Theater season in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, SWFL: Your guide to all the 2018 plays and musicals

 The curtain has risen on theater season in Southwest Florida, and local theaters have plenty of comedies, musicals, dramas and more happening onstage.The 2018 lineup includes the Peter Pan musical "Finding Neverland," the dance-filled extravaganza "An American in Paris" and the improv musical comedy “Your Love, Our Musical.” Plus the 20th anniversary season of Florida Repertory Theatre and the 25th anniversary seasons of Firehouse Community Theatre and Broadway Palm.Here's a guide to what's happening in 2017-2018:  ARTIS—NAPLES (NAPLES)“An American in Paris” (Jan. 16-21) The Tony Award-winning 2015 musical based on the classic Gene Kelly movie. Acclaimed director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon packs the show with athletic ballet dancing and the rapturous music of George and Ira Gershwin, including “Rhapsody in Blue” and “‘S Wonderful.”Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King and I” (Feb. 7-11) Popular musical about the quirky, funny and poignant friendship between an English tutor and her students’ father, the king of Siam. This is the Lincoln Center Theater production.“Jersey Boys” (April 3-8) The Tony- and Grammy-winning musical about Franki Valli and the Four Seasons returns to Southwest Florida with hit song after hit song, including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.“ Info: 800-597-1900 or  BARBARA B. MANN PERFORMING ARTS HALL (FORT MYERS)“Finding Neverland” (Jan. 9-14) Based on the Academy Award-winning movie, “Finding Neverland” tells the story behind the creation of the beloved character Peter Pan.“An American in Paris” (Jan. 23-28) After appearing at Artis-Naples, the 2015 Tony Award winner moves north to Mann Hall."Motown The Musical" (March Continue Reading

Beer drinking festival is Jan. 27 in Fort Myers

The 14th annual Ballpark Festival beers is 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.Beer lovers can choose from more than 100 beers from throughout the world with three hours of unlimited beer sampling. The event is held by the Fort Myers Miracle. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the day of the event. Designated driver tickets are available for $10 and include unlimited water and soda. See for more.   Continue Reading

New Mud Hens skipper looks forward to Toledo homecoming

Share Tweet Share Email Comments Print He played hockey at the Ice House before he could see over the boards and tagged along with his dad to Goaldiggers games, his face pressed against the glass in their regular front-row seats at the old Sports Arena. Loved hoops, too. “Doesn’t that freaking kid know it’s 7 in the morning!?” a half-annoyed neighbor roused by his dribbling once told his parents. New Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz, a Toledo native, spent last year with the Fort Myers Miracle. Fort Myers Miracle/Linwood Ferguson Enlarge But for little Doug Mientkiewicz, nothing came so naturally as baseball. Before the new manager of the Mud Hens went on to hit the game-winning home run in an Olympic medal game and catch the last out of the World Series, he was the big-bopping prodigy of Point Place. The Mientkiewicz family — Len and Janice and their two kids, Doug and Andrea — lived in a ranch house on the tree-lined corner of 104th and 290th. One summer, a 5-year-old Doug broke his leg in a fall off the side of their above-ground pool, leaving him inert in an ankle-to-thigh cast. Len knew this would not fly, so he jury-rigged a wheelchair for him, attaching a folding lounge chair atop a creeper used to slide under a car. Next thing he knew, the neighborhood was raining plastic baseballs. With his cousin pitching, Doug mashed away. “There he was lying down hitting them over the roof of the house, three, four in a row,” Len said. “It was like, ‘Whoa, wait a minute. Holy cow.’ ” From there, that freaking kid went a lot of places. The family moved to Miami when he was 7 and Doug kept hitting all the way to a 12-year career in the big leagues. But it proved only to be the long road back home. I caught up with Mientkiewicz by phone the other day from his home in the Florida Keys, where, as he learned this offseason, baseball can work in funny ways. Well, maybe funny Continue Reading

Prep Football: Naples, Fort Myers meet for Round 3 in new playoff rivalry

 The area’s oldest high school football teams are adding a new wrinkle to their renewed rivalry.When Fort Myers High visits Naples High in Friday’s Class 6A regional final, it will be the third straight postseason the tradition-rich programs have played each other. But this year is bigger.The past two seasons Naples and Fort Myers have met in the regional semifinals. This year the matchup is one round later in the state tournament with a regional championship and berth in the state final four on the line. Plus this year the playoff falls on a holiday weekend. It’s the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. With alumni from both schools back home for the long weekend, and the possibility of out-of-town visitors curious about the biggest game in town, Naples’ always-electric Staver Field could be even more explosive.“We’re really, really grateful for the chance to play the Friday after Thanksgiving at home,” Golden Eagles coach Bill Kramer said. “It’s a special thing. And it’s cool that it’s Fort Myers.”The Golden Eagles-Green Wave matchup became a real rivalry last season, when Fort Myers came to Naples and won 28-7. The Eagles turned the ball over five times in the first half and trailed 21-0 at halftime.The loss was rare on two levels. Naples was 27-5 at home in the playoffs under Kramer. Also, Fort Myers became just the second Southwest Florida team to ever knock off Naples in the postseason (South Fort Myers was the first in 2010).It was the first time the Green Wave had beaten Naples since 2005 – although the teams had only played three times in that span.After losing in the second round of the playoffs three of the previous four seasons, the Golden Eagles are happy to be back in the regional finals for the first time since 2015. They’re also excited about another shot at Fort Myers.“We’re in the third round of the playoffs, but we want to keep Continue Reading

Prep football: Naples doesn’t need last-second miracle to shut out Largo

After needing a miracle finish to get to the second round of the playoffs, the Naples High School football team left nothing to chance Friday in the Class 6A regional semifinals.Refocused and rejuvenated after its season nearly ended in the first round, Naples finished strong to put away Largo 24-0.Like the week before, when Naples needed two touchdowns in the final 10 seconds to beat Port Charlotte 13-7, the Golden Eagles’ offense struggled at times. But up 7-0 entering the fourth quarter, Naples (9-1) put the game away with 17 points in the final period.“This game was about patience. Patience, patience, patience,” Eagles running back Chez Mellusi said. “We wore them out, then eventually we were going to break one. That’s what we did.”Mellusi’s 47-yard bolt to the end zone with 4:14 to play gave Naples a 17-0 lead and sealed the game.Already thrilled to be in the third round, the Golden Eagles got an extra boost minutes after their postgame handshakes with Largo. Naples players listened to defensive coordinator Sam Dollar, holding a cellphone to his ear, relay play-by-play of the final seconds of Fort Myers’ 7-6 win over North Fort Myers.Naples, the No. 2 seed in 6A-Region 3, will host fourth-seeded Fort Myers in the regional championship game on Friday. The Eagles would have had to travel to North Fort Myers, the top seed and previously undefeated, if the Red Knights had won.Against the Packers on Friday, Naples scored one touchdown in the game’s first three and a half quarters – and that was after nearly being shutout for the first time in 11 years in the regional quarterfinals.Though it took the Eagles a while to warm up, Naples always was in control thanks to its stingy defense. The Eagles earned their second shutout in three games. The defense hasn’t given up a point in 13 quarters (Port Charlotte’s only points came on a defensive touchdown).“We came out and played harder (than last Continue Reading

Yankees looking for a miracle after being swept by Red Sox and having playoff dreams crushed

BOSTON — They came to Fenway with big playoff dreams — the division, the wild card, it all seemed possible with a few sterling wins against their rivals. But the Yankees quietly left enemy territory Sunday night with their postseason hopes in tatters, their own players suggesting that a miracle might be the best aid and a four-game deficit in the wild card with four teams to pass. “Brutal,” said Tyler Clippard, who gave up the winning run, a Hanley Ramirez home run in the seventh inning that snapped a tie and gave the Sox their 5-4 winning margin. The Red Sox swept the four-game series and will forever know they likely dealt the killing blow to a Yankee playoff charge. Boston Massacre, Millennial edition? “It’s pretty self-explanatory,” Clippard added. “You get swept in a situation like we had — brutal.” Now, the good news: This was always house money, anyway, this flirtation with contention. Especially after the trade deadline sale that injected some talent into the farm system. That doesn’t mean this won’t sting for a few days, though, especially since only a week ago the Yankees were riding high on a seven-game winning streak. They have now dropped five in a row and seven of eight. They were just 2-8 this season at Fenway. The Yankees were in every game and several folks in pinstripes lamented how they perhaps could’ve won three out of the four games. They were competitive in each one, but even Mark Teixeira admitted they seemed to find “a way to lose. That’s tough to take,” Teixeira added. “And that’s the disappointing thing.” When someone asked if the Yankees needed a miracle, Teixeira replied: “That would help. I’ll pray if you do.” Here’s an example of how things just seemed to disintegrate for a team that could do no wrong not so long ago: CC Sabathia, who had Continue Reading

Irma update: Where to get water, food in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice Inc. has set up nine distribution sites throughout the region for people seeking water and food. Most sites have been active for the past day or two, with the Bonita Springs site opening today.Those include: Arcadia: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in DeSoto County, 1210 East Oak Street, Arcadia Bonita Springs: St. Leo the Great Parish, 28290 Beaumont Road Clewiston: St. Margaret Parish, 208 North Deane Duff Ave. Fort Myers: Jesus the Worker Parish, 881 Nuna Ave. Fort Myers: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., 4235 Michigan Ave. Immokalee: Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities, 211 S. 9th Street Moore Haven: St. Joseph the Worker Parish, 24065 U.S. Hwy 27 Naples: Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. in Collier County, 2210 Santa Barbara Blvd. Wauchula: St. Michael Parish, 408 Heard Bridge RoadThe urgent need is also for volunteers to help at the sites, and there is a need for household cleaning supplies and other non-perishable goods. Catholic Charities is working closely with the Harry Chapin Food Bank and each site has received at least one truck of supplies from FEMA.Additional sitesThese sites will be open from 1-4 p.m. today to provide food and water: Bokeelia: Our Lady of  Miracle Church, 12175 Stringfellow Road Bonita Springs: Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track, 10601 Bonita Beach Road SE Estero: Estero High School, 21900 River Ranch Road Lehigh Acres: Veterans Park Rec Center, 55 Homestead Road S. North Fort Myers: Prairie Pines Preserve, 18400 N. Tamiami TrailThese sites will be open until 4 p.m. today. These will be drive-up distribution locations, where the National Guard will be handing out MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) and water. Fort Myers: Villas Elementary, 8385 Beacon Blvd.                                Continue Reading

Downtown Social House opens in Fort Myers, the Yabo mystery continues

With a vastly expanded patio, a brand new kitchen, a redesigned bar and a garden strung with Edison bulbs that glow around a leafy gumbo limbo tree, Downtown Social House is ready to go.One of the most charming spaces in downtown Fort Myers has been transformed, and its new owners are hoping patrons will fall in love with it all over again.“We want to be the social gathering spot for downtown,” said Nils Richter, a partner in the new project, which goes by the name SoHo and opens to the public 4 p.m. Wednesday.“We want to be the place you can come after work or after dinner or for dinner. We offer a little something for everyone.”SoHo, which features 70 seats inside, 30 on the covered patio and 70 more in the new garden area, takes over the brick-lined corner unit at 1406 Hendry St. that for 15 years housed Spirits of Bacchus.Richter created the new concept with partners from Kearns Restaurant Group. Chef Jamie DeRosa of nearby Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, which opened just last week as another Kearns partnership, has developed the menu for SoHo, as well.“Izzy’s is designed to be New England, but over here it’s a menu built purely for fun,” DeRosa said.“It’s a menu with no boundaries, inspired by international street foods.”Amanda Lawson manages SoHo’s kitchen.The menu features a variety of snacks and sharable plates ranging from $4 for the oatmeal cream pies and ice cream sandwiches under the “Sweet” section, to $10 for a Cuban frita or a snow-crab roll with yuzu-ponzu sauce.Also:  Izzy's, SoHo help Kearns expand reachSeveral of SoHo's dishes, including the empanadas, are made by local food trucks with which SoHo has partnered. Others are DeRosa’s creations, including the $6 chicken chicharrones, chicken skin that’s pressed flat and fried to a crackling crisp then served with sriracha-infused mayonnaise. “There’s some little things to do,” Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: Nation’s eyes, hearts turn to Cape Coral, Fort Myers friends in storm’s path

With the eyes of the nation fixed on Hurricane Irma, we're seeing more and more comments from around the country checking in on Fort Myers, Cape Coral and other communities around Lee County.Our Facebook Live videos continue to be highly engaging, including updates from the Lee County EOC, with hundreds of comments and even more reactions.Nancy Crawford is thankful for evacuating on Friday night. "Evacuated from FM last night and lucky to get room in Kissimmee through Monday w/ dog and cat. Fingers crossed for us all."Debbi Brescher is "so scared for my brother in Estero Oaks and my friends. We evacuated Wednesday because I did not believe it would stay East. Please pray." More: Hurricane Irma: 10 memorable quotes as major storm tracks to Fort Myers, Cape Coral More: A Bokeelia fruit farmer braves Irma to save his livelihood Mary E. Gordon Hagler may be a familiar name - "watching from Columbus Ohio prayers for all... former News Press photojournalist... be safe everyone."Kim Porter Lemonde says this is "my hometown. I'm no longer there but I'm a born and bred Lee Countian. My heart and family are still there."Ginnette González Greer lives "near Fort Myers Beach resident now staying in Kissimmee here...stay safe people!"Janelle McCormack Walton is "watching and worried about my Dad John Edwards in Lehigh Acres!"Sandra Collazo-Lopez is "watching and praying from Philadelphia! My daughters are residents of Lee County."Darcy Boland Van Zijl also is a "Cape Coral resident watching from Franklin, TN."Carol Curry O'Brien is "watching from Basin, Wyoming to pray for all of our friends in Florida."Jennifer Crawford Frantz·is also "watching from Orlando where we evacuated from Fort Myers --- thank you"Susan Hawkins is "listening from Highland, Indiana thinking about family in Cape Coral."Maureen Bennett is "watching from Washington State, prayers for all. I also live by the Sanibel causeway area..prayers for miracles."Phyllis Continue Reading

Hurricane Irma: South Fort Myers impact

 Ben Hemmen, the chief executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Fort Myers Miracle, said power went out at his place in Lakewood Village around 9:30 a.m. Sunday.Hemmen worked with county officials earlier this week getting Hammond Stadium hurricane ready the past couple of days. He said Miracle staff has worked until past midnight the past couple of nights to make sure the clubhouse and stadium is safe.Emergency Management has coordinated with fire districts, emergency medical services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Coast Guard to use the stadium properties to stage equipment.The Miracle’s season ended Wednesday in the Florida State League Championship when a walk-off hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning handed the Palm Beach Cardinals (2-0) a share of the 2017 FSL Championship. Their 3-2 win over the Miracle (0-2) gave them the sweep in the best-of-three series. • The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore is in town, at Gulf Coast Town Center.Cantore said that all hotels in the area are sold out.Cantore also noted that on Sept. 10, 1960, Hurricane Donna hammered the Florida Keys as well as Southwest Florida. Continue Reading