Announcing the cast of "Death and Taxes"!

Mar 18, 2016

There has been a murder in town, and it is up to the Bradford City Council to figure out who did it!

Bradford Little Theatre is excited to announce the cast of their upcoming production, “Death and Taxes,” by Pat Cook. The play will go up on the Togi’s Playhouse stage for none other than tax weekend, April 15, 16, and 17.

Directing the comedic murder mystery that takes place during a strange city council meeting is first-time director Charlotte Stock, of Salamanca, NY. Stock has performed in numerous productions across the region and has been participating in theatre since she was 4 years old.

“I’m so excited to be making my directorial debut with Bradford Little Theatre. They have been so kind to me over the last year, really standing behind me to help make this entire process as easy as possible for me,” Stock said. “And I’m also overjoyed that I get to direct this show. “Death and Taxes” is one of my favorite plays because it is just so enjoyable and witty and I couldn’t have been blessed with a better cast to work with.”

The leader of the city council is mayor Kathleen Lyles, played by veteran actor Laura Picioli, from Bradford. After the murder of an out-of-town IRS agent takes place in her town, Lyles is determined to get to the bottom of things before speculations from the local paper and citizens get out of hand so she decides to turn the city council meeting into a coroner’s jury.

“With the unusual confrontations and quarrels taking place at city council meetings over the past year, we thought this show would be a perfect fit for this season,” said Chelsea Place, secretary of Bradford Little Theatre and stage manager for the production. “We decided to have a little fun with the script and have it set in Bradford in current times, instead of in the 70s in Hendricks, middle America, as it’s scripted.”

The mayor’s mousey, unorganized secretary, Lydia Kleft, played by BLT veteran Connie Shanks of Bradford, is charged with trying to keep up with notes of the meeting as tempers flair during the proceedings.

“I’m really excited to play Lydia,” Shanks said during a rehearsal last week, “I get to hold a clipboard during the entire show, anyone who has performed with me in the past knows why!”

The city’s sheriff, Wesley Thorne, performed by Barry Fitzgerald, of Allegany, NY, is obviously annoyed with the mayor’s insistence on continuing his investigation. And he’s surprised to learn there may have been more than a few things he overlooked while napping in his patrol car.

Patrick Collins and Beckie Confer, both of Bradford, play rednecks Carl and Mattie Johansen, respectively, a couple of citizens who happened to have had a dead man show up on their living room couch. Collins is making his BLT debut in this production. Confer, who is Vice President of BLT, is no stranger to singing on stage, but this is her first time being on the BLT stage without any music swelling behind her.

“I haven’t had to just act in a full scale straight play on stage, so I thought this show would be a perfect opportunity for that,” Confer stated.

The contentious country doctor, Efrem Bishop, played by Dr. David Merwine, of Bradford, is called to the meeting to provide his medical expertise. Merwine, in addition to serving on the BLT board, is a regular on the stage, both in Bradford and in Olean.

The editor of the city’s weekly newspaper is Eddie King, a brash, pushy man, played by UPB student Joshua Porterfield. Porterfield is originally from a town just outside of Pittsburgh where he was in the musical “Annie.” He made his BLT debut during “The Awesome 80s Prom” as The Plant.

“Playing Eddie is just so fun because he’s the polar opposite of me,” Porterfield said. “My acting homework this week is to watch sarcastic movies so I can get the hang of my character.”

Alexandra Fleming, another UPB student from St. Marys, plays the nosy neighbor Cora Sedgewick, invited to the council meeting because she found the deceased’s body. She has performed in several plays and musicals in her home town. She also played a cheerleader in “The Awesome 80s Prom.”

The final UPB student joining the production is Carlie Watson, from Coudersport. Watson plays the school’s drama teacher, Evelyn Martindale, who helps to guide the city council members through their investigation of the crime. This is Watson’s debut with BLT, though she has been on the stage in the past.

“I hope that audiences will enjoy what transpires as the group goes over the motives, intentions, and alibis of everyone implicated in the murder,” said Stock.

Tickets for “Death and Taxes” will be available on Monday, March 21 at Togi’s Family Restaurant. Cost for students and seniors is $8 and adults are $10 per person. You can also purchase tickets online on or make reservations by calling JessAnn at 716-790-0039. Tickets will be available at the door if available.

Bradford Little Theatre, now in their 19th season, is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the arts to the Bradford community.