Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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ONCE ON THIS ISLAND presented by Ark Rep SMTI senior students tonight and this weekend

Rep SMTI OOTIThe Tony nominated musical Once on This Island, by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is being presented tonight, tomorrow and two times Saturday by the senior level students in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI).

Performances are at 7pm tonight (Thursday the 23rd), Friday and Saturday with a 1pm matinee on Saturday the 25th, as well.  Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling the Rep box office or stopping by in person.

Once on This Island is based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy.  Set in the French Antilles, it mixes Caribbean mythology with elements of Romeo and Juliet as well as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.  It was nominated for 8 Tony Awards in 1991.  Four years later, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London.

Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) is The Rep’s annual training program for aspiring young artists in Arkansas.  Under the direction of Capri, SMTI is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed exclusively for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre.

The SMTI staff is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and designers. Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multi-media, costume and stage make-up, dance and vocal coaching.

Each session – broken into Select (ages 10 – 12), Junior (ages 13-15) and Senior (ages 16-23) – involves intensive daily rehearsals culminating in a public workshop performance of a selected musical or musical revue.

AMERICAN IDIOT rocks into Weekend Theater

American Idiot at The Weekend Theater in Little Rock, ARFirst there was the album and the tour, then Billie Joe Armstrong and Tony winner Michael Mayer collaborated to create the stage musical.  Now Green Day’s American Idiot is coming to the Weekend Theater stage for four weeks.

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical American Idiot is based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum album. This energy-fueled rock opera, which includes every song from the album, as well as several songs from follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown, brings us face-to-face with the perils of war, drug addiction, and escapism, and the power of true friendship.

The story centers on Will, Johnny, and Tunny, who struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world. When the three disgruntled young men flee the constraints of their hometown for the thrills of city life, their paths are quickly estranged when Tunny enters the armed forces, Michael is called back home to attend familial responsibilities, and Johnny’s attention becomes divided by a seductive love interest and a hazardous new friendship. We follow the three as they try to find themselves and learn that, with acceptance, comes the possibility of hope.

The cast features Robert Warner, Peyton Hooks, Courtney Williams, Luke Johnson, Brittany Sparkles, Charmaine Foster, Mackenzie Holtzclaw, Xavier Jones, Adam Smith, Jordan Lott, Nichole Henry, Angel Monroe, Angela Morgan, Anna Darr, and Simmery Branch.

The production is directed by Frank Butler with music direction by Lori Isner.  The show runs through August 9.  Performances are at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons.  On Friday, August 7, the curtain time is 8pm.

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Martinez and Binns present evening of song tonight

emm mbStarting tonight at 7:30pm in the Lobby Bar, there will be an evening of music featuring the amazing talents of Erin Martinez on vocals, Mark Binns on vocals and piano, Pat Lindsey on drums, and Brian Wolverton on bass.

It’ll be a relaxed evening filled with jazz, soul, rock, musical theatre, and some other fun musical surprises!

There is no cover and no age limit at the Lobby Bar. It’s a friendly environment appropriate for all ages. The bar has a wide variety of wines, beers, ciders, hot cocoa, and soft drinks.

Binns is Musical Director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.  He has also worked with The Studio Theatre. Martinez has appeared on stage at the Weekend Theatre and the Studio Theatre. In 2013, she performed in New York City with multiple Tony winner Jason Robert  Brown.

Tonight at Ron Robinson Theater – Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS

rrt 39 stepsOne of Alfred Hitchcock’s early films, while he was still in Great Britain, was 1935’s The 39 Steps. With themes that he would return to time and time again, it tells the story of a man in London who tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

The film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Others in the cast are Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie, Frank Cellier and Wylie Watson.  It also features a cameo by Hitchcock himself.

The film was written by Ian Hay and Charles Bennett, adapted from the novel by John Buchan.  The 39 Steps was adapted for the stage in the early 2000s and won two Tony Awards.

The mystery starts tonight at 7pm at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.  Admission is $5 with concessions available for purchase.


Free readings of two new plays today at Arkansas Rep as part of TheatreSquared New Play Festival

ark new play festIn partnership with TheatreSquared, located in Fayetteville, The Rep will host two staged reading performances in The Rep’s Lobby, located on the ground level.:

Saturday, June 27
Free of Charge
2 p.m. – Uncle by Lee Blessing
7 p.m. – Dust by Qui Nguyen

2 p.m. – Uncle by Lee Blessing
From Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing (A Walk in the Woods), Uncle is a comedy about an academic sabbatical gone terribly awry. Dr. Paul Waymiller is facing a “publish or perish” deadline on his book about Chekov’s masterpiece, Uncle Vanya. With his career in the balance, he refuses to be distracted by anything—be it his imminent divorce, Vanya himself, or the interdimensional wormhole that’s opened up in his backyard.ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Lee Blessing has written more than thirty plays, including A Walk in the Woods (nominated for Tony and Olivier Awards and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Going to St. Ives, Independence, A Body of Water, Thief River, Two Rooms and Eleemosynary. Recent notable premieres include For the Loyal at Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis, Courting Harry at History Theatre in St. Paul and Great Falls at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, Australia. Blessing’s plays have earned two Steinberg/American Theater Critics Association awards as well as Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and L.A. Critics Association awards. His TNT film “Cooperstown” won the Humanitas Award. Blessing headed the Graduate Playwriting Program at Rutgers University for over a decade.

7 p.m. – Dust by Qui Nguyen

Dust is the story of Thuy, a girl who sets out to find her ex-G.I. father – who has kept her existence a secret from his wife for 16 years. Blending live hip-hop, raw emotion and wry wit, Dust recasts the American dream through the eyes of an Amer-Asian teenager in this redemptive, cross-cultural coming-of-age story.


Qui Nguyen is a playwright, screenwriter and co-founder of the OBIE Award-winning Vampire Cowboys of New York City. His work, known for its innovative use of pop-culture, stage violence, puppetry and multimedia, has been lauded as “Culturally Savvy Comedy” by The New York Times, “Infectious Fun” by Variety, and “Tour De Force Theatre” by Time Out New York. This past season, The Chicago Tribune praised him as a “refreshing, break-the-rules writer” as Time Out Chicago named his play She Kills Monsters one of the 10 Best Plays of 2013.Recent honors include being named a 2014 Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellow; a 2014 McCarter/Sallie B. Goodman Fellow; a 2013 Sundance Theatre Lab Fellow; a recipient of a 2013 AATE Distinguished Play Award (She Kills Monsters); a 2012 TCG Young Leader of Color; and receiving 2012 & 2009 GLAAD Media Award nominations for his plays She Kills Monsters and Soul Samurai.

His company, Vampire Cowboys, often credited for being the pioneers of “geek theatre”, holds the unique distinction of being the first and currently only professional theatre organization to be officially sponsored by NY Comic Con. They’ve been praised by the Village Voice as “New York’s Best Army of Geeks” and currently in-residence at The New Ohio Theater and IRT.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

rrt monty_python_and_the_holy_grailThe Knights who say “Ni” will ride their fake horses onto the screen at the Ron Robinson Theater tonight.  At 7:30, the theatre will show Monty Python and the Holy Grail in honor of the film’s 40th anniversary.

Among the cast of characters are King Arthur, various Knights of the Roundtable, the Lady of the Lake, the Black Knight, killer rabbits and people who are not-yet-dead.  Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, it was written by and stars John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin as well as Gilliam and Jones. Others in the cast include Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth and John Young.

Using the Arthurian legend as a framework, it manages to satirize and skewer many other social conventions with a very anachronistic tone.  The film was adapted for the musical theatre stage in 2005 as Spamalot which won the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The screening starts tonight at 10:00pm.  Cost for admission is $5.  Concessions are available for purchase.

On Father’s Day, a look at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

AST FiddlerFiddler on the Roof is about a father to five daughters. Since today is Father’s Day, and Fiddler is being produced by Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre this summer, today seems a good day to discuss it.

This classic beloved musical tells the story of Tevye the dairyman who takes ultimate joy in his family and traditions. He works to raise his five daughters and see them married well, but must struggle against modern ideas and the rising tide of anti-Semitism in 1900s Russia that threaten to destroy his family and their way of life.

The cast is led by Peter Kevoian, Jo Blackstone, Stacy Pendergraft, Mark Fox, Jocelyn Vammer, Hunter Ringsmith, Hannah Moulder, Garret Whitehead, Sydney Ippolito, Matthew Holcomb, Mattie Bogoslavsky, David Bauman, Holly Ruth Gale, Dan Matisa, Jess Prichard, Ricky Pope, David Weatherly, Josie Ghormley, Claire Gillaspy, Tanner Berry, Charlie Friedman, Taylor Galloway, Garrett Houston, Moriah Patterson, Harrison Trigg, Jackson Karl, Rebecca Kuo, Amanda Kuo, Zoe Russell, Kendall Watson, Joey Whisenhunt and Maggie Whisenhunt.

Originally produced in 1964, Fiddler went on to win nine Tony Awards in 1965 including Best Musical.  

The production opened on June 10 and continues today at 2pm and 7:30, Wednesday at 2pm and 7:30 and Saturday at 7:30.


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