DORSET - Local actors, singers, dancers and musicians are putting the finishing touches on "Anyone Can Whistle," which opens May 16 at the Dorset Playhouse.

This Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents musical tells the story of a corrupt lady mayor who fakes a miracle to revitalize her bankrupt town and the ill-fated romance between the rational nurse out to expose the fraud and the easy-going doctor determined to enjoy the chaos it brings.

" 'Anyone Can Whistle' wasn't a big success when it opened in 1964, but I think it's right on target for today's audience," said Jeff Linebeck, the show's director. "The show failed in the 1960s because Sondheim and Laurents daringly broke from traditional musical comedy forms and expected audiences to laugh at hot-button topics such as conformity, psychology, race relations, greed, religion and politics.

Amber Hamilton, left and Tom Ferguson are part of the cast of the Dorset Players upcoming production of "Anyone Can Whistle," which opens on May
Amber Hamilton, left and Tom Ferguson are part of the cast of the Dorset Players upcoming production of "Anyone Can Whistle," which opens on May 16. (Timothy Peters Photo)
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Critics were divided and the show closed after running a week on Broadway. Within the last three years, however, "Anyone Can Whistle" has been revived in New York, London and Los Angeles.

"To bring this musical to life, I've decided to tell the story in the simplest, least affected way possible." said Linebeck. Therefore, there are no set changes, costumes by Mary McVey evoke no particular time period, and lighting by Angie Merwin suggests a storybook setting.

The title song and "With So Little to Be Sure Of" have survived as cabaret classics, but the rarely heard complete score is a riot of jazzy, show-biz razzmatazz, waltzes, gospel numbers and Broadway pastiche, indicative of the composer's idiosyncratic style.

"Anyone Can Whistle" will be performed with a live trio accompaniment: Richard Cherry, pianist; Benjamin Green, bass; and Jeff McRae, percussion. The hero, J. Bowden Hapgood, is played by Tom Ferguson and Nurse Apple is played by Dorset Players newcomer Amber Hamilton. The cast also includes Danielle Houston, Todd Houston, Paul Michael Brinker, John Wayne Macri and a 12-member ensemble.

Performances are May 16-18 at 7:30 p.m.; May 19 and 26 at 2 p.m.; May 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, and $10 for those 18 and under. They are available at the Dorset Players box office. Call (802) 867-5777.

This Dorset Players production is directed by Jeff Linebeck, choreographed by Terrie Robinson and produced by Betsy Bleakie. It is sponsored by Bickford Real Estate, Equinox Village, Mettowee Mill Nursery and Orvis.