Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Lab Theater

"A Christmas Carol" plays at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and
2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday.

Dear old Charlie Dickens has seen his tale of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge adapted hundreds of times. Disney added a money bin to create Scrooge McDuck. Sci-fi program "Doctor Who" updated "A Christmas Carol" with time travel and flying sharks. The Lab Theater offers yet another.

Read the complete review...

Ken Bryant's one-man show offers a taste of what Dickens' own public readings may have been like. Audiences can get lost in the sing-song cadence of the prose, backed by Bryant's sonorous voice and strong delivery. Listening to him regale us with ghosts, spirits and tales of Cratchits, Fezziwigs and more, you realize that "Carol" really is a Christmastime story for the ages.

The show's best moments come as Bryant simply sits and reads, especially the fate of old Scrooge as he faces the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Future. If Bryant had just read or recited, the night might have been magical. Instead, the show lacks polish and any real sense that it was created with an audience in mind.

Read the complete review...

"A Christmas Carol" plays at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and  2p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 for students and children, $18.50 for seniors (Thursday performances) and $22 for adults. Buy tickets online:

Reviews: WE WILL ROCK YOU national tour at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall (2)

UPDATED with Charles' review.

"We Will Rock You" is fantastic. Fantastic, campy trash that probably sent Freddie Mercury rolling in his grave. At least a few times. Then the checks started rolling in and he realized it was all a glorious acid-fueled music video starring Tina Turner and David Bowie. Oh, you're gonna love it.

Read the complete review...

Really. This is the tremendous, baby boomer-nostalgia-inducing, rock and roll musical that "Mamma Mia!" wishes it could be. This. Thing. RAWKS.

Still, it's total manipulative, cash-a-big-fat-check, sell-out trash, right down to saving "Bohemian Rhapsody" for the unannounced encore. Really?

 It's a fun time, although a half-hour too long. I just wish the concept weren't so nakedly craven, especially in the way the show forces the audience to wait until act two for Queen's most memorable hits.

Read the complete review...
  • "We Will Rock You" runs Dec. 17-22. Tickets are $34-$69. Call (239) 481-4849 or online at
  • BBMann has a limited time offer - use code CHAMPION and get 50% off your tickets. Buy tickets for "We Will Rock You" online here:
  • Charles Runnells (The News-Press): Queen musical delivers tunes, little else
    The bar is already set quite low for jukebox musicals, but “We Will Rock You” manages to sink even lower. Its bong-hit of a plot combines sci-fi gibberish, desperate pop-culture references, cartoonish characters, obvious jokes and unashamed audience pandering (there’s even a clap-along). All on a cheap-looking set with screen projections that look like something from a bad ‘80s music video — probably intentional, but still not much fun to watch. (read the complete review)

Give 'em the old "razzle-dazzle" during Lester's January musical-comedy showcase

Eddy Lester is set to "razzle-dazzle" us again, with "Razzle-Dazzle 2014," a musical-comedy showcase that plays one night only at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21 at Sugden Community Theatre. Impersonator Peter Salazar, singing comedienne Cindy Miller and jazz artist Rio Clemente, plus Argentine sensation Duo Romantico will take the stage. For tickets, $35, call (239) 263-7990 or stop by the Naples Players box office.

Complete press release below:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reviews: JACOB MARLEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL at Gulfshore Playhouse (2)

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

It's magically delicious.

Cody Nickell turns in a tour de force performance as Jacob Marley (and 17 other characters) in the Gulfshore Playhouse production of "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol."

Nickell, director Kristen Coury and a first-rate design team create a phantasmic theatrical experience equal to something Dickens himself would have been proud to attend.

Audiences hear the shrieking whistle of wind, the tinkling of chimes, see the twinkle of bright stars and all but feel the resounding thump and clang of Marley's chains. You live inside this tale - from Marley's first horrific awakening to the inevitable redemption.

Be warned. Playwright Tom Mula has a feel for Dickensian prose. Every second amazes, although I wish curtain time came closer to ten than to eleven.

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol," an alternate take on the Dickens Classic, runs at 8 p.m. through Dec. 22 at the Norris Center in downtown Naples, with 3 p.m. matinées on Dec. 8, 15, 21 & 22. Tickets are at $33-$45. Call 866-811-4111 or (read the preview) | Read the complete review.

More coverage:

Nancy Stetson (Florida Weekly)
Review: Go to hell and love every second with Jacob Marley

Chris Silk (Naples Daily News)
Preview: Cody Nickell and Kristen Coury talk 'Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol'

Nancy Stetson (Florida Weekly)
Preview: To hell and back - One-man play tells the story of Jacob Marley’s journey

Bill O'Neill (Collier Citizen)
Curtain Up: Catch these seasonal treats at Sugden and Gulfshore theaters

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Two memorial services set for Barbara B. Mann

Barbara B. Mann, 100, died Sunday. Her legacy lives on, both in the performing arts hall that bears her name and the countless people she has inspired across the arts landscape in this corner of Florida. (read the complete story)

Frank Mann Sr. remembers his mother's "boundless energy;" he says it was the key to her accomplishing "so much" for Southwest Florida.

"I never saw my mother take a nap," he said.

There will be a formal memorial service for Barbara B. Mann at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, located at 2438 Second Street in downtown Fort Myers.

At Barbara Mann's request, a "light-hearted" reception for friends of the family and the entire membership of the Fort Myers Community Concert Association will be held from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.

Frank Mann Sr. spoke also of her determined attitude and forthright nature.

"It was work with her or get out of the way," Mann said. "Our family is very proud of her legacy."

Then-state Sen. Franklin B. Mann Sr. coaxed about $6.5 million dollars out of the Florida Legislature in 1984. The cash was split between the then-Edison Community College and the University of South Florida satellite campus to build a performing arts hall. The building would cost around $50 million today. It was renamed to honor Mann's efforts in steering the bill through the legislature and opened Jan. 12, 1986.  (read the complete story)

More coverage:
(Naples Daily News) Barbara B. Mann, leading lady of the arts, dies at 100

(The News Press) A Tribute to Barbara B. Mann
(The News Press) Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall shines bright
(The News Press) What Southwest Florida had to say about Barbara B. Mann

(The News Press) Performing arts icon Barbara B. Mann passes away at 100
(The News Press) Barbara Mann's show still goes on

Arts leader Barbara B. Mann dies at 100

Barbara B. Mann has passed away at the age of 100. NBC-2 first reported the story.

Please contact me with memories or favorite moments you might like to share of how Barbara B. Mann changed the arts landscape in Southwest Florida.