31 Days of Arkansas Rep: 2006’s A CHORUS LINE

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre put it all on the line — the chorus line when they presented the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning A CHORUS LINE in 2006. Directed by Cliff Fannin Baker, this was one of the last productions allowed before a Broadway revival.

The musical, set in an audition for an unnamed musical, featured a cast of 25 triple threats.  Bob Gaynor and Kathryn Mowat Murphy played the leading roles of Zach and Cassie. The latter had played the role three times previously, each directed by a member of the original Broadway production of the show.

Others in the cast were Joi Chen, Case Dillard, Allison Stodola, Steven Baker, Darryl Calmese Jr., DJ Chase, Tony Falcon, Matt Gibson, Colleen Hawks, Hollie Howard, Kolina Janneck, Christina LaDuca, Deborah Leamy, Miguel A. Romero, Michael Susko and Melanie Waldron.

Rounding out the cast were Dennis Glasscock, Matthew D. Brooks, Lauren Farrell, Joey Murray, Cameron Wade, Eric T. Mann and Kim Scott.

The creative team included choreographer Lynne Kurdziel Formato (in her second collaboration with Baker at the Rep), Kristy Nicholson (musical director), Mike Nichols (scenery), Yslan Hicks (costumes), M. Jason Pruzin (sound) and Ken White (lighting).

The production played from June 2 through July 2 of 2006.

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31 Days of Arkansas Rep: PETER PAN in 1994

Peter Pan flew into the window of the Darling’s nursery in December 1994 on the Arkansas Rep stage.  With a cast of thirty-six, Peter Pan was one of the Rep’s larger productions.

Directed by Brad Mooy, the production featured Steve Wilkerson in the title role. It gained some national press attention, because the role is usually played by women, so Wilkerson’s casting was a bit of a novelty.

Others in the cast were Ed Romanoff, Angie Ohren, Dustin Alford, Matthew Block, Peggy Billo, Tanya Duggar, Gary Taggart, Angie Foresman, and Linda Sue Sanders. The Lost Boys were played by Adam Napper, Bernie Baskin, James Knight, Brian Jones, Kale Ludwig, and Kyle Ludwig.

The pirates were played by Mark Hansen, Joel Gordon, Derek Reid, Shannon E. Farmer, Tony D. Owens Jr., DeJon Mayes, Kenneth Elins, Matt Patton, Eric Harrison and Tom Kagy. Taking on the roles of the indians were Suzan Hart, Rusty Miller, Mikel Brown, Ryan Martine, Patrick McNally, Christina Boatwright, Leslie Goodwin, Tori Petrus and Dennis Glasscock.

Glasscock was the production’s choreographer. Flying for Pan and others was created by Foy, the same firm which was responsible for Mary Martin’s flying in the role on Broadway in 1954. Hans Stiritz was the musical director, Mike Nichols was set designer, and Don Bolinger provided costume design.

The production was so successful, it was nearly sold out before it opened.  Two years later, the Rep reprised it.  There were some different design elements as well as a largely different cast. Wilkerson returned as did Ohren, Dugger, Gordon, Knight, Napper, Alford,  Petrus, and Kagy.

Pulitzers Play Little Rock: A CHORUS LINE on the UALR stage

IMG_0274In April 1975 A Chorus Line premiered Off Broadway before transferring to Broadway in July 1975. In 1976, it became only the fifth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Whereas the composer of the first musical to win the Pulitzer was not honored (apparently because he only wrote music, not actual words), with A Chorus Line’s citation, the Pulitzers recognized not only librettists James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, lyricist Edward Kleban, and composer Marvin Hamlisch, but also Michael Bennett who conceived the project and steered its development.

In October 1985, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock became one of the first non-professional organizations to ever perform  A Chorus Line.  The theatre department was planning on producing Chicago, but dropped that show when rights for A Chorus Line became available.  (Chicago was on Broadway at the same time as A Chorus Line and was often overshadowed by it.)

In preparation for the show, UALR (as it was then known) conducted a dance workshop in August 1985 conducted by alum Kerry Kennedy, who had appeared in the national and international tours of the show.  After the workshop, auditions were held and the rehearsal process started.

Many familiar names in the Little Rock theatre scene from the 1970s to the present were involved in A Chorus Line.  The production was directed by Carolyn Curry, choreographed by Dot Callanen, and music directed by Lori Loree.  Jay Jagim provided the scenic and lighting design, while Joy Breckenridge was costume designer.

The cast was led by Tom Crone as Zach, the director of the show within the show, and Janet Ford as Cassie.  Other performers included Lee Borchert, Sara Cole, Missy Cook, Greg Donaldson, Jo Bocage Few, Dennis Glasscock, Leslie Hall (who joined the cast two weeks before opening), John Hartman, William R Holloway, Shawn Lynnette Jackson, Traci Presley, Joey Stocks, Allison Streepey, Joe Terry, Kevin Trippe, and Scarlet White.

Rounding out the company were Paula A. Barr, Kelly Bascue, Melanie Cameron, Caran Curry, Leigh Anne Embrey, James Finch, Tijuana McKnight, Leah McSpadden, Rick Riley, Karissa Rushing, and Curtis B. Tate.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.

PINKALICIOUS opens tonight at Ark Arts Center Children’s Theatre

aacctpinkThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre kicks off its 2013-2014 season with Pinkalicious the Musical.  The production will run from September 20 – October 6.

Pinkalicious is a contrary little girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe which sounds like a dream come true for a pink enthusiast, but she soon realizes that she may have gone too far.

“Children who love the original book will recognize all their favorite characters in this delightful tale that reminds us all of the importance of moderation,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “The talented cast will capture the young audience’s attention while also proving enjoyable for the adult chaperones.”

The cast for Pinkalicious the Musical includes:
Veronica Lowry, of Charlottesville, Va., as Pinkalicious
Jeremy Matthey, of Little Rock, Ark., as Peter/Bird
Aleigha Morton, of Little Rock, Ark., as Alison/Dr. Wink/Butterfly 2
Sissy Anne Quaranta, of Denver, Colo., as Mrs. Pinkerton/Butterfly 1
Dennis Glasscock, of Little Rock, Ark., as Mr. Pinkerton/Bee
Abby Bannerman, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Gretchen Bush, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Riley Melton, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Tasha Snyder, of Little Rock, Ark., Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Madison Stolzer, of Little Rock, Ark., Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees

Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director for the production. Direction and choreography by Scott Ferguson, costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Penelope Poppers, scenic design and properties by Miranda Young and Rivka Kuperman is the production stage manager.

Pinkalicious  is written by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann and is based on their book with the same title. Music is by John Gregor and lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann.

Presenting sponsors for the event are Landers Fiat and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The production is also sponsored by Centennial Bank, JPMS Cox, PLLC with in-kind support provided by Boulevard Bread Company.

Pinkalicious the Musical is presented through special arrangement with and all authorized performance materials are supplied by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018. For more information, visit www.theatricalrights.com  or call (866) 378-9758.

Recognized by The Drama League as one of the best regional theatre companies in America, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is the only professional company in Arkansas that produces children’s literary works for the stage. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating unique experiences for family audiences. During the 2012-13 season, nearly 43,000 children and families enjoyed Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre productions which included more than 200 schools across Arkansas.

For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org or call (501)372-4000. “Like” the Arkansas Arts Center on Facebook for the most up-to-date information on exhibitions, events and educational offerings.

On Stage at Children’s Theatre: A Frog and a Toad

The charming Tony nominated musical A Year with Frog and Toad returns to the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre for the 2011 holiday season.  It continues through this Sunday, December 18. 

Based on Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories, it was written by brothers Willie and Robert Reale.  One of the show’s original producers was Lobel’s daughter Adrienne.  Lobel’s son-in-law Mark-Linn Baker was one of the original actors.  The production premiered at the Children’s  Theatre Company in Minneapolis and then played Off Broadway before transferring to Broadway.  The Broadway production received three Tony nominations: Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

The cast is led by Mark Hansen and Dennis Glasscock as the title characters respectively.  The other parts are played by Paige Herschell, Vanessa Sterling and Chris Straw.  The set design is by Miranda Young, costume design by Erin Larkin, lighting design by Adam Britt and Lori Isner is the musical director.

Children’s Theatre alum Scott Ferguson is the guest director of this production.  He was a fixture on the Children’s Theatre stage in the 1980s as a teen. Since then he has received recognition as a director and author.  His work Schoolhouse Rock Live!has been performed Off Broadway, nationwide and on the Arts Center stage.  Based in Chicago, he is Artistic Director, Theatrebam Chicago; Collective Member/Director of Project Development, Bailiwick Chicago; a director and teacher at the National High School Institute of Northwestern University; Artistic Associate, About Face Theatre and a residency artist and teacher for Urban Gateways: Center for Arts In Education.