31 Day of Arkansas Rep: THE RUNNER STUMBLES in 1979

Pat Brown, director of THE RUNNER STUMBLES

While he directed most shows at the Rep during the early years, Cliff Fannin Baker would bring in guest directors from time to time. One of these was Pat Brown who helmed the February 1979 production of The Runner Stumbles.

A co-founder of Houston’s Alley Theatre, Brown also had connections to Little Rock; she was a niece of Little Rock businesswoman Mae Horn (who dressed ALL the best-dressed men.)

Though Brown had worked all over the US, this was the first time she had directed The Runner Stumbles. This Milan Stitt play had run for 396 performances on Broadway from 1976 to 1978. The Arkansas Rep was one of the first regional theatres to produce the play.  (Side note: the original Broadway production was directed by Austin Pendleton who would later direct A Loss of Roses at Arkansas Rep.)

In his Arkansas Gazette review, Bill Lewis called the production “one of the strongest yet” for the Rep.  He described it as a “compelling, somber drama” that was “impeccably directed and acted with highest octane virtuosity.”  Lewis was not one to mince words, so when he gave praise it was deserved.

The cast for A Runner Stumbles included Craig Fuller, Jean Hendrickson, Scott Edmonds, Jean Lind, Ron Aulgur, Ken Klingenmeier, Jeannine Le May, Robert Boles, and Phyllis Blumenfeld. The show was designed by Byl Harriell.  Guy Couch assisted with set decoration and props.

The production ran from February 1 to 18 of 1979.

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Rocking the Tony Awards – Past Tony nominees at Arkansas Rep

Photo by Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

The 72nd Tony Awards take place on Sunday, June 10 at Radio City Music Hall (broadcast on CBS).

Over the years, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has had several Tony nominees work on stage and backstage.

Among these are:

Julie Andrews, who headlined a 2002 fundraiser for Arkansas Rep.  That evening she shared stories about her life and career.  A two-time Tony Award host, she has been nominated three times for Actress in a Musical: My Fair Lady (1957), Camelot (1961) and Victor/Victoria (1996).

Jane Lanier, who choreographed Ring of Fire at Arkansas Rep.  In 1989, she was nominated as Featured Actress in a Musical for her work in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  

Mercedes McCambridge, who appeared in ‘night, Mother at the Rep in the spring of 1986.  She was nominated as Featured Actress in a Play for The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks for the 1972 awards.

Austin Pendleton, who directed A Loss of Roses at Arkansas Rep.  After appearing in the original cast of Tony winning Best Musical Fiddler on the Roof, he later received a Tony nomination for directing the 1981 revival of The Little Foxes which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton.

Jane Summerhays, who starred in the Arkansas Rep production of A Loss of Roses.  In 1987, she was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical for Me and My Girl.

John Tartaglia, who directed 2013’s Because of Winn Dixie.  He was nominated for the 2004 Tony for Actor in a Musical for his performance in Avenue Q.

Japhy Weideman, who was the Rep’s lighting designer in the early 2000’s.  While he was at the Rep, he lit several shows including The Grapes of Wrath, All My Sons and God’s Man in Texas.  He has received Tony nominations for lighting design for his work on The Nance (2013), Of Mice and Men (2014), Airline Highway (2015), The Visit (2015), and Dear Evan Hansen (2017).

The fact that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has been able to work with theatre artists of this calibre is a testament to the quality of work it has produced.  Giving the opportunity for Arkansas audiences to have this interaction without leaving the state is one of the values of the Rep.

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Jane Summerhays

Rock the Tonys

Photo by  Aubrey Reuben

Photo by Aubrey Reuben

JANE SUMMERHAYS

Little Rock connection: Starred in the Arkansas Rep production of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses.

Tony Award connection: Was nominated for a 1987 Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical for Me and My Girl.

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Austin Pendleton

Rock the Tonysaupendleton200AUSTIN PENDLETON

Little Rock connection: Directed Arkansas Repertory Theatre production of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses. While in Little Rock appeared on a panel at the Clinton School which can be viewed here.

Tony Awards connection:Was nominated for the Director of a Play Tony Award for his production of The Little Foxes which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton.  Starred in the Tony winning original production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Final Weekend for A LOSS OF ROSES at Arkansas Rep

Theatregoers hoping to not lose out on on Pulitzer Prize winner William Inge’s A Loss of Roses have a few remaining performances to catch it at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

The production, directed by Tony nominee and Obie winner Austin Pendleton, stars Tony nominee Jane  Summerhays, Bret Lada and Jean Lichty as a mother, son and a visitor from their past who resurfaces.

Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

“Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton,” says Arkansas Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “He’s assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. Arkansas Rep is honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works.”

The cast also features Todd Gearhart, Max Jenkins and Sara Croft as members of a traveling troupe of actors and Keegan McDonald, Katye Dunn and Sydni Whitfield as neighbors of the central family.

A Loss of Roses plays tonight at 7pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday, July 1 at 7pm.

Next up at Arkansas Rep: William Inge’s A LOSS OF ROSES

The original version of William Inge’s A Loss of Roses will open this Friday on June 15, 2012, at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The revival will be directed by Tony nominee and Obie winner Austin Pendleton.

“I discovered A Loss of Roses a few years ago. I thought: this is a forgotten beautiful American play, full of colorful people and rich, juicy humor, and full of tragedy,” says Pendleton. “Since I read it, I’ve wanted to do it. I’m thrilled a theatre as good as Arkansas Rep is letting me do it.”

Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Pendleton says several of Inge’s plays have been revived by theatre artists wanting to tackle the playwright’s well-made plays. However, A Loss of Roses has remained mostly on the shelf since it closed on Broadway in 1959.

Arkansas Rep’s production will feature Jean Lichty as Lila Green, Tony nominee Jane Summerhays as Helen Baird and Bret Lada as Kenny.

“Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton,” says Arkansas Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “He’s assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. Arkansas Rep is honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works.”

A Loss of Roses was Inge’s first big setback after a string of critical and commercial successes with Bus Stop and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Picnic. The production was plagued by cast and script changes, earned poor reviews and closed after only three weeks on stage. Inge felt the play was one of his best, and was said to be stung by the criticisms.

“This play is not the play that was produced in New York last November,” Inge writes in his foreword in 1960. “It was greatly changed by the time the play opened at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Now I can’t remember why all the changes were thought necessary at the time, but working under the pressure that exists in theatre today, people become excited and mistrust their best instincts.”

A Loss of Roses will run June 15 – July 1, 2012, at Arkansas Repertory Theatre at 601 Main Street, Little Rock?

Clinton School presents panel on Ark Rep’s A LOSS OF ROSES

The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will host a panel discussion with Tony Award-nominated director Austin Pendleton and cast members of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of A Loss of Roses.  The panel will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall in Clinton Presidential Park. The program is free and open to the public.

A Loss of Roses is a little-known William Inge masterpiece that tells the story of two women struggling to make their lives bearable in a small Kansas town. Penned in the intimate style of Tennessee Williams, who was Inge’s mentor, A Loss of Roses is a bittersweet romance about the loss of innocence which garnered a young Warren Beatty a Tony Award nomination in the 1959 Broadway production. The play will run on The Rep’s stage from June 13 to July 1.

Director Austin Pendleton starred in the original cast of Fiddler on the Roof (and can be heard on the original cast recording). Since the 1960s he has had successful careers as an actor, playwright, director, lyricist, teacher and administrator.  In addition to his Tony nomination for directing Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton in The Little Foxes, he has received the Clarence Derwent Award (for Hail Strawdyke) and Obie Award (The Last Sweet Days of Isaac).  Among his many films are What’s Up Doc? and the Academy Award winning My Cousin Vinny.