Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater

RRT Rocky HorrorDo the Time Warp tonight at the Ron Robinson Theater when The Rocky Horror Picture Show is screened.

Doors open at 7pm, movie starts at 8pm.

A mixture of fantastical rock opera and horror movie spoof. A couple of ordinary kids – Brad and (Dammit) Janet (I love you) – have car trouble one dark and rainy night and knock on the door of a looming gothic mansion. They are stunned to learn that they have stumbled into an ongoing convention of kinky characters, hosted by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist who is a sweet transvestite from Transylvania.

The movie stars Tony nominee Tim Curry, Tony winner Barry Bostwick and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon along with appearances by Meat Loaf, and Richard O’Brien (who wrote the stage show and co-wrote the movie).

Originally a flop, it became one of the first cult-classic movies which ended up running for years in various cities.  Now is the chance to again see it on the big screen.

Admission is $7. Concessions are available for purchase.

Before Phantom arrives in LR, Celebrity Attractions offers 4 shows for 2015-16 season

201516 CALRCelebrity Attractions invites you to discover Broadway with the 2015–‐2016 Broadway Season at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.

The adventure begins as four national Broadway tours take the stage: Celebrate the King himself in ELVIS LIVES. Deck the halls with Broadway and Christmas classics in NEIL BERG’S BROADWAY HOLIDAY. Sing along with the world’s best–‐loved orphan, ANNIE and travel back in time with 13 time Tony® Award nominated musical, RAGTIME.

“We are excited to be able to continue bringing national tours to the Little Rock area during the Robinson Center renovation. The Maumelle Performing Arts Center, located on the Maumelle High School campus, provides an intimate theatrical experience for our patrons,” said Ed. L. Payton, Celebrity Attractions CEO. “We are sure you will become a Broadway fan after discovering our lineup for the Celebrity Attractions’ 2015–2016 Broadway Season.”

ELVIS LIVES October 23–25, 2015 ELVIS LIVES captures the imagination and interest of fans of all ages and all types including Broadway theatregoers, concert lovers and, of course Elvis aficionados. Welcomed by Hutchinson Financial, the theatrical production is an unforgettable multi–‐media and live musical journey across Elvis’ life. Each performer represents Elvis during different stages in his career. The Elvis tribute artists will be joined by a live band, back–‐up singers and dancers, and an Ann–‐Margret tribute artist. Celebrate the King of Rock and Roll in the national hit ELVIS LIVES!

NEIL BERG’S BROADWAY HOLIDAY December 18–20, 2015 This winter Neil Berg’s critically acclaimed musical revue BROADWAY HOLIDAY will deck the halls with Christmas tunes from Broadway scores along with celebrated favorites from Broadway’s hottest shows. Five of Broadway brightest stars direct from New York will take the audience on a journey celebrating the great American songbook, songs from Broadway’s recent blockbusters and Christmas songs to help guarantee you’ll “Have a Merry Little Christmas.” An evening of Broadway stars singing Holiday songs and standards will be the perfect way to warm your heart this Christmas season.

ANNIE February 19–21, 2016 Leapin’ Lizards! The world’s best–‐loved musical will return in time–‐honored form. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin and choreographed by Liza Gennaro, this production of ANNIE will be a brand new incarnation of the iconic original. Welcomed by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, ANNIE features a book and score by Tony® Award–‐winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, ANNIE includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.” “Overflowing! Big, warm–hearted and funny!” –‐New York Post.

RAGTIME April 15–17, 2016 At the dawn of a new century, everything is changing…and anything is possible. Welcomed by Arkansas Federal Credit Union, RAGTIME will take to the road in all–‐new touring production and is directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Marcia Milgrom Dodge. The stories of an upper–‐class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician unfold –‐ set in turn–‐of–‐the–‐century New York –‐–‐ all three united by their desire and belief in a brighter tomorrow. Their compelling stories are set to theatre’s richest and most glorious Tony® Award–‐winning score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Winning Tony® Awards for Best Book and Best Musical Score, this 13 time Tony® Award nominated musical is a timeless celebration of life –‐ what it could and should be! Welcomed by KATV and the Maumelle Area Chamber of Commerce

Celebrity Attractions’ 2015–2016 Broadway Season is held at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center, located on the campus of Maumelle High School. To guarantee great seats for all four nationally touring Broadway productions, become a Celebrity Attractions’ 2015–2016 Broadway Season Subscriber.

Season Subscriber benefits include many advantages: the best seats at the lowest prices, the same great seats for every show, the ability to buy additional tickets to individual shows before the public, the option to exchange show tickets to another performance before the public on sale and will be among the first to reserve seats in the newly renovated Robinson Center Music Hall for the 2016–17 Season which features Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Robinson Center to welcome PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to Little Rock in March 2017

The-Phantom-of-the-Opera-North-American-Tour (1)Celebrity Attractions announced today that the U.S. national tour of The Phantom of the Opera will play at the newly reopened Robinson Center Music Hall during the 2016-2017 season. It will be here from March 8 to 19 in 2017.

The production will be the largest musical to play in the building ever.  It will eclipse Beauty and the Beast and Wicked, which both have played at Robinson twice.

The musical, based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book & lyrics by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber.  The production was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Harold Prince.

After opening in London in 1986, The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in January 1988. It is still running over 27 years later. Phantom is the longest running show in Broadway history.  Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 1988, it won seven: Best Musical, Actor in a Musical (Michael Crawford), Featured Actress in a Musical (Judy Kaye), Director of a Musical (Harold Prince), Scenic Design (Maria Bjornson), Costume Design (Bjornson) and Lighting Design (Andrew Bridge).

More details about other bookings at Robinson Center in 2016-2017 will be announced in the coming months.

60th Season of Community Theatre of Little Rock

ctlr1956-2016 – Sixty years. It is hard to believe that Community Theatre of Little Rock has been a Central Arkansas staple, delivering dramas, comedies, romances and musicals.

The season kicks off with Ira Levin’s Tony nominated murder mystery Deathtrap.  It runs September 3rd – 6th and 10th – 13th.

Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a “dry” spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. A possible break in his fortunes occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college—a thriller which Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway hit. Sidney’s plan, which he devises with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student, an idea which the younger man quickly accepts.

Next up is the hilarious holiday musical The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.  The holiday cheer runs November 26th to 29th, December 4th to 6th and 11th to 13.


It’s holiday time down in Armadillo Acres (North Florida’s premier mobile-living community), and everyone’s filled with warmth and beer. But when a freak bout of amnesia strikes the trailer park Scrooge, neighborly love is put to the test. Be on hand as Betty, Lin, and Pickles jingle all the way with some new neighbors in an all-new, all-trailer-park musical! This companion to the original GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is just as much of a cat-fightin’, sun-worshippin’, chair-throwin’ good time-—but with tinsel and Keg Nog.

The first show of 2016 is William Inge’s classic Bus Stop.  This romantic comedy-drama runs February 11th-14th and 18th-21st.

In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked, and four or five weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning. Cherie, a nightclub chanteuse in a sparkling gown and a seedy fur-trimmed jacket, is the passenger with most to worry about. She’s been pursued, made love to and finally kidnapped by a twenty-one-year-old cowboy with a ranch of his own and the romantic methods of an unusually headstrong bull. As a counterpoint to the main romance, the proprietor of the cafe and the bus driver at last find time to develop a friendship of their own; a middle-age scholar comes to terms with himself; and a young girl who works in the cafe also gets her first taste of romance.

The next show is the warm-hearted, nostalgic comedy On Golden Pond by Ernest L. Thompson.  It plays from April 14th – 17th and 21st to 24th.

This is the love story of Ethel and Norman Thayer, who are returning to their summer home on Golden Pond for the forty-eighth year. He is a retired professor, nearing eighty, with heart palpitations and a failing memory—but still as tart-tongued, observant and eager for life as ever. Ethel, ten years younger, and the perfect foil for Norman, delights in all the small things that have enriched and continue to enrich their long life together. They are visited by their divorced, middle-aged daughter and her dentist fiancé, who then go off to Europe, leaving his teenage son behind for the summer. In the end, as the summer wanes, so does their brief idyll, and in the final, deeply moving moments of the play, Norman and Ethel are brought even closer together by the incidence of a mild heart attack. Time, they know, is now against them, but the years have been good and, perhaps, another summer on Golden Pond still awaits.

Irving Berlin’s sharp-shooting musical Annie Get Your Gun closes out the season in June 2016. Running June 3rd-5th, 10th-12th, and 17th-19th, it shows why “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Annie Oakley is the best shot around, and she manages to support her little brother and sisters by selling the game she hunts. When she’s discovered by Col. Buffalo Bill, he persuades this novel sharpshooter to join his Wild West Show. It only takes one glance for her to fall head over heels for dashing shooting ace Frank Butler, who headlines the show. She soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction which, while good for business, is bad for romance. Butler hightails it off to join a rival show, his bruised male ego leading the way, but is ultimately pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The rousing, sure-fire finale hits the mark every time in a testament to the power of female ingenuity.

Performances are at the Studio Theatre at 328 W. 7th Street.  Curtain times are: Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights, 7:30 pm and Sunday Matinees, 2:00 pm.



FasttimesEvery so often a film comes along which seems to launch most of the cast into various levels of stardom.  1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of those movies.

Amy Heckerling directed Cameron Crowe’s script of life in a California high school.  While Sean Penn may have been the breakout star of the movie for his stoner Spicoli, he was hardly the only actor to make a mark with it.  Judge Reinhold, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Phoebe Cates all saw their profiles rise due to this film.

Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, Anthony Edwards and Forrest Whitaker, though in minor roles, also appear in the movie.  Others in the cast included Tony Award winners Ray Walston and Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Scott Thomson, Vincent Schiavelli, Amanda Wyss, D. W. Brown, Taylor Negron and Nancy Wilson (Mrs. Cameron Crowe).

Episodic in nature, this film celebrates and commiserates the challenges of life in high school. It examines classes, dating, and bad jobs.

Back to School Cinema: DEAD POET’S SOCIETY

Dead_poets_societyWith students returning to school, this week the Culture Vulture will feature seven favorite films about the high school experience.  Up first is 1989’s Dead Poets Society.

While it can be a bit melodramatic, Peter Weir’s movie (from Tom Schulman’s script) captures not only the generational split between students and their teachers & parents, but also the seismic shifts that were happening in the US in the late 1950s. The movie takes place just prior to the JFK-Nixon election time.  It sets the stage for the dichotomy of feelings those candidates represented.

When it first came out, it had a tremendous influence on me.  I appreciated the references to history and literature, the Ralph Lauren designed clothing, the tremendous use of plaid in set decoration and the breathtaking scenery.  The actors playing the students were my age, though playing slightly younger (I was in college, they were playing prep school seniors).  Though I confess, I was not much of a Walt Whitman fan, and still am not.

Robin Williams is stellar as a combination Mr. Chips and Pied Piper who bucks the system at Welton Academy. Though the part was not written for him, he made it his own. It showcased not only his comic talents but also his ability to show pathos.  Even when he is hamming it up for his students, Williams shows a bit of restraint – he keeps his character grounded in 1959.

The actors playing the students had great chemistry – they functioned as a complete unit. They have gone on to varied levels of success.  Robert Sean Leonard has won a Tony and alternated between stage and TV with a few films.  Ethan Hawke was, for a while, a leading actor of his generation and has received Oscar nominations for acting and writing. Josh Charles has worked fairly steadily, especially on TV in shows like “SportsNight” and “The Good Wife.”  James Waterston has also kept busy in various acting roles.  Gale Hansen, who was so magnetic in this film, has disappeared from acting.  Allelon Ruggiero and Dylan Kussman, too, have had only a few credits.

The movie also proved to be a breakout for Kurtwood Smith. He followed up this hellish dad with a kinder version in “That 70’s Show.”  Norman Lloyd, who played the headmaster, celebrated his 100th birthday in November 2014.  He still takes a few acting roles and attends events.  (When I first watched it, I would never have predicted that 25 years later Williams would be dead and Lloyd would be turning 100.)  Several other character actors pop up as faculty members and parents.  (One of my favorites, John Cunningham, plays Ethan Hawke’s father.)

This being a movie that came out in the summer, I was was pleased when it received four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Williams), Director (Weir) and Original Screenplay (Schulman).  On Oscar night, Schulman walked home with the trophy.

The ending of the film gives me goosebumps each time – even though I know it is coming.  There are so many other moments I enjoy – the kicking of the ball while reciting inspirational quotes accompanied by Beethoven is certainly another.  And I can still recite Puck’s final speech in A Midsummer Night’s Dream because I learned it from this movie.

I was fortunate to have teachers to inspire me at all levels of schooling.  Though none asked me to stand on desks, I was challenged, cajoled and even on a few times chastised.  And I am the better for it.


Single Tickets On Sale at Ark Rep on Monday

ScottishPlayThe 2015-2016 season is the 40th one for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The audience gets the gifts.  It is not too late to subscribe, but for those wanting single tickets, the wait is almost over.  Single tickets go on sale on Monday, August 17.

The season kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Scottish play about the Thane of Cawdor and his wife Lady M. The cauldron the witches stir is not the only toil and trouble on the heaths and moors of Scotland.  It will run September 11-27.

SpellingBeeNext up is the Tony winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This tuneful, witty musical with book by Rachel Sheinkin and songs by William Finn, will play from October 16 to November 8.

TheLittleMermaidDisney’s The Little Mermaid will be the holiday show running from December 4 to January 3.  It will be a regional premiere of this musical featuring a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Doug Wright and a score by the Oscar winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater.

Starcatcher2016 will start off with another regional premiere–Peter and the Starcatcher.  This prequel to the Peter Pan stories is by Rick Elice. Though a play, it does have some songs by Wayne Barker and Elice.  This winner of  five Tony Awards will be on stage from January 15 to February 7.

BridgesThe regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County will take place on the Arkansas Rep stage from April 8 to May 1.  This musical has a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Marsha Norman.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.49.51 AMThe main stage season will conclude with a world premiere play Windfall.  Directed by Tony winner Jason Alexander, this comedy by Scooter Pietsch looks at greed among a group of office workers.  It will run from June 10 to 26.

The artwork for the shows for the 40th anniversary season was created by Marty Baragiola of Baragiola Creative.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,518 other followers