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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news November 15-21, 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 is a Naples actor whose 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. She appears next for The Studio Players in Other Desert Cities.



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’

On the main stage now through December 30 at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Reprising the role of Judy Haynes is Sami Doherty.

Doherty is a familiar face in Southwest Florida. When she isn’t teaching a new generation of musical theater performers or choreographing shows, she 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, and Sounds of Christmas (where she rocked “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”). 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.



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.



Andrew Sarkozy is Caden in ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ at Lab Theater

Andrew Sarkozy plays Caden in Larissa FastHorse’s satire The Thanksgiving Play at the Laboratory Theater of Florida. Sarkozy’s character is an awkward third-grade teacher and frustrated playwright. Andrew just completed a stint in The Play That Goes Wrong, in which he reprised the roles of Chris and the distinguished Inspector Carter.



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.



Stacy Stauffer is Logan in ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ at Lab Theater

Stacy Stauffer is a talented character actor who lives and performs in Fort Myers. She stars in the role of Logan for Lab Theater in The Thanksgiving Play. Her previous stage credits include the role Renee in Odd Couple: Female Version for Belle Theatre, Marjorie Taub in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife for New Phoenix Theatre (2022), Hall in Men on Boats for the Alliance for the Arts and Sarah Goodwin in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Time Stands Still. Go here for more on Stacy.





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.



Madelaine Weymouth directs ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ for Lab

Madelaine Weymouth directs The Thanksgiving Play for Lab Theater. Among Maddy’s directing credits are Trap (which she co-directed with Steven Michael Kennedy for Lab’s winter camp), The Wolves (2019), Evil Dead (2018) and the regional premiere of Chiara Atik’s comedy Five Times in One Night. Madelaine also had the distinction of directing the Audience Choice winner in Lab Theater’s 2018 24-Hour Playwriting Challenge, Sunny with a Chance of Social Anxiety by Dave Matthew Chesebro. Go here to view Weymouth’s extensive acting 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 The Color Purple, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s King Hedley II, Seven 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…



‘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.






Sculptor’s wife, daughter and friends celebrate D.J. Wilkins’ life and work

For a quarter of a century, the name Don D.J. Wilkins was synonymous with public art in the City of Fort Myers. Proclaimed the “Sculptor of Fort Myers” by former mayor Art Hammel and the City Council that served during his administration, Wilkins was responsible for designing, fabricating and installing 23 sculptures and art installations throughout the City during a 30-year span that began in 1983, as well as restoring three other important aesthetic landmarks in an age that pre-dated the discipline of art conservation. Wilkins passed a year ago this past October 10 at the age of 76. The rest of this announcement is here.



Repairs to Civil War soldier in Centennial Park nearing completion

The Civil War soldier nicknamed Clayton has been in the news a lot lately. He was installed in 1998 on the eastern edge of Centennial Park East, but was moved about a thousand yards to the west when the park was redesigned to add the new Caloosa Sound Amphitheater. He was placed at the new site facing the river, as part of a planned river walk. But people objected to the north-facing orientation, and he was lifted out of the ground and turned around on July 29th so that he now faces the entrance to the park. A new length of sidewalk was poured in front of Clayton, inviting visitors to interact with him up close and personal.

You will find the rest of this update here.



‘Florida Panthers’ up and running again

When Hurricane Ian inundated the River District under several feet of surge, it shorted out the pump that operates The Florida Panthers, the fountain-based installation in the median on Monroe Street between the post office and Harborside Event Center. The installation features three Florida panthers, a male on the prowl, a reclining female and a cub sitting on a ledge next to a gargantuan bullfrog. The sculptures and related water features were created by North Fort Myers sculptor Don “D.J.” Wilkins ….

The rest of this post can be found here.



Parks & Beautification recleans ‘Uncommon Friends’ fountain

In late July, the dedicated staff of Fort Myers’ Parks & Beautification Division began getting the Uncommon Friends fountain ready for the re-opening of Centennial Park East. Even though the City’s Public Art Committee had voted in May to eliminate (deaccession) the water feature, it had agreed to reverse its decision if the late Don Wilkins’ wife and friends can find a sponsor for the fountain who is willing to underwrite the cost of repairing damage suffered on a recurring basis by the animals and rock formations in the fountain’s reflection pool as a result of people wading in the water or hopscotching to the island to take selfies with the figures of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.

The rest of this story is here.



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.



Work to begin on ‘Fire Dance’ this week

Work will begin on the 25-foot modernist red sculpture in Centennial Park West known as Fire Dance this week. The sculpture is being sanded, primed and repainted.

The City has engaged Noel Painting to do the honors. One of the largest and most respected painting contractors in the entire state, the company has painted everything from modest family homes and multi-million-dollar estates to Publix grocery stores, Harley dealerships, high-rise condos, major hotels and the Alliance for the Arts. Under the direction of father-son team Steve and Travis Noel, the company has built a reputation over the years for blending traditional craftsmanship with current technologies. The latter is especially important in connection with Fire Dance.

You can view the rest of this announcement here.



Noel Painting begins work today on ‘Fire Dance’ sculpture

Noel Painting began work today on Fire Dance, the 25-foot-tall modernist sculpture located in Centennial Park West where Bay empties into Heitman Street. The sculpture is being sanded, primed and repainted using APV NeverFade and Metal Topcoat with Kynar Aquatec that is expected to preserve the sculpture’s bright red color for decades, rather than a mere matter of years.

The rest of the story is here.



Noel Painting almost finished sanding ‘Fire Dance’

Week One is in the books, and Noel Painting is drawing to a close on sanding the Fire Dance sculpture in Centennial Park West. The 25-foot modernist artwork that was installed in March of 2011 has faded significantly in the intense Southwest Florida sun over the past eleven years. It’s also been tagged with graffiti and nicked and gouged by skateboarders over that span. So the City’s Public Art Committee has decided that a fresh coat of paint is in order. The rest of this update is 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.



Gulf Coast Jazz Collective opens season November 17 with music of Miles Davis

The Gulf Coast Jazz Collective is opening its 3rd season on November 17th with the music of one the Jazz world’s most important innovators – Miles Davis. Miles took part in almost every era of jazz including bebop, hard bop, cool jazz and fusion. As usual, GCJC will be playing Mile’s music with its own flavor. That means high energy, excitement, and a ton of fun. GCJC will be showcasing phenomenal St. Petersburg trumpeter James Suggs in the role of Miles Davis and featuring Tampa Bay area saxophonist Aaron West in the roles of Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane.

Show starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Music & Arts Community Center off Daniels Parkway.

Founded in 2021, the Gulf Coast Jazz Collective brings the best of live Jazz performance to Southwest Florida. Under the artistic direction of drummer, educator, composer & arranger Paul Gavin, the Jazz Collective invites the best artists from the country to collaborate in concerts that span the entire genre of Jazz.

Go here to see what else the Jazz Collective and Gulf Coast Symphony have planned for this season.



‘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.



Lab Theater produces Southwest Florida premiere of ‘Thanksgiving Play’

The Laboratory Theater of Florida is presenting Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play November 4-20. The production represents the play’s Southwest Florida premiere. The Thanksgiving Play will open at the Hayes Theater on Broadway in spring 2023, so locals have the chance to see it first.

The Thanksgiving Play follows a group of white teachers who enthusiastically plan to create a respectful and politically correct Thanksgiving play for their schoolchildren. After winning a grant to hire a Native American actress, mayhem and hilarity ensue when the actress turns out to be a white lady with a tan.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



‘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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