Cast and production dates finalized for premiere of new musical

Cast and production dates finalized for premiere of new musical


Bill Beard, a theatre critic for several stateline area newspapers for many years, has announced the final cast and the definite performance schedule for Night Riders, a musical tribute to the world of “truck drivers and the ladies in their lives.” The Midwest regional premiere production of this new Country-Western musical is being co-produced by Rockford’s own Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts, Executive Producer Karen Howard, and the Main Street Players of Boone County, the well-known Belvidere community theatre group.

Charlotte’s Web celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this summer, and enjoys an indisputable reputation of consistent excellence in presenting a wide variety of top-notch music and performance events to Rockford audiences. The five-man Country- Western band is headed by a Charlotte’s Web favorite performer, pedal steel guitarist Richard Burgess. Co-producer Karen Howard is also active with the River District and is joined in this project by fellow Board of Directors member Bill Beard, who directs the show.

The cast of six actor-singers includes three who will be making their debuts in principal on-stage leading roles: Amber Lynn Sterud, who plays Shelley, the waitress, says the nearest previous experience would be as a cheerleader for the Rockford Lightning; Phil Blair has been a church choir bass for years, but never even considered being in a play before; and Dan Masterson, a dealer in Elgin’s Riverboat Casino, has done commercials, voice-overs and some TV and film appearances, but has never sung anywhere before, except when brave enough to

take the mike at one of the local karaoke spots.

However, the other three cast members are very much at home on stage: Jennifer Thompson, as Jane, the wife, is a seasoned performer, and co-founded her own local theatre troupe, the Y-Knot Theatre; Doug Lamoreux, who is now back home in Freeport after several successful seasons in Los Angeles, has just finished back- to-back shows with Pec Playhouse and Winneshiek Players; and William Avilla has been singing ever since he can remember, with groups and in his own one-man Country-Western shows.

Show dates are: Nov. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. at Belvidere’s Boone County Community Center; Nov. 15 at 8 p.m., and two shows Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m. (No performance on Sat. Nov. 16). Then a third weekend at the Mendelssohn Club in Rockford: Nov. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets available through the Rockford Arts Ticket Hotline – 1 (800) 208-9198; or directly from the Rockford Area Arts Council, the Tin Whistle, the Postal Shoppe at Edgebrook, or the Boone County Community Building, Belvidere. Ticket prices (in advance) are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors & students, with limited seats available for purchase at the door at $12.

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