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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news September 1-7, 2021


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


Ruthgena Faraco playing the lead, Celie, in Lab’s production of ‘The Color Purple’

Ruthgena Faraco was brilliant in the role of Mary Warren in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Now she’ll appear in the lead as Celie in Lab Theater’s production of The Color Purple. In addition to The Crucible and The Color Purple, Ruthgena played Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance), Lorraine in All Shook Up (Cultural Park Theatre) and Kala in Tarzan (for which she garnered a 2018 Cultural Park Theatre Marquee Awards nomination for Lead Actress in a Musical). Go here to see all of Ruthgena’s theatrical credits.



Tijuanna Clemons plays Doris in ‘Color Purple’

Tijuanna Clemons appears in the role of Doris in the Southwest Florida premiere of The Color Purple for Lab Theater. She has appeared previously as Diana Dahner in Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage, Bertha Holly in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Louise in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, and Ruby in August Wilson’s King Hedley II, all for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts.



Cantrella Canady is Sofia in Lab Theatre’s ‘Color Purple’

Cantrella Canady plays the part of Sofia in the Southwest Florida premiere of The Color Purple, which opens with two half-price previews on September 1 and 2. Canady was seen most recently in Bulletproof Backpack for Florida Repertory Theatre and at Lab Theater in David Mamet’s Race. She has an ambitious 2020-2021 schedule, with performances going forward in West Side Story for Florida Rep November 23-December 15), The Colored Museum for the Alliance for the Arts (January 8-22) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for Players Circle Theatre (February 16-March 6). Go here to access Canady’s full profile.



Greg Wojciechowski goes from Max to Monster in ‘Young Frankenstein’

Greg Wojciechowski goes form Max von Mayerling in Lab’s summer spoof Sunset Schmoulevard to the Monster in Young Frankenstein for New Phoenix Theatre. Greg’s other stage credits include Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond for Cultural Park Theater, Teddy Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, Ken Gorman in Rumors at New Phoenix Theatre, and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest for Cultural Park Theater.



Kenneth Bradley Johnson eyes the role of Igor in ‘Young Frankenstein’

When New Phoenix patrons last saw Kenneth Bradley Johnson, he was reprising the role of Jerry Lukowski in The Full Monty. He returns to the New Phoenix stage in the role of happy hunchback Igor in Young Frankenstein, which runs September 30 through October 24. His local acting credits include the roles of editor Richard Ehrlich in Time Stands Still, Milford, Ivan and Oscar Saperstein in Topher Payne’s Let Nothing You Dismay, Phaedra (the enigma) in La Cage aux Folles for New Phoenix Theatre, Paster Greg in  Hand to God, Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in Sordid Lives for Lab Theater and Noli Timeri (Don’t Be Afraid) for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance. Ken has also appeared at Florida Repertory Theatre, Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and The Cape Playhouse. You can access Ken’s full theater resume here.



Tricia Hennessy cast as leggy lab assistant Inga in ‘Young Frankenstein’

Tricia Hennessy last appeared on stage in the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone, which she’ll follow as the leggy lab assistant in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Young Frankenstein, opening September 30. Hennessy has been in the dance and theatre world for the last 30 years. Over that span, Tricia has performed in numerous community and regional theater productions. In addition to her acting credits, Tricia has choreographed three productions, served as an assistant director in another and performed in a number of operas. But she take the most pride as an accomplished dance instructor and supporting dancers through Empower Dance and Athletic Wear in Cape Coral.

Go here to access all of Tricia’s theatrical and related credits.



Emilie Baartman plays TWA stewardess Gloria in Naples Players’ ‘Boeing Boeing’

Emilie Baartman appears in the role of TWA airline stewardess (they were still called that back in the 1960s) Gloria in Boeing Boeing for The Naples Players. A Naples actor, singer, dancer and costume designer, Emilie impressed as Pam Lukowski in The Full Monty for New Phoenix Theatre in March of 2020. Go here to see all of her theatrical credits:…/baartman-emilie/emilie-baartman.



Scott Davis appears as Ed in Studio Players’ ‘Torch Song’

Scott Davis will appear in the role of Ed in The Studio Players’ production of Torch Song. Scott Davis a local actor who was active in theater in Michigan before locating to Southwest Florida. His area stage credits include Vicomte de Nanjac/Phipps in An Ideal Husband for The Naples Players, Girolamo Savonarola in Botticelli in the Fire, Michael in the Florida premiere of How to Transcend a Happy Marriage (directed by Steven Ditmyer), and the roles of Dennis Gordon, Jerry and Rich in the Florida premiere of Topher Payne’s comedic farce Let Nothing You Dismay for Lab Theater; and Ralph Sheldrake in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Ewart Dunlop in The Music Man, Tammany O’Holleran in Miracle on 34th Street and Freddy Evnsford-Hill in My Fair Lady for The Naples Players. The rest of Scott’s profile is here.



Daniel Sabiston appears as Alan in Studio Players’ ‘Torch Song’

Daniel Sabiston appears in the role of Alan in The Studio Players’ production of Torch Song, opening September 10. Daniel’s stage credits include various roles in Lab Theater’s summer spoof Sunset Schmoulevard, Poggio di Chullu in the regional premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Botticelli in the Fire for Lab Theater, an oh-so-mean bully (not bunny) rabbit by the name of Serling Hunter in Kayleigh O’Connell’s Projekt Grotesquerie, Ezekiel Cheever in The Crucible and the Journeyman in Andorra, all for the Laboratory Theater of Florida.

Go here to see Daniel’s full theatrical profile.



Michael Francisco Cherbini appears as David Beckoff in ‘Torch Song’

Michael Francisco Cherbini appears in the role of David Beckoff in The Studio Players’ production of Torch Song, opening September 10. His prior theater credits include Frederic in Pirates of Penzance, Baby John in West Side Story, Koko in The Mikado and Ralphie Parker in The Christmas Story. Cherbini is a Cypress Lake High School Senior who is also enrolled in the Accelerated Collegiate Experience (ACE) Program at FGCU. He has been acting and singing in Southwest Florida for the past eight years. He belongs to the renowned TAG (The Acapella Group).

Go here for the rest of this profile.





Sonya McCarter directing ‘The Color Purple’

Sonya McCarter is directing The Color Purple for Lab Theater. McCarter is an actor, director and an instructor in the Alliance for the Arts’ CHANGE (Communities Harnessing the Arts to Nurture and Grow Equity) program. In addition to The Color Purple, her directing credits include 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.

Go here to see Sonya’s full theatrical profile.





Broadway Palm opens Season 29 with ‘A Night on Broadway’

Broadway Palm opens its 29th season on September 9 with A Night On Broadway playing through October 2, 2021. This original concert style musical revue will feature the best of Broadway, combining favorites from the past along with the most recent musical hit sensations.

The bright lights of Broadway will shine on the Broadway Palm stage with this all-new musical revue that showcases some of the greatest Broadway songs of all time. The talented cast will sing their way through decades of Broadway favorites from shows such as Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, CATS, Oklahoma, Wicked, 42nd Street and more! You’ll treasure the nostalgia of over a century of entertainment and magnificent music.

Directing A Night On Broadway is Victor Legarreta. Legarreta has directed and appeared in numerous Broadway Palm productions. In addition, he created Yesterday’s: The 50s and 60s Musical, Groovin’: The 60s and 70s Musical, Let’s Go To The Movies, Dino and Friends, Til Theft Do Us Part, and No Claus For Alarm, to name a few.

Broadway Palm is offering a Season Opener Special and all tickets are just $55 for dinner and the show. Performances are Wednesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinees. 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.



Footloose the Musical at Fort Myers Theatre through September 19

Footloose the Musical is on stage at Fort Myers Theatre through September 19. You know the story: Moving in from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack (Theo Ross0) is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard Hewitt (Ben Herrera), and defiant teen Ariel Moore (Nayda Baez), he might loosen up this conservative town. But Ariel’s influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore (Parrish Danesh), stands in the way. Robin Dawn Lynn directs and choreographs. Go here for play dates, times and to see who’s in this large and energetic cast.



Lab Theater produces Southwest Florida premiere of ‘The Color Purple’

The Laboratory Theater of Florida will present the Southwest Florida premiere of The Color Purple from September 3 through October 2, with half-price preview nights on September 1st and 2nd.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Alice Walker and adapted for the stage as a musical by Marsha Norman, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, The Color Purple is an inspirational story of strength, hope, and determination. It is the tale of African-American women finding their independence in the first half of the 20th century. The songs are a powerful fusion of ragtime, jazz, gospel, and blues that will transport the audience to journey alongside Celie and Nettie’s heart-touching story of deliverance.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.



‘Young Frankenstein’ an unforgettably hilarious Transylvanian adventure

Opening on September 30 at New Phoenix Theatre is Young Frankenstein, the musical in which Mel Brooks’ madcap comedy collides with Mary Shelley’s classic monster tale.

The mad scientist of legend, Victor Frankenstein, has died and bequeathed everything to his grandson, but young Frederick wants no part of his family’s notorious legacy. Still, a castle is a castle and Fred travels to Transylvania to settle granddad’s estate.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

Go here for cast members, play dates, times and ticket information.



‘Boeing Boeing’ takes flight at The Naples Players beginning September 29

Get ready to take a trip to the 1960’s, an era when air travel was still a glamorous affair.  Sponsored locally by The Inn on Fifth, Boeing Boeing runs from September 29th to October 24th in Blackburn Hall at The Naples Players. This crowd pleasing comedic farce, directed by Jessica Walck, was written by the French playwright Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverley Cross & Francis Evans.

Playboy Bernard (Bernardo Santana) lives in Paris with his fiancé, TWA airline stewardess Gloria (Emilie Baartman) – and his fiancé Lufthansa stewardess Gretchen (Sarah DeLeonibus) – and his fiancé Alitalia stewardess Gabriella (Erica Jones). You guessed it – none of the women know about the other two.

Bernard’s trusty live-in maid, Berthe (Pamela Austin), is able to keep up the ruse by remembering each woman’s food preferences, clothing, and even changes out their photographs. All is going well until Bernard’s friend, Robert (Luke Lauchle) comes for a visit.  Due to a faster Boeing jet, all three women arrive at Bernard’s apartment on the same day! Will he be able to keep up his scheme. Better yet, will he even survive the day?!

“We couldn’t be more excited to give our community an important chance to come together, have a good laugh, and enjoy the amazing artists that SWFL has to offer,” remarks CEO/Artistic Director Bryce Alexander.

“The arts are open – and these community events are more important now than ever. It’s a hilarious show!”

A Red Carpet event open to the public is slated for 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29, and features local vendors, food, drinks, and live music from the band Chariot.

Performances are Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from September 29 through October 24. Both general public and season tickets are on sale at the TNP Box Office.  Those interested can visit anytime or call the TNP Box Office at (239) 263-7990.



Studio Players opens Season 9 with Harvey Fierstein’s prescient ‘Torch Song’

The Studio Players kicks off its Ninth Season on September 10 with the Southwest Florida premiere of the two-act revival of Harvey Fierstein’s award-winning 1983 Broadway play Torch Song Trilogy.

Its title abbreviated to Torch Song, the revival follows a torch song-singing, Jewish drag queen by the name of Arnold Beckoff (Perry Ventro). The rest of this advance is here.

Go here for play dates, times and ticket information.






Arsenault Studio & Banyan Arts closing on September 27 after 30 years in Old Naples

Naples artist Paul Arsenault has announced the closing of his gallery on Third Street South. Arsenault Studio & Banyan Arts Gallery will close on September 27, 2021. Arsenault has owned and operated art galleries in various Old Naples locations for more than 30 years. Arsenault will celebrate 50 years of painting in Florida in 2023 and 50 years in Naples in 2024, and a half-century retrospective is in the works. After September 27, Judith Liegeois Designs will take over the gallery space and continue to exhibit and sell selected original Paul Arsenault paintings and giclees.



Work from Jansen’s ‘Aesthetics of Displacement’ featured at Future Fair New York

Work from Marcus Jansen’s latest series, The Aesthetics of Displacement, is being presented September 10 through 12 at Future Fair New York. The exhibition is curated by Richard Beavers Gallery in collaboration with Ilèkùn Wa.

The collection of works combines Jansen’s notable Faceless series of works with his large-scale urban expressionist landscape paintings commenting on power structures and gentrification, where cabals of anonymous real estate developers, faceless investors and politicians force long-term residents out of their communities through various means. The six paintings and one towering sculpture were inspired by Jansen’s experience and observation of his native South Bronx neighborhood, often mirrored in many other communities of color. The rapid changes of these communities generate aesthetic and financial gains with little-to-no benefit to the displaced.

This body of work is a nod to the aesthetics within the production of gentrification, contrasting both the characters who create it and the environments that are affected by it.

“Marcus Jansen and I are excited to be celebrating 20 years of working together by presenting a new body of work that explores the social, political, and economic visual shifts New York has experienced over that period. We’ve partnered with Jeremiah Ojo of Ilèkùn Wa to design and curate a unique booth experience to tell that story,” says gallerist Richard Beavers.

Jansen’s work can be found in Booth T2 at Future Fair at THE STARRETT-LEHIGH BUILDING 600 W 27th St. New York, NY 10001. Visit for more information.



Sheldon Fine Art featuring work of Leslie Berenson

Sheldon Fine Art on Naples Fifth Ave. So. is featuring the art of Leslie Berenson. An accomplished Leslie’s work has been compared to the impressionistic style of some of the old masters imbued with a touch of fantasy.

These days Leslie paints from her two studios, one of which looks out onto the islands surrounding Boston Harbor and the other which features a clear view of South Florida’s beautiful waters. Leslie’s work has been featured in numerous art shows and exhibits from New England to Florida, where she has won many prestigious awards and received great acclaim for her work. Much of Leslie’s work today is currently displayed in the homes and offices of many prominent and well respected art collectors and families.

After successfully graduating from the Art Institute Boston, Leslie went to work not as a visual artist, but in the fashion industry. During the ensuring 20 years, she rose to the role of Creative Director. In that position, Leslie had the opportunity to work and direct photo shoots in some of the most beautiful places on earth. She draws much of her inspiration from her experiences traveling from Sedona to Hawaii, from the Caribbean to Florida.

Sheldon Fine Art is located at 460 5th Ave S in Naples. For more information, please visit or telephone 239-649-6255.





‘Dia de los Muertos’ returns to Alliance in October by popular demand

By popular demand, Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is returning to the Alliance for the Arts.

Contrary to what the title might suggest, Day of the Dead is a celebration of both life and death – a time to remember and commemorate the lives of family and friends who have passed from this world into the next realm. The holiday springs from the observation that death is a natural and inevitable part of the human experience – the end point on a continuum that begins with birth, progresses through childhood and culminates with the process of becoming a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead take their place among the living as part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones. And believing that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased (children on Day 1 and adults on Day 2) with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life.

During Dia de los Muertos, families decorate altars, or ofrendas, with candles, photographs, toys, food, and bright colors to honor their loved ones and lead their visiting spirits home. The most familiar symbols of Dia de los Muertos are calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday – in candied sweets, as parade masks and as dolls. But rather than somber or macabre, calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed in a positive, uplifting manner, frequently dressed in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.

In fact, calaverita de azucar, or sugar skulls, are a prominent symbol in the Dia de los Muertos tradition. These brightly decorated sugar skulls are placed on the altars of the deceased, especially children, as a whimsical reminder of precious life. The monarch butterfly is also commonly associated with Dia de los Muertos as they are thought to bring with them the spirits of deceased loved ones during their migration to Mexico. Another common symbol includes the use of cempasuchil, a brightly colored Mexican marigold, whose smell is believed to attract spirits to visit their families during Dia de los Muertos.

This, then, is the context for the art that exhibitors bring to the Alliance for the Arts to display in its Dia de los Muertos exhibition. As the family and community play integral roles in this cultural celebration, the congregation of local art to honor the deceased maintains the power of community in the Dia de los Muertos tradition. Each artist explores their own interpretation of this rich holiday, and brings to light not only the honor associated with death in Mexican culture, but remind us of the vivacity and significance of the lives of our loved ones who have passed.

The show exhibits October 1-30, 2021, and opens with a 5:00-7:00 p.m. in-person reception in the main gallery. Awards will be given of $250 for Best in Show, $125 for 2nd Place and $75 for 3rd Place. The deadline for submissions is Friday, September 17.



Alliance ‘Arts on Tap’ fundraiser set for November 12 & 13

The annual Alliance for the Arts fundraiser, Arts On Tap, returns November 12 & 13 with an exciting mash-up of Southwest Florida’s burgeoning craft beer and vibrant arts scenes and a performance by two-time Grammy-nominated hip hop group the Nappy Roots.

On Friday, November 12, guests will mingle, play, sip and savor as local craft brewers pour award-winning, rare and brand new artisan brews, play twisted pub games, rub elbows with craft brewers and Grammy-nominated hip hop group the Nappy Roots, bid on silent auction items and enjoy live music. Participating crafters include Bone Hook Brewing, Coastal Dayz Brewery, Crazy Dingo Brewing,  Eight Foot Brewing, Fort Myers Brewing, Hopsized Brewing, LaBelle Brewing, Millennial Brewing Company, Palm City Brewing, Point Ybel Brewing and Riptide Brewing. Restaurant partners include The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen and The Standard.

The celebration continues on Saturday, November 13 with a night of food trucks, beer, art, VIP lounge experiences and a once-in-a-lifetime performance by the Nappy Roots.

Tickets go on sale in September. Sponsorships and visibility opportunities are available at or by contacting Jessica Wisdom at or calling 239-939-2787.

Arts On Tap is a fundraising event for the Alliance for the Arts, a nonprofit visual and performing arts center located in the heart of Fort Myers. Since 1975, the Alliance has been transforming lives and improving community through the arts. Event proceeds support a creative hub that spurs self-expression, imagination and individuality. The event is sponsored by GMA Architects, Nice Guys Pizza, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank and Priority Business Solutions.

For more information, call 239-939-2787 or visit



Wegman & Massing ‘Two Clever by Half’ at Rauschenberg Gallery through December 4

Florida Southwestern State College is exhibiting William WEGMAN & Jack MASSING: TWO CLEVER BY HALF – A Call & Response Project at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery from September 2 through December 4, 2021.  Described by the artists as “an experimental visual discussion in a studio setting within the Gallery,” this site-specific exhibition will premiere newly-commissioned collaborative works in a frequently evolving installation.

With the artists-in-residence often creating work in “full-view” during regular/public Gallery hours, this exhibition will provide an unprecedented opportunity to experience the “work-in-progress” of internationally-renowned (yet, first-time) collaborators, Jack Massing and William Wegman.

Go here for the rest of this summary.



DAAS’ September show features work of David Martin

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery is showcasing the artwork of art educator David Martin during the month of September. Using watercolor and colored pencils, David creates hyper-realistic work, in hopes to open a dialogue about issues in the LGBTQ+ community.

David’s inspiration comes from a place of struggle as a gay male, navigating a heteronormative world. With his work, Martin intends to express the difficulties of the bias against the LGBTQ+ community, as created by men and women and even its own members.  For the artist, it is important to help break down barriers through visual narratives.

Born in Hicksville, Ohio and currently residing in Naples, Florida, Martin attended the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids Michigan where he received his BFA in Art Education.

The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, September 3, 2021, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. in conjunction with the monthly Fort Myers Art Walk event. All Southwest Florida art collectors, supporters and enthusiasts are encouraged to join DAAS for the opening reception and to meet the artist.

The exhibition will be on display through September 26, 2021.

DAAS CO-OP is located at 1815 Fowler Street, in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s temporary business hours are Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 3pm. More information about the venue and/or how to become a member can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.



6    FILM


Fort Myers Film Festival kicks off Season 12 with Labor Day TGIM

The Fort Myers Film Festival kicks off Season 12 with the resumption of T.G.I.M. on Labor Day (Monday, September 6). As in years past, T.G.I.M. gives area cineastes a look at how the Fort Myers Film Festival views submissions and a voice in the selection process.

“This is one of the highlights of our season,” says Melissa Tschari DeHaven, producer and co-host of T.G.I.M. and the Fort Myers Film Festival.

Go here for the rest of this advance.

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