Celebrate Labor Day with 9 to 5

Article by Lynnae Andersen

In 1882, New York City celebrated the progress labor unions had made in protecting workers’ rights with parades, parties, and a day off. By 1909 so many cities were joining in the celebration that the American Federation of Labor resolved to make the event a national holiday (US Department of Labor). Now we celebrate with family cookouts and–if you’re local to Independence like us–SantaCaliGon, a massive arts and culture festival at the heart of the historic square where the three trails West started.


Just down the hill from the crafts, carnival, music, popcorn, and root beer is the Roger T. Sermon Center, the home of our community theatre troupe since 1980. While our community relaxes with hot dogs and crafts, CTI is working 9 to 5 on 9 to 5 the Musical. The cast “clocks in” on Friday, September 8 and is sure to entertain you while shining light on issues many female workers faced in the workplace into the 1980s.

Director Christina Foltz’s vision for this show highlights the comedy of the story while also showcasing the struggles women faced in breaking through the glass ceiling. 9 to 5 the Musical follows the same plot as the 1980 movie that inspired it.


The show includes the titular song as well as other original songs written by Dolly Parton to enhance the minor adjustments Patricia Resnick made to the original story. Join Violet Newstead (HeatherAnne Norbury), Doralee Rhodes (Brittany Hill), and Judy Bernly (Danielle Gibbs) as they find their voices, fight for their workplace rights and hang their problems–namely their boss, Mr. Hart (Kevin Rehrer)–out to dry.

The show runs Friday-Sunday, September 8-10 and 15-17. Tickets are available via CTI’s website and at the door, but get them fast: Opening Night is selling out fast!




Into the Woods Returns to CTI

After the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season due to the pandemic, City Theatre of Independence is proud to bring Into the Woods back for its final production of the 2022-2023 season.

Into the Woods is a well loved musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. The original Broadway production opened November 5th, 1987. The production starred the fabulous Bernadette Peters as the Witch. It has had three revivals and has been performed countless times in theatres all over the world.

The plot of Into the Woods weaves togethers well-known classic fairy tales. Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk) all journey into the woods on their own adventures and ultimately are brought together through the quest of a childless Baker and his wife. The Baker and his wife are sent into the woods to retrieve ingredients for a potion that a witch has instructed them to find. In exchange for the ingredients, the witch promises that the couple will conceive a child. Each character leaves the woods having grown and changed.

City Theatre of Independence is pleased to welcome back Shari Wassergord as director of Into the Woods. Shari Wassergord was originally set to direct the production before it was canceled in 2020.

City Theatre of Independence’s production of INTO THE WOODS features the talents of:

  • Kristen Alley – the Witch
  • Ken Koval – the Baker
  • Katie Rezabek-Laird – the Baker’s Wife
  • Elizabeth Schoenborn – Cinderella
  • Sam Day – Jack
  • McKenzie Rice – Little Red Ridinghood
  • Norita Taylor – Jack’s Mother
  • Hailey Sage – Rapunzel/Cinderella understudy
  • Zack Isbell – the Wolf, Cinderella’s Father
  • Matthew Emerick – Cinderella’s Prince
  • Andrew Braams – Rapunzel’s Prince
  • Sharon Johnson – the Giant/Cinderella’s Mother/Granny
  • Jesse Hamm – the Narrator/Mysterious Man
  • Brandis Outlaw – Stepmother
  • Maddy Philipp – Florinda
  • Sophie Gliser – Lucinda
  • Josh Keen – Steward
  • Emmie Esch – Snow White/women’s ensemble and Little Red understudy
  • Kileigh Mannering – Sleeping Beauty/Assistant Stage Manager


Into the Woods runs June 2nd through June 11th at the Roger T. Sermon Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance at:–musical/

Moonlight and Magnolias

Can this screenplay be fixed before production is “gone with the wind?”

City Theatre of Independence is proud to present Moonlight and Magnolias, a comedic play written by Ron Hutchinson. Our cast features the amazing talents of Nino Casisi as David O. Selznick, Jack McCord as Ben Hecht, Ray Ettinger as Victor Fleming, and Maddy Phillip as Miss Poppenghul. The production is directed by Melissa Trierweiler and stage managed by Andrew Draker.

What is Moonlight and Magnolias about? The film Gone With the Wind is in the midst of production, but the director needs to be canned and the screenplay needs a complete overhaul. Hollywood producer David O. Selznick is determined to get everything back on track. The catch? He only has five days to do it, his writer has never read the novel, and his choice of director is busy filming The Wizard of Oz. Hilarity ensues as this team scrambles to make movie magic.

Who really are these characters? David O. Selznick was an American film producer best known for his work on Gone With the Wind, but also won the Academy Award for Outstanding Production for the 1940 film adaptation of Daphne du Maurie’s novel Rebecca. Selznick has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the film industry. Victor Fleming was a Hollywood director who has gone down in infamy as the man who slapped actress Judy Garland on set of The Wizard of Oz – a moment that gets brought up in the action of Moonlight and Magnolias. While The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind are his two most successful films, his directing career spanned approximately 30 years. Ben Hecht was the screenplay writer for Gone With the Wind, but he was also a novelist, journalist, director, producer, and playwright. He is regarded as one of the most successful screenplay writers in motion picture history. He was credited for having a knack for writing realistic dialogue and outrageous but well grounded plots.

Moonlight and Magnolias was first produced in 2004 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. City Theatre of Independence’s production opens March 24th and runs through April 2nd. Mature audience is suggested due to offensive language. The board of directors would also like to advise any audience members with peanut allergies to take caution as the actors consume peanuts onstage.

Tickets are available for purchase at:–magnolias/

Introducing City Theatre of Independence’s 44th Season

It is an exciting time for all those involved with CTI. The Board of Directors has just announced the 2023-2024 season’s shows. Over the past few months, the Season Selection Committee has been collecting show suggestions from its membership to be considered for the upcoming season. Members were asked to fill out a Google Form and submit musicals and plays of any genre that they would be interested in seeing and/or participating in for the next season.

The Committee and Board met to discuss all show suggestions. Each show was categorized by style of show (musical or straight play), and then categorized further by genre (musical, comedy, mystery/thriller, drama). At the January Board meeting, each category was culled down to three to four shows each voted on by present Board and Season Selection Committee members. From that list, the 15 people, composed of the Committee and Board of Directors, voted for two musicals and one straight play from each of the categories.

Instead of making one big announcement once results had been tallied, the marketing committee decided to play a game on social media with CTI followers. Every day for five days, marketing posted a video to the CTI Facebook page with clues and followers were asked to comment on the video with their guess as to what show they thought it was. The first person to comment with the correct show was deemed the winner, rewarded with a free ticket to the show they correctly guessed.

The Board of Directors is proud to announce the shows for CTI’s 44th season:

  • “9 to 5 the Musical” (September 8-10 & September 15-17, 2023)
  • “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” (November 3-5 & November 10-12, 2023)
  • “Arsenic and Old Lace” (January 5-7 & January 12-14, 2024)
  • “The Diary of Anne Frank” (March 28-30 & April 15-17, 2024)
  • “Little Shop of Horrors” (May 31- June 2 & June 7-9, 2024)


Director Applications for the 2023-2024 season are currently being accepted. If you are interested in directing one of these shows, please fill out this Google Doc:

Applications will be accepted through February 28, 2023.

An Interview with playwright Tom Dudzick

It is a unique and exciting opportunity for any aspiring writer to have a conversation with a professional writer about the craft. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Tom Dudzick, the playwright of City Theatre of Independence’s upcoming production Miracle on South Division Street.

LIZZIE: Can you describe your creative process?

TOM: First, I think of a subject I’d love to write about. Then, I come up with a way that characters on a stage could physicalize that subject. Then I check in with my “How to Write a Play” books and follow all their rules. …That’s basically it. The rest is just gruntwork.

LIZZIE: How long does it usually take you to write a play?

TOM: It varies, of course. Three months to a year or more for a rehearsable first draft. I always tell myself that with my next play I’m going to write down what day I started and finished so the next time someone asks me, I’ll know. But then I forget to do that.

LIZZIE: What do you do to help keep you focused and motivated when working on a writing project?

TOM: I’m very lucky. The fun of writing a play is motivation enough. I don’t need anything external. The vision of that end result, which is my characters on a stage telling my story – that’s what drives me.

LIZZIE: What is it like getting to see your writing come to life on stage?

TOM: When it goes well, it is thoroughly satisfying. It’s the big payoff of my childhood desire – to make people laugh. What could feel better?

LIZZIE: What do you hope to gain from each new project?

TOM: Productions, productions, productions. Because those are what affords me the freedom to keep doing what I love. I know as an artist I’m supposed to be suffering, but very little suffering goes on when I’m writing. I’m weird that way.

LIZZIE: What was the inspiration behind Miracle on South Division Street?

TOM: The inspiration was my fascination with the story. The story that a barber believed he was visited by the Blessed Mother, was so moved by this “miracle” that he had a shrine built! And that it happened in my neighborhood, right across the street! I used to go to the man for haircuts. He only charged 25 cents. (There’s your miracle right there!) The inspiration was the burning desire to somehow get this improbable story onto a stage.

LIZZIE: If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring playwrights, what would it be?

TOM: Keep submitting your play, to any venue. Get it read, get it seen. See it in front of an audience and learn from it. Why did this section not work? Why did that section work so well? Get involved in your theatre community. And educate yourself. Keep reading those “How to Write a Play” books.

LIZZIE: In your opinion, what is the most important skill a playwright could have?

TOM: A willingness, nay, a desire to rewrite. As is often said, “Plays aren’t written, they’re rewritten.”

Thank you, Tom, for allowing me to pick your brain.

City Theatre of Independence’s production of Tom Dudzick’s play Miracle on South Division Street runs January 6th through January 15th, 2023 at the Roger T. Sermon Center.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at:


City Theatre of Independence presents:
DEATHTRAP by Ira Levin

It’s autumn, which means the media is full of the spooky and suspenseful. City Theatre of Independence is excited to present audiences with the hit thriller, Deathtrap by Ira Levin.

Deathtrap is about a successful playwright, Sidney Bruhl, struggling to pen his next great play. He is contacted by aspiring writer, Clifford Anderson, who may have just written the next smash hit. Professional jealousy, betrayal, and murder plots will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Things are not as they seem, and trust no one.

Deathtrap is the record holder as the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway. It was successfully adapted for the screen for the 1982 film which featured Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve as Sidney Bruhl and Clifford Anderson.

City Theatre of Independence’s production of Deathtrap, directed by Taylor Neill, runs November 4th-13th at the Roger T. Sermon Center and features the talents of:

  • Kyle Tichenor as Sidney Bruhl
  • Taylor Neill as Myra Bruhl
  • Sam Stapp as Clifford Anderson
  • Wendy Morris as Helga ten Dorp
  • Josh Jackson as Porter Milgrim


Tickets can be purchased in advance at:

‘Tis the Season to be Spooky!

Autumn is upon us and with the changing of the leaves comes all the fall activities. Apple picking, ghost tours, taking the kids to the pumpkin patch…there’s just so much fun to be had this time of year. City Theatre of Independence is proud to be participating in not one, but TWO Halloween community events: Enchanted Forest and a Haunted House attraction in partnership with the Cable Dahmer Arena.

Enchanted Forest is a non-scary, family friendly Halloween event for children of all ages held at the George Owens Nature Park. Enchanted Forest is sponsored by The Powerhouse Theatre Foundation and Independence Parks and Recreation. This event will be held October 21-22  and October 28-29. Gates open at 7:00pm and everyone arriving by 9:00pm will be admitted. Tickets are $3 per person at the gate. Thursday, October 20th, is Special Friends Night. This is a night dedicated to children with special needs. This year, Enchanted Forest is celebrating its 30th anniversary. For more information on Enchanted Forest please call (816) 325-7115 or (816) 325-7370.

City Theatre of Independence is proud to announce a new community partnership with the Cable Dahmer Arena in presenting a Haunted House attraction. This free community event will be held at the Cable Dahmer Arena (19100 E Valley View Pkwy, Independence, MO. 64055) on October 20th from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. The theme is “Victorian Gothic” and will feature familiar characters from classic gothic horror novels with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Red Death” as the underlying story. We still have several roles in this haunted attraction available. If you are interested in performing as one of our  characters please submit this form:

Anyone interested in helping with technical support can email Lizzie DeShaw at .

We hope you’ll join us at one (or both) of our community Halloween events this year.

Stay spooky, my friends!

Hannah Williams

Understudies: The Unsung Heroes of the Theatre

Urinetown director, Coralyn Martin, has created an ensemble cast of understudy actors who will perform as a principal role in one performance each during the run of the production. I have asked understudy actress, Hannah Williiams, to speak on her experience with this unique production.

What role(s) are you an understudy for?

HANNAH: I am the understudy for Penelope Pennywise, which has been a role that I have wanted to perform since I was in the ensemble of this show in high school over 13 years ago. I am so thrilled to get to go on as this character.

What challenges have you faced in learning two roles for this production?

HANNAH: This is the first time that I have been an understudy, so it has been a challenge from the beginning, but an enjoyable one. I would say the biggest challenge has been making sure I know where I need to be and when. Learning lines is always kind of routine, you drill them until you can’t help but know them. But when you have to remember two sets of blocking, it can get tricky. Particularly when you don’t really get to run your understudy blocking as much during rehearsals.

Can you share a funny story and/or particularly fond memory you’ve made in this experience?

HANNAH: There are many small moments over the whole process of the show that I will hold very close to my heart. This is the first musical I have been able to do in close to 8 years, and it has been the most fun I’ve had in those 8 years. I believe I have made some lifelong friends. The people in this cast, and our incredible director and vocal director, have been such a joy to work with and are just so TALENTED. I think the memory that sticks out most to me would be callbacks, which most of the cast were invited to. I personally didn’t know anyone there at the time. During the callbacks everyone was incredibly welcoming and encouraging to each other. We would cheer for and laugh at each other, there was sharing of cough drops, and commiserating about how challenging certain parts were. There was no animosity or sense of competition, we were just all there to have fun. All of us just wanted to put on a great show, something that I believe we have definitely accomplished.

When can audiences see you as Penelope Pennywise?

HANNAH: I go on as Penelope Pennywise on Saturday September 17th. The show is going to be fantastic any night you come. Cora Hoaglin as Penelope Pennywise is hilarious, and special shout out to the talented Aaron Hoffman for coming into the show directly from Lil’ Abner to be my understudy for Senator Fipp so I can go on as Penelope Pennywise.

Urinetown opens this Friday, September 9th, at the Roger T. Sermon Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance at:

Come back on different nights to see these talented understudies portray their principal roles.

Malthusianism and Epic Theatre Urinetown as a Prime Example

What is Urinetown?
Urinetown is here!
It’s the “town” wherever
People learn to live in fear

– Lyrics from What is Urinetown

What is Urinetown? Just a silly, nonsensical musical, or is it something much more complex than that? 

Urinetown explores the economic philosophy of a Malthusian society. Malthusian theory, in simple terms, is an economic theory that explains human population grows at a significantly more rapid rate than the production of necessary resources and that the increase of population will decline the quality of human life. We see a perfect example of a Malthusian society in the setting of Urinetown. The story is set in a dystopian future where a water shortage has caused a worldwide crisis. To combat the minute availability of this critical resource, people must pay a fee to use public facilities. This has caused a rift in the socioeconomic structure of society. The rich can obviously afford to use the bathroom whenever the need arises, whereas the poor have to save every last penny in order to tend to their basic human needs. 

Urinetown is also an example of Brechtian “epic theatre.” The Brechtian technique features narrators who often “break the fourth wall” during the story as a way to force the audience to become conscious of the fact that they are watching a play. Brechtian epic theatre is used to cause audiences to think and reflect. The characters of Officer Lockstock and Little Sally are the narrators of Urinetown and have moments where they “break the fourth wall” to engage with the audience.

Urinetown also parodies several well-known musicals. The show features a pair of star-crossed lovers that are clearly a spoof of Tony and Maria from West Side Story. Moments of the rebellion parody Les Miserables and the plot is a clear parody of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, the “father” of Brechtian epic theatre. 

Urinetown is a thought-provoking, audience engaging experience under the guise of a silly, satirical musical. 

Urinetown runs September 9th-18th at the Roger T. Sermon Center. Tickets can be purchased in advance through this link-

A Magical, Musical Night at the Tonys City Theatre of Independence Angel Donor Gala

City Theatre of Independence is hosting our traditional end of the year celebration on Saturday, July 23rd, 2022. In years past this event has brought together our membership, supporters and members of the community to celebrate the closing of a season and the beginning of the next. This year’s celebration has been elevated to a gala with an additional purpose.

The Angel Donor Campaign

Like so many others, City Theatre has suffered these past two years with shrinking audiences due to the pandemic. Therefore, we cannot continue to rely on ticket sales alone to offset our budget for the 2022-23 season. Our finance committee has carefully assessed our requirements and we need to raise $10,000 for the operating budget. We have managed to subsist through the patronage of those of you who attend our shows, but now we must take the next steps to ensure our future in the community.

The Details

The gala will be held at the Roger T. Sermon Center, Saturday, July 23, 6:00 to 10:00 pm. and will feature drinks, a catered dinner, musical entertainment and a silent auction. Dress code is black tie optional.

Due to the generosity of Salvatore’s Italian Restaurant,  a percentage of your $25 ticket purchase or $250 table purchase will go directly to the Angel Fund. Salvatore’s is contributing a significant discount on dinner, drinks, desert and the accouterments for a fabulous night! Huzzah! We are so grateful for Salvatore’s donation.

The Silent Auction

Our Gala Fundraising committee is off to a great start collecting silent auction items, but we need more! Do you work or own a business that can contribute a service, a gift certificate, coupons, travel, golf, works of art, spa days, etc?  Click here for inspiration on what to donate from ideas culminated by Qgive, a leader in providing fundraising support for non-profits.

We would love to add your name and/or company donation to the Angel Donor Campaign. We will be happy to pick up your silent auction item. Contact us at (816) 370-6654 or email to contribute funds or donate silent auction items.

The Gala, A Magical, Musical Night at the Tonys

CTI member, Julie McDaniel, has put together a Broadway show tune stage show with theme of  A Magical, Musical Night at the Tonys. Greg Lane will host as Emcee and the show will feature the talents of Melissa Davis, Robert Ritter, Erik Dancy, Laura Barge, Georgia Barge, Michelle Matherly, and Wendy Bross.

Take a sneak peak of the musical line-up by clicking here.

We will also be introducing our 2022-2023 season’s directors as well as presenting short scene selections from each show.

The Wrap Up

Through the years City Theatre has become more than just a playhouse, we have become a gathering place for people of various backgrounds and experiences to join in friendship and the mutual goal of making our community a better place. We need your help in continuing to bring you quality entertainment and special events at an affordable price.

Gala Tickets can be purchased through this link:

Please donate whatever you can as every dime counts. Thank you for your continued patronage that will support CTI as we look forward to a “new normal” in 2022-23. Contact us at (816) 370-6654 or email