On Twelfth Night – a look ahead to 2020 Arkansas Shakespeare Theater’s lineup

Today is Twelfth Night. Since it is also the title of one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays, it seems a good chance to preview the 2020 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season.

While they HAVE produced Twelfth Night, it is not part of the 2020 season.

The lineup DOES include: As You Like It, Into the Woods (based on the writings of my relatives the Brothers Grimm), as well as The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

Performances will take place on the UCA campus, both in Reynolds Performance Hall and outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall.

As she prepares for her ninth year as producing artistic director of AST, Rebekah Scallet said she wanted an exciting repertory season that would capture audiences’ imaginations and challenge them to think about their lives. She chose the three shows in the 2020 season based around the theme “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” a line from “As You Like It.”

Actors, directors, designers and crew members will arrive in Conway in early May 2020 to begin the process of creating the three shows in AST’s 14th season.

“We’ll open the season with ‘The Complete Works’ outdoors on the beautiful lawn of McAlister Hall. Our outdoor venue draws huge crowds, and our audiences look forward to the show and the entire experience of Shakespeare under the stars. We hope that theatre-goers in Arkansas and around the region will recognize AST for its dedication to the cultural and artistic growth that is currently underway in our state,” said Marotte.

Performance dates will be announced in coming weeks.

Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director and Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director.

On the 10th Day of Christmas, Opera in the Rock brings THE GIFT OF THE MAGI

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Opera In The Rock is pleased to present a special addition to the 2019-2020 season: David Conte’s chamber opera “The Gift of the Magi” in partnership with Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church on Friday, January 3rd, 2020, 7:30 pm at PHUMC, 4823 Woodlawn Dr., Little Rock, 72205.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a chamber opera in four scenes with music by David Conte and libretto by Nicholas Giardini based on the 1905 holiday short story with the same title by O. Henry. The opera focuses on the love story between the poor married couple Jim and Della who cannot afford to buy each other presents for Christmas. As a sentimental story about gift-giving with a well-known plot and an ironic ending, “The Gift of the Magi” opera delivers this classic holiday tale of morals with beautiful singing and a rich orchestral score.

Starring local operatic favorites Kyle Forehand and Shannon Rookey as Jim and Della alongside their friends Maggie and Henry played by Sarah Stankiewicz-Dailey and Daniel Morris, the chamber opera will include musicians from the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Robson sponsored by Pulaski Heights UMC.  Watch for some surprise cameos in the production, as well.

In partnership with Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church, there will be a “Meet the Kings! Family Fun” event prior to the opera performance at 6:30pm in the Gathering Hall of the church. Activities for children and families include crown-making and cookie-decorating with an opportunity to meet the three kings.

General Admission is free with a $15 suggested donation benefitting Opera In The Rock performances and outreach programming. Childcare available at the church with RSVP only by calling 501-664-3600 with ages and number of children. For more information and tickets, please visit www.oitr.org or call 501-681-9640.

Celebrate NOON YEAR’S EVE with the Museum of Discovery

Has it been a while since you heard that iconic countdown on the final day of the year? If you’re a parent of small children, staying up late to ring in the New Year can be just plain unfeasible. Or maybe you long for a more family-friendly affair.

Well, don’t let the night owls have all the fun. Bring the kids out to the Museum of Discovery and join them as they ring in the “Noon Year” on Tuesday, Dec. 31.

They’ll have kid-friendly activities from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, of course, a whopping big countdown to the noon hour! This year, they will have several “balloon drops” throughout the museum to avoid overcrowding.

Noon Year’s Eve Countdown is included in regular museum admission for free for museum members.

Final weekend to experience IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE at Arkansas Rep

This weekend is your last chance to spend time with George Bailey, Mary, Violet, Clarence, and Mr. Potter as the Arkansas Repertory Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life – A Live Radio Play. It runs through December 29.

Back by popular demand, this holiday classic returns to The Rep’s stage to close the 2019 season. (It was last on the Rep’s stage in 2008.)

Ring in the holidays with an entertaining spin on a familiar holiday favorite. Set in a 1940s radio station on Christmas Eve, enjoy a live radio version of Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film as the actors on stage transform into dozens of characters from Bedford Falls. Faced with the threat of scandal and financial ruin, George Bailey experiences a crisis of faith and wishes he had never been born. Divine intervention arrives in the form of Clarence (Angel Second Class), who is on a mission to restore George’s will to live… and earn his own wings in the process. Every life impacts countless others, whether we know it or not.

The production is directed by Giovanna Sardelli (whose most recent Arkansas Rep production was The School for Lies). The design team includes Jo Winiarski (set), Sarah Nietfeld (costumes), Jamie Roderick (lighting), and Jane Shaw (sound). The cast includes the return of Larry Daggett and Patrick Halley along with Alan Dronek, Larissa Klinger and Mary Murphy making their Arkansas Rep debuts.

Moscow Ballet’s GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER at Robinson Center for two performances today

This Christmas season give your family the gift of Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker!

Step into a simpler time filled with sweet dreams and Christmas magic. With world-class artists, over 200 dazzling costumes, stunning sets, towering puppets and soaring birds, don’t miss your chance to ring in the holidays with this acclaimed Christmas extravaganza.

The New York Times, “Hot Ticket!” Celebrate this cherished holiday tradition and relive the dream with Tchaikovsky’s timeless score. Get tickets for the whole family now!

MOSCOW BALLET’S GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER will perform at 3:00 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 26, 2019.  Platinum tickets include Premium Nutcracker Ornament, a Moscow Ballet Book, and a pre-show Meet and Greet.  Gold Circle tickets receive a Premium Nutcracker Ornament and the official Moscow Ballet Book.  VIP ornaments and books can be purchased at the merchandise table.  Meet and Greet will begin 45 minutes prior to the showtime and will meet at the merchandise table.

New York Times, Chief Dance Critic, “Knockout… Brimful with feeling…Expansive… Kids…were wide-eyed with delight”

Christmas Child – future Broadway star Fay Templeton born on Dec. 25, 1865

Though largely forgotten today, Little Rock native Fay Templeton was one of the leading stars of vaudeville and Broadway in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

She was born in Little Rock on Christmas Day in 1865.  Her parents were touring here with the Templeton Opera Company. Her father, John Templeton, was a well-known Southern theatre manager, comedian, and author. Her mother, Helen Alice Vane, starred with her husband.  The family of three left Little Rock a few weeks after Fay was born, once her mother was able to travel.

She made her stage debut at age three, and her New York vaudeville debut at eight. At fifteen, she married a co-star but separated after six weeks.  She made her legitimate New York stage debut at nineteen in a revival of Evangeline.

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, she spent most of her time in Europe, appearing on stage and touring shows.  By 1895, she was back on stage in New York.  She then starred in a series of shows first for the vaudeville team of Joe Weber and Lew Fields, later for George M. Cohan. She introduced the songs “So Long Mary” and “Mary Is a Grand Old Name” in the latter’s Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway.  Her work with Cohan is portrayed in the Oscar winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy and in the Tony winning musical George M!

She retired from the stage after marrying Pittsburgh businessman William Patterson. But by 1911, Fay was once again touring with Weber and Fields.  She retired again in 1913, this time staying off stage until 1926. She then played the role of Buttercup in a revival of HMS Pinafore and would be known as the definitive Buttercup for the rest of the 1920s and into the 1930s.  When her husband died in 1932, she returned to the stage.  In 1933, she starred with Bob Hope in the Jerome Kern musical Roberta.

In 1936, she entered the Actors’ Fund Home in New Jersey, but later moved to San Francisco to live with a cousin.  She died there on October 3, 1939, and is buried in Valhalla, New York.

Templeton returned to Little Rock several times throughout her life as she was criss-crossing the US on tours.

Christmas Day birth of Eli Colby, youngest person to serve as Little Rock Mayor

On Christmas Day in 1814, future Little Rock Mayor Eli Colby was born in Warner, New Hampshire.

At the age of 23, he moved to Little Rock in 1838.  After arriving, he soon became the editor and publisher of the Times and Advocate newspaper.  As a publisher and printer, Colby also had the contract to print official state notifications and documents in the early 1840s.

Politically, Colby served as a Justice of the Peace for several years.  In September 1843, he was elected Mayor of Little Rock in a special election to fill a vacancy. He was 28 years and nine months old, making him the youngest mayor in Little Rock’s history.  He left office in January 1844.  He died March 15, 1844, at the age of 29 after a long illness and was buried with Masonic honors.

No image of him is known to exist.