Ragusa Will Pepper Goodspeed's Li'l Abner

News   Ragusa Will Pepper Goodspeed's Li'l Abner Michele Ragusa, a veteran of Broadway's Ragtime and Titanic, has been cast as Appassionata Von Climax in Goodspeed Musicals' revival of Li'l Abner — the musical inspired by Al Capp's comic strip, set in Dogpatch USA.

A veteran of Goodspeed's Me and My Girl, Ragusa was the last missing piece in the casting puzzle. The cast was previously reported on Playbill.com.

Director Scott Schwartz's company at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, April 21-July 2, will feature Glenn Lawrence, a recent graduate from the University of Hartford's Hartt School, in the title role.

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The troupe will include Curt Buckler as Earthquake McGoon; Trent Armand Kendall as Marryin' Sam; William McCauley as General Bullmoose; Christeena Riggs (Broadway's Les Misérables and Jane Eyre) as Daisy Mae; Andrea Wolff and John Shuman as Mammy and Pappy Yokum; Paul Aguirre as Romeo Scragg; Larry Daggett as Dr. Finsdale; Dick Decareau as Senator Phogbound; Jeff Hiller as Available Jones; Nick Locilento as Mayor Dawgmeat; Sarrah Strimel as Stupifyin' Jones; Christopher Windom as Evil Eye Fleagle, with Jennifer Balagna, Adriene Couvillion, Ryan Donovan, Krista Kurtzberg, Kate Marilley, Eddie Rabon, Shane Rhoades, Mark Roland and Shorey Walker, Dante Russo, Ginger Child Smith, and Marcellus Waller.

The sexy musical satire opens Goodspeed's 2006 season. "From Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul, Li'l Abner features a book by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, based on the comic strip created by Al Capp," according to Goodspeed. "Trouble begins in the cornseed town of Dogpatch, USA when the government decides to wipe it off the map. Hilarious protests and a riotous Sadie Hawkins Day chase ensue."

The score includes "If I Had My Druthers," "Jubilation T. Cornpone," "Love in a Home," "Progress Is the Root of All Evil" and "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands."

Winner of two Tony Awards, Li'l Abner was first directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd. It opened Nov. 15, 1956 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre and played for 693 performances.

Scott Schwartz staged Goodspeed's Me and My Girl, co-directed Broadway's Jane Eyre, and directed Golda's Balcony. Choreography will be created by Patti Colombo, who worked on Goodspeed's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, national tours of Seussical the Musical and Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby.

"We are delighted to kick-off the 2006 season with such a fun musical, especially one that is perfect for the whole family," stated Michael P. Price, Goodspeed executive director. "It's a great way to start an exciting year for Goodspeed that will continue with productions of Pippin and Pirates of Penzance, as well as our three productions at The Norma Terris Theatre."

The musical director for Li'l Abner is Michael O'Flaherty, in his 15th season as Goodspeed’s resident music director. William J. Thomas (Goodspeed's Abyssinia, Me and My Girl and George M! ) is assistant music director, with orchestrations by Dan DeLange, who provided the orchestration for Goodspeed Musicals' Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend, among others. Sets are designed by David Gallo (Goodspeed Musicals' Kudzu), with costumes designed by Michael Krass (Goodspeed's Kiss Me, Kate). Lighting is designed by Kirk Bookman (Goodspeed's Abyssinia, Mack & Mabel and Broadway's Band in Berlin, The Sunshine Boys and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). Li'l Abner is produced for Goodspeed Musicals by Michael P. Price.

For more information, visit www.goodspeed.org.

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Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces three musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, and an additional three at The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT., which opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals.

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