Show-Stopping Finale

Wow—here it is the first week of April already. The season has really flown by, especially for those of us associated with Gulfshore Playhouse. It seems like Producing Artistic Director Kristen Coury, just announced what would be “Our Spectacular Seventh Season.” And it has been spectacular in many ways.

   To begin the season October 20, Coury took a radical detour from the normal way of putting on a play. She staged two productions at the same time, calling it “Reza in Rep,” as she decided to take on two Tony Award-winning plays by Yasmina Reza and put them on simultaneously, alternating days. I thought it had to be impossible since I know how much work Coury goes through to put on one play at a time.

Johnnie Hobbs and Biko Eisen Martin - Gulfshore Playhouse

   Silly me to doubt Kristen Coury. Reza’s Art and God of Carnage went off without a hitch and drew accolades all around. Thanks to the generosity of show sponsors Patty and Jay Baker and Coury’s deep talents, Gulfshore Playhouse’s season was off to a remarkable start.

   In January came another amazing production called I Am My Own Wife, based on the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German cross-dressing museum owner who survived the Nazi regime and the East German Communist regime. Kraig Swartz (who auditioned already knowing every line in the play) was the only actor in the show, which called for him to play all 37 roles effortlessly. Swartz was brilliant.

   The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde came in February and brought wonderful comic relief to an otherwise serious season. The Norris Center was sold out nearly every night for this classic.

   Most recently was a production of The Whipping Man by Matthew Lopez. It takes place just after the Civil War is over and involves only three characters—a Jewish Confederate soldier returning from battle and his two former slaves, who remained at his abandoned plantation. Bob and I were unable to attend the Opening Night performance, but the day after it opened, we were hearing immediately that this just might be the very best production ever put on by Gulfshore Playhouse. And nearly every day after that, I received calls and email that said the same. When Bob and I finally had the chance to see it, we discovered what folks were raving about and watched with satisfaction as attendees jumped to their feet in a roaring standing ovation for three actors who made believers out of all of us.

   Now comes the final play of Gulfshore Playhouse’s season. Master Class by Terrence McNally opens Friday, April 5, and continues through April 21. For those who have not experienced this masterpiece about Maria Callas, it is a definite must-see. There is no doubt in my mind that Coury will rock the house once again with the actors she brings to Southwest Florida and her talent in directing yet another classic—only with Master Class, the house she rocks will be totally different. Thanks to the outreach of Kathleen van Bergen, Gulfshore Playhouse will stage “Master Class” in the Daniels Pavilion at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples.

   All of us who have been associated with Gulfshore Playhouse since the beginning are without a doubt over the moon about partnering with the long-standing, highly regarded Phil. Tickets can be purchased through Gulfshore Playhouse either by phone at 1-866-811-4111 or logging on to

   Finally, and on a totally uplifting and happy note, Kristen Coury, on behalf of Gulfshore Playhouse, received the most astounding gift just this last week. Patty and Jay Baker, one of the most philanthropic couples on our paradise coast, donated $100,000 to the Playhouse. To say that we are thrilled and excited just begins to describe how we feel about this generous endorsement. Gulfshore Playhouse has truly had a “Spectacular 7th Season.”


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