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Home » News » FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training Presents Dog Days Theatre

FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training Presents Dog Days Theatre

Published June 19, 2017

(SARASOTA, June 7, 2017) — FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training proudly announces casting for the inaugural season of Dog Days Theatre, a new theater project offering smart, contemporary works just light enough for the dog days of summer. Each summer, Dog Days Theatre will feature two plays mounted in the Cook Theatre, located in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, using professional actors, directors and designers from the community and around the country, along with the talents of the Conservatory’s graduate students.

The season kicks off July 11 with Tony Award® and Laurence Olivier Award-winning British playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s bright and brassy romantic comedy RELATIVELY SPEAKING. Directed by Brendon Fox, it runs through July 30. It is followed by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright’s stage adaptation of James M. Cain’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY, the titillating crime novel that inspired the groundbreaking film noir of the same name. Directed by Greg Leaming, director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, and Jesse Jou, DOUBLE INDEMNITY runs August 8 through August 27.

In RELATIVELY SPEAKING, Julia Gibson takes on the role of Shelia, a sweetly goodhearted and wildly naive housewife. Ms. Gibson has appeared on Broadway in works such as Uncle Vanya, and in major roles at the Roundabout Theatre Company, Circle in the Square, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Goodman, American Conservatory Theater, and more. David Kortemeier plays Shelia’s philandering husband, Philip. His credits includes principal roles at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Great Lakes Theater, Drury Lane Theatre and more.

Recent FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduates Kelly Elizabeth Smith and Wyatt C. McNeil take on the roles of young and complicated lovers Ginny and Greg. At Asolo Rep, Ms. Smith portrayed Alexandra Giddens in Tony winner Frank Galati’s celebrated production of The Little Foxes (2017). and was in the ensemble of Robert Schenkkan‘s, The Great Society. Mr. McNeil appeared in The Great Society, and the acclaimed Peter Amster-helmed’s, Born Yesterday during the 2016-17 season at Asolo Rep.

In James M. Cain’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY, FSU/Asolo Conservatory alumna Katie Cunningham portrays the deliciously conniving femme fatale, Phyllis. At Asolo Rep, Ms. Cunningham appeared in W. Somerset Maugham’s, Our Betters (2016), directed by Asolo Rep Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards, Both Your Houses (2016), and God of Carnage (2012). Don Walker plays Phyllis’ ill-fated husband, Herbert Nirlinger. Mr. Walker has appeared in Born Yesterday (2017), All the Way (2016), Both Your Houses (2015), and 1776 (2012) at Asolo Rep.

The cast also features current FSU/Asolo Conservatory student Erik Meixelsperger as insurance agent Walter Huff, who schemes with Phyllis to cover up the murder. Recent Conservatory graduate Mike Perez plays Norton, a fellow insurance worker who investigates the crime.

Beloved longtime Asolo Rep actor Douglas Jones plays Keyes, Walter’s boss, who leads the investigation. Mr. Jones was an associate artist at Asolo Rep for 30 seasons where he played principal roles in The Matchmaker (2015), Both Your Houses (2015), The Grapes of Wrath (2014), You Can’t Take it With You (2013), Glengarry Glen Ross (2013) and more. FSU/Asolo Conservatory students Sara Linares plays Lola, Phyllis’ stepdaughter, and Nettie, an insurance company secretary; and Wes Tolman plays Nino, Lola’s boyfriend, and Jackson, an unexpected witness who threatens to reveal Phyllis’ scheme .

“Dog Days Theatre promises an inaugural season of unmissable theatre,” said Greg Leaming, Director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. “It was founded to engage artists and audiences in an edgy and exciting alternative to the reduced theatre offerings in this culturally rich community during the quiet summer months. It is also a perfect way to expand the footprint of the Conservatory in Sarasota and provide even more opportunities for our students to demonstrate their talents. All in all, the season will offer high quality, professionally-produced theatre that is artistically and emotionally compelling, yet light enough to make it the perfect summer outing.”


July 11–July 30
By Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Brendon Fox

Greg and Ginny have only known each other for a month but are already talking marriage. When Ginny goes to the house of her former lover in order to retrieve some compromising letters, Greg also turns up thinking he’s visiting Ginny’s parents. Confusion and hilarity ensue. This beautifully crafted milestone of British theatre is an evening of pure enjoyment.

RELATIVELY SPEAKING CAST (In order of appearance)

Greg…………………………………………WYATT C. McNEIL


Philip……………………..……………DAVID KORTEMEIER*

Sheila…………………..…………………….JULIA GIBSON*

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
in the United States.


August 8–August 27
By James M. Cain
Directed by Greg Leaming and Jesse Jou
Adapted for the stage by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright.

A guy. A dame. A scam. A corpse. They’re the standard ingredients of the classic noir films of the 1930s and 40s and this steamy tale of love and murder is the undisputed masterpiece. Insurance agent Walter Huff has nosed around the business long enough to smell a scam, so when he meets Phyllis Nirlinger to talk about her husband’s insurance coverage, he gets a perfumed whiff of trouble he can’t resist.

DOUBLE INDEMNITY CAST (In order of appearance)

Walter Huff…………………………………………….ERIK MEIXELSPERGER

Phyllis Nirlinger………………………………………….KATIE CUNNINGHAM*

Keyes………………………………..………………………DOUGLAS JONES*

Lola Nirlinger/Nettie…………………………..……………….SARA LINARES

Herbert Nirlinger………………………………………………..DON WALKER

Nino Sachetti/Jackson…………………….……………………WES TOLMAN

Norton……………………………………………………………..MIKE PEREZ

*Members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers
in the United States.


JULIA GIBSON* (Sheila) has performed on Broadway and major theatres in NYC and throughout the country. TV/Film work includes: Michael Clayton, Changing Lanes, Blue Bloods, Law & Order and Law & Order: CI, Spin City and One Life to Live. She also works as a voice artist, having narrated over 150 audio books. She is currently a company member of PlayMakers Rep. and teaches Graduate Acting at the University of North Carolina.

DAVID KORTEMEIER* (Phillip) Regional work includes principal roles at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, Drury Lane Theatre and Fox Valley Repertory in Chicago, four seasons with Indiana Festival Theatre in Bloomington, eleven seasons at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, TN and 13 seasons with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in Bloomington. David is a faculty member at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.

WYATT C. McNEIL (Greg) recently graduated from The FSU/Asolo Conservatory with his M.F.A. in acting and is thrilled to appear once more on the Cook Stage. Previous credits include Laertes, Hamlet; Bellhop, Born Yesterday; Ensemble, The Great Society (Asolo Rep), Alcippe, The Liar; Donalbain, Macbeth (FSU/Asolo Conservatory); Alan Strang, Equus; Dr. Givings, and The Vibrator Play (Westminster College). Post Relatively Speaking he will call Los Angeles home.

KELLY ELIZABETH SMITH (Ginny) is thrilled to be a part of the Dog Day’s inaugural season. She is a recent graduate of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. Credits from this past season at the Asolo include Alexandra in The Little Foxes, the ensemble of The Great Society as well as an understudy for Guys & Dolls and Beatsville. She would like to thank her incredible sponsors, George Cole and Judy Zuckerberg, Ken and Peggy Abt, and Eva Slane.


KATIE CUNNINGHAM* (Phyllis) is a proud alumna of FSU/Asolo Conservatory and is delighted to join Dog Days! Favorite roles at Asolo Rep: Pearl in Our Betters; Marjorie in Both Your Houses; Annette in God of Carnage. NYC: TACT; FringeNYC; American Place Theatre; The Night Shift (co-founder); Drunken Shakespeare (co-founder). Katie appears regularly at a host of regional theaters across the country and is a teaching artist at McCarter Theatre Center. Proud union member: AEA & SAG-AFTRA.

DOUGLAS JONES* (Keyes) Asolo Rep: Malachi Stack, The Matchmaker; Solomon Fitzmaurice, Both Your Houses; S.B. O’Donnell, Philadelphia, Here I Come!; Pa Joad, The Grapes of Wrath; Kirby, You Can’t Take it With You; Shelley Levene, Glengarry Glen Ross; Russ, Clybourne Park; Polonius/Gravedigger, Hamlet, Prince of Cuba; Juror #10, Twelve Angry Men; Frank, Equus; among others. Seasons elsewhere: The Cleveland Play House, Milwaukee Rep, California Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse, Huntington Theatre, American Stage, The Playmakers, the Straz Center, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, and four plays Off-Broadway. Graduate of Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London.

SARA LINARES (Lola/Nettie) went to New College of Florida where she majored in Humanities with a focus on Performance. She has worked at the Micro Theater in Miami and is currently pursuing her MFA in Acting at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Sara is very honored to make her debut with Dogs Days Theatre. Catch her in Oedipus this coming conservatory season.

ERIK MEIXELSPERGER (Huff) graduated from The University of Minnesota-Duluth with a BFA
in Acting and is currently a second year in pursuit of his MFA at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. He is thrilled to make his Dog Days debut in DOUBLE INDEMNITY and can also be seen in the Cook Theatre this fall as Kreon in Oedipus.

MIKE PEREZ (Norton) is thrilled to be a part of the inaugural season of Dog Days Theatre. Originally from New York City, Mike recently graduated from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training where he enjoyed performing in The Great Society, Born Yesterday, and many other memorable productions.

WES TOLMAN (Nino/Jackson) is the Squatty Potty Prince and a graduate student at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory moving into his third and final year. Previously at Asolo Rep he has understudied roles in All the Way and Living on Love. One of his greatest theatre experiences was playing Eddie Carbone last season in the Conservatory’s production of A View from the Bridge.

DON WALKER (Nirlinger) in summers past, has appeared on the Cook stage in several Banyan Theater productions, including Painting Churches with favorite co-star Jenny Aldrich. Directing assignments included The Price and My Old Lady. At the Tampa International Fringe Festival this spring, he played a deceased swordsman/poet in Cyrano on the Moon, with Jenny as the aged and dying Roxanne. Don is president of Theatre Odyssey, which presents a Ten- Minute Play Festival in the Cook each May.


7:30pm | Tuesday previews
7:30pm | Wednesdays & Thursdays
8pm | Fridays
2pm & 8pm | Saturdays
2pm | Sunday


Single tickets for Dog Days Theatre’s summer season are $28 and two-play packages can be purchased for just $45. Two-play packages are on sale now; single tickets will be available for donors and subscribers starting September 8 and will go on sale to the public online on October 1 and at the box office and by phone on October 3. Tickets are available by calling
941.351.8000, visiting the Asolo website, or visiting the Asolo Repertory Theatre Box Office, located at 5555 North Tamiami Trail in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Summer box office hours are Monday-Friday 10am-5pm.


The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is a celebrated three-year graduate program culminating in a master of fine arts degree. For more than 35 years, tens of thousands of actors from across the continent have auditioned for admission. A maximum of 12 students are admitted each year. In their second year, the students perform in the Cook Theatre, a 161-seat space designed to create an intimate experience for the audience and actors. Third-year students are seen on the Mertz Stage working with the Asolo Rep’s professional actors in exciting and significant roles.

For more information, click here.