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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news November 22-30, 2022


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


1     ACTORS


Gerrie Benzing plays Brooke for Studio Players in ‘Other Desert Cities’

Gerrie Benzing plays Brooke for The Studio Players in Other Desert Cities. Intellectual, but bitter and depressed to the point of despondency, she’s come to terms with her brother’s suicide by writing a memoir, which excoriates the role played by their parents in causing him to kill and kill himself. It’s a role that will enable Gerrie to put her formidable dramatic skill set on parade. Please go here to view Gerrie’s lengthy and impressive stage, film and directorial credits.



Danny Cancio in cast of ‘Other Desert Cities’

An FGCU theatre grad, Daniel Cancio is an emerging talent in the local theater scene. His credits include Art,  attorney Aaron Levinsky in NutsThe Waverly Gallery, Jerry in The Zoo Story, the bartender in Speed Dating, the owl in Where is Man?, Senator Charles Whitmore’s campaign aide in Church & State, and Jerry in Don’t Talk to the Actors – all for The Studio Players in Naples. He appears next in The Studio Players’ production of Other Desert Cities. Go here to see all of Danny’s theatrical credits.



Chance Cintron in cast of Off Broadway Palm’s ‘Holiday Show’

Chance Cintron is a Fort Myers television and stage actor. He is appearing in Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show at Off Broadway Palm through December 25, 2022. His stage credits include Nick in Over the River and Through the Woods at Off Broadway Palm, Bo in Grumpy Old Men for Broadway Palm, Konstantin Treplyov in FSW Black Box Theatre’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Mr. Wormwood in Florida Repertory Theatre Education’s conservancy production of Matilda, and Georg in Florida Rep Education’s conservancy production of Spring Awakening. Go here for the rest of Chance’s theatrical credits.



Kiana Raine Cintron’s work in ‘White Christmas’ ensemble full of joy and enthusiasm

Kiana Raine Cintron is an actor, singer and dancer. She is currently performing in the role of seamstress as well as in the ensemble in Broadway Palm Dinner Theater’s holiday production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. In the latter capacity, she impresses not only with her impeccable technique and uncanny ability to convey the choreographer’s vision of the show’s storyline, but by the sheer joy and enthusiasm that animates her face and fluid movement.



Casey Cobb in cast of ‘Other Desert Cities’

Casey Cobb plays the part of Polly Wyeth, a political influencer so tough she once reduced Nancy Reagan to tears. But her carefully-constructed gruff facade threatens to unravel when her daughter, Brooke, shows up for Christmas to announce that she’s about to publish a tell-all memoir that reveals sensitive family secrets to the world. The Naples actor’s stage credits include Rose Kirk in NutsThe Cocktail Hour, Bakersfield Mist and, most recently, The Waverly Gallery. In addition, she has appeared in numerous productions at The Marco Players and Readers Theater at The Naples Players.



Shannon Connolly in ‘Ha! Ha! Ho!’ holiday show in Off Broadway Palm

Shannon Connolly is on stage in the Off Broadway Palm in the Victor Legarreta-penned holiday musical revue Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show through December 25, 2022. Connolly made her Off Broadway Palm debut in the role of Mickey (Olive Madison U/S) in Odd Couple: Female Version in 2017. Her resume is quite extensive and includes Tammy in Escape to Margaritaville (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater), Rosie in Mamma Mia (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater), Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater and Lauderhill Performing Arts Center) and Mrs. Claus in Sounds of Christmas (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater). The rest of Shannon’s resume can be viewed here.



Sami Doherty reprising role of Judy Haynes in ‘White Christmas’

Sami Doherty reprises the role Judy Haynes for Prather Entertainment in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Sami regularly performs on the main stage at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Among Doherty’s most recent Broadway Palm pre and post-COVID credits are Happy Days, the Lady in Green in Singin’ in the Rain (as well as multiple ensemble roles), Lila Dixon in Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Marty in GreaseMamma Mia, Charlie’s materialistic girlfriend, Nicola, in Kinky Boots, Sounds of Christmas (where she rocked “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”), Joan in Dames at Sea (in Off Broadway Palm), and Babette in Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. Go here for the rest of this post.



Simone Farrell is Gloria in Dorothy Marcic’s ‘SISTAS: the Musical’

Simone Farrell plays Gloria in the Southwest Florida premiere of Dorothy Marcic’s jukebox musical SISTAS: the Musical. Simone previously appeared at Lab Theater in the role of Jasmine, the assertive and outspoken sister of Beverly Frasier in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play Fairview.

Simone discovered acting after taking a class in Orlando at The Maile School and became instantly drawn to the craft. After relocating to Tampa, she honed her skills at The Performers Studio Workshop, Andi Matheny Acting Studios, and The Identity School of Acting.

Go here for the rest of Simone’s profile.



Betsy Greenblatt in cast of ‘Other Desert Cities’

Betsy Greenblatt is a New Jersey community theater transplant. She made her Southwest Florida premiere as Judge Murdoch in Nuts for The Studio Players. Her other local credits include the role of Irene in Slow Food. She appears next in Other Desert Cities for The Studio Players. The rest of Betsy’s profile is here.



Julissa Jean-Bart is Tamika in Lab’s ‘SISTAS: the Musical’

Julissa Jean-Bart appears in the role of Tamika in Lab Theater’s production of SISTAS: the Musical. Lab Theater patrons are still talking about her portrayal of Nettie in Marsha Norman’s The Color Purple, which marked her Lab Theater debut. Go here for Julissa’s full profile.



Jason Kimmel plays Bob Wallace in ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’

Jason Kimmel stars in the role of Bob Wallace in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, on the main stage at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater now through December 30. It’s the role that Bing Crosby made famous in the iconic movie.

If you’ve seen the film then you’ll recall that Bob Wallace is a no-nonsense Broadway producer and besieged star who is always on guard for the angle being played by the people he encounters, such as the disarmingly effervescently but transparently ambitious Judy Haynes and her surly sister, Betty. But beneath the veneer, he’s a hopeless romantic, which Kimmel brings out with his sensitive portrayal.

You will find Jason’s musical theater credits here.



Lisa Kuchinski swings in Off Broadway Palm ‘Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show’ 

A talented singer and dancer, Lisa Kuchinski has performed in Irving Berlin’s White ChristmasPeter Pan and Jersey Girls. Some of her most memorable local roles include Roxy in Chicago (for which she won a Cultural Park Theatre Marquee Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical), Sister Mary Theresa in Sister Act (for which she received a Cultural Park Theater Marquee Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play or Musical), Alanna Dale in Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance and a phantom in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, She currently appears in Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show in the Off Broadway Palm through December 25, 2022. You will find all of Lisa’s theatrical credits here.



Rachael Lord is in ‘Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show’ in Off Broadway Palm

Rachael Lord is a professional EMC actor, singer, dancer, poet and fantasy writer. She is a featured singer in Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show on stage in the Off Broadway Palm through Christmas Day, 2022. Rachael’s stage credits include work in the ensemble of The Wizard of Oz (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater), Margo in Bright Star (TheatreZone), Swing in A Night on Broadway (Broadway Palm Dinner Theater), Janie McMichael in Not Now, Darling (Off Broadway Palm, Prather Entertainment, 2022), Jenna Sealy in Farce of Nature (Off Broadway Palm, Prather Entertainment, 2021), Gia in Nana Does Vegas (Off Broadway Palm, Prather Entertainment) and Gerda in The Snow Queen (Off Broadway Palm, Prather Entertainment, 2020). Go here for all of Rachael’s stage and other credits.



Danica Murray plays multiple roles in touring production of ‘Lion, Witch and Wardrobe’

From September 27, 2022 through May 31, 2023, Danica and Cameron Rogers will play multiple roles in the Naples Performing Art Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences production of CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. She has already amassed an impressive resume, thanks in large measure to her participation in Florida Repertory Theatre’s Conservancy program. Her acting credits include CFABS Youth Theatre’s bold reimagining of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town, Caitlin O’Hare in Over the River and Through the Woods at Off Broadway Palm, The Woman in Woman in Black and Cloe in Bulletproof Backpack. Go here for all of Danica’s stage credits.



Lexi Rae Smith in Broadway Palm’s ‘Holiday Show’

Lexi Rae Smith is a Chicago-based actor who appears through December 25 in Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show in the Off Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Lexi’s regional credits include Sue Lawson in Not Now, Darling (Off Broadway Palm), Little Red in Into the Woods, Rusty in Footloose, Emma in Just Desserts (Circa 21 Dinner Playhouse), Steward on the Polar Express Train Ride, Emcee/Vocalist in Gershwin & Friends and The Baker/Ensemble in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (Nettle Creek Players). Go here for Lexi’s full profile.



Stan Zawatsky plays Lyman Wyeth in ‘Other Desert Cities’

Stan Zawatsky plays the part of Lyman Wyeth for The Studio Players in Other Desert Cities. Previous productions with The Studio Players include Over the River and Through the Woods, You Can’t Take It with You and August: Osage County. Stan has also acted in Rumors and Distracted for The Naples Players.





Victor Legarreta writes and directs Off Broadway Palm’s ‘Holiday Show’

Victor Legarreta is a local playwright, director, choreographer and actor. He has been associated in these capacities with Broadway Palm Dinner Theater since 1996. Over that span Victor has written, directed and choreographed more than 45 original plays and/or musicals, and directed or choreographed a hundred others. His most recent credits include Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show (which he wrote and directed) and Broadway Palm Thru The Decades (which he wrote, directed and starred in), a show featuring song-and-dance numbers from the top-selling Broadway musicals produced on the Broadway Palm mainstage since the theater’s inception in 1993.

Go here for the rest of Victor’s theatrical credits.



Sonya McCarter directs ‘SISTAS: the Musical’ for Lab Theater

Sonya McCarter is an actor, director and instructor. She is presently directing the Southwest Florida premiere of Dorothy Marcic’s SISTAS: the Musical for Lab Theater. Sonya’s other directing credits include Fairview, The Color Purple, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s King Hedley IISeven Guitars and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye and George C. Wolff’s The Colored Museum. McCarter studied theater and the language of Shakespeare at Pensacola Christian College 1990-1995. She holds two Master’s Degrees in Oral Interpretation of Speech and Theatre Arts. You can also hear Sonya on Otocast, the free mobile app which the City of Fort Myers utilizes to share stories with the public about the artworks in its public art collection. Hers is the voice you’ll hear on the audios for The Knife Sharpener and Female Fruit Vendor.



Paula Keenan directs ‘Other Desert Cities’ for Studio Players

Paula Keenan directs Other Desert Cities for The Studio Players. Her directing credits include Barefoot in the ParkThe Waverly Gallery, Over the River and Through the Woods, The Cocktail Hour, Bakersfield Mist and Agnes of God for The Studio Players; On the Farce Day of Christmas, Silver Alert, Come Blow Your Horn and Flamingo Court for The Marco Players; and The Ladies Odd Couple, Sex Please We’re 60, Drinking Habits, Fiddler on the Roof and Right Bed Wrong Husband. Additionally, she directed Norm Foster’s Opening Night and Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple for the Azuay Community Theater in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she spends part of the year. Go here for the rest of Paula’s theatrical credits.





IMAG celebrates 100th anniversary of discovery of Tut’s tomb with ‘Return of the King’

November 4th marks the 100th anniversary of British archeologist Howard Carter’s discovery the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Because Tut’s successors tried to obliterate his name from the annals of Egyptian history, the pharaoh had been buried in an out-of-the-way place that had prevented robbers from finding and plundering the tomb. So when Carter opened it, the tomb still held the bulk of its treasures. The IMAG History and Science Center in Fort Myes is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery with an exciting exhibition containing reproductions of scores of the artifacts found in Tut’s tomb. Listen on WGCU for the details:…/imag-history-science-center…



IMAG offers alternative to National Geographic Tut exhibition

The National Geographic Museum is celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the legendary discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings with Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience. The exhibition utilizes a combination of projection imagery and dramatic cinematic storytelling to transport visitors back in time more than 3,300 years to experience the Boy King’s world in a way that’s both educational and visually dazzling. Whether in Washington D.C., Boston or Vancouver, art and history buffs are snapping up tickets to the exhibition at a record pace. But Southwest Florida residents and visitors need travel no farther than to IMAG History & Science Center in Fort Myers to enter the tomb of the 12th pharaoh of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty or pore over hand-crafted reproductions of the artifacts that renowned archaeologist discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb 100 years ago this month.

“[Tutankhamun: Return of the King] is made up of faithfully-reproduced replicas of all the treasures that were found in the tomb,” IMAG Director Matt Johnson touts. “Many of them were created in Egypt by Egyptian artisans in the same manner and using the same tools as they would have done 3,500 years ago … A lot of them are authentic in their materials, authentic in their design, but what’s neat about these is that while they’re amazing pieces of art in themselves, they’re not priceless antiquities so we don’t have to put them behind glass with an armed guard standing next to it. I think you can be a little more immersive and engaged and feel a little more of a connection to these pieces than maybe you would if it was the original piece. So it’s a different experience than the original one, but I think it’s a unique one in itself.”

Besides dazzling, eye-popping artifacts like the pharaoh’s 11-kilogram blue-and-gold death mask, Tutankhamun: Return of the King visitors will find information about the mummification process, visual recreations of how Egyptians envisioned the after-life and the pharaoh’s mummy, along with the coffins and sarcophaguses in which he was entombed.

While there is no audio component or tours for Return of the King, there are plaques that described just about every artifact and aspect of the exhibition. While IMAG Senior Director of Development & Communications Kelli King reports that some kids blast through the exhibition in as little as 1o to 15 minutes, “visitors should plan on spending an hour and a half if they want to really immerse themselves in, get the full story, and read all the great history that we’ve assembled.”

IMAG’s Tutankhamun: Return of the King will be on display through March 31, 2023. Consult IMAG’s website for days, times and ticket information. You can also listen to IMAG Director Matt Johnson talk about the show on WGCU.



‘Recent Acquisitions: 2019-Present’ at Baker Museum through January 8, 2023

Recent Acquisitions: 2019-Present is on view at The Baker Museum now through January 8, 2023. This exhibition features more than 50 works of art that have been added to the museum’s permanent collection since 2019.

The Baker Museum’s permanent collection has grown steadily over the past two decades. With generous gifts and promised gifts from numerous individuals coupled with museum purchases, the art collection has continued to expand in both breadth and quality within the museum’s clearly defined scope, which encompasses American, Latin American and European art from the 1880s to the present day.

“We are profoundly grateful to these collectors and donors for their trust in us and for their recognition of our commitment to growing the permanent collection in significant ways,” Museum Director Courtney McNeil states.

Go here for more.



Late works of Helen Frankenthaler on exhibit at Baker Museum through February 5

Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990-2003 is on exhibit at the Baker Museum of Art in Naples. It is the first museum exhibition dedicated to the last phase of the painter’s prolific career. The show features 20 paintings on paper and 10 paintings on canvas. These works demonstrate the artist’s long-standing interest in the relationship between landscape and abstraction and reveal her continued sensitivity to the emotional effects of color. The exhibition is on loan from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) played a defining role in the history of postwar American painting. Her innovative soak-stain technique inaugurated the shift from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field Painting and influenced artists such as Morris Louis, Jules Olitski, Friedel Dzubas and Kenneth Noland. In the 1950s, Frankenthaler created saturated, luminous surfaces by applying thinned oil paint onto raw, unprimed canvas. For more than 60 years, she never stopped experimenting with new materials and tools to expand painting’s possibilities—on canvas, paper and prints.



‘Envisioning Evil: The Nazi Drawings’ at Baker Museum through February 19, 2023

On exhibit now through February 19, 2023 at the Naples Museum of Art are selected drawings of Mauricio Lasansky from his series entitled Envisioning Evil: The Nazi Drawings. Crafted from graphite and charcoal, asphaltum turpentine, and red and white wash, the series of 33 raw and haunting monumental drawings is making its first comprehensive exhibition since its inaugural tour over 50 years ago.

You can read the full advance for this exhibit here.



SWFL arts organizations conducting survey to quantify economic impact of the arts

The Alliance for the Arts and dozens of local arts organizations are surveying audiences attending their events in an effort to quantify the economic impact of the arts here in Southwest Florida. In fact, it’s part of a nationwide study by Americans for the Arts of the contribution made by arts organizations to their local economies.

This is the sixth such study and involves 387 participating communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Lee County, the Alliance for the Arts is spearheading the effort to collect the data needed for the study. Go here to hear why you should participate in the study if you are asked to complete a survey.






Keeping ‘Rachel at the Well’ under wraps until repairs can be made

As motorists passing by her have noticed, the City-owned sculpture affectionately called Rachel at the Well (her real name is The Spirit of Fort Myers) is under wraps. The orange mesh safety fencing is intended to hold the statue together until she can be restored by professional art conservators. The 96-year-old Grecian maiden was badly damaged when the bougainvillea behind the statue caught Hurricane Ian’s 110+ mile per hour winds like the sail of a mighty schooner. It toppled the heavy wrought-iron fence with which it had become entwined, cracking Rachel’s elegant neck and breaking her back at the hips. The rest of this story can be read here.



‘Fire Dance’ turning gray

We’re all a little grayer these days, right? But the 25-foot-tall Dupont red modern sculpture in Centennial Park West known as Fire Dance has turned almost entirely gray. It’s all part of the artwork’s make-over. The 11-year-old sculpture has faded pretty badly in spite of UV protection being added to the paint that Ohio artist David Black used back in 2011.

The rest of this story can be found here.



Audio for ‘Knife Sharpener’ now live on Otocast

The audio for the Edgardo Carmona sculpture The Knife Sharpener (Al Filo) is now live on Otocast. The sculpture can be found on the eastern perimeter of the Urban Community Farm just south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Go here for the full announcement.



Audio for ‘Female Fruit Vendor’ now live on Otocast

The audio for the Edgardo Carmona sculpture Female Fruit Vendor (Vendedora De Frutas) is  now live on Otocast. The sculpture can be found on the eastern perimeter of the Urban Community Farm just south of De. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The statue depicts one of the most emblematic characters of Cartegena de Indias – a female fruit seller of San Basilio de Palenque with her grand fruit basket that she carries on her head as though bearing with her the weight of the world.

Go here for the rest of his announcement.



Audio for IMAG’s ‘Man Playing Flute’ now live on Otocast

The audio for the Edgardo Carmona sculpture Duo Sinfonica or Man Playing Flute is now live on Otocast. Man Playing Flute is one of two Carmona sculptures that have been moved to IMAG History & Science Center in the City’s third ward. Man Playing Flute leans against a stone pillar that anchors the wrought iron fence running along Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

With Man Playing Flute, sculptor Edgardo Carmona captures a moment in time during which a flutist and his beautiful tunes attracts a chirping bird to sing in tandem with him. This artwork was positioned to look across the street towards McCollum Hall on purpose. Go here for more.





Fringe Fort Myers coming to Southwest Florida in 2023

Fort Myers will soon be joining more than 250 cities around the globe that host fringe performing arts festivals. A collaboration between the Alliance for the Arts and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, the first-ever Fringe Fort Myers will take place June 1-4, 2023. The full story, which details the application process for artists interesting in winning a berth, is available on WGCU.



Sets grand, singing and dancing spectacular in Broadway Palm’s ‘White Christmas’

If Bing Crosby and Danny Kate’s 1954 remake of Holiday Inn has become a Christmas tradition in your household, you may think there’s nothing new for you to see in Broadway Palm’s production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Well, you’d be Ba Humug wrong! The sets are grand, the costumes sparkle, and the singing and dancing are spectacular. And if you’re intimately familiar with the movie’s plot and dialogue, you will be fascinated by the deviations and plot twists that have been made in order to convert the classic film into a classy live-theatre musical. The rest of this review can be found here.



Legarreta-penned holiday revue in Off Broadway Palm through Christmas Day

Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show is playing in The Off Broadway Palm Theatre through December 25, 2022. Written by Southwest Florida resident and Broadway Palm favorite Victor Legarreta, this all-new revue celebrates the spirit of the season with lots of laughs and traditional holiday favorites you know and love. With Santa, his elves, a few reindeer and maybe even an Elvis or two, there is something for everyone in this holiday revue that’s guaranteed to get you in holiday spirit.

The Off Broadway Palm is an intimate theatre, located in the main lobby of Broadway Palm. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. Ticket prices range from $50 to $70 with discounts available for groups of 20 or more. Tickets are now on sale and can be reserved by calling (239) 278-4422, visiting or in person at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.



‘Snowbird Follies’ opens Gulf Coast Symphony’s 2022-2023 theater season

For the 2022-2023 season, Gulf Coast Symphony will be doing five productions. The first is Snowbird Follies, a show written by Maestro Andrew Kurtz and GCS Director DJ Salisbury.

“It’s a revue, with a little twist,” teases Salisbury. “We’ve put some local history into a revue of songs you know along with songs you don’t know,” he continues. “Some songs will have parody lyrics that specifically reflect what it’s like to be a snowbird in Florida, to live half your life in the south during the cold months and half your life in the north.”

Go here for the rest of this story.



‘Nutcracker’ is highlight of Maestro Kurtz’s Christmas holiday season

Gulf Coast Symphony and Gulfshore Ballet are partnering again this year to bring Southwest Florida The Nutcracker, the eternal fantasy of Christmas come to life on stage. Featuring Miami City Ballet principal dancers Katia Carranza and Luiz Silva, new choreography by Gulfshore Ballet Artistic Directors Iliana Lopez & Franklin Gamero and the timeless music of Tchaikovsky, this two-act ballet is guaranteed to please both classical aficionados and those who’ve never, ever attended a performance by a symphony orchestra, never mind a ballet company. The rest of this story is here.



‘Nutcracker’ is most performed ballet and Christmastime staple

Gulf Coast Symphony and Gulfshore Ballet are partnering again this year to bring Southwest Florida the Nutcracker, the eternal fantasy of Christmas come to life on stage. Featuring Miami City Ballet principal dancers Katia Carranza and Luiz Silva, new choreography by Gulfshore Ballet Artistic Directors Iliana Lopez & Franklin Gamero and the timeless music of Tchaikovsky, this two-act ballet is guaranteed to please both classical aficionados and those who’ve never, ever attended a performance by a symphony orchestra, never mind a ballet company. Read the rest of this post here.



‘SISTAS: the Musical’ makes Southwest Florida premiere at Lab Theater

The Southwest Florida premiere of Dorothy Marcic’s SISTAS: the Musical plays at Lab Theater from December 16th – January 15th. Nominated for the 2012 Tony for Best New Musical and just months off its Off-Broadway run, this uplifting hit show highlights the musical journey of a multigenerational African-American family.

After Grandma’s death, the women in the family clean out her attic and unpack love and memories. They sing hit tunes that trace the history of Black women, from the trials of the 1930s through the girl groups of the ’60s to the empowerment of the ’90s. Featuring 40 hit songs from Black legends including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes and Beyonce such as Oh Happy Day, Stormy Weather, Strange Fruit, Stop! In the Name of Love, R.E.S.P.E.C.T., I Will Survive, Single Ladies, We are Family, and more, this musical will lift your spirits and leave you singing all the way home.

You can read the rest of this advance here.



Naples Performing Arts taking Narnia to area elementary and middle schools

Danica Murray and Cameron Rogers are two of Southwest Florida’s most promising young stage actors. You may have seen Murray as Caitlin O’Hare in Over the River and Through the Woods at Off Broadway Palm or Cloe in Bulletproof Backpack at Florida Repertory Theatre. Rogers burst onto the local theater scene in the role of Brad in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show at New Phoenix Theatre and dazzled Laboratory Theater of Florida audiences with his deft and daring swordplay in Dangerous Liaisons.

Interestingly, Murray’s first exposure to theater was at a touring show about Thomas Edison that visited her elementary school. Rogers’s mom took him to a Broadway Palm Children’s Theatre production of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a short time after they’d seen the movie. Now Murray and Rogers are returning the favor by performing multiple roles in the Naples Performing Arts Center’s (NPAC) Theatre for Young Audiences production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Naples Performing Art Center Associate Artistic Director Kody Jones said that while Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) has been around for about four decades, it is new to many people, even avid theater-goers. But TYA has an important role in introducing elementary and middle school students to the performing arts.

Go here for the full story on WGCU.



More on Naples Performing Arts Center’s TYA production of ‘Lion, Witch and Wardrobe’

Naples Performing Arts Center has officially announced its first Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) touring production, C.S. Lewis’ iconic The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  This new and innovative program delivers a fully-realized professional touring production to area schools.  Each production will be tailored to not only provide engaging and educational entertainment, but tie in with the host school’s curriculum and Florida’s Education Benchmarks and Standards. The highly-imaginative production runs 50 minutes and comes with an optional fifteen-minute Q and A with the actors following the performance.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is a tour de force adventure that enables the audience to join our journey as we utilize imaginations and creativity to depict the stories of Narnia,” notes NPAC in its press release announcing the production, which stars Danica Murray and Cameron Rogers, who play storytellers as well as a dozen other characters within Narnia that careen in and out of the story with a simple costume change and complete physical and vocal transformation.

The production is directed by veteran TYA Director, Kody C Jones with support by NPAC Production Manager, Jenn Murray.

“There is nothing more special than TYA Theatre for Young Audiences,” says Jones. “It’s a program with the sole purpose of introducing the performing arts to as many kids as possible while introducing life skills and inspiring creativity and imagination.”

Recommended for 1st through 6th grades, the show is designed and directed to be performed any space, large or small whether it be a classroom or large theatre or gym.

For pricing questions or to book your tour today, please email Associate Artistic Kody C Jones at

And to listen to more on TYA and the production on WGCU, please click here.



Pulitzer finalist ‘Other Desert Cities’ scathingly funny, fierce family drama

The Studio Players is bringing Jon Robin Baitz’s family drama Other Desert Cities to the stage later this month. Since concluding a successful Broadway run and seven-month stint at Lincoln Center, the play has been produced around the country in regional and community theaters. Among its awards and accolades are five Tony Award nominations, winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play  and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Go here for the balance of this advance.

Play dates, times and ticket information are here.



‘Other Desert Cities’ no Currier & Ives Christmas

In Jon Robin Baitz’ “Other Desert Cities,” the kids of the Wyeth family have come home to celebrate Christmas with mom, dad and crazy Aunt Silda, but this isn’t your typical feel-good holiday reunion.

“The daughter has written a book, and in that she covers her oldest brother’s suicide,” observes Director Paula Keenan. “It’s not a happy time for Christmas Eve. This is not a Currier & Ives Christmas, okay?”

Go to WGCU to find out more about the show from Ms. Keenan, Casey Cobb and Gerrie Benzing, who play Brooke Wyeth and her aggrieved mother Polly.


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