Pansy the Poodle Stage Debut in Poodleful | Inside Vero

Allen D. Cornell, Producing Artistic Director/CEO of Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, has announced the creation of Riverside Theatricals, a division of Riverside Theatre focused on the creation of new musicals. Poodleful, A K9 Mystery Musical, a musical created for young audiences starring professional performers, is the first production from this division and will play Riverside Theatre September 18-20, 2015 and The Lyric Theatre in Stuart, FL on September 25, 2015.

Based on the book Pansy at the Palace by Author Cynthia Bardes, Poodleful, A K9 Mystery Musical follows the adventures of Pansy the poodle and a young girl named Avery at the glamorous Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Featuring 10 original songs written by Ken Clifton and a libretto by Mr. Clifton and DJ Salisbury, Poodleful is the delightful new musical for the entire family.

“Riverside Theatricals is a very exciting venture,” said Mr. Cornell. “By creating original works, this new division will expand Riverside Theatre’s mission in providing a total theatre arts experience for children and adults.”

In the show, Pansy’s life blossoms when she is adopted from an animal shelter by a loving family and little girl named Avery. Swept into her new life at the Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills, this smart and courageous puppy saves the day when a mysterious theft occurs, threatening to close down the hotel and disrupt the lives of her new family.

“Underneath the colorful characters and fun music is a simple story of a girl and her dog,” said Mr. Cornell. “Poodleful is about two outsiders finding each other and making a difference even though they are small.”

Ken Clifton, Riverside Theatre’s resident Music Director, wrote 10 new songs for the hour-long show. Mr. Clifton also co-wrote the play with DJ Salisbury, a frequent Director/Choreographer at Riverside Theatre.

“The show is really fun,” said Mr. Clifton. “To simply entertain is what we set out to do; to create characters that you wanted to live with for an hour and follow their journey. There are a few morals we have included; like don’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t need to be made over to be beautiful (you already are) and family is something that can, at times, be chosen. But the show is very entertaining. Ms. Pansy and I have been together for about a year now. I’m glad she let me into her life and now I’m looking forward to giving her to the children.”

Pansy at the Palace is the first book in Mrs. Bardes’ Pansy Mystery Series. Other titles in the collection include: Pansy in Paris and Pansy in Venice.

“Working with Riverside is sublime,” said Mrs. Bardes. “Riverside Theatre has boundless energy and is led by one of the great creatives, Allen Cornell. Couple Allen’s talent with Ken Clifton’s genius as songwriter and music director and you have MAGIC! Under the direction of DJ Salisbury and management of Jon Moses my ‘Pansy’ sings!!!”

Directed and choreographed by DJ Salisbury, the Poodleful cast includes: Kelsey Flannery (Desiree/Frida), Samantha Cho Grossman (Pansy), Katherine Hintz (Mrs. Goldleaf), Katie Keller (Avery), Sean Potter (Mr. Dumal), and Ian Thomson (Nigel/Detective Delby).

The Poodleful creative team includes: Ken Clifton (Music Director), Dusty Terrell (Scenic Design), Stephen Stines (Costume Design), Daniel Meltzer (Lighting Design), Josh Schacht (Sound Design), and Nick Voight (Stage Manager).

Performances at Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach are:

September 18 @ 7:30pm, September 19 @ 10am & 2pm, and September 20 @ 10am & 2pm.

Performances at The Lyric Theatre in Stuart are:

September 25 @11am and 7pm

Riverside Theatre tickets can purchased by calling the Riverside Box Office at 772-231-6990 or online at

The Lyric tickets can be purchased by calling the Lyric Box Office at 772-286-7827 or online at


The Author

Cynthia Bardes and her husband, David, spend each fall at the Beverly Hills hotel with their toy poodle, Pansy. Inspiration for this story was born out of random misfortune. One day, when crossing Wilshire Blvd., Cynthia was struck by a car. Her injuries required surgery and a lengthy recuperation at the hotel. While bedridden, Cynthia’s vivid imagination and Pansy’s popularity with the employees and guests of the hotel made for a perfect story. In her first book of the Pansy Mystery Series, Pansy at the Palace celebrates the spirit of curiosity and exploration and emphasizes that no one is too small to make a difference.

The Composer / Co-Playwright

Ken Clifton has been Musical Director on Riverside productions: Memphis, West Side Story, Crazy For You, South Pacific, Les Miserables, The ProducersGuys & Dolls, 42ndStreetLa Cage aux FollesHello Dolly! and Damn Yankees, among others. His work has appeared at Tokyo Disney, the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, and a project for the Disney Cruise Lines recorded by the London Philharmonic. He has coached vocals at the Steinhardt School of Music at NYU and coached Jennifer Hudson for the final callback of her Academy award-winning role in the movie Dreamgirls. Some favorite musicals he’s conducted are: Avenue QChicago, The Full Monty, Thoroughly Modern Millie, West Side Story, The King and I with Lorenzo Lamas, All Shook Up with Sally Struthers, Damn Yankees with Carson Kressley, and Sunset Boulevard with Stephanie Powers.

The Director / Co-Playwright

DJ Salisbury has directed and/or choreographed for theaters nationwide including Paper Mill Playhouse, Dallas Summer Musicals, TOTS-Atlanta, Sacramento Music Circus, Lyric Theatre of OK, Denver Center, Gateway Playhouse- NY, Ogunquit Playhouse- Maine, Arkansas Shakespeare, Orlando Shakespeare and Arts Center Coastal Carolina. Favorite experiences as director, choreographer, or both: Man of La ManchaLes MiserablesInto The WoodsLa Cage Aux FollesThe Full MontyEvitaRagtime, 9 productions of The Will Rogers Follies, and 13 Riverside Theatre productions including: West Side Story, South PacificLes Miz, I Love A Piano, Ain’t Misbehavin’(twice!) and Jacques Brel… Numerous NYC readings/workshops/concerts including a revised The Mystery of Edwin Drood (featuring Sally Struthers), Lincoln Center’s concert with Disney composer Alan Menken, and the Broadway bound rock musical CHIX 6. DJ has worked with, for, or alongside Broadway masters Jerry Mitchell, Susan Stroman, Jeff Calhoun, Rupert Holmes, Kathleen Marshall, Rob Ashford and Tommy Tune. Other new works he’s helped develop include Femme Fatale (starring “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Sara Ramirez), Long Road Home, Viva la DivaLovelaceHolding On, and A Proper Place.

 Riverside Theatre

Riverside Theatre is America’s largest professional theatre in a small town. Originally built in 1973 on a 54-acre tract of land designated by the city of Vero Beach as a cultural park, Riverside Theatre was erected with funds solely raised from private donations. For the first few years of its existence, it served primarily as a venue for local theatre groups, traveling productions, and celebrity performances. The most pivotal moment in the history of the Theatre, however, took place in 1983 when the Theatre’s Board hired Allen D. Cornell as Artistic Director and set in motion a plan to make Riverside a producing professional theatre. Riverside Theatre produces Broadway musicals, contemporary plays, and children’s theatre on three stages. In 2006, Riverside went through a major renovation with the reconfiguration of seating in the Stark Stage, the addition of the Waxlax Stage, and an expansion of the lobby. Riverside Theatre serves Florida’s entire Treasure and Space Coast with over 100,000 patrons and students using the facilities annually.

Riverside Children’s Theatre

In 1980, a group of parents formed the Riverside Children’s Theatre Committee to offer the children of the community a chance to see and, hopefully, learn to appreciate live theatre. With enthusiastic community support, RCT brought professional children’s productions to Riverside’s stage. A year later, a summer workshop was established with classes in acting, directing, makeup, lighting and scenic design. The program culminated in the first Riverside Rascals’ Revue featuring over 70 youngsters performing on the mainstage. RCT’s success continued and as classes and programs expanded, it became clear RCT needed its own home. In 1991, The Agnes Wahlstrom Youth Playhouse opened and housed classrooms, a dance studio, offices, kitchen and a large multi-purpose room which could be turned into a performance stage seating 150 people. RCT expanded again in 1998 with the addition of the Anne Morton Theatre, a professional stage where adults and children could perform. RCT has earned statewide recognition as one of the outstanding children’s theatres in Florida and serves over 15,000 children annually through its classes and outreach programs

Riverside Theatricals

Riverside Theatricals is the new division of Riverside Theatre. With over 40 years of experience producing Broadway-quality shows with its own sets, casting and direction, Riverside is now creating original works for tours launching its first original musical for young audiences with Poodleful.

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