Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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Little Rock Look Back: AETN goes on the air

Happy 50th Birthday to AETN!

On December 4, 1966, AETN officially went on the air and launched what has been 50 years of arts, history, and educational programming.

KETS, the flagship station, broadcast only in black and white from 1966 until 1972. The focus was only in Central Arkansas until other stations started going on the air in 1976. Today there are a total of six PBS affiliate stations in Arkansas covering not only the entire state, but also portions of the surrounding states.

In the early days, the programming was focused in instructional supplements to teachers.  From 1966 to 1970, AETN was affiliated with the National Educational Television network.  With the advent of PBS, AETN’s programming expanded as many other public television offerings were available.

AETN has brought the best of Broadway, opera houses, ballet, and symphonic halls into houses in Arkansas.  It has broadcast sweeping historical programs which have educated, enlightened and entertained audiences.  The educational programming has nurtured creativity in budding artists.

Quite simply, without AETN, the cultural landscape of Arkansas would be vastly different.

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Holiday Fun at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center this afternoon from 2 until 5

MTCCSayJoin the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center for a festive and fun day full of holiday cheer! The fun runs from 2pm util 5pm.

This year’s event will feature the 5th annual “Say It Ain’t Say’s” sweet potato pie contest, in honor of Little Rock’s black Santa, Robert “Say” McIntosh.  They will live entertainment, fun activities for kids and the opportunity to browse our current exhibits.

You and our panel of celebrity judges will determine who has the best sweet potato pie in Central Arkansas.

Tthe Holiday Open House will feature performances by comedian Nate Williams, Tania and Tamia Kelley, Mablevale Elementary Drumline, Gloryland Pastor’s Choir, Mablevale Magnet Middle School Dance Team, Horace Mann Magnet Middle School Dance Ensemble, Latavia Franklin and Shereece Manuel aka Shades of Diamondz.

This year, a trolley will be available to take guests to two other Department of Arkansas Heritage Museums located in downtown Little Rock: Old State House Museum and Historic Arkansas Museum. The trolley route will also include the Governor’s Mansion Open House.

For more information call 501-683-3620.

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Celebrate Christmas at Old State House Museum’s Holiday Open House today from 1pm to 4:30pm

OSH logoToday is the day for the Department of Arkansas Heritage museums in Little Rock to celebrate the holidays.

This afternoon from 1pm until 4:30pm, the Old State House Museum will be hosting a Holiday Open House.

The traditions of joyous family holiday celebrations past can be relived at Holiday Open House. Visitors will find the Old State House colorfully decorated for the season. Fun, hands-on activities will be available to children; they can create unique holiday cards and more.

Delightful carols will be performed by local music groups. Visitors will also enjoy delicious cookies and punch.

Call (501) 324-9685 for more information. Admission is free

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The 49th Annual Historic Arkansas Museum Christmas Frolic today from 1 to 4

ham-frolicWhen the Culture Vulture was just a Culture Chick, his parents took him to then-Arkansas Territorial Restoration Christmas Open House.

Thankfully, this event continues and celebrates Christmas as it was in the 1800s with living history, carols, reenactments, live music, dancing and more. Visitors come from across the state every year for our famous hot cider and ginger cake, as well as Arkansas-made holiday shopping in the Museum Store.

Celebrate Christmas as it was in the 1800s with living history, carols, reenactments, live music, dancing and more plus:

  • Live music by the Arkansas Country Dance Band, Lark in the Morning, Sugar on the Floor, fiddler Ricky Russell and friends and the Aeolus Recorder Konsort.
  • Meet Linda Palmer Williams, author and artist of Champion Trees of Arkansas
  • Visit with Susan Williamson on her line of Plant Me Seed Cards
  • Take a holiday picture by the reconstructed 1830s Pleasure Wagon!

The fun continues from 1pm until 4pm today.  Watch for HAM director Bill Worthen to dance the Virginia Reel, which members of his family have been dancing in Arkansas since the 1820s.

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This weekend – ELF the Musical at Robinson Center

Broadway returns to Robinson Center with Elf, The Musical today, December 3, and tomorrow, December 4.  There will be four performances of this Sparklejollytwinklejingley musical!

ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF.

Produced by NETworks Presentations, LLC and WarnerBros. Theatre Ventures, Elf features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).  The production features direction by Sam Scalamoni and choreography by Connor Gallagher.

The New York Times says that ELF is “SPLASHY, PEPPY, SUGAR-SPRINKLED HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT!” USA Today calls ELF, “ENDEARINGLY GOOFY!” Variety proclaims, “ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults!”

Performances are at 3pm and 8pm today and at 2pm and 7pm tomorrow.  ELF is brought to Little Rock by Celebrity Attractions.

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Little Rock Look Back: SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY is first play at Robinson

Since ELF is opening today as the first musical in the new Robinson Center Performance Hall, it seems appropriate to look back at the first play performed in the building’s earlier incarnation.  

On Monday, April 1, 1940, Edward Everett Horton came to Little Rock in the comedy SPRINGTIME FOR HENRY.  This was a play in which he had appeared regularly on tours and in summer stock. He would create productions of it in between film roles from the 1930s to the 1950s.  

The play concerned a industrial heir whose dalliances put his family’s business in jeopardy.  It was a boulevard comedy (or a sex comedy—without the sex).  Originally performed on Broadway in 1931, it was written by Benn W. Levy.  He would later serve as a member of Parliament.  

By the time Horton arrived in Little Rock, he was an accomplished stage and screen actor.  He was a staple of many Astaire-Rogers films. 

The performance at Robinson did not go off without a hitch.  Because Spring had arrived in Little Rock, it was warmer outside.  This necessitated the air conditioner being turned on.   The fans rumbling through the vents made such a noise that it was difficult for the audience to hear the actors.  The air cooler was turned off for the remainder of the performance.  In the days after the performance, the Auditorium staff put buffering in the vents in the muffle the noise.  

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The Elves and the Shoemaker up next at Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre

The Elves and the ShoemakerThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will bring the spirit of the holiday season to the stage in The Elves and the Shoemaker, a musical adapted from the folktales of the Brothers Grimm. The show will run December 2 through December 18.

The holiday reimagining of the Grimm’s folktale tells the story of a poor cobbler with a good heart and a grateful spirit. Jack Shoemaker and his family have fallen on hard times. Jack’s debts are coming due with the new year, and his family’s chances of a happy Christmas are looking bleak. But just when he seems to be losing all hope, he receives a strange visit in the night. Elves grant a magical gift that reminds him what is truly important in life: family. And when that family gratefully returns the elves’ kind gesture, they are doubly blessed with the happiest, most love-filled Christmas ever. This traditional family favorite is ideal for the holiday season of giving.

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre performance of The Elves and the Shoemaker is directed by Keith Smith. Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director. The sets are designed by Miranda Young, costumes are designed by Nikki Webster, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Mike Stacks, choreography by Erin Fowler and musical direction by Lori Isner. Rivka Kuperman is the stage manager.

The cast includes:

  • Aleigha Morton as Herself
  • Jeremy Matthey as Himself
  • Barlow Brenner as Slumber
  • Connor Hadden as Chimney
  • Brady Chandler as Pantry
  • Collete Crochet  as Emily
  • Katie Campbell as Anna
  • John Isner as Jack
  • Mark Hansen as Man
  • Simon Gess  as Boy

Tickets can always be purchased in person, online or by phone.  Prices are $10 for AAC members; $12.50 for non-members.