ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Agnes de Mille

Rock the Tonys

Photo by courtesy Anderson Ferrell

Photo by courtesy Anderson Ferrell


Little Rock connection: In 1951 she and her dance troupe performed at Robinson Auditorium.

Tony Awards connection: Won Tony Awards for Choreography for Brigadoon (1947) and Kwamina (1962). Was nominated for a Tony for choreographing Goldilocks.  In 1993, accepted a special Tony for the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma!

Movies in the Park founders to be honored on June 11

MitP 10Movies in the Park founders Heather Allmendinger, Ben Beaumont and Blake Rutherford, will be honored for their hard work and vision in creating the ever popular Little Rock Movies in the Park, celebrating its 10th season this year.

The celebration will be on Wednesday, June 11 at 8:30 p.m. at the First Security Amphitheater, just prior to the kickoff of the 2014 season.

Movies in the Park began as an idea by Blake Rutherford. While walking through the River Market one day, he wondered why the city didn’t use the amphitheater for outdoor movies. He did a little research, and found a model for Movies in the Park from the popular Summer Movie Series at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC.

Blake then called friends, Heather and Ben, and reached out to community leaders to get the idea off the ground. The movie series at the Museum of Art in Raleigh was more than 10 years old at the time, and they were very helpful in getting Movies in the Park started in Little Rock.

Comcast was the first anchor sponsor on board with the event, followed by much support from KURB B 98.5 FM, Arkansas Times, Stone Ward, City of Little Rock and more.

“One of our goals from the beginning was to ensure that the movies would be completely free for all in the community to enjoy,” said Blake Rutherford. “We received tremendous support from several organizations to get the event going and we are very happy to see it continue as one of the most popular community events in Little Rock.”

The popular outdoor free movie night, held at the First Security Amphitheater, has been going strong for ten years now. The first movie to be shown was “A River Runs Through It,” which was selected as a nod to Little Rock and the Amphitheater’s location. It drew less than 400 people. Four films were shown the first year in 2004.

Movies in the Park has now grown to a season of eight films per year, on average, reaching audiences of up to 3,000 people. It’s a staple event in Central Arkansas. Communities from across the state, and the country, have reached out for guidance as they have tried to implement similar programs in the own communities.

Since 2008, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau has been managing Movies in the Park.

To check out more information about the movies being played this year, please visit

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Joe E. Brown

Rock the Tonysharveybrown3JOE E. BROWN

Little Rock connection: Appeared at Robinson Auditorium in the national tour of Harvey in 1948.

Tony Awards connection: At the 1948 Tonys, received a special Tony Award for touring in Harvey while the original play still was on Broadway.  He had previously played the role on Broadway earlier in the run (succeeding original star Frank Fay). The original production of Harvey was directed by Antoinette Perry, after whom the awards were named.

The photo on the right was a publicity photo showing Brown taking down a painting of Fay with Harvey to mark the fact that Brown was taking over the role.

Final weekend of Carroll Cloar Exhibit at Arkansas Arts Center

 Carroll Cloar, The Smiling Moon Cafe, 1965, casein tempera on Masonite, 25 in. x 36 in., Private Collection, ©Estate of Carroll Cloar

There are only three days remaining to experience (or experience again) The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center.  It runs through June 1.

The paintings of Carroll Cloar (1913-1993), rank among the most haunting and beautiful evocations ever made of the American South. Drawing upon family stories, photographs of ancestors, rural scenery, small town life, and memories of his childhood on an Arkansas farm, Cloar captured the quiet richness of a simpler world.

Marking the centenary of the artist’s birth, The Crossroads of Memory: Carroll Cloar and the American South will include approximately seventy paintings, ranging from early Realist masterpieces to the poignant pictures of his later career.

An exhibition organized by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Arkansas Arts Center curated by Stanton Thomas, Curator of European and Decorative Art at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the exhibition will feature works from major public collections as well as rarely seen pictures still in private hands.

Presented in Arkansas by: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Lisenne Rockefeller; Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

Sponsored in Arkansas by: Anonymous; Bailey Foundation; Sandra and Bob Connor; Terri and Chuck Erwin; Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP; Eileen and Ricardo Sotomora; John Tyson & Tyson Foods, Inc.; Arkansas Farm Bureau/Agriculture Council of Arkansas; Capital Hotel; Cindy and Greg Feltus; Munro Foundation; J.D. Simpson; Don Tilton; Gus and Ellis Walton.

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Barbara Loden and Elia Kazan

Rock the Tonys

William H. Alden/Evening Standard, via Getty Image

William H. Alden/Evening Standard, via Getty Image


Little Rock connection: The pair were married in 1967 in Little Rock at the home of Kazan’s son, who lived here at the time.

Tony Awards connection: Loden won a 1964 Tony for Featured Actress in a Play for her performance of a Marilyn Monroe-like character in After the Fall, Arthur Miller’s roman a clef about his marriage to Monroe. Loden was directed in the play by Kazan. He won Tonys for directing Miller’s All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman (1949) as well as MacLeish’s J.B. (1959). He was nominated for directing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Sweet Bird of Youth. As a producer, he received Tony nominations for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Strange Interlude and Tartuffe.

Red Octopus SPRING SHOWMANCE! kicks off tonight

showmanceThe unofficial start of summer may have taken place this past Monday, but Red Octopus Theater reminds us that it is still technically spring – so it is time for a Spring Showmance. The latest production from Arkansas’ oldest sketch live comedy troupe will run May 29-31, 2014 at The PUBLIC Theatre, located at 616 Center Street, in downtown Little Rock, AR.  Doors will open at 7:30PM and the show will start at 8:00PM.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students, senior citizens and all military personnel.  Red Octopus Theater does not take reservations and tickets are available at the theater.  The theater is smoke-free.

The cast includes Sandy Baskin, Allyson Bode, Drew Ellis, Michael Goodbar, Brittany Sparkles and Jason Willey with cameos by Luke Rowlan and Christi Seatts.

Theatre involves long hours, hard work, character study, dueling egos and often sorted romance! Passion on and off the stage or screen is the inspiration for Red Octopus’s latest show, Spring Showmance! 

Spring Showmance will look at the inherent romance of the audition in “The Casting Couch” and “Whattaya Have to do in Little Rock to Make It Big?!” Soap opera actors will lament the cancellation of their show and maybe their families in “They Sold All The Children in All My Children.” “Saved By The Smell” harkens back to the rise of the 1990’s teen actor heartthrob.  And no show about theater and romance would be complete without a trip to Broadway in “Porky’s: The Musical!”

The show is full of struggling actors just trying to make it in the big bad entertainment industry. Some actors finding love along the way, and others, discovering heartbreak.  From headshots to auditions, dance class to opening night, the silver screen to the unemployment line, Red Octopus will weave them all together into a twisted tale of sketch comedy and showbiz!

So join us May 29-31, 2014 for “Spring Showmance!” The cast is hoping they won’t get snowed out this time around.

For more information please contact Red Octopus Theater at (501) 291-3896 , or To contact The PUBLIC Theatre, call 374-PLAY.

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Debbie Gravitte and Christiane Noll


LITTLE ROCK connection: Both have appeared with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  The pair appeared together during one of the Broadway Pops concerts in 2007.  Noll returned in 2010 to appear in the Valentine Pops concert.

Tony Awards connection: Gravitte won the 1989 Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. (She was then known by her maiden name, Debbie Shapiro.)  Noll was nominated for a 2010 Tony for Actress in a Musical for her performance in the revival of Ragtime.