September preview: Don’t wait for the snowbirds, let’s get social

Marco Eagle

It’s beginning to feel a lot like season. Everywhere you can go. The theater, the art and nature excursions to delight.   

The intimacy of the Arts Center Theatre, with only 83 seats, is the ideal venue to see a first-class production in Southwest Florida.

Arts Center Theatre inaugural season

One thing I’m excited about is the new Arts Center Theatre, the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ expansion in the performing arts world. Tickets are no sale now and you won’t want to miss any of the six award-winning theatrical productions in its first season at the theatre located in Marco Town Center.

“The reaction and support by the community to our schedule of five plays and a musical has been outstanding,” said Hyla Crane, executive director for both the Marco Island Center for the Arts and Arts Center Theatre. “Our subscription season ticket sales exceeded expectations.”

Neil Simon, Carol Burnett and Jeff Daniels are just a few of the iconic playwrights whose award-winning comedies will be presented this season along with the longest running musical in the world, “The Fantasticks.”

The intimacy of the Arts Center Theatre, with only 83 seats, is the ideal venue to see a first-class production in Southwest Florida.

The first production of the season, “Apartment 3A”, written by entertainment legend Jeff Daniels, and directed by local theatre educator Chris Dayett opens on Oct. 26 and runs through Nov.13.

The other theatrical productions, also on sale now include “The Fantasticks,” “The Odd Couple (female version),” “Plaza Suite,” “Hollywood Arms,” and “The Foreigner.” Tickets are $35 for members of the Marco Island Center for the Arts $40 for non-members and available on

“This is just the start,” said Charlie Blum chair of the Arts Center Theatre committee.  “We look forward to making other exciting programming announcements very soon.”

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‘Beer for Breakfast’

Just up the road in Golden Gate, The Studio Players are preparing “Beer for Breakfast.” The comedy that turns a guys' fishing cabin weekend on its head when, instead of their buddy, his wife shows up.

The Studio Players rehearses a contemporary comedy on politics, gun control and religion called 'Church and State' at the Golden Gate Community Center on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

The show is 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Sept. 23-Oct. 9. Joan Jenks Auditorium, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples.

Tickets are $30, $15 with student with ID. Information: or 239-398-9192.

‘Abandoned Vehicles of the Everglades’

“Abandoned Vehicles of the Everglades” is a journey into night photography deep in the heart of the Everglades. Through a decade of research and effort between Matt Stock and Charles J. Kropke, this series of photographs creates nighttime environmental portraits of vehicles long abandoned in the Everglades, including close to 70 vehicles from Central Florida to the Redlands.

The exhibit starts Sept. 10 and runs through Dec. 31. There will be an opening reception/talk form 5-7 p.m., Sept. 10; talk at 6. Naples Depot Museum 1051 Fifth Ave S., Naples. 

Information at 239-252-8419 or

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‘Birds of Paradise’

And let’s not forget, September is the last month to check out the fabulous “Birds of Paradise” exhibit at the Marco Island Historical Museum, 180 S. Heathwood Drive, Marco Island.

"On the Rocks" by Inez Hudson

It’s an exhibition of works by talented local artist Inez Hudson, award-winning painter of birds, nature and wildlife of the Everglades.

Information: 239-252-1440 or the

Museum Day Live

Speaking of museums, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 is Museum Day Live! It’s an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors for free.

Collier County Museums’ five locations are always free, so they count!

One you may have missed before is the Naples Depot Museum, 1051 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. Visitors can tour Naples’ first passenger train station, participate in a scavenger hunt to win prizes, view unique vehicles and join in a full day of lively, educational activities for all ages. Local food offerings and information from countless civic and cultural organizations.

Information at or 239-252-8419.

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A slice of nature in Paradise – Rookery Bay

The attraction at 300 Tower Road, one of my favorites in Southwest Florida, features aquariums, a touch tank with marine critters, natural history exhibits, art gallery, gift shop, butterfly garden, picnic areas and walking trails.

A julia butterfly alights on a lantana in the new butterfly garden at the ELC. The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center has reopened, with new exhibits and activities, after being closed over a year due to COVID-19.

Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Admission of $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 benefits the Friends of Rookery Bay, a nonprofit that supports the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Guests may apply their admission fee toward Friends of Rookery Bay membership on the day of their visit. Active and retired military personnel and family members are free year-round, as are guests on kayak and boat ecotours booked through Friends of Rookery Bay. More at or call 239-530-5972.

Waterlily Weekend

Take a guided tour of the waterlily collections, experience a New Waterlily Competition up close, and see the "Christy Noonan: Meditations on Waterlilies" exhibition during Waterlily Weekend. It’s from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday Sept. 3-4 at the Naples Botanical Garden, 2480 Bayshore Drive, Naples.

On Sept. 3 only, meet artist Christy Noonan in Kapnick Hall from 9 until 10:30 a.m., and at 10 a.m., enjoy a special hybridizing demonstration by Brandon McLane of Florida Aquatic Nurseries in the Water Garden.

The weekend will be filled with demonstrations, family-friendly activities, and special curator talks. Included with admission, which is discounted for visitors from Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties to $12 Adults, $3 ages 4-17. Prices are in effect through Sept. 30, and include $8 for dogs during Sunday and Tuesday dog walking days, 9-11 a.m. 

Movies classics at Silverspot

If sitting in a nice cool theater is more your thing, I’ve got just the event for you.

The cinema at The Mercato in North Naples is showing film classics on the big screen for two weekends. The 1973 movie "American Graffit" — co-starring Ron Howard, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Richard Dreyfuss — will be shown Aug. 28-31. And the 1958 sci-fi horror fiction flick “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen will be featured Sept. 4-7. "The Blob" is also being presented with enhanced, digital sound and laser projection. Both films are rated PG and are age-appropriate for the entire family to enjoy. 

For screening times, online ticketing reservations and a full menu visit

Dave OsbornHarriet Howard Heithaus contributed to this report.