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Performing and Visual Artists in the news in March, 2024

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This is who and what’s creating news in Southwest Florida’s visual and performing arts community during the month of February, 2024:

 

1     ACTORS

 

Seth Balcer is Mischa Bachinski in ‘Ride the Cyclone’

Seth Balcer plays the part of Mischa Bachinski in Ride the Cyclone. Seth’s previous stage credits include Willard Hewitt in Footloose at Cultural Park Theatre, sadistic dentist Orin in Little Shop of Horrors, the Narrator in Into the Woods, and Dewey Finn, an energetic down-on-his-luck wannabe rock superstar, in School of Rock, all at Belle Theatre in Cape Coral.

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Kathleen Barney in The Studio Players’ production of ‘Bus Stop’

Southwest Florida theater veteran Kathleen Barney appears in the role of Grace for The Studio Players in William Inge’s Bus Stop. Among Kathleen’s stage credits are Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit for The Naples Players, Patty in Walter Cronkite Is Dead, Aida in Over The River and Through The Woods and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, all for The Studio Players, along with Caroline in Take Five, Carol in The Last Romance, various roles in Love Loss and What I Wore, Ginger in Becky’s New Car, Carmen in Cookin with Gus and Truvy in Steel Magnolias for The Marco Players (where she had performed for seven years).

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Nick Beyor is Noel Gruber in ‘Ride the Cyclone’

Nick Beyor plays Noel Gruber for Lab Theater in Ride the Cyclone. Beyor previously played Lord Pinkleton for Belle Theatre in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, 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, where he was reunited with his theater instructor, Gerrie Benzing (who played Ethel Thayer).

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Jania Boucher is Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg in ‘Ride the Cyclone’

Jania Boucher plays the part of Ocean O’Connell Rosenberg in Ride the Cyclone at Lab Theater. She previously appeared as Poppy in Noises Off, Marcella in Save Hamlet. Boucher was introduced in the short film Until Then produced by Three Block Radius in 2018. Born with a passion to perform, Jania has more than 20 years of experience in multi-styled dance and is also skilled as a singer-songwriter, making her a genuine triple threat.

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Allison Ceralde is Janet Van de Graaf in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ for Fort Myers Theatre

Allison Ceralde is Janet Van de Graaf in The Drowsy Chaperone. Among Allison’s prior stage credits are one of the phantoms at Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle in Fort Myers Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, work in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast at Fort Myers Theatre, Sophie in Mamma Mia!, Shulie in Schoolhouse Rock Live and Sally Perks in Puffs.

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Steven Coe is Hal in David Auburn’s {proof} at Players Theatre

Steven Coe plays the part of Hal in the David Auburn drama {proof} at Players Circle Theatre. Steven’s credits include Happy Mahoney in Clown Bar for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts (twice), Freddy in Noises Off (Lab Theater), Murder at the Howard Johnson’s (Players Circle Theater), Hamlet in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet, David in The Foreigner for Players Circle Theatre, Mitch Brenner in The Birds: A Parody, the impudent, bitingly witty rake Vicomte de Valmont in Lab Theater’s production of Dangerous Liaisons, Chris in Killer Joe and Jim Fingal in Lifespan of a Fact for Players Circle Theatre. Go here for more of Steven’s theatrical credits.

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Chloe Elliott-Chan is Catherine in {proof} at Players Circle

Chloe Elliott-Chan appears in the role of Catherine for Players Circle Theater in David Auburn’s drama {proof}. Among Elliott-Chan’s most recent credits are Jim Brock’s poem-play No Single Body for Me to Follow (for Ghostbird Theatre Company), Bernadette in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Save Hamlet and Madam de Tourvel in Les Liaisons Dangereuses (also for Lab Theater). As theatre major at Florida Gulf Coast University, Chloe performed in a number of productions in FGCU’s TheatreLab, including Hamlet, An Enemy of the People, Antigone and On Baile’s StrandRead the rest of Chloe’s stage credits here.

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Mitch Frank is Dr. Lyman in ‘Bus Stop’ for The Studio Players

Mitch Frank appears in the role of Dr. Lyman for The Studio Players. Studio Players patrons will recall Mitch’s performances as Sam, the butcher, The Cemetery Club, Sean Grennan in Beer for Breakfast, Peter in Slow Food and Art Kirk in Nuts. Read more of Mitch’s stage credits here.

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Gabrielle Lansden is Jane Doe in ‘Ride the Cyclone’

Gabrielle Lansden appears for Lab Theater in the role of Jane Doe in Ride the Cyclone. Lansden’s acting credits include Dusty in POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him, Johanna in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the part of Lucy in Avenue Q (2022), Janet Weiss in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show (2018), Tina from Trilla in Ghostbird Theatre Company’s production of Barry Cavin’s Boxes Are for What We Keep, and three shows under Stuart Brown’s direction at Florida SouthWestern State College, Paragon Springs, Sonnets for an Old Century and She Kills Monsters (in which she played Agnes Evans, the lead). You will find the rest of Gabrielle’s acting credits here.

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Paul LoPresti in ‘Bus Stop’ for The Studio Players

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

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John McKerrow is Robert in {proof} at Players Circle

John McKerrow is a Naples-based stage, film and television actor, director and acting coach. He appears in the role of Robert in David Auburn’s drama {proof} at Players Circle. John’s local stage credits include Jonas Fogg and the ensemble of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for Lab Theater, Ed/Father for Players Circle Theatre in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Prospero in The Tempest (Lab Theater) and Bill in Mamma Mia! See more of John’s stage credits here.

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Brittany Ringsdore plays Constance Blackwood in ‘Ride the Cyclone’

Brittany Ringsdore plays the part of Constance Blackwood in Ride the Cyclone. Brittany’s prior credits include Columbia in Rocky Horror at Fort Myers Theatre (twice), Queen Belle in Disney’s Descendants: The Musical, Matilda in All Shook Up, Ursula in Little Mermaid, Dragon in Shrek and Sour Kangaroo in Seussical. Brittany also spends time on Tik Tok @brittanyringsdore cosplaying popular characters such as Harley Quinn, Christine Daae, Mary Jane Watson and Belle.

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Jessica Turner is The Drowsy Chaperone for Fort Myers Theatre

Jessica Turner appears in the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone at Fort Myers Theatre. Jessica last played Deb in Elf the Musical and Eulalie Shinn in The Music Man for Fort Myers Theatre. She was also seen in the ensemble of Beauty and the Beast. Jessica has been tap dancing since she was 5, so you’ll be sure to see her in even more upcoming shows.

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Aseem Upadhyay in ‘Bus Stop’ at The Studio Players

Aseem Upadhyay appears in the role of cowboy Bo Decker for The Studio Players in William Inge’s Bus Stop. He appeared previously in the role of Phoebus in The Naples Players’ production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Prior to that, Aseem’s last musical was more than a decade ago in India in a play titled Shakuntala, in which he played Kanva, a great ascetic sage. He was seen most recently for The Studio Players as Paul in Saving Kitty. 

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Kagan Vann is Robert Martin in ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’

Kagan Vann appears as Robert Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone. Kagan’s other credits include the role of Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show for Fort Myers Theatre (twice), the role of Lumiere for Fort Myers Theater in Beauty and the Beast, Ferdinand in Lab Theater’s production of The Tempest (which marked his Lab Theater debut), deranged King Charlemagne in Pippin, Jafar in Aladdin and Shrek in Shrek the Musical.

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Angela Watson is Claire in {proof} at Players Circle

Angela Watson plays the role of Claire in {proof} at Players Circle Theatre. Angela’s local stage credits include The Dining Room, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Murder at the Howard Johnson’s for The Players Circle. Her film credits include Milly in Final Approach (video, 2005) and Mom in Cowboys and Indians (short film, 2007). Go here for the rest of Angela’s performance credits.

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Jack Weld appears as Virgil in ‘Bus Stop’ for Studio Players

Jack Weld appears in the role of Virgil in The Studio Players’ production of Bus Stop. Jack has performed in plays and musicals in Fort Myers and Naples since 2003. Weld was last seen playing multiple roles in The Naples Players’ production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Jack also appeared at TNP in Something Rotten, Les Miserables, The Producers, Guys and Dolls, She Loves Me, The Music Man, Footloose, Young Frankenstein and The Producers. You will find the rest of Jack’s impressive stage credits here.

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2     DIRECTORS AND CHOREOGRAPHERS

 

Amy Marie McCleary directs/choreographs ‘Beautiful’

Amy Marie McCleary directs and choreographs the Carole King story, Beautiful, for Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre with with Swing! and Addams Family to follow that.

McCleary just directed and choregographed Snowbird Follies and Rodgers & Hammerstein: A Grand Night for Singing for Southwest Florida Theatre. But  most Southwest Florida theater lovers know McCleary through her work as Prather Entertainment Group’s resident director and choreographer. In that capacity, she has staged more than 50 productions, including Elvis: A Musical Revolution, Elf the Musical, FootlooseThe Wizard of Oz (2022), Escape to Margaritaville (2022), Singin’ in the Rain (2022), Beehive the 60s Musical (Dutch Apple Theatre), Holly Jolly Christmas (which she created), The Sound of Music, Happy Days, Holiday Inn, Kinky Boots (choreography by Chris Kane), Beauty and the Beast, Momma Mia, Jesus Christ Superstar, Saturday Night Fever, Little Shop of Horrors, Memphis, Hairspray, Grease, CATS, Swing, Sister Act and Peter Pan, among others. As choreographer, Amy has staged dances for Evita, Cabaret, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, All Shook Up, The King and I, Les Miserables, Annie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the 2009/2010 national tour of The Wedding Singer. She also did the choreography for Prather’s 2018 production of Chicago, for which she won a Broadway World Award for Best Choreography (Professional).

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3     THEATRE PRODUCTIONS

 

‘Drowsy Chaperone’ a magical piece of meta-theatre

The Drowsy Chaperone is a magical piece of meta-theatre. An ode to melodrama, this playful, heartfelt parody of the 1920s musical comedy is the lighthearted antidote to the angst and malaise of the election cycle. It features a chirpy jazz age score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, and a lively, clever book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar (both were Tony winners in 2006). The score boasts such tunes as the scenery-chomping “Show Off,” the sizzling and silly “I Am Aldolpho,” the double-entendre laden “Toledo Surprise” and “As We Stumble Along,” a rousing anthem to optimistic alcoholism. It plays at Fort Myers Theatre

Read the full advance here.

Find play dates, times and a cast list here.

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Modern cult classic and viral hit, ‘Ride the Cyclone’ makes SWFL premiere at Lab Theater

The cult classic Ride the Cyclone makes its Southwest Florida premiere at The Laboratory Theater of Florida February 23-March 23. With book, lyrics, and music by Jacob Richmond and Brooke Maxwell, the story follows the lives of six teenagers from a Canadian chamber choir that are cut short in a freak accident aboard a rollercoaster. They awake in a surreal, carnival limbo in which they compete to win a prize like no other: the chance to return to life. The modern cult classic and viral hit Ride the Cyclone will have you asking the big questions while having amusement park fun.

Read the full advance here.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.

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David Auburn’s {proof} winds down at Players Circle 

{proof} ends its run at Players Circle Theater with shows on March 1, 2 and  3. David Auburn’s contemporary classic American drama marks the fourth production at Players Circle’s new home in the heart of the McGregor Corridor (13211 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919).

Read the full advance here.

Find play dates, times and ticket information here.

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Hear about {proof} on WGCU

In David Auburn’s proof, sisterly bonds and romantic relationships are put to the test when a female college drop-out authors a groundbreaking mathematical discovery that everyone ascribes to her recently-deceased father.

Hear more on WGCU.

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Studio Players’ ‘Bus Stop’ runs at Golden Gate Community Center through March 24

The Studio Players’ production of Bus Stop continues its run at Golden Gate Community Center February through March 24th. “Get ready for a journey into the human heart and the complexities of relationships as we present this timeless American classic,” promises Director Paula Keenan. “Our talented ensemble will take you on a powerful and emotionally charged journey through the snowbound confines of Grace’s Diner. Bus Stop explores the themes of love, vulnerability, and the human desire to connect.” Go here for play dates, times and a cast list.

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‘Bus Stop’ a must-see slice of Midwest Americana

Coming to the Joan Jenks stage in February is The Studio Players’ production of William Inge’s Bus Stop. The play juxtaposes three parallel stories of sexual attraction which independently explore the dichotomy between lust and love, longing and gratification.

Each “couple” is fraught with contradictions and complexities that Inge explores and resolves over the course of his comedy. The first is a cowpoke named Bo and the object of his obsession, a sweet but talentless saloon singer who calls herself Cherie. Bo suffers not only from inexperience, but caveman mentality.

Read the rest of this advance here.

 

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4     HISTORICAL POINTS OF INTEREST IN THE NEWS

 

Fort Myers adds historic points of interest to Otocast mobile phone app

Since 2017, the City of Fort Myers has subscribed to a free mobile app called Otocast so that residents and visitors can access information about the artistic landmarks that dot our cityscape and residential neighborhoods. At present, descriptions, artist bios, current and historic photographs and audios are live on the app for 49 of the 53 murals that circumscribe the river basin adjacent to Luminary Hotel as well as 30 of the sculptures and monuments that comprise the City’s permanent public art collection.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.

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Text, photos and audio for Casa Rio now on Otocast

Casa Rio is the latest historic structure to be added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast, the free mobile phone app that the City of Fort Myers has installed to acquaint the public with its artistic and historic points of interest. Located at 2424 McGregor Boulevard, Casa Rio is a two-story masonry Mission Spanish Colonial Revival-style home that’s a tribute to an earlier era. You will find more on this historic point of interest here.

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Text, photos and audio for Dean Hotel now on Otocast

The Dean Hotel, also known as the Morgan Hotel, is the latest historic structure to be added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast, the free mobile phone app that the City of Fort Myers has installed to acquaint the public with its artistic and historic points of interest. Today, the ground floor is occupied by Ford’s Garage, home to famous burgers and craft beers, with the second and third stories containing office suites.

Originally named The Morgan, the Dean Hotel was built by John Morgan Dean, a wildly successful furniture manufacturer from Providence, Rhode Island. Dean had first come to Fort Myers in 1898 on a hunting trip with a friend. He liked the town so much that he came every winter after that.

You will find more about this historic point of interest here.

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Text, photos and audio for First National Bank building on Otocast

Art Southwest Florida previously reported that text, photos and audios have been added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for thirteen historic points of interest. Included in that number is the First National Bank building located on the southeast corner of First and Hendry Streets.

In the Otocast audio, you’ll discover how archrivals Harvie Heitman and Walter Langford competed with each other by building opulent banks, how Walter Langford put Heitman’s drama society out on the street and how Tampa contractor G.A. Miller’s construction crew had to roll the gargantuan entry stone down Monroe, around the corner and down First Street like an army of ancient Egyptians on the morning of January 5, 1914. The audio will also tell you about the architect who designed the building, what it shares in common with Carnegie Hall, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and the New York Public Library, and the pride the community took in the building even before it was completed that August.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.

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Text, photos and audio for Heitman-Evans Hardware Store on Otocast

Art Southwest Florida previously reported that text, photos and audios have been added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for thirteen historic points of interest. Included in that number is the Heitman-Evans Hardware Building located on the northwest corner of First and Hendry Streets.

When you listen to the Otocast audio, you’ll hear about how Harvie Heitman and Ed Evans included a freight elevator in the building so that they could display large and bulky farm equipment and implements on the second floor of their state-of-the-art hardware store; what the inside of the store looked like and what other merchandise Heitman and Evans carried; and how and why Harvie Heitman insisted that the store be equipped with the town’s very first fire sprinkler system.

Continue reading here.

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Text, photos and audio for Kress Building added to Otocast

Art Southwest Florida previously reported that text, photos and audios have been added to the Fort Myers Guide on Otocast for thirteen historic points of interest. A 14th location has now been added to Otocast, the Kress Building on Broadway across the street from the Franklin Shops on First. Most people today associate the nearly 100-year-old building with his anchor tenant, Starbucks.

Read the rest of this Spotlight here.

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Discover the history of the Murphy-Burroughs Home on Otocast

One of Fort Myers’ most elegant historic landmarks is the Murphy-Burroughs Home on the northeast corner of First and Fowler Streets. You can now discover the history of this scenic property on Otocast, the free mobile phone app that the City of Fort Myers has installed to acquaint the public with its artistic and historic points of interest.

Read more about this historic point of interest here.

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Discover the history of the houses now home to Veranda Restaurant

The Veranda’s historical setting, romantic ambiance, Southern Regional Cuisine and first-class wait staff make this award-winning restaurant one of Southwest Florida’s top eateries. You can now discover the history of the two turn-of-the-20th-century Victorian houses that are home to Veranda on Otocast, the free mobile phone app that the City of Fort Myers has installed to acquaint the public with its artistic and historic points of interest. Go here for more on this historic point of interest.

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