Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Bonita: Top plays and musicals in 2022-23 – News-Press

“Hamilton” returns to Mann Hall after smashing box-office records in 2020. Johnny Cash tunes ring through Florida Repertory Theatre.   And Broadway Palm ’s new video wall brings dazzling new spectacle to “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. ”

That’s just a taste of what’s in store for Southwest Florida audiences during the  2022-23 season. Here are all the  plays and musicals   you won’t want to miss in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs.


“Hamilton” (December 13-24): The Broadway sensation broke sales records at Mann Hall and sold out its entire run in 2020. Now it’s back for two more weeks. Using rap songs and colorblind casting, the musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington  and the other founding fathers of the United States.

“SIX” (Feb. 1-5, 2023): The Broadway hit is staged like a pop concert — only these divas happen to be the six wives of infamous British King Henry VIII. They take turns singing and telling their tales of divorce, suffering and survival.

“Pretty Woman” (Feb. 21-26, 2023): Another record-breaking Broadway show. The musical adapts the beloved 1990 romantic movie about a “hooker with a heart of gold” (Julia Roberts) and the wealthy businessman who hires her (Richard Gere).

More at Mann Hall: “Fiddler on the Roof” (Feb. 14-19, 2023), “Million Dollar Quartet” (March 21-26, 2023),     ‘Tootsie’ (April 4-9, 2023)

— Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, south Fort Myers. 481-4849 or bbmannpah. com

A deeper look at Mann Hall’s season: 2022-23 Broadway season in Fort Myers

Gulf Coast Symphony :   Mann Hall season includes rock, doo-wop, circus acrobats and more


“A Tuna Christmas”  (Dec. 9-18):   Sequel to the popular comedy “Greater Tuna. ” The zany residents of Tuna, Texas, try  to produce the play “A Christmas Carol, ” while a mysterious phantom vandalizes  the annual Xmas Yard Display Contest.  

“Next to Normal” (March 10-19, 2023): The Tony- and Pulitzer-winning rock musical follows a mother with bipolar disorder and how that affects her family.   Belle executive director Tyler Young calls it a “deep, meaningful look at the different shapes, sizes and circumstances of ‘normal. ’”

“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” (April 14-30, 2023): The revamped, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical updates its source material — a 1957 TV musical written by Rodgers & Hammerstein  —  with  stronger  female characters; an expanded length and a rewritten story.  

More at Belle Theatre: “The Butler Did It” (Nov. 4-13),   “Four Old Broads” (Jan. 13-22, 2023), “Little Shop of Horrors” (Jan. 27-Feb. 13, 2023),   “The Swear Jar” (Feb. 17-26, 2023)

— The Belle Theatre, 2708 Santa Barbara Blvd., Suite 135, in The Towers at Santa Barbara shopping center, Cape Coral. 471-6056 or thebelletheatre. com

Cape Coral’s new theater: The Belle   opens with summer camps and a full season of shows


“Pride and Prejudice” (Jan. 24, 2023): New York’s Aquila Theatre is known for its stage interpretations of literary classics. Now it takes  on Jane Austen’s classic romantic novel.

“Late Nite Catechism: Sister’s Summer School Catechism” (March 3, 2023): Sister makes her annual return to BIG ARTS for another interactive one-woman show that’s part stand-up comedy, part Catholic catechism class — with the audience doubling as her summer-school students.  

More at BIG ARTS: “The World of Musicals” (Jan. 21, 2023)

— BIG ARTS, 900 Dunlop Road, Sanibel Island. 395-0900 or bigarts. org


“Not Now, Darling” (Sept. 22-Nov. 5): Broadway Palm opens its 30th season with this zany farce in its smaller Off Broadway Palm Theatre. The show features  “mistresses, minks, mobsters, mistaken identities, misguided shoppers, suspicious wives, and scantily clad women hiding in cupboards. ”

“A Chorus Line” (Oct. 7-Nov. 12): Broadway Palm brings this “singular sensation” back to its main stage. The classic musical captures the tension and ambitions of a Broadway chorus audition.  

“Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Jan. 6-Feb. 11, 2023):   The dinner theater’s  1999 production of  Rice & Webber’s Biblical spectacle broke sales records.   Now “Joseph” is back — this time with even more spectacle, thanks to the theater’s new high-resolution video wall. The  29-foot-wide, 11-foot-tall wall can display video, graphics, scenic backdrops and whatever else the creative team dreams up.

“Just Desserts: A Musical Bake-Off” (Jan. 12–Feb. 18, 2023): One of the newest shows in Broadway Palm’s season. In this 2021 musical, five strangers compete  in a county-fair baking competition. Expect back-stabbing, romance, mystery and more.

“Jersey Boys” (Feb. 17-April 9, 2023): Broadway Palm is one of the first regional U. S. theaters to get the rights to stage the  hit  show about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, says Broadway Palm general manager Melissa Vogt. The jukebox musical is packed with pop hits, including “Sherry, ” “Big Girls Don’t Cry, ” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, ” “Beggin’” and “My Eyes Adored You. ”

“Sister Act” (April 14-May 20, 2023): Broadway Palm’s sixth best-selling show of all time sold out its entire run in 2016. It’s based on the hit Whoopi Goldberg movie about a disco diva who witnesses a murder  and disguises  herself as a nun in a convent.

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (July 7-Aug. 12, 2023): The fairytale musical comes to Broadway Palm for the first time. It was adapted from the hit 1989 animated movie and features hummable tunes from songwriting duo Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.

More at Broadway Palm: “Ha! Ha! Ho! The Holiday Show” (Nov. 10-Dec. 25 in the Off Broadway Palm), “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” (Nov. 18-Dec. 30, 2022), “Doublewide Texas” (Feb. 23-April 9, 2023 in The Off Broadway Palm), “Footloose” (May 26-July 1, 2023), “Always A Bridesmaid” (April 18-May 20, 2023 in The Off Broadway Palm)

— Broadway Palm dinner theater, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. 278-4422 or broadwaypalm. com


“A Lovely Day to Kill Your Spouse” (Oct. 20-30): The dark comedy from New Zealand playwright Lindsey Brown world premieres after appearing last year at CFABS’ annual Staged Reading Series. A British couple secretly plans  to kill each other while celebrating their anniversary in a rowboat. Instead, they  end up stranded on an island. Then their black-sheep siblings find them.

“The Divine Sister” (March 23-April 2, 2023): Charles Busch’s outrageous comedy about the secret lives of nuns, with a plucky Mother Superior — traditionally played by a man in drag — determined to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent.   “The Divine Sister” pays homage to nun-centric films such as “The Song of Bernadette, ” “The Bells of St. Mary’s, ” “The Singing Nun” and “Agnes of God. ”

Stage It! 7: 10-Minute Play Festival (May 11-21, 2023): The festival returns for its seventh year with more short plays from around the world. Judges select plays to be collected and printed in an annual compilation.  

More at CFABS: “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” (Oct. 14-16),   “The Odd Couple: Female Version” (July 27-Aug. 6, 2023)

— Center for Performing Arts Bonita Springs, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. 495-8989 or artcenterbonita. org


“School of Rock” (Sept. 22-Oct. 2): Cultural Park Theater opens its 60th anniversary season with the popular rock musical and also a brand-new lobby. The renovated lobby includes Art Deco décor to match the theater’s marquee; TV screens showing sponsors and upcoming shows; high-top tables; and a new vestibule with red-velvet curtains leading into the main, 200-seat theater.

“The Women” (Oct. 13-23): Clare Boothe Luce’s 1936 comedy of manners features an all-female cast and a story about gossip, marriage and the pampered lives of New York socialites.

“The Sound of Music” (Jan. 12-22, 2023): The beloved 1959 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about the singing von Trapp family. It’s set in 1938 Austria at the dawn of Nazi Germany.

“Crimes of the Heart” (April 20-30, 2023): The heartwarming, Tony Award-nominated comedy-drama involves three sisters reuniting in Mississippi after one of them shoots an  abusive husband.  

More at Cultural Park Theater: “Pippin” (Nov. 10-20), “Rumors” (Feb. 16-26, 2023), “Grease, ” (March 9-19, 2023), “Private Lives” (May 11-21, 2023)

— Cultural Park Theater, 528 Cultural Park Blvd. Cape Coral. 772-5862 or culturalparktheater. com

Big changes: Cheaper tickets, a new look  and much more at Cape Coral’s Cultural Park Theater


“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” (Sept. 23-Oct. 30 in the ArtStage Studio Theatre): Florida Rep opens its 25th season with this hard-hitting look at the life and music of jazz legend Billie Holiday. The ArtStage will be transformed into the gritty Philadelphia bar where Holiday gave one of her last public performances.

“Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help” (Oct. 28-Nov. 13): This hot new comedy debuted in 2019 at New York’s Chenango River Theatre. Now it’s coming to Florida Rep. In Katie Forgette’s twist-filled memory play, young Linda O’Shea recalls a crazy week in 1973 involving Catholic guilt, a parish priest, a misheard conversation about the birds and the bees, and the O’Shea family’s  attempts to clear their name.

“Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny” (March 24-April 16, 2023): Florida Rep’s annual spring musicals have become audience favorites. This jukebox musical tells the story of country icon Johnny Cash with 30 classics from The Man in Black, including “I Walk the Line, ” “I’ve Been Everywhere, ” “A Boy Named Sue” and the title song. The entire cast sings, dances and plays musical instruments.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” (Feb. 3-March 5, 2023  in the ArtStage): Oscar Wilde’s timeless, hilarious classic filled with clever wordplay and unlikely comic situations. Two bachelors create alter egos — both named Earnest — so they can escape their burdensome lives and obligations. Comedy ensues.

“Lobby Hero” (April 21-May 16, 2023 in the ArtStage): A dark, gritty dramedy about race, sexism and justice set in the lobby of a Manhattan apartment building, where a murder investigation unfolds.

More at Florida Rep: “And Then There Were None” (Dec. 2-18), “Freud’s Last Session” (Dec. 16-Jan. 15  in the ArtStage), “Ripchord” (Jan. 13-29, 2023), “On Golden Pond” (Feb. 17-March 5, 2023)

—Florida Repertory Theatre, 2268 Bay St., downtown Fort Myers. 332-4488 or  floridarep. org


“Rocky Horror Show” (Oct. 20-30): The community theater opens its second season with the ever-popular horror/sci-fi musical, including  two midnight performances. Audience participation is encouraged.

“The Sound of Music” (Dec. 9-24): The singing von Trapp family returns in the beloved, enduring Rodgers & Hammerstein musical packed with great songs. Includes a special Christmas Eve matinee.

“The Mousetrap” (January 12-22, 2023): Agatha Christie’s classic, edge-of-your-seat whodunit is the world’s longest-running play. Seven strangers find themselves stranded in a remote country guesthouse during a snow storm — and one of them is a murderer.

More at Fort Myers Theatre: “Little Women” (Feb. 3-12, 2023), “Godspell” (March 10-19), “Beauty and the Beast” (May 12-21).

— Fort Myers Theatre, 16120 San Carlos Blvd., No . 5, south Fort Myers. 323-6570 or ftmyerstheatre. com


“The Bad Seed” (Oct. 27-30):   Just in time for Halloween, the experimental Ghostbird Theatre Company takes on a more straightforward play than usual: The classic 1954 thriller in regards to a seemingly sweet little girl whose mother suspects she’s involved in a classmate’s death.   The show will be staged at downtown Fort Myers’ historic Langford-Kingston Home.

“Liminal Stories” (June 2023, venue and dates to be announced): Ghostbird regular Katelyn Gravel wrote this experimental piece that may end up being completely wordless (it’s still in development). The work is designed to “activate”  audience members’ memories “through shadow play, movement, soundscape, music, silence  and darkness. ”

More from Ghostbird: The annual  24 Hour Festival (dates to be announced).

— Ghostbird Theatre Company is based in Lee County, but doesn’t have a home stage. It stages site-specific productions at various locations. GhostbirdTheatreCompany. org


“The Thanksgiving Play” (Nov. 4-20): This play is scheduled to open on Broadway next year, but Lab Theater brings it to Southwest Florida first. In playwright Larissa FastHorse’s comedy, elementary-school teachers attempt to put on a culturally sensitive salute to Thanksgiving. But then things go hilariously wrong.  

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” (Dec. 9-Jan. 14): Lab stages the first of two musicals because of its 2022-23 season (the other is the ever-popular “Sweeney Todd”). The 1978 Tony Award-winning revue is based on the music of Fats Waller and set in the nightclubs of 1920s Manhattan.

“Pass Over” (March 31-April 15, 2023): In Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s politically charged riff on “Waiting for Godot” and the Book of Exodus, two men talk trash on a city street corner as they pass the time and hope today will be different. Then a stranger comes along and derails their plans. Director Spike Lee adapted the play in to a 2018 movie. A Southwest Florida premiere.

More at Lab Theater: “The Play That Goes Wrong” (Now through Oct. 8), The 24-Hour Playwriting Project (Oct. 22), “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Feb. 10-March 11, 2023)

—The Laboratory Theater of Florida, 1634 Woodford Ave., downtown Fort Myers. 218-0481 or laboratorytheaterflorida. com


“Snowbird Follies: A Holiday Musical” (Dec. 3-18): The MACC opens its 2nd season of professional, locally produced musicals with this world-premiere holiday revue. Written by stage director D. J. Salisbury and MACC founder/conductor Andrew Kurtz, the show combines Fort Myers history with holiday tunes “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus, ” White Christmas” and more.

“The Thing About Men” (Jan. 19-Feb. 4, 2023): The Southwest Florida premiere of Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’ sequel to the popular  “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. ” Based on the 1986 German movie “Men, ” the musical uses a love triangle to take a funny look at men, marriage, and friendship.

“Gypsy” (March 17-18, 2023 at Mann Hall): The full Gulf Coast Symphony orchestra takes the stage for the classic 1959 musical based on the memoirs of striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The show will be performed at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall with Tony Award-winning singer/actor Jodi Benson, best known as the voice of Ariel in the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid. ”

More from The MACC: “Forever Plaid” (Feb. 15-March 11, 2023), “Nunsense” (April 13-29, 2023)

— Music & Arts Community Center (The MACC), 13411 Shire Lane, Fort Myers. 277-1700 or gulfcoastsymphony. org


“Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” (Oct. 13-30): The community theater takes on the iconic horror story about Dr. Jekyll and his evil alter ego, Mr. Hyde — but with a steampunk twist. They’ll also perform  a number from the show on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Cape Coral steampunk convention SWFL SteamCon.

“Into the Woods” (April 13-30, 2023): Sondheim & Lapine’s irreverent fairytale musical remains one of the most popular shows out there, says New Phoenix president and co-founder Brenda Kensler. And that goes for the actors who will be performing this season. “It brought a lot of new faces to auditions, ” Kensler says, “and through that we have expanded our community… with a lot of amazing new young talent. ”

More at New Phoenix: “Side By Side Sondheim” (Jan. 12-22, 2023), “The Last Schwartz” (Feb. 16-26, 2023)

— New Phoenix Theatre, 13211 McGregor Blvd., Units 1 and 2, south Fort Myers.   284-5214 or newphoenixtheatrefortmyers. org


“A Very Pine Island Madrigal Dinner” (December 2022, date to be announced): The Pine Island community theater holds a theatrical dinner set in medieval times with singing and a play loosely in line with the island’s history.

“The Miracle Worker” (late February, early March 2023, dates to be announced): This American classic tells the true story of teacher Anne Sullivan and her famous blind and mute student, Helen Keller.

More at Pine Island Playhouse: “The BFG (Big Friendly Giant)” (May 2023, dates to be announced).

— Pine Island Playhouse, 5701 Pine Island Road N. W., Pine Island. 677-9492 or pineislandplayhouse. wordpress. com


“Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” (Oct. 25-Nov. 13): This will be the fourth time Players Circle artistic director Robert Cacioppo has directed the laugh-filled suspense comedy, he says. And there’s a reason for that. “Well, I enjoy watching audiences scream with laughter, ” he says. The story involves a love triangle and three botched murder plots at a Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn. The cast includes popular Southwest Florida comedian RC Smith.

“Admissions” (Jan. 3-22, 2023): Joshua Harmon’s witty, bitingly satiric 2019 dramedy about liberal parents desperate to get their children into an Ivy League prep school.

“The Foreigner”  (April 18-May 7, 2023): This play may have debuted in 1984, but Cacioppo says it’s particularly relevant with the modern rise of political extremism in the United States. In  Larry Shue’s comedy, the shy Charlie and his friend  go on a much-needed vacation in rural Georgia. Charlie dreads talking to people that he doesn’t know, so he  tells everybody he’s from an exotic foreign country and doesn’t speak English. Soon he finds himself overhearing more than that he should, including deep secrets and diabolical plans.

More at Players Circle: “The Lady with All the Answers (Nov. 29-Dec. 18), “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (Feb. 7-26, 2023),   “The Cocktail Hour” (March 14-April 2, 2023).

— Players Circle Theater at The Shell Factory, 16554 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers. 800-3292 or playerscircletheater. com


August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson” (Oct. 20-29): Theatre Conspiracy has pledged to tackle all 10 plays in Wilson’s famous “Century Cycle, ” and this may be the fifth play in that ongoing mission — an undertaking that fewer than 20 theaters have undertaken worldwide, says producing artistic director Bill Taylor. The “Century Cycle” chronicles the Black experience in the 20th century.

Set in Pittsburgh after The Great Depression, “The Piano Lesson” follows a brother and sister arguing over what to do with a family heirloom, a piano decorated with carvings by an enslaved ancestor.

“The Parking Lot” (Dec. 8-18): Another play from Adam Symkowicz, the playwright behind Theatre Conspiracy’s popular recent production of the comedy “Clown Bar. ” Written to be performed outdoors during the pandemic, the two-person play sees a married couple deciding their future in a public parking lot. The play will undoubtedly be performed in the Alliance parking lot with people bringing their own chairs.

“The Last Show” (Feb. 16-26, 2023):   Professional local actor Derek Lively writes and performs this world-premiere play occur an illegal underground nightclub in a city where all art and public social gatherings have been banned. A performance artist risks arrest to perform for his dying mother.

More at Theatre Conspiracy: “Faceless” (Jan. 19-29, 2023), “The Hatmaker’s Wife” (March 16-26, 2023)

— All shows performed by Theatre Conspiracy. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. 939-2787 or ArtInLee. org/Theatre


“Driving Miss Daisy” (Sept. 30-Oct. 1 . ): Theater comes to the new Tribby Arts Center for the first time with Florida Rep’s production of Alfred Uhry’s 1987 play. The story follows the growing friendship between an elderly, sharp-tongued white woman and the thoughtful Black man she hires to drive her around. The Pulitzer Prize winner was later adapted into a 1989 movie starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.

“Love Letters” (Feb. 13, 2023): Just with time for Valentine’s Day: A. R. Gurney’s popular romance about first loves and second chances. The story is told through five decades of notes, letters and cards between a man and a woman whose relationship goes through many changes. The show stars a real-life Southwest Florida couple: Florida Rep artistic director Greg Longenhagen and his wife, actor Liz Abbott.

More from Tribby Arts Center: “Botanic Garden” (Nov. 18-19)

— Tribby Arts Center at Shell Point Retirement Community, 17281 On Par Blvd., south Fort Myers.   415-5667 or  TribbyArtsCenter. com

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