Twelfth Night, or What you WILL

Today is Twelfth Night. Since it is also the title of one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays, it seems a good chance to preview the 2019 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season.

While they HAVE produced Twelfth Night, it is not part of the 2019 season.

The lineup DOES include: The Comedy of Errors (the first Shakespeare play I ever read), The Scottish Play (sorry, but I don’t want to invoke the curse so I won’t write or say the title), as well as a streamlined version of Romeo and Juliet for families.  Also on tap, in the non-Shakespeare musical slot is Guys and Dolls.

Here is more about each show.
The Comedy of Errors
A tragic shipwreck, two sets of twins divided at birth, mistaken identities, and unrequited love provide the perfect recipe for fun in this Shakespearean farce. The fates bring the brothers and their long-lost father Aegeon together in the land of Ephesus with hilarious results.
Outside on the lawn at UCA

Guys and Dolls
A Musical Fable of Broadway
Based on a Story and Characters of Damon Runyon
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
High-rolling gambler Sky Masterson never took a bet he couldn’t win, until he met the no-nonsense Sarah Brown, a mission worker set on redeeming the sinners of Broadway. While fellow gambler Nathan Detroit has his own hands full with his fourteen year engagement to Miss Adelaide. It’s the audience who wins in this delightful musical of love and luck!
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall

[The Scottish Play]
Brave warrior The Thane of Cawdor emerges victorious from battle to be greeted by three witches who hail him as the future king of Scotland. What follows is a dizzying descent into political machinations, murder, and madness.
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall

Family Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
The fighting families of Montague and Capulet put their feud before their children’s happiness in Shakespeare’s classic tale of “star-crossed” young love, reimagined for audiences of all ages in this one-hour adaptation.
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall.  Also available to tour!

Performance dates will be announced in coming weeks.

Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director and Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director.

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LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Shake a Spear, or As Will Likes It at 454

Today is the traditionally observed birthday of William Shakespeare. It is known he was born in 1564, which makes this the 454th birthday.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre earlier announced the lineup for the 2018 season.   The dates have now been announced.

The lineup for the June 8-July 8 season, which explores the theme of transformation, includes Shakespeare classics The Winter’s TaleHenry IV, Part One; and a family adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady. All four 2018 shows feature characters who undergo major changes — some for the better and others, perhaps, for the worst.

The season will open at 7:30 p.m. June 8 with The Winter’s Tale outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady will open in Reynolds Performance Hall on June 15, and Henry IV, Part One, will open on June 22. AST’s family-friendly adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing will open June 28 in Reynolds and will also tour across the state in June and July.

The Winter’s Tale will be directed by Nisi Sturgis, an AST artistic collective member, Conway native and UCA graduate who was a part of the critically acclaimed tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced at the Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep.

One of Shakespeare’s late romantic plays, it follows the story of King Leontes, who grows jealous of his wife, leading him to make a series of terrible mistakes. “This is a rarely produced Shakespeare gem,” said Rebekah Scallet, AST’s producing artistic director.

Robert Quinlan, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in AST’s 10th anniversary season, will return at the helm of Henry IV, Part One. This adventurous tale is centered on the young Prince Hal, who prefers spending his time in the tavern with his fat and jolly friend Falstaff to time in castle with his father, the king. When rebellion stirs in England, he must make a choice as to where his true loyalties lie.

Scallet will direct My Fair Lady. This multiple Tony Award-winning musical premiered in 1956 and will be given fresh life in this intimate new production. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl who wants to transform her status by changing the way she speaks, and so goes to curmudgeonly speech professor Henry Higgins for assistance.

Enrico Spada will make his directorial debut with AST for the touring Family Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing. With a cast of just eight people telling a reduced version of this classic tale, Much Ado is a romantic comedy with the great Shakespearean couple of Beatrice and Benedick at its center. This hour-long adaptation is perfect for families to enjoy together and will be performed on stage at Reynolds along with stops at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, Hot Springs Farmer’s Market, The Joint in Argenta and The Griffin in El Dorado, among others.

Audiences will again be seated onstage for the three productions in Reynolds Performance Hall. AST’s 12th season will close on July 8 with a final performance of The Winter’s Tale.

For those who want a Shakespeare fix in the actual winter, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will present As You Like It from February 6 to 24, 2019.

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.

Creative Class 2016: Phillip Rex Huddleston

cc16-huddlestonRenaissance Man is probably the best way to describe Phillip Rex Huddleston.  He is a writer, a musician, a composer, an artist, a teacher, an arts promoter, and so many other things.

By day, he is the Visual Art Specialist for eStem Middle School.  There, he teaches his students a variety of styles of art.  His own visual art style varies from realistic sketches, to caricatures, to comic strips and witty distillations of epic literature into a few frames.

As a guitarist and pianist he can often be found performing with his many talented friends throughout Little Rock’s live music scene in formal settings and on front porches.  As a composer, he has contributed compositions and performances to a variety of films made in Arkansas. His most recent effort was in Mark Thiedeman’s White Nights, which premiered in August.

A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas with a BA in Philosophy and an MA in English Literature, he was an Adjunct Instructor at UCA in the English Department before beginning his stint at eStem.  While at UCA, he also worked with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

For several years, he and friends and roommates would host regular Garland House Shows, named for the street on which their house was located. These combined visual art exhibits with live music in celebrations of the art they created and the friends who created and appreciated it.

Creative Class 2016: Karen Q. Clark

cc16-clarkKaren Q. Clark has played a sympathetic nun on film and an exceedingly unsympathetic nun on stage.   In between she has been a singing nun (in The Sound of Music).  Outside of the habit, she has appeared in New York, many regional theatres, and most (if not all) Little Rock stages.  A native of Wisconsin, she came to Little Rock with her husband (and fellow thespian) Jay Clark.  During the day, she is Lower School choral and drama teacher at Episcopal Collegiate School.

In addition to being a fixture in the Little Rock theatre scene, she also has numerous credits in many Arkansas-made films.  Favorite stage roles include: Mrs. Banks, Mary Poppins (Arkansas Rep); Betty in The It Girl (IRNE nomination, Worcester Foothills); Princess Rhyme in the world premiere of The Phantom Tollbooth and Rachel in Inherit the Wind (Wheelock Family Theatre); Irene in Hello Dolly! (Jekyll Island); Maria in The Sound of Music; and Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre). Another favorite role is being Quin’s mom.

Creative Class 2016: Chad Bradford

cc16-bradfordActor and director Chad Bradford started appearing on Little Rock stages while he was still a student at Hall High School.  Since then, he has appeared Off Broadway, in national tours, and in numerous regional theatres throughout the U.S.  While often appearing in Shakespeare or other classical plays, he is equally at home in farce, musicals, and drawing room comedies.  In 2015, he played the title character in the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of Puss in Boots. In other words, he is a versatile actor.

Earlier this year, he directed Twelfth Night for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (while also appearing in their productions of West Side Story and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  Twelfth Night was later remounted at Shake on the Lake Shakespeare in New York and returned to Conway for another appearance.  (This is not his first show to originate in Little Rock and be performed throughout the US. In 2013, he helmed David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries here before it played elsewhere.)  In 2015, National Arts Strategies named him a Creative Community Fellows recipient.

He is currently in rehearsals directing David Ives’s The Liar on the UCA Mainstage.  It plays October 20-22, and 27 & 28.

On Twelfth Night – Remember TWELFTH NIGHT is part of 2016 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre lineup

AST 2016 TwelfthToday is Twelfth Night. (Or is it Tonight is Twelfth Night?)  It is a good time to remember that the 2016 the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season will feature Shakespeare’s play of that name, as the one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation.

Twelfth Night takes us to the island of Illyria, where shipwrecked Viola must disguise herself as a boy—causing complications in her love life.

Actual performance dates and casting will be announced later.

The other three titles for 2016 are:

The 2016 outdoor Shakespeare: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Robert Quinlan
A comic romp of epic proportions, this magical comedy and its lovers, fairies, and oh-so-Rude Mechanicals are the perfect company for an Arkansas midsummer night.

The 2016 tragedy: ROMEO AND JULIET
Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet
Romance, intrigue, and adventure abound in Shakespeare’s timeless tale of the original
star-crossed lovers caught between their
warring families.

The 2016 musical: WEST SIDE STORY
Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein , Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jeremy Williams
This beloved musical transplants the story of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York City, where the warring Jets and Sharks stand in the way of true love.