Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reviews: SWINGIN' CHRISTMAS at Broadway Palm (2)

It's the day after Thanksgiving, so cue the Christmas theater. Broadway Palm has something for everyone here with "Swimgin' Christmas," an original pastiche cooked up by Victor Legaretta. No plot, no story, but lots of Santas, elves, tinsel, dancing, singing and fun, fun, fun.

Seriously. If you've ever wanted to see Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" as interpreted by Bob Fosse in glam 1920's Jazz Age costumes, choreographer Amy Marie McCleary has. Got. You. Covered.

Much of the show is inconsistent and jerky (or filled with gooey sentiment and fruitcake-dreadful puns), but the shining holiday spirit comes through with a thousand-watt glow.

"Swingin' Christmas" runs Tuesday through Sunday evenings with selected matinées through Dec. 25. Tickets run $22-$55, with show-only seats available for just $18. Call 239-278-4422 or

Read the complete review:


Charles Runnells (The News-Press)
Broadway Palm heats up a holiday classic in 'Swingin' Christmas'
“The Nutcracker” is many things. But sexy? Hardly. Until now, that is. Broadway Palm heats up the holiday classic in one of the most memorable segments of its jazzy new musical, “Swingin’ Christmas.” And the result will get your chestnuts roasting in no time. (read the review)

Friday, November 29, 2013

updated | Reviews: OUR TOWN at the Naples Players (2)

The Naples Players offer up an intriguing - if inconsistent - take on Thornton Wilder classic "Our Town" for the holiday season. Director Michael Scanlan takes his cast into the crowd in a bid to embrace everyone into "our town." I wish the experiment had taken flight.

The three-act play meanders through simple scenes in the everyday life of a tiny New Hampshire hamlet. Each exchange of dialogue contains an appreciation for life.

The audience participation element just doesn't work, nor do design and staging elements that seem completely out of character with the play. Warm performances from amateurs that rarely get a chance to shine offer the touching heart at the center of the play, of Grover's Corners and of "our town" this holiday season.

"Our Town"  plays 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21 at the Naples Players. Tickets are $35. Call (239) 263-7990 or "Our Town" runs three acts with two ten-minute intermissions.

Read the complete review:

Other reviews:
Nancy Stetson (Florida Weekly)
Not our kind of town: Too many gimmicks, not enough heart
“Our Town” has so much more to it than what this production gives us. If you read the play, it is powerful and nuanced and moving. Mr. Scanlan tries to make it special, but at times I felt the same way I do while watching some science fiction movies: that all the attention has been given to the special effects rather than to the development of the characters. I wish this director had spent less time adding things to the script and more time rehearsing the actors so that everyone, down to the smallest towns-person, was a fully developed person. (read the full review)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reviews: BECKY SHAW at Theatre Conspiracy (3)

Demis Crudeli /
Becky Shaw - the character - is a hot mess. One blind date and the girl doesn't know whether to walk into a hospital or a police station. No friends, no family, no money. Dropped out of Brown. No car. Becky Shaw has one thing. Wits And she knows how to use them. 

"Becky Shaw" takes five people and asks this: Every person has their own truth. What happens when the truths diverge? Equity actress Kim Crow and Tera Nicole Miller deliver standout turns.  Interesting, fascinating and worth a look - but the show often feels listless and lacks a critical energy. 

Tickets are $20. Anyone under 30 can get their ticket for just $10, Thursday performances are “buy one get one half off” and Opening Night is “pay what you will.” Call 239-936-3239 or

Read the full review:


Charles Runnells (The News-Press)
Theatre Conspiracy's 'Becky Shaw' features one bachelor, one bad date
As far as matchmaking goes, this one seems destined to fail. The sarcastic, mean-spirited Max Garrett relishes the role of the jerk and gladly barrels through a new girlfriend every three months. So he’s bound to roll right over the fragile, needy Becky Shaw. But there’s more to both characters than meets the eye in Theatre Conspiracy’s new comedy, “Becky Shaw.” (read the full review)

Nancy Stetson (Florida Weekly)
No love connection in a blind date with ‘Becky Shaw’
“Becky Shaw” is one strange play. Toward the end of the second act, when Suzanna (Denise Scott) moans, “I’m so confused,” I thought: “Me too, sister!” Theatre Conspiracy, where “Becky Shaw” is playing through Dec. 15, is known for putting on offbeat fare. But this production doesn’t seem offbeat as much as off-rhythm. The dialogue moved forward in a herkyjerky manner. Throughout the show, something just felt off. The pieces were there, but they weren’t fitting together. I kept trying to decide if it was the production, the pacing or the play itself — or a combination of the three. (read the full review)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Naples Players announce cast for BLACK TIE

"Black Tie" runs Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 2014. Call (239) 263-7990 or

The Naples Players have announced the cast for "Black Tie." This came out a while ago - I just didn't get to post it.

Curtis: Jim Heffernan
Father: Val Kuffel
Mimi: Ellen Coper
Elsie: Jenna Canfield
Teddy: Klinton Blair

"Black Tie," about one father's struggle to produce the perfect wedding toast, takes a torch to a lot old High WASP traditions like oyster stuffing and cuff links. Florida Rep produced the show in April 2012. Of the many works in the Gurney canon, "Black Tie" isn't a superb show, but it does offer an interesting culture clash. Read my review of the "Florida Rep" show here.

"Black Tie" runs Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 2014. Call (239) 263-7990 or

PR: Eddy Lester producing "A Night in Tuscany" on Nov. 30

Here's a press release from Eddy Lester on "A Night in Tuscany," a show he's producing at the new Amador's on the Green restaurant at the Lakewood Golf and Country Club.

Romantic music, good food, atmosphere...

Complete press release below.

How to get free popcorn at performances of Firehouse's "Dashing Through the Snow"

I am totally in love with Jones-Hope-Wooten shows. And there's a Christmas one!

Firehouse Community Theatre presents "Dashing Through the Snow," about the adventures at the Snowflake Inn in Tinsel, Texas. The show runs Dec. 13-22, with showtimes 7 p.m. Friday & Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $14 at the door. Call (863) 675-3066 or The theatre will be accepting donations of non-perishable food items at each performance of "Dashing Through the Snow."  Bring a canned good or other non-perishable item and receive FREE POPCORN for the show!

The Firehouse Community Theatre is located at 241 North Bridge Street in historic downtown LaBelle; three blocks north from the intersection of SR80 and SR29 and just 28 minutes from exit 141 on I-75.

Complete press release below.

GOOD PEOPLE at Naples Players announces cast

The Naples Players announced the cast for "Good People."

Margie: Bonnie Knapp
Jean: Victoria Diebler
Dottie: Janina Birtolo
Mike: Paul Graffy
Kate: Sonya McCarter
Steve: Matthew Striegel

"Good People" will be directed by Christopher Goutman. Goutman, a New Yorker known primarily for his work on daytime soap operas, directed "Barefoot in the Park" in January 2013.

"Good People" runs Feb. 5 - March 1 in the Tobye Studio. For tickets ($25), call (239) 263-7990 or

Complete press release below.

PR: "West Side Story" leaps into Artis–Naples on Dec. 26

"West Side Story" plays at 8 p.m. Dec. 26 27 & 28 with 2 p.m. matinées on Dec. 28 & 29 and a 7 p.m. twilight show on Dec. 29. For tickets ($75 - $110), call 239-597-1900 or
The latest tour of "West Side Story" flies into Artis–Naples the day after Christmas.

The original Jerome Robbins choreography for the Jets and Sharks is reproduced for the tour by Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely. I interviewed McKneely in February 2011 when the tour came to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. Read what he has to say about making the show more masculine by trimming just a few of the more ballet-like moves. He also reveals his numbers to look for.

Bonus: Read my review of the 2011 touring production.

"West Side Story" plays at 8 p.m. Dec. 26 27 & 28 with 2 p.m. matinées on Dec. 28 & 29 and a 7 p.m. twilight show on Dec. 29. For tickets ($75 - $110), call 239-597-1900 or

Complete press release below.

Holiday Theater in the 239: From angels to zydeco, we've got it all!

Greed, glowing lips and goose-induced fatalities
are three sure signs that Compton & Bennett
are home for the holidays.
Compton & Bennett in "GRANDMA’S CHRISTMAS GOOSE" at Fred’s Diner

Greed, glowing lips and goose-induced fatalities are three sure signs that Compton & Bennett are home for the holidays.

The first three Thursdays in December (Dec. 5, 12 & 19; dinner at 6, show at 7:30) find them at Fred’s Diner for a Christmas dinner show.

"Grandma’s Christmas Goose" is a tribute to the excess, duress and unfulfilled desires that simmer within us all at this time of year. Rick and Betsy even suggest donated organs as stocking stuffers!

Dinner and show is $39.95 plus drinks, tax and tips. Limited show-only tickets for each performance ($15 each). For reservations, leave a message at 239-431-7928, or email Confirmation will follow.

WHERE: Fred’s Diner, 2700 Immokalee Road in the Jason’s Deli Shopping Center
HOW MUCH: $39.95 plus tax, tip and drinks for a three-course dinner and the show.

Florida Repertory Theatre

In "My Three Angels" it is Christmas Eve in the tropics — where it's 105 degrees in the shade — and things are not going well for Felix Ducotel and his family.

Worse, the roof is leaking! Three hardened criminals descend from above (where they were working on the leaky roof) and take matters into their own hands. Using their brilliant criminal minds, these three unlikely angels patch up more than the roof!

"My Three Angels" runs Dec. 6-22. Regular performances are Tues. – Sat. at 8 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Wed., Sun., and selected Saturdays.

For tickets ($40 & $45), call 239-332-4488 and

Photos: Cody Nickell in "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" at Gulfshore Playhouse

Cody Nickell in "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol."

Here's the promo email for "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" at Gulfshore Playhouse.

I also have photos. Maura Lohan calls the series "The Many Faces of Cody Nickell."

"Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" runs Dec. 6-22. Tickets are $33-$45; student tickets $15. Call 866-811-4111 or

Cody Nickell in "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol."

Cody Nickell in "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol."