Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Rock the Oscars: James Earl Jones

Actor James Earl Jones has made several appearances in Central Arkansas over the years.  He has appeared at Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  On February 12, 1999, he narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and Alexander Miller’s “Let Freedom Ring” with the Symphony in a concert at Robinson Center.  (It was the 190th birthday for Lincoln.)

Born in Mississippi, he spent most of his childhood in Michigan.  After service in the Army during the Korean War, he moved to New York to study theatre.  In the late 1950s he started alternating between Broadway (where he often played a servant) and Off Broadway (where he played leading roles).  His first film appearance was in Dr. Strangelove….  From the 1960s onward he has alternated between stage, film and TV.  In the 1980s, he added voice work to his repertoire.

In 1969 and in 1987, he won Tony Awards for Actor in a Play (The Great White Hope and Fences, respectively).  His other Tony nominations have been for revivals of On Golden Pond and The Best Man.  He was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for reprising The Great White Hope on film.  He received two Emmy Awards in 1991 – the only actor to ever win two in the same year.

In 2008, he won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was given an Honorary Oscar.  In 2002, he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.

He is probably best loved for his work as the voice of Darth Vader in many of the Star Wars films as well as his voicework in The Lion King.

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Black History Month – James Earl Jones and Robinson Center

james_earl_jones_headshotActor James Earl Jones has made several appearances in Central Arkansas over the years.  He has appeared at Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  On February 12, 1999, he narrated Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and Alexander Miller’s “Let Freedom Ring” with the Symphony in a concert at Robinson Center.  (It was the 190th birthday for Lincoln.)

Born in Mississippi, he spent most of his childhood in Michigan.  After service in the Army during the Korean War, he moved to New York to study theatre.  In the late 1950s he started alternating between Broadway (where he often played a servant) and Off Broadway (where he played leading roles).  His first film appearance was in Dr. Strangelove….  From the 1960s onward he has alternated between stage, film and TV.  In the 1980s, he added voice work to his repertoire.

In 1969 and in 1987, he won Tony Awards for Actor in a Play (The Great White Hope and Fences, respectively).  His other Tony nominations have been for revivals of On Golden Pond and The Best Man.  He was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for reprising The Great White Hope on film.  He received two Emmy Awards in 1991 – the only actor to ever win two in the same year.

In 2008, he won the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 he was given an Honorary Oscar.  In 2002, he was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient.

He is probably best loved for his work as the voice of Darth Vader in many of the Star Wars films as well as his voicework in The Lion King.


Creative Class 2016: Jamie Davidson

cc16-davidsonWhen one thinks of the creative economy, the focus is generally on non-profit arts and museums.  However, as Jamie Davidson shows, it is also about the design sector.

As the founder and creative director for Little Rock based Strong Suit Clothing, Davidson is changing perceptions about Little Rock.  While Strong Suit certainly dresses many outstanding Arkansans, it reaches far beyond. The line appears in Nordstrom as well as a variety of specialty stores throughout the US.  Several actors at the 2016 Emmy Awards were wearing Strong Suit tuxedos and have worn Strong Suit clothing in national TV appearances.

Davidson got his start in the fashion world when working at longtime Heights clothier Mr. Wicks.  Previous to Strong Suit, he was a founder of Normandy & Monroe and Tre Vero clothing lines.  This latest venture launched in 2013. Building on his experience, Strong Suit Clothing is growing incrementally and strategically with successful results.  In addition to the line’s growth in stores, his experience with e-commerce has allowed the company to have success in that arena.  The hard work is garnering national attention from the media.

Despite the growth of the company, and the fact it could be easier to operate if it were located elsewhere, Davidson is committed to Little Rock.  His grandfather, Julian Davidson, was an architect who helped build Little Rock in the 20th century.  As a clothier, Jamie is helping to dress Little Rock, and dress the world from Little Rock.


Friday Night Lights Cinema: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

fridaynightlightsHigh school football returns tonight. In honor of that, each Friday in September will feature a movie about high school football.  Up first, the eponymously titled Friday Night Lights.

This 2004 film is based on Buzz Bissinger’s book of the same name.  The book is non-fiction, but the movie employs a mix of fact and Hollywood-ization.  It was directed by actor-director Peter Berg, a cousin of Bissinger’s.  It was originally slated to be directed by Alan J. Pakula, who died before filming started.

Billy Bob Thornton, Jay Hernandez and Connie Britton lead the cast.  Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Lee Jackson, Lee Thompson Young, Grover Coulson, and Tim McGraw also were in the cast.

The movie won the 2005 ESPY for Best Sports Movie.  It inspired a TV series which ran from 2006 to 2011.  Connie Britton was in the series playing a coach’s wife, as she had in the movie – but the names and aspects of the character were different.  Brad Leland played a team booster in both the movie and series.  It received 13 Emmy nominations and 3 Emmy awards during its run.


ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap is 2014 CALS J. N. Heiskell Distinguished Lecturer

espnschaapArkansans love their sports! They probably discuss and cuss sports more than any other topic.  Therefore it is fitting that ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap will deliver the 2014 J. N. Heiskell Distinguished Lecture tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue. Schaap will discuss his experiences in sports journalism at An Evening with Jeremy Schaap.

Clint Stoerner, former quarterback for the Arkansas Razorbacks, will introduce Schaap.  The event is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow the program. Seating is general admission. Reservations are appreciated, but not required. RSVP to pedwards@cals.org or 918-3009.

An ESPN reporter since 1996, Jeremy Schaap functions in a variety of roles at the network. He is a correspondent for E:60, the host of ESPN Radio’s The Sporting Life, and a frequent contributor to Outside the Lines, NFL Countdown, and College Gameday. His reports, interviews, and commentaries are regularly featured on SportsCenter.

Schaap has won multiple national Sports Emmy Awards and many other honors for his work, including a national Edward R. Murrow Award in 2012, and a National Headliner Award in 2007. He is the author of Cinderella Man, a New York Times bestseller, and Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics. In December 2013, Disney secured the movie rights to Triumph and enlisted Schaap for a consulting role on the film.

In addition to his contributions for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, Schaap’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Time, the Wall Street Journal, and Parade.

As quarterback, Stoerner led Arkansas to a 2000 Cotton Bowl Classic victory, and went on to play for the NFL, the NFL Europe, and the Arena Football League.  He regularly appears on radio and television in Arkansas to discuss sports events.

The Heiskell Distinguished Lecture is named for J.N. Heiskell, the longest-serving member of the Library’s Board of Trustees and editor of the Arkansas Gazette for more than seventy years. Speakers and programs honor Mr. Heiskell’s commitment to excellence in journalism as well as his support of the library.


The 2014-2015 Acxiom Pops Live Series of Arkansas Symphony Orchestra kicks off with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards Show

ASO ContiThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (ASO), Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, opens the 2014-2015 Acxiom Pops Live! Series with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards Show. The concert is held at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center, 12701 Hinson Road, Little Rock, AR, on  Saturday, October 4, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.

Oscar and five-time Emmy-winner Bill Conti – conductor of the Academy Awards Orchestra and composer of film scores “Karate Kid” and “Rocky”  – leads the ASO in a celebration of the big screen. In addition to the lush sounds of live symphonic orchestra, patrons will be treated to an exciting multimedia experience. Patrons of all ages are invited to get popcorn, find a seat, and settle in for an evening of movies, music, and silver screen glitz and glamour.

The Pops Live! Series is sponsored by Acxiom.

 

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at http://www.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.

ARTISTS
Bill Conti, guest conductor

PROGRAM

  • CONTI: “Fanfare  –  “The  Final  Bell”  from  Rocky
  • CONTI:  “Television  Medley”  –  Olympics  ’88,  Falcon  Crest,  Lifestyles  of  the  Rich  and  Famous,  Dynasty,  Cagney  and  Lacey
  • CONTI:  “North  and  South”  –  Theme  from  the  TV  mini-series  North  and  South
  • CONTI:  “An  Unmarried  Woman”  –  Theme  from  An  Unmarried  Woman
  • CONTI  (Arr.): “Czardas”  –  Dueling  violins  from  Unfaithfully  Yours
  • CONTI  (Arr.): “Salute  to  the  Cinema”  –  Academy  Award  Show

INTERMISSION

  • CONTI  (Arr.): “A  Tribute  to  Walt  Disney”
  • CONTI:  “The Adventures of Huck Finn”  –  Theme  from  The Adventures of Huck  Finn
  • CONTI:  “For  Your  Eyes  Only”  –  Theme  from  For  Your  Eyes  Only
  • MORODER: “Oh  What  A  Feeling”  –  Theme  from  Flashdance
  • CONTI:  “The  Right  Stuff”  –  Music  from  The  Right  Stuff
  • CONTI:  “Gonna  Fly  Now”  –  Theme  from  Rocky

ABOUT THE ARKANSAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 49th season in 2014-2015, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, and performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.

 


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Broadway, Movie and Holiday Music all part of Ark Symphony 2014-15 Acxiom Pops Live lineup

ASO_2-colorMusic of the Silver Screen, Great White Way and boughs of green highlight the 2014-2015 Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Acxiom Pops Live! Series.

Next year is the first of their two-year hiatus from Robinson Center Music Hall (as it gets transformed into a true music hall instead of a civic gathering room).  To entice audience members to go along for the journey of the new, temporary location, ASO Music Director Philip Mann has created a lineup of spectacular music performed by powerhouse talent as well as the phenomenal musicians of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

The Acxiom Pops Live! Series will be performed at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center.  (Think: Maumelle=Masterworks, PA=Pops)  The series will kick off on October 4 & 5 with Bill Conti’s Academy Awards.  Oscar and Emmy winner Bill Conti (who also is conductor of the Academy Awards orchestra) will lead the ASO in a celebration of songs from the movies. As a composer, Conti has won an Oscar for his score to The Right Stuff and was nominated for Rocky and For Your Eyes Only. Other movies and TV include Private Benjamin, “Dynasty,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “Falcon Crest,” The Karate Kid, “North & South,” and Broadcast News.

The ASO Holiday Extravaganza is an Arkansas tradition in December.  In 2014 it will take place on December 19, 20 & 21.  It will feature Christmas carols, sing-alongs, and some of Arkansas’ outstanding musicians and singers. There are always traditional favorites and new surprises thrown in.  This will help audiences relax after completing their shopping – or take a break from the last minute shopping frenzy. (Tickets also make a great early-Christmas present, and it falls in the middle of Hanukkah and makes a wonderful present for that too.)

Another ASO tradition is the Broadway Valentine’s concert. It will take place on February 14 and 15.  The music of Broadway and Hollywood will be the framework for an evening of song and dance by Broadway vets Joan Hess and Kirby Ward. Their singing and dancing will remind audiences (or introduce younger audiences to the mastery) of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Eleanor Powell.

The classic songs of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin have stood the test of time and are definitely timeless. The great vocalist Sylvia McNair will offer her take on these standards while accompanied by Jeffrey Biegel on piano.  This concert promises to be a feast for the eyes as well as the ears because it will also feature rare video clips, family photos and state-of-the art visuals to help share the story of the Gershwins and their music.

The Pops Live! Series for 2014-2015 will conclude with Ashley Brown’s Broadway.  Miss Brown was the original Mary Poppins when the eponymously entitled musical opened on Broadway.  For her work in the production, she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama League nominations. She made her Broadway debut as Belle in Beauty and the Beast.  Backed by the ASO, she will sing Broadway favorites such as “Nothing Like a Dame,” “People,” and “Tonight” as well as Disney classics such as “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

All Acxiom Pops Live! concerts will be performed at 7:30pm on Saturday evenings and 3pm on Sunday evenings.