Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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2017 Tony Award predictions

Tony Tony TonyI have struggled with these a lot more this year because so many races are so close.  But here are my thoughts on the 2017 Tony Award potential winners.

Play
A Doll’s House, Part 2, Lucas Hnath
Indecent, Paula Vogel
Oslo, J.T. Rogers
Sweat, Lynn Nottage

Sweat was the early front-runner after picking up the Pulitzer; Oslo has captured every other award since then.  A Doll’s House, Part 2 has run a masterful campaign since the nominations and is likely to be a popular touring vehicle given its cast and set requirements (minimal). There is momentum for Hnath’s play, but Tony voters tend to love Lincoln Center Theater productions, of which Rogers’ play is one.  I think OSLO will triumph.

 

Best Musical
Come From Away
Dear Evan Hansen
Groundhog Day
Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

“Great Comet” could be a spoiler, but the race is likely betwixt Come from Away and Dear Evan Hansen.  This is a case of “important” vs. “populist” though both pull at the emotional heartstrings repeatedly.  As much as I would love to see Come from Away win because a friend from college is in the cast (and I think it handles 9/11 without exploiting it), I suspect DEAR EVAN HANSEN will emerge with the silver medallion.

  

Revival of a Play
Jitney
The Little Foxes
Present Laughter
Six Degrees of Separation

Jitney seems to have the edge on this race.  Since it shares the same producer as The Little Foxes, this is one of those rare Tony races without aggressive campaigning.  This is a chance to recognize the genius that was August Wilson over a decade after his untimely death.  The Tony goes to JITNEY

 

Revival of a Musical
Falsettos
Hello, Dolly!
Miss Saigon

Call on Dolly!  It will be HELLO, DOLLY!

 

Actor in a Play
Denis Arndt, Heisenberg
Chris Cooper, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Corey Hawkins, Six Degrees of Separation
Kevin Kline, Present Laughter
Jefferson Mays, Oslo

While there is an outside chance that Chris Cooper or Jefferson Mays could stage a coup, the award is KEVIN KLINE’s.  He wears the role like a silk dressing gown.

 

Actress in a Play
Cate Blanchett, The Present
Jennifer Ehle, Oslo
Sally Field, The Glass Menagerie
Laura Linney, The Little Foxes
Laurie Metcalf, A Doll’s House, Part 2

The race is really between Metcalf and Linney.  But when it is that tight, there is an opening for an upset – with either Ehle (who Tony voters love) or Field poised to sweep in.  With both Linney and Metcalf having multiple nominations with no wins and a lot of support for their star turns, it is truly splitting hairs to pick a favorite.  Gut says LAURIE METCALF for creating an original role.  Plus, her other nominations have been for outstanding work in mediocre plays, whereas Linney has been recognized for strong work in better productions.  This is a chance to reward Metcalf for being in a better product.

 

Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Falsettos
Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Andy Karl, Groundhog Day The Musical
David Hyde Pierce, Hello, Dolly!
Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Andy Karl seems poised to be the 2010s Raul Esparza—that actor who gives it his all and walks away on Tony night empty handed every time.  While he gives it his all (physically) in Groundhog Day the award seems likely to go to wunderkind BEN PLATT who gives it his all (emotionally).

 

Actress in a Musical
Denée Benton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Christine Ebersole, War Paint
Patti LuPone, War Paint
Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!
Eva Noblezada, Miss Saigon

From the day her casting was announced, the engravers went to work on etching BETTE MIDLER’s name on this award.

 

Featured Actor in a Play
Michael Aronov, Oslo
Danny DeVito, The Price
Nathan Lane, The Front Page
Richard Thomas, The Little Foxes
John Douglas Thompson, Jitney

Lane was the front-runner early in the season, but since has been in London, he hasn’t been around to make the campaign events.  Though Aronov has his supporters DANNY DEVITO steals the play and will likely take home the trophy.

 

Featured Actress in a Play
Johanna Day, Sweat
Jayne Houdyshell, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes
Condola Rashad, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Michelle Wilson, Sweat

The Sweat and Doll’s House ladies likely cancel each other out.  CYNTHIA NIXON is likely to add a “Fox” Tony next to her “Rabbit” Tony.

 

Featured Actor in a Musical
Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!
Mike Faist, Dear Evan Hansen
Andrew Rannells, Falsettos
Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Brandon Uranowitz, Falsettos

Creel, Rannells and Uranowitz are all well-liked, previous nominees.  Steele gives a flashy performance that has “award-winning” written all over it.  But it looks like Tony may be saying “Hello” to GAVIN CREEL

 

Featured Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Hello, Dolly!
Stephanie J. Block, Falsettos
Jenn Colella, Come From Away
Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen
Mary Beth Peil, Anastasia

Previous nominees Baldwin and Peil do not appear to be in the mix this year.  The race seems to be between Jones and Colella in what could either be a harbinger of the Best Musical winner or a consolation prize.  Block is poised to be the spoiler in a category that often has spoilers.  The ever-so-slight edge seems to go to JENN COLELLA who has been a game campaigner (and been assisted by her real life counterpart).

 

Direction of a Play
Sam Gold, A Doll’s House, Part 2
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Jitney
Bartlett Sher, Oslo
Daniel Sullivan, The Little Foxes
Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

 A case could be made for any of these. At one point Taichman seemed like the frontrunner. Of late, it seems to be a race between Santiago-Hudson and Sher, revival vs. play.  The fact that Jitney is still so memorable several months after it closed is a testament to Santiago-Hudson’s deft work.  It looks like RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON may add a second August Wilson-related Tony to his collection, this time for directing.

 

Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Come From Away
Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Michael Greif, Dear Evan Hansen
Matthew Warchus, Groundhog Day
Jerry Zaks, Hello, Dolly!

Good to see Jerry Zaks back in the nominee list for the first time in 22 years.  He and previous winner Warchus will likely remain seated tonight.  Though there is a sense that Greif is overdue for a Tony win (and it has been 21 years since his first nomination), RACHEL CHAVKIN has the advantage for her work steering “Great Comet” over the years and transforming it into a Broadway scale show while shattering a proscenium-bound house.

 

Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day
Kelly Devine, Come From Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn
Sam Pinkleton, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

Usually this award goes to either the juggernaut show or the “danciest” show.  Bandstand and Holiday Inn were the two dance shows of the season.  While there is a sense that Pinkleton might win for his working keeping all the Russians moving throughout “Great Comet,” it will most likely be Andy Blankenbuehler picking up his second consecutive (and third overall) Tony for his wartime era dance moves.

 

Book of a Musical
Steven Levenson, Dear Evan Hansen
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Danny Rubin, Groundhog Day
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

As with Best Musical, it really is a race between “Evan” and “Come.”  There is some thought that Sankoff and Hein might pick this up as a consolation prize, and for creating an appropriate narrative around a 9/11 story.  But Levenson has constructed a book which generates sympathy for a character that could be easily disliked.  With a bullet, the Tony goes to STEVEN LEVENSON.

 

Original Score
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Tim Minchin, Groundhog Day
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, Come From Away

None of the scores are as memorable as last year’s winner Hamilton.  But then, in the 21st century, few of the musicals are “hummable.”  Pasek and Paul have contributed an emotionally powerful but accessible score with pathos and humor (though the same could be said of Sankoff and Hein—except that their score is a bit more pedestrian).  The fact that BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL are riding the crest of La La Land laurels should deliver them to Tony land.

 

Orchestrations
Bill Elliott and Greg Anthony Rassen, Bandstand
Larry Hochman, Hello, Dolly!
Alex Lacamoire, Dear Evan Hansen
Dave Malloy, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

This category is always hard to predict unless there is a mega-juggernaut.  Malloy could be recognized here for his work in all three categories in which he is nominated.  Elliott & Rassen made the Big Band era come alive in a Broadway show.  Lacamoire could be a back-to-back winner.  But my money is on LARRY HOCHMAN, since Herman’s tuneful score is not eligible.

 

Scenic Design of a Play
David Gallo, Jitney
Nigel Hook, The Play That Goes Wrong
Douglas W. Schmidt, The Front Page
Michael Yeargan, Oslo

Yeargan’s set is simplicity; Schmidt’s is overstuffed.  Gallo created a seedy 1970s Pittsburgh. But I think the Tonys will go right for NIGEL HOOK’s self-destructive set.

 

Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Groundhog Day
David Korins, War Paint
Mimi Lien, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!

MIMI LIEN turned a proscenium house into an interactive environmental wonderland.  The Tony goes to her.

 

Costume Design of a Play

Jane Greenwood, The Little Foxes
Susan Hilferty, Present Laughter
Toni-Leslie James, Jitney
David Zinn, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Please let this be the year that JANE GREENWOOD finally wins a competitive Tony.  It HAS been 52 years since her first nomination after all.  Plus her costumes were spot-on and gorgeous.

 

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, Anastasia
Santo Loquasto, Hello, Dolly!
Paloma Young, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Catherine Zuber, War Paint

While the always reliable (and worthy of recognition) Santo Loquasto may well pick up the Tony for Dolly—the costume design Tony often goes to shows about fashion.  CATHERINE ZUBER has a field day with her clothing for War Paint, and I think that may be the ticket for her to get another Tony.

 

Lighting Design of a Play
Christopher Akerlind, Indecent
Jane Cox, Jitney
Donald Holder, Oslo
Jennifer Tipton, A Doll’s House, Part 2

Lighting plays a key role in the action of Indecent.  I think that will be why CHRISTOPHER AKERLIND will win the Tony.

 

Lighting Design of a Musical
Howell Binkley, Come From Away
Natasha Katz, Hello, Dolly!
Bradley King, Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Japhy Weideman, Dear Evan Hansen

While I would love to see former Arkansas Rep lighting designer Japhy Weideman pick up his first Tony tonight, I think the multitude of lightbulbs and light fixtures of “Great Comet” will push BRADLEY KING into the winner’s circle.


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Little Rock Look Back: President Truman dedicates War Memorial Park

HST in LR2Though President Truman was in Little Rock for a military reunion, he did conduct some official business while here.  In his Presidential role, he spoke at the dedication of War Memorial Park on June 11.  (It is sometimes erroneously reported that he dedicated the stadium.  That took place at a Razorback game with former Razorback player and future Lt. Governor Maurice “Footsie” Britt delivering the keynote.)

President Truman’s address took place inside War Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m..   It was not a brief dedicatory speech, but instead was a lengthy treatise on foreign affairs.  The address was carried on nationwide radio.  The text of his address can be found here.

The stadium was by no means full.  A major reason for that was that many thousand individuals had turned out to witness a parade downtown in which President Truman marched along side Governor Sid McMath.  The parade was in conjunction with the military reunion.  Given the June heat in Arkansas (in which parade spectators had been standing for several hours) and the difficulty of getting from the parade route to the stadium, most (if not all) parade spectators opted for skipping the presidential address.

Before the parade, President Truman (who was still riding high from his upset victory in the 1948 election) was asked by a local reporter if he would run in 1952. He refused to answer stating that the national media would think he had planted the question with a local member of the press.

Prior to the name War Memorial Park, the land had been known as Fair Park.  It was a former location of the State Fair.  In the 1930s, it had briefly been known as Overman Park in honor of then-Mayor R. E. Overman.  The City Council had named it for him as a tribute to his work on a variety of projects. When he displeased them, they reversed their decision and renamed it to Fair Park.

 


Little Rock Look Back: HST in LR

HST in LR2On June 10 and 11, 1949, President Harry S. Truman visited Little Rock.  He was here to participate in activities connected to the reunion of the 35th Division Association.  He had served in that division during World War I.

While he was in Little Rock, President Truman spoke several times.  He generally was accompanied by Governor Sid McMath and Mayor Sam Wassell.

On June 10, he spoke at Robinson Auditorium as part of a welcome ceremony, at a reception at the Hotel Marion and at a ball held at Robinson Auditorium.  His first address was at 3:48 pm and his final one was at 10:15 pm.  The next day he spoke at a breakfast and at a luncheon at the Hotel Marion.  He took pains at these times to stress he was here as a member of the 35th Division.  He also participated in a parade.

In his Presidential role, he spoke at the dedication of War Memorial Park on June 11.  His address took place inside War Memorial Stadium, which had been opened a few months earlier.  It was not a brief dedicatory speech, but instead was a lengthy treatise on foreign affairs.  The address was carried on nationwide radio.  The text of his address can be found here.

President Truman would return to Little Rock in July 1952.  He was in the state to speak at the dedication of Bull Shoals Dam. He did not make any formal remarks in Little Rock while in the city for that visit.


Open Studios Little Rock today

oslr_logo_goldred_ac-lineThe City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission is thrilled to announce its first-ever Open Studios Little Rock.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, gain exclusive access to 30 artist studios and cultural institutions that will open their doors and give you a firsthand look at their creative process. The lineup of studios visits includes artists working in the visual and performing arts, plus cultural institutions that will open their respective studios for guided tours and demonstrations.

Referred to as a city-wide exhibition, Open Studios gives you unparalleled access to artists living and working in Little Rock. Studio visits are free and open to the public.
To plan your Open Studio visits:

  • Download the Open Studios map (click here)
  • Visit the Open Studios Welcome Booth in the Creative Corridor the day of the event. Complimentary coffee and doughnuts will be provided, plus the opportunity to tour two participating studios – Matt McCleod Fine Art and Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Education Annex. The Welcome Booth will be located in front of Matt McLeod Fine Art, 108 West 6th Street, 72201.

Artists who are unable to welcome the public into their studios will showcase their work at the Alternative Space hosted at the West Central Community Center, 8616 Colonel Glenn Road, 72204.

During Open Studios, the colorful “Open Studio” signs will alert you to Open Studio spaces.

SALES

Sales are handled by each artist and we do not take a percentage. You may sell prints, other artistic projects and commission customized work for the future. It is suggested that you are equipped to accept credit cards.

Participating Artists (as of 5.15.2017)

  • Adrian Quintanar Pottery
  • Catherine Rodgers Contemporary Art
  • Co-Op Art
  • Elizabeth Weber
  • Felice Farrell
  • Gary Cawood
  • Glenda McCune
  • Ike Garlington
  • Jeff Horton
  • Jennifer Cox Coleman
  • Jennifer Perren
  • Jerry Phillips’ Studio
  • Jimmy Parks
  • Linda Ferstl Watercolors
  • Little Rock Violin Shop
  • Marisa Cook
  • Maritza and Terry Bean Artists
  • Mary Pat Tate
  • Matt McLeod Fine Art
  • MichaelWardArt
  • Michael Warrick
  • New Deal Studios and Gallery, featuring the work of Jeff Waddle
  • Ruth Pasquine
  • Sandy Furrer, Certified Scottish Country Dance Teacher
  • Sandra Sell

Participating Cultural Institutions:

  • Arkansas Arts Center
  • Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Education Annex
  • Mosaic Templars Cultural Center featuring the work of Nina Robinson


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Little Rock Look Back: FDR in ARK

FDR Ark100On June 10, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Little Rock as part of a day-long series of appearances in conjunction with the Arkansas Centennial celebration.  (The actual statehood dates is June 15.)

His day started in Memphis before he journeyed by train to Hot Springs. After events there that morning and lunch at Couchwood (his longtime friend Harvey Couch was chairman of the Centennial celebration).  He then traveled to Rockport and Malvern for appearances before arriving in Little Rock.  He made his remarks at the State Fairgrounds in a structure called “Centennial Stadium.”

Following his remarks, which officially kicked off the six month Arkansas Centennial celebration, he retired to Senator Joseph T. Robinson’s house on South Broadway.  He dined with the Robinsons in the house before departing with the Senator at 8:45 that evening.  The Presidential entourage then journeyed to Texas for the next day.


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Little Rock Look Back: Cornice installed at Robinson Auditorium

On June 1, 1939, the cornice was installed on Robinson Auditorium.  This granite slab noted the name of the building as the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium.  (It is interesting to note that it used the more modern “u” instead of the classical “v” which was often used in buildings during prior decades – as evidenced by the Pvlaski Covnty Covrt Hovse across the street.)

This was a milestone marking the completion of the front facade of the structure.  Much work would continue on the interior of the structure.  This step in the construction was considered major enough that the Arkansas Gazette mentioned it in a news article.

On this date in 2015 and 2016, the cornice was again surrounded by construction materials and braces. But the restoration of Robinson Center finished in November 2016. Once again, the cornice stands proudly atop the six columns with no impediments around it.