Starlite Players set to debut on July 15-16-17-18 in The Starlite Room; New performing arts company presents evenings of short comedies with focus on area talent

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Starlite Players set to debut on July 15-16-17-18 in The Starlite Room

New performing arts company presents evenings of short comedies with focus on area talent


SARASOTA, FL:  Starlite Players, a new performing arts company, will debut on Wednesday-Saturday, July 15-18, with five short comedies in The Starlite Room, 1001 Cocoanut Avenue, Sarasota, according to Jo Morello, producer. She is working in conjunction with Tyler Yurckonis, owner of The Starlite Room, which is providing rehearsal and performance space on the second floor for the new venture. Tickets cost $16.50 and include a 15% discount on an optional pre- or post-show dinner at The Starlite Room. Tickets are available online from


The new theatre troupe will present an evening of short plays for four nights each month, with the first set running July 15-16-17-18 and the second set scheduled for August 13-14-15-16. The plays selected for production are written by award-winning, locally based playwrights; directed by experienced area directors; performed by actors based in this region; and supported by technical and other personnel who also have roots in the community. (A short description of each play appears in the attachment, “Starlite Players, the plays, July and August.pdf”)


The shows for July 15-16-17-18, collectively titled The Customer Is Always Right,” are “Customer Service” by Philip W. Hall, directed by Preston Boyd; “A Line Of Malarky” by Larry Parr, directed by Mark Woodland; “No Sugar” by Philip W. Hall, directed by Preston Boyd; “Penitents,” written and directed by Jack Gilhooley; and “Thanks for the Memories,”  directed by Mark Woodland.


“THIS ISN’T WHAT I EXPECTED” is the title for the August performances, set for Thursday-Sunday, August 13-16, 2015. The selected plays are “What Remains” by Heather Jones, directed by Daniel Greene; “Talkback” by Jo Morello, directed by Tim Guerreri; “The Session” by Jack Gilhooley, directed by Daniel Greene; and “Pete’s Place” by Betty Robinson, directed by Jack Gilhooley. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.


“Our area is rich in theatrical talent but opportunities to display our theatrical muscles are limited and often go only as far as staged readings,” Morello said. “Starlite Players will present full productions, although we don’t plan to have elaborate sets and costumes. Our focus will be on the stories and the performances. Most important, we are concentrating on the talent within the Tampa Bay area. My husband, playwright Jack Gilhooley, and I have lately had productions north of the Skyway and some of those talented people have been traveling south as well. Starlite Players provides an opportunity to bring together Gulf Coast artists based from Tampa to Venice.”


Founding team

Morello assembled a founding team that has met often to help create Starlite Players. The directors include (in alphabetical order) Preston Boyd, an actor, director, educator and musician based in Bradenton; Jack Gilhooley, a director, playwright and educator in Manatee County; Daniel Greene, a Bradenton-based director and actor; Tim Guerrieri, a stage and screen actor, acting teacher and director from Tampa; Bradenton resident Mark Woodland, an actor, director, singer, musician, and writer; and Don Walker, an actor and director from Sarasota. Yurckonis has been available in numerous capacities.


Technical support is provided by other area residents: technical director Steve Patmagrian, Sarasota-based production designer with over 40 years of experience in producing special events and providing technical and design services for most of the area’s theatres; production manager Monica Cross, technical director of New College’s black-box theatre; production coordinator Jamie Lee Butrum, longtime stage manager and actor in the community; and technical associate Carline Ash, a retired purchasing agent after 30 years with Eaton Corporation and the four-year office manager for the Jazz Club of Sarasota.



Morello has operated a small public relations agency, Jo Morello, Inc., in Sarasota since 1986. In addition, she is an award-winning playwright whose work has been performed around the country, as well as a director and the newsletter editor of the Eugene O’Neill International Society. She cut her producing teeth during three years as managing director of a summer stock theatre and founder of a children’s theatre in Ohio. Jo Morello, Inc. is the producing entity, DBA (Doing Business As) Starlite Players.


Morello and Yurckonis met 22 years ago when he was a student at then-Manatee Community College. The MCF Foundation sponsored the musical THE FABULOUS MRS. PALMER, (which Jo co-authored with Diana Colson) and Tyler was cast as Potter Palmer Jr., the son of Bertha Palmer and Potter Palmer—who was portrayed by Starlite director Preston Boyd.


Yurckonis holds an A.A. In Theatre from State College of Florida and studied communications and Journalism at Temple University. After college he started a career in the restaurant industry and worked under the Caragiulo family for over 10 years. He  opened The Starlite Room last September and has since hosted a number of high-profile events including the appearance of the legendary Ringo Starr at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. The popular restaurant has also sponsored  local theatrical organizations including  West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, the Players of Sarasota Players (and its Backstage performing company) and the Sara Solo Festival. Although The Starlite Room has been open less than a year,  it has already been honored by Sarasota Magazine as a 2015 Editors’ Pick, as “Best New After-Theater Hangout.”


For tickets and other information visit or email [email protected].


Starlite Players

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