New family musical at Lyric

Friday, September 18, 2015

Shelley Koppel
Staff writer
Your Voice News & Views

STUART — The best way to introduce young audiences to the delights of live theater is to take them to see live theater. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of opportunities in the area for family-friendly, high-quality entertainment.

Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach has created Riverside Theatricals, a division of the theater that will focus on the creation of new musicals. The first, “Poodleful, A K9 Mystery Musical,” will be presented at the Lyric Theatre in StuartSept. 25.

The show, written by Ken Clifton and DJ Salisbury, is based on the book “Pansy at the Palace” by Cynthia Bardes. It follows the adventures of Pansy the poodle and her “person,” Avery, at the glamourous Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Jon Moses, the Riverside’s managing director and chief operating officer, said that it is a long-standing desire of Riverside Theatre CEO Allen Cornell and musical director Clifton to create new works.

“We’re starting with children’s productions,” Moses said. “It’s a little niche of the market we felt was underserved. We wanted to help beef up the amount of entertainment for younger families.”

The show begins with Pansy as a “poodle in waiting,” looking for a person to adopt her. When Avery comes long, the two are very happy. Then a mysterious theft happens that threatens to close the hotel. Pansy helps solve the mystery.

For Moses and the creative team, choosing this particular production was a matter of timing.

“We just so happened to have the book in front of us,” Moses said. The author, Cynthia Bardes, had dropped off a copy of the book to Allen. She’s local and accessible. When you’re looking for new works, there are things in the public domain and those where you have to negotiate permission with the author. She’s fond of the theater and we were able to quickly contact her and negotiate it. She was thrilled we were using her book to launch a new project.”

The cast of six for the show is made up of young professionals.

“They’re all fresh out of college,” Moses said. “They are with us for the entire year. The show opens at the Riverside Sept. 18 and at the Lyric Sept. 25. We have an engagement in Gainesville Nov. 12 at the Florida Theatre Conference. We’re hoping to pick up additional dates. All of the actors are also in one show or another in the two Main Stage shows. It’s an incredible opportunity for young performers.”

Moses said a second production is in the works. While he wasn’t ready to give out details, he said it would be for children and families.
“You have to start at a young age,” he said. “That’s why we’re starting the way we are starting. We’re building the audiences for tomorrow by getting them accustomed to the theater.

“Poodleful” will be presented at the Lyric Theatre Sept. 25. Tickets are $15. Visit the website or call the box office at (772) 286-7827.