Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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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.


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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.

 


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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.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

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.


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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.


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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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Last Chance in Osage County this weekend

THEREP_AUGUST (no credits)-page-001Before it was a movie, Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County was a Pulitzer and Tony winning play.  Running for over 600 performances on Broadway, it first enraptured audiences in Chicago.  Now, Little Rock audiences have the chance to laugh, cringe, be surprised and nod knowingly as the Weston family gathers to comfort and confront each other.

Directed by Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, August: Osage County runs through June 21.

When the patriarch of the Weston clan disappears one hot summer night, the family reunites at the Oklahoma homestead, where long-held secrets are unflinchingly and uproariously revealed, dramatizing three generations of unfulfilled dreams and leaving each family member changed forever.

Rep founder Cliff Baker, who starred in the Rep’s first production of The Threepenny Opera returns to the stage as an actor to portray the mysterious patriarch of the Weston clan.  Joining him are Susanne Marley as matriarch Violet and LeeAnne Hutchison, Kathy McCafferty and Brenny Rabine as their three daughters.  Marc Carver, Michael McKenzie,  Mary Katelin Ward, Natalie Canerday, Richard Waddingham, Michael Patrick Kane, Grant Neale and Cassandra Seidenfeld play others who are drawn into the family drama.

The design team includes Mike Nichols (set), Marianne Custer (costumes), Yael Lubetzky (lighting), Allan Branson (sound) and Lynda J. Kwallek (props).  Other members of the creative team include fight director D. C. Wright (and there is plenty of physical sparring in addition to the verbal sparring) and dialect coach Stacy Pendergraft.


69th Tony Awards wrap up (published on 6/9)

Tony Tony TonyThe 69th Tony Awards have been distributed. The medallions have been spun. Producers are already starting to think about their shows for the 70th ceremony in June 2016. And actors are auditioning for the next jobs.

While Little Rock’s Will Trice did not personally pick up another Tony this year, two of the Tony winners were for shows he produced.  Annaleigh Ashford won the Tony for Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in You Can’t Take It with You.  Christopher Oram won the Tony for Costume Design of a Play for Wolf Hall, Part One and Two.  Catherine Zuber, who won a Tony for her costume design of The King and I will be working with Trice next season on a production of Fiddler on the Roof.

One of the Tony Awards went to Bob Crowley and 59 Productions for Scenic Design of a Musical for An American in Paris.  Ben Pearcy is the American representative of 59 Productions.  Ben’s father grew up in Little Rock, and his grandmother Janet Pearcy was a longtime supporter of Wildwood, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Arkansas Rep.   One of Ben’s first Broadway projects was on the lighting design team of the Broadway revival of Chicago which earned him a mention from Ken Billington in his Tony acceptance speech.

Time will tell, but undoubtedly some of the titles nominated for Tonys will eventually be performed in Little Rock either at the Rep, on tour courtesy of Celebrity Attractions, or as part of one of the seasons of one of the volunteer theatre seasons. This month, on stage in Little Rock are 2008 Tony winning Best Play August: Osage County at the Rep, 2009 Tony nominee 9 to 5 at Community Theatre of Little Rock and 2010 Tony nominee The Addams Family.

A couple of more Little Rock connections to Sunday’s ceremony.  Nick Jonas, who appeared at the Clinton Center 10th anniversary concert, was one of the presenters at the ceremony. Darren Criss, who attended the Clinton Center 10th anniversary events, hosted a red-carpet preview program.

I went 19 for 24 in my predictions.

The ones I got right:

Play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens

Revival of a PlaySkylight

Revival of a Musical – The King and I

Actor, PlayAlex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Actress, Play – Helen Mirren, The Audience

Actor, MusicalMichael Cerveris, Fun Home

Featured Actress, Play – Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You

Direction, PlayMarianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Direction, MusicalSam Gold, Fun Home

ChoreographyChristopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Book of a MusicalLisa Kron, Fun Home

Original ScoreJeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron, Fun Home

OrchestrationsChristopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris

Scenic Design, PlayBunny Christie & Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Scenic Design, MusicalBob Crowley & 59 Productions, An American in Paris

Costume Design, PlayChristopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Costume Design, MusicalCatherine Zuber, The King and I

Lighting Design, PlayPaule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Lighting Design, MusicalNatasha Katz, An American in Paris

 

I missed:

Musical – Fun Home (I picked An American in Paris)

Actress, Musical – Kelli O’Hara, The King and I (I picked Kristen Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century)

Featured Actor, Play – Richard McCabe, The Audience (I picked Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall, Parts One and Two)

Featured Actor, Musical – Christian Borle, Something Rotten! (I picked Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century)

Featured Actress, Musical – Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I (I picked Judy Kuhn, Fun Home)

 

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