From majestic ice castles to backyard winter grilling with Chef Nick Rabar and community spotlights on what makes Southern New England such a special place to live, Simply Southern New England is a new lifestyle program determined to showcase the heart of local business and culture. Even better, the production team looks forward to bringing back the hometown feel and cultural livelihood every New Englander is craving after months and months of shutdowns in the wake of a global pandemic.
“We are looking to highlight the people and businesses that make the area what it is,” Producer Alexandra Contos said. “Even though the pandemic has put us on pause, there are still ways to be safely connected to our communities and make sure we’re all moving forward together.”
“I’m excited that our show producer, Alex, is really hungry to not just stick with the usual suspects in terms of what we are featuring, and to kind of think outside the box and look for undiscovered gems in our community. There are so many!” Show host Rebecca Gibel explained. “Even during this time of COVID, there is so much to be discovered.”
Gibel fell in love with Rhode Island while working toward her MFA from Brown University and Trinity Repertory Company, which she earned in 2010. Though much of her former work has been in live theatre or narrative television and film, Gibel’s natural curiosity for discovery and knack for chatting up people at the dog park and grocery store make her a genuine fit for hosting Simply Southern.
“I was excited to move to Rhode Island and be part of the arts community here because the impact an artist has on a smaller community like this, I think, is far greater than an oversaturated market in a larger city,” Gibel said. “It was an easy choice to put down roots here because the community is so rich in culture and food and diversity, and the geographical location is just beautiful.”
A well-rounded performer and artist who has worked across the country, Gibel can be seen recurring on AMC’s “NOS4A2,” with roles on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU,” HBO’s “The Plot Against America,” Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” CBS’s “Blue Bloods,” with Sienna Miller in “American Woman,” and with Mark Wahlberg in Netflix’s “Spenser Confidential,” directed by Peter Berg.
Her voice can be heard in over 100 audio books, and now, she’s ecstatic to be narrating the stories that give her own community a hometown vibe and a lot of character.
“I just love discovering people,” Gibel said. “There’s something so human and inspiring about connecting with your immediate community.”
Gibel and her husband, Charlie, are resident actors at Trinity Rep in Providence. Like so many others, they have tried to do their own part to support local restaurants and shops during the trying times of COVID-19. Knowing one household can only make so much of an impact, Gibel hopes the platform of a lifestyle program will give her the opportunity to put a spotlight on the people and places that might have been struggling this past year.
“It’s a show that enriches our own lives and also shows how to reach out to the community and enrich others through our actions and our intention, so I’m thrilled about that,” Gibel said. “I think it’s just a jumping off point to dive into the local food and culture scene.”
Simply Southern New England hopes to bring back a much desired feeling of normalcy, reminding its audience that life is moving forward, people are hopeful and local businesses are doing their best to stay alive and rebuild.
“There are a lot of businesses that used their space to host events and served as a gathering place for the neighborhood, like the Savoy Bookshop, which is featured in the first episode,” Contos said. “And now, they’re finding creative ways to keep people connected safely.”
“Simply Southern New England” premieres on Sunday, January 24th at 7:30pm with encore airings Wednesdays at 9:30pm and Saturdays at 2:00pm and 9:30pm on Cox’s YurView in Rhode Island. Each edition can also be seen here on YurView.com.