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Actors, artists, filmmakers and events in the news May 8-14, 2019

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

 

Gifted actor Danica Murray awaits lung transplant at Shands Teaching Hospital (05-14-19)

Aspiring thespian Danica Murray is a fighter. In Wellesley Girl, she portrayed struggling for survival against all odds in a dystopian world set 447 years in the future. In Andorra, she played a young woman with the courage and compassion to stand against purveyors of hatred and rank anti-Semitism at the risk of her life. And now Dani is fighting a real life-or-death battle as she waits in Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville for a lung transplant.

I had occasion to interview Danica prior to her performance as the Wellesley Girl in Brendan Pelsue’s eponymous play. Finding her character’s motivation proved challenging because, in the end, Marie decides to commit suicide rather than being taken captive by an attacking army or fleeing into the surrounding countryside and risking a horrible death from drinking water contaminated in an apocalyptic technological accident that has decimated most of the world’s population.

“In real life, I’m a fighter ….

Go here for the rest of this alert.

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Open auditions for TNP KidzAct’s ‘Mamma Mia! Teen’ on May 18 (05-13-19)

The Naples Players (TNP) KidzAct is holding auditions for Mamma Mia! Teen on Saturday, May 18, 2019. They will take place from 12:30–4:30 p.m. at The Naples Players at The Sugden Community Theatre located at 701 5th Avenue South in Naples.

TNP is looking to cast six girls, six boys with additional girl/boy ensemble with featured roles. The audition is open to students of all abilities 14 – 18 years old (8th – 12th grade). Auditions are free and walk-ins are always welcome. Students need to prepare 32 bars (about a minute in length) of a song with sheet music or a non-vocal CD/track. Singing will be followed by learning a dance combination.

This is a Production Class, offering specialized theater training that culminates in a full-scale production on The Blackburn Hall main stage at 7:30 p.m. on August 2, at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. on August 3 and a closing 2:00 p.m. matinee on August 4. Cast members must be available for all four performances.

Rehearsals begin on Monday, June 17, 2019 and will run 3:00 to 6:00 p.m.

For a full rehearsal and performance schedule, and to register to audition for the Mamma Mia! Teen auditions, please visit https://naplesplayers.org/classes/kidzact-mamma-mia-auditions/.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and are available for purchase online at www.NaplesPlayers.org or by contacting the Box Office at (239) 263-7990.

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‘Funny Shorts LIVE!’ coming to Center for Performing Arts in June (05-13-19)

Five. Count them. Five plays will be performed at the Center for Performing Arts on two days in June during “Funny Shorts LIVE!” And as the name intimates, not only will each play be funny, it will be short – with a run time of approximately 10 minutes. Equally important, at least one will have been written by a local playwright. Best of all, wearing your own funny shorts is completely optional – encouraged, but optional.

Performances will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, June 14 and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 15 at the Center for Performing Arts, which is located at 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135.

Tickets are just $20 General Admission.

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Save the date for Camera USA® 2019: National Photography Exhibition (05-13-19)

The Naples Art Association started the Camera USA® photography program in 2011. As a nationwide program, it serves as a platform for local photographers to share the spotlight with their peers at the national level. For photographers from other states, Camera USA® provides an opportunity to demonstrate success, exhibit in Southwest Florida and compete for the $5,000 National Photography Award. This year’s Camera USA exhibition runs June 3 through July 5, 2019. So save the date.

For more information, please visit http://www.naplesart.org or telephone 239-262-6517.

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Art Southwest Florida contains profiles of 131 FGCU public artworks (05-13-19)

Cross Currents Close UpArt Southwest Florida contains profiles of 131 artworks by more than three dozen artists. Each has been profiled in order to provide students, faculty and area residents, vacationers and visiting parents with detailed information about the works and the artists who rendered them. These profiles include:

There are still more to come, so visit the dropdown under Public Art/FGCU often.

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‘John Cage & Other Works’ on exhibit at Bob Rauschenberg Gallery (05-13-19)

Florida SouthWestern State College is continuing its celebration of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery’s 40th anniversary with JOHN CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop. The exhibition runs through July 27.

The exhibition features the world premiere of New River Rocks & Washes, one of the last two paintings Cage completed two years prior to his death in 1992. The painting was sold before it was ever exhibited to a private collector with a large and prestigious inventory of artworks. As it happened, the painting arrived, it was placed in storage still in its crate without being assigned an acquisition number. To make matters worse, the crate was mislabeled and, over the ensuing 27 years, the crate containing the 8.5 foot tall by 28 foot long painting was moved from one storage facility to another before coming to rest in Deer Park, New York.

And that’s where it was when Ray Kass and Bob Rauschenberg Gallery Director Jade Dellinger started working on a planned exhibit of Cage’s collaborations with Kass, who had been present when Cage and a team of assistants created it at the Mountain Lake Workshop in 1990. Kass and Dellinger contacted the collector’s chief curator hoping to include the painting in the show. The curator ultimately found the mislabeled crate only a few weeks prior to opening of the Rauschenberg Gallery opening.

Cage was a renowned composer, music theorist, author and artist revered as a pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments. He was also a leading voice of the post-war avant-garde. Bob Rauschenberg referred to Cage as his “spiritual and philosophical soul-mate.”

One of the most influential American composers of the 20th century, Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition “4’33”, a piece instructing the performer not to play their instrument during three timed movements over four minutes and thirty-three seconds. Cage proposed the revolutionary concepts that any sound may constitute music and that there is no such thing as silence.

A close collaborator through the 1950’s and ‘60’s while working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Bob Rauschenberg later wrote, “John Cage [and] his work in every medium is a reward to all [and] will be for centuries.” The innocence and challenging audacity of his unique attitude, according to Rauschenberg, “created a labyrinth with no exit.”

Often applying chance-based aleatoric operations to his compositional process in an effort to eliminate aesthetic decisions, John Cage’s forays into visual art practice – perhaps best represented by his experimentation at the Mountain Lake Workshop – employed many of the same techniques. As collaborator, friend and Mountain Lake Workshop founder Ray Kass reflects, “Cage didn’t adhere to accepted aesthetic rules and patterns for the construction of works of art; he deliberately eschewed the idea that art is created solely through personal taste manipulating elements of visual form.”

As Executive Director of the John Cage Trust at Bard College Dr. Laura Kuhn succinctly notes, “One cannot overstate the importance of John Cage and his work, and its impact on 20th century music, art, and culture.”

This exhibition is made possible through a partnership with the Longwood Center for Visual Art at Longwood University and presents excerpts from “Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Experience” (an exhibition funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts).

The Bob Rauschenberg Gallery is located on the Lee campus of Florida SouthWestern State College.

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Time running out to see Edison Ford fauna & flora exhibit (05-13-19)

The Caloosahatchee River, part of the Everglades watershed, is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States — home to unique orchids, trees and bromeliads. Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford loved the rich and varied flora and fauna that grew around them here in Fort Myers. Edison called his lush estate here in Fort Myers his “jungle” because of the diversity of plant life that thrived. Ford was an avid bird watcher and enjoyed camping, boating and fishing throughout his life. So it only made sense for the Edison & Ford Winter Estates to ask artists from across the region to interpret the Edison and Ford families’ love of Florida’s natural environment. The result is an exhibit that features work in a variety of mediums (including oil, watercolor photography and sculpture) by 30 award-winning artists from across the Southeastern United States. It’s on display now through May 19 in the Caretaker’s Cottage. Access to the show is included with admission to the Edison & Ford Winter Estates.

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FMFF Best Short ‘Peggy’ one of 4 ‘brilliant films’ being screened at Tribeca (05-12-19)

Justin O’Neal Miller’s Peggy is one of “Four Brilliant Films That Will Be Screening At Tribeca Film Festival.” But local film fans already know just how terrific the short film is. Eric Raddatz and Melissa DeHaven screened it at TGIM in August of 2018 and again during this year’s Fort Myers Film Festival, where it was named as FMFF”s Best Short Film.

Peggy tells a tale about a housewife who appears to have it all until the cracks begin to show. Peggy’s social graces are put to the test when she throws a birthday party for her eight-year-old son. Peggy stars Sarah Blackman (The Derby Stallion) and Jason MacDonald (The Vampire Diaries). [Go here for more on the film.]

Since starting its festival run, Peggy has won numerous awards including Best in Show at Rome International Film Festival, the Jury and Audience Awards for Best Short at Spokane International Film Festival, and the Audience Award for Best Short at Calgary International Film Festival.

Director and Producer Justin O’Neal Miller studied at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture, where he won the Grand Prix for his thesis film project, titled Hypertecture. His passion for design and storytelling led to a career in set design and art direction, working for feature films and television including Prisoners, 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, American Made, The Walking Dead, Baby Driver and First Man by Damien Chazelle. [You can find more about Justin O’Neal here.]

Because viewers keep repeating “we want to see more of that,” Miller is transforming the short into a half-hour comedy series with the same cast.

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Fort Lauderdale’s New River Fine Art exhibiting Jansen solo show (05-12-19)

Marcus Jansen’s work is being featured by New River Fine Art in Fort Lauderdale in an exhibit titled Merchants of Babylon. The show runs through May 25, 2019 and includes 20 works of art created between 2011 – 2019.

“Jansen has been called the cartographer of conflict,” states New River owner Lisa Burgess. “His colors, textures and calligraphic marks imbue an intensity and power to his large-scale paintings that render the human figures seen in many of his works as humbled within the chaos of the surrounding imagery.”

Jansen is no stranger to this type of chaos.

A veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield, he has seen the ravages of war first hand and the experience left an indelible mark on the artist and informs his work.

“Jansen uses light and color to convey a sense of hope in his post-apocalyptic style landscapes,” Gallery Director Wissam Elghoul told members of Fort Myers’ Public Art Committee this past Wednesday when they took time away from the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals’ annual conference to take in the show.

“Despite the turmoil, there is a sense that humanity may prevail,” Elghoul added optimistically.

“A painters conflict first takes place from within,” notes Jansen. “What you see on canvas is the outcome of decisions based on an intellectual and visual combat. I don’t see my work as political paintings, rather as critical social commentary opposed to political rhetoric.”

Political or not, critics are hailing Marcus Jansen as one of the most important American painters of our generation. His socially-critical paintings and installations have been exhibited in museums in Italy, Germany and the United States.

Jansen’s art is rooted in the New York Graffiti scene, but years spent in Germany garnered influence from the Expressionists to develop a language that speaks of a world in turmoil with isolation, threat, war, surveillance and greed in competition with innocence, hope and humanity.

A full color exhibition catalog is available. 

New River Fine Art is located at 822 East Las Olas Blvd in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For more information, to schedule interviews with the artist or high-resolution images, please contact Lisa Burgess at (954) 524-2100 or lisa@newriverfineart.com or visit www.newriverfineart.com.

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Arts for ACT issues call for themed show in July (05-12-19)

Arts for ACT is calling artists for its July themed group exhibit. This year’s themes are Mirrors and Reflections or Canto.

This is an artist paid exhibit that helps ACT Gallery pay the rent for the summer months. The entry fee is $10.00 for one piece, $15 for two and $20.00 for three. Art drop off is Thursday, June 27 through Monday, July 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Underwater photography of Katy Danca Galli on exhibit in May at ACT (05-12-19)

The underwater photography of Katy Danca Galli is on exhibit in the main gallery of Arts for ACT during the month of May.

A master diver, Galli is former photo editor of Scuba Diving magazine. As the first female Lee County Resident Artist, her work has been featured with Captains for Clean Water, Bare Sports, Scuba Diving Magazine, Sport Diver Magazine and Divephotoguide.com. She has won contests with the Ocean Conservancy, NOAA, World Wildlife Federation, Our World Underwater, and placed first in wide angle with the Florida Skin Divers Association. She is currently working on a ‘camp and dive’ series, dedicated to Florida’s waterways.

“Looking up from the ocean floor, the immense number of possibilities that exist in this silent realm hit me all at once,” states Galli in her Artist Statement. “The ocean is a master of none; it can caress you, and then completely destroy you – in the span of a few seconds. I love the extreme yin and yang that exists, and want others to see this in my work, and know this feeling of being both completely out of your element, and then consumed by the greatest love story you’ll ever know. This is where I go to seek God, and to share this beguiling and magnificent atmosphere.”

Katy credits her mother with creating the predicate for her deep and abiding love of the ocean and every other body of water. When she 10, her mother scrimped and saved up the $150 it cost for her to visit Seacamp in the Florida Keys. It was then and there that Katy fell in love with the ocean, and she’s worked hard ever since to live and breathe by the tide.

The show runs through June 3.

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ACT featuring work of member and volunteer artists in White Gallery in May (05-12-19)

During the month of May, Arts for ACT Gallery is featuring the work of its member and artist volunteers in the White Gallery. Included are works in oil, acrylics, watercolors, mixed media, jewelry furniture and more by Susan Mills, Kate O’Connell, Becky Sandbek, Vic and Candie Delnore, Shah Hadjebi, Tom Breckenridge, Annette Brown, Flo Collins, Barb Mulford, Kim Kraft Beckler and Claudia Goode – 11 artists that volunteer their time to keep Arts for ACT running.

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Franklin Shops featuring art of Laura Day Robollo in May (05-12-19)

The Franklin Shops on First is featuring the art of Laura Day Robollo this month. Laura has been an artist for more than 40 years with experience in various mediums ranging from from watercolors, pastels and oil on canvas to printmaking and even cigar boxes.

She is most widely known for acrylic landscapes, particularly ocean scenes. Rebollo’s hand painted cigar boxes are not only beautiful but serve a dual purpose for the collector: as a work of art and a small handy storage space.

Each of her unique boxes is a one of a kind work of art and is sealed with a protective high gloss finish to preserve its beauty. LDR boxes are as individual as the painting, some hand crafted with a style that is similar to a fine piece of furniture.

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DAAS’ Dodd debuting delightful ‘Fairy Soiree’ portraits in June (05-11-19)

During the month of June, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is featuring the work of current member Martha Dodd in an exhibition titled “La Soirée Fairy” – during which fairies will be present and guests are encouraged to dress in fairy costumes. In fact, anyone with a set of wings – whether they be fairy, butterfly or feathered – will be awarded a free gift.

In keeping with the theme, Dodd has rendered stunning portraits of fairies for this exhibit. The artist concedes that it is not an easy undertaking to paint an insightful painting of a fantasy creature, such as a fairy. But Dodd pulls off the feat with equanimity. Her characters convey a believability and sincerity that draws the viewer in.

And to add to the festivities, one of Dodd’s framed fairy prints will be awarded to whoever wears the best costume.

Dodd is a realist whose genres include fantasy, equestrian and wildlife art, murals and portraiture. Her technique is straightforward. She strives to reveal what is most beautiful about her subject. Equally important to her is conveying to the viewer a sense of “being there.”

Martha credits her mother with her artistic origins. Thanks to her mom, she grew up surrounded by an impressive art library that included large volumes of works by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. She was swept away by the enormous murals these masters created. So inspired, she loved to draw and took every art class that was available to her during the school year, and even some summer courses at the College of Wooster, Ohio.

But Martha loved horses even more than she loved art, and instead of pursuing a degree and career in art, she attended the Agricultural Technical Institute majoring in Horse Management for a year before transferring to Ohio State University, where she earned her BS in Animal Science in 1983. She originally intended to become a veterinarian, but instead became a physical therapist for race horses, working for the Bill Haughton Stable in New York, New Jersey, Kentucky and Florida for 5 years.

While working at the track, Martha found time to draw the horses surrounding her, and it was not long before co- workers and horse owners were commissioning her to do portraits of their horses. She had the benefit of visiting the art museums in New York City. She also met equine artist William Orr, who shared with her some tips on painting.

In 1987, Martha decided to change careers,. She found a job working for an art studio in Florida, and began painting full time. Five years later, she went out on her own.

In the interim, Martha found that she could not only paint horses, but birds, fish and humans as well. To her delight, she also discovered that there existed a huge demand for murals, and that has been the mainstay of her work for many years.

These days, the artist is kept busy with commissioned work, as well as creating new paintings for exhibitions. Although she’s been perfecting her craft full-time for more than three decades, she continues to study and learn. Her summers are spent in Europe, where she creates works of art while studying the works of the masters. She regularly attends workshops from nationally-acclaimed artists, including Douglas Flynt and Steven Assael. And as is true with many experienced artists, Dodd is not interested in pursuing awards. The great demand for her work is testament to her accomplishments as a successful artist.

The opening reception for “La Soirée Fairy” will be helad from 6:00-10:00 p.m. on Friday, June 7 in conjunction with Fort Myers Art Walk. The exhibition will be on display through June 29.

DAAS CO-OP is located in Unit 3 at 1815 Fowler Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901. New business hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the first Sunday of every month. More information can be found at daascoop.com or by calling 239-590-8645.

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Alliance’s ‘Art Lives Here’ billboards going up around Lee County (05-11-19)

The first billboard is up. Eight more are slated to follow. It’s part of the Alliance for the Arts’ Art Lives Here initiative that’s turning billboards into public art sites.

The goal is to “bring art to your daily commute or when you are running errands” Alliance Communications Manager Desiree Demolina told the News-Press for an article that ran two days ago. “You don’t have to go to a gallery to enjoy these things or to be inspired. Art is everywhere.”

The Alliance is not alone in converting advertising billboard space into museums without walls. For example, New York artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman have been mounting billboard art projects across the United States for more than three years. Last year alone, they appropriated billboards in all 50 states that would have otherwise been used for political advertising in connection with the mid-term elections in order to put artists in the center of public discourse. “People don’t just make paintings, music or movies,” points out Gottesman, “they shape the systems of the society we live in.”

In Los Angeles, The Billboard Creative is turning the city into an open-air gallery, showcasing art on billboards at major junctions across the urban landscape, including Sunset & Vine, Beverly & Laurel, and Hollywood & Western.

“We convert billboards into large-scale renditions by a mix of emerging and established artists, among them well-known names such as Ed Ruscha and Jack Pierson, and new faces such as Shannon Rose and Dai Ito,” states the non-profit on its website. “The injection of artistic speech into the urban environment offers an occasion for commuters to pause and contemplate. We are invited to reflect, while the artists are encouraged to think critically, re-conceptualizing and testing their ideas within the public media space. The Billboard Creative facilitates a cultural exchange, lifting our collective spirit, connecting artists with those who will appreciate their work and giving all art enthusiasts access to works that might otherwise go unseen.”

And then there’s the Billboard Art Project, which is quietly acquiring digital billboards in cities around the country normally used for advertising and repurposing them as roadside galleries. Billboard Art Project spaces carry the impact of the unexpected. Some feature new work created specifically for the billboard on which it appears. Others incorporate pre-existing works that have been adapted to the new-era outdoor digital canvas. In either case, the billboard is re-imagined as a conduit for the dissemination of variety – cultural, philosophical, spiritual, whimsical, striking, and the sublime,” notes Francisco Colom, writing for ART.

The Alliance’s ‘Art Lives Here’ initiative actually harkens back to a tradition begun in Fort Myers five years ago when the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery erected a billboard on the east side of Cleveland Avenue next to Drive Time Used Cars that contained just two words, 12 letters, framed against a clear cerulean blue background just a touch darker than Southwest Florida’s blue skies. While The Imagine Peace billboard may have been the town’s first art billboard, it wasn’t Yoko Ono’s first use of the medium to convey a conceptual art message. She and husband John Lennon used billboards in cities around the globe to urge commuters and other passers-by to imagine a world without war “if you want it.”

While the mission of Art Lives Here may be more modest, it is no less important. The program seeks to make our community a better place by elevating the caliber of originality, talent and the culture that exists here. And like all public art, the art billboards will likely achieve a range of ancillary benefits as well, not the least of which is engaging the community in the visual and performing arts programs taking place throughout the county.

For more on the artists participating in Art Lives Here and the advantages to be derived from the Alliance’s latest art-based community outreach initiative, please read the article that follows.

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Meet the Alliance’s 9 ‘Art Lives Here’ artists (05-11-19)

The Alliance for the Arts has embarked upon an initiative to transform billboard space throughout Lee County into public art. Called Art Lives Here, the program seeks to make our community a better place by elevating the caliber of originality, talent and the culture that exists here. From the artists responding to its initial call, the Alliance has chosen nine artists to participate in its inaugural program: David Acevedo, Marne Adler, Pat Collins, Vicki Baker, Cheryl Fausel, Leo Johnson, Charlotte McClatchey, Richard Stanton and Toni Ferrell Sutton!

Acevedo’s contribution is an acrylic and spray paint on canvas titled Neighboring Towns. “This painting represents various things to me,” remarks Acevedo. “First, the memories of the town where I grew up where blue skies were bright, roosters roamed around and the neighbors all knew each other. It also represents the sense of community and togetherness I strive for in my city. I am trying to portray a little sense of togetherness with this piece.”

Marne Adler created a multimedia work on canvas titled Night Player. “We are the music makers is an ode by the British poet Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy,” Adler explains. “O’Shaughnessy was deeply influenced by French poetry and by the Pre-Raphaelite group. This poem, and my piece, is a tribute to all creative artists in the world.”

Pat Collins’ work is a digital arrangement titled Image Blocks 2. “I make art using stencils, cut-outs, rubber stamps and more from my expansive collection of imagery inspired by past and present cultural and mythological iconography,” Pat points out. “Taking elements from my mixed media works, I digitally combine and recombine. It’s like rearranging blocks, experimenting with juxtapositions and color for different effect or interpretation.”

Vicki Baker created an acrylic work titled Dressed in Color for Art Lives Here. “Last winter, I was reading an article in a magazine about women in Kenya. There was a photograph of two women dressed in colorful clothing and cloth headdresses,” says Vicki of her inspiration for the piece. “Both of them were wearing many layered beaded necklaces. That image sparked my imagination for a series of 6 paintings of women wearing multi-layered beaded necklaces and dressed in colorful garments.”

Cheryl Fausel painted a watercolor for Art Lives Here. “The painting Reflections of Zurich II is based on a photo reference I took in Zurich, Switzerland,” says Cheryl. “The girl in the painting was an advertisement in a bank window, with the buildings in the background reflected. The image is an excerpt from a painting by the Swiss artist Albert Anker.”

Leo Johnson’s work is Apple of My Eye. “My paintings are based on people and their interactions with each other through smiles, glances and words,” says Leo. “I feel people are the new landscape.”

The Collection by Charlotte McClatchey is an acrylic painting. “For me, arranging a still life provides inspiration,” Charlotte remarks. “The joy comes through the process of expressing the beauty of the forms on canvas.”

Richard Stanton’s acrylic on canvas is called Beachwalk. “This painting is part of my Florida Landscape Series that explores a different perspective on the character of intra-coastal beaches. The series is necessarily based on invention as well as observation,” Richard points out.

Florida Wildflower: Varnish Leaf by Toni Ferrell Sutton is a mixed media work. “For me, there is no better muse than the wildness of nature. The infinite aspects, simultaneously vast and microscopic, provide challenge enough for a satisfying experience.”

In addition to elevating the caliber of originality, talent and the culture, public art has been shown to produce more than three dozen benefits to the communities in which it is located, including

  1. boosting/strengthening civic pride;
  2. enhancing and defining a city’s identity;
  3. reflecting the unique character and history of the city;
  4. burnishing the city’s image to the outside world;
  5. creating an important positive impression for visitors; and
  6. encouraging/increasing tourism.

In fact, a landmark survey conducted by the Knight Foundation and Gallup between 2008 and 2011 found that “the aesthetics of a place – its art, parks and green spaces” ranked higher than education, safety and the local economy as “drivers of attachment.” And according to a survey conducted in 2016 by Americans for the Arts, 87% of Americans believe arts & culture are important to quality of life.

Art Lives Here lives on. Stay tuned for future calls.

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Erin Beute’s ‘Bird’s Eye’ takes first at May’s FilmSlam at Enzian (05-10-19)

Last Sunday, Bird’s Eye screened at FilmSlam at Enzian in Orlando. It topped the list of the FilmSlam’s audience. The win represents Bird’s Eye‘s fourth win out of five Florida screenings. Last month, the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival recognized Bird’s Eye as Best Florida Made Film, and prior to that, it received Best Florida Film honors at Tally Shorts and Best Short Narrative at the Bonita Springs International Film Festival.

For more on the film, read on.

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Music in ‘Bird’s Eye’ encapsulates film’s message of community and joy (05-10-19)

Last week, the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival wrapped with a Sunday evening awards ceremony at Fish-Tale Restaurant. Skyra Studios’ short film Bird’s Eye was recognized as Best Florida Made Film. It’s the film’s third win in four Florida film festivals. It also won Best Florida Film at Tally Shorts and Best Short Narrative at the Bonita Springs International Film Festival.

Bird’s Eye tells the story of a musical composer and instructor who is forced into teaching a class of at-risk students at St. Matthew’s Academy after losing her sight due to a catastrophic retinal hemorrhage. As she takes refuge forlornly behind her piano, one of her students begins performing a rap piece he’s written as an assignment. Haltingly, Dr. McAllister’s fingers involuntarily glide over the keys, adding melody to the student’s lyrics, creating an unexpected marriage of her own classical training with the spirit of hip hop.

The film operates synergistically on multiple planes.

To find out how, read here.

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Julia Mann’s ‘AKA’ made official selection of Jersey Shore Film Festival (05-10-19)

AKA was one of the short films that the Fort Myers Film Festival screened this year. It has recently been made an official selection and will be screened next by the Jersey Shore Film Festival, which runs June 23-30, 2019. The JSFF’s mission is to attract and entertain the greatest masses of audience throughout the Jersey Shore with meaningful, provocative and entertaining films.

The short is about a tribe of bottlenose dolphins that crosses paths with a lone sailor in the equatorial mid-Atlantic ocean. One of those dolphins, Aka, wonders if his tribe has found a descendant of the long-lost ancient Sea Kings of Atlantis. When the unimaginable happens, their fates become intertwined, leaving the dolphins with a life-transforming decision to make. This timeless, captivating story reveals an almost-forgotten legend and inspires a call to action—in audiences of all ages—to honor and protect the oceans.

The film was adapted by Sanibel resident Julia Mann from a 1981 novel by seafaring adventurer Tristan Jones and shot by a local production crew that included videographer Rusty Farst of Sanibel and visual and sound editor Dave Beaty of Dreamtime Entertainment in Fort Myers. Craig Wolf is the narrator with Elliot Sudal in a starring role. Jim Syoen provided voice talent, with Chris Neolon producing the voice recordings. Water footage was filmed off Sanibel island, with expert boat coordination by Capt. Bill Cromie and Capt. Billy Kirkland.

AKA premiered at the Glendale International Film Festival in California this past October, where it was awarded “Best Short Made By a Woman.” It has also screened at Sunshine City Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida (where it earned an honorable mention), Big Apple Film Festival Florida Filmmakers and Screenwriters Showcase in Fort Lauderdale, and Myrtle Beach International Film Festival in South Carolina.

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Last look back at Fort Myers Beach Int’l Film Festival winners (05-10-19)

The Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival announced its 2019 award winners during an awards ceremony held last night at Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining on Estero Boulevard. Awards were given in the following ten categories:

Best International Short Film: The Right Choice. Set in the near future, a husband and wife visit The Arbitrio Clinic, a fertility clinic that specializes in designer babies. With the help of a qualified adviser, the couple must answer three seemingly harmless questions to create their perfect baby. The newest film from director Tomisin Adepeju, and the debut film from writer/producer Vijay Varman, The Right Choice explores how far parents are willing to go in order to ensure their children have the best start in life.

Best Student Film: Everything is Fine: A Panic Attack in D Major. This musical comedy written and directed by Zack Morrison centers around a woman at the onset of her quarter-life crisis and her existential journey through the various stages of anxiety in song and dance.

Go here for the rest of the FMBIFF winners.

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Staged readings at the Moe Auditorium tonight (05-10-19)

The Center for Performing Arts is presenting two staged readings tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The first is The Actor’s Nightmare. A stalwart of many theatrical seasons in the ‘80s and 90s, The Actor’s Nightmare is the story of an accountant who finds himself on stage. No one has told him his role and he can’t figure out what play he’s in, yet the other actors continue on, dragging him kicking and screaming through multiple diluted plots.

The second is Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All to You. Christopher Durang’s skewering ode to his Catholic school upbringing, Sister Mary Ignatius takes us on a hilarious reunion of her students who grew to question the Sister’s words, actions and attitude. The “good” Sister must face real-life questions as she battles to maintain her own unwavering beliefs.

Featuring poignant selections of written works carefully selected to enthrall and amuse, Staged Readings come from short stories, essays, plays, speeches, the inside of fortune cookies, or anywhere else CFABS feels the written word might be made more impactful as read by local thespians. Each staged reading is unique, powerful, funny and thought-provoking evening of entertainment as actors take on different roles.

Watch the transformative power of acting as directors and actors introduce all of us to works that may illuminate their mainstage work or introduce us to future programming possibilities. After readings, you’re invited to meet the cast and discuss the play with director and actors. This lively and informative discussion brings new insight to the art of theater.

The staged readings take place in the Moe Auditorium. Tickets are $20 per person with a 10 percent discount applying to current CFABS members.

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Next Crayton Cove Art After Dark is May 11 (05-09-19)

Crayton Cove’s next Art After Dark takes place from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. Five galleries representing some of Naples’ best artists take part in the event, vis: Phil Fisher Gallery, Pure Design, Random Acts of Art, Naples Ships Store and Guess-Fisher Gallery. There is also live music from Jeff Fessenden & Friends to enjoy. The Galleries of Crayton Cove is a professional artist community in Old Naples on the Bay, all within a one-block walk, where 8th St. S. & 12th Ave. S. meet at the flagpole by the Naples City Docks.

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Broadway Palm’s ‘Thrift Shop Musical’ closes May 12 (05-08-19)

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre’s current main stage musical, Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical, closes May 12. It’s a funny, yet inspirational, musical comedy about the quirky characters that run The Second Chances Thrift Shop. You’ll meet the hilarious lead clerk who always brings sunshine to the day with humor, the couple who work in the collection area and discover that you can find love later in life, the young mother and new shop manager trying to start over, and more! When the greedy landlor threatens to sell the thrift shop, the team won’t stand for it. Spend a year with the loveable, yet quirky, group and see how they band together to save the shop and in the process, discover it’s not just old treasures that are getting Second Chances!

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

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

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

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

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

With its return to Broadway Palm’s main stage, this beloved show has now come full circle.

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‘Little Shop of Horrors’ to follow ‘Thrift Shop’ on Broadway Palm main stage (05-08-19)

Little Shop of Horrors will following Second Chances: The Thrift Shop Musical on the Broadway Palm main stage, opening May 16.

A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi, this Shop is one of the longest running Off Broadway shows in history, devouring the hearts of theater- goers for decades. In it, meek floral assistant Seymour stumbles across a new breed of plant that he names “Audrey II” – after his co-worker (and crush!). She’s a sassy, R&B-singing plant who promises everlasting fame and fortune, as long as Seymour keeps feeding her its special diet. Between bites, Audrey II brings down the house with music composed by Alan Menken (whose credits also include Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Newsies and Aladdin) in the style 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and Motown including the well-known “Suddenly, Seymour,” “Somewhere That’s Green” and the title song “Little Shop of Horrors.”

The musical will run through June 15. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Tickets are $45 to $70 with group prices available. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting BroadwayPalm.com or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

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Next up at Off Broadway Palm is ‘Sex Please We’re Sixty’ (05-08-19)

Next up in Broadway Palm’s intimate Off-Broadway venue is Six Please We’re Sixty. As the title suggests, the play is a farce that pokes fun at the libidos and trysts of men and women over a certain age. The script is chock full of naughty jokes, unseemly inferences, brazen bawdiness and unapologetic raunchiness that combine to produce a side-splitting afternoon or evening of entertainment.

The setting is the Rose Cottage Bed & Breakfast in New England. Her owner, Mrs. Stancliffe, enjoys considerable repeat business, particularly among her female clientele. Stancliffe’s next-door neighbor, Bud, takes credit for the inn’s popularity among the cottage’s female guests, harboring the belief that they come year after year primarily to hook up with him. An unabashed lothario, Bud thinks he can literally charm the socks (and clothes) off any woman.

Stancliffe’s other neighbor, Henry, is a chemist who’s developed an untested pharmaceutical called Venusia that does for post-menopausal women what Viagra does for men. The hijinx start when Bud takes the wrong little blue pill, turning from Bud the Stud turns into Bud the Dud much to the delight of Rose Cottage’s current guests, Victoria Ambrose, Hillary Hudson, and Charmaine Beauregard, who turn the table on Bud and Henry in a hysterical attempt to show the men who is the smarter sex.

Written by Michael and Susan Parker, Sex Please We’re Sixty was first produced by Play With Your Food Productions in Hemet, California on October 17, 2008. English born and raised, the Parkers write plays that combine familiar British farce with standard American settings to produce stereotypical sex comedies with over-the-top nonsensical plotlines. Some of their other works include The Sensuous Senator, There’s a Burglar in My Bed and Whose Wives Are They Anyway?

Sex Please We’re Sixty opens June 6 and runs through July 21.

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Broadway Palm brings interactive murder mystery to Royal Palm Dining Room (05-08-19)

Taking place in the Royal Palm Dining Room now through June 2 is Murder On The 19th Hole, a special engagement that Broadway Palm is just dying to have you see. This interactive murder mystery comedy comes by popular demand after last year’s sold-out run of Murder In Paradise.

It’s 1976 and you’re invited to be a special guest at the 50th Annual Celebration of Florida’s #1 Golfing Destination, Magnus Prime. You’ll be given a new identity when you arrive at this very prestigious celebration. Throughout the evening, many curious events will occur, including (gasp!) a murder, and we need you to figure out “whodunit.” You can become part of the action or just sit back and enjoy the fun and delicious dinner, served to your table by the suspects, of course. Bring your imagination and appetite to Murder On The 19th Hole – it’s comedy to die for!!

Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with the dinner and show beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $55 per person and can be re­served by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting BroadwayPalm.com or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.

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CFABS Youth Theater producing ‘Willy Wonka JR’ (05-08-19)

The Centers for Performing Arts Bonita Springs Youth Theater is producing four performances of Willy Wonka JR. May 17-19.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka JR. follows enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka as he stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whoever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats, but the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket, who takes the tour in the company of his equally amiable grandfather. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka’s rules in the factory — or suffer the consequences.

Featuring the enchanting songs from the 1971 film in addition to a host of fun new songs, “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka JR. is a scrumdidilyumptious musical guaranteed to delight everyone’s sweet tooth,” says new Youth Theater Director Brian Seagraves.

This production will be the first completely helmed by Seagraves for the CFABS Youth Theater, but it’s by no means his first time directing and producing, with credits from various venues, mainly in the Midwest. Rounding out the Creative Team are Music Director Alana Nanz; Choreographer Jill Demchak; and Assistant Director Dee Betcher, along with Technical Direction from CFABS’s own Dominic Vigliotti.

CFABS Youth Theater productions are always comprised of an assortment of amazingly talented and motivated local youth of all ages, and this show is no exception with 51 performers from ages 8 to 18 from both Lee and Collier Counties.

Each Youth Theater production at CFABS leads the cast on a journey that begins with open auditions and spans roughly three months of rehearsing diligently two to three times a week after school, concluding in a fully realized performance for friends, family, and the entire community. This program provides youth with a structured, theatrical outlet with compassionate guidance, while getting them to practice responsibility, teamwork, and commitment, as well as giving them opportunities to explore their talents and build their confidence.

“I am a big fan of approaching a production as ‘Education through process’ which includes not only teaching youth how to better their performance and put on a show, but also how to think on your feet, work together, be responsible, exude confidence, and celebrate diversity,” says Seagraves.

Performances will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday & Saturday, May 17 & 18 together with 2:00 p.m. matinee shows on Saturday & Sunday, May 18 & 19, in the Center for Performing Arts – Hinman Auditorium, which is located at 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL 34135. Tickets are $15 General Admission, $20 Reserved Seating and 10% off for current CFABS Members.

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Florida Rep’s year in review (05-08-19)

Florida Repertory Theatre’s 2018-2019 season is coming to a close in May after a record-breaking 21st year. According to Artistic Director Greg Longenhagen, over 14,000 people attended Million Dollar Quartet, breaking all previous box office records, and Native Gardens is playing to sold-out houses and is on an extended late-season run through May 19.

In addition to its successes onstage, Florida Rep’s fundraising gala raised more money and saw more attendance than any in the company’s history. Held April 13, the Renaissance-themed gala raised $545,950 and boasted 260 guests and 60 staff and artists in attendance. The event included live and silent auctions and featured performances from the company’s Education Department, a cabaret with guest and ensemble artists, and a special appearance from the cast of Million Dollar Quartet. The company is already planning the 2020 event, to be held at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa on March 28.

“We are having an incredible 21st year,” said Longenhagen. “Following on the heels of the extraordinary success of Million Dollar Quartet, which introduced 30-50 first-time attendees to Florida Rep at each performance, we extended the run of Native Gardens, one of the funniest and hottest new plays in America, currently playing in the ArtStage Studio Theatre. Add to that the unprecedented generosity we saw from our donors at the gala made this a season of milestones, and we’re proud to share that success with our closest supporters and with the entire community.”

Due to overwhelming demand for tickets, Florida Rep also extended the runs of Becoming Dr. Ruth in October as well as Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical and Noël Coward’s Hay Fever in early 2019. Also this season, noted sex therapist and holocaust survivor, 90-year-old Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, visited Florida Rep and participated in talkbacks, book signings, and enrichment events in conjunction with the season opener, Becoming Dr. Ruth.

Florida Rep produced the regional premiere of Damascus by Bennett Fisher in November, and played the psychological thriller to a sold-out five week run. The theatre’s first outing with August Wilson’s American Century Cycle, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences, garnered critical acclaim in January when Charles Runnells of The News-Press called the production “a powerful night of theatre full of terrific performances, poetic dialogue and rich symbolism.”

Florida Rep’s season continues into the summer with its 6th Annual Playlab Festival of New Works, to be held May 9-12, also in the ArtStage Studio Theatre. The PlayLab is an action-packed weekend festival where six new plays are read by a cast of professional actors and directors with talkbacks following each performance. The festival also includes a performance of the world-premiere play for young audiences, Refugee by Eric Coble, on May 12, and a keynote address by Susan Gurman, one of the country’s leading literary agents.”

Florida Rep’s 2019-2020 season begins on September 24 with Always…Patsy Cline, a heartfelt celebration of the most popular female country singer in recording history. The upcoming season includes eight more productions lined up in the Historic Arcade Theatre and ArtStage Studio Theatres, and boasts rib-tickling comedies, electrifying thrillers, powerful dramas, a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere, and a Tony-winning BEST Musical.

For information on the PlayLab and current and upcoming seasons, visit www.FloridaRep.org or call the box office at 239-332-4488.

Florida Repertory Theatre is a fully professional regional theatre that works with an ensemble of actors, directors, and designers on contract with Actors Equity Association, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and United Scenic Artists. Florida Rep is one of Lee County and Southwest Florida’s most important cultural and educational institutions, has been named “Best Performing Arts Group” numerous times by “Gulfshore Life Magazine” and “Florida Weekly,” and its works have been lauded nine times by “The Wall Street Journal’s” drama critic and bestselling author, Terry Teachout, as “one of America’s top repertory companies.”

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

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Auditions scheduled for Lab’s 2019-2020 season (05-08-19)

Lab Theater is holding auditions for its 2019-2020 season from 2:00-4:00 p.m. on May 19 and between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. for straight plays and 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. for its musical on June 8.

To audition, come with a humorous and/or dramatic monologue not to exceed 90 seconds each. Actors will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Actors without monologues may select one that The Lab will have on offer in the lobby. Actors who are not available on either of the audition dates may send a video audition to director@laboratorytheaterflorida.com. Callbacks will be by invitation.

The shows are:

  • DMV, August 2019
  • The Crucible, Sep-Oct 2019
  • Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Oct-Nov 2019
  • Let Nothing You Dismay, Dec 2019
  • Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf, Jan-Feb 2020
  • How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, Feb-Mar 2020
  • In the Heights, Mar-Apr 2020
  • Kehilla, Apr 2020.

More on the roles can be found on The Lab’s website and on its Facebook page.

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Michael Cristofer’s ‘Shadow Box’ at New Phoenix Theatre through May 19 (05-08-19)

The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer is on stage at New Phoenix Theatre on McGregor Boulevard through May 19.

In this compelling dramatic triptych, three terminal cancer patients dwell in separate cottages on a hospital’s grounds, attended and visited by family and close friends. Although the characters are either living in or visiting a hospice for the terminally ill, The Shadow Box is not about death and dying as much as it is about self-realization. That’s because to playwright Michael Cristofer’s way of thinking, it is necessary to have an awareness of mortality in order to understand ourselves and how we live.

To explicate this theme, Cristofer focuses on the lives and families of three people who are living with the certainty that their diseases will kill them within a short time. They are forced to evaluate themselves and come to a conclusion about the manner of their existence. There’s Agnes and her mother Felicity. They’re not only estranged by Felicity’s anger and bitterness over the reality of her impending demise, but by Felicity’s dementia. There’s garrulous Brian and Beverly, whose marital complications are exacerbated by Brian’s new lover, Mark. And there’s Joe and his anxious, heartbroken wife, Maggie, who finally finds the support she needs from her husband and their teenage son, Steve.

What comes out of the interactions of these three groups of people is the unerring message that the more honest they are, the more openly they can express their love for one another and the more genuine and immediate their relationships can be. It’s only in this way that it becomes easier for the dying to let go of life.

Remaining performances are at 8:00 p.m. on May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18, with 2:00 p.m. matinees on May 12 and 19.

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‘Shadow Box’ underscores that terminal illness is a family affair (05-08-19)

The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer opens May 2 at New Phoenix Theatre on McGregor Boulevard.

The play focuses on the lives of three terminally-ill cancer patients who are in varying stages of their final illness. Each occupies a cottage on the grounds of a hospital where they are attended not only by health care workers but their families. To defray costs, they’ve agreed to be followed and periodically interviewed by a psychologist (Jennifer Grant) for some kind of study that is never disclosed either to the patients or the audience.

There is Joe (Grant Cothren), a working stiff who was never able to cash in on the various business and other financial opportunities that came his way before he got ill. His wife, Maggie (Amy Genzlinger), is in denial, steadfastly clinging to the unrealistic expectation that her husband will beat the odds and return home to her and their teenage son, Steve (Kagan Vann), whom mom has kept in the dark and is therefore blissfully ignorant about his father’s impending death.

Brian (James Brock) is a garrulous philosophizer prone to quoting the Greeks and gleefully toeing the amorphous line between Apollonian order and Dionysian revelry. On the Apollonian side is Brian’s gay companion, Mark (Justin Larche). Brian’s junior by a couple of decades, Mark is resentful at being thrust into the role of caretaker but too principled to abandon the man who rescued him from a life of pimping on the streets. Embodying the Dionysian is Brian’s ex-wife, Beverly (Joann Haley), a hard-drinking, oversexed free spirit who arrives in Brian’s cottage ostensibly to say her good-byes.

You can find the rest of this review here.

RELATED POSTS.

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‘Rancho Mirage’ opens at Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance on June 14 (05-08-19)

Opening June 14 in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is Rancho Mirage, a biting satire of life in a gated community that is as moving as it is hilarious.

The play tells the story of three affluent suburban couples who have come together for an ill-fated dinner party in one of their homes. One couple is experiencing financial troubles. A second is going through marital woes. The third is having trouble conceiving. Close friends who enjoy lively banter as much as the next glass of wine, as the evening progresses they begin revealing long-concealed secrets that threaten to undermine their relationships.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

‘Rancho Mirage’ plays dates, times and ticket info.

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Spotlight on ‘Rancho Mirage’ actor Sonya McCarter (05-08-19)

Sonya McCarter is an actor, director, an instructor in the Alliance for the Arts’ CHANGE (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) program, and the Alliance’s Community Engagement Coordinator.

Her acting credits include the part of Corryn Fell in Gideon’s Knot, Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, appearances in two episodes of the television show Burn Notice and the film The Florida Project.

The rest of Sonya’s profile is here.

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Spotlight on ‘Rancho Mirage’ actor Cicero McCarter (05-08-19)

Cicero McCarter is an emerging talent in Southwest Florida theater. A recent graduate of the Alliance for the Arts’ CHANGE program, McCarter has appeared in a number of productions since 2015, including August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, August Wilson’s Seven Guitars (Hedley), August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Slow Drag) and Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic (Henry Simpson). He also plays a DCF agent in the 2019 indie film Fallaway.

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Spotlight on ‘Rancho Mirage’ actor Nuniez Philor (05-08-19)

Nuniez Philor is a young actor who is taking his first fledgling steps into the brave new world of theater. A recent FGCU graduate who focused on psychology and theater, the Fort Myers native is preparing to perform in Theatre Conspiracy’s upcoming production of Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage after appearing in March as Seth Holly in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

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Spotlight on ‘Rancho Mirage’ actor Carolyn Greene (05-08-19)

Carolyn Greene is a local actor whose credits include Rancho Mirage, The Bluest Eye and the Ntozake Shange choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (the Lady in Purple). This lively Caribbean native began in community theater in 2010 in a production of the Vagina Monologues. She is a member of a local choir and a mentor to college-age women, a Phoenix who has risen from the ashes to meet every challenge.

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Naples Players celebrating life of Neil Simon with ‘Lost in Yonkers’ (05-08-19)

Directed by Executive Artistic Director Bryce Alexander (3rd photo), Lost in Yonkers is celebrated as one of Neil Simon’s greatest works. Debuting at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 1990, Lost in Yonkers went on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Play, as well as the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Praised as one of the greatest American playwrights, Neil Simon passed away last year and The Naples Players is thrilled to celebrate him with Lost in Yonkers – scheduled to close its 65th Anniversary Theatre Season this May.

The story takes us to New York in 1942. After the death of their mother, two young brothers are sent to stay with their imposing grandmother for the longest ten months of their lives. Grandmother Kurnitz is a one-woman German front—a refugee and a widow who has steeled her heart against the world. Her coldness and intolerance have crippled her own children. The boys’ father has no self-esteem, their Aunt Gert has an embarrassing speech impediment, their Uncle Louie is a small-time gangster and their Aunt Bella has the mentality of a child. But it is Bella’s hunger for affection and her refusal to be denied love that saves the boys—and that leads to an unforgettable, wrenching confrontation with her mother. Filled with laughter, tears, and insight, Lost in Yonkers is a heartwarming testament to Neil Simon’s talent.

“The play is as relatable today as it was when it was written,” said Alexander.

“At its heart, the play is about family and how we sometimes feel disconnected from different generations. ‘How could Grandma think that way? Or ‘how can those kids act that way?’ And yet – it is our varied experiences that help our families come together. It seems like family is more important now than ever before.”

The Naples Players Lost in Yonkers cast includes KidzAct stars Leonard Allen as Arty, Brian Boland as Jay, veteran performer Bonnie Knapp (4th photo) plays Grandma, newcomer Mai-Lei Murphy plays Bella, while regulars Daniel Ospina performs as Louie, Bernardo Santana is Eddie, and Judith Santos plays Gert.

Tickets are $40 and available by contacting the Box Office (239) 263-7990 or online: NaplesPlayers.org.

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Mack is Back at The Naples Players’ Blackburn Hall (05-08-19)

Mack is Back! The Music of Bobby Darin comes to Blackburn Hall on May 21 & May 22. In this two-night extravaganza, Chaz Esposito performs the musical repertoire of the beloved singer and songwriter in his hit tribute Mack is Back! The Music of Bobby Darin. Movin’- and- a-groovin’, rockin’- and- a- rollin,’ this musical special will have you snapping your fingers, clapping your hands, and singing along to musical hits like “Beyond the Sea,” “Splish Splash,” “Mack The Knife,” and more.

Chaz toured extensively playing the role of Bobby Darin in the Off-Broadway production of Mack the Knife…The Life and Music of Bobby Darin. After performing hundreds of shows and concerts throughout the years, he was granted permission from and received the endorsement of The Bobby Darin Estate to play Darin and his music.

Esposito entered the entertainment business over 30 years ago as a teenager. He has also been seen in national commercials, theatre, and corporate videos across the country. In addition, his production company is one of the Off-Broadway producers for the musical production of Mack the Knife…The Life and Music of Bobby Darin.

“Chaz is an accurate and memorable portrayal,” shares Bobby Darin’s brother, Gary Walden .

“Chaz Esposito rekindles the passion and genius of Bobby Darin with verve and energy, “ adds David Evanier, the author of The Roman Candle: The Life of Bobby Darin.

Tickets for Mack is Back! are $40 and available from The Naples Players Box Office at (239) 263-7990 or online: NaplesPlayers.org.

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Naples Players announces ‘Mamma Mia’ cast (05-08-19)

The Naples Players (TNP) is kicking off its 66th theater season with Mamma Mia!

The ABBA Broadway musical will be directed by Naples favorite Dawn Lebrecht Fornara with musical direction by Charles Fornara.

Jacqueline Blanche is Lisa, Eric Bohus is Sam, Kristin Cassidy is Rosie, Adam Fasano is Sky, Jeremy Giovinazzo is Pepper, Debi Guthery is Tanya, Anthony Henerson is Eddie, James Little is Harry, John McKerrow is Bill, MaryAnne McKerrow is Donna, Erica Sample is Sophie and Lindsey Walsh is Ali. The musical ensemble includes Mackenzie Black, Elizabeth Marcantonio, Maggie Boswell, Sydney Mixon, Kelsey Browne, Tina Moroni, Jack Norkeliunas, Lawrence Cherestal, Thomas Richardson, Frankie Federico, Logan Szittai, Sawyer True, Mark Vanagas, Alexandra Igoe, Dominic Young and Elyse Yun.

Over 60 million people worldwide have fallen in love with the characters, the story, and the music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good show. The musical tells the uplifting tale of a young woman seeking the identity of her father for her wedding and brings the three potential men from her mother’s past back to the Greecian island they visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter, friendship, and sisterhood, creating an unforgettable show. Hit songs include: “Mamma Mia,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Voulez-Vous” among others.

There will be a special Sensory-Friendly performance of Mamma Mia! on Tuesday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Special pricing of $20 for adult tickets and $10 for student/educator tickets makes sensory-friendly performances affordable for families. As sensory-friendly screenings become more common in local movie theatres and even on Broadway, The Naples Players is proud to participate in this national shift towards making it possible for individuals with special needs and their families to experience the same quality theatre as everyone else.

Tickets for Mamma Mia! are $45 and on sale now through the TNP Box Office at (239) 263-7990 or NaplesPlayers.org. Tickets for the sensory-friendly performance are $20 and $10 for children and educators.

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Stage 2 Improv returning to TNP on June 1 and July 13 (05-08-19)

The Naples Players and Stage2 Improv collaborate one weekend night each month for some of Southwest Florida’s best family-friendly comedy. Each show consists of improvisational comedy games and songs from topics suggested by the audience. Be as involved in the show as you’d like and come back each month for more and more laughs.

Frequently including special guest appearances by local celebrities, each month is an exciting new theme. It’s the 80s on Saturday, June 1 and the 70s on Saturday, July 13. Both shows start at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are $20. Contact the TNP Box Office by phone at (239) 263-7990 or visit NaplesPlayers.org.

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TNP inviting playwrights to submit for Readers Theatre new play competition (05-08-19)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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