43 years ago, Arkansas Rep opened first show: THE THREEPENNY OPERA

On November 11, 1976, the curtain went up on the first Arkansas Repertory Theatre production.  It was the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht musical The Threepenny Opera.  Rep founder Cliff Baker directed the show and played the leading role of Macheath aka Mack the Knife.

Others in the cast included local attorney Herb Rule, Jean Lind, Theresa Glasscock, Connie Gordon and Guy Couch.  Byl Harriell was the technical director and production designer while Donia Crofton was the costume designer.

The production took place in the Rep’s home which was the converted former home of Hunter United Methodist Church on the eastern edge of MacArthur Park.  (Harriell’s business Bylites is now in that location.)

Baker had previously worked at the Arkansas Arts Center theatre when it was attached to a degree granting MFA program. He had also directed shows in other parts of Arkansas.  He returned to Little Rock and founded the Arkansas Philharmonic Theatre which performed in Hillcrest.  The Arkansas Repertory Theatre was a step forward with the establishment of a professional repertory company.

The first season of the Rep would include Company, Suddenly Last Summer, Marat/Sade, and Stop the World–I Want to Get Off. Season tickets for a total of seven shows were $30.

Baker served as Artistic Director of Arkansas Rep from 1976 until 1999.

BLACK HAWK DOWN: THE UNTOLD STORY is October’s Movies at MacArthur

Image result for black hawk down untold story

Black Hawk Down: The Untold Story presents the heroic efforts of soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division.  The movie will be shown tonight (October 15) at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

These men demonstrated extraordinary courage, skill, and discipline as they fought their way into a “baited ambush” to rescue special operations forces pinned down at the crash site of Super Six-One while also attempting a rescue a the crash site of Super Six-Four. Two soldiers were killed and eighteen wounded in what many have described as the most ferocious urban combat since the Battle for Hue during the Tet Offensive in 1968.

The movie is this month’s Movies at MacArthur at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  It starts at 6:30 pm.  The film series is presented in partnership with AETN, the Bruce Family Endowment, Stone’s Throw, and the City of Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department.

Special guest at the screening will be, Colonel Randall Larsen, USAF (Ret) who is the documentary’s Executive Producer/Director. He served in both the Army and Air Force for a combined total of 32 years of active duty military service and as military attaché at the US Embassy in Bangkok, the chief of legislative liaison at the US Transportation Command, and the commander of America’s fleet of VIP aircraft at Andrews AFB MD. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and 17 awards of the Air Medal (3 with “V” Device for Valor).

Admission is free. Popcorn and Beverages will be provided.

7th Annual Vintage Military Vehicle Show today at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History will host its seventh annual vintage military vehicle show on Saturday, October 12, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Two dozen military vehicles from World War II through Desert Storm will be on display in front of the museum, located at 503 E. 9th Street in downtown Little Rock’s MacArthur Park.  The vehicle show will feature Jeeps and other vehicles from the Arkansas Military Vehicle Preservation Association and the West Tennessee Military Vehicle Collectors Club.

The event features living history performances by World War II Reenactors of Arkansas.  Refreshments are provided by Woodmen Life, Bluebell Ice Cream, and Premium Refreshment Services.

The show appeals to those who have an interest in military history, as well as in vintage cars and trucks.    It is free to the public.

Artober – Past, Present, Future

October is Arts and Humanities Month nationally and in Little Rock. Americans for the Arts has identified a different arts topic to be posted for each day in the month. Today looks at “Past, Present, Future.”

In keeping with that, today features images of the original 1937 Museum of Fine Arts, the 1963 version of the Arkansas Arts Center (the successor to the previous museum), the 2000 edition of the AAC, and the 2022 future look of the building.

The first building faced north onto 9th street.

The second building shifted the focus of the building. It faced south into MacArthur Park with the original entrance now being covered and part of the back of the building.

By 2000, the entrance had shifted to the west facing Commerce Street (though the 1963 entrance remained as a convenient entry for the Children’s Theatre and Museum School.

Finally, in 2022, the main entrance will return to the newly uncovered 1937 facade on the north.  It will be situated inside a courtyard framed by the new two story cultural living room at the historic crescent drive inside MacArthur Park. Standing in the center of the courtyard, in front of the historic facade will be Henry Moore’s Standing Figure Knife Edge (Large).  Studio Gang is the lead architect for this project with SCAPE serving as landscape architect.  Polk Stanley Wilcox is the associate architect.

The Arkansas Arts Center was formally established on Sept 6, 1960

Architectural model of the original Arkansas Arts Center which would open in 1963.

On Tuesday, September 6, 1960, the City of Little Rock Board of Directors adopted ordinance 11,111 which formally established the Arkansas Arts Center.

In July 1957, the City Council of Little Rock granted the Museum of Fine Arts the authority to solicit and receive funds for expanding that museum’s physical plant.  During that process, it had been decided that the museum needed an expanded mission and a new name.  By the summer of 1960, the museum supporters had raised sufficient funds to proceed with constructing the new facility.  Therefor the new ordinance was prepared and submitted to the City Board.  (In November 1957, the City Council had been replaced by a City Board.)

Ordinance 11,111 set forth that the Museum of Fine Arts would be known as the Arkansas Arts Center and that the previous museum’s board would serve as the board for the new museum.  The Board of the Arkansas Arts Center was given the authority to have the new building constructed in MacArthur Park and the existing building modified.  As a part of the planning for the new museum, the City committed $75,000 for the capital campaign.

The groundbreaking for the new museum would take place in August 1961.  Mayor Werner Knoop, who signed Ordinance 11,111, took part in the groundbreaking.

Media attending the September 6, 1960, City Board meeting were more interested in discussion about a potential leash law for dogs within the City limits.