Jillian Schleiden Copy Editor
Marty Thomas plays five smaller roles in The Producers, but he says Starlight Theatre played the starring spot in introducing him to the world of acting.
Thomas lived in Kansas City and New York growing up, traveling between the two fairly frequently.
In 1977, 11-year-old Thomas acted in the Starlight production of “Annie.” He enjoyed acting and impressed a few of the main players.
Danielle Finley, who played Annie, liked Thomas and put him and his mother in touch with her agent. The agent convinced them to visit New York again and audition for some parts on Broadway.
Thomas got a role in a local show, so his mother moved to New York with him to allow him a career in acting.
“My mom just packed up and moved with me,” Thomas said. “She supported my entire career.”
Marty returned to Kansas City several times in the following decades, moving back in 1999 to work with the Repertory Theatre and attend UMKC’s Bloch School of Business.
“I loved my time at UMKC,” Thomas said. “It was one of the best years of my life.”
Thomas is happy for the opportunity “The Producers” gave him to return to KC and see his family. He’s also glad to be back at Starlight.
“It’s a glamorous theatre,” Thomas said.
Anthony Edwards’ passion for music is as evident in his list of clients—four theatres and a church– as in his vivacioius conducting during “The Producers.”
Edwards grew up and earned his degree in Tennessee. Afterward he moved to Kansas City to pursue his Masters in piano performance from the UMKC Conservatory.
While at UMKC, Edwards took a position as a professional music director through connections at the conservatory. He enjoyed the job so much he stayed in Kansas City to continue his career.
“It’s very exciting work,” Edwards said. “I love to do it.”
Edwards said Starlight is the only venue where he doesn’t conduct from the keyboard.
“It’s great fun,” Edwards said, “You get to play and lead all these musicians at the same time.”
For “The Producers,” Edwards conducts an 18-piece orchestra. And when the musicians have fun, everybody else has fun, including him, Edwards said.
“The orchestra is fabulous,” Edwards said. “The ‘I Wanna Be A Producer’ montage is really fun to conduct…the orchestra gets a kick out of playing it.”
Besides working at Starlight, Edwards is musical director for American Heartland Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church and EPIC Entertainment. Edwards also just started working as adjunct professor in the theatre department at UMKC.