Heritage Month – Villa Marre

villamarreThe Villa Marre is located at 1321 Scott Street. The Second Empire-style Villa Marre was built in 1881 by Italian immigrant and Little Rock saloonkeeper Angelo Marre, who also served on the Little Rock City Council.

The distinctive home features a mansard roof covered in patterned slate, a central tower topped by wrought-iron cresting, and hood molding above the doors and windows. Marre died in 1889, and his widow, Jennie, remained in the house until about 1900. Arkansas Governor Jeff Davis rented the house for a few years, and in 1905, the home was purchased by E. B. Kinsworthy, former state senator and attorney general of Arkansas.

It is probably most famous today for being the outdoor exterior of Sugarbakers design firm in the CBS sitcom “Designing Women.”  For several years, it was the home of the Quapaw Quarter Association. It later returned to a private residence.  Currently it is a venue for weddings and other events.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1970.

Black History Month Spotlight: Sheryl Underwood

Sheryl Underwood was born in Little Rock in 1963. After graduating from college, she served in the military. In 1989 she became the first female finalist in the Miller Lite Comedy Search.  Today, she is a panelist on CBS Daytime’s hit show “The Talk.”

In addition to her TV appearances, she is an entrepreneur, entertainer, studio executive and  International President of her beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Named one of today’s hardest working comediennes, Underwood has starred in such films as “Bullworth,” “I Got the Hook Up” and “Beauty Shop,” starring Queen Latifah. In addition, Underwood was the host of Black Entertainment Television’s (BET’s) “Comic View” and “Holla,” a talk show she created and produced which was loosely based on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

She is a weekly contributor on the “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” also serving as guest host, and appears on “The Steve Harvey Project,” the television version of the show airing on TV-ONE. Underwood also hosts “The Sheryl Underwood Show” on Jamie Foxx’s “The Foxxhole,” airing on Sirius 106/XM 149, where she provides a mix of political satire, comedy and music.

In 2007, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  To learn more about Sheryl Underwood and other inductees, visit the exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. that museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

TONY AWARDS tonight — Some Arkansas connections

TonyAwards-328x253.328.254The American Theatre Wing and Broadway League present the 67th Antoinette Perry Awards – also known as the Tony Awards – tonight. They will be aired on CBS (THV11 in Central Arkansas) at 7pm CDT.

There are a few Arkansas connections to this year’s nominees of the best of Broadway.

Arkansas natives and previous Tony winners Will Trice and Remmel T. Dickinson are each nominated again this year for producing. Trice is one of the producers of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, nominated for Best Revival of a Play. Dickinson is a producer of Best Musical nominee Matilda. Both of those productions received multiple Tony nominations.

Tony winner Roger Horchow of Texas was married for nearly 50 years to Little Rock native Carolyn Pfeifer, until her 2009 death. Horchow and his daughter Sally are both nominated for producing the revival of Annie which is currently pleasing crowds on Broadway.

Chet Walker is nominated for his choreography for the revival of Pippin. Walker’s parents live in Maumelle. He has been a guest instructor for the Arkansas Dance Network. (Thanks to Christen Burke Pitts–herself an outstanding choreographer–for pointing out this Arkansas connection.)

Japhy Weideman is nominated for Best Lighting Design of a Play for his work on the new play The Nance. This is his first Tony nomination and his first season to be lighting plays on Broadway. He has previously received acclaim for his work Off Broadway. Weideman has been a lighting designer at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in the past.

One final nominee with an Arkansas connection. A couple of years ago, the Clinton School of Public Service brought actor Holland Taylor to Little Rock to discuss her play Ann about Texas Gov. Ann Richards. At that point in time, Ms. Taylor was performing the play throughout the country, but she did not know if it would be performed in New York. It made it to Broadway this season, and she received a Tony nomination for Actress in a Play for her work.

Whether these nominees win or lose tonight, it is a testament to Little Rock’s cultural richness that there are several nominees this year with connections to The Rock.