Arsenic and Old Lace

Directed by Anna Olson

Auditions: October 23rd and 24th, 2023, 6-8pm
Roger T. Sermon Community Center
201 North Dodgion, Independence MO 64050

Between Mortimer Brewster’s hesitancy about marriage, his aunts’ penchant for poisoning wine, a brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and another brother using plastic surgery to hide from the police, it’ll be a miracle if Mortimer makes it to his own wedding! ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is a classic black comedy about the only thing more deadly than poison: family.

Performances: January 5th, 6th, 12th, & 13th, 2024 at 7:30pm, and January 7th & 14th at 2pm
Roger T. Sermon Community Center
201 North Dodgion, Independence MO 64050

Roles: 7 men (ages 30+), 3 women (1 early 20s, 2 age 60+), 4 police officers (any gender)

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Audition forms may be filled out in person at auditions or in advance online

Signup Form .

Auditioners will be contacted when the show is cast. If you are offered a role, you will receive a phone call from the Director. If you are not cast at this time, you will receive an email.

For any other information, check out the City Theatre of Independence website,, or email Anna Olson at [email protected].

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.

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 [email protected] 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 [email protected].

City Theatre of Independence Opening 2022-2023 Season with Urinetown – The Musical

City Theatre of Independence is opening the 2022-2023 season with the musical comedy, Urinetown. Urinetown is a satirical comedy about politicism, capitalism, populism and corporate mismanagement. The musical premiered in 2001 with music by Mark Hollman and book by Greg Kotis.

The story takes place in a dystopian society that is suffering from a water shortage. Due to this shortage, private amenities are outlawed and every citizen must pay a fee to use public toilets. The public toilets are owned by the corrupt megacorporation “Urine Good Company” or “UGC.” Hero of the story, Bobby Strong, recognizes the injustices perpetuated by this cooperation and leads the “pee-for-free” rebellion.

Auditions for Urinetown are June 27th, 28th, and 29th at the Roger T. Sermon Center with callbacks by invitation on July 2nd.
Additional audition information can be found here-


Male Roles

  • Officer Lockstock – The principal narrator, a policeman in charge of finding guilty pee-ers
  • Bobby Strong – The dashing young “every man” who works for Miss Pennywise as the Assistant Custodian at the poorest urinal in town. Also the male romantic lead who falls in love with Hope Cladwell and starts the revolution
  • Dr. Billeaux – A scientist for Urine Good Company
  • Senator Fipp – A corrupt politician in Cladwell’s pocket. He is harboring a surprising secret
  • Mr. McQueen – Cladwell’s assistant. A man who will do anything to save himself
  • Officer Barrel – Lockstock’s partener. He harbors a surprising secret
  • Joseph “old Man” Strong – Bobby Stong’s father. His rebellious actions get him sent to “Urinetown”
  • Tiny Tom – A confused “man-boy”
  • Caldwell B. Cladwell – The villain of the story and the owner of Urine Good Company. A moneygrabber who exploits the poor
  • Hot Blades Harry – A dangerous and unpredictable rebel
  • Robby the Stockfish – A poor rebel
  • Billy Boy Bill – A poor rebel


Female Roles

  • Penelope Pennywise – The tough, jaded warden of the poorest urinal in town. She harbors a surprising secret
  • Little Sally – A precocious street urchin and co-narrator of the story
  • Hope Cladwell – Caldwell B. Cladwell’s daughter who has just been hired at Urine Good Company. The female romantic lead
  • Soupy Sue – An affectionate member of the gang
  • Little Becky Two-shoes – A pregnant woman
  • Josephine “ma” Strong – Bobby Strong’s mother
  • Mrs. Millennium – An office worker who inspires to be Caldwell B. Cladwell’s head secretary

Shakespeare Under the Stars – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

City Theatre of Independence in conjunction with the Independence Square Association presents its first ever live reader’s theatre Shakespeare production.
By Lizzie DeShaw

The course of true love never did run smooth. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

This summer, City Theatre of Independence is producing an outdoor reader’s theatre production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This show, however, is probably very different from what you may be used to seeing. Each actor will be portraying multiple characters. There is no set and the costume pieces are minimalistic. The script is an original adaptation by CTI members Lynnae Andersen and Lizzie DeShaw. The original story and its Shakespearean language are still intact, but Lynnae and Lizzie have added modern dialogue throughout and  have given the character “Puck” an important job as narrator. Lynnae Andersen describes the adaptation as “an irreverent, interactive reader’s theatre presentation.”

Interactive? Yes! The audience will be part of the play. Audience members are encouraged to arrive at the show dressed as fairies. The audience, or “fairy court” as they will be called, will be asked to sing and cheer throughout the course of the play. A few audience members will be selected to come up and act alongside the actors.

The play will be performed three different nights throughout the summer: June 17th, July 15th and August 19th. Performances will be held outdoors at the Liberty Lounge on the Independence Square at 7:30pm. Admission is free, but donations will be graciously accepted. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic to enjoy. Photos and videos are encouraged! Feel free to upload any photo or video to social media using the hashtag #CTIShakes.

Meet your playwrights!

Lynnae Andersen – As a junior in high school, Lynnae was mentored by a theatre teacher who saw directorial talents within her. In college, she minored in dramatic productions, which required directing her own show and assistant directing a major campus production. Her college mentor, Jeffrey Miller, created his own script for “The Mystery of the Yellow Room” by Gaston Leroux. After teaching theatre for two years at a private school in Independence, she was inspired by Miller and wrote her own script based on her favorite book, “The Wizard of Oz”, which was produced by the school in 2015. That same year, Lynnae was introduced to City Theatre of Independence where she has been involved as a volunteer, actor, and director in around a dozen shows. She hopes to write and adapt more stories for the stage in the future!

Lizzie DeShaw – Lizzie has been acting on stage since she was ten years old. She credits the 1990’s children’s television series Wishbone as her first introduction to Shakespeare. Since then, she has always loved Shakespeare’s work. As a teenager, Lizzie read Shakespeare’s plays for her own enjoyment and had the privilege of playing Beatrice in her high school’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” In college, she played a spirit in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” under the direction of her acting professor, John Wilson. She believes John’s own enthusiasm for Shakespeare solidified her passion for performing the classic playwright’s work. This is Lizzie’s first time writing a play and she is so thankful to have such an incredible co-playwright by her side. She hopes that this play will be the first of many Shakespeare adaptations she will write.

Join us June 17th, July 15th, and August 19th at the Liberty Lounge at 7:30pm for a silly Shakespearean evening. 

The Liberty Lounge
110 S Liberty St
Independence, MO. 64050

Every Hero Needs a Sidekick

An Interview With Alex West as Sancho Panza
By Lizzie DeShaw

Alex West is playing Sancho Panza in City Theatre of Independence’s production of Man of La Mancha. I have asked him to answer some questions about the show and his character.

LIZZIE: Tell me about yourself. What is your background in theatre?

ALEX: Way back in the 1970’s I got my start with music with the Independence Youth Choir. My first musical was ‘Teen!’ at Bridger Junior High. I studied theatre at H.S. Truman High School with Kat Tucker and voice with Millicent Daughtery at Music/Arts Institute. My first love is opera. I studied vocal performance after high school at the UMKC Conservatory of Music. Unfortunately, I found out quickly that I don’t have the temperament to sing professionally. So I moved to the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater to study theatre. After college, I’ve created theatre companies, written murder mysteries, acted, and performed with Full Frontal Comedy improv troupe.

LIZZIE: Who is Sancho Panza?

ALEX: In many ways, Sancho Panza is the ‘everyman’ of Cervantes’ works about Don Quixote. Sancho is the common in everyday life. A person that almost creates the humanitarian center between all the archetypal characters in these stories.
He is a peasant servant in the house of Alonso Quijana. He could be following Quijana (as Don Quixote) for adventure, or to watch after his master as he goes mad, or maybe just to get away from his wife. Possibly it’s a mixture of all three. But what the audience sees is a man who espouses ‘common’ wisdom, excitement for the fantastic, and skepticism for the surreal. He is a moral center that characters like Antonia, Doctor Carrasco, and the innkeeper’s wife can be judged against.

LIZZIE: It’s my understanding that Sancho Panza is a dream role for you. What has it been like getting to fulfill that dream?

ALEX: It has been an absolute treat. It is so rewarding to get to perform a character that really stretches the actor’s abilities and skills. Sancho Panza is the clown of the show. He has some of the most compassionate lines and some of the most difficult music. Sancho gets to sing those elements that just ‘don’t fit’ with other characters. He sings everything from the recitative with ‘The Missive’ to the patter song with ‘a Little Gossip’.
And Sancho is so broadly written that it can be performed by almost anyone that falls in that tenor range, from Mandy Patinkin to James Coco (my favorite!).

LIZZIE: Tell me about your experience with rehearsing Man of La Mancha.

ALEX: It’s a physically demanding show. If it’s not a dance scene, it’s a fight scene. If it’s not a fight scene, it’s a reflective moment between just a few characters. There’s a song, usually being earnestly belted, every few minutes. You have to go from quiet introspection to singing high A’s and B’s within seconds of each other.
I’ve met few directors like David Rogers that really understand how difficult that is and can adequately prepare the cast for those rigors.
On top of that, we truly lucked out in the casting department. This cast is phenomenal. There are so many strong voices and dynamic actors.

LIZZIE: In your opinion, what about Man of La Mancha has made it such a beloved show? What do you hope the audience will take away from the story?

ALEX: The books that Man of La Mancha are based on are some of the most popular and best sold works in history. Some estimates suggest that Miguel de Cervantes’ The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is, besides the Bible, the best selling book of all time. It was the first major work written in what we know as ‘modern’ Spanish (also the first major work written in ‘modern’ Spanish to be plagiarized). Most of the 400 first edition printings of the book were sent to the ‘New World’ in 1605. Some even found their way to the Inca Empire. Needless to say, it was hugely popular from the first printing. And it is a satire, poking fun at the nostalgia of the chivalric age in the face of worldwide exploration and conquest, and the barbary that entailed. To say that the political climate between 1965 (when Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh, and Joe Darion wrote the musical) and 1972 (when Peter O’Toole, Sophia Lauren, and James Coco starred in the movie) was similar to the idea of Spanish chivalry in the late 16th and early 17th century would not be a huge stretch. We were in the midst of the Vietnam war, civil strife was rampant, and people were looking anywhere for distraction.
And, honestly, it’s not dissimilar to the times we live in now.

LIZZIE: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Alex. Break a leg on your upcoming performances!

Man of La Mancha runs June 3-5 and June 10-12 at the Roger T. Sermon Center Powerhouse Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in advance by following this link

The Impossible Dream

This is my quest to follow that star… no matter how hopeless…no matter how far… – Lyrics from “The Impossible Dream”

“The Impossible Dream” is the most popular and recognizable song from Man of La Mancha. The song is at first sung by the character of Don Quixote in response to Aldonza’s question about what Quixote means by “following the quest.” The song is reprised three times. In the song, Don Quixote explains why he did all he did and what the purpose of his quest was:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable for
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell for a Heavenly cause
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

The story of Don Quixote has held up over time because I think we can all relate in some way to his quest. Aren’t we all dreaming of achieving our goals? It sounds cliche to say “nothing is impossible if you just believe,” but isn’t it true? We are all capable of great things. No matter our circumstances in life, we each have something to contribute to make the world a better place.

What is your unreachable star? Who is your unbeatable foe? Are you willing to go to places beyond your comfort and slay the obstacles in your way? Allow the epic story of Don Quixote be your inspiration. Even if you are “covered with scars,” you can still strive with your last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable star. You are capable of achieving the impossible dream.

Our production’s Don Quixote/ Miguel de Cervantes will be played by Richard Gills. Listen to the 1972 film version of the song “The Impossible Dream” here: Man of La Mancha (1972) – The Impossible Dream Scene (6/9) | Movieclips