Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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ROCKing the TONYS – Rebecca Luker

Rock the TonysRebecca LukerRebecca Luker

Little Rock connection: Has twice appeared with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Once it was the Valentine Pops concert singing Broadway songs, the second was a semi-staged concert version of The Music Man.

Tony Awards connection: She has been nominated for three Tony Awards. The first was in 1995 as Actress in a Musical for Show Boat, the second was in 2000 as Actress in a Musical for The Music Man and the third was in 2007 as Featured Actress in a Musical for Mary Poppins.  She has also performed on the Tony Awards with The Secret Garden and The Sound of Music.

Today is her birthday.

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This evening at the Capital Hotel, musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in a free concert

ASO at CHMusicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will be performing this evening in the lobby of the historic Capital Hotel. The music will start at 5:00 pm.

In 2011, the ASO started these free concerts in the lobby of the Capital Hotel.  The marble and tile of this historic lobby provide a wonderful acoustic backdrop for the musicians.

The concert will feature the Rockefeller String Quartet performing Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, “Dissonance” and Theofanidis’  Visions and Miracles.

Unlike concerts in music halls, guests here are encouraged to bring drinks to their seats or to stand and move around while the musicians are playing.  It is a relaxed, informal atmosphere where the audience and musicians alike are able to interact with each other.

This concert is part of the ASO’s ongoing efforts to play throughout the community under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann and Executive Director Christina Littlejohn.  In addition to the Capital Hotel concerts, they offer occasional free concerts at UAMS and have recently started the INC (Intimate Neighborhood Concerts) subscription series.

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ROCKing the TONYS – Japhy Weideman

Rock the TonysJaphy Weideman


Photo courtesy of Shevett Studios

Little Rock connection: Designed the lighting for several shows at Arkansas Repertory Theatre including The Grapes of Wrath, All My Sons and God’s Man in Texas.

Tony Awards connection: Received a 2013 nomination for his lighting design of The Nance.  This season he has been represented on Broadway with The Snow Geese, Macbeth and Of Mice and Men. The latter play, starring James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton, opens on Broadway tonight.

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ASO musicians perform free concert at UAMS today

ASO_2-colorThe Ruth Allen UAMS Series takes place from time to time at UAMS and is free.  This afternoon at 4:30pm will be the latest concert in the series.

The musicians today will be Barry McVinney, Diane McVinney and Dr. Martin Hauer-Jensen all on flute and Cindy Fuller on piano.

The pieces to be performed are:

DOPPLER – Andante and Rondo, Op. 25
W.F. BACH – Duet No. 2
QUANTZ – Sonata in D Major for Three Flutes
MUCZYNSKI – Duos for Flutes
J.S. BACH – Triosonate in G Major, BWV 1039
SCHOCKER – Three Dances for Two Flutes
MANCINI – Two for the Road

Here are the directions for the concert:

From Markham, turn south onto Hooper St.
Follow signs to Parking Lot 1.
Enter the lot, which goes underground.
Take the elevator to the “top” of the parking Lot 1, which immediately adjoins the back side of the lobby.
The Music Room is at the west end of the lobby, behind the grand piano.

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A Tax Day Bonus – More Riverfest Lineup revealed

logoRiverfest_bigToday is Tax Day. You can either use your tax bonus on tickets to Riverfest, or if you ended up owing money you can celebrate that Riverfest allows you to see musical acts a lot cheaper than you’d otherwise be able to be.

Either way, today Riverfest announced three more additions to the lineup.

On the Stickys Rock N’ Roll Chicken Shack Stage, the Friday headliner will be DJ Grandtheft. The Saturday headliner will be Cody Canada & The Departed. On Sunday, the headliner will be Surfer Blood.

In March, Riverfest announced Lee Brice, Buckcherry, Chicago, Easton Corbin, The Fray, CeeLo Green, Jamey Johnson, Salt-n-Pepa,  Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Three Days Grace and The Wallflowers with Jakob Dylan.

Riverfest will be May 23-25 in Riverfront Park and Clinton Park along the Arkansas River. Half-price passes ($20) go on sale April 1 at Walgreens nationwide; $35 passes and VIP packages also available now at

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ROCKing the TONYs – Tallulah Bankhead

Rock the TonysTallulah MidgieTallulah Bankhead

Little Rock connection: Appeared at Robinson Auditorium in 1941 and 1950.

Tony Awards connection: Received a Tony nomination for Actress in a Play for her performance in Midgie Purvis.  A play about her, entitled Looped netted Valerie Harper a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Bankhead.

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Little Rock Look Back: 106 Years at LR City Hall

CityHa78106 years ago today, Little Rock City Hall officially opened at the corner of Markham and Broadway.

On April 15, 1908, the Italian Renaissance Revival style building, which had been designed by local architect Charles Thompson, played host to an open house. Staff had started moving into the building in March of that year.   This was, as often is the case, behind schedule.  The date in the cornice toward the top of the building is 1907, but the building was not completed until 1908.

In 1903, W. E. Lenon became Mayor of Little Rock. Back then, the terms were two-year terms.  By the start of his second term in 1905, he realized that the City was outgrowing City Hall, which was, at the time, on the northeast corner of Markham and Louisiana – where part of the Statehouse Convention Center sits today.

In February 1906, Mayor Lenon appointed a committee of five aldermen to over see the planning for the building of a new City Hall. In July 1906, the City Council approved plans, which called for a City Hall with an municipal auditorium wing. There was some hue and cry about wasteful spending and a resulting lawsuit, so, in September 1906, those plans were scrapped and a simpler City Hall was approved for the cost of $175,000.

The last resolution in the old City Hall called for the banning of smoking in the new Council Chambers – while the Council was in session. This may well have been the first smoking ban in a public government building in the history of Arkansas.

When the building opened, the third floor was not finished out. The space was not needed. When the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities (now the Museum of Discovery) moved into City Hall in 1929, they had to finish out their space.

In 1913, the new Central Fire Station, designed in the Beaux Arts style, was constructed adjacent to City Hall. During the 1930s, as the City grew, more space was needed. A garage, designed in the “austere, utilitarian” style was built in 1936 and a City Jail Annex, built by the WPA in the modified Art Deco style was built in 1938.

City Hall prior to 1912

By 1955, the copper-clad dome which sat on top of City Hall needed severe repairs. The wooden supports and the copper cladding were both in dire shape. Mayor Pratt Remmel set aside money for the dome to be repaired. After defeating Remmel in his bid for a third term, Mayor Woodrow Mann scrapped plans for the repair and, indeed, scrapped the dome.

Following the lead of County Judge Arch Campbell who had removed the tower at the County Courthouse, Mann proposed removal of the dome. He had an informal survey which had three options: repair the dome, replace the dome with an aluminum one, or remove it. This was open to anyone to respond – voting eligibility or Little Rock residency did not matter. By a slim margin, remove the dome won – so the dome was removed.

In 1960, as air conditioning was installed, windows were bricked in to promote energy efficiency. At the time, the feeling was that a new City Hall would be constructed in the 1970s somewhere more central to the growing city. Relocation talk persisted throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. By that time, City Hall had been modified a great deal – with no thought about historic preservation. When the Police and Fire Department had moved out into their new facilities, their old spaces had become storage.

By 1984, the decision was made to stay at Markham and Broadway. An extensive renovation and restoration effort was undertaken. In 1988, the building reopened, and the interior had been restored to its 1908 appearance.


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