The Naples–Southwest Florida 2011-2012 season has started with a bang. Seemingly overnight, there are a zillion (a slight exaggeration, I know) more cars on U.S. 41. The restaurants are becoming more and more crowded as are shopping destinations—Waterside Shops and Mercato, to name two. But there are two even more specific signs, at least for me, that a new season has begun.
One is the opening of Gulfshore Playhouse, which launched its sixth season October 27 with the regional premiere of Handle with Care, a new romantic comedy, featuring Charlotte Cohn (pictured). Bob and I have been supporters, executive producers, and all-around cheerleaders of Gulfshore Playhouse since nearly its beginning. We are so proud of Kristen Coury, the Playhouse’s producing artistic director. Kristen’s unbridled enthusiasm, incredible talent and unstoppable perseverance is contagious and has helped to inspire us and so many others in growing Gulfshore Playhouse to be Naples first great professional theater company. Handle with Care runs through November 20. Other shows this season will be RACE by David Mamet (January 27-February 12), The Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig (March 2-23) and the classic A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (April 6-22). For tickets, 1-866-811-4111, gulfshoreplayhouse.org.
A second sign of the official beginning of the Naples season is arrival in the mailbox of the HUGE invitation to the sensational Naples Winter Wine Festival—and I am lucky enough to have one in my hot little hand. Each year, I am amazed at the detail and imagination—not to mention the hours of hard work—that make each year’s event better than the last. The Naples Winter Wine Festival is world-renowned, not only for three days of fabulous food, exceptional wines and spectacular venues, but also for the millions of dollars raised and donated to improve the lives of children in Collier County. More than $94.5 million has been raised since 2000. The dates for this season’s event are January 27-29 and the theme is “Believe in the Magic.” How appropriate.