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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news May 15-21, 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:


1     ACTORS

These are the actors you’ll see in the SoDis Theater reading of Bob Hilliard’s ‘Inquisition’

On Tuesday, May 26, Laboratory Theater of Florida’s SoDis theater will present a virtual reading of a brand new work from local author, playwright, and American hero Bob Hilliard. Called Inquisition, the play is set in the not too distant future where university professors and students have to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice in return for their safety.

This SoDis reading will be directed by The Lab’s Artistic Director Annette Trossbach and features actors from southwest Florida, New York, Texas, and Minnesota. The cast includes Scott Davis, Beth Yazvac, Abrahan de la Rosa, Christopher Sutton, Heather Johnson, Mike Eduoard, Derek Lively, Polly Maynard and Jay Simmons.




These are the May 21 & 28 ‘Best Seats in Your House’ actors

These are the actors who you’ll see in the May 21 and May 28 The Best Seats in Your House plays. Just click on the links to read their profiles and discover their extensive theater and related credits:




Scott Carpenter stepping in as Odell Owens in SoDis’ virtual reading of ‘Sordid Lives’

Last time Lab Theater produced Del Shores’ Sordid Lives, he was directing the show. During SoDis’ virtual reading on Tuesday night (May 19), he swapping the director’s chair for that occupied by Odell Owens, a denizen of Bubba’s Bar. The poor guy has been scarred for life by an incident in his early life that involved a pig. And this just goes to show that there’s no role beyond Scott Carpenter’s reach and range. Hell, you shoulda seen him do the full monty in The Full Monty, a show that was regrettably cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Go here though to see all of Scott’s stage and directing credits.



Cindi Leake Heimberg over the top to play LaVonda again

Playing the role of LaVonda Dupree in SoDis’ virtual reading of Del Shores’ Sordid Lives will be Cindi Heimberg. She also played the part three years ago when Lab Theater produced the black comedy live and on stage. LaVonda is Peggy Ingram’s youngest daughter. Peggy has just died in a seedy motel room where she’d been meeting her secret lover, G.W. Nethercott. LaVonda’s not sure whether it’s worse that G.W. is married to her own best friend or that the low-down philanderer is four decades younger than her mother. Oh, LaVonda is a free spirit, but even she has limits. And those limits are about to be tested by her proper sister, cross-dressing brother, closeted nephew and a host of friends who are coming for Peggy’s funeral to say their good-byes. If you haven’t seen the movie, the sequel or the television series, you’re about to find out why Sordid Lives is a cult classic, especially in the gay community. Cindi was over the top for this over-the-top black comedy about white trash three years ago and is gaga for the virtual reading as well. So she’s invitin’ you to “come on out for a night of fast talkin’, family squawkin’, forced strippin’, sarcasm drippin’, insult flyin’, (mama’s dyin’), secret revealin’, liquor store stealin’, honkeytonking good times!!!” The SoDis reading begins tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. on Lab Theater’s Facebook and YouTube pages.



With ‘Sordid Lives,’ Brian Linthicum gains level of synchronicity

Del Shores’ cult classic Sordid Lives provides actor Brian Linthicum a certain level of synchronicity in a world filled with uncertainty.

In 2017, Brian ended a five-year theater hiatus that followed his relocation to Southwest Florida from hometown Toledo when he played G.W. Nethercott for Director Scott Carpenter and Laboratory Theater of Florida. And now he’s [hopefully] ending the shorter but no less oppressive hiatus that’s been hoist on him and every other actor by the COVID-19 outbreak when he reprises the role in SoDis Theater’s virtual reading of Sordid Lives tonight at 7:00 p.m.

The rest of this interview is here.



Stacy Peres reprising role of Sissy Hickey in SoDis reading of ‘Sordid Lives’

When Lab Theater produced Del Shores’ cult classic Sordid Lives three years ago, director Scott Carpenter cast Stacy Peres in the role of Sissy Hickey. She was a stand-out among many, and now she gets to reprise her performance when SoDis Theater virtually reads the script on Tuesday night (May 19). Sissy is quite the case. On top of dealing with the loss of her sister, she is desperately trying to quit smoking. Texans are naturally suspicious of fancy psychological modalities like Pavlok electric shock wristbands. So instead of that or some newfangled biofeedback machine, Sissy has taken to popping her wrist with a rubber band each time she gets the urge to smoke. It isn’t too long before her wrist is sore and turning red, black and blue. But even funnier is the way Peres has her character sucking in huge draughts of second-hand smoke each time LaVonda lights up during the play’s aptly named first act, “Nictotine Fit.” Besides Sordid Lives, Stacy’s performed at Cultural Park Theatre in Men Are Dogs, Last of the Red Hot Lovers and to To Save a Child.



Shelley Sanders reprising role of Bitsy Mae Harling in SoDis reading of ‘Sordid Lives’

Shelley Sanders didn’t just play the role of songstress Bitsy Mae Harling when Lab Theater produced Del Shores’ cult classic Sordid Lives three years ago. She learned to play the damn guitar in order to portray Bitsy Mae! Now that’s dedication, wouldn’t you agree? I make no excuses for my admiration of Ms. Sanders. But she earns every compliment and accolade that I and everyone else heaps upon her every single time she takes the stage. Since Sordid Lives, she’s cemented her position as one of Southwest Florida’s finest actors with stand-out performances in Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (in which she played a dozen roles), Columbia in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show (for New Phoenix Theatre), the lead in Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood (for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), the unforgettable murderess Minka Lupino in Murderers (Theatre Conspiracy) and Marjorie in The Country Wife (also for Theatre Conspiracy). But you gotta hear her sing at her surrogate mom’s wake for Peggy’s collection of equally damaged family and friends! Olivia Newton John may have made the role famous, but Shelley Sanders makes the role her own. Tune in tomorrow night at 7:00 on Lab Theater’s Facebook or YouTube page.

Go here to read how Shelley reinvents herself with every new role.



A little more about ‘Sordid Lives’ Bitsy Mae Harling

In a black comedy about white trash, Bitsy Mae Harling prefers any color except orange. She’d had enough of orange during her sixteen months in prison – for a crime she didn’t commit. Peggy Ingram was the only one who believed in her innocence, and it was Peggy who picked her up when she was released from prison and gave her a place to live when she had nowhere else to go. And now Peggy’s gone – just like her mom, her drunk of a father and everyone else the liquid-voiced lounge singer had ever loved or cared about in the itsiest bitsiest way. And in the role, Shelley Sanders doesn’t merely croon like a minstrel. She accompanies herself on guitar – a feat she had to learn just for the show some three years ago. If you missed her performance the first time around, don’t make that mistake twice. SoDis’ virtual reading of Sordid Lives takes place Tuesday night (May 19) beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Lab Theater’s Facebook and YouTube pages.


Victoria Diebler getting downright Eve-Ill in ‘Sordid Lives’

Two of the more fascinating characters in Del Shores’ “Sordid Lives” are Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram and his antagonist, Dr. Eve Bolinger. Brother Boy has been in an asylum 23 long years and desperately wants out. Standing in the way of Brother Boy’s release is Dr. Eve Bolinger. She’s determined to de-homosexualize “Brother Boy” by any means necessary, even seducing him right there in her office. But in reality, she couldn’t care less about Brother Boy. She’s after a book deal, an appearance on Oprah, and sweet release from the stultifying confines of the institution in which she works. Dr. Evil will be played in the SoDis Theater virtual reading tonight at 7 p.m. on Lab Theater’s Facebook and YouTube pages by our own Victoria Diebler. Go here to see her previous stage credits.



Thinking about that next role gets TJ Albertson through COVID-19 hiatus

TJ Albertson is one of Southwest Florida’s rising community theater stars. In the past two seasons, he has 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 bad boy Timmy in Hand to God.

But with all of the nation’s theaters shuttered indefinitely, Albertson no longer has an outlet for his creative impulses.

“On the days I didn’t have rehearsal, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” TJ concedes. “Now that [theater] has been taken away, it’s an even greater loss.”

Feeling adrift between roles may be disquieting, but it pales in comparison to the existential threat to the viability of local theater posed by COVID-19.

Albertson voices the fear that if the mandate for social distancing goes on for too long, some local theater companies may find it impossible to reopen. And those that do may find it impossible to attract audiences since so many patrons have lost jobs and their livelihoods.

“It’s pretty terrifying, I’m not going to lie,” says TJ over the phone. “If there isn’t the money for necessities, there certainly won’t be discretionary income for theater. Every actor’s worst fear is finding an empty house when they show up to perform.”

Go here for the rest of this interview.



Tamicka Armstrong grateful to cast mates and directors for taking her under their wings

Tamicka Armstrong considers herself lucky. Very lucky. She’s enjoyed the great fortune of sharing the stage with some special actors since her theatrical debut in 2018 in Greg Lam’s Repossessed at Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts.

Besides Tamicka, the cast for that production included Rachel Burttram, Brendan Powers, Lauren Drexler, Joann Haley, Lisa Kuchinski and Patrick Day. Since then she’s shared the boards with Kuchinski twice more (in Chicago and Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood), Haley in Marian and such talents as Paul Graffy (How to Transcend a Happy Marriage and The Crucible), Annette Trossbach (How to Transcend a Happy Marriage), Steven Coe and Imani Williams (The Crucible),  and Shelley Sanders and Karen Goldberg in Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood.

Go here for the rest of this interview.



For gregarious Gerri Benzing, life post-COVID-19 is a world of solitude

Slipping her key into the stage door, Gerri Benzing gives a short, silent sigh before slipping inside. The back of the theater is as quiet as a tomb. She scurries across the stage and begins the lonely walk up the stage right aisle, her only companion being the ghost light keeping vigil center stage.

It’s not that Florida Rep is haunted. But theatrical superstition holds that every theater has a ghost. Locally, Lab Theater is reputed to have at least one. Just ask ghost hunter Lee Ehrlich, who found a lot of paranormal activity in certain spots of the nearly 100-year-old theater during a visit last May. On Broadway, the Palace Theatre supposedly houses more than 100 ghosts, including a white-gowned cellist, an ill-fated acrobat and even Judy Garland. And the New Amsterdam is said to be inhabited by former Ziegfeld showgirl Olive Thomas.

So over time, theaters around the world have evolved traditions to appease and please their supernatural residents. For example, London’s Palace Theatre keeps two seats bolted open in the balcony to provide seating for the theater’s ghosts. New Amsterdam posts pictures of Olive Thomas at every entrance and exit.

You’ll find the rest of Gerri’s interview here.



For Lemec Bernard, acting is a blood sport

It was a boring Saturday, and Lemec Bernard was looking for something to do. An ad caught his eye. It was for a free acting class; the teacher, Marcus Colón. On a lark, Bernard attended. He had no idea what to expect. Nothing in his background predisposed him toward acting. In college and high school, he was the inveterate jock. Both as a letterman running back and full-ride scholarship outside linebacker at UCF, he was more accustomed to lowering his head, hitting hard, exacting pain. And so when Colón opened the class with the words “Acting is a blood sport,” Bernard was all in.

“It didn’t make sense at first. It took me forever to really understand what he meant, but I do now,” Lemec reflects. “Now, I can’t think of acting in any other way.”

Bernard couches his explanation in competitive terms.

Go here for the balance of this interview.



Spotlight on Tiny Theatre’s Rachel Burttram

Rachel Burttram is one of Southwest Florida’s best actors. Whether comedic or dramatic, theater, film or television, she has the chops to handle any role that comes her way.

Rachel has been working in regional theater for more than 20 years. She has shared the boards with the legendary Carol Lawrence and Tony-nominated Daniel Sunjata. Her stage work has been seen across the country – in venues ranging from the Actors’ Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky, Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor, Maine (where she received rave reviews for her fierce, feisty, angry and determined portrayal of a shattered Afghan war vet in Ugly Lies the Bone), Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, New York (where she appeared in Mark St. Germaine’s romantic comedy Dancing Lessons), The Hippodrome Theatre in Gainesville, Florida, Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida, Gloucester Stage in Massachusetts, Barnstormers’ Theatre in New Hampshire, City Equity in Alabama, Geva Theatre, and various stages in New York City, including the prestigious Actors’ Studio.

You will find the rest of Rachel’s profile here.



Burttram & Powers’ Tiny Theatre giving voice to playwrights near and far

Rachel Burttram is a performing artist. When the pandemic struck, she and husband Brendan Powers were all set to spend the next three and a half weeks of their lives performing A Doll’s House Part 2 to 14 rows of live audience. They’d put in an enormous amount of work mastering an impossibly difficult script. Now suddenly finding themselves cut adrift by the COVID-19 outbreak, they decided to create a tiny theater in a back bedroom not only to provide themselves something to do, but give playwrights a voice during this unprecedented time when theaters across the globe are eerily dark.

“I know myself well enough that if I don’t have a project to work on, I get pretty blue,” Rachel explains. “So instead of giving in to a broken heart, I downshifted into a project that gives [Bren and I] a sense of purpose and creates a forum for playwrights to hear their words and others to watch and enjoy.”

Go here for the rest of this story.



For Danielle Channell, theater’s a group effort

Every actor, director, theater owner and theater-goer is reacting to the ongoing moratorium on live performances differently. Some (like Florida Rep, Lab Theater, Broadway Palm, The Naples Players and Rachel Burttram and Brendan Powers through their Tiny_Theatre initiative) have rushed to fill the void with virtual readings and performances. Others are not only plugging into this brave new virtual world, but buoying each other’s spirits through social media interaction. Others are using the down time to catch up on chores oft-neglected because of busy rehearsal and performance schedules. But all are embracing the opportunity to evaluate what it is that they love about theater and miss most now that the stage has been eliminated from the equation.

Go here to read Danielle’s comments and observations.

And go here for Danielle’s full profile.



Spotlight on Tiny Theatre’s Brendan Powers

Brendan Powers is a professional Equity Actor who resides in Fort Myers. He performs frequently at Florida Repertory and other area community theater companies.

As a Florda Rep ensemble member, Powers has been a mainstay at Florida Rep. over the past nine seasons. Select Florida Rep credits over this timeframe include Outside Mullingar, How the Other Half Loves, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The House of Blue Leaves, The Mousetrap, The Cocktail Hour, A Christmas Story, The Unexpected Guest, Dividing the Estate, Around the World in 80 Days, The Fantasticks, Doubt, Opus, Boeing-Boeing, and The Glass Menagerie.

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts audiences are still talking about his performance as Torvald Helmer in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and in New Play Contest winner, Repossessed, in which he starred opposite his real-life wife, Rachel Burttram.

Go here for the rest of Brendan’s profile.



Post ‘Full Monty,’ actor Kristen Wilson finds new purpose sewing COVID-19 face masks

Kristen Wilson was performing in Terrence McNally’s The Full Monty when the pandemic forced the early closure of the New Phoenix show.

“We literally found out that our show was closing early about an hour before the start of our 3:00 p.m. matinee.”

That was on Sunday, March 14.

“We all gathered on stage and kind of cried it out. We called and let our family and friends know Full Monty was closing so that they could come. It was a special show.”

To a person, the cast knew it was the right call. It would have been irresponsible, even unconscionable, to expose themselves and audiences to exposure – and all the people they would have gone on to unknowingly infect.

But that knowledge didn’t blunt the heartbreak associated with being deprived of the opportunity to share McNally’s uplifting story with four more enthusiastic, fun-loving audiences, to speak his words, sing David Yazbek’s score, perform Brenda Kensler’s carefully-wrought choreography.

You will find the rest of this interview here.





Cornell Fine Arts Museum to exhibit Jansen’s first U.S. museum solo show

The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is exhibiting a solo show of work by Marcus Jansen September 18, 2020 through January 3, 2021. Titled E Pluribus Unum, the exhibition represents the first ever solo museum exhibition of Jansen’s work in the United States.

This exhibition will focus on works Jansen created in the last 15 years and will be comprised of both large scale paintings and a selection of works on paper (among them a select number of new pieces on view for the first time) that examine Jansen’s visual explorations of structures of power and the struggle to grapple with the nuanced reality of our time. The exhibition is being organized by the Cornell Fine Arts Museum in collaboration with the artist and will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.

While E Pluribus Unum may represent Jansen’s first solo museum show in the United States, the Bronx/Fort Myers artist has enjoyed a number of solo shows abroad, including shows at La Triennale di Milano Museum in Milan and the Museum Zitadelle  in Berlin, and he participated in the 12th International Print and Drawing Biennial in Taiwan at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art. Works by Jansen are in collections of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), The University of Michigan Museum of Art, The New Britain Museum of American Art, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, The Housatonic Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

Jansen is known for powerful, monumental canvases that address poignant social and political themes. Through the use of an arresting visual language characterized by colorful and expressive brushwork, and references to contemporary and historical issues, Jansen invites viewers to engage in a reflection about the human condition.



Photographer Steve Conley on a Camera USA roll

Fort Myers fine art photographer Steve Conley is on a Camera USA roll. He’s been informed that his photo Monroe Café has been juried into the Naples Art Association’s Camera USA 2020 National Photography Exhibition and Competition. It’s the fifth time in six years, and the last four years in a row that he’s had work accepted into the prestigious Naples Art photography show!

Conley took Monroe Cafe last April in Georgia. He and Ingela were returning from Blue Ridge, taking back roads. “We stopped in this quaint little town for a rainy afternoon lunch,” Steve explains. “I took a short walk as the food was being prepared and noticed this window scene. I was intrigued by the many layers of reflection both inside and outside the double-paned glass. The moment of capture was determined by the passing of a UPS truck.”

Go here for the rest of this story.



Spotlight on Arsenault Studio’s ‘Water’ exhibitor Stephen Estrada

One of the artists being featured by Arsenault Studio and Banyan Arts Gallery in its virtual exhibition, Water, is Stephen Estrada.

Estrada’s paintings of the ocean and sky reflect an intimate, human connection with the natural world. His work traces his personal journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, as well as a painterly response to sites in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Stephen was born in Chicago. A year later, his father moved the family to Southern California to be closer to his extended family in Los Angeles and Mexico.

Early experiences of surfing and hiking instilled in him a deep feeling for the beauty and power of the natural environment. His mother, a painter who had studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, encouraged his early interest in art.

Stephen attended the Art Institute of Boston, but after a massive fire destroyed his studio building and all of his paintings in 1976, he moved to Washington DC to attend the Corcoran School of Art. There he studied with William Christenberry and Robert Stackhouse who encouraged his interest in the natural world as a source for his work. After leaving school, Estrada created paintings based on personal dream sequences that combined disparate images and personal iconography culminating in a series of paintings of wolves followed by large-scale pastel drawings of birds and natural forms.

Stephen’s current body of work grew out of a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway in 2010. Back in his studio, Stephen discovered one of his only early surviving paintings: a surfer skidding down a wave, a memory of his years in California. The canvas moved him to return to the sea as an inspiration for his paintings. His ongoing Latitude 37 Series is an exploration of exact points along the 37th parallel from Half Moon Bay, California, to coastal Virginia. Paintings in the series range from turbulent seascapes with dramatic clouds to tranquil views of verdant marshland.

​Stephen is based in Silver Spring, MD. He has shown in museums and galleries throughout the US.



Spotlight on Arsenault Studio’s ‘Water’ exhibitor Reisha Perlmutter

One of the artists being featured by Arsenault Studio and Banyan Arts Gallery in its virtual exhibition, Water, is Reisha Perlmutter.

Although she now lives and works in New York City, Reisha has ties to Naples, Florida, where she was born in 1990. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. Between her undergraduate and graduate degrees, she attended residencies in Italy and France, focusing on traditional atelier studies. She completed her MFA from the New York Academy of Art with a concentration in figurative and anatomical painting.

Her work is best known for representational imagery of women and water, where she explores the relationship between body and environment as well as perceptions of beauty. Her work is collected and shown internationally. She has participated in museum shows both in the United States and Europe, and her work has been auctioned off several times at Sotheby’s. (You can view her CV here.)

Among the paintings that Arsenault Studio & Banyan Arts Gallery are featuring are Europa, from Perlmutter’s 2019 Lunar Series, and Delphinium, a 2018 72 x 36 inch oil on canvas.

She continues to live and work in New York City and you can visit her website here.




Spotlight on Arsenault Studio ‘Water’ exhibitor Amy Moglia Heuerman

Arsenault Gallery had planned a pop up show of new work by Amy Moglia Heuerman when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. So instead, it has included Amy’s work in its virtual exhibition, Water.

“Amy’s new work gives us hope and reminds us that better days are just beyond the horizon,” states Paul Arsenault. “We hope you enjoy her new paintings, share them with friends, and continue to support the arts.

You may view Amy’s work on the gallery’s website.

Please call the gallery at 239-263-1214 if you are interested in any of Amy’s work.



Spotlight on Arsenault Studio ‘Water’ exhibitor Jake Jones

One of the artists being featured by Arsenault Studio and Banyan Arts Gallery in its virtual exhibition, Water, is Jake Jones. Born in California, the onetime newspaper graphics artist is now an award-winning visual artist based in Naples. His love of “all things ocean” shines through in his artworks of sea life on unique canvases – reclaimed surfboards that once carved waves themselves. The sculptures require weeks of cutting, scraping and sanding, but what emerges at the end of Jone’s process are unique bas-relief ocean life portraits cutting through sea grass or waves in a longboard frame. [Go here to read Jake’s 2019 interview with Harriet Howard Heithaus for the Naples Daily News.]





Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen on virtual T.G.I.M. tonight

Join Eric Raddatz on Monday, May 18 from 7:00-7:30 p.m. as he celebrates T.G.I.M. with special guest Representative Heather Fitzenhagen. Watch here or join the video discussion here and enjoy some conversation about what you think others should be watching and what Ms. Fitzenhagen has been watching too. Eric has a few that he plans on talking about, such as Space Force, Becoming, The Last Dance, The Wrong Missy and Trial by Media.

Representative Fitzenhagen has joined Eric and the Fort Myers Film Festivals numerous times at T.G.I.M. Ms. Fitzenhagen is passionate about helping people and has been involved in our community for more than 20 years. An advocate for clean water, trafficking victims and anyone who lacks a voice, she is excited to exercise hers critiquing the movies up for discussion tonight. Heather’s service in the Florida House of Representatives ends in November, but she hopes to exchange her Tallahassee commute for one to Washington D.C. as our area’s next Congresswoman. Heather loves to participate in what is always an interesting and entertaining experience.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

And to gain some insight on how Ms. Fitzenhagen analyzes films, read what she said after judging films a last season’s November (2018) TGIM.



Evgeniya Radilova’s role as Vamireniya no ‘Lost Cos’

Last Monday (May 4), actor and Patrik/El Cavil filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova joined Fort Myers Film Festival Director Eric Raddatz from the front seat of her car in California for a virtual edition of T.G.I.M. Among the topics they discussed were her 2019 film Patrik (which was screened at the 9th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival), her new film El Cavil (which has been juried into the 10th Annual Fort Myers Film Festival and her newest project, Lost Cos, in which she portrays a character who’s alter ego is an avenger who goes by the name of Vampireniya.

Vampireniya is not to be confused with the comic book superheroine Vampirella created in 1969 by Forrest J Ackerman and comic book artist Trina Robbins. In the ensuing 51 years, Vampirella became one of the most widely-recognized independent comic creations of all time. But Lost Cos’ Vampireniya is actually the cosplay alter ego of a woman named Eni. Confronted by traumatic events from her abusive past, Eni must find an outlet for the rage welling up from inside before it destroys her. After being introduced to the underground world of cosplay in a New York club called Lost Cos, Eni creates a character she names Vampireniya. Although her stage act is premised on the comic book vampire succubus, Vampireniya is actually a carefully-constructed cover for Eni’s mission to hunt down and eliminate those who abuse women. But Eni’s lover, Zoey, worries that in Eni’s attempt to face down her demons, she has blurred the line between fantasy and reality to the point of no return.

Interestingly, Evgeniya didn’t know much about vampires when her friend, Jeff Leconte Georges, contacted her about playing Eni. And she’d never heard of Vampirella or the world of cosplay at all.

Go here for the rest of this story.



Spotlight on ‘El Cavil’ filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova

Evgeniya Radilova is an actor, producer, director, model, fire twirler and international woman of mystery.

She hails from Bulgaria, where Evgeniya became one of the best known faces on screen and the stage. A descendant of four generations of artists (her mom was an actor, her father a director), she became the youngest actress to play on the professional stage.

Shortly after graduating from the National School for Music (where she learned piano), she hosted Masters of the TV, one of the biggest television shows on Bulgarian National TV. She hosted the show for three years.

Go here for the remainder of this profile.



Film actor Cassidy Reyes working on craft with deliberate practice

When the pandemic struck, Cassidy Reyes was filming Love Song and Power. Written by Stevie Kinchen and directed by Erik Krefeld and Eddel Martinez, the picture is about finding the courage to be oneself. Reyes couldn’t be more perfect for the part of Alex. That’s because Cassidy Reyes exemplifies the film’s theme.

After graduating college magna cum laude, Reyes followed her parents’ footsteps into medical school. Both Christine Dee-Reyes and Joseph Reyes are board certified optometrists who have been practicing locally for more than 20 years. But within six weeks, Cassidy realized that being a doctor was more her parents’ dream than hers. She longed to be a film actor. So she telephoned her folks and broke the news that she was leaving medical school for the silver screen. She had to follow her dream.

Not surprisingly, her parents were less than thrilled. Cassidy had but one gig lined up at the time, and her parents assayed to impress upon their daughter how difficult and rare it is to make a living as a film actor.

“Mom’s a realist,” Cassidy acknowledges with a chuckle. “Dad’s the ultimate optimist. But he is also involved in the local film community.”

Go here for the rest of this interview.

Go here to see all of Cassidy’s film credits.




Southwest Florida’s museums, galleries and art centers remain closed to the public. However, they may open again as soon as the State moves into Phase 2 of Governor Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan. Although we don’t know when that will happen, when it does, large venues such as movie theaters, concert halls, arcades, playhouses and presumably museums, galleries and art centers can reopen subject to the requirements that groups be limited to 10 or fewer people with six feet of space maintained between each party and the overall limitation restricting social gatherings to no more than 50 people. Regular cleaning and disinfecting will be required, owners are encouraged to conduct health screenings of employees and masks are recommended for both patrons and staff. In the meantime, some of Southwest Florida’s museums, galleries and art centers are producing shows, and this online option may continue beyond reopening.


Centers for the Arts Bonita introduces virtual art exhibition

The Center for the Arts Bonita’s virtual art exhibition is now live and can be viewed here. Viewers have the option of viewing a 6:15 minute virtual tour of the the works hanging in the gallery or examining each work individually. The exhibition consists of 54 works in various genres and media by 34 individual artists, as well as six untitled works by “artist unknown.”

For more information or to purchase an artwork, you may contact the Center at 239-495-8989.



Alliance, Art Educators Ass’n announce ‘Future of Art’ winners

Following a 28 year tradition, the Alliance for the Arts and the Lee Arts Educators Association (LAEA) have partnered to present and feature artwork from area schools. This year, the annual exhibition and award ceremony, The Future of Art, has gone digital due to the impact of COVID-19. The show features artwork from thirteen area high schools and hundreds of works in a variety of mediums.

“Now more than ever is a critical time to support young artists,” says gallery director Ehren Gerhard (2nd photo). “When we encourage young artists, we’re encouraging them to have confidence in their ideas. The work of our local students is powerful, cutting edge and risk taking! As a community, it is vital we foster creative thought in young minds. They are the future and the future demands it.”

The Alliance and LAEA hosted a virtual award ceremony on Friday, May 1 via the Alliance for the Arts Facebook page. This year’s judges are Dana Roes (3rd photo), Sorsha, Mike Kiniry (4th photo), Stephen Hayford (5th photo), and Ehren Gerhard. Winners were selected in several categories including painting, drawing, photography, computer graphics, mixed media, sculpture and functional ceramics. Best in Show receives a full Associate in Arts scholarship to Florida SouthWestern State College.

Award categories and winners include:


  • 1st Place – Carly Enmon, “Fish”, North Fort Myers High School, Grade 11
  • 2nd Place – Celine Galang, “Making My Way Downtown”, Cape Coral High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Mia McMillian, “Untitled”, Lehigh Senior High School, Grade 10


  • 1st Place – Kimberly Sarabia, “Tyler the Creator”, Estero High School, Grade 12
  • 2nd Place – Hank Yang, “Solitude”, Cape Coral High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Ariela Appadoo, “Untitled”, Lehigh Senior High School, Grade 11


  • 1st Place – Nina McBride, “Untitled”, North Fort Myers High School, Grade 11
  • 2nd Place – Chris-Sola Martinez, “Untitled”, Lehigh Senior High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Madeline Kellum, “Vessel”, Estero High School, Grade 12


  • 1st Place – Yildizay Turk, “Oceanic Body Adornment” Cypress Lake High School, Grade 11
  • 2nd Place – Installation led by Austin Stinnett, “Ravens”, South Fort Myers High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Caroline Cicotte, “Photic vs Aphotic”, Fort Myers High School, Grade 11


  • 1st Place – Anna Fischler, “Untitled”, Fort Myers High School, Grade 11
  • 2nd Place – Kimberly Sarabia, “Honey Bees”, Estero High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Esmeralda Flores, “Golden Hour”, Cypress Lake High School, Grade 12


  • 1st Place – Julia Dry, “Untitled”, Cypress Lake High School, Grade 12
  • 2nd Place – Trinity Sullivan, “Shake”, Cape Coral High School, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Jenny Doan, “Untitled”, Ida Baker High School, Grade 11


  • 1st Place – Julia Dry, “Movement #13”, Cypress Lake High School, Grade 12
  • 2nd Place – Arialis Perez Delgado, “Underwater Scene with Whale”, Lehigh Senior High School, Grade 11
  • 3rd Place – Ha Nguyen, “Untitled”, Cape Coral High School, Grade 11


  • 1st Place – Donovan Souppa, “Plastic Final”, North Fort Myers High School, Grade 12
  • 2nd Place – Kaitlin Fernandez, “Mirror”, Mariner High, Grade 12
  • 3rd Place – Lauren Ratz, “Untitled”, Fort Myers High, Grade 12

BEST IN SHOW: Esmeralda Flores, “Golden Hour”, Cypress Lake High School, Grade 12

For more information or view the virtual gallery, visit This exhibit is sponsored by Florida SouthWestern State College.



Arsenault Studio presenting virtual exhibition titled ‘Water’

In response to the pandemic, the Arsenault Studio and Banyan Arts Gallery is presenting a virtual exhibition titled Water which features gallery artists, honors Earth Day, and supports Audubon of the Western Everglades ( The exhibition began on April 7, coinciding with the 130th birthday of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, champion of the Everglades, and showcases water-oriented paintings by Paul Arsenault, Stephen Estrada, Amy Moglia Heuerman, James P. Kerr, Mary Parkman, Reisha Perlmutter, and reclaimed surfboard carvings by Jake Jones. Each week, works pertaining to water are being featured via the gallery’s newsletter and social media outlets.

Recognizing that local non-profits are also heavily impacted during this time, the artists and the gallery have agreed to donate 22% of any sales to Audubon of the Western Everglades for 50 days—commemorating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

For more information please contact the gallery at: or 239-263-1214.



5        Public Art


‘Water the Source of Life’ mural being installed in Fort Myers’ Viva Court

The Fort Myers Mural Society is launching a new mural project this week. Called “Water, the Source of Life,” it is being painted by local muralist Erik Schlake in Viva Court in downtown Fort Myers.

In its press release announcing the project, the Fort Myers Mural Society states that the mural will draw attention to the Seminole Nation’s desire to preserve and share their culture while reminding all of us of the importance of clean water.

Traditional Seminole cultural, religious, commercial and recreational activities depend on clean water, which is inextricably linked to a healthy Everglades ecosystem. In fact, the Tribe’s identity is so closely linked to the land that Tribal members believe that if the land dies, so will the Tribe. Consequently, when the Everglades went into decline, The Tribe recognized that they had to act to protect and preserve the endangered natural ecosystem. So the Tribe formulated an ambitious $65 million multi-year program designed to mitigate the impacts of development on the environment and, more specifically, improve water quality, increase water storage capacity, enhance hydroperiods and remove phosphorus and other pollutants from water leaving the Reservation, flowing through Big Cypress National Preserve and entering Mullet Slough and the Everglades Protection Area. Because of its importance, the Seminole Everglades Restoration Initiative has been included in the report issued by the Governor’s Commission for a Sustainable South Florida on the projects needed for Everglades restoration.

The Seminole Tribe occupies a prominent place in the history of Southwest Florida, particularly Fort Myers. The fort from which our town takes its name was constructed to serve as a base of operations for locating, rounding up and deporting the Seminoles living in the Big Cypress and Everglades in 1850. When the federal government could not persuade Chief Billy Bowlegs and his people to voluntarily relocated to Indian territory in present day Oklahoma, they instigated a war that ended in the Spring of 1858 with the surrender and deportation of Bowlegs and 123 of his tribe. But roughly 300 Seminoles refused to leave, including 108-year-old Sam Jones, the former leader of the once mighty Mikasukis. They were the undefeated, the unconquered. But they did not possess an acre they could call their own until the State of Florida set aside 100,000 acres of swamp, sawgrass and wilderness as a reservation which exists to this day.

“Historians and anthropologists share with us the Seminole contribution to southwest Florida’s cultural legacy,” the Fort Myers Mural Society amplifies. “Already a vulnerable population, the Tribe depends heavily on its natural resources for economic and sacred cultural identity. This is especially true when climate change alters the landscape and ecosystems on native lands. When hunting, fishing, and traditional gathering sites shift, and plants, animals, and aquatic species disappear, the Tribe will be unable to protect an ancient way of life.”

Muralist Erik Schlake started his art career in St. Louis at the age of 23. After studying fine art, he felt unsettled until discovering various forms of decorative arts.  Becoming fascinated with the work of European decorative painters, the New York native quickly moved his work in that direction. Erik has worked with numerous private and commercial clients, developing one-of-a-kind murals and a multitude of decorative arts in both residences and businesses locations. The project also bear the influence of contemporary street art and Schlake’s participation in 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Salon, a world-wide gathering of artist from different countries that exhibit their work, teach master classes and discuss old and new techniques.

Pre-COVID-19, the Fort Myers Mural Society shared and celebrated the mural painting process with the community through an event it has affectionately called an “Art Stumble.” However, in response to the pandemic and the ban on public events, the Society is inviting everyone to participate in the process instead via:

  • and

For more information, please contact or telephone Shari Shifrin at 239-461-7245.



City of Fort Myers’ website now contains table of exterior artworks

The City of Fort Myers’ website now contains a table listing each of the outdoor artworks that comprise the City’s public art collection, together with the artist who made the piece, the date it was installed and its location. Links are provided for some of the pieces that will take visitors to pages that furnish photographs and stories about their history, what they represent and the artists who created them.

“With the first official piece of Fort Myers public art dating back to August 17, 1913, we are fortunate to enjoy a long history of supporting the acquisition of additional installations,” states the intro to the table. Go here to view this page on the City’s website.



6.       Outdoor Art Fairs and Festivals


No outdoor art fairs or festivals were scheduled for the month of May. The 2020-2021 art festival season will presumably start up in October. However, year-round events such as Fort Myers Art Walk have been cancelled for the time being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



7      THEATER


Southwest Florida’s theaters remain closed to the public. However, they may open again as soon as the State moves into Phase 2 of Governor Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan. Although we don’t know when that will happen, when it does, large venues such as movie theaters, concert halls, arcades and playhouses can reopen subject to the requirements that groups be limited to 10 or fewer people with six feet of space maintained between each party and the overall limitation restricting attendance to 75% of capacity. Regular cleaning and disinfecting will be required, owners are encouraged to conduct health screenings of employees and masks are recommended for both patrons and staff. In the meantime, many of Southwest Florida’s community theater companies are producing virtual readings and shows, and this online option may continue beyond reopening.


SoDis doing virtual reading of ‘Sordid Lives’ on May 19

The Laboratory Theater of Florida will present a SoDis (socially distant) reading of Del Shores’ cult classic Sordid Lives on Tuesday, May 19, at 7:00 p.m. on its Facebook and YouTube pages. Playwright Del Shores is offering The Lab this production as a fundraiser for the theater while the theater is dark.

Chaos erupts in Winters, Texas, when Peggy, a good Christian woman, hits her head on the sink and bleeds to death after tripping over her lover’s wooden legs in a motel room. The author of Daddy’s Dyin’ (Who’s Got the Will?) brings you “a black comedy about white trash” that was nominated for over thirty awards during its long run in Los Angeles.

Go here for the rest of this advance.



SoDis Theater presenting new Bob Hilliard play, ‘Inquisition’

On Tuesday, May 26, Laboratory Theater of Florida’s SoDis theater will present a virtual reading of a brand new work from local author, playwright, and American hero Bob Hilliard. Called Inquisition, the play is set in the not too distant future where university professors and students have to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice in return for their safety. The rest of this advance is here.



Ghost Pro Lee Ehrlich picking up where he left off at Lab Theater last year

The Laboratory Theater of Florida will be hosting an evening of live virtual ghost “hunting” with world-renowned Ghost Pro Lee Ehrlich on May 30 starting at 10:00 p.m. and continuing until 3:00 a.m. Lee will set up his equipment and allow you to tag along virtually to witness the process of conducting a full investigation of the paranormal activity of several spaces at The Laboratory Theater of Florida campus. Your digital ticket will allow you access for up to 5 hours of live-streamed investigation and a Q&A with the Ghost Pro himself.

Staff, actors and visitors to the theater have reported seeing and feeling paranormal activity for years at the historic building in the Fort Myers River District. Some have encountered a female entity on the stairs; other have seen floating orbs in the mezzanine, and more. Guests to this “Ghost Watch” may be lucky enough to hear, with the help of Lee’s equipment, the ghosts or even see them in one of the most actively haunted buildings in our area.

This won’t be Ehrilich’s first time investigating The Lab’s nearly 100-year-old building. He and his team were here in May of 2019. Afterwards, he stated he sensed a lot of activity in certain spots of the theater.

Lee Ehrlich is an adventurer/explorer who is most notably recognized as the world authority on underwater paranormal phenomena. He is a paranormal investigator with over three decades of experience who heads a nation-wide investigative team specializing in hostile and dangerous environments.

Ehrlich’s investigative exploits have earned him critical acclaim, which has resulted in numerous radio and television appearances, including a starring role in The Travel Channel’s “Legends Of.” On the conference tour, he is a well-known lecturer who brings a unique perspective to the paranormal realm.

Tickets for digital access to the 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. investigation on Friday, May 30 are $25 per person and are available at or by calling (239) 823-4613. The theater is located in the River District of Fort Myers at 1634 Woodford Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33901.



Studio Players reopening with ‘Walter Cronkite is Dead’ once Phase 2 begins

The Studio Players is planning to resume live performances once Florida enters Phase 2 of Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” reopening plan. While no timeline has been given for when that will happen, The Studio Players plans to reopen with Joe Calarco’s Walter Cronkite is Dead. Directed by Hollis Galman, the show stars Bonnie Knapp and Cindy Hile as Patty and Margaret, two “funny, difficult, deeply revealing and astonishingly frank” women.

“As you know, our venue at the Golden Gate Community Center’s Joan Jenks Auditorium is a very large open space which will allow us to be able to social distant very easily,” states Scott Lilly. “We are ready to set up our chairs with the 75% capacity following the recommended strict social distancing guidelines as soon as we get the word! Disposable masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be provided if needed.”

Under the guidelines, movie theaters, concert halls, auditoriums, bowling alleys, casinos, arcades and playhouses can open in Phase 2 with strict distancing in place and 75% capacity. Groups should be limited to 10 or fewer people and there should be six feet of space between each party. Cleaning and disinfecting should be done regularly and owners should consider conducting health screenings for employees. Masks are also encouraged.

The Golden Gate Community Center has taken extra steps to provide a safe place to be once the facility is back open, Lilly adds. “Your safety will be our priority!”

For more information about the theater or Walter Cronkite is Dead, visit or telephone 239-398-9192.



May 21 ‘Best Seats in Your House’ features three one-act plays

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts will present a series of online plays beginning May 21 at 7:30 p.m. This virtual streaming initiative not only gives audiences a chance to experience theater from the comfort of their own homes, it creates opportunities for actors in the area to perform safely from home. It’s called The Best Seats In Your House, and the series kicks off May 21 and continues May 28 with productions directed by Bill Taylor and featuring local favorites including Stephanie Davis, Kayleigh O’Connell, Anna Grilli, Lemec Bernard, Imani Williams, Madelaine Weymouth, Steve Coe and Katie Pankow.

The first part of the series on Thursday, May 21 includes short one-act plays written especially for online viewing. Go here for a synopsis of each play, the actors who will be performing in it, and streaming instructions.



May 28 ‘Best Seats in Your House’ to feature two more virtual plays

Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts’ Best Seats in Your House series will continue at 7:30 on May 28 with two more short virtual plays that will not only gives audiences a chance to experience theater from the comfort of their homes, but create opportunities for actors in the area to perform safely from theirs. Each play will be directed by Producing Artistic Director Bill Taylor.

Go here for a synopsis of each play, the actors who will be performing in it, and streaming instructions.



Naples Players announces changes to schedule

The Naples Players has been massaging its schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated stay-at-home orders. In particular, TNP has

  • rescheduled Calendar Girls for April 28 – May 23, 2021;
  • announced virtual performances of Becky’s New Car, streaming May 24 – May 31,
  • rescheduled this summer’s production of The Wedding Singer to next summer (June 23 – July 25, 2021);
  • adjusted next season’s production of An Ideal Husband into the Tobye Studio May 19 – June 13, 2021 in order to accommodate the added productions;
  • will be working to create virtual performances of the KidzAct productions of As You Like It and Pride and Prejudice; and
  • expressed optimism about being able to resume live performances as scheduled this fall with the raucous comedy Boeing, Boeing (opens September 30th).

If you currently have seats to Calendar Girls, An Ideal Husband, or The Wedding Singer, the TNP Box Office will reach-out within 30 days to get you re-seated for the new performance dates. If you have tickets to Becky’s New Car, you will recieve an email within 2 weeks detailing access to the virtual performance. And if you are unable to attend any of the rescheduled performance dates, TNP asks that, if at all possible, you convert your seats into a tax deductible donation as this will be a critical component of the theater’s future.


TNP partners with Ocean Prime and Truluck’s for dinner and a virtual show

The Naples Players (TNP) is partnering with Ocean Prime and Truluck’s to offer a special “pre-theatre” menu-to-go before patrons view the virtual performance of Becky’s New Car May 24 to May 31, 2020.

The Naples Players is among the first companies in the country to produce a full virtual production filmed after the COVID-19 closure. “We’re excited to embrace the digital format not as a replacement for live theatre – and not even as a recording of live theatre – but as its own new medium to help tell the compelling stories you would have seen on-stage” says CEO & Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander.

Boasting pre-show menus before the COVID-19 shutdown, both Ocean Prime and Truluck’s are excited to once again provide quality dining for patrons to enjoy before a TNP show.

“The Naples Players represent the gold standard of artistic expression and community advocacy here in Naples. Truluck’s has been honored to partner with this beloved organization since our opening in 2004″ says Stuart Dickson, Truluck’s General Manager.

Ocean Prime agrees.

“This is a nice way to take one step towards normalcy – by enjoying a great Ocean Prime dinner and yet another great performance from The Naples Players” says Ocean Prime General Manager Rick Giannasi.

For $40, Ocean prime’s take-out theater menu will include:

  • choice of House or Caesar salad
  • choice of 4 entrees
  • and carrot cake or homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Upgrade entree choice of Chilean Sea Bass or Prime New York Strip steak for an additional $10

For $65, Truluck’s take-out theater menu will include:

  • Soup & Salad (Lobster Bisque, Sonoma Greens Salad, or Caesar Salad)
  • choice of 4 entrees
  • and carrot cake, chocolate malt cake, or Key Lime Pie

“What’s really great about these dinners – besides their flavors – is the way our organizations are working together in this time of crisis. And that’s what The Naples Players means when we say we are a ‘theatre for the community’” finished Alexander.

Tickets for Becky’s New Car can be purchased:

  • -on-line at – or
  • -on the phone at (239) 263-7990.

Take-out orders can be placed over the phone for both restaurants:

  • Ocean Prime, (239) 430-0404, 699 5th Avenue South, Naples, Florida 34102
  • Truluck’s, (239) 530-3131, 698 4th Avenue South, Naples, Florida 34102

The Naples Players has soldiered on throughout the crisis to offer support to the community during these difficult times. In addition to sewing face masks and building intubation boxes for local hospitals, the theatre has also provided a number of free, online classes and events including classes for anxiety, isolation, and people with disabilities.

Those looking to donate may do so directly on The Naples Players website at or by texting “TNP” to (239) 349-3001.



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