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.

Advertisements

Explore THE ODYSSEY for two weekends at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre

The Odyssey

For two weekends only, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will bring Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, vibrantly alive in a fusion of music, dance, mime, masks and choral effects as part of the theatre’s Studio Show series. Running February 19-28, The Odyssey tells the story of King Odysseus who enduring Poseidon’s wrath, faces witches, sirens and a cyclops as he wends his way—literally through Hell and high water—to his home and the long-suffering love of his Queen Penelope.

The Odyssey will run February 19-28; Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

John Isner directed The Odyssey. It was adapted for the stage by Keith Smith who also designed the set. Costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, lighting design by Mike Stacks, properties design by Miranda Young, music composed by Lori Isner, choreography by Erin Fowler and Nicole Jovanovic is the stage manager.

The cast includes:

  • Paige Carpenter of Lonsdale as Penelope;
  • Aleigha Morton of Beebe as Calliope;
  • Margaret Lowry of Little Rock as Erato;
  • Samantha L. Harrington of Little Rock as Athena;
  • Mark Hansen of Little Rock as Odysseus;
  • Nick Spencer of Nashville, TN, as Poseidon;
  • Richard Nelson of Little Rock as Elpenor;
  • Geoffrey Eggleston of Sioux Falls, SD, as Telemachus and
  • Jeremy Matthey of North Little Rock as Eurylochus.

Show times: February 19-28; Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members

Best enjoyed by children in third grade and up.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theatre

 

Today through Sunday – Ark. Arts Center Children’s Theatre Studio Series – APOLLO TO THE MOON

AAC CT SS Apollo

Tonight at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm and Sunday at 2pm, audiences will have a chance to relive the glory days of space exploration with the play Apollo to the Moon.

Originally produced by Smithsonian’s Discovery Theatre, Apollo To the Moon is a history-packed celebration of our American Space Program, wherein young astronaut-hopeful Scott Gibson learns that it takes more than just a rocket and a space helmet: It takes math, science, physical stamina, mental perseverance—and, oh yes, a dream.

This play introduces today’s young audiences to the glory days of the space program. Apollo to the Moon is an exciting look at the breathtaking risks and unforgettable heroism of the American Space program. Told through the lens of one young man’s dream to become an astronaut, this thrilling story takes you on the journey that gripped the nation.

AAC CT SS GingerJeremy Matthey stars in this one-man show written by Mary Hall Surface, directed by John Isner with music by Lori Isner.

The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor, Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield; Fall Season Sponsor, Centennial Bank; Spring Season Sponsors, The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas and Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Foot Care’; Additional Support Provided by The Morris Foundation and Media Sponsor, Little Rock Family Magazine.

New this year at Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre – Three Studio Shows

arkartsRecognized 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.

New this year, AACCT will also feature three Studio Shows: The Ugly Duckling; Apollo: To the Moon and The Odyssey. The Ugly Duckling is a recipient of the 2015 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant which celebrates innovation and excellence in puppetry. It will feature original music performed live by an ensemble from the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, directed by Geoffrey Robson. The Ugly Duckling is presented by The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and sponsored by The Jim Henson Foundation.

Studio Shows are intended to provide space to explore new ideas and themes, and appeal to a different audience than Main Stage shows. Smaller in size and budget, Studio Shows are intended to showcase actors and ideas over scenery and properties.

Theatre doors open 30 minutes prior to show for seating.

 The Ugly Duckling

 August 28 – September 6, 2015

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members

 Best enjoyed by kindergarten and up.

This reimagining of the classic fairytale follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and personal transformation. This shadow play unfolds with three actor-puppeteers, two overhead projectors, more than 60 paper puppets and original music performed live by an ensemble from the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra, directed by Geoffrey Robson. The Ugly Duckling is a recipient of the 2015 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant which celebrates innovation and excellence in puppetry. Presented by The Philip R. Jonsson Foundation and sponsored by The Jim Henson Foundation. Devised and Directed by Katie Campbell; Music by Jessica Drake Mosher.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 Apollo: To the Moon

 October 9-11, 2015

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members

 Best enjoyed by all ages.

So what does it take to get to the moon? In this history-packed celebration of our American Space Program, young astronaut-hopeful Scott Gibson learns that it takes more than just a rocket and a space helmet: It takes math, science, physical stamina, mental perseverance—and, oh yes, a dream. Originally produced by Smithsonian’s Discovery Theatre. Written by Mary Hall Surface; Directed by John Isner; With music by Lori Isner.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

 The Odyssey  

 February 19-28, 2016

 Show times: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m.

 Ticket prices: $10 General admission, $8 for Arkansas Arts Center members

 Best enjoyed by third grade and up.

Homer’s epic poem comes vibrantly alive in a fusion of music, dance, mime, masks, and choral effects. Enduring Poseidon’s wrath, King Odysseus faces witches, sirens and a cyclops as he wends his way—literally through Hell and high water—to his home and the long-suffering love of his queen Penelope. Adapted for the stage by Keith Smith, Music by Lori Isner.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theater.

 

The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor, Arkansas BlueCross Blue Shield; Fall Season Sponsor, Centennial Bank; Spring Season Sponsors, The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas and Dr. Loren Bartole, ‘Family Foot Care’; Additional Support Provided by The Morris Foundation and Media Sponsor, Little Rock Family Magazine.

AMERICAN IDIOT rocks into Weekend Theater

American Idiot at The Weekend Theater in Little Rock, ARFirst there was the album and the tour, then Billie Joe Armstrong and Tony winner Michael Mayer collaborated to create the stage musical.  Now Green Day’s American Idiot is coming to the Weekend Theater stage for four weeks.

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical American Idiot is based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum album. This energy-fueled rock opera, which includes every song from the album, as well as several songs from follow-up release, 21st Century Breakdown, brings us face-to-face with the perils of war, drug addiction, and escapism, and the power of true friendship.

The story centers on Will, Johnny, and Tunny, who struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world. When the three disgruntled young men flee the constraints of their hometown for the thrills of city life, their paths are quickly estranged when Tunny enters the armed forces, Michael is called back home to attend familial responsibilities, and Johnny’s attention becomes divided by a seductive love interest and a hazardous new friendship. We follow the three as they try to find themselves and learn that, with acceptance, comes the possibility of hope.

The cast features Robert Warner, Peyton Hooks, Courtney Williams, Luke Johnson, Brittany Sparkles, Charmaine Foster, Mackenzie Holtzclaw, Xavier Jones, Adam Smith, Jordan Lott, Nichole Henry, Angel Monroe, Angela Morgan, Anna Darr, and Simmery Branch.

The production is directed by Frank Butler with music direction by Lori Isner.  The show runs through August 9.  Performances are at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons.  On Friday, August 7, the curtain time is 8pm.

Pay a call on THE ADDAMS FAMILY at the Weekend Theater

twt-Addams-FamilyCue the finger snaps and help the Weekend Theater kick off their 2015-2016 season with the ghoulishly fun Tony nominated musical The Addams Family.  Based on the Charles Addams cartoons and incorporating aspects of the 1960s TV series, this original musical is by the authors of Jersey Boys and The Wild Party.

Two families with vastly divergent cultures, mores, and expectations collide when the Addams hosts a dinner for Wednesday Addams’ “normal” boyfriend and his parents. Trust and fear, love and truth, acceptance and forgiveness are just a few things on the menu in this magnificently macabre new musical comedy created by Jersey Boys authors, Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice and Drama Desk Award winner, Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party).

The cast is led by Drew Ellis, Claudia Moskova Cremeens, Mackenzie Holtzclaw, Victor Basco, Dahren White, Ryan Whitfield, and Xavier Jones as the Addams household.  The guests are played by James West, Kristin Marts and Ethan Patterson.  Rounding out the cast are Emma Boone, Chloe Clement, Brian Earles, Kelsey Ivory, and Payton Justice.

The production is directed by Tom Crone with music direction by Lori Isner.  The show runs through July 28.  Performances are at 7:30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons.  On Friday, June 19 the curtain time is 8pm.

 

Three shows closing this weekend in Central Ark

Fiddler ACTTonight, Fiddler on the Roof continues at the Argenta Community Theatre.  It runs through Sunday evening.  Tickets range from $30 to $50.  Directed by Bob Hupp of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The show opened on Broadway in September 1964. Choreographers are Christen Burke Pitts and Kristof Waltermire, with Kurt Kennedy as music director.

 

Rent CTLRTwo other productions are closing this weekend.  Community Theatre of Little Rock’s Rent closes on Sunday at the new Studio Theatre space.  Winner of both the 1996 Pulitzer Prize and Tony for Best Musical, Jonathan Larsen’s musical is an updated version of La Boheme.  Directed by Frank O. Butler with music direction by Matthew Tatus, tickets for this production range from $8 to $18.

 

Next-to-Normal_smThe Weekend Theater’s Next to Normal, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, closes on Sunday, as well.  The story of a family dealing with the mother’s mental illness, it is both heart-wrenching and humorous.  Directed by Ralph Hyman, with music direction by Lori Isner, tickets range from $16 to $20.