Asolo Rep's Show Boat, Featuring Joel Blum, Ben Davis, Michael James Leslie and Marissa McGowan, Opens Nov. 15

By Carey Purcell
15 Nov 2013

Lilly Mae Stewart and Marissa McGowan
Lilly Mae Stewart and Marissa McGowan
Photo by Frank Atura

Asolo Repertory Theatre kicks off its 2013-14 season with a re-imagined production of Show Boat, officially opening Nov. 15 following preview performances that began Nov. 12. 

Directed by Rob Ruggiero, the cast of Show Boat includes Joel Blum (Show Boat, Steel Pier) as Captain Andy Hawks, Ben Davis (A Little Night Music, Les Misérables) as Gaylord Ravenal, Michael James Leslie (Hair, The Wiz) as Joe and Marissa McGowan (A Little Night Music, Bonnie & Clyde) as Magnolia.

The cast also features Elisa Van Duyne, Denis Lambert, Dorothy Stanley, Daniella Dalli, David Sattler, Dereck Seay, E. Faye Butler, Bruce Sabath, Dan Kennett, Griffeth Whitehurst, Lilly Mae Stewart, Katie Weidmaier, Denise Lute, Jeff M. Smith, Nicholas Ward, Brigid Kegel and Brittany Proia. The ensemble includes Daniel Belnavis, Troy Jackson, Candace Culcleasure and Johnathan Shepherd.

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, Show Boat has music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II



The production will continue performances through Dec. 29.

"Show Boat will take audiences aboard Captain Andy Hawks' Cotton Blossom, a 19th-century riverboat that travels from town to town on the Mississippi River with a troupe of performers," press notes state. "The musical chronicles these performers' lives during a crucially transformative period in U.S. history, spanning 1887 to 1927, from the dawn of the Progressive Era to the eve of the Great Depression. Show Boat explores many poignant topics, including racial diversity in marriage and economic hardships, that still challenge the world today."

"Show Boat encompasses all that is extraordinary, complex and dynamic about the American family and is the perfect introduction to Asolo Rep's thrilling 2013-2014 season and the second year of the American Character Project. Ever since its Broadway premiere in 1927 completely revolutionized the form of the American musical, the show's themes, characters and music have resonated deeply with audiences from all walks of life. It is the first modern American musical, and we are delighted to continue its dazzling, timeless voyage here in Sarasota,” Michael Donald Edwards, producing artistic director of Asolo Repertory Theatre, said in an earlier statement.

The musical launches the second year of Asolo Rep's five-year American Character Project, which examines the different aspects of the country, including history, culture and politics. The second year of the project will concentrate on family, in both traditional and unconventional forms.

This re-imagined version of Show Boat was mounted in 2011 at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, CT, directed by Rob Ruggiero and choreographed by Noah Racey, who lead Asolo Rep's production, along with musical director Wade Russo.

The production also has set design by Michael Schweikardt, costume design by Amy Clark, lighting design by John Lasiter and sound design by Kevin Kennedy. 

For tickets and more information, call (941) 351-8000 or visit asolorep.org.