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Visual and Performing Artists and Events in the news May 15-21, 2023


This is who and what’s creating news in Southwest Florida’s visual and performing arts community this week:


1     ACTORS


Gerrie Benzing is Gertrude in ‘Save Hamlet’ at Lab Theater

Gerrie Benzing plays Gertrude in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet. Gerrie’s recent credits include Raven in Trouble (at the Vista View Mobile Home Estates) for Florida Rep, Brooke in Other Desert Cities for The Studio Players, Florence Ungar The Odd Couple: Female Version (Belle Theatre, 2022), Madame de Volanges in Dangerous Liaisons (Lab Theeater, 2022) and Lee in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife for New Phoenix Theatre (2022). Go here for Gerrie’s full profile.



Steven Coe is Hamlet in Lab Theater summer spoof ‘Save Hamlet’

Actor Steven Coe plays Hamlet in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet in June of 2023. Steven’s most recent credits include David in The Foreigner for Players Circle Theatre, Happy Mahoney in Clown Bar for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts, Mitch Brenner in The Birds: A Parody, the impudent, bitingly witty rake Vicomte de Valmont in Lab Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons and Chris in Killer Joe. Read here to see the rest of Steven’s stage and film credits.



Nikita Danesh in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ensemble

Nikita Danesh is in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast. A vocal major at Cypress Lake Center for the Arts and aspiring actor, Nikita’s credits include work in the ensemble and as a swing for the Merry Murderesses in Gypsy Playhouse’s production of Chicago, Miss Honey in Matilda, Sarabi in The Lion King and Louisa Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, each at Fort Myers Theatre, as well as the Over-Excited Scout in Big Fish at Cypress Lake High School. Please read here for the rest of Nikita’s profile.



Rachel Drake is LeFou in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Rachel Drake is LeFou in Beauty and the Beast. Her prior stage credits include the Sad Bride “Dancestor” in The Addams Family Musical at Fort Myers Theatre, which was 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 Rachel’s credits.



Rachel Drake dishes on playing LeFou and the magic of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Rachel Drake plays the part of LeFou for Fort Myers Theatre in Beauty and the Beast.

The character is the snarky sycophantic sidekick of the story’s physically and verbally abusive antagonist, Gaston. In spite of the abuse inflicted on him, LeFou (which is French for fool) admires Gaston and is steadfastly loyal to him, assuming a central role in Gaston’s plot to blackmail Belle into marrying him by having her father declared insane.

Go here to read what Rachel has to say.



Chloe Elliott-Chan is Bernadette in Lab’s spoof ‘Save Hamlet’

Chloe Elliott-Chan plays the part of Bernadette in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet. The role signals Chloe’s return to the Lab, where she previously appeared in the role of Madam de Tourvel in last season’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. A theatre major at Florida Gulf Coast University, Chloe has performed in a number of productions in FGCU’s TheatreLab, including Hamlet, An Enemy of the People, Antigone and On Baile’s Strand. Read Chloe’s full profile here.



Art Keen is Claudius in Lab summer spoof ‘Save Hamlet’

Art Keen appears in the role of Claudius in Lab’s summer spoof Save Hamlet. Art’s local stage credits include Alonso in The Tempest, The Crucible, Jimmy Rogers in Lab Theater’s world premiere of Zalman Velvel’s D.M.V. and Manolo Costazuela in Del Tura Repertory Company’s production of The Odd Couple: Female Version.

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Guinevere Bortnicker Kiniry is Horatia in Lab’s summer spoof ‘Save Hamlet’

Guinevere Bortnicker Kiniry plays the part of Horatia for Lab Theater in Save Hamlet.  Her stage credits include the roles of the San Mateo auditioner Maggie Winslow in Fort Myers Theatre’s production of A Chorus Line, Bakers Wife in Into the Woods Jr, numerous roles in Anastasia (2022), multiple parts in Bible Herstory (2021)(she appeared as a dutiful daughter in “Noah’s Ark-itect,” Guard Gloria in “Queen Solomon & the Paternity Suit” and a very pregnant Elizabeth in “The Rununciation”), Mimi in Pippin (2019) and a townsperson in Hunchback of Notre Dame (2018).



Terry Lavy is Cogsworth in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

He next appears as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast for Fort Myers Theatre. Besides A Christmas Carol, Terry’s previous credits include the detective, Hunyak’s defense attorney and the prosecutor in Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse, Mr. Lawrence in Little Women, the Von Trapp butler, Franz, in The Sound of Music (2023), the Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show (2022), Uncle Fester in the Addams Family musical (2022) and the grieving killer, Wilson, in The Great Gatsby (2022).



Paul LoPristi plays husband Paul in ‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’s’

Paul LoPresti plays money-obsessed used car salesman Paul for The Studio Players in Murder at the Howard Johnson’s. Paul most recently performed at The Naples Players as Mr. Fezziwig in A Christmas Carol and as Herr Von Hussler in Mary Poppins. He has performed at TNP over the years in the productions of Calendar Girls, as Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, as Lt. Brannigan in Guys and Dolls and as D.A. Mara in Miracle on 34th Street, as well as in Music Man, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Anything Goes, Fiddler on the Roof, Secret Garden, and Cabaret.



Christi Lueck-Sadiq is Arlene in ‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’

Christi Lueck-Sadiq makes her debut for The Studio Players in the role of Arlene in Murder at the Howard Johnson’s, a woman in an unfulfilling marriage to a money-obsessed used car salesman who starts an affair with the couple’s dentist. When her husband refuses to give her a divorce, she goes from flighty and fickle to femme fatale deciding, convincing her lover to off her hubbie. The rest of Christi’s profile is here.



Emma Luke-Said in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ ensemble

Emma Luke-Said appears in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast for Fort Myers Theatre, where she previously appeared in the ensembles of both Rent and Rocky Horror as well as performing in the role of Sister Berta in The Sound of Music.

Emma’s prior stage credits include the role of Go-to-Hell Kitty and work in the ensemble of Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse.



Noah Lynch portrays the Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Noah Lynch appears in the role of the Beast for Fort Myers Theatre in their production of Beauty and the Beast. Formerly handsome, the vain Prince Adam is transformed by a sorceress into a hideous monster as punishment for his arrogance and selfish impudence. In order to break her curse and return to his previous form, the Beast must learn to love and earn love by the age of 21. His chance arrives when the beautiful and worldly Belle agrees to become his prisoner in order to save her father. But first, the Beast must overcome his savage tendencies to gain her respect and affections.

You will find Noah’s full profile here.



Ariana Milian is Francesca in Lab Theater’s summer spoof ‘Save Hamlet’

Ariana Milian plays Francesca for Lab Theater in the world premiere of Save Hamlet. Ariana’s previous stage credits include the ensemble of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Laboratory Theater of Florida, Sister Sophia in The Sound of Music for Fort Myers Theatre, one of the phantoms in The Rocky Horror Show, a member of the ensemble of Rent, one of the cut dancers in A Chorus Line and Alice in Alice in Wonderland. The rest of this profile is here.



Kristen Noble 2023 HSMTA Outstanding Performer in Female-Identifying Role

On May 4, Cypress Lake High School senior Kristen Noble was named by a 6-judge panel as the Outstanding Performer in a Female-Identifying Role at the 2023 High School Musical Theatre Awards at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Center for her portrayal of Sandra Templeton in Big Fish. The singer-songwriter has extensive musical theatre credits, including Anya in Anastasia, Mitchie in Camp Rock!, Lucinda in Into the Woods, the colorful lazy Mayzie la Bird in Seussical the Musical, Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone, Sharpay Evans/Taylor McKessie/Ensemble in High School Musical 2! and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde JrGo here to view the rest of Kristen’s profile.



Rodney Randall plays Monsieur D’Arque in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Rodney Randall plays the evil Monsieur D’Arque and appears in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast for Fort Myers Theatre. Prior credits include work in the ensemble of Chicago at Gypsy Playhouse and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. “Prior to last Fall, I had no musical theater experience,” Rodney demurs. “Other than the occasional Karaoke night, I’d never sang in public. My daughters have been doing theater for years and my youngest practically dragged me to the audition for the Sound of Music.” Go here for more.



Colin Smith portrays the villain Gaston in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Colin Smith is dastardly as the egotistical Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Every hero needs a deep and nuanced antagonist. Prince Adam’s alter ego in Beauty and the Beast is no exception. Therefore, within the framework of this tale as old as time, Gaston plays a pivotal part, and Smith’s portrayal provides the needed contrast to Noah Lynch’s Beast in their mutual pursuit of Belle. Unlike the Beast, however, Gaston is not motivated by love or romance. A pre-eminent hunter, Gaston’s interest in the Beauty is based on self-aggrandizement. He unapologetically and unabashedly desires to make the most beautiful girl in town his trophy – even though the two have absolutely nothing in common. Go here for more on Colin and his previous stage credits.



Christina Thurmond plays Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Christina Thurmond plays Belle for Fort Myers Theatre in Beauty and the Beast. She’s actually been in Beauty and the Beast twice before, once in the role of Babette and the other as a spoon (obviously when she was much younger). Her prior stage credits include Maria in The Sound of Music, Mary in Jesus Christ Superstar, Sophia (the bride) in A Wedding in Tuscany, Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Martha in The Secret Garden. Christina has also performed in ACSI competitions, Thespians and at Lincoln Center in New York City. The rest of Christina’s profile is here.



Kagan Vann is Lumiere in ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Kagan Vann appears in the role of Lumiere for Fort Myers Theater in Beauty and the Beast. Kagan’s prior stage credits include Rocky in the Rocky Horror Show for Fort Myers Theater, Ferdinand in Lab Theater’s production of The Tempest (which marks his Lab Theater debut), deranged King Charlemagne in Pippin, Jafar in Aladdin and Shrek in Shrek the Musical.






Margaret Hodge exhibition on view in Alliance main gallery through June 9

On exhibit in the main gallery of the Alliance for the Arts May 5 through June 9 is Bits and Pieces: The Realm of Creation, featuring the art of Margaret Schnebly Hodge. The Florida abstract painter is widely known as a serious large format painter with a mastery of brushstroke and color.

Hodge’s art often evinces her interest in the fundamental nature of existence. Art historian and author Gary R. Libby writes that since early 2020 “she has been drawn to the mysterious inner mechanics of artistic creation in a series of new works which are reflections of how the cerebral cortex of our brain uniquely synthesizes bits and pieces of memory and, along with our imagination, creates meaning in paintings that contain a unique shorthand of colored marks, shapes, and forms. This new visual language reflects how this artist creates deep and profound meaning in abstract works of art based on the process of visualization and its relationship to conscious and unconscious memory, the storehouses of the human brain, and imagination, the unique way that an individual artist links these bits and pieces of cerebral data to create dynamic abstraction. Here, viewers in magical ways but based on the science of perception, thought, memory and creative imagination share meanings understandable to all sentient beings. Each painting contains multiple forms / codes whose ultimate expression is unique to each viewer.”

Raised in Florida from an early age, Hodge grew up during the pop culture movement of the 1950’s and the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s. “Her mother’s work in outdoor recreation and her father’s work in the space industry introduced her to a wide range of experiences from running barefoot in sunshine, rain, and storms, to watching rockets reach space and the moon for the first time,” Libby continues. “The complex and dynamic flux of societal norms and the ever-dynamic physical activity and environmental conditions of those years remain influential in her work today.”

Opening reception for this exhibit is from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on May 5.



Barbara Yeomans’ art in Theatre Gallery at the Alliance May 5 through June 9

The art of Barbara Yeomans is in the Theatre Lobby at the Alliance for the Arts May 5 through June 9. Barbara Yeomans is a Florida based painter and printmaker. For the past 30 years, her work has shown in galleries, museums and various arts organizations in the United States and abroad.

Barbara was born in London and grew up during WWII. This turbulent war time would later inform her work as an artist. Interested in arts and crafts at a young age, she was awarded an art scholarship, which allowed her to pursue a degree in fashion at Cheltenham College of Art.  While at college, she won design awards and studied under the leading artists of the day.

In the 1950’s, her college career was put on hold when she met and married a young American man.  She emigrated to America and raised a family while continuing her interest in the arts as a volunteer arts teacher in Fort Myers, Florida.

In the 1980s, Barbara returned to school and enrolled in a printmaking class at a local college. Over the years, she has had several one-woman shows in Florida, England, New Jersey and New York. Her work is sold in New Jersey at the Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery. Her work has been collected and placed in homes and businesses everywhere from Sag Harbor, Montreal, Calgary, New York to Milan and Hong Kong.



Alyona Ushe named Executive Director of Centers for the Arts Bonita

After an extensive executive search process led by a team of experts from Arts Consulting Group and a committee of Board members, Alyona Ushe has been selected as the new Executive Director  of the Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs.

“We are thrilled Alyona will be joining us to lead the Centers for the Arts in our commitment to enrich the lives of the community by providing opportunities for artistic expression, education, and appreciation for all,” says CFABS Board Chairman Fred Weinman. “Alyona shares our commitment and passion for the arts and brings exceptional leadership experience to our organization. The future is bright!”

Alyona began her career by founding Classika-Synetic Theater in the Washington DC Metro area.

Go here for the rest of this story.





Spotlight on River Basin muralist Rod Acosta

Local artist Rodney Acosta has painted two panels for the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project. The first is the actual fort’s guardhouse and a survey map that was drawn to scale by a major who came in 1856 to find out why so much money was being spent to build the fort. The second is a rendering of Fort Myers’ colorful sheriff, Frank Tippins, in a boat on the Caloosahatchee River with three other men.

The rest of Rodney’s bio is here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Lorrie Bennett

Lorrie Bennett is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Lorrie has painted two River Basin murals – one of Seminole Chief and feared warrior Billy Bowlegs and the other of Uncle Marion Hendry’s Grocery Store at the northeast corner of Hendry and Front Streets. Lorrie describes herself as a self-taught intuitive, contemporary, and expressive mixed media artist and illustrator who, from an early age, had an affinity for drawing and painting. For Lorrie, creating has always been a journey of experimentation and exploration. The rest of Lorrie’s credits can be read here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Sherry Lynn Diaz

Sherry Lynn Diaz is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Sherry has contributed two murals to the project, the first being this one of the great Seminole chief and warrior Billy Bowlegs. Sherry has exhibited her art in juried local, state and national shows, earning awards on all three levels. She has enjoyed two well-received one-woman shows. Her art can be found in private and corporate collections in the Dominican Republic as well as many places throughout the United States. Please go here to see Sherry Lynn’s full profile.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Ruben Dimas

On the Hendry Street side of the detention basin next to Luminary Hotel three stanchions south of Edwards Drive is a mural of Henry Ford sitting in a Model T. It’s the car that Ford had the local dealer deliver to his friend and neighbor Thomas Edison on the occasion of the latter’s birthday in 1916. The mural was rendered by Fort Myers Mural Society member Ruben Dimas, an automotive artist born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida. He specializes in automotive illustrations, graphic design, and product design for the auto industry. Go here to see the rest of Ruben’s credits.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Claudia Goode

Mural 8 in the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project depicts the town’s namesake, Colonel Abraham C. Myers. But what you probably don’t know is how the fort that the Army built here came to be named for the Colonel – or why the artist who painted his portrait placed a pile of skulls at his feet. Once you do, it will come as no surprise that the artist who rendered this mural is none other than Claudia Goode.

Please go here to read Claudia’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Michelle J. McDonald

As you walk around the basin next to Luminary Hotel, you’ll come across a mural depicting the arrival of colorfully attired guests on the pier at Thomas Edison’s home downriver on McGregor Boulevard. It was rendered by Michelle J. McDonald, who currently works primarily in acrylics and pastels. She is also known for her “Beautiful Bookmarks,” which are comprised of scraps of paper that create a collage. Michelle’s story is like that of many other later-in-life Florida artists. Go here to find out how.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Lesley Morrow

Lesley Morrow is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Lesley painted the portrait of John Alexander Weatherford that appears on one of the stanchions across from Ella Mae’s Diner at the Luminary Hotel. Morrow is locally known for expressive oil, acrylic, airbrush and mixed media paintings that express the feminine experience and mystique. Featuring vibrant brushstrokes and a distinctive palette, Morrow’s paintings are bold, raw and eye-appealing. You can read Lesley’s full biography here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Eric Riemenschneider

Eric Riemenschneider is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Eric’s contribution to the project is a portrait of a Miccosukee warrior named Billy Fuel who fought alongside Seminole Chief Billy Bowlegs and Miccosukee Chief Sam Jones during the Seminole wars.Eric is a portrait artist who also reimagines commercial spaces to match the theme of the business through murals and collections of paintings.  Go here to read Eric’s full bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Roland Ruocco

Muralist Roland Ruocco has contributed four compositions to the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project, a homage to iconic Fort Myers banker, businessman and real estate developer Harvie Heitman that will be installed on one of the four obelisks on Edwards Drive and panels to be installed on the stanchions surrounding the basin that depict the shuffleboard courts that were located at one time next to the Hall of 50 States, the fire that claimed the Lee County Packing House on Memorial Day in 1953, and drovers unloading cattle from a barge, on which he collaborated with his artist wife, Wendy White. Go here to view Roland’s education, training and more on his body of work.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Samantha Taylor

Samantha Taylor is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. She has painted two of the murals included in the project, the first being the Father of Fort Myers, Captain Francis Asbury Hendry and the second being The King, Elvis Pressley, who performed twice during the 1950s at our City Auditorium.

A native Floridian, Samantha is known for her portrait paintings, local murals and tattoo artistry. As an avid painter specializing in oils and fluid mediums, Sam is inspired by the human form and surrealism. Go here for the rest of Samantha’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Erik Schlake

Fort Myers Mural Society muralist Erik Schlake is one of 39 artists participating in the Fort Myers River Basin Mural Project. Not only is he contributing a mural panel for the obelisks that flank either side of Edwards Drive, he is leading the team that is installing the mural panels on the stanchions and obelisks that encircle the detention basin. Schlake has been influenced over the years by traditional decorative art as well as contemporary street art. He combines various styles in his work, infusing classic painting with elements of trompe l’oeil, grisaille, and other traditional decorative art in an effort to engage and interact with the viewer a less formal mode of communication. It’s a style he often refers to as “modern traditionalist.” The rest of this post is here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Brian Weaver

The Florida alligator fascinates out-of-state visitors. This was true of the sportsmen who patronized the Tarpon House on Punta Rassa between 1885 and 1913 and of the tourists who stayed at Hugh O’Neill’s Royal Palm Hotel in downtown Fort Myers beginning in 1897. Back then, many steamship companies through the state touted the opportunity to shoot alligators from the upper decks of their boats. Still, it surprises many that Fort Myers advertised itself to northern and Midwestern visitors by means of postcards like the one that local artist Brian Weaver painted in this mural, titled Gator Hunt, which can be found near the entrance to the river basin at the intersection of Bay and Hendry Streets in downtown Fort Myers.

Read the rest of his post here.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Dawn Webb

Dawn Webb is one of 39 artists who have painted murals for the River Basin Mural Project being conducted by the City’s Public Art Committee, Community Redevelopment Agency and Fort Myers Mural Society. Dawn painted a mural of Fort Myers first African-American settlor, Nellis Tillis, who, with his wife, Ellen, were also the town’s first interracial couple.

Dawn is a proud born-and-raised Southwest Florida native. Born in Fort Myers, she has watched the city develop and grow since the 1970s. On the fine arts side, Dawn works in the medium of acrylic painting. But she is also a gifted tattoo artist. Go here for the rest of Dawn’s bio.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Wendy White

Based on a vintage 1930s-era postcard, this mural depicts the many activities that visitors can enjoy during a fun-filled trip to Fort Myers. Titled Florida Fun, it was rendered Wendy White who is an accomplished artist, curator, director, playwright, screenwriter and teacher. Born in Rockaway Beach, New York, Wendy’s palette and writings are strongly influenced by her early environment of living by the sea. Her father was a painter and while she was growing up, she and her twin brother would frequently model for him as muses. Go here to view Wendy’s impressiver resume.



Spotlight on River Basin muralist Alex Wilkinson

One of the murals you’ll see when you walk around the river basin adjoining Luminary Hotel is a painting of a steamboat named the St. Lucie. It’s the steamship where Andrew and George Kinzie got their start as seafarers and that eventually inspired them to form a steamship line that served Fort Myers into the 1960s. The mural was painted by Alex Wilkinson. Alex is a self-educated mixed media artist who works in acrylics, traditional pen and ink, colored pencils, pastels, markers, paper and found objects. A former needle arts designer and instructor, Alex’s oeuvre influences her present-day mixed media “Zen tangle inspired art.” Her designs often include small, stitch-like, black-and-white line patterns in the ancient Zen Tangle-inspired art style.

Read about Alex here.





Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella comes to Belle Theatre June 9-18

On stage at The Belle Theatre in Cape Coral Friday, June 9 through Sunday, June 18 is Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a timeless fairy tale retold with grace, originality, charm and elegance.

Originally presented on television (starring Julie Andrews) in 1957, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella was the most widely viewed program in the history of television, drawing an astonishing 107 million viewers. Its recreation (starring Lesley Ann Warren) in 1965 was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of “Dreams Come True,” and a second remake in 1997 set a new standard for representation and diversity in screen musicals when it cast Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother.

Read the full advance here.



Footloose’ plays at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre May 16 to July 1

Playing on the main stage at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre May 16 through July 1 is Footloose, the extraordinary musical that celebrates the exhilaration of youth, the power of forgiveness, and the community that’s found in dance and music.

With music by Tom Snow, lyrics and book by Dean Pitchford (who made some modifications to the original screenplay), the story revolves around a teen named Ren McCormack whose mother upends his life when she moves the two of them from Chicago to the small farming town of Bomont after his father abandons them. Upon arriving, Ren finds himself at odds with most of the town, including the Reverend Shaw Moore. The Reverend has convinced the town to outlaw dancing. But with the help of the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel, and Willard (a country hick who becomes his best friend), Ren convinces the Reverend to let the teenagers dance, and in the process helps the town to heal from a tragedy that affected them all.

Including such popular songs as The Girl Gets Around, Holding Out For A Hero, Let’s Hear It For The Boy, Almost Paradise and the title song, Footloose, the scores for the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon and 1998 musical received two Oscar, two Grammy and two Tony Award nominations and the soundtrack displaced Michael Jackson’s Thriller as #1 on the Billboard Top 200 after a year at the top of the chart.

Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $55 to $85 with children and group prices available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, by visiting or by stopping by the box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



Crimes of the Heart plays at Cultural Park Theater June 1-11

Crimes of the Heart plays at Cultural Park Theater June 1-11. The story follows three sisters who have reunited for the first time in a decade at their Granddaddy’s house in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Lenny Magrath is the eldest. She actually never left Hazlehurst, remaining in the small Southern town to take care of the cantankerous old coot. It’s Lenny’s birthday, but her sisters seem hell-bent on spoiling the occasion with a laundry list of dirty little personal problems that not even Lenny can clean up. Read the full advance here.

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



Enchanting story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ opens May 11 at Fort Myers Theater

Beauty and the Beast comes to Fort Myers Theatre opening May 11. Based on the smash 1991 Disney animated feature and dating back to a late 18th century classic French fairy tale, Noah Lynch is featured in the role of the Beast, with Christina Thurmond starring as Belle. Go here for play dates and times.



Fort Myers Theatre’s Production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ featured on WGCU

When Disney released its version of Beauty and the Beast in 1991, it was a game-changer for the House of Mouse. It wasn’t just that Beauty and the Beast became first animated film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture … the film changed animation ever after.

Now, imagine sitting in a theater watching B&B when, suddenly, the animated characters magically become human. Go here to hear the rest of this Spotlight on the Arts on WGCU.



Canterbury School’s ‘Elf’ wins 2023 HSMTA Outstanding Overall Performance

The High School Musical Theatre Awards took place last night at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Started in 2008 by Barbara Mann GM Scott Saxson, the High School Musical Theatre Awards celebrate local high school actors, orchestras, their musical productions and the hard work those students do every year. Go here for the rest of this post.



North Fort Myers’ ‘Anything Goes’ is 2023 HSMTA Outstanding Overall Production runner-up

The High School Musical Theatre Awards took place last night at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Started in 2008 by Barbara Mann GM Scott Saxson, the High School Musical Theatre Awards celebrate local high school actors, orchestras, their musical productions and the hard work those students do every year. Go here for the rest of this post.



Hear about 2023 HSMTA on WGCU

On May 4th, eight area high school theater departments descended on the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall for the 2023 High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Started in 2008 by Barbara Mann GM Scott Saxon, the Awards celebrate local high school actors, orchestras, their musical productions and the hard work and long hours each show demands. Students spend months, often after school and on weekends, rehearsing songs and dance routines, designing, constructing and painting sets, sewing costumes and doing everything else it takes to put on a show. Work starts in the fall and continues until they present their shows, typically in March or April.

The High School Musical Theatre Awards celebrate these productions and give each participating school the opportunity to perform a musical number or medley from their show in front of a large and enthusiastically appreciative audience.

Go here to listen to clips from each performance.



Save Hamlet’ continues Lab Theater’s tradition of joke-laden summer spoofs

Extending its rich tradition of irreverent summer spoofs, the Laboratory Theater of Florida presents the world premiere of Mark Harvey Levine’s Save Hamlet from June 2nd to June 24th. Save Hamlet is a goofy, charming, joke-packed spoof of Shakespeare’s most famous play that’s funny even if you don’t know the difference between “where” and “wherefore.” In addition to the prestige of being a world premiere, this show was a runner-up for the 2022 Louise Wigglesworth Excellence in Playwriting Award.

Read the rest of this advance here.

You will find play dates, times and a full cast list here.



‘Murder at the Howard Johnson’s’ full of laugh lines and extravagant sight gags

The Studio Players’ production of Murder at the Howard Johnson’s plays at Golden Gate Community Center May 19 through June 4. According to Variety, the comedy about a love triangle in a Howard Johnson Motor Inn has “enough laugh lines, mirth provoking situations and extravagant sight gags to outfit two rapid fire farces of the absurd.” The rest of this advance is here.

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