This weekend – Ashley Brown bring Broadway to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

POPS5 PhotoThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth and final concert in the 2014-2015 Acxiom Pops Live! Series: Ashley Brown’s Broadway. Fresh from her run as Mary Poppins on Broadway, Ashley Brown and the ASO take over the stage with thrilling renditions of Broadway favorites. All ages will enjoy this special performance featuring music from Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and more familiar hits from Broadway musicals and beloved Disney films.

Concerts are Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. and take place at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center, 12701 Hinson Road, Little Rock, AR.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at; at the Connor Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at the ASO website.

Ashley Brown, soprano, originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a 2010 Garland award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and she has starred in the national tour of Disney’s “On The Record.” Ashley recently returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to star in the role of Laurey in Oklahoma! She previously played Magnolia opposite Nathan Gunn in Francesca Zembello’s Show Boat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ashley has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America.

The Pops Live! Series is sponsored by Acxiom.

The program will include:


  • Overture: Broadway Tonight  (ASO only)
  • Almost Like Being in Love/This Can’t be Love
  • So In Love
  • Le Jazz Hot
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (arr. Mancini) (ASO only)
  • Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins
  • Disney Medley



  • The Sound of Music Selection (ASO only)
  • Ring Them Bells
  • Grateful
  • The Man I Love
  • Fiddler on the Roof  (arr. John Williams) (ASO only)
  • Defying Gravity
  • Our Time/Children Will Listen (with chorus)
  • I’ll Be Seeing You

(Selections subject to change)

Charles Morgan discussing MATTERS OF LIFE AND DATA to close the 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival

CDM-Book-CoverThe 2015 Arkansas Literary Festival comes to a close on Sunday, April 26 with a conversation between Charles Morgan and Kelley Bass.  These two longtime friends will be discussing Morgan’s book, Matters of Life and Data at 3pm in the Ron Robinson Theater.

Here is how Morgan describes the book:

“I didn’t set out to become a collector of your and your neighbors’ information. When I was growing up, nobody but egghead scientists talked about ‘data.’ It was the mechanical age, and I was a gadget geek, taking apart my cousin’s toys and trying to put them back together again. I was especially crazy about cars and engines, and had it not been for a fateful encounter during college recruiting season, I might’ve lived my life as a race car mechanic instead of learning about computers at IBM. As it turned out, pursuing Big Data allowed me the resources to become a professional race car driver on the side, competing against the likes of Paul Newman, who makes appearances in these pages as well.

“Such are the wonders of this journey we’re all on. Mine has taken me from the frontier of western Arkansas, where my ancestors owned a hardware store selling iron tools to westbound travelers, to the frontier of the digital age, where room-size computers have become eclipsed by the power of smart phones. And in a sense, the story you’re about to read isn’t so different from those of the colorful adventurers who stocked up their wagons at my family’s hardware emporium and headed west to make their fortunes. Data mining is the new gold rush, and we were there at first strike, dragging with us all our human frailties and foibles. In this book’s cast of characters you’ll find ambition, arrogance, jealousy, pride, fear, recklessness, anger, lust, viciousness, greed, revenge, betrayal, and then some.”

“It is a messy story. In the big picture, this could be called a narrative of America since World War II. But in the micro telling, think of it this way: The man who opened your lives to Big Data finally bares his own.”

Broadway, Movie and Holiday Music all part of Ark Symphony 2014-15 Acxiom Pops Live lineup

ASO_2-colorMusic of the Silver Screen, Great White Way and boughs of green highlight the 2014-2015 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Acxiom Pops Live! Series.

Next year is the first of their two-year hiatus from Robinson Center Music Hall (as it gets transformed into a true music hall instead of a civic gathering room).  To entice audience members to go along for the journey of the new, temporary location, ASO Music Director Philip Mann has created a lineup of spectacular music performed by powerhouse talent as well as the phenomenal musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

The Acxiom Pops Live! Series will be performed at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center.  (Think: Maumelle=Masterworks, PA=Pops)  The series will kick off on October 4 & 5 with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards.  Oscar and Emmy winner Bill Conti (who also is conductor of the Academy Awards orchestra) will lead the ASO in a celebration of songs from the movies. As a composer, Conti has won an Oscar for his score to The Right Stuff and was nominated for Rocky and For Your Eyes Only. Other movies and TV include Private Benjamin, “Dynasty,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Falcon Crest,” The Karate Kid, “North & South,” and Broadcast News.

The ASO Holiday Extravaganza is an Arkansas tradition in December.  In 2014 it will take place on December 19, 20 & 21.  It will feature Christmas carols, sing-alongs, and some of Arkansas’ outstanding musicians and singers. There are always traditional favorites and new surprises thrown in.  This will help audiences relax after completing their shopping – or take a break from the last minute shopping frenzy. (Tickets also make a great early-Christmas present, and it falls in the middle of Hanukkah and makes a wonderful present for that too.)

Another ASO tradition is the Broadway Valentine’s concert. It will take place on February 14 and 15.  The music of Broadway and Hollywood will be the framework for an evening of song and dance by Broadway vets Joan Hess and Kirby Ward. Their singing and dancing will remind audiences (or introduce younger audiences to the mastery) of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell.

The classic songs of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin have stood the test of time and are definitely timeless. The great vocalist Sylvia McNair will offer her take on these standards while accompanied by Jeffrey Biegel on piano.  This concert promises to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears because it will also feature rare video clips, family photos and state-of-the art visuals to help share the story of the Gershwins and their music.

The Pops Live! Series for 2014-2015 will conclude with Ashley Brown’s Broadway.  Miss Brown was the original Mary Poppins when the eponymously entitled musical opened on Broadway.  For her work in the production, she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League nominations. She made her Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  Backed by the ASO, she will sing Broadway favorites such as “Nothing Like a Dame,” “People,” and “Tonight” as well as Disney classics such as “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

All Acxiom Pops Live! concerts will be performed at 7:30pm on Saturday evenings and 3pm on Sunday evenings.

Bass next CEO of Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery today announced that Kelley Bass will become the next CEO of the Museum.  He will succeed Nan Selz who retires at the end of this year.

Bass, who is currently Assistant Dean for External Affairs at the UALR’s Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. Prior to that he worked at Acxiom, Arkansas Business Publishing Group and newspapers in Arkansas and Missouri.

He has been a member of the Museum’s Board of Directors for the past three years as the facility has undergone an extension renvoation and reinvigoration under Selz’s leadership.  He has also been active in Riverfest and other downtown activities.

The Museum of Discovery was founded in 1927 and is Little Rock’s oldest museum.
The museum was originally accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1993 and was re-accredited in 2001. During the period between its founding and its accreditation, the museum actively collected approximately 14,000 cultural and historical artifacts and numerous species of live animals and insects.

Selz and Bass

In 1998, the museum moved to the River Market and in 2003 became a Smithsonian Affiliate.  In 2011, the museum closed for nine months in order to add a new entrance and undergo a total renovation. This project, funded by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, also provided funding for new, interactive science exhibits, completing the museum’s transformation from a collecting museum to a science center.

The Mission of the Museum of Discovery: To ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

Museum of Discovery goes Uncorked tonight

Charles Morgan and Alex Dietz, who helped build Acxiom from a small Conway business into a global force in data and data management, will serve as honorary chairmen for the 11th Annual Uncorked: The Mad Scientist Mash, a fundraiser for the Museum of Discovery. The event will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. October 18 at the museum, 500 President Clinton Avenue.

“As kids, Alex and I both were energized by science, technology and math – and that led us to get our degrees in engineering and go on to Acxiom in the early 1970s,” Morgan says. “We think it is critical that more Arkansas youth get the chance to have that same spark ignited, and the Museum of Discovery is the premier institution in our state providing that opportunity in a dynamic, hands-on, interactive environment.”

Guests, ages 21 and older, will be able to explore and experience the almost 90 interactive exhibits and discover the fun of science. There also will be interactive “Mad Scientist” experiments and encounters with the museum’s own live animals.

Tasting stations will include specialty wines and beers courtesy of Glazer’s of Arkansas. A wine pull will provide attendees the opportunity to win bottles of wine, some of which sell for well more than the $20 cost to participate. A silent auction will showcase wine-related items, gift certificates, unique experiences and more. Attendees can park free in the River Market parking deck; the entrance is on Second Street between River Market Avenue and Sherman Street.

This year’s “must have” raffle item will be a $1,000 gift certificate to Kenneth Edwards Fine Jewelers.

Event proceeds benefit the Museum of Discovery’s statewide educational outreach programs.

Morgan joined Acxiom as vice president in 1972, became chief executive officer in 1975, the position he held before retiring in 2008. Dietz joined Acxiom in 1970 and helped set the data product vision for the company, serving many years as Products Division leader before retiring in 2009. They were two of the visionaries who grew the company from 25 employees and $500,000 in annual revenue in the early 1970s to a global footprint with more than 7,500 employees and $1.5 billion in annual revenue when they retired.

“I was always interested in math – and in how things worked,” Dietz said. “It was that interest and curiosity that helped me drive innovation in Acxiom’s products. Charles and I urge all Arkansans who care about our state’s future to support the Museum of Discovery and this enjoyable Uncorked event.”

Event tickets are $100 and can be purchased at For more information, please contact Meredith Poland at or 501-537-3077.

About the Museum of Discovery

Located in Little Rock’s historic River Market District, the Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery is central Arkansas’s premier science, technology and math center. With nearly 90 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits in three galleries focused on health, physical and earth sciences, and a highly trained staff, it is a leading resource for informal science-related education. The Donald W. Reynolds Science Center at the Museum of Discovery’s mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation awarded the Museum a $9.2 million grant solely dedicated to the renovation. The money paid for the renovation of 44,000 square feet of existing space, a 6,000 square-foot addition and new exhibits throughout the facility.

Another elite architectural award for a Little Rock firm and building

Polk Stanley Wilcox of Little Rock was awarded the American Architecture Award for its design of the Heifer International Murphy Keller Education Center in Little Rock.

In the last five years, PSW has won this award for both the Acxiom Data Center and the Heifer International Headquarters.

The Murphy Keller Eduction Center provides a place for visitors, staff, volunteers and the international development community to come together to learn about world hunger and poverty and current solutions to these problems.

It features an interactive learning center that includes exhibit space, a conference hall, a fair trade gift market and food service area.

“This recognition is proof that good design matters, and can contribute to getting an organization like Heifer’s message out into the public eye, which is critical for their humanitarian efforts,” Reese Rowland, the project’s principal architect, said. “We are also excited to bring more national exposure to downtown Little Rock as well.”

The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design & Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press Ltd., selected the Polk Stanley Wilcox design for the award, one of 46 given this year.

The American Architecture Award aims to celebrate the “most outstanding new architecture” designed and built in the United States by American and international architects.

About 1,000 projects from around the world were considered for the award.