The cast of ‘Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses,’ along with producer Mary-Margaret Dale and director Jonelle Kop, hold a dress rehearsal for the comedy presented by The Key Players. KELLIE BUTLER FARRELL/Keys Weekly

The setting for The Key Players’ latest production is a small, seaside destination wedding hotel called Lover’s Landing. The show opens with the lovable yet flaky hotel clerk, Candy, working the phones at the front desk and preparing to welcome guests to this mystical retreat.

“I’m very clumsy in this show, so I’m supposed to be swinging around and stuff like that,” said Jax Terrasa, who plays Candy.

This is Terrasa’s second time performing in a Key Players production, an experience the 21-year-old describes as rewarding.

“I’ve made so many new friends; it makes me so happy to be here,” said Terrasa, who when not under the bright lights works as a barista at the Key Largo Starbucks.

The seven-member cast is made up of The Key Players veterans and novice actors alike.

Patrice Messina started with the community theater group in 1996. In this production, she plays the snooty Beatrice Rutherford-Smythe, the mother of a bride who disapproves of her daughter’s choice of a husband.

“I haven’t been on stage in like six years, so for me it’s almost kind of a love-hate relationship,” said Messina. “It’s the nerves and the stress before the show and then it’s the jubilation after.” 

Messina’s daughter, Traci, is played by 19-year-old Erykah Moses. This is her third production with The Key Players. Moses said her character becomes a little high strung during the show.

“She has a lot of meltdowns, but she’s okay, I swear,” said Moses with a laugh.

Moses’ fiance, Peter Mudd, is played by Angel Martin. Off stage, Martin and Terrasa are best friends. 

“I am honored to work with my best friend in our second show together,“ said Martin. “Everyone in the cast is amazing.”

Patrice Messina (Beatrice Rutherford-Smythe), right, and Erykah Moses (Traci) discuss the upcoming nuptials at the Lover’s Landing hotel. KELLIE BUTLER FARRELL/Keys Weekly

This will be Casey LaMorte’s first show with The Key Players. On stage, LaMorte plays Audrina Brown, a woman who recently inherited the hotel from her late father but soon discovers her Uncle Bubba is running some shady operations on the property. In real life, LaMorte is a mother of two young daughters and an operating room nurse at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. 

“You have to be very strict with your time management,” said LaMorte of juggling rehearsals along with an already very busy life. 

“I just lean on my community and lean on my friends and my family because other than that I couldn’t juggle all this, because it’s a lot,” she added.

Key Largo spec home builder Robert Pozo plays the sketchy Uncle Bubba. Pozo says for him, acting in community theater is all about stepping outside of his comfort zone.

“I’m always about that, whether it’s physical like skydiving or doing Ironman races; this was just something that was completely out there,” said Pozo. ”I thought it would be fun.”

Full-time FIU student and Key Largo resident Andrew Fleites is becoming a familiar face in The Key Players and has several shows under his belt.

Robert Pozo (Uncle Bubba), wearing snorkel gear, talks to Jax Terrasa (Candy) during a scene in which Pozo had to dive into a septic tank to repair a stuck drain field valve. KELLIE BUTLER FARRELL/Keys Weekly

In “Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses,” Fleites plays the mysterious Douglas DuPont, a role he finds both challenging and entertaining.

“I’ve got a secret to hide, so that’s kind of cool,” said Fleites.

Producer Mary-Margaret Dale described the play as funny and cute. She said this show has been a few years in the making after being derailed once by the pandemic.

“We originally planned to do this play in 2021 and when one of the variants came back around with the pandemic, we had to postpone it,” said Dale. “We knew we really wanted to do it; we just didn’t know when we could do it.”

Jonelle Kop is directing this show.“Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses” opens  June 1 at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center. There will be a total of seven performances. For more information on show dates, times and ticket prices, visit

Kellie Butler Farrell is a journalist who calls Islamorada home. Kellie spent two decades in television news and also taught journalism at Barry University in Miami and Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She loves being outside, whether spending time on the water or zipping down the Old Highway on her electric bike, Kellie is always soaking up the island lifestyle. Kellie and her husband own an electric bike rental company, Keys Ebikes.