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RSW Living Magazine

Performing Arts Events Shine Brightly: Lee County Getting Ready For Upcoming Season

With the Lee County performing arts season for 2018-2019 in the wings, organizations of all sizes from Bonita Springs to Cape Coral plan a feast of plays, musicals, concerts and yes, even a taste of opera and ballet. Surprise your loved ones with tickets to their favorite performer or troupe—for that perfect holiday present—and then be sure to mark the calendar.

What follows are just some of the upcoming season’s highlights that were in the works at press time. Be sure to consult websites for updated schedules, and ticket prices and availability. And remember, there is always a bounty of artistic talent showcased at many local houses of worship on Sunday afternoons.

Woody Allen fans will enjoy Don’t Drink the Water, playing Oct. 26 through Nov. 4 at Cape Coral Cultural Park Theatre, which is now in its 56th season. Two major musicals are planned—Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar from Jan. 11-20, and Chicago from March 1-10. (

Florida Repertory Theatre’s 2018-2019 season begins the company’s third decade of producing nationally recognized, professional productions in the downtown Fort Myers River District. Steel Magnolias, the play that inspired the 1989 movie, runs through Nov. 7.

All ages will enjoy seeing a world-premiere adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, by Mark Shanahan, on the stage Nov. 30-Dec. 19. Or celebrate springtime by watching Million Dollar Quartet, which rocks and rolls March 22 to April 10. (

Although most famous for its lessons and shows involving painting and sculpture—and much more—the Center for the Arts Bonita Springs offers an array of performances. Its Musical Moment Series is a staple on the first Sunday afternoon of each month, showcasing all kinds of music and dance. 

Stuart Little is the autumn play of the center’s youth troupe, set Nov. 16-18. Recording artist John Ford Coley takes the stage on Dec. 1. And residents and visitors alike are already looking forward to when the curtain goes up Feb. 21-24 for the Bonita Springs International Film Festival. (

You can’t go wrong when giving tickets to Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, centrally located on Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. On the schedule Oct. 4 to Nov. 17 is 42nd Street. Then Elf The Musical rings in the holidays from Nov. 22 through Christmas Day, while Saturday Night Fever struts in on Dec. 29 until Feb. 9. (

Helping launch a varied season, Gulf Coast Symphony joins with Gulfshore Ballet for The Nutcracker at 2 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. The Midtown Men, stars from the original cast of Jersey Boys, deck the halls with yuletide classics Dec. 16. The symphony goes on the road Jan. 10 for Mozart Under the Stars, at Shangri-La Springs Resort & Spa in Bonita Springs.

On Jan. 13, back at the Mann, famed violinist Sarah Chang will perform Brahms’ Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 77. Then the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers and guest soloists join the symphony to perform Mozart's Requiem. Cirque de la Symphonie comes to the Mann on April 28, with veterans of exceptional cirque programs throughout the world performing to classical masterpieces and pops. (

Estero Concert Series presents its eighth year of chamber music concerts by local and international talent. This season’s concerts will be on Dec. 9, Jan. 13, Feb. 24, March 24 and April 13 in the vintage Art Hall at Koreshan State Park. (Phone 646-257-0003)

A typically busy season is planned for the Broadway Series at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers. The salsa-themed On Your Feet is scheduled Jan. 1-6 and A Bronx Tale—billed as “Jersey Boys Meets West Side Story”—starts the series when it runs Jan. 23-27.

That’s followed by Spamalot from Feb. 5-10 and Les Miserables from Feb. 19-24. Tap Dogs comes March 5-10 and The Lion King roars onstage April 3-21. (

Also scheduled at the Mann is the 70th season of the Fort Myers Community Concert Series. The National Symphony Orchestra of Romania comes Jan. 7 and Teatro Lirico D’Europa performs Puccini’s Tosca on Jan. 14. The Russian National Orchestra and Ballet appear Feb. 12 and 25, respectively. Internationally acclaimed violinist Itzhak Perlman performs March 11 and renowned flutist Sir James Galway on March 28. (

BIG (Barrier Island Group) Arts of Sanibel-Captiva announces that Pacifica Quartet, with guitarist Sharon Isbin, is set Jan. 10 on Sanibel. i luminate comes Jan. 30 to take the Etch A Sketch experience of yesterday to a whole new level. It enables performers, choreographers, engineers, technicians, stylists and artistic directors to produce explosive dance and acrobatic performances with dazzling wireless lighting.

For Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, take your sweetheart to see The New Shanghai Circus—comprised of about 30 Chinese performers with top-notch agility, flexibility and timing. And on Feb. 22, no one will want to miss the performance by music icon Judy Collins. (

Jeff Lytle is the retired editorial page editor and TV host from the Naples Daily News. He now lives in Bonita Springs.