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Visual and Performing Artists and Their Events in the news June 8-14, 2023


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


1     ACTORS


Aubrey Barnhouse reprises role of Cosette in ‘Les Miserables’ for Melody Lane Theatre

Aubrey Barnhouse reprises the role of Cosette in Melody Lanes Theatre’s encore production of Les Miserables, which Melody Lane originally performed in 2021. plays the part of Katherine Plumber in Newsies for Belle Theatre. The 16-year-old is a member of TAG at Cypress Lake High School, where she is involved in many extracurriculars and AP classes (all while maintaining straight A’s). Past roles include Katherine Plumber in Newsies for Belle Theatre, Jasmine in Aladdin Jr., Jack’s Mom in Into The Woods, Morticia in Addams Family Jr. and the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods Jr.



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

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



Nick Beyor plays Lord Pinkleton in ‘Cinderella’

Nick Beyor plays the role of Lord Pinkleton for Belle Theatre in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Beyor’s character is second in command to Prince Topher’s Lord Chancellor, Sebastian. He also serves as town crier, is tasked with heralding all of the kingdom’s important events such as the ball that takes place in Act One and the banquet that a week later. Beyor previously played Seymour for Belle Theatre in Little Shop of Horrors, Musidorus in Head Over Heels at New Phoenix Theatre and Billy Jr. in On Golden Pond at Cultural Park Theater.



Katae Boswell magnificent in the role of The Balladeer in ‘Assassins’

With powerful vocals and the uncanny ability to speak volumes with a lilt in her voice or the lift of a single brow, Boswell is magnificent in the role as a forceful stand-in for not just the American dream, but the American people. Boswell’s is a fascinating role. The Balladeer is a narrator of sorts, a folk singer who reflects the rich tradition of Amerian storytelling. But she doesn’t merely introduce the players or describe the action taking place on stage. The Balladeer is also the voice and personification of the American Dream, namely the promise that anyone and everyone can have house, home and happiness if they just work long and hard enough and that, inevitably, good will ultimately triumph over evil. The assassins don’t just reject that characterization. They ridicule anyone, including audience members, who believe that audacious lie.

Read the rest of this post here.



Sophia Brook in ensemble of ‘Les Miserables’ at Melody Lane

Sophia Brook appears in the ensemble of Les Miserables for Melody Lane Theatre. Sophia has been performing since a very young age. Her prior credits include Rapunzel in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, Sandy in Grease, Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Mary in Mary Poppins. In 2023, Sophia earned the All Star Award at the Atlanta Junior Theater Festival, and she scored five Superiors at the District Thespians with a Best in Room accolade.



Jania Boucher is Marcella in ‘Save Hamlet’ at Lab Theater

Jania Boucher plays the part of Marcella in Save Hamlet for Laboratory Theater. Marcella is one of a bevy of women disguised as men who band together to prevent Hamlet’s uncle, the new king, from murdering Hamlet. As in the actual play, Marcella’s companion on the midnight watch is Bernadette, and together they convince Horatio to join them in their efforts to thwart the new king’s plans to have Hamlet killed. Go here for more on Jania’s stage credits.



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

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



David Cooley is Laertes (Ophelia’s dad) in ‘Save Hamlet’

David Cooley plays the part of Laertes in Save Hamlet. His stage credits include Lorenzo de Medici in Botticelli in the Fire, Leonard in Let Nothing You Dismay, various roles in DMV and Starveling in Lab Theater’s socially-distanced rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He appears next as Laertes in Lab’s summer spoof Save Hamlet. It may seem appropriate for David, a Collier County public defender, to perform in a parody of The Bard since Shakespeare is oft-quoted for the line from Henry VI that “the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” But Shakespeare actually respected solictors because “for there to be tyranny, we must eliminate those who protect rights.”



Emily Dunn appears for Broadway Palm in ‘Footloose’ as Ariel Dunn

Emily Dunn plays the part of the rebellious preacher’s daughter Ariel Moore in Broadway Palm Dinner Theater’s production of Footloose, where she especially showed off her powerful vocals and skills in harmonizing with other singers in “Learning to be Silent,” in which she combines with Moriel Behar, who plays her mother, Vi, and Jody Smith Harper, who plays Ren’s mother, Ethel McCormack. Emily’s previous stage credits include Phoebe in Friends! The Musical Paroldy in the Off Broadway Palm and the Festival of New Musicals at Goodspeed Musicals. She holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from The Hartt School.



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

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



Danielle Enderby enthralls as Marie in ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella’

Danielle Enderby enthralls as Marie in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Marie presents as an incoherent, jabbering bag lady before she is breathtakingly revealed as Ella’s exquisitely elegant fairy godmother in disguise. From hair to shimmering white gown, Enderby embraces the role. Her bearing is reminiscent of Galadriel from Middle Earth lore; her caring demeanor echoing that of the wise and nurturing Glinda from Wizard of Oz. And that’s as it should be since Marie represents the power of hope and dreams, particularly when all seems lost. For more.



Harvey Evans reprises role of Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’

Harvey Evans reprises the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables for Melody Lane Theatre June 23-25. He originally played the part for Melody Lane in its 2021 production of the musical. Previous credits include Charlie Luther Mason in Admissions for Players Circle Theatre, Jack Kelly in Newsies, Ned Schneebly in School of Rock for Belle Theatre and Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for Players Circle Theatre. Go here for Harvey’s full profile.



Jorja Evans in ensemble of ‘Les Miserables’ at Melody Lane

Jorja Evans appears in the ensemble of Les Miserables in Melody Lane Theatre’s encore production of the musical June 23-25. Her previous credits include one of Jesus’ modern-day disciples in Godspell for Fort Myers Theatre, Amy March in Little Women, work in the ensemble of Elf Jr., Miss Honey in Matilda, Jr., Mrs. McKee in The Great Gatsby, Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Ursula in Fort Myers Theatre’s summer show The Little Mermaid Jr. (2020).



Katie Freeman plays title role in ‘Cinderella’ for Belle Theatre

Katie Freeman stars in the title role of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella for The Belle Theatre. Freeman plays the part with charm and effervescence, infusing Ella, with all the warmth, kindness and patience that Rodgers & Hammerstein envisioned when they created their version of the timeless French fairy tale, Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre (Cenderella, or The Little Glass Slipper).

Go here for all of Katie’s stage credits.



Elijah Grant reprises role of Injolras in Les Miserables

Elijah Grant is has been performing on stage since the third grade. Today, he delivers crisp, seemingly effortless performances on a routine basis. He reprises the role of Injolras in Les Miserables for Melody Lane Theatre, which he first played for Melody Lane in 2021. Go here to review Elijah’s stage credits.



Declan Ireland plays Garfield killer Charles Guiteau in Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’

Declan Ireland plays the part of Charles Guiteau for the Alliance Youth Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. Guiteau assassinated President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. Guiteau had written a political speech that was used twice by Garfield during his campaign for the presidency. Prone to illusions of grandeur and possibly suffering from paralytic dementia from late-stage syphilis, Guiteau attributed Garfield’s win to the speech and demanded an ambassadorship as his reward for the important role he had played in Garfield’s victory. Slighted, he was filled with rage when he didn’t get it. Prior to being hanged, Guiteau recited a poem he’d written, “I am Going to the Lordy.” Ireland recites that poem in the musical, and is terrific in the role. For more on Declan, please read here.



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

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



Mark King appears as Guildenstern in Lab’s ‘Save Hamlet’

Mark King appears in the role of Guildenstern for Lab Theater in its summer spoof, Save Hamlet. Mark has previously appeared as Amos Hart in Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse, in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for Lab Theater, various roles (Sholes, Harry, Bird) in Lab Theater’s 2022 summer spoof of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock horror film The Birds, as Major Domo in Dangerous Liaisons, as Trekkie Monster in Avenue Q and comedian Eddie McCuen in The Musical Comedy Murders of the 1940sFor more on Mark, read here.

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

Guinevere Bortnicker Kiniry plays the part of Horatia for Lab Theater in Save Hamlet.  Her stage credits include the roles of the San Mateo auditioner Maggie Winslow in Fort Myers Theatre’s production of A Chorus Line, Bakers Wife in Into the Woods Jr, numerous roles in Anastasia (2022), multiple parts in Bible Herstory (2021), Mimi in Pippin (2019) and a townsperson in Hunchback of Notre Dame (2018).



Terry Lavy is the Ghost in Lab’s ‘Save Hamlet’ summer spoof

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



Brandon Lee plays John Wilkes Booth in Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’

Brandon Lee plays the part of John Wilkes Booth in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. He is imposing, at times tyrannical, in the role. With direction by Carmen Crussard, Lee evinces the delusions that characterized Booth’s final days, as federal troops pursued him through Maryland and into Virginia over a span of 12 days following his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Go here for the rest of this spotlight.




Eileen Little is Ophelia in ‘Save Hamlet’ at Lab Theater

Eileen Little appears in the role of Ophelia in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet. Little was last seen as Roxie Hart in Chicago for Gypsy Playhouse, in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Lab Theater. Musicals are Eileen’s forte. She’s an alumni of Florida Southern College with a BFA in Musical Theatre and minor in music.



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

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



Anthony Miller is The Proprietor in Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’

Anthony Miller appears in the role of The Proprietor for the Alliance Youth Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. In the role, Miller is tasked with representing an American society characterized by violence, dissent and willful ignorance or disregard of basic facts and the evidence of their own eyes. Worse, he epitomizes our culture’s embrace of criminals, from Machine Gun Kelly to Charles Manson, John Gotti and Bernie Madoff. Read the full post here.



Samantha Pudlin plays stepsister Gabrielle in ‘Cinderella’

Samantha Pudlin  is a resident performer in the Southwest Florida theater community. She is appearing as Gabrielle in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella at The Belle Theatre. Ah, while she starts out as a self-absorbed somewhat heinous stepsister, in this version of the age-old fairy tale, Gabrielle finds camaraderie with Ella after confessing to her that she’d gladly give up all her wealth to be with her true love, a poor revolutionary by the name of Jean-Michel. Pudlin’s recent stage credits include one of the disciples in Godspell at Fort Myers Theatre, the role of Meg in Little Women for Fort Myers Theatre, ensemble work in Head Over Heels for New Phoenix Theatre, the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors and Marcy Park in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, all for Cultural Park Theatre. Wait, there’s more.



Paige Steiner plays attempted Ford assassin Sara Jane Moore in ‘Assassins’

Paige Steiner plays the part of Sara Jane Moore in Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. Moore attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford just 17 days after Lynette “Squeaky” Fromm attempted to assassinate Ford as well. At her sentencing, the judge who presided over her case found that the only reason Moore hadn’t succeeded was because “her gun was faulty.” She’d purchased it the morning of the shooting and didn’t realize the sights were 6 inches off the point of impact at the distance from which she was shooting at Ford. At her sentencing hearing Moore stated: “Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I’m not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger.” Go here for Paige’s stage credits.



Tracy Weaver is Madame in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Originally from Pennsylvania, Tracy Weaver has performed at many community theater venues in Pennsylvania and Florida. Tracy currently appears as Madame, Ella’s cruel and demeaning stepmother in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella at The Belle Theatre. Go here for all of Tracy’s stage credits.





Alyona Ushe named Executive Director of Centers for the Arts Bonita

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

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

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

Go here for the rest of this story.



New director of Bonita Springs’ Center for the Arts is creating magic behind the scenes

The new director for Bonita Springs’ Centers for the Arts thinks that creating magic behind the scenes is an art form all of its own. WGCU’s Tom Hall provides this insight into how Alyona Ushe’s previous experience uniquely positions her to guide the Art Center into playing an even greater role in the local arts community. Listen here.






Anti-drag law could spell death knell of SWFL theater industry

Florida’s new anti-drag statute was intended to prevent children from seeing sexual content at drag shows, but the State’s “Protection of Children” law applies to any adult live performance, including musicals and plays. That has Southwest Florida’s 19 local theaters re-evaluating the shows they choose to produce and who they’ll admit into performances.

Listen to the full story here.



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

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

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

Read the full advance here.



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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

Read the rest of this advance here.

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



Melody Lane producing encore of acclaimed 2021 musical ‘Les Mis’

Melody Lane Theatre is producing an encore weekend of its highly-acclaimed 2021 production of Les Miserables School Edition, with many members of the original young adult cast returning from college to reprise their roles.

Seen by more than 70 million people and performed in over 40 countries and 22 languages, Les Mis brings Victor Hugo’s revolutionary novel blazingly to life. With a lush, swelling score that features such famed songs as “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own” and “Bring Him Home,” Les Miserables is one of the world’s most iconic and longest-running musicals.

Read the full advance here.

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