Rock the Oscars 2019: Robinson Center Performance Hall

Over the years, Robinson Center Performance Hall has played host to numerous Oscar winners and Oscar nominees.

Stage actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne made only one movie, but each were Oscar nominated for their performances in The Guardsman.  Over the years, they made several appearances in Little Rock in plays.  Their first visits were to the Little Rock High School auditorium. Once Robinson opened, they appeared on that stage. In There Shall Be No Night, they shared the stage with future Oscar nominee Montgomery Clift.

Two time Oscar winner Helen Hayes appeared on stage at Robinson.  At the time, she was only a single Oscar winner (Best Actress for The Sin of Madelon Claudet).  Later she would pick up her second statuette for Supporting Actress in Airport.

Four time winner Katharine Hepburn graced the stage of Robinson in the 1940s.  Her first Oscar was for Morning Glory.  By the time she appeared at Robinson she had that award.  Later she would pick up Oscars for The Lion in Winter, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond.

Charles Boyer never won an Oscar in a competitive category (though he was nominated).  He did however win an Honorary Oscar in the 1940s for his promotiono of French culture during World War II.  He appeared on stage at Robinson in the early 1950s as part of the tour of Don Juan in Hell (written by Oscar winner George Bernard Shaw — yes Shaw won an Oscar for the screenplay of Pygmalion.)

Multiple Oscar nominee, and special Oscar recipient, Mickey Rooney appeared on stage at Robinson in 1986 in the national tour of Sugar Babies.

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A Night of Trap Jazz and Slam Poetry at the Clinton Presidential Center

Join the Clinton Presidential Center for a performance by Philli Moo, Qnote, and the Trap Jazz Giants. The program will begin at 6pm tonight (February 16).

Trap Jazz is a new genre of music birthed out of the original art forms of contemporary and Jazz standards with a baseline and core of traditional Hip-Hop, created by Phillip “Philli Moo” Mouton and Quincy “Qnote” Watson.

The program will also feature an appearance by Crystal C. Mercer, and will open with the Writeous Poets, a group of Little Rock teens who perform slam poetry. The Writeous Poets were established in 2002 under the sponsorship and guidance of Leron and Stacey McAdoo. Mrs. McAdoo was named the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year and is a teacher at Little Rock Central High School.

Little Rock Look Back: Opening of Robinson Center Performance Hall

On February 16, 1940, after three years of planning and construction including several delays due to lack of funding, the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium officially opened. It was a cold, rainy night, but those in attendance did not care.  (The concept of a municipal auditorium for Little Rock had first been raised in 1904, so this evening was truly a long time in the works.)

Searchlights painting arcs in the sky greeted attendees. They were borrowed from the Arkansas National Guard. Newspaper accounts noted that only a few of the men who attended were in tuxedos, most were simply in suits. The work to get the building opened had been so harried, that it was discovered there was not an Arkansas flag to fly in front of the building. Mayor Satterfield found one at the last minute courtesy of the Arkansas Department of the Spanish War Veterans.

The weather delayed arrivals, so the program started fifteen minutes late. Following a performance of Sibelius’ Finlandia by the fledgling Arkansas State Symphony Orchestra, Mayor J. V. Satterfield, Ewilda Robinson (the Senator’s widow), Emily Miller (the Senator’s sister-in-law and a member of the Auditorium Commission) and D. Hodson Lewis of the Chamber of Commerce participated in a brief ribbon cutting ceremony. Mrs Robinson cut the ribbon on her second attempt (once again proving that nothing connected with getting the building open was easy).

The ceremony was originally set to be outside of the building but was moved indoors due to the inclement weather. The ribbon cutting took place on the stage with the ribbon stretched out in front of the curtain. The opening remarks were broadcast on radio station KGHI.

Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Miller and Mayor Satterfield look on as Mrs. Robinson cuts the ribbon

Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Miller and Mayor Satterfield look on as Mrs. Robinson cuts the ribbon

Tickets for the event, advertised as being tax exempt, were at four different pricing levels: $2.50, $2.00, $1.50 and $1.00.

The estimated attendance was 1700. Following the ribbon cutting, the main performance took place. The headliner for the grand opening was the San Francisco Opera Ballet accompanied by the new Arkansas State Symphony Orchestra (not related to the current Arkansas Symphony Orchestra). The featured soloist with the ballet was Zoe Dell Lantis who was billed as “The Most Photographed Miss at the San Francisco World’s Fair.”

Auditorium Commission chairman E. E. Beaumont, a local banker, noted that while event planners knew the evening of ballet and classical music would not appeal to everyone, it was intended to show the wide range of offerings that would be suitable in the new space.  Earlier in the week, children’s theatre performances had been offered to school groups through the auspices of the Junior League of Little Rock.

At the same time that the gala was going on upstairs in the music hall, a high school basketball double-header was taking place in the downstairs convention hall. North Little Rock lost to Beebe in the first game, while the Little Rock High School Tigers upset Pine Bluff in the marquee game.

LANTERNS! 2019 this weekend at Wildwood Park

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Wildwood’s annual deep-winter festival celebrates the first full moon of the lunar new year. Held over three magical evenings, guests are transported to far away lands and times as they stroll through the beautifully lit pathways of Wildwood’s gardens. Cultural vistas feature live entertainment, food, drink, games and more throughout the Park’s Butler Arboretum and inside the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre.

This year’s vistas include Germany, Mexico, China, Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom. Our American vista is Prohibition Chicago. As always, a trip to the Moon is a must, but this year be sure to stop by Area 51 as you just might find some aliens at our Moon vista.

Once you’re inside the gate, purchase your WildBucks at any of four locations and enjoy food and beverages at every vista. Prices range from $1 to $8. (ATM available inside the Park.) All proceeds support Wildwood Park for the Arts’ programs, gardens and operations.

TICKETS:

Tickets to the event are available online: $10 for adults, $5 for children age 6 – 12, Admission to LANTERNS! is FREE for children 5 and younger. At noon on each day of the festival, admission for that evening will increase to $12 for adults and $7 for children. Tickets at the gate are $12 for adults and $7 for children. Admission to LANTERNS! for children 5 and younger is FREE.

If you choose to purchase your ticket at the gate, we recommend bringing cash to avoid credit card fees and ticket lines!

Shuttles will run between The Promenade at Chenal and Wildwood Park beginning at 6 pm nightly until 30 minutes past the Festival’s closing. The festival closes at 10 pm on Friday & Saturday, 9 pm on Sunday. Arkansas Destinations shuttles will pick up passengers in the mall’s Courtyard located on the west side of the mall. Parking is ample. 

Off-street parking is also available along Denny Road in front of Wildwood Park. Guests enter the park on foot through two gates; no festival patron automobiles are allowed inside the park.

Tonight at 6:30, CALS presents Sounds in the Stacks with the ASO Quapaw Quartet at the CALS Williams Library Branch

Sounds in the Stacks: Quapaw QuartetExperience the beauty of string music of the highest caliber with the Quapaw String Quartet of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra!

This free concert at the CALS Williams Library will be a lovely way to take a break from the work week or introduce kids to the magic of violin, viola, and cello.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Quapaw Quartet includes Meredith Maddox Hicks, violin; Charlotte Crosmer, violin; Ryan Mooney, viola; and David Gerstein, cello.

It is today (February 12) from 6:30pm to 7:30pm at the CALS Sue Cowan Williams Library, which is located at 1800 South Chester Street.

Rock the Oscars 2019: James Earl Jones

Actor James Earl Jones has made several appearances in Central Arkansas over the years.  He has appeared at Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  On February 12, 1999, he narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and Alexander Miller’s “Let Freedom Ring” with the Symphony in a concert at Robinson Center.  (It was the 190th birthday for Lincoln.)

Born in Mississippi, he spent most of his childhood in Michigan.  After service in the Army during the Korean War, he moved to New York to study theatre.  In the late 1950s he started alternating between Broadway (where he often played a servant) and Off Broadway (where he played leading roles).  His first film appearance was in Dr. Strangelove….  From the 1960s onward he has alternated between stage, film and TV.  In the 1980s, he added voice work to his repertoire.

In 1969 and in 1987, he won Tony Awards for Actor in a Play (The Great White Hope and Fences, respectively).  His other Tony nominations have been for revivals of On Golden Pond and The Best Man.  He was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for reprising The Great White Hope on film.  He received two Emmy Awards in 1991 – the only actor to ever win two in the same year.

In 2008, he won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was given an Honorary Oscar.  In 2002, he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.

He is probably best loved for his work as the voice of Darth Vader in many of the Star Wars films as well as his voicework in The Lion King.

“Something Wonderful” as Arkansas Symphony presents a tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II

Feb 9-10 | Something Wonderful: The Songs of Rodgers and HammersteinThis weekend, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents a tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II entitled “Something Wonderful.”

While it might seem unique for an orchestra to pay tribute to a lyricist and librettist, the words that Hammerstein wrote melded with melodies so seamlessly that they became part of the music.

The concert features Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, grandson of the beloved librettist and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. He hosts a celebration of some of America’s most cherished music from the stage. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s collaborations are featured with music from South PacificThe Sound of MusicState FairThe King and ICarousel, and Oklahoma! Accompanying Hammerstein are vocalists Sarah Pfisterer and Sean MacLaughlin.

The music will be played by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Geoffrey Robson. The concerts are at Robinson Center Performance Hall on Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm.  Tickets can be purchased here.