Artober – Arts After Dark

October is Arts and Humanities Month nationally and in Little Rock. Americans for the Arts has identified a different arts topic to be posted for each day in the month.  Next up is “Arts after Dark”

This theme, like many of them, could go in many different directions.  I’ve chosen to highlight some cultural institutions lit up at night.

Ballet Arkansas and the Annex of Arkansas Rep on Main Street

Jane DeDecker and Alyson Kinkade’s IN THE WINGS in front of Robinson Center Performance Hall.

Darrell Davis’ Lions Pride in War Memorial Park

 

Lastly, while this photo took place indoors, it is a recreation of what the entrance to the Arkansas Arts Center will look like in 2022 when Henry Moore’s STANDING FIGURE KNIFE’S EDGE is located in front of the 1937 entrance to the AAC, which will once again be the main entrance. This was created for the AAC’s Farewell Party in August 2019.

Once and Future Arkansas Arts Center 9th Street entrance

Still time to join Arkansas Rep for Ovation starring Tony winner Victoria Clark

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupMillion Dollar Quartet may have closed yesterday, but there is still an electric performance coming up at Arkansas Rep in October.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre is hosting “Ovation, An Encore Event” on Friday, Oct. 25. The evening celebrates the theatre’s supporters with dinner and a special performance by Tony Award-winner, Victoria Clark.

Ovation gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at the Rep, including props and costumes from previous shows and a seated dinner in one of the rehearsal spaces. Ruth Shepherd and Bill Rector, co-chairs of the event, bring their excitement from decades of volunteering with the theatre and are thrilled to share the space with attendees.

“Because we are hosting Ovation here at the Rep, it will have all the intimacy of a private party with all the pizzazz of a night on the town,” said Shepherd. “Suggested attire is ‘what makes you feel good,’ so put on some feathers or sequins and come on down.”

Victoria Clark earned a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical (The Light in the Piazza) and three additional Tony Award nominations. She has performed in 12 Broadway plays and musicals, several off-Broadway productions, and many well-known films and television shows.

“I can’t wait for this night to get here,” said Will Trice, Executive Artistic Director of the Rep. “It will be a true celebration of what The Rep is all about, with incredible music from one of the most renown performers in the country.”

Tickets range from $200 to $1000, giving guests the option to pick their price point and perks. To purchase tickets, contact Kimberly Miller at kmiller@therep.org or call (501) 378-0445 x 203

Little Rock and VIRGINIA WOOLF

On October 13, 1962, Edward Albee’s first Broadway play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on Broadway.

Though not in the original cast, Little Rock native Ben Piazza had participated in early readings of the play.  In fact the first time the script was ever read through aloud it was by Albee, Piazza, and producers Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder.

After original cast member George Grizzard left the show due to another commitment, Piazza joined the cast in February 1963.  He remained in the production throughout the rest of the run. Piazza holds the record of most performances of any Edward Albee play on Broadway.

The play was selected by the Pulitzer jury for drama to receive the prize in 1963. But because the award criteria still contained language about “moral example” the final committee rejected the choice and no play was recognized that year. The public hue and cry over the decision served to shake up the criteria for future play selection. Albee would receive the Pulitzer for A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women.

The New York Drama Critics Circle recognized the play as Best Play. It also won Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Producer of a Play (Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder), Actor in a Play (Hill), Actress in a Play (Hagen) and Director of a Play (Alan Schneider). Dillon, who received a Tony nomination for Featured Actress in a Play, received a Theatre World Award for her performance.

During the run of Virginia Woolf, Piazza was writing a novel called The Exact and Very Strange Truth. This would be a fictionalized account of his boyhood in Little Rock. Whenever he would stop writing on it, he would put the manuscript in the freezer of his refrigerator to keep it safe.

Piazza would go on to appear in several other Albee plays both on and off Broadway. He would direct and appear in other productions of Virginia Woolf? throughout the country.

Fifty years to the day after Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? first opened on Broadway, the production’s third revival opened. It starred Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, Carrie Coon and Madison Dirks.  It was directed by Pam MacKinnon.  Nominated for five Tony Awards, it won three: Best Revival of a Play, Actor in a Play (Letts) and Direction (MacKinnon).

One of the producers on stage accepting the Best Revival Tony was Little Rock native Will Trice. Like Piazza, he was a graduate of Little Rock Central High School. Now Trice is the Executive Artistic Director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.