florida.

“We had great years at the [former] location, but we feel like we belong here in now [in the Butterfly Estates],” says Acevedo, who sees the Gardner’s Park location (as the area is called) as an up-and-coming section of town.

“As a cultural venue, we try our best to present our locally-made inventory in the most appealing way possible, thus representing the artistic community of Southwest Florida in the best way possible,” adds Acevedo, who directs and curates all the exhibitions for the space.

DAAS CO-OP original space at Royal Palm Square had 2,400-square-feet of floor space, which allowed for ample ways to showcase the artworks, conduct classes, parties, etc. Even though the gallery’s new location is smaller at slightly over 1,500 squrare feet, the membership of the gallery is thrilled with the move.

“We will adjust and adapt; that is what we’ve always done,” says co-owner and visual artist Xavier Brignoni. “We will have the same quality product and amazing displays, as well as all the exciting exhibitions and events. The space will not be a limitation to what we will accomplish.”

The new DAAS CO-OP is located at 1815 Fowler Street, Unit 3, in Fort Myers, FL (inside the Butterfly Estates campus). New business hours are Tuesday to Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The gallery will open to the public on the first Sunday of every month from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

More information can be found at daascoop.com or by calling 239-590-8645.

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Davis Art Center looking for ‘Tesla vs. Edison’ artists (03-22-19)

The Davis has issued a call for artists for its June juried exhibition. AC vs. DC: Tesla vs. Edison asks artists to use these two historic inventors to create original works of art inspired by their era, discoveries, interests, characters, legacies and, of course, their legendary rivalry. Spark an interest in the onlooker with pieces that offer a unique perspective on these powerful and innovative figures and the way their ideas and personas drastically changed the world. Recall the age of invention in the turn-of-the-century style exhibition! Merge technology and art. Submit by May 11th.

 

 

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