Josh Rittberg

Staff Writer

From August 25-27th, a workshop for a new musical called “It Happened in Key West”

was performed at The Fulton Theatre. Theater performers use workshops as a

chance for the actors and the creative team to test a show and see how it plays

with an audience.


Most workshops, including “It Happened in Key West,” are performed with minimal

sets and choreography. The minimal stage design allows the creative team to

judge the quality of their material. Workshops are usually performed in front of

members of the theatre industry; however, It Happened in Key West was chosen

to be performed in front of a general audience of theatergoers. This allowed the

creative team to hear what actual patrons thought of the show.


This musical, originally conceived by the actor and writer Jeremiah James, tells the

story of a zany doctor named Carl Von Cossel (Wade McCollum) and his

adventures in Cuba with his love, Elena (Elena Ramos Pascullo). The ensemble in

this musical plays various roles of people in Carl and Elena’s lives. The musicalized

edition of this crazy but true story boasts a score by Jill Santoriello and additional

lyrics from Jason Huzah. Although not by any means a full production, the

workshop had direction and choreography by the Fulton’s own Marc Robin.


While the musical is still a work in progress, the audience received the show

extremely well at the performance on August 27th. After the production, the actors

and creative team came out on stage for a post-show talk with the audience.

During the talkback, the audience got the opportunity to directly address their

views of the piece with the company and creative team. The responses from the

audience members in this talkback were especially meaningful. Many praised the

production, while others very politely expressed their views on how the musical

could be improved. Even though one audience response may not seem like much,

every comment gave the creative team some insight on how to further improve

their work.


The Fulton’s workshop of “It Happened in Key West” was a great success for both

the creative team and the theatre community of Lancaster. It provided audience

members a chance to be directly involved in the development of a completely

new piece of theatre. The performance went off without a hitch, but the

exchange between the company and the audience members during the talkback

was especially significant. This workshop was not only a high point for The Fulton,

but a reminder of the power and insight of the theatergoer.