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Actors, artists, directors, filmmakers and events in the news September 1-7, 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 is Florence Ungar in ‘Odd Couple: Female Version’ at Belle Theatre

Gerrie Benzing appears in the role of Florence Ungar in Belle Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple: Female Version. Gerrie has graced numerous stages throughout Southwest Florida. She last appeared in the role of Madame de Volanges for Lab Theater in Dangerous Liaisons (2022), as Lee in Charles Busch’s The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife for New Phoenix Theatre (2022) and as Jinx in The Naples Players’ production of The Savannah Sipping SocietyYou will find Benzing’s full profile here.



Danielle Channell plays Sandra/Florence Collymoore in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

Naples-based actor Danielle Channell resumes her reign as comedic royalty in the roles of Sandra and Florence Collymoore in Lab Theater’s production of The Play That Goes Wrong. The Queen of Farce’s previous stage credits include vodka-guzzling middle sister Melanie in Lewis Black’s One Slight Hitch, Mae Flynn Pollitt in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for The Studio Players and trophy wife Kaitlyn Gordon, brainiac neurosurgeon Angela Saperstein-Koplan and caustic Bohemian author Brianna in Let Nothing You Dismay. You will find Danielle’s theatrical profile here.



Miguel Cintron plays dual roles in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ for Lab Theater

Miguel Cintron plays the dual roles of Robert and Thomas Colleymoore in Lewis, Sayer and Shields’ farce The Play That Goes Wrong at Lab Theater. Miguel’s theater career is denoted by many highlights, but perhaps none as lofty as playing a sarcastically irascible Almighty in Lab Theater’s An Act of God. Other stage credits include Usman in The Chechens for the Alliance for the Arts, Palomo in Anna in the Tropics and Yvan in Yasmina Reza’s Art. Please go here to view Miguel’s other theatrical credits.



Matt Flynn appears in ‘Beer for Breakfast for Studio Players

Matt Flynn appears in Beer Before Breakfast for The Studio Players September 23 through October 9. Matt’s stage credits include The Bare Truth for The Marco Players, The Waverly Gallery for The Studio Players, America’s Sexiest CoupleBorn Yesterday and The Farce Before Christmas for The Marco Players and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Gooper), Saved by the Bell, Where Is Man? and The Zoo Story (all part of An Evening of One Act Plays) for The Studio Players. Many years ago Matt did several shows at The Naples Players including Humble Boy, Neil Simon’s Rumors, and Regrets Only.



Mitch Frank in Studio Players’ cast of ‘Beer for Breakfast’

Mitch Frank appears for The Studio Players in Sean Grennan’s Beer for Breakfast. A recent transplant from New Jersey, Mitch performed in community theater there for more than 30 years. He made his Florida debut and first appearance with The Studio Players in the role of Art Kirk in Nuts. He last appeared in the role of Peter in Slow Food. Go here to see what else Mitch has appeared in.



Anna Grilli plays vera for Belle Theatre in ‘Odd Couple Female Version’

Anna Grilli is a talented local actor who appears in the role of Vera for Belle Theatre in Odd Couple: Female Version. Anna’s stage credits include Dunn in Men on Boats, Emma in The Role of Della in the Alliance’s production of Auditions, Diners and Weddings, Ginny in 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, Much the Miller’s Son in Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood and Bianca in The Taming, all for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts. Anna’s full profile is here.



Heather Johnson plays Annie in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ at Lab

Heather McLemore Johnson appears in Lab Theater’s Henry Lewis-Jonathan Sayer-Henry Shields comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, where she’ll play Annie. Heather’s stage credits include various roles in Lab Theater’s summer spoof of The Birds, Sharla in the Southwest Florida premiere of Killer Joe, Jane in the Florida premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, Rebecca Nurse in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and an aggrieved soccer mom (and the only adult cast member) in The Wolves. Go here to view the rest of Heather’s theatrical credits.



Trace Meier plays Sir Danvers Carew in ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ for New Phoenix

Trace Meier appears in the role of Sir Danvers Carew for New Phoenix Theatre in their October production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical. Trace’s stage credits include Quartet, multiple roles in Young Frankenstein and Dr. Scott in Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show for New Phoenix Theatre; and the priest in Andorra and roles in A Clockwork Orange and Chekhov’s The Bear for Lab Theater. He previously appeared in the role of Simon Stride in Jekyll & Hyde for Cultural Park Theater.

Go here for all of Trace’s theatrical 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.



Aimee Naughton plays Mickey in ‘Odd Couple Female Version’

Aimee Naughton appears in the role of Mickey in Odd Couple: Female Version for Belle Theatre. Her previous stage credits include work in the ensemble of Head over Heels the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre, Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Sister Mary Amnesia in both Nunsense and Nunsense II for Cultural Park Theater. Aimee holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Florida State University.



Jake Raterman is Odd Couple Female Version’s Jesus Constasuela

Jake Raterman plays the part of Jesus Constasuela for Belle Theatre in its production of Neil Simon’s Odd Couple Female Version, and enjoys some of the show’s funniest moments. Prior stage credits include work in the ensemble of Rent and the role of Paul San Marco in A Chorus Line (a character that was based on the life story of Nicholas Dante). You will find all of Jake’s stage credits here.



Samantha Richardson makes Southwest Florida Theatre debut in ‘Odd Couple’

Samantha Richardson plays Sylvie in Belle Theatre’s production of Odd Couple: Female Version. The role represents Samantha’s first time on stage since high school, although she has emceed numerous local events, including Disney Karaoke with Melody Lane Junior Theater events, golf tournaments with The Oasis Foundation and other local charity events. Samantha and her husband have also worked on props and sets for many local productions.



Stephanie Sabelhaus stars as Olive Madison in ‘Odd Couple: Female Version’

Stephanie Sabelhaus stars as Olive Madison in Belle Theatre’s production of Odd Couple: Female Version. Her previous stage credits include Vice Principal Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Steele in A Piece of My Heart, the Emcee in And the Nominees Are, Orin Scrivello, DDS in Little Shop of Horrors, Mrs. Pickles in Onstage, Places Please! and Soupy Sue in Urinetown, all for Cultural Park Theater.



Daniel Sabiston plays Jonathan and Charles Haversham in ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

Daniel Sabiston appears in the roles of Jonathan and Charles Haversham in The Play That Goes Wrong. Daniel’s previous credits include various roles for Lab Theater in its summer spoof, The Birds: A Parody, Azalon in Dangerous Liaisons, Trinculo in The Tempest, Alan in Torch Song for The Studio Players, various roles in the summer spoof Sunset Schmoulevard, and Poggio di Chullu in the regional premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Botticelli in the Fire. Go here to see the rest of Daniel’s stage credits.



Cassie Sampson in ensemble of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’

Once New Phoenix royalty, Cassie Sampson will now appear as one of London’s street people as a member of the ensemble of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical for New Phoenix Theatre, where she was last seen in the role of Queen Gynecia in Head Over Heels. She also played Melissa in Lives of the Great Waitresses for Theatre Conspiracy at the Alliance for the Arts, as well as Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense 2: The Second Coming and Leann in A Piece of My Heart for Cultural Park Theater. Go here to view her full and formidable profile.



Stacy Stauffer is Renee in Belle Theatre’s ‘Odd Couple Female Version’

Stacy Stauffer appears in the role of Renee in Odd Couple: Female Version for Belle Theatre. Her previous stage credits include the role of 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 to see what else Stacy has been in.



Cassy Terwilliger plays Jekyll fiancee for New Phoenix in ‘Jekyll & Hyde’

Cassy Terwilliger plays the role of Emma Carew in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical. Her character in the show is Dr. Jekyll’s increasingly troubled fiancee who, in one of the show’s many highlights, sings a beautiful, soulful duet titled “In His Eyes” with a prostitute by the name of Lucy Harris, who becomes involved with both Jekyll and Hyde. Terwilliger was last seen in New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Head Over Heels, which marked her New Phoenix debut. Go here for all of Cassy’s theatrical credits.





Director Danica Murray confident cast can handle ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ content and score

Danica Murray is branching out. She’s directing a production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical at the Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs in October that features students ages 13 to 21.

“It’s a great pop rock gothic musical,” says Danica. “For people who haven’t seen it, it’s a really fun horror kind of retelling of Jekyll & Hyde.”

The musical is loosely based on Robert Louise Stevenson’s 1886 gothic horror novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

“While the cast is 13 to 21, it’s going to appeal to adults as well as kids,” Murray continues. “Everyone will get their kicks in this horror show. It’s going to be fun.”

You will find the rest of this story here.



Carling Witt provides choreography for New Phoenix musical ‘Jekyll & Hyde’

Carling Witt provides the choreography for New Phoenix Theatre’s production of Jekyll & Hyde the Musical. Witt distinguished herself with her portrayal of Mopsa in Head Over Heels. Other acting credits include Johanna in Sweeney Todd, Penny in Hairspray and Vivienne in Legally Blonde. Carling is employed as a musician and vocalist and has performed for Disney, Warner Bros, and Universal Studios.



Belle Theatre’s Dana Alvarez honored with Freddie G Teaching Fellowship

Home to more than 20 equity and community theater companies, Southwest Florida is gaining national, if not international recognition for producing tomorrow’s stars of the stage and silver screen.

One of the theater educators doing this important developmental work is the Director of Theatre Education at Cape Coral’s new Belle TheatreDana Alvarez. In July, Alvarez was one of just six theater educators from around the world who was invited to take part in the 11th Annual Freddie G Fellowship in New York City.

Listen to the story on WGCU.

Go here for Dana’s full theatrical credits and accomplishments.





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

On Wednesday, the Alliance for the Arts and dozens of local arts organizations launched the Arts & Economic Prosperity survey. 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. Within the Alliance, Jennifer Falk functions as the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) Project Coordinator. Go here to hear why you should participate in the study if you are asked to complete a survey.



DAAS’ September show features works on paper

During the month of September, DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery is showcasing an array of artworks created by various Southwest Florida artists who responded to the gallery’s recent invitational call challenging them to create artwork using paper as the main material or surface that imitates or honors the beauty of flowers and/or plants. Titled The Paper Garden, the exhibition not only features works on paper depicting flowers and plants, but a beautiful and cohesive presentation of work by many of the talented artists who live and work throughout Southwest Florida.

The opening reception is scheduled for 6:00-9:30 p.m. on Friday, September 2nd in conjunction with Fort Myers Art Walk. The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, September 25th, 2022.

DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts is located at 1815 Fowler Street, in the Butterfly Estates complex in Fort Myers, FL. The gallery’s business hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. More information about the venue can be found at or by calling 239-590-8645.





Spotlight on Fort Myers’ Ward 3 art hub at IMAG

For more than a year, the Fort Myers Public Art Committee has been establishing art hubs in each of the City’s six wards using the 23 Edgardo Carmona sculptures that the City purchased in August of 2018. One such art hub is IMAG History & Science Center in Ward 3. On April 25th, the Committee moved Duo Sinfonica or Man Playing Flute and Utopia or Boy Fishing from a Bucket to IMAG, which is an ideal art hub partner.

Go here for the full story.



‘Fire Dance’ to be repainted in late September

One can’t help but notice all the activity that’s been taking place in Centennial Park so far this year. A stately new amphitheater. An expanded playground with brand new orange, blue and purple slides, swings and other equipment. A renovated pavilion and new sidewalks.

And there have been changes to the public artworks on display in the park as well. Gone are the big trees that once surrounded the Uncommon Friends fountain, keeping Parks & Beautification employees busy fishing out leaves, twigs and branches on a weekly, sometimes even daily basis. To make way for the bandshell, the USCT 2nd Regiment and Buckingham & Page Army Air Field monuments were given new homes to the west of Uncommon Friends. And during the waning weeks of summer, the red modernist sculpture known as Fire Dance will get a make-over too.

The rest of this story is here.



Audio for Collaboratory’s ‘Ribbon Routine’ now live on Otocast

A new audio has been added to Otocast, the free mobile app that shares stories about the City’s public artworks.

One of the artworks included on Otocast is the Cor-Ten steel sculpture known as Ribbon Routine (Ena En La Plaza) that sits outside the main entrance into the Collaboratory. Located at 2031 Jackson Street adjacent to the Fort Myers Fire Department’s main station and across from the Trailways.

The rest of this story is here.





‘Odd Couple Female Version’ promises jokes, one-liners and comedic insights

The Odd Couple Female Version comes to Belle Theatre in the Cape September 2 through 11. Joke for joke, Simon’s female version has more laughs and comedic insights into the difficulties of divorce and the value of real friendship than the all-male version audiences are accustomed to seeing. But if hilarious one-liners are your jam, you’re in for a Bonne Maman cornucopia. Go here for the full advance.

You will find play dates, times, ticket and cast information here.



‘Broadway Palm Thru the Decades’ celebrates musicals produced over the years

Broadway Palm opens its 30th Anniversary Season with Broadway Palm Thru The Decades playing through October 1. With Broadway Palm Thru the Decades, audiences relive the last three decades of productions that have made Broadway Palm Florida’s premier dinner theatre. This all-new jukebox-style musical features a talented cast of performers that sing and dance their way through some of the greatest Broadway Palm songs of all time … such as numbers from Me and My Girl, 42nd Street, The King and I, Oklahoma, The Music Man, Miss Saigon, CATS and more!

Go here for more.



Gulf Coast Symphony robust 2022-23 season to include ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Nunsense’

Since its founding in 1995, Gulf Coast Symphony has produced many spectacular performances, but its 2022-23 season is poised to be its most productive and memorable to date. One reason is its new Music & Arts Community Center on the campus of Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fort Myers. Gulf Coast Symphony founder, CEO and Maestro Andrew Kurtz couldn’t be prouder of the what they’ve done with the facility since opening it in January 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Go here for the full story.



‘Play That Goes Wrong’ part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, all mayhem

To kick off its 14th season, The Laboratory Theater of Florida pays homage to the theatrical arts with a play within a play – where everything that can go wrong does, with hilarious results. It’s The Play That Goes Wrong by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Hendry Shields, and the production marks the comedy’s Southwest Florida premiere. Part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, and all mayhem, this Olivier Award-winning show is disastrously delightful.

The rest of this advance is here.

And to here for play dates, times and ticket information.



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.



New Phoenix Theatre going steampunk in season-opening production of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ 

New Phoenix Theatre opens its 2022-2023 season with Leslie Bricusse and Frank Wildthorn’s recreation of Robert Louise Stevenson’s 1886 gothic horror-thriller Jekyll & Hyde. The gripping tale of a brilliant mind gone horrifically awry, New Phoenix’s production of this disturbingly dark musical comes with a decidedly steampunk slant. Assuming the role of Costume Designer, Brenda Kensler will be outfitting the characters in steampunk. Drawing its inspiration from 19th century Victorian clothing and industrial machinery, the accessories are as distinctive as the clothing. Southwest Florida theater-goers will be holding their collective breath as we wait to see what Kensler has in store for this production. Go here for the full advance.

Play dates, times and a cast list can be found here.



‘Beer for Breakfast’ a masterpiece of modern mirth

Coming to the Joan Jenks stage at Golden Gate Community Center September 23 through October 9 is The Studio Players’ production of Sean Grennan’s comedy Beer Before Breakfast. It’s a study in silliness, and masterpiece of modern mirth filled with clever dialogue and hilarity. Four middle-aged buddies reunite for a “guys’ weekend” — complete with old music, cheap beer and enough cholesterol to stop Superman’s heart.  These guys are out to prove they’ve still got it, so they are going to party like it’s 1979!  It’s all going well until one of them doesn’t show up…but his wife does.  Snowed in overnight, an epic struggle ensues: will man be judged the superior sex or will woman prevail? The full advance is here.

Go here for play dates, times and tickets.

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