Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area

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LR Women Making History – Charlotte Gadberry

Charlotte Gadberry has long been a supporter of Little Rock’s various cultural institutions. She has both served on boards and consulted with boards in strategic planning.  Her major focus these past few years has been the founding of the ACANSA Arts Festival.

A trip to Charleston, South Carolina, amid it’s Spoleto USA arts festival inspired her to dream that Little Rock could play host to a similar endeavor.  Using her fundraising prowess and connections, she started to raise funds, friends and awareness for this idea.

In September 2013, the inaugural ACANSA Arts Festival was announced for September 2014.  Under her leadership, ACANSA (a name derived from an early Native American variation of what is now called Arkansas) incorporated both local cultural institutions as well as performers brought in for the event.

In the first four years ACANSA has featured theatre, dance, mime, puppetry, instrumental music, choral music, opera, jazz, painting, photography, history, lectures, and gallery tours.  It has worked with the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Central Arkansas Library System, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and Wildwood Park for the Arts as well as numerous galleries and performance venues.

Because of her efforts to found ACANSA and lead it, Charlotte is being honored with an Arkansas Arts Council 2018 Governor’s Arts Award on March 29, 2018.


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LR Women Making History – Mimi Dortch

Madalyn “Mimi” Breitzke Dortch, was known for getting worthwhile projects off the ground.

She was a founder along with dear friend Cliff Baker, of the Arkansas Repertory Theater; hosted the first Arkansas Opera Theatre outdoor perforomance at her home Marlsgate, was a founder along with Helen Walton of Arkansas Committee of National Museum of Women in the Arts, and was the Director of AIC Choir Camp at Subiaco for 22 years.

When Baker had the idea for the Rep, she made use of her personal connections and helped form the first Board of Directors.  She served as an ambassador for the Rep and theatre in general.   Throughout the rest of her life, she would be a stalwart supporter of the Rep.  Her interest in theatre had been nurtured while she was in college.  Her interest in founding community endeavors had been inherited from her father who founded the North Little Rock Boys Club.

The AIC Choir Camp was originally founded by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  She oversaw the transition to it being under the auspices of the Arkansas Interfaith Conference of Churches and Synagogues, which she led.

There were few art forms or art organizations in Little Rock and Arkansas that Mimi Dortch did not attend or support.

LR Women Making History – Jeane Hamilton

Photo taken for SOIREE

Jeane Hamilton has nurtured the Arkansas Arts Center for over 60 years.  She was present at the genesis of it and has remained so.  In 2007, she was awarded the Arkansas Arts Council’s Lifetime Achievement Governor’s Arts Award.

Arriving in Little Rock a young wife in 1952, she immediately set about to become involved in her new community as she and her husband James set up a household.  In the mid-1950s, the Junior League of Little Rock tapped her to chair the initiative to create a new art museum for Little Rock.  The two decades old Museum of Fine Arts was threadbare through years of neglect and unfocused programming and collecting.

Hamilton, along with Junior League President Carrie Remmel Dickinson and Vice President Martha McHaney, approached Winthrop Rockefeller (then a relatively new resident) to lead the fundraising effort for the new museum.  He agreed on a few conditions: one was that a base amount had to be raised in Little Rock first, and second that the museum would be for the entire State of Arkansas and not just Little Rock.

Hamilton and her colleagues set about to raise the funds. They raised $645,000 at the same time Little Rock’s business climate was stymied by the aftereffects of the Central High crisis.

Now a lifetime honorary member of the Arkansas Arts Center Board, Hamilton has spent much of her life working on Arkansas Arts Center projects since that visit in 1959.  She has served on the Board, chaired committees, chaired special events, served hot dogs, helped kids paint and danced the night away at countless fundraisers.  She was on the committee which hired Townsend Wolfe as executive director and chief curator.  Jeane has led art tours for the Arts Center to a number of countries over the years.

When she is not at the Arts Center, she is often seen at the Rep, the Symphony or any number of other cultural institutions.  While she enjoys seeing old friends at these events, she also loves to see a room full of strangers – because that means that new people have become engaged in the cultural life of Little Rock.

Rock the Oscars: Mercedes McCambridge

Mercedes McCambridge won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her film debut.  The film was All the King’s Men.  She played political operative Sadie Burke.  Seven years later, she received an additional Oscar nomination for her role in Giant with Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and Rock Hudson.

By the 1960s, she was spending most of her time on television.  In the early 1970s, she alternated between film, TV and stage.  She provided the voice of the demon in the multiple Oscar nominated film The Exorcist.

In the 1980s, she moved to Little Rock. Her son and granddaughters lived here.  While in Little Rock, she appeared at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in ‘Night, Mother.  Following her son’s death in 1987 (in a grisly murder suicide following financial improprieties on the job and his forger her signature on documents), she moved away from Little Rock.

2018-19 Arkansas Rep Season includes MENAGERIE, Alcott, Shakespeare, and Rock & Roll History

ark repEarlier this evening (2/19) the Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced its 2018-19 Season. Beginning in September, the new season exemplifies The Rep’s mission of producing diversified work of the highest artistic standards. “Variety is, once again, the watchword at The Rep,” said Producing Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany.

The Rep’s 2018-19 Season opens with one of the most beloved American plays of the 20th Century. Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is a delicate memory play about family life set in a Depression-era St. Louis tenement. While rebellious Tom Wingfield dreams of running away from his tedious existence, his stubborn mother Amanda elegizes romantically about her Southern debutante past. And in the midst of their disputes, Tom’s timid sister Laura escapes from the cruelty of the world by retracting into an imaginary realm populated by her collection of fragile glass animals.  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs September 5 to 23 with opening night on September 7.

Next is the stage adaptation of the classic film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?  When Joanna decides to surprise her parents with an impromptu introduction to her new fiancé John, she overlooks one small detail – he’s Black. Despite their self-professed liberal political leanings, Mr. and Mrs. Drayton find themselves scrambling when their beliefs are put to the test. But Joanna has yet another bombshell in store – she has invited John’s parents over for the evening as well. The script is by Todd Kreidler, adapted from the screenplay by William Rose. Directed by Arkansas Rep founder Cliff Fannin Baker, it runs from October 24 to November 11 with an opening night of October 26.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been a beloved novel since it was first published.  Every generation it seems to inspire a classic movie, and in the mid 2000s, it became a Tony-nominated musical on Broadway.  While the Civil War rages far away from their humble New England home, tomboy Jo refuses to conform to the demands made upon her by “polite society.” As her mother and sisters patiently await the return of their father from the battlefield, Jo’s contagious optimism endures in the face of romantic confusion and personal tragedy.  With the opening scene set at Christmas, it is fitting that Little Women is the Rep’s holiday musical.  The book is by Allan Knee with a score by Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland.  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs from December 5 to 30, with opening night of December 7.

Containing some of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, As You Like It is a comedy about love, exile, wit, and disguises all set in the Forest of Arden.  Orlando loves Rosalind. Rosalind loves Orlando. But Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede – who’s a boy! And Phebe loves Ganymede – who’s really Rosalind. Yet Silvius loves Phebe. And Rosalind’s best friend Celia loves Orlando’s brother Oliver. But Oliver hates Orlando. And Touchstone lusts after Audrey. Unfortunately, no one much cares for Jacques. Celebrate romance as Shakespeare’s timeless comedy takes center stage at The Rep!  Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, it runs from February 6 to 24, 2019, with an opening night of February 8, 2019.


On December 4, 1956, in the studios of Sun Records in Memphis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis gathered to meet with legendary producer Sam Phillips. What happened next was pure rock and roll magic. Million Dollar Quartet shows what happens when a casual introduction of Lewis to Perkins unexpectedly evolved into an epic jam session of country, gospel and rock classics, captured on tape but not released until 1981. The show has a collection of hit songs that includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog.”  The show is written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux from an original idea by Mutrux.  Directed by original cast member Hunter Foster (a Tony-nominated actor), the musical runs from March 27 to April 21, 2019 with opening night on March 29, 2019.

The season ends with the comedy Women in Jeopardy! Wendy MacLeod’s play tells the story of Liz who starts seeing a new man and throws caution (and her book club selections) to the wind. However, her friends can’t get over the fact that Liz’s latest beau is just plain creepy. What else are they supposed to think about a dentist with a Hannibal Lecter obsession and a bizarre collection of “antique” orthodontic contraptions in his basement? And then there’s the recent disappearance of his dental hygienist…  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs from June 5 to 23, 2019. Opening night will be June 7, 2019.

Season Subscriptions are on sale now and start at $132. . For more information about Season Subscriptions, call The Rep’s Box Office at (501) 378-0405, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., or visit

Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres, The Rep has produced more than 350 productions including 40 world premieres in its 377-seat theatre located in its historic building in downtown Little Rock.

Rock the Oscars: Julie Andrews at the Arkansas Rep

Photo by Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

In April 2002, Oscar winning actress Julie Andrews appeared at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  The purpose was a fundraiser for a program the Rep had at the time.

The evening consisted of reminiscences from her as well as a conversation with Anne Jansen.  It included discussions of her Oscar winning role in Mary Poppins as well as her Oscar nominated turns in The Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria.

Following the performance, there was a dinner on the Rep’s Second Stage.  Though she no longer sings due to vocal chord damage following a late 1990s surgery, she did sing a childhood Cockney song about Henry VIII after Rollie Remmel sang to her a childhood song about Charles Lindbergh.

While in Little Rock, she toured the Clinton Materials Project which was processing the papers and items from the Clinton White House in advance of the 2004 opening of the Clinton Presidential Center.  She also toured Heifer International.

2018 Grants announced by National Endowment for the Arts; includes 4 Little Rock groups

Four Little Rock organizations were announced today as recipients of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.  They are: Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, and the Oxford American magazine.

Each year, more than 4,500 communities large and small throughout the United States benefit from National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grants to nonprofits. For the NEA’s first of two major grant announcements of fiscal year 2018, more than $25 million in grants across all artistic disciplines will be awarded to nonprofit organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These grants are for specific projects and range from performances and exhibitions, to healing arts and arts education programs, to festivals and artist residencies.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities, and connections the arts bring.”


Arkansas Repertory Theatre Company
$10,000 Little Rock, AR
Art Works — Theater
To support a production of “The Call” by Tanya Barfield.


Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Society, Inc.
$12,500 Little Rock, AR
Art Works — Music
To support the Canvas Festival, which will combine visual arts and the performance of live symphonic music.


Chamber Music Society of Little Rock
$10,000 Little Rock, AR
Challenge America
To support a series of chamber music performances and related educational programming.


Oxford American Literary Project

$25,000 Little Rock, AR
Art Works — Literature
To support the publication and promotion of “The Oxford American” magazine.