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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news March 8-14, 2020


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




Naples Players suspending ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ and Future Productions

The Naples Players has announced the postponement of Bye Bye Birdie performances beginning March 17.

“As you may know, The Naples Players relies on more than 650 local volunteers to run our performances; and we want to make sure that everyone in our community has the option to opt-out of crowds – including our volunteer performers, crew, ushers, etc.,” states TNP CEO & Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander, who notes that TNP could lose more than $300,000 in the next few weeks from Bye Bye Birdie alone if every audience member requests a refund.

Patrons will have the opportunity to request a refund without any questions asked; but will also have the opportunity to donate their seats to the theatre as a tax deductible donation.

‘To best serve you, we ask that you only call for a refund or a tax receipt in the week of your scheduled performance date,” adds Alexander, who also requests patrons to allow several weeks for refunds and donations to be processed.

The Naples Players will evaluate when performances can resume on a weekly basis.

“Thankfully, because of your generosity and support over the past few years, The Naples Players is capable of shutting its doors without the fear of never re-opening,” add Alexander, who acknowledges that others may not be so fortunate.

“We know this decision will have an impact on the financial well-being of our friends and neighbors on Fifth Avenue, and could put pressure on the decisions of other organizations that can’t afford such an interruption. We ask you to be patient with them, with us, and with each other.”

Nor will TNP be issuing advances or  announcements about the status of future productions.

“Like all of you, we will take this one week at a time. [But cognizant] of the generous spirit of our small town, I have every confidence in knowing that we can all work together to help keep our families safe, our businesses sustainable, and our integrity intact.”



Hot Works announces postponement of 3rd Annual Naples Art Show

Hot Works LLC has announced the postponement of the 3rd Naples Fine Art Show, originally scheduled for March 28 & 29 at the Naples Italian-American Club. “I’m very sorry for any inconvenience,” writes Festival Director Patty Narozny in making the announcement. “We did our best to keep the show, but this is beyond everyone’s control.”

There exists the possibility that the show could be rescheduled for the weekend of April 11 & 12 (which is Easter weekend) if it is safe to resume for public events by that date. “Otherwise, the show will be rescheduled at another time and will let you know at that time.”



Naples Artcrafters Fine Art and Craft Show has been cancelled 

The Naples Daily News reports that the Naples Artcrafters Fine Art & Craft Show scheduled for Saturday, March 14 in Fleischmann Park has been cancelled as a precaution due to COVID-19. While no notice of cancellation appears as of 7:30 p.m. on March 13 on the Naples Artcrafters’ website or Facebook timeline, the cancellation has been confirmed by the City of Naples – Government social media site.



FGCU’s Bower School of Music & Arts cancelling public events beginning March 15

The Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University has cancelled all public events through the end of March in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19/Coronavirus. This includes the opening reception and awards ceremony for the 22nd Annual Student Juried Exhibition that was scheduled to take place in the Wasmer Gallery at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. However, the gallery will remain open and the public can view the exhibition between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday from March 20 through April 2.

In related news, the Board of Governors directed FGCU yesterday to convert classes to a remote instruction format for a period of two weeks beginning on Sunday, March 15, and students living on campus have been encouraged to go home during that time to continue their classes.

“This is a fluid situation, so please check our website at for the latest information,” FGCU Events Coordinator Joanna Hoch recommends. “We will also be sending out email updates with new information as it becomes available.”

Ms. Hoch invites those with questions about cancellations, refunds and possible rescheduling to contact her at



Runnells summarizes precautionary measures being implemented by area theaters

“They’re breaking out the hand sanitizer and doubling up on bathroom soap,” writes News-Press Arts &
Entertainment correspondent Charles Runnells in an article published March 12. “They’re urging sick employees and customers to stay home. They’re using scanners to check in theater tickets — or just looking at the ticket instead of actually touching it. And some local venues are going even further when it comes to protecting people from the new coronavirus and COVID-19.”

Go here to read the precise steps that are being taken to protect patrons, performers, staff and volunteers from exposure to COVID-19/Coronavirus by the Alliance for the Arts, Artis-Naples, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, Cultural Park Theater, Florida Repertory Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and Southwest Florida Event Center.



Davis Art Center implements precautionary measures to protect guests and staff

Jim Griffith and Florida Arts has announced that in spite of the threats posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center will continue its programming as scheduled. However, they are implementing precautionary measures to protect patrons, guests, students, performers and team members, including

  • providing additional hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes throughout the building, particularly in high traffic areas;
  • routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, including doorknobs, handrails, and elevator keypads; and
  • exchanging tickets for a future performance so that anyone who feels ill or may be at increased risk will be encouraged to remain at home.

“The Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center is committed to the health and safety of our audience,” states Jim Griffith. “We are closely monitoring the development of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and are seeking updates from the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Health, and the State of Florida.”

You may contact the Ticket Office by phone at 239.333.1933 if you need to exchange tickets for an upcoming performance. Please note that tickets may also be returned for a tax-deductible donation.



Museum of Art and Design at Freedom Tower closed due to Corona concerns

In an abundance of caution and following recommendations from the Governor of Florida, Miami Dade College has cancelled all of its cultural events. Accordingly, the MDC Special Collections and the Museum of Art and Design at Freedom Tower (which are part of Miami Dade College) are closed until further notice. MDC and MOAD are closely monitoring the outbreak and coordinating efforts with the appropriate state and local authorities in alignment with other educational institutions in the region. Please visit MDC’s information and resource page and check back frequently.

Located in Miami’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, the Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at MDC offers groundbreaking exhibitions and programs that aim to foster a reimagined Miami. Exploring the challenges and opportunities we face locally and globally, MOAD convenes artists, designers, and thinkers to address the urgent questions of our time. As the flagship museum of Miami Dade College, MOAD strives to be a catalyst for action and a place that empowers people to remake their city. MOAD follows the College’s lead in operating across Miami with its Museum Without Boundaries initiative, which takes place in city neighborhoods and invites everyone to be a part of the conversation.





Submission date for ‘Art Lives Here’ billboard campaign is March 15

The Alliance for the Arts has issued a call to Alliance member artists in Lee County to submit their work for the Art Lives Here campaign, which transforms billboard space into public art. Selected artwork will be displayed on billboards throughout Lee County. All Alliance member artists residing in Lee County are encouraged to submit.

An entry may consist of 1 to 3 artworks. There is a non-refundable entry fee of $20 for one entry and $35 for 2 or 3 entries. You may become a member to submit. Alliance for the Arts memberships are $55 and are good for one year.

All entries must be submitted online no later than March 15, 2020. Artists can download the prospectus and submit their work online at Not all submissions receive a billboard.

Art Lives Here is made possible by Alliance season sponsor Carter Outdoor.

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



Alliance announces 34th Annual All Florida winners

The Alliance for the Arts announced winners last Friday night at the opening of its 34th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibit. Thomas Roth was awarded $1,000 Best in Show for LS1. Taylord Dezeme won a $250 Golden Colors Gift Certificate for 2nd Place A Slice of Life and Joel Shapses won $100 for 3rd place on Fantasia. Richard Stanton was awarded the Juror’s Choice Award for Deco Beach.

Prominent and emerging Florida artists submitted more than 500 pieces for consideration by juror Amanda Poss. From these, she chose 60 for inclusion in the prestigious show.

Besides Roth, Dezeme and Shapses, the other artists who Poss juried into the show are:

Eileen Amster,

Cynthia Barbanera-Wedel,

David Belling,

Della Boynton,

Mila Bridger,

Stephen Bufter,

Deborah Butler,

Marcy Calkins,

Dennis Church,

Carol Coates,

Steve Conley,

Michael Danley,

Taylord Dezeme,

Kathleen Durdin,

Sharon Eng,

Alejandro Estrada,

Stacey Fletcher,

Muffy Clark Gill,

Kristin Herzog,

Del Holt,

Priscilla Jeffcoat,

Pamela Jones,

Jay Lana,

JoAnn LaPadula,

Jean Mau,

Dave McFarlane,

John Merchant,

Kellen Mills,

Lucy Nesheim,

Gregory Presley,

Whit Robbins,

Roy Rodriguez,

Sherry Rohl,

Thomas Roth,

Rita Schwab,

Cree Scudder,

Joel Shapses,

Dale Smith,

Paul Stackpole,

Richard Stanton,

Erin Stein,

Grayson Stoff,

Daniel Venditti,

Christina Wyatt,

Barbara Yeomans and

Peter Zell.

Sponsored by Family Thrift Center, the exhibit runs through March 28.  For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit

Maria Collier’s work will be on display in the Member Gallery, with photography by Katy Danca in the Theatre Lobby.

The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33919.



Spotlight on 34th Annual All Florida Exhibition juror Amanda Poss

The 34th All Florida Juried Exhibition opened in the main gallery at the Alliance for the Arts on Friday, March 6. Prominent and emerging artists  from across the state submitted more than 500 works for consideration by this year’s juror Amanda Poss, who winnowed the field to the 60 pieces she juried into the show. In addition, she selected Thomas Roth as Best in Show, Taylord Dezeme’s A Slice of Life for 2nd Place and Joel Shapses’ sculpture Fantasia in 3rd Place. Richard Stanton was awarded the Juror’s Choice Award for Deco Beach.

Poss received her MA in Art History from the University of South Florida in 2015 specializing in Modern and Contemporary Art, and a BA from the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2011. Poss currently holds the position of Gallery Director at Gallery221@Hillsborough Community College Dale Mabry campus, where she also manages the Public Art Program, Grounds4Art@HCC, and oversees a growing Permanent Art Collection.

Amanda is the former Gallery Director at Blake High School, where she organized and curated exhibits from 2015–2017. Poss has also held positions at the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa as a Gallery Assistant, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tampa, and Adjunct Professor at Hillsborough Community College.

Sponsored by Family Thrift Center, the exhibit runs through March 28.  For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit



Considering Taylord Dezemes Dance Monkey ‘Slice of Life’

Taking 2nd Place honors in this year’s Alliance for the Arts All Florida Juried Exhibition is Taylord Dezeme’s A Slice of Life. The oil-on-canvas painting is a rich colorful surrealist composition filled with metaphorical images, symbols and musical references that viewers are free to interpret in a multitude of ways. But the horns, violins and staveless musical notes do invite a consideration of the expectations that are placed on musical and other performers by the patrons and fans with whom they intersect.

  • They say oh my god I see the way you shine
  • Take your hand, my dear, and place them both in mine
  • You know you stopped me dead when I was passing by
  • And now I beg to see you dance just one more time

Intentionally or unintentionally, patrons and fans place expectations on all performers. For some, the expectations prompt them to surpass their self-imposed limitations and achieve better and better results. But others are simply unable to meet or exceed the expectations raised by their own greatness. Michael Jackson is a poignant example, as are the Beatles. In small clubs like the Cavern, the Beatles created an extraordinary rapport with their fans through the raw energy they produced on stage. As the venues got bigger, this intimacy dissipated. They became increasing remote figures producing a sound so poor that it was often difficult to distinguish one song from another. And the  screaming made it all but impossible for them to hear, never mind harmonize with each other.

  • So I say
  • Dance for me, dance for me, dance for me, oh, oh, oh
  • I’ve never seen anybody do the things you do before
  • They say move for me, move for me, move for me, ay, ay, ay
  • And when you’re done I’ll make you do it all again

It’s unlikely that Taylord Dezeme intended to invoke Australian singer/songwriter Tones and I in his painting. But then again, he incorporated the words “Dance Monkey Dance” into the composition. While Tones’ wrote “Dance Monkey” in order to process a particularly meager slice of life she endured one day, the song has potentially given her the whole pie! To date, “Dance Monkey” has been streamed a billion times, racking up 50 million streams in China in one week alone. It has topped the singles charts in over 30 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – and peaked within the top ten in many other European and Asian countries. In the U.S., it made it all the way to number seven on the Billboard Hot 100.

The sudden rise to fame has its challenges, admits Tones, who was living in her van at the time she wrote the song. “It’s really crazy. I don’t know how to deal with it. But I just turn my phone off and hang out with my friends and then it’s all fine.”

  • Just like a monkey I’ve been dancing my whole life
  • And you just beg to see me dance just one more time
  • Ooh I see you, see you, see you every time
  • And oh my I, I like your style
  • You, you make me, make me, make me wanna cry
  • And now I beg to see you dance just one more time

Of course, it’s unclear whether the “Dance Monkey Dance” phrase in A Slice of Life is a reference to Tones and I’s record-breaking single or the expectations people place on artists, musicians and other performers to repeat past work rather than reinvent themselves and their chosen genres. And while the comparison may be warranted and is certainly complimentary, there’s much more content to fathom and divine in Dezene’s 2nd place painting. Like a Dali or, locally, a Marcus Jansen, the longer you stare and study, the more you see. So take a trip down to the Alliance for the Arts. A Slice of Life and 59 equally meaningful and entertaining artworks await your inspection.

The exhibition runs through March 28.



Spotlight on All Florida Juried Exhibition fine art photographer Dennis Church

Included in the Alliance for the Arts 34th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition are two images by award-winning fine art photographer Dennis Church. The first is View from Broadway and the other is titled North Fort Myers ….

Approaching the world around him with a subjective eye and stepping back from traditional realism, Dennis Church explores the world of what we do not see in the traditional landscape. Using color and shape, he improvises thoughtful images that are simultaneously simple and complex, challenging yet peaceful, and which ultimately offer the viewer a satisfying view that reflects the beauty and grace so often overlooked in the mundane world around us. He calls this body of work AMERICCOLOR, and through it, Church seeks to bring order to the visual confusion all around us.

North Fort Myers …. is a case in point. This classic Church composition seeks to impose order on a scene of visual confusion.

“Each day we move through a barrage of visual information that results in a cacophony of architecture, advertising, nature, color, and cultural symbols – all creating a landscape that is often chaotic and mind-numbing,” Dennis has said of similar and related images.

Tinkering with, and often dismantling single-point perspective, Church creates planar and semi-planar documentary style pictures of ordinary and overlooked views in the lineage of Evans-Eggleston.

“Sometimes it is the challenge of ‘how many balls one can juggle’ in the picture frame and create a picture that works,” Dennis says of North Fort Myers … in particular. “Also, my interest may be intrigued by simple echoing color harmonies and/or jarring harmonic discord, even in the same picture. My intent is akin to improvising music, pictures that are to be felt, ‘listened’ to. This practice, infinite in the creative possibilities of the viewfinders’ rectangle, keeps me in the present moment, an engaging perceptual practice that I find enduringly exciting and satisfying.”

Church’s fine art photographs have been exhibited in a number of galleries in the United States, and has been featured in many online and hard copy publications in the USA and Europe (including Wonder Magazine, Moscow, Fine Art Photographer, Prague, Image in Progress, Rome, Lens Culture and Lenscratch, Paris, The Oxford American and The Southern Photographer in the USA).

The Alliance for the Arts’ 34th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition is on view in the main gallery through March 28. The Alliance is located at 10091 McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers, just south of the intersection of Colonial and McGregor Boulevards.

And go here for more on Dennis and his art.



Maria Ramona Sanchez is DAAS CO-OP’s featured artist for March

In the month of March, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts will feature the whimsical works of Maria Ramona Sanchez. The exhibition is a collection of surrealist pieces created within recent years. The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, March 6, 2020 from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. in conjunction with the monthly Fort Myers Art Walk event. The pieces will be on display through March 28, 2020.

Maria Ramona Sanchez  is a self-taught artist whose medium is oil on wood, canvas and handmade paper.

“The moon lives in its secular cycles and rhythms,” says of her motifs.” Creatures of diverse origin flow with it in a cosmic dance. With its intangible light fills hearts with magic.”

Painting is a deep and integral part of this artist’s life.

“It is a perceptual adventure, and my most pleasing support whenever giving or receiving anything. My paintings and their inhabitants come without effort, sometimes surprised to find themselves in them. And they arrive with a mission: that of populating the universe with beauty, love and a serene happiness.”

Sanchez’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Latin America, the United States and Europe. She has also participated in important art fairs (Chicago, Art Miami, Art Santa Fe, Red Dot Art) and museum exhibitions (MOLA, Long Beach, Santa Fe Museum of History in New Mexico, Naples Museum of Art and National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba). Many of her paintings are part of important private collections worldwide. She has also rendered big format works that are part of public and private places.

Sanchez has also illustrated books for children and youngsters (Scholastic/Lectorum in US and Everest, Spain).

Maria Ramona Sanchez  was born in Havana, Cuba in 1952. She graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in Spanish Literature. She currently lives and works in Southwest Florida.

DAAS CO-OP is located at 1815 Fowler Street, Unit 3, in Fort Myers, FL 33901. Business hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

More information about gallery and/or how to become a member can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



‘Beatriz Monteavaro: Vacation’ at Bob Rauschenberg Gallery through March 28

Beatriz Monteavaro: Vacation is on view at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida SouthWestern State College through March 28. The show presents a survey of drawings, designs for concert flyers and comics/zines, and large-scale art objects that Beatriz Monteavaro has created over more than two decades.

This immersive installation takes its title from the 1982  Billboard Top 10-charting single and RIAA Gold-certified studio album of the same name by the seminal “all-female” Punk/New Wave group, The Go-Go’s.  The heroines of several adventurous and densely-drawn narratives included in the exhibition, The Go-Go’s are recurring characters in the work of Beatriz Monteavaro and provided early inspiration for the artist and four of her teenage friends to pay tribute to the band by dressing-up as the band for a Halloween show in the 1980s. Fulfilling a childhood dream and literally coaxing one frequent subject of Monteavaro’s art to life, the Rauschenberg Gallery is pleased to welcome The Go-Go’s co-founder Jane Wiedlin during the reception for this one-night-only “in-person” appearance.

Cuban-born, Beatriz Monteavaro received a BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Her art has been influenced by monster movies, science fiction, Disneyworld (especially it’s themed Adventureland area, a midcentury representation of Africa, Asia, Polynesia, and The Caribbean), and music scenes including the 1970’s English punk and the Miami underground surrounding Churchill’s Pub, which she has been a part of since 1991. Her work has been exhibited in venues such as Annina Nosei Gallery, New York; Miami Art Museum, Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; NFA Space, Chicago; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C; Tent, Rotterdam; Galerie Edward Mitterrand, Geneva; Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris; The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum at FIU, Miami, among others.

She has had solo exhibitions at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles; Derek Eller Gallery, NYC; Galerie Sultana, Paris; Locust Projects, Miami; Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami; Emerson Dorsch Gallery, Miami; The University Galleries at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, The Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, FL; and CUNSTHAUS, Tampa, FL.

Her work has been reviewed and featured in Flash Art, ArtUS, ArtNews and Art Papers.

Monteavaro plays drums for SAAVIK and is one half of the band Holly Hunt. She has a solo sound project called Ellen Ripley. Monteavaro works at a record store, which she considers part of her practice.  The artist lives and works in Miami.

For additional information, please telephone 239-489-9313 or visit The Bob Rauschenberg Gallery  is located on the Fort Myers campus of Florida SouthWestern State College at 8099 College Pkwy, Fort Myers, FL 33919.



Naples Art will be ‘Daydreaming’ in April and May

Daydreams: Fantastical Wanderings of the Brain will be exhibited by Naples Art in Gallery 104 between April 7 and May 26, 2020. The possibilities are endless when artists use daydreams as their inspiration. Mind wandering, fantasy and spontaneous thoughts all lend themselves to some very creative artwork. If you’d like to participate in this show, then please deliver one exhibit-ready artwork on March 30, 2020 between 12 noon and 4:00 p.m.



3       Outdoor Art Fairs and Festivals


Today is finale of Bonita Springs National Art Festival 

The third and final installment of the 2020 Bonita Springs National Art Festival concludes today at Riverside Park. Like its January and February editions, this festival places a heavy emphasis on quality and originality, with the more than 200 artists juried into the show from across the United States, Canada, South America and even Europe exhibiting and selling original paintings, drawings, pastels, photography, handcrafted jewelry, clay works and ceramics, glass art, metal sculpture and more. Together with the festivals held in January and March, this show is a major fundraiser for the Center of the Arts of Bonita Springs.



Art League of Marco Fine Craft Fair ends today

acrylicThe Art League of Marco Island Fine Craft Fair also wraps up today. This fair is held at 1010 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island, Florida 34145, which is toward the southern pastelend of the island. This craft fair provides browsers and art enthusiasts with some of the region’s best original artwork, including paintings, watercolors, photography and digital art, ceramics, pottery, glass, clothing, children’s clothing, jewelry and mixed media work.



Art & Design Expo, 3rd Saturday Art Alive take place in Naples Art District Marcy 19-22

“Art & Design Expo” takes place in the Naples Art District Thursday, March 19 through Sunday, March 22. NAD’s 3rd Saturday Art Alive Open Artist Studios will take place coextensively from 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 21 & 22, as well. As an added bonus, Art Alive will feature “Watch Original Art in the Making,” with area artists offering live demonstrations and special opportunities to purchase the original art created during the Expo. The Expo provides a unique opportunity to visit neighboring designers and home decor showrooms to discover the latest design trends. These events are open to all; no registration required! For more information, please visit or call 239.247.1977.



4.      FILM


BIFF 5 announces winners in 10 indie film categories

The 5th Annual Bonita Springs International Film Festival wrapped up Sunday night with the announcement of winners in ten categories:

Kids Shortz:  Oh, The Places You’ve Been, a 9-minute film in which a specific demographic travels to new places and old via VR; produced by Lighthouse Studios.

Florida Youth:  Reserved, a 6-minute film about connection and familiarity in spite of the difficulties life throws at us; directed by Hannah Cheesman.

Florida Adult: My Father’s Fabulous Funeral, a quirky 15-minute comedy about a dysfunctional family struggling to give their oddball father a fitting funeral despite the difficulties presented by their obnoxious stepmother; directed by Mark Stolzenberg and produced by Mark Schulman, Judy Copeland, Mark Stolzenberg and Eric H. Alexander.

You will find the rest of the winners here.



Taika Waititi’s dramedy ‘JoJo Rabbit’ wins BIFF Tom Falciglia People’s Choice Award

The Tom Falciglia People’s Choice Award at this year’s Bonita Beach International Film Festival went to JoJo Rabbit.

JoJo Rabbit is a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

Go here for the rest of this post.



James Cotton’s ‘Tiger Claw’ wins BIFF’s Best Short Narrative award

Taking Short Narrative honors at this year’s Bonita Beach International Film Festival was James Cotton’s kung fu action film Tiger Claw, in which some low-level criminals are callin’ for a maulin’.

The short features a trio of kung fu enthusiasts who are on their way to a regional tournament when they witness a small-scale jewelry heist. Unlike the Seinfeld foursome, this trio sets aside their personal quest for Golden Dragon Trophy and pursues the thieves in their garish orange van to a dark and dank warehouse (where else?). What happens next is a mash-up and homage to iconic martial arts stars like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Gordon Liu (Pai Mei in Kill Bill Volume 2) ….

Go here for the rest of this story.



If it’s time for BIFF, then it’s time for another Judy Copeland short film

They’re back. Mark Stolzenberg and Judy Copeland are returning to Bonita International Film Festival with another short film. This year, their 15-minute comedy My Father’s Fabulous Funeral will be screened during BIFF’s Shorts Package II beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 29.

As the title suggests, the film is a quirky comedy about a dysfunctional family who struggle to give their oddball father a fitting funeral. The wrinkle here is that they must overcome ridiculous difficulties imposed by their obnoxious stepmother. Directed by Stolzenberg, the film stars Copeland (Annie), Ronald Cohen (Alan), Joe Giordano (Ben), Joannie Mackenzie (Myra), Peter Rosenblatt (Sam), Jewel Rouge (Soldier), Mark Stolzenberg (Michael) and Lorraine Cohen (as herself). It has already screened at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, where it was a Best World Premiere nominee, and the American Filmatic Arts Awards in Brooklyn, where Copeland won the award for Best Short Story and Stolzenberg picked up the Best Short Comedy award.

For more, go here.



Spotlight on ‘My Father’s Fabulous Funeral’ actor/co-producer Judy Copeland

After a lengthy lay-off, Naples resident Judy Copeland has returned to the genre of film as an independent film producer, actor and creative mind. Her return has been, in a word, triumphant.

The lay-off occurred early in Copeland’s life. After studying theatre at Boston University, Judy had big plans for a career in film or theater. Like many aspiring actors, she waited tables to earn a living while auditioning for roles. Then, she came to the realization that she just couldn’t waitress one more day, so she gave up acting, got a real job, and established a career outside of film and stage (which included serving as a Director of Marketing and Communications at Morgan Stanley). But after retiring to Florida, she decided to return to what she really loves doing. Since then, she’s been in several films, including Actors Anonymous (2018), Talk to Me (2017), Happy Family (2016), The Bright Side (2016), Sisters (2015), I Love You, Now Die (2014), Shlomo Pussycat and Tommy and Teresa.

The rest of Judy’s profile is here.



‘In Tango’ filmmaker Marilu Holmes talks inspiration and challenges in making the film

Marilu Holmes’ short film In Tango screens on Saturday during the Bonita International Film Festival’s Short Package II. It’s a film about romance, redemption and the benefits that come from getting to know the people you meet rather than prejudging them based on brief encounters.

In Tango is Holmes’ second filmmaking effort. She previously wrote the screenplay, produced and starred in the 2017 indie Thinking Out Loud, a comedic short about what would happen if our thoughts could be heard.

She and co-producer Wendy White shot that film with tricked out iPhone 6s.

Although Holmes again wrote the screenplay for In Tango (she also stars in, directs and produces the film), this time around she hired a cameraman.

Go here for the rest of this piece.



Kickin’ it with ‘La Vista’ filmmaker Pedro Cohen

Among the indie films screened at this year’s Bonita Springs International Film Festival was La Visita, a short film with horror elements starring Pedro Pablo Porras as a man who must face his own demons and Daniel Lugo as Lucifer.

“There are not many films that explore mental health,” explained Miami filmmaker Pedro Cohen during the film festival.

“Many people face mental health issues, so it’s important to let people know that they’re not alone and that there are people they can turn to and rely upon when they need assistance.”

Go here for the rest of this review.



‘Meat Girls’ filmmaker Gabriella Griego displays Tarantino tendencies

The Youth Shortz package at this year’s Bonita Springs International Film Festival included 11 wonderful films directed and produced by aspiring young filmmakers from the United States, Australia, Canada and Iran, including Meat Girls Inc. by Gabriella C. Griego.

Meat Girls is a futuristic 7-minute short that Gabriella wrote, shot, edited and produced as a class assignment at Design and Architecture Senior High School (DASH) in the Miami Design District, where she is a junior. The film takes us into the future, where we discover that the planet’s human population has burgeoned to 50 billion people. Not surprisingly, food is in short supply. In an effort to prevent widespread starvation and attendant war, people are being induced to “volunteer” for a mind-control program under which they are harvested like a farm animal for their meat. In fact, they assume the characteristics of animals, and in one disturbing scene, the film depicts a young Asian girl crawling on all fours and pushing her face into a plate of food which has been placed for her on the floor as if she were a cat or a dog.

Go here for more.




5      THEATER


August Wilson’s ‘King Hedley II’ on Foulds Theatre stage today and next weekend

Playwright August Wilson mades his triumphant return to the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts last night with King Hedley II. This is the fourth production in Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance’s ongoing commitment to produce each of the ten plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Directed by Sonya McCarter, King Hedley II stars Derek Lively as the King and Tijuanna Clemons, Lemec Bernard, Dwayne Donnell, Cantrella Canady and Chris McCarter.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info



Spotlight on ‘King Hedley’ actor Derek Lively

Derek Lively is an actor, playwright and screenwriter. Since relocating to Fort Myers from New York City in 2015, Lively has starred as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Katori Hall’s Mountaintop, Frederick Douglass in The Agitators, Walter Lee Younger in Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance’s production of Lorraine Hanberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Canewell in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars. A member in good standing in both the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, Lively will play the part of the King in August Wilson’s King Hedley II for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts.

For more on Derek, go here.




Spotlight on ‘King Hedley’ actor Tijuanna Clemons

Tijuanna Clemons is an aspiring young Southwest Florida actor whose stage credits include Diana Dahner in Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage, Bertha Holly in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Louise in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, all for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts. She appears next in the role of Ruby in August Wilson’s King Hedley II.



Spotlight on ‘King Hedley’ actor Cantrella Canady

Cantrella Canady is one of the best young actors in Southwest Florida today. She appears regularly in productions at Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts, Laboratory Theater of Florida, Cultural Park Theatre, The Naples Players and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. She plays Tonya in August Wilson’s King Hedley II for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts.

Go here for more on Cantrella.

And go here to read an interview in which she talks about her process.



Spotlight on ‘King Hedley’ actor Lemec Bernard

Lemec Bernard is an imposing figure. He made his presence known in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. But as Tom in Engagement Rules, audiences got to see a much softer, sentimental side of this talented young actor who clearly has the acting chops to convincingly play both dramatic and comedic roles. He appears next in August Wilson’s King Hedley II, where he’ll play the role of Mister for Director Sonya McCarter and Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts.



‘Kinky Boots’ a wonderful story about the family we are born into and the one we create

Kinky Boots is on the main stage at Broadway Palm through April 4. The high-energy musical won every major best musical award, including the Tony Award, the Grammy Award and London’s Olivier Award.

Based on true happenings, this heartwarming story follows Charlie, a factory owner struggling to save his shoe business, and Lola, a fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos. The two have seemingly nothing in common, but with a little compassion and a lot of understanding, this unlikely duo learns to embrace their differences and find they have more in common than they think!

Featuring original songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this full-hearted hit is inspiring audiences to let love shine and showing them that sometimes the best way to fit in is to stand out.

Directing Kinky Boots is Amy Marie McCleary, whose director/choreographer credits include such Broadway Palm hits as Beauty and the Beast, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia, Cats and more.

Kinky Boots is a story taken from true events, about a young man who must learn to adapt to keep his family’s shoe making company in business,” explains McCleary, “and at its heart, the show is about accepting others and accepting yourself. Both lead characters go on a huge journey in learning to trust themselves and honor their pasts while looking toward the future. It’s a wonderful story about the family we are born into and the family we create.”

Choreographer Chris Kane was recently on tour with the Broadway production of Kinky Boots for two years as the Dance Captain and Swing. He also just finished performing in Ogunquit Playhouse’s production of Kinky Boots as an Angel.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $55 to $80 with group discounts available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



Spotlight on ‘Kinky Boots’ director Amy Marie McCleary

Kinky Boots opened at Broadway Palm February 13. Directing Kinky Boots is Amy Marie McCleary, whose director/choreographer credits include such Broadway Palm hits as Beauty and the Beast, Saturday Night Fever, Mamma Mia, Cats and more. Amy also helped create the musical revues including 2019’s holiday smash Sounds of Christmas (which she wrote, directed and choreographed),  Holly Jolly Christmas and A Swinging Christmas – creating a Fosse version of The Nutcracker Suite and a tap ballet featuring all nine of Santa’s reindeer.

Go here for all her acting, directing and other stage credits.



‘Always a Bridesmaid’ at Off Broadway Palm through April 19

Always a Bridesmaid is playing now through April 19 in the Off Broadway Palm. This hilarious, comedic romp comes from the Jones Hoop Wooten team which also brought you The Dixie Swim Club, The Hallelujah Girls, Mama Won’t Fly and The Savannah Sipping Society.

Always A Bridesmaid is a hilarious comedy about four high school friends who promised to be in each other’s weddings, no matter what. Determined to honor that vow, these Southern friends-for-life are still making “the long walk” over 30 years later. Hop on this marriage-go-round for a laugh-out-loud journey with these struggling bridesmaids as they navigate the choppy waters of love and matrimony!

The Off Broadway Palm is an intimate 100-seat theatre, located off the main lobby of Broadway Palm. Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Ticket prices range from $42 to $62 with discounts available for children and groups of 20 or more. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



4th Annual Stage-It! 10-Minute Play Festival winners announced

The 4th Annual International Stage It! 10-Minute Play Festival has announced the winners for this year’s productions and publication.  The unique competition began with open submissions in October, garnering 346 plays from around the world, and a unique adjudication process.  The top 25 plays have been selected for publication in Stage It! 4: 10-Minute Plays.  The book is released in conjunction with the Festival weekend, March 19-22, where many of the plays will be produced.

More than 30 states were represented in the playwrights’ submissions as well as plays from Australia, Canada, France, Luxembourg, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  The adjudication process included 31 judges, most coming from Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Florida, with others from Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, with three coming from Canada and one from Australia.  All judges have had professional experience as actors, playwrights, directors, producers, designers, critics, writers and/or filmmakers.  Each play received a critique from each judge and is then rated. The top-scoring 20-25% became semi-finals.  The plays are re-read by judges who have not seen them to help determine the finalists.


  1. A Life Assembled………………….. Kirt Shineman………………. Phoenix, AZ
  2. Breakdown in Babel…………….. Alex Goldberg……………….. Burbank, CA
  3. Charlotte……………………………… Alex Bulova…………………… Fairfax, VA
  4. Crossroads………………………….. Mark Okladek……………….. New York, NY
  5. Dance Class…………………………. Teri Foltz………………………. Fort Thomas, KY
  6. Dark Matter………………………… Donald Loftus……………….. New York, NY
  7. Don’t Toy With Me……………….. Andrew Lyman Black…….. Columbia, MO
  8. Dostoevsky………………………….. Jonathan Josephson……… Pasadena, CA
  9. First Contact……………………….. Joe Carlisle…………………… Croton-on-Hudson, NY
  10. Handiwork………………………….. Judd Lear Silverman…….. Brooklyn, NY
  11. Intervention…………………………. Richard Ciccarone…………. San Francisco, CA
  12. Last Call……………………………… Aviva Fleising……………….. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  13. Last First…………………………….. Martin Keady………………… London, United Kingdom
  14. Locker 142…………………………… W. L. Newkirk……………….. Celebration, FL
  15. Mime Stop……………………………. Steven San Luis……………. Johns Island, SC
  16. No Honor…………………………….. Craig Moeckly……………….. White Bear Lake, MN
  17. One More Run……………………… Kathie O’Brien………………. Corvallis, OR
  18. Private Dick…………………………. Judy Klass…………………….. Nashville, TN
  19. Ricky and Ready…………………. Colleen Nicole O’Doherty. Omaha, NE
  20. Single Rider…………………………. Michelle Pascua……………. Celebration, FL
  21. Sister of Experience……………… Colleen Nicole O’Doherty. Omaha, NE
  22. Ten Minutes to Close……………. Andy Wasif…………………… Beverly Hills, CA
  23. The Tinkerbell Situation………… Marc Paykuss……………….. Chestnut Hill, MA
  24. Turnaround Time………………… Vicki Riba Koestler ……….. Alexandria, VA
  25. Unreasonable Situations………. Lindsey Brown………………. Auckland, New Zealand

Winners include comedies and dramas of varied styles from the sublimely ridiculous to the issue-oriented.  Local actors participate in the directing, casting and performance.

The competition is done in a blind-judging process which often creates interesting results.  The Center for Performing Arts is delighted that two women each had all of their submitted plays make the semi-finals:  Teri Foltz and Emily Hageman.  Playwright Colleen Nicole O’Doherty has the distinction of having two of her plays make it into the publication.

Stage It! International 10-Minute Play Festival runs March 19-22, 2020, 7:30pm evenings and 2:00pm matinees.

Stage It! 4: 25 Ten-Minute Plays will be published by March 19 and available at the Festival as well as ordering online.

Tickets: 239-495-8989,



CFABS bringing ‘All the King’s Women’ to the Moe April 17-19

The Center for the Arts, Bonita Springs will present Luigi Jannuzzi’s comedy, All The King’s Women April 17 to 19, 2020 in the Moe Auditorium and Film Center. The story of Elvis Presley’s life is told through the eyes of fifteen women and two men as they recount incidents of their direct or indirect interactions with the King of Rock and Roll. In a fast-paced series of eight slices-of-life, we learn how he enthralled, appalled and pushed all the right buttons for certain fans.

The script by Luigi Jannuzzi presents five short acts and three monologues based on actual experiences—

  • from Tupelo, Mississippi, where an 11-year-old Elvis wanted a BB gun but got a guitar instead;
  • to his restrained “Hound Dog” turn on the Steve Allen Show;
  • to his meeting with President Richard Nixon;
  • to Andy Warhol’s gallery and the portrait that was traded for a sofa;
  • to a Cadillac Showroom in Memphis—think pink; and
  • finally to Graceland, complete with guards, tchotkes and tribute artists.

“The point is perhaps not so much about Elvis per se, but instead these scenes reveal snapshots of an American culture, people, and place.” –

“A play that affects the senses — heart, mind, and soul. One doesn’t have to be an Elvis fan going in, to walk away with a deep appreciation for ‘The King’ at the conclusion.” – DC Metro Theater Arts

“An American quilt is weaved in this homage to the King,” notes Frank Blocker, Film and Theater Director at Centers for the Arts. “A quilt of emotional joy and rapture … and really, how could we resist Elvis?”

All The King’s Women will be directed by veteran actor and playwright Carole Fenstermacher, known throughout Southwest Florida for helming many local productions with Naples Players, Marco Players and Stage Door.

Jannuzzi is an award-winning playwright of one-act theater pieces as well as full-length plays, who combines romantic/absurdist comedy with serious themes of love, truth and the need to rise above it all. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild and holds a BA in Philosophy and Theology from Salem University, West Virginia and an MA in Ethics from the University of Notre Dame.

Performances are at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday at the Moe Auditorium and Film Center located on the campus of the Center for Performing Arts, 10150 Bonita Beach Rd., Bonita Springs, FL 34135. Tickets are available at the Center’s main telephone number (239) 495-8989 or on the website



Florida premiere of ‘How to Transcend a Happy Marriage’ at Lab Theater

Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage closes on March 14. Remaining performances are Thursday (3/12), Friday (3/13) and Saturday (3/14) at 8:00 p.m.

Four best friends decide to invite an unusual young polyamorous woman and her two companions to join them for a New Year’s Eve party. What happens next pushes the boundaries of friendship, marriage, and parenthood.

The show was directed by New York director, international acting coach and Meisner alum Steven Ditmyer.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



‘How to Transcend a Happy Marriage’ fascinating study of dissociative disorder

Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is a titillating little tome, but not because it features a tightly-choreographed fully-clothed orgy to end Act One. But rather because it’s a fascinating study of dissociative disorder the likes of which we haven’t seen since “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” aired 37 years ago on February 28, 1983.

Whether or not you were a M*A*S*H devotee, you probably saw a rerun of the series finale a time or two. And whether you saw it in real time or syndication, the memory of Hawkeye’s mental breakdown lingers to this very day. In brief, a bus in which Hawkeye is riding has pulled off the main road to avoid detection by a marauding Chinese patrol. But there’s a woman traveling with a chicken and its incessant clucking threatens to give away their position. Finally, Hawkeye yells at her to keep the chicken quiet and seeing no other alternative, she smothers the poor animal to protect everyone on the bus. Hawkeye is so guilt-ridden that he breaks down and ends up in a mental hospital, where he’s seen by psychiatrist Sidney Freedman. With Sidney’s help, Hawkeye finally accepts that the chicken was actually a baby and the role he played in causing the mother to take her own child’s life.

You will find the rest of this review here.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor TJ Albertson

Included in the cast of the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is TJ Albertson. TJ is one of Southwest Florida’s rising community theater stars. In just the past season, he’s turned in outstanding performances as the priest in The Crucible, Anorexia Nervosa in The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Soldier in Andorra, Tyler Johnes in And the Winner Is … and Timmy in Hand to GodGo here to access his full profile and accompanying interview.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Tamicka Armstrong

Included in the cast of the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is Tamicka Armstrong. She plays Pip, a polyamorous woman who’s involved with two men. Prior to this role, Tamicka appeared in The Crucible at Lab and in two shows for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts, the first alongside Rachel Burttram and Brendan Powers in Repossessed and then as Will Scarlett in Marian, or the True Story of Robin Hood.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Steven Coe

Included in the cast of the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is Steven Coe. He’s one of Southwest Florida’s most intelligent and engaging actors. His evolving body of work includes starring roles as John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Thomas Novachek in David Ives’ Venus in Fur for The Studio Players, Andri in Andorra, The Boy in Veronica’s Room, and Doug in Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By, as well as memorable supporting and ensemble appearances in Hush Up Sweet Charlotte, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A Parody of the Horror, Arthur Kopit’s Wings, Rick Abbot’s Play On!The Last Night of Ballyhoo and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. Inveterate theater-goers may also remember Steven as the twenty-something Russian spy in Theatre Conspiracy’s 2013 production of Red Herring, a light-hearted espionage spoof. Other favorite shows include Blithe Spirit and The Government Inspector, both comedies.

Go here for the rest of Steven’s resume.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Scott Davis

Scott Davis plays the part of Michael in Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage. Earlier this season, Scott  played three different roles in the Florida premiere of Let Nothing You Dismay in December of 2019. Recent performances with The Naples Players include White Christmas, The Music Man, Miracle on 34th Street and My Fair Lady. Scott’s onstage credits with Grosse Pointe Theatre in Michigan include Mamma Mia, Annie, Rehearsal for Murder, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Laura.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Paul Graffy

Included in the cast of the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is Paul Graffy. Over the past 15 years, Paul has appeared in more than 25 productions and directed over a dozen others at such theaters as The Naples Players, Artis Naples, TheatreZone, The Studio Players, The Naples Dinner Theater and the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Among his acting credits are the deputy governor of Massachusetts, Judge Thomas Danforth, in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible,  General Thomas F. Waverly in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (The Naples Players), Pale in Burn This! (for The Lab), Senator Joe Cantwell in The Best Man (also for Lab), Frank Sr. in Catch Me if You Can, Johnny Lowell in Stage Kiss, Alan in God of Carnage and George in Moon Over Buffalo, both at The Naples Players in 2014. In 2011, Florida Weekly recognized his stage talent with its Best Actor award.

Go here for Paul’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Heather McLemore Johnson

Included in the cast of the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage is Heather McLemore Johnson. Heather is a recent theatrical transplant from Starkville, Mississippi. Heather’s stage credits include the role of Rebecca Nurse in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, an aggrieved soccer mom (and the only adult cast member) in The Wolves, Andre’s mother in Max Frisch’s Andorra and the dip-spittin’ sheriff in Hush Up Sweet Charlotte. She also recently participated in Lab Theater’s 24-Hour Playwriting Project, directing Candice Sanzari’s Critics’ Choice winner Thanksgiving is for NuttersGo here for more.



Spotlight on ‘Happy Marriage’ actor Madalyn Brown

Madalyn Brown is an aspiring young actor who made her debut at Lab Theater wearing jersey #14 in The Wolves. She is currently appearing as Jenna in the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, where she has the unfortunate experience of walking in on her parents and their best friends having an orgy on New Year’s Eve. The show not only provides Madalyn with another opportunity to be on stage, but the unparalleled experience of being taught and mentored by New York director Steven Ditmyer.



High-energy Tony-winning ‘In the Heights’ musical coming to Lab Theater stage

The Southwest Florida premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights opens March 27 at The Laboratory Theater of Florida. This high-energy musical was nominated for 13 and winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams, and pressures and where the biggest struggles involve deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ director Carmen Crussard

Carmen Crussard is a uniquely insightful, stage savvy and immensely talented actor, director and instructor. She dazzled audiences as Conchita in Anna in the Tropics, but she’s made her greatest impact on the directorial side of the boards, molding and leaving her imprint on both adult, teenage and grade school casts over the past several years.

Go here for the rest of Carmen’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ choreographer Lauren Perry

In the Heights opens at Lab Theater on March 27. It’s billed as a high-energy musical, which means that it requires someone with high energy and exceptional creative talent to handle the show’s choreography, and so it’s not surprising that Director Carmen Crussard tapped Lauren Perry for the task.

Crussard knows Perry from their work on behalf of the Alliance Youth Theatre. They just collaborated on the highly-successful run of Pippin the Musical, but their familiarity with each other dates back to several AYT shows. But while Perry may be a known commodity to Crussard, few of Lab Theater’s regular performers and patrons known much about her. They’re in for a treat.

Go here for the rest of this introduction.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ actor Miguel Cintron

Miguel Cintron’s theater career is denoted by many highlights, but perhaps none as lofty as playing a sarcastically irascible Almighty in Lab Theater’s An Act of God. Other stage credits include Anna in the Tropics and Yasmina Reza’s Art for Lab Theater and Women in Jeopardy, The Gun Show (a single-actor tour de force in which he shared the playwright’s unique perspective and true stories about America’s love-hate relationship with firearms), My First Time, Domestic Tranquility, Shipwrecked, Tower of Magic, Shakespeare Abridged, The Bible Abridged and Art of Murder, all for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance.

Cintron has also performed at The Herb Strauss Theatre, The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and the Florida Repertory Theatre. Some of his favorite shows are Into the Woods, Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Lucky Stiff, Run for your Wife, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Aladdin, Buddy, and The Fantastiks.

Go here for the rest of Miguel’s profile.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ actor Ruthgena Augustin

Playing the part of Vanessa in Lab Theater’s production of In the Heights is Ruthgena Augustin, who was last seen on the Lab Theater boards in the role of Mary Warren in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Her other stage credits include Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Lorraine in All Shook Up (Cultural Park Theatre), Kala in Tarzan (Cultural Park), Brenda in The Pajama Game (Cultural Park), Featured Nun in Sister Act: The Musical (Cultural Park), and A Motown Christmas (West Coast Black Theatre). Go here for Ruthgena’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ actor Sam Bostic

Sam Bostic will be playing the role of Benny in Lab Theater’s production of In the Heights. Bostic’s acting credits include Riff Raff in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, Joe Hargity in the world premiere of Zalman Velvel’s D.M.V., Lenny in Neil Simon’s Rumors (New Phoenix Theatre), Pippin in Pippin, Lucas in The Addams Family, Elegba in In the Red and Brown Water, Naychem in In Flight: The Story of Sabine Van Dam (for Gulfshore Playhouse), Adam in Miss Nelson is Missing, Fakir in The Secret Garden and a policeman in The House of Blue Leaves (for Florida Rep).

Go here for Sam’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘In the Heights’ actor Sharon Isern

Sharon Isern will play the part of Camila Rosario in Lab Theater’s production of In the Heights. Although relatively new to acting, Sharon is building an impressive resume. Her stage credits include a server in Speed Dating and the woman in Where is Man? (both part of The Studio Players’ 3 Plays), exasperated campaign manager Alex Klein in Jason Odell Williams’ Church & State (for The Studio Players), a dutiful daughter in The Shadow Box (for New Phoenix Theatre) and a mother fleeing war in Everyone on this Train (for Ghostbird Theatre Company). For more on Sharon, go here.



Ten time Tony nominee ‘The Full Monty’ on stage at New Phoenix Theatre

On stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22 is Terrence McNally and David Yazbek’s The Full Monty. Based on the cult hit film of the same name, this ten-time Tony Award nominee is filled with honest affection, engaging melodies and the most highly anticipated closing number of any show.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Gerrie Benzing

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is the astounding Gerrie Benzing, who is known locally as a stage and film actor, director, musical theatre instructor and the owner and creative director of

Gerrie has appeared in more than 14 productions at Cultural Park Theater, three shows at Lab Theater and made her debut at Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts in 2019 as Lucy and Tommy of No Consequence in Adam Szymkowics’s Marian, or the True Story of Robin Hood. Among her CPT acting credits are Harvey (for which she won a Cultural Park Theatre Best Actress Marquee Award for her portrayal of Veta), The Glass Menagerie (in which she was cast as Amanda), Dixie Swim Club (Sharee), Bella Manningham in Angel Street (Gaslight) (where Charles Runnells applauded the hysterical froth she worked up in the role of a “borderline bonkers housewife … driven to the brink by a husband with sinister ulterior motives”), Bad Seed (Christine) and Jack Neary’s The Porch. For The Lab, she appeared as the lead in the world premiere of playwright Zalman Velvel’s farce D.M.V., in Rick Abbot’s Play On! (where she depicted a maddeningly meddlesome playwright), The Best Man (in which she played Mabel Cantwell) and Miss Witherspoon (where she played the part of Maryamma).



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Todd Lyman

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22. Todd Lyman plays the part of Dave Bukatinsky, an unemployed steel worker in Buffalo, New York. Todd’s stage credits include the roles of Assemblyman Paul Gordon, Dr. Tim and Mr. Yarmowich in Topher Payne’s Let Nothing You Dismay, Thomas Putnam in The Crucible, multiple roles (Customers 3, 6 and 9) in Lab Theater’s production of Zalman Velvel’s farce D.M.V., Teddy LaPetite in Mitch Albom’s And the Winner Is …, theater critic Ira Drew in Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play (which marked Todd’s Lab Theater debut), Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Enoch Snow in Carousel, Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Ivan in Anton Chekhov’s The Marriage Proposal.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Scott Carpenter

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Scott Carpenter, an actor and director who lives in Cape Coral, Florida. He’s playing the role Harold Nichols, one of the Hot Metal dancers. Scott was last on stage in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of La Cage aux Folles. His other acting credits include It’s Only a Play (which he also co-directed), Play On! (Lab Theater), Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Moises Kaufman’s 33 Variations, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Lab Theater), Yasmina Reza’s Art (Lab Theater), Cabaret (Lab Theater), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Glengarry Glen Ross. On the directing side, it was Scott’s vision on stage that Sue Schaffel, Steve Stefanik, Michael Hennessey, Joann Haley, Robert Armstrong and Howard Nutt brought to life in Lab Theater’s spoof Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf.

Go here for all of Scott’s acting and directing credits.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Kenneth Bradley Johnson

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Kenneth Bradley Johnson, who plays Jerry Lukowski, the ringleader of Hot Metal, a troupe of six laid-off steel workers who band together to restore their flagging masculinity and earn some much needed money. Ken’s local acting credits include His local acting credits include the roles of Richard Ehrlich in Time Stands Still, Milford, Ivan and Oscar Saperstein in Topher Payne’s Let Nothing You Dismay, Phaedra (the enigma) in La Cage aux Folles for New Phoenix Theatre, Paster Greg in  Hand to God, Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Sordid Lives for Lab Theater and Noli Timeri (Don’t Be Afraid) for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance. Ken has also appeared at Florida Repertory Theatre, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and The Cape Playhouse. For more on Ken, go here.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Shane Talbot

Included in the cast of New Phoenix Theatre’s production of The Full Monty is Shane Talbot, who plays the part of Malcolm MacGregor, one of the Hot Metal boys who’ve promised to go full monty at Tony Giordano’s. Southwest Florida audiences last saw Talbot in the role of woeful Amos Hart in Cultural Park Theatre’s production of Chicago.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Kristen Wilson

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Kristen Wilson. Kristen’s stage credits include the roles of Tawny, Deb and Linda Saperstein in Let Nothing You Dismay, the Senora in Andorra, and roles in Steel Magnolias, Dearly Beloved, Home Games, Five Tellers Dancing in the Rain, Always a Bridesmaid, The Dinner Party, Who Am I This Time?, Evening of Culture, Grace & Glorie and TributeBut go here for Kristen’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Maryann Connolly

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Maryann Connolly, who plays the part of Estelle Genovese.

Maryann is a singer, songwriter, model and stage and film actor. Her stage credits include Chicago (Hungarian immigrant Kaitlin Hunyak), Jesus Christ Superstar, Don’t Drink the Water and Sister Act for Cultural Park Theatre as well as The Witch in Into the Woods, Rachel in Glee, Skuttle in Little Mermaid, Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, and a child in Elf at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. She has played the lead in the 2019 WGAE film Sacrifice, was featured in the short film Amrak (along with her original song “Never Run Away”), played a supporting role in the 2019 UFTA film The Shooting and was an extra in A Turtle Tale.

Go here for Maryann’s full profile.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Eren Sisk

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Eren Sisk, who plays Joanie Lish the Dish.

Eren is a rising star in the local theater scene. Her credits include the recent role of Mandy Bloom in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Donald Margulies Time Stands Still, one of the Phantoms and the Popcorn Girl in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, the babysitter in Rancho Mirage for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance, Barblin in Andorra (taking over on less than four hours’ notice when Danica Murray fell ill and had to be hospitalized for the remainder of the show’s run), Helene in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, Annie in Evil Dead the Musical, young Blanche Hudson and next-door-neighbor Abby Bates in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A Parody of the Horror, and a critically-ill high school student in Lauren Gunderson’s I & You.

You can access Eren’s full profile here.



Spotlight on ‘Full Monty’ actor Emilie Baartman

The Full Monty is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre through March 22, and included in the cast is Emilie Baartman, who plays the role of aggrieved spouse Pam Lukowski. A Naples actor, singer, dancer, and costume/set designer, Emilie’s stage credits include Heather in Getting Sarah Married (Mighty Corson Art Players, Brandon, South Carolina 2019), Emily in Twas the Night Before Christmas (Mighty Corson Art Players, Brandon, South Dakota 2018), Sheriff Gooper in Showdown at Resource Ranch (National Theatre for Children in North Carolina, 2018), Principle Farley in Bard of Ballyfiddle (Black Hills Playhouse Education, South Dakota, 2018), Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods (2017), Witch 3 in Macbeth (2017), Gretchen in Boeing Boeing (2017), Mrs. Kirby in You Can’t Take It With You (2016) and ensemble in 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (2016).

Go here for Emilie’s full profile.



‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ closes March 8

Players Circle Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s hilarious comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor closes today (March 8).

The uproariously funny comedy emanates from Neil Simon’s early days in show business, when he worked as a jokes-smith for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. It’s about the early days of TV, when Caesar and his writers wrote a very smart comedy, a biting comedy,” says Director Robert Cacioppo. “It was definitely the precursor to Saturday Night Live!” Variety called it “The funniest comedy on Broadway in years and likely to remain the funniest comedy on Broadways for years.”



Spotlight on ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ cast 

The Players Circle Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s hilarious comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor closes today (March 8).

The uproariously funny comedy emanates from Neil Simon’s early days in show business, when he worked as a jokes-smith for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows.

The comedy stars Matt Michael as Max Prince, the character based on Sid Caesar. Michael was recently featured in The Players Circle production of The Dining Room.

Jordan Bunshaft plays Ira, the hypochondriac comic genius based on Mel Brooks. Brunshaft is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Wagner College.

Go here for the rest of this piece.



Spotlight on ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’ actor Katie Pankow

Neil Simon’s hilarious comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor is on stage through March 8 at Players Circle Theatre in The Shell Factory in North Fort Myers. Included in the cast is Katie Pankow, 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 Haley Quinn in Mama Won’t Fly at Off-Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, 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) and many more. For all of Katie’s stage credits, please go here.



‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night’ opens at Players Circle on March 20

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night opens March 20 (with discounted previews March 17-19) at the Players Circle Theatre at The Shell Factory. Winner of five Tonys, including Best Play, this is the story of 15-year-old Christopher Boone who has an extraordinary mind but is out of sync with the world. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes on a life-changing journey to find the true culprit. Along the way, he uncovers deep, dark family secrets that turn his world upside down.

Go here for the remainder of this advance.

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



Spotlight on ‘Curious Incident’ actor Paul Graffy

Included in the cast of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night is Paul Graffy. Over the past 15 years, Paul has appeared in more than 25 productions and directed over a dozen others at such theaters as The Naples Players, Artis Naples, TheatreZone, The Studio Players, The Naples Dinner Theater and the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Among his acting credits are the deputy governor of Massachusetts, Judge Thomas Danforth, in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible,  General Thomas F. Waverly in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (The Naples Players), Pale in Burn This! (for The Lab), Senator Joe Cantwell in The Best Man (also for Lab), Frank Sr. in Catch Me if You Can, Johnny Lowell in Stage Kiss, Alan in God of Carnage and George in Moon Over Buffalo, both at The Naples Players in 2014. Incredibly, this is Paul’s third role in as many shows. He was in The Dining Room (for Players Circle Theatre) in January and is currently playing the role of Paul in Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage for Lab Theater!

Go here for Paul’s full profile.



TNP’s ‘Silent Sky’ closes March 8 

The Naples Players’ production of Silent Sky closes March 8. Silent Sky tells the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt. The drama explores a woman’s place in society during a time of immense scientific discoveries – when women’s ideas were dismissed until men claimed credit for them.

Inspiring and touching, the story follows Henrietta as she begins work at the Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s but isn’t allowed to touch a telescope or express an original idea. Instead, she joins a group of women “computers,” charting the stars for a renowned astronomer who calculates projects in “girl hours” and has no time for the women’s probing theories. As Henrietta attempts to measure the light and distance of stars in her free time, she must also take measure of her life on Earth, trying to balance her dedication to science with family obligations and the possibility of love.

The show stars Pamela Austin, Katie Callahan, Tina Maroni, Bernardo Santana and Esther Synder.

Showtimes are Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through March 8 (the show’s been extended by a week due to the extraordinary audience response the show has received). Tickets are $35 to subscribers and $40 for other individuals. Please call 239.263.7990 or visit to reserve your seats.



‘Bye Bye Birdie’ on Blackburn Hall stage through April 5

On the Blackburn Hall stage at The Naples Players is the classic musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie. Winner of four Tony Awards in 1961, this high-energy show continues to delight audiences around the world.

The play follows teen musician, Conrad Birdie. When he is drafter, Birdie selects Kim MacAfee for a very public farewell kiss in the ultimate publicity stunt and spectacle. Hit songs from this legendary musical include “Put on a Happy Face,” “One Last Kiss,” and “One Boy.” In 1960s America, teen heartthrob Conrad Birdie is all the rage!

The musical runs through April 5.

For tickets, please call the box office at 239-263-7990.

And go here to see who’s in the show.



Final performance of this year’s Shakespeare-on-the-Plaza is March 8

The final performance of Shakespeare-on-the-Plaza is tonight at 7:00 p.m. on The Naples Players’ outdoor Baker Stage. This year’s event event features the pastoral comedy As You Like It. Bring a folding chair to reserve your spot.



More than memory play, ‘Waverly Gallery’ captures humor & strength of family in crisis

The Studio Players’ production of award-winning playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s Waverly Gallery opens April 10 in the Joan Jenks Auditorium at Golden Gate Cultural Center.

Powerful, poignant and often hilarious, The Waverly Gallery follows the final years of a grandmother’s battle against Alzheimer’s disease and explores her fight to retain her independence and the effect her decline has on her family (which, ironically, includes two psychiatrists). Inspired by Lonergan’s own grandmother, it’s an ode to an extraordinary woman and to the humor and strength of a family in crisis. More than a memory play, The Waverly Gallery captures the humor and strength of a family in the face of crisis.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket info.



Focus on ‘Waverly Gallery’ playwright Kenneth Lonergan

The Studio Players’ production of The Waverly Gallery opens April 10 in the Joan Jenks Auditorium at Golden Gate Cultural Center. It comes from the desk of playwright Kenneth Lonergan.

Go here for the rest of this profile.



Spotlight on ‘Waverly Gallery’ actor Daniel Cancio

An FGCU theatre grad, Daniel Cancio is an emerging talent in the local theater scene. For The Studio Players, his stage credits include include Jerry in The Zoo Story, the bartender in Speed Dating, the owl in Where is Man?, Senator Charles Whitmore’s campaign aide in Church & State and Jerry in Don’t Talk to the Actors. He appears next in The Waverly Gallery.

Go here for Daniel’s full profile.

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