Creative Class of 2015: Justin A. Pike

Justin PikeDirector, actor, theatre-man-about-town Justin A. Pike has worked with just about every theatrical organization in Central Arkansas.  When he is not director, choreographing, designing, producing, and/or acting in a show, he can generally be found in the audience watching one.

Currently, a production of The Rocky Horror Show, which he directed, is being performed at the Lantern Theatre in Conway.  Later this week, Reefer Madness opens at The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock.  Pike serves as the Artistic Director of that theatre.

Listing all of his roles at various Central Arkansas theatres would take much space.  Among some of his more recent efforts are directing Xanadu at The Studio Theatre, starring in The Music Man for the Royal Players, directing Legally Blonde for the Royal Theatre, acting in Baby for Community Theatre of Little Rock, and directing Footloose for the Royal Players.  He is equally at home working with comedies, dramas and musicals.

 

ROCKing the TONYS – Nell Benjamin

Rock the TonysNellNell Benjamin

Little Rock connection – Wrote the lyrics and libretto for Because of Winn Dixie musical which had its world premiere at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Tony Awards connection – Received a Tony nomination for the score of the musical Legally Blonde.

WINN DIXIE extended at Ark Rep through January 5 — Good seats still available

Due to overwhelming demand for tickets, the Arkansas Rep has extended Because of Winn Dixie another week.  This last week has good seats available, so don’t delay.  From the lyricist of Legally Blonde and the composer of Spring Awakening comes a new musical based on the award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo.

A World Premiere musical brings a Tony Award-winning creative team to Little Rock this holiday season. Because of Winn Dixie is a new musical based on the heartwarming and award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo about a young girl and a dog she finds at a Winn Dixie supermarket.

This unique production will include music by Duncan Sheik (Tony and Grammy Award Winner for Spring Awakening), lyrics and book by Nell Benjamin (Tony Nominee for Legally Blonde), direction by John Tartaglia (Tony nominee for Avenue Q) and animal direction by Bill Berloni (a 2011 Tony Honor recipient).

This original production will also be the first pre-Broadway musical starring a live dog in a leading role. Taran (and understudy Cally), both Irish Wolfhounds, have been cast in the title role of “Winn-Dixie,” trained by Broadway’s foremost animal trainer, Bill Berloni.

“It has always amazed me the reaction animals have on an audience,” says Berloni, “When a dog or cat comes onstage, our collective reality is ‘Wait a minute, you can’t get an animal to act, what is it going to do?’ And it brings the audience closer into the piece.”

“This story will melt your heart,” says Bob Hupp. “We are honored that the creative team of Winn Dixie approached us for this world premiere, and I think this project has tremendous potential to introduce a significant new work into the American musical theatre canon, and it all begins right here on our stage, for Arkansas audiences.”

The cast is led by Jonathan Rayson, Julia Nightingale Landfair, Gabe Bowling, Riley Costello, Aisha de Haas, Imari Hardon, Crystal Kellogg, Tari Kelly, Shannon Lamb, Nic Rowe, Douglas Storm and Sydni Whitfield.  Others in the cast include Danny Phillips, Cayla Christina Christian, Reagan Hodson, Dalton Johnson, Molly Russ, and Sam Shaughnessy.

The music director is Jason Hart. Duncan Sheik is the orchestrator and vocal arranger.  The creative team included Mike Nichols (scenery), Marianne Custer (costumes), Michael J. Eddy (lighting), Allan Branson (sound), and Lynda J. Kwallek (props).

Ark Rep presents World Premiere of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE

From the lyricist of Legally Blonde and the composer of Spring Awakening comes a new musical based on the award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo.

A World Premiere musical brings a Tony Award-winning creative team to Little Rock this holiday season. Because of Winn Dixie is a new musical based on the heartwarming and award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo about a young girl and a dog she finds at a Winn Dixie supermarket.

Berloni and Tartaglia with two of the dogs

This unique production will include music by Duncan Sheik (Tony and Grammy Award Winner for Spring Awakening), lyrics and book by Nell Benjamin (Tony Nominee for Legally Blonde), direction by John Tartaglia (Tony nominee for Avenue Q) and animal direction by Bill Berloni (a 2011 Tony Honor recipient).

This original production will also be the first pre-Broadway musical starring a live dog in a leading role. Taran (and understudy Cally), both Irish Wolfhounds, have been cast in the title role of “Winn-Dixie,” trained by Broadway’s foremost animal trainer, Bill Berloni.

“It has always amazed me the reaction animals have on an audience,” says Berloni, “When a dog or cat comes onstage, our collective reality is ‘Wait a minute, you can’t get an animal to act, what is it going to do?’ And it brings the audience closer into the piece.”

“This story will melt your heart,” says Bob Hupp. “We are honored that the creative team of Winn Dixie approached us for this world premiere, and I think this project has tremendous potential to introduce a significant new work into the American musical theatre canon, and it all begins right here on our stage, for Arkansas audiences.”

The cast is led by Jonathan Rayson, Julia Nightingale Landfair, Gabe Bowling, Riley Costello, Aisha de Haas, Imari Hardon, Crystal Kellogg, Tari Kelly, Shannon Lamb, Nic Rowe, Douglas Storm and Sydni Whitfield.  Others in the cast include Danny Phillips, Cayla Christina Christian, Reagan Hodson, Dalton Johnson, Molly Russ, and Sam Shaughessy.

The music director is Jason Hart. Duncan Sheik is the orchestrator and vocal arranger.  The creative team included Mike Nichols (scenery), Marianne Custer (costumes), Michael J. Eddy (lighting), Allan Branson (sound), and Lynda J. Kwallek (props).

Ark Rep’s “Because of Winn Dixie” at Clinton School

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre works in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service to participate in the UACS’s Distinguished Speaker Series, hosting educational panel discussions on various Rep productions. The latest in these takes place today, Thursday, December 5 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall in Clinton Presidential Park.

The panel will feature the cast of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Because of Winn Dixie. A World Premiere musical brings a Tony Award-winning creative team to Little Rock this holiday season. Because of Winn Dixie is a new musical based on the heartwarming and award-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo about a young girl and a dog she finds at a Winn Dixie supermarket.

This unique production will include music by Duncan Sheik (Tony and Grammy Award Winner for Spring Awakening), lyrics and book by Nell Benjamin (Tony nominee for Legally Blonde), direction by John Tartaglia (Tony nominee for Avenue Q) and animal direction by Bill Berloni (a 2011 Tony Honor recipient).

Because of Winn Dixie opens tomorrow night (with previews last night and tonight). It runs through Sunday, December 29. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening performances are at 7 p.m., Friday, Saturday evening performances are at 8 p.m. Sunday Matinees performances are at 2 p.m.

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