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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news May 1-7, 2022


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


1      ACTORS (alphabetically)


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

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



Gerrie Benzing plays Madame de Volanges in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

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



Paola Andrea Cifuentes is Morticia in ‘Addams Family Musical’

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



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

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



Lisa Clark plays Alice Beineke in ddams Family Musical’

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



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

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



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

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



Amanda Collins plays Emilie in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

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



Parrish Danesh plays Gomez in ‘Addams Family Musical’

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



Rachel Drake is the Sad Bride ‘Dancestor’ in ‘Addams Family Musical’

Rachel Drake is one of the “Dancestors” (sad bride) in The Addams Family Musical at Fort Myers Theatre. This is Rachel’s first production since high school “if you don’t count the daily shows I put on in my living room with my four kiddos.” While at Fort Myers’ Evangelical Christian School, Rachel appeared as Chava in Fiddler on the Roof, Leisl in The Sound of Music, Cinderella in Cinderella and Billie in Babes in Arms.

Go here for the rest of Drake’s profile.



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

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



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

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



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

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



Mark King plays Major Domo in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

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



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

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



Anna Joy Lehman is Wednesday in ‘Addams Family Musical’

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



Carrie Lund stars in ‘Miracle on South Division Street’

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



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

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

For more on Ms. Marshall go here.



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

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



Adrial McCloud plays Cecile de Volanges in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Adrial McCloud appears in the role of Cecile de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons. McCloud has been a performer from the age of 4 and has a passion for all aspects of theater. Her performances have ranged from church plays to Broadway reviews to Shakespeare and more. In her most recent performance, she played Dottie Smith in Killer Joe, a seemingly naive and emotionally challenged 20-year-old who also  appears to be intellectually disabled. Go here to read more about this up-and-coming star.



Aimee Naughton part of ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

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



Samantha Pudlin in ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

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



Tyler Reis plays Pugsley in ‘Addams Family Musical’

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

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



Cameron Rogers plays Chevalier Raphael Danceny in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

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



Daniel Sabiston is Azalon in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

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



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

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



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

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



Cassy Terwilliger in ‘Head Over Heels’ ensemble

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



Bianca Vilia Veranich is Grandma Addams

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



Tracy Weaver plays Rosemonde in ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Originally from Pennsylvania, Tracy Weaver has performed at many community theater venues in Pennsylvania and Florida. The actor/singer’s stage credits include Rosemonde in Dangerous Liaisons, Mrs. T in Avenue Q (which marked her Lab Theater debut), Lady Basildon in An Ideal Husband (The Naples Players), various comedic roles in Mamma Won’t Fly (Cultural Park Theater) and Works in Progress, an original Off-Broadway play at the Hudson Guild Theater in NYC.



Carling Witt is Mopsa in ‘Head over Heels’

Carling Witt appears in the role of Mopsa in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Head over Heels the Musical. Witt brings exuberance and insight to the role of Princess Pamela’s discontented handmaiden whose wisdom beyond her years helps Pamela realize and recognize her own sexual orientation. “She is always very sure of herself, I think, but because of some issues that her family, particularly her father had in the past, particularly with the LGBTQ community, she’s hesitant to come out [to Pamela],” Carling observes about her character.

Go here for the rest of Carling’s profile.






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

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



Paul Graffy directs ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ for Lab Theater

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



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

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



‘In the Heights’ choreographer Rebecca Kritzer in the spotlight

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

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

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

The balance of this spotlight is here.






DAAS May show features art of Lawrence Dineen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Go here for the rest of this announcement.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show digital illustrator Isabella Baquerizo

Isabella Baquerizo is a digital illustrator who was born in Ecuador and currently splits time between Naples, FL and New York City. Baquerizo graduated summa cum laude from Florida Gulf Coast University with a BA in Art and Graphic Design. Before graduating, she was an intern at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL. She currently works as a graphic designer for B3 Marketing, based in Naples, FL. Baquerizo is passionate about sustainability, social causes, and being active in her community. She previously exhibited in Plays Well with Others, a 2020 exhibition curated by Jessica Todd featuring local and national artists who created work centered around play. Go here to read her Artist Statement.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show abstract artist Katherine Boren

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

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

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show filmmaker Connie Bottinelli

Connie Bottinelli is a multiple Emmy recipient and nominee, with international awards for producing, directing and writing in documentary and series for broadcast and cable networks. Her career began at CBS Entertainment in New York City and documentary unit in Philadelphia. In 1995 she co-founded Grinning Dog Pictures, breaking ratings records for Lifetime Television with their one-hour special, Jessica Savitch: An Intimate Portrait. She created and contributed to award-winning documentary series for Discovery, TLC, Ch4 UK, CBS, NBC, Lifetime, NYTimes, Discovery Health, GreenPlanet, Fox, Hearst Entertainment, CourtTV and others. The rest of this Spotlight is here.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show pop artist Pat Collins

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






Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show composer/musician Kat Epple

Kat Epple will be providing musical accompaniment for Lily Hatchett’s Paper Grotto Live! performance, a singular immersive and interactive projection mapping experience. Epple is a Peabody, Edward R Murrow, and Emmy Award-winning composer and flutist. Over the course of her storied musical career, Kat has released 42 original music albums, composed film scores for National Geographic, Nova and Valentino Fashions, and has performed at the United Nations and museums around the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim and Bob Rauschenberg Gallery. For over twenty years, Kat performed at legendary visual artist Robert Rauschenberg’s international art openings. For more, please visit



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show artist Whitney Hackett

Whitney Hackett grew up in Fort Myers, FL, where she currently lives and works as an artist. She has a BFA from the University of Florida. Whitney explores memory and nostalgia through her body of dreamy and celebratory paintings. Her innocent appreciation for everyday life encourages a childlike playfulness in her work. Through the enshrinement of simple things, she elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary. For more, please go here.



Spotlight on Lily Hatchett’s 2022 Grant Recipient Sho ‘Paper Grotto’ performance

The City of Fort Myers’ Biennial Grant Recipient Show opens at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center on Friday, May 6th in conjunction with Art Walk. Local artist Lily Hatchett will open the exhibition with a performance of her Paper Grotto Live! with musical accompaniment by award-winning flutist Kat Epple.

Paper Grotto is an art happening that combines sculpture, drawing, video and live performance. The latter incorporates aspects of Butoh, a form of theater that features a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance and movement. Butoh is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled movement and playful or grotesque imagery in extreme or absurd environments – like a grotto, as Hatchett explains:

You can read the rest of this Spotlight here.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show paper artist Lily Hatchett

Hatchett is a multimedia artist who combines sculpture, video, drawing and live performance. Her art starts with drawing. Pencil, ink and paint on paper are her drawing mediums. She visualizes three dimensional ideas in flat space first.

“Drawing is a language,” Lily points out. “It is an universal language beyond the spoken or written word. Perhaps the spoken word preceded drawing, but drawings have lasting value, and are easily understood throughout time and culture. If you can’t read, just look at the pictures.”

You will find the rest of this spotlight here.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show narrative photographer Stephen Hayford

Hayford hand crafts miniature scenes and populates them with customized action figures. He then draws upon his 20-year career as a photojournalist to create images that reflect his background in documentary photography. His images are often subtle social commentary or kitschy reflections of Florida.

Once he decides on a scene, Hayford begins with a sketch and a paper mock-up to determine the size of the props he will need, dimensions of walls, and the action figures who will populate the scenes. After designing, cutting and sculpting the props he’ll need, Stephen builds and paints the scene using a progression of base coats, washes, weathering and faux finishes.

The rest of Stephen’s profile is here.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show artist Krista Johnson

Krista Johnson has spent her life in the lush nature of Southwest Florida and her paintings are spirited expressions that capture the color, abundance and mystery of the world she loves.

“I have arrived at a style which is intrinsically mine – my paintings have a part of me in them,” states Krista. “When I am moved by something extraordinary I have seen in nature, I try to convey those feelings onto the canvas.  My hope is that it translates to the viewer”

Johnson’s work has been exhibited in numerous local and national solo and group shows, including across town at the Alliance for the Arts, where she and husband, Leo, are exhibiting work in a show titled Duo.

Want to read the rest of Krista’s Spotlight? Go here.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show abstract artist Leo Johnson

Leo Johnson is a third generation Cuban-Sicilian who is immersed in the realms of art, culture and language. An internationally-recognized artist, Johnson has exhibited his works throughout Europe, with his most recent exhibit taking place in the Sunflower Gallery on the island of Crete off the coast of Greece. He has enjoyed solo shows at Arts for ACT Gallery, Broadway Palm Dinner Theater, Syzygy, the Alliance for the Arts and Liquid Café in Fort Myers, Barrier Island Group for the Arts on Sanibel and Der Flur Gallery in Kassel, Germany. Leo’s work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions including across town at the Alliance for the Arts, where he is exhibiting work with his wife, Krista, in a show titled Duo. The rest of Leo’s Spotlight is here.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show artist Chloe Lewis

Chloe Lewis is a freelance illustrator and designer who grew up in Fort Myers, Florida and is currently based in New York City. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and majored in Studio Arts. She currently pursues her love of illustration and graphic design. Her focus as an illustrator and graphic designer is to solve visual problems. Her creations are striking in their use of color and line. You may read the remainder of this Spotlight here.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show artist Leila Mesdaghi

Leila Mesdaghi seeks to connect with viewers in a visceral, evocative, emotional manner. To her, art is a combination of emotional experience and social responsibility.  Through her performance pieces and now film, she comments on social and political issues like war in the Middle East, the negative reflections of Social Media in society, the housing crisis in the U.S, or the price and promise of progress.

Mesdaghi used the grant she received from the City of Fort Myers to help fund her latest project, Green Wedding, a series of six portraits (Emotionscapes) with limited editions, which she staged and shot in the yard, in the pool, and inside the house in which she grew up in Iran.

Go here to read the rest of this post.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show artist Dana Roes

Dana Roes received her MFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania and has received several notable awards including a Fulbright Fellowship and a Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Residency. Her work has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States as well as in Sweden, Iceland, Australia and China. Prior to teaching at FSW, Dana was a Professor of Painting and served as the Director of Graduate Painting and Advising at the Savannah College of Art and Design; she was also a Professor of Painting at Carnegie Mellon University. She is currently the Chair of Fine Arts and Humanities where she was the recipient of the NISOD award for teaching excellence.

Go here to read Dana’s Artist Statement.



Spotlight on 2022 Grant Recipient Show artist Terry Lynn Spry

Terry Lynn Spry is one of sixteen artists who is exhibiting work in the Fort Myers 2022 Biennial Individual Artist Grant Recipient Show in the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center May 6-26. Her medium being oil on canvas, Terry Lynn loves to create paintings that tell stories. She considers painting the same as breathing and better than chocolate. Spry’s paintings have been exhibited in both local and national juried shows. In 2021, she took part in the COVID-delayed Fort Myers 2020 Biennial Individual Artist Grant Recipient Show.

Go here for the rest of this Spotlight.





Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show sub-curator Jessica Todd

Jessica Todd is the Development Coordinator for Tempus Projects, a nonprofit art gallery and residency, and the Administrative Coordinator for Crab Devil, an interdisciplinary arts collective, both based in Tampa, FL. She is a writer, curator, artist, and arts administrator who is passionate about building the creative infrastructures that support artists and arts organizations, as well as studying and addressing issues of equity, access, and inclusion in the arts. Prior to moving to Tampa in 2020, she was the Residency Manager at the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, FL for six years. She holds a BA in Metal Art & Technology from Penn State University and an MFA in Jewelry/Metals from Kent State University. You can learn more about Ms. Todd here.



Spotlight on 2022 Biennial Grant Recipient Show fiber artist Roseline Young

A fiber artist, Roseline Young utilizes weaving, quilting, spinning and fabric manipulation to create artworks and installations for both indoor settings and outdoor venues. Her medium includes cotton, wool, linen, mohair and raw, unspun fleece, some of which she obtains from friends who raise sheep and grow their own cotton.

“I love texture, things that come out, exploding from structured pieces,” comments Young.

She creates this effect in a number of ways.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.





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

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




‘In the Heights’ at Broadway Palm through May 14

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

You will find the rest of this advance here.

Here’s another slant on the show.

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



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

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

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

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

You can listen to the full spotlight on WGCU.



Dangerous Liaisons plays at Lab Theater through May 7


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

Go here to read the rest of this advance.

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



‘Head over Heels’ musical closes today at New Phoenix Theatre

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

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



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

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

Listen to the full story on WGCU here.



Players Circle’s ‘Miracle on South Division Street’ closes today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




6     FILM


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

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



Edison Ford Winter Estates holding evening of films on April 22

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

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

The rest of this announcement is here.



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

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



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

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

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

You will find the rest of this post here.

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