Since today is Elizabeth Eckford’s birthday, the past Arkansas Rep production that is featured is 2007’s The Legacy Project: It Happened in Little Rock.

Culled from three years of research and over 80 interviews, playwright and director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj created a multi-faceted play with music that explored stories past and present of Central High’s desegregation and the legacy the events of those years have provided citizens of Little Rock, of Arkansas and of the United States.

The cast featured Destan Owens (playing parallel roles of a 1957 Harlem reporter and a 2007 artist (a stand-in for Maharaj) as well as nine other actors who played multiple roles of diverse ethnicity — from current Central students to the Little Rock Nine, from elected officials to blue-collar workers.  Those actors were J. Bernard Calloway, Mary-Pat Green, Taifa Harris, Shannon Lamb, Vanessa Lemonides, Arthur W. Marks, Gia McGlone, Nick Petrie and Julian Rebolledo.

The creative team included Sybil Roberts Williams (dramaturg), Michael Susko (choreographer and assistant director), Charles Creath (musical director) Steve Hudelson (musician), Mike Nichols (scenic design), Matthew Webb (lighting design), Leslie Bernstein (costume design), M. Jason Pruzin (sound design) and Lynda Kwallek (properties). Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and Education Director Leslie Golden were also involved in shepherding the project over the years.

Funding for the production came, in part, from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The production ran from September 14 to September 30, 2007, in conjunction with other events commemorating the 50th anniversary.

In 2008, Maharaj directed a play called Little Rock Off Broadway. While a separate piece of drama, it was based on the research he conducted and infused by his experiences creating The Legacy Project: It Happened in Little Rock.


A Swingin’ Holiday Extravaganza on Tap with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra this weekend

Photo courtesy of ASO

Photo courtesy of ASO

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents Swingin’ Holiday Extravaganza this weekend.  Performances began last night and continue tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow at 3 at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center, 12701 Hinson Road, Little Rock.

The ASO presents a children’s fair one hour before the Sunday concert featuring arts and crafts, instrument petting zoos, and live music. The fair is complimentary for ASO patrons.

Broadway singers Destan Owens and Mandy Gonzalez return to lead a celebration of holiday music and festival. Traditional tunes will be performed like “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and music from holiday movies like “The Polar Express” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The exciting and uplifting swing stylings of Owens and Gonzalez are sure to bring a smile to faces of all ages this holiday season. The Pops Live! Series is sponsored by Acxiom.  The concert sponsors are Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online atwww.ArkansasSymphony.org; 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.

The Polar Express Concert Suite
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The Christmas Song & Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Baby it’s Cold Outside
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Medley
We Need a Little Christmas
The Nutcracker Suite
Feliz Navidad
12 Days After Christmas
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Sleigh Ride
Audience Sing-Along: (Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Deck the Halls, O Come, All Ye Faithful)
O Holy Night
The Prayer

About the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 49th season in 2014-2015, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. The resident orchestra of the Robinson Center Music Hall – under renovation until 2016 – the ASO performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people around the state of Arkansas. During the renovation the ASO will perform the Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center and the Acxiom Pops Live! Series at the Connor Performing Arts Center of Pulaski Academy. In addition to the Masterworks, Pops, and Landers FIAT River Rhapsodies, the ASO serves Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children in over 200 schools.

Broadway on Broadway with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

ASO_revThis weekend, the music of New York City’s Broadway will be heard along Little Rock’s Broadway as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents the next pop concert of the season — “Best of Broadway.”

Get ready for a walk down the Great White Way in an evening of hits from Broadway’s most beloved show tunes! Join the ASO in a selection of music that crosses all genres and brings a smile to all faces.  The concerts are tonight at 8pm and tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.

The ASO musicians will be under the baton of Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson. One number will be led by special guest conductor Dr. Richard Wheeler.

The soloists for the concerts are Mandy Gonzales and Destan Owens.

Miss Gonzales has recently completed her run as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway.  She was awarded Broadway.com’s Favorite Female Replacement Award for this performance. She created the role of Nina in the musical In the Heights.  She has appeared in Aida, Lennon and Dance of the Vampires (in which she starred opposite Michael Crawford and Max Von Essen).  She is perhaps best known for her Obie winning performance in the Off-Broadway musical Eli’s Comin’.

Mr. Owens is an Oklahoma native with a B.A. in Musical Theater from Oklahoma City University. His stage appearances have included Rent, Chicago, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Who’s Tommy, Dreamgirls, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sisterella. He appeared at Arkansas Rep in 2007 in It Happened in Little Rock.  He has been a soloist with several symphony orchestras across the country.