The new season of outdoor entertainment from The Naples Players has already begun with bi-monthly drive-in movies off 5th Avenue South.
In October, outdoor live theatre events in several Collier County parks begin with the charming real-life tale of Yours, Truly. The cabaret musical, set in the jazz era, will take the stage in Naples Cambier Park Oct. 9 through Oct. 17. The musical is based on the true story of Lee and Annette Kelson, whose son, Gary, is a Naples resident.
The musical follows the rising stardom of singer-songwriter Lee Kelson who gave up his fame to become a family man and a furniture salesman – a sacrifice that was not truly revealed until after his passing in 2000.
Prior to his humble days in furniture sales, Lee crooned with the big names of the day: the Jackie Gleason Orchestra, Clooney sisters, Glen Miller, the Modernaires. He was a regular on WLW in Cincinnati, a powerhouse radio station heard nearly everywhere east of the Mississippi during World War II.
Occasionally, in Kelson’s audience, a young singer would drop by to sit silently in a corner taking mental notes; that man was a young Frank Sinatra!
But shortly after his wife, Ann – a former Rockette and show business personality herself – became pregnant, Lee was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a three-month USO tour abroad with the glamorous Marlene Dietrich. This crossroads and Lee’s decision would shape the rest of the Kelson’s life and love story.
Gary Kelson came up with the idea to bring his father’s music and story to the public, but he began writing it as a screenplay first.
“I would like to think I helped put my father back in show business, even if he’s gone,” said Gary.
While the story is a timeline of the Kelson’s life together, the show’s centerpiece is really Lee Kelson’s own music – whimsical tunes and sentimental songs that were discovered after his passing.
The Naples Players production is built specifically for audiences in Cambier Park, with Gary playing himself. Longtime TNP favorite Dave Gipson plays Lee alongside Naples newcomer and jazz singer Suzanne Sole as Annette. Kent Nicholson, director of musical theater development at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, is coming to Naples to lead the creative team.
Performances will be Oct. 9, 10, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 and 17 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now at www.NaplesPlayers.org or by calling the TNP box office at 239-263-7990.