755 8th Avenue South, Naples, FL
NAPLES — The Norris Community Center’s 2010-11 season has added a second trump card: drama.
The city-owned center at Eighth Avenue and Eighth Street South has become known as a bluegrass home base for local aficionados, and last year some of the best tuned up there. This year, the music returns, as do some of the stars: Lou Reid and Carolina, the Bluegrass Parlor Band and the piece de resistance, a “Neapolitan Opry” fashioned after the old radio program “Grand Ol’ Opry.” The Opry features a broad spectrum of local talent, and slips in locally announced commercials, as the program did in its early years.
But this year, the center has upped its ante in theater experience, according to Jennifer Fox, park manager for the center. The center is already home to the Gulfshore Playhouse, which has scheduled its four-play season for the year already. But that will be only one-third of the dramatic offerings.
“I get as many local acts as I can,” Fox said, counting off “Love Letters,” a production of two local actors, as well as Naples City Improv, a skit- and role-playing comedy troupe. Janina Birtolo, a Neapolitan known for her one-woman shows, brings in a British spy biography and Funny Divas is some gender-render comedy from four Sarasota-area comediennes.
But Dick McGee, a southwestern Michigan consultant who winters in Naples, came to Fox with an idea after he saw one of the center’s one-woman plays in 2010.
“Initially we were just talking about one, but the stories he was giving me were so interesting we expanded it to a five-part series, running January through March,” Fox said. During that time, audiences can see McGee transport the audience from a table seat in the Coca-Cola marketing department to the mind of General George Custer’s wife to the workings of America’s best-known villain, Benedict Arnold.
For information and tickets, call the center at 213-3054.
Following is the 2010-2011 season at the center:
Naples City Improv, a series of fast-paced, unscripted games by the local comedy troupe. Sit back and enjoy or participate by offering your suggestions to this family-friendly troupe. 8 p.m. Sept. 10 and 0ct. 10; $15
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. 0ct. 8; $15
Allen Mills, composer and performer, and Lost & Found, a veteran bluegrass band with roots that date back to 1973. Info: lostandfoundbluegrass.com. 7 p.m. Oct. 9, $18 advance, $21 day of show
Peter Rowan, five-time Grammy winner and an alumnus of Bill Monroe and “Old and In the Way with Jerry Garcia.” Rowan brings his own bluegrass band. See www.peterrowan.com. 7 p.m. Oct. 20. $22 advance, $25 day of show
“Tuesdays With Morrie” based on the bestselling book by Mitch Albom, Gulfshore Playhouse, playing Oct. 29 through Nov. 21, preview performance Oct. 28. For ticket prices and times, (866) 811-4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org
Darren Beachley, with regional bluegrass favorite bands including Country Gentlemen, the Seldom Scene, Bluegrass Cardinals and Chesapeake. Adjacent to the center at Cambier Park. 7 p.m. Nov. 6. $20.
“A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra,” with Ray Livosi singing the famous crooner’s hits. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2-4. $25
Paradise Coastmen Barbershop Chorus, a local 60-man a capella singing group with a repertoire of harmonized Christmas favorites — and some surprises. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10. $15
“Neapolitan Opry,” a show of local talent that includes well-known names such as Frank Corso, Frontline Bluegrass, the Whole Tones, Monroe Station and more. 7 p.m. Dec. 11. $20 advance, $23 day of show
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. Dec. 17; $15
A Norris Center Christmas featuring Charles Dickens' “Christmas Carol,” with a party for the audience following. 10 a.m. Dec. 18. $12
Bluegrass Parlor Band, with guests mark Kreitzer and the Walker Brothers, 7 p.m. Dec. 18. $18 advance $20 day of show
“Bugles in the Afternoon,” a one-actor story of Custer’s last stand, and the woman who takes it on herself to keep the general’s fame alive. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13. $12
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. Jan. 14; $15
Lou Reid and Carolina, nationally known bluegrass performers back by popular demand. 7 p.m. Jan. 15. $22 advance, $25 day of show
“It’s the Real Thing,” one-man show on the evolution of Coca-Cola’s most famous advertising campaigns, including the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” performance on air, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20. $12
Roy Book Binder, bluegrass from the former associate of blues legend “Reverend” Gary Davis, with Andy Wahlberg on harp guitar. 7 p.m. Jan. 22. $20 advance, $23 day of show
“Unnecessary Farce” by Paul Slade Smith, Gulfshore Playhouse. The play is characterized as “Two cops. Three crooks. Eight doors. Go!” Jan. 28 through Feb. 13, preview show Jan. 27. For ticket prices and times, (866) 811-4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org
“Love Letters,” bittersweet tale of lifelong correspondence between two mismatched, yet perfectly matched people, starring Carole Fenstermacher and Val Kuffel, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31. $18
“Ghosts of the Desert,” one-woman show with Janina Birtolo, telling the tale of a British woman who spied for the Allies in World War II. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16. $12
“Beer, Barons and Business: A Coors Family Rocky Mountain Mystery,” a one-man show recalling the mysterious murder of Adolph Coors and revealing the family business he shaped. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17. $12
Sierra Hull and Highway 111, Americana music by the rising singer, a guitar and mandolin player, with her band. 7 p.m. Feb. 18. $20 advance, $23 day of show
“Frank Sinatra: Let the Romance Continue,” starring Ray Livosi performing Sinatra’s famous love songs. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19. $25
“Benedict Arnold,” a one-man show that explores the life of the man whose name became synonymous with “traitor,” and what brought about the course he pursued. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24. $12
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. Feb. 25; $15
“Hey Hey Hey! She’s Funny!” a standup comedy show featuring four comediennes with stories both sweet and funny. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26. $18
“A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller, Gulfshore Playhouse, March 4 through 20, preview show March 3. For ticket prices and times, (866) 811-4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org
“‘Gone With the Wind’: The Writing of the Book and the Making of the Film,” a one-actor show following the story from Margaret Mitchell on its tumultuous way to the Oscars. 7:30 p.m. March 24. $12
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. March 25; $15
Naples City Improv, (see September) 8 p.m. April 1 and again May 6; $15
Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” Gulfshore Playhouse, April 8 through 23, preview show April 7. For ticket prices and times, (866) 811-4111 or www.gulfshoreplayhouse.org