THE HOBBIT closes 2018-2019 Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre season

The HobbitThe 2018–2019 Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre closes this spring with The Hobbit. The show runs April 26 – May 12, 2019.

Performances of The Hobbit are Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 each or $10 for members of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Bilbo Baggins is swept away – a reluctant hero on the adventure of his lifetime. In the company of thirteen rough and tumble dwarves and one cryptic wizard, Bilbo braves danger at every turn on this exciting quest for dragon’s gold. Mister Bilbo Baggins cordially invites you to travel with him “There and Back Again” in this new adaptation of Tolkien’s classic tale. So come and join the quest. There’s a partner’s share of treasure waiting just for you.

The play is based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and licensed by Middle-earth Enterprises. It was adapted for the stage by Keith Smith. The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre’s production of The Hobbit is directed by John Isner. Bradley D. Anderson is the Artistic Director. The set was designed by Keith Smith, costume design by Nikki Gray, properties design by Cathleen Brignac, and lighting design by Mike Stacks. Liz McMath is the stage manager. The Hobbit is a trademark of The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises under license to Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre.

The cast includes:

  • Mike Stacks of Conway as Balin and Great Goblin
  • Bethany Post of Austintown, Ohio as Bard
  • Anthony McBride of Benton as Bilbo
  • Anna Mammarelli of Little Rock as Elf Guard
  • Paige Carpenter of Lonsdale as Elf King and Bolg
  • Jared Gibson of San Antonio, Texas as Elrond
  • Mark Hansen of Little Rock as Gandalf
  • Stephen Jones of Little Rock as Thorin
  • Grace Stacks of Conway as Thursh

Angelina Bearden, Paige Carpenter, Jared Gibson, Matthew Cantone, Simon Gess, Sophia Gonzales, Isabella Gonzales, Mackenzie Holtzclaw, Bella Kerby, Rachel Lara, Stephanie Lyle, Anna Mammarelli, Bethany Post, Taliah Pulley, Madelin Reyes, Grace Stacks, and Madison Stolzer are the ensemble.

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will offer several events in conjunction with The Hobbit, including a Pay-What-You-Can preview, opening night celebration and a pajama party. Full programming details can be found below.

Friday, April 26, 2019
Opening Night Dinner at Watercolor in the Park – 5 p.m.
Join us for dinner at Watercolor in the Park before the 7 p.m. opening night performance of The Hobbit! Creative coloring placemats featuring activities and artwork from the show will be available for children to enjoy. Seatings at 5 p.m., 5:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m., and 6 p.m. Reservations recommended. Call 501-396-0390 for reservations

Friday, April 26, 2019
Opening Night Celebration: The Hobbit – 7 p.m.
After the show, enjoy a meet and greet with the cast, snacks and punch to celebrate the opening night of The Hobbit.

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Adult Night at The Hobbit – 6 p.m.
Back by popular demand! Join us in the Lower Lobby before the 7 p.m. performance of The Hobbit. We’ll adventure “there and back again” with specialty drinks and snacks. 21+ event. $20 or $10 for members of the Arkansas Arts Center.

Friday, May 3, 2019
Pajama Night at The Hobbit – 7 p.m.
Toss on those cute pajamas and join us at the Children’s Theatre for the 7 p.m. performance of The Hobbit. Stickers are available at the Box Office before the show for children (and parents!) wearing pajamas.

Saturday, May 4, 2019
ASL Interpreted Performance – 2 p.m.
There will be American Sign Language interpreters at the 2 p.m. performance of The Hobbit. Visit the Box Office before the performance for seating assistance.

Run as fast as you can to the THE GINGERBREAD MAN at the AAC Children’s Theatre

AACCT GIngerThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is excited to ring in the holiday season with The Gingerbread Man, through December 20.

Grandma Tic and Grandpa Toc couldn’t be more surprised (or pleased) when the Gingerbread Man springs to life and dances around their little clock shop. He’s a happy little cookie man made of ginger and molasses. But when the sly, hungry Fox comes along, playtime is over and the race is on!

You won’t want to miss this fun for the whole family, festive musical which will run Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. through December 20. So strap on your sleigh-bell-Nikes and run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch him! He’s the Gingerbread Man!

The cast includes:

  • Paige Carpenter as Sugarplum Fairy;
  • Aleigha Morton as Grandma Tic;
  • Jeremy Matthey as Grandpa Toc;
  • Madison Stolzer as Ginger;
  • Katie Campbell as Snow Fox;
  • Mark Hansen as Filbert;
  • John Isner as Adorable;
  • Max Green as Papa Penguin;
  • Amelia Bartholomew as Mama Penguin;
  • Morgan Stolzer as Junior the Penguin;
  • Matthew Thorne and Keith Smith as Mr. Nick;
  • Madison Fleck as Elf Clarissa;
  • John Michael Murphy as Elf Clyde.

Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director for the production which was adapted for the stage and is directed by Keith Smith. Costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Mike Stacks, set design by Mary Alyce Hare, properties design by Miranda Young, choreographed by Erin Fowler, and Rivka Kupperman is the stage manager.

The Gingerbread Man is also sponsored by Target Corporation.

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

Ticket prices: $12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more

Best enjoyed by all ages.

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

A Sparklejollytwinklejingley Show!

THEREP_ELF (no credits)-page-001The holidays are here. And if you need to get into the Christmas spirit, I suggest you buy, beg or bargain to get a ticket to see Buddy the Elf and his friends in the musical Elf which is playing at the Arkansas Rep through January 4.

This frothy, fun, friendly show has but one aim – to entertain.  And how it does succeed.

With a smart, witty, heart-filled book by Tony winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone, TV’s “Slings & Arrows”), the story works on several different levels. (Incidentally, Meehan takes a swipe at his other Christmas-NYC set musical Annie with a joke, while Martin seems to be aping The Drowsy Chaperone by having the story open with a man in a chair). The score by Tony nominees Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer) ranges from toe-tapping to heartstring-pulling.

Elf is, of course, based upon the eponymously named film.  Disclaimer – I’ve not seen the movie.  I do not get Will Ferrell’s appeal, so steer clear of most movies starring him.  But love of the movie is not necessary to enjoy the stage musical. The book, score, cast and production values take the audience on a wild sleigh ride of holiday fun regardless of familiarity with the source material.

As Buddy the Elf, Ethan Paulini is a chief reason for the show’s appeal. He is rarely off stage, and somehow manages to keep a high level of energy throughout. His ebullient Buddy is both naïve and knowing. Whether singing, dancing or acting, he never overplays the part or goes for cheap laughs.  Through his performance, one believes that he really does charm his way into everyone’s hearts regardless of their age or gender.

As the object of Buddy’s affection, it is a joy to watch Alyssa Gorgone’s Jovie transform from guarded to glowing.  She deftly handled her songs and dances.  Gorgone and Paulini have a nice chemistry together as the court each other.

David Hess moves from blustery to boasting in his portrayal of Buddy’s dad.  Anna Lise Jensen is a delight as his long-suffering wife whose struggle to find her own place mirror’s Buddy’s quest.  As Buddy’s younger half-brother Price Clark is a joy to watch. He is neither precocious nor cloying. Instead, he is a believable kid who is concerned about his parents and is thrilled to have a new brother.

Tessa Faye stops the show as Deb the secretary as she comically aids Buddy and leads the office in a rousing production number. Kyron Turner and Tanner Wilson make the most of their scenes as harried employees hoping for a holiday miracle. J. B. Adams bookends the show as an avuncular, folksy Santa Claus.

From beleaguered New Yorkers to bored Macy’s elves to depressed Santas, the ensemble fill the stage with delightful characters. Hannah Eakin, Allison Stearns, Jason Samuel, Jimmy Kieffer, Anthony Bryant, Chris McNiff, Jack Doyle, Samantha Harrington, Tatiana H. Green, Marisa Kirby, Eric Mann, Kennedy Sample and Mary Katelin Ward have enough vigor, vim and verve to make the cast seem much larger than it actually is.

The elves are played by the younger members of the cast. These kids are having fun – and why not? They get to spend the show in two of the most magical settings imaginable: The North Pole and New York City at Christmas.  They very ably perform their production numbers and create memorable characters without stealing focus from Buddy and Santa.  Addison Dowdy, Gunner Gardner, Reagan Hodson, Anna Beth Jeane, Ethan Marbaise, Max McCurdy, Danny Phillips, Grace Pitts, Corbin Pitts, Niall Prochazka, Marisol Sela, and Madison Stolzer were welcome additions to the production.  Most of these performers are seasoned veterans of the Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive. They show that their talent works in the wintertime too.

Nicole Capri directed Elf with a light, comic touch. She neither glosses over nor smothers the audience with the heart in the show, she trusted her performers and the story to bring it out.  She keeps the show moving at a brisk pace while allowing for enough quiet moments that it does not seem frantic.  Marisa Kirby’s creative, crowd-pleasing choreography put the actors through their paces.  Together Capri and Kirby fashioned production numbers which allowed each performer to stand out as an individual character while still part of a seamless ensemble.

Elf’s magical world was ably served by Shelly Hall’s colorful costumes, Dan Kimble’s lighting, Allan Branson’s sound and Lynda J. Kwallek’s props.  One of the joys of the show is undoubtedly the songs. Credit for that goes largely to Mark Binns, the show’s musical director.  He leads the orchestra as they play the peppy, tuneful score. He also deserves credit for helping the actors maximize their sounds as they perform the songs while executing Kirby’s inventive choreography.

Though based on a 2000s movie, Elf is really a throwback to 1950s and 1960s workplace musicals. There are the buffoonly bullying boss, the comic-relief secretary, the dancing office boys and office girls, the disconnected wife and kids, and, of course, the outsider hero who saves the day and wins the heart of the leading lady. The show also offers dancing Santas, prancing elves, and a travelogue’s worth of New York City settings.

Elf doesn’t ask the audience to think too hard or to get wrapped up in cloying sentimentality. It merely wants to entertain as it allows the audience an escape from daily strife.

No matter your holiday of choice at this time of the year, the Rep is giving audiences a present with Elf!

ELF takes stage at Arkansas Rep through January 4

THEREP_ELF (no credits)-page-001The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of the holiday musical Elf opens tonight for a run through January 4.

Adapted by Thomas Meehan (The Producers) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) from the popular 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, with a score by Tony®-nominated songwriting team of Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), Elf turns one of Hollywood’s most beloved holiday hits into a hilarious and heartwarming musical that towers above the rest.

When a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts is raised in the North Pole, unaware that he is actually a human, his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities eventually cause him to face the truth. As he embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity, Buddy strives to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

The cast is led by Rep veteran Ethan Paulini as Buddy.  Others in the cast include J. B. Adams, Price Clark, Jack Doyle, Tessa Faye, Alyssa Gorgone, David Hess, Anna Lise Jensen, Jason Samuel, Anthony D. Bryant, Hannah Eakin, Samantha L. Harrington, Jimmy Kieffer, Marisa Kirby, Eric Mann, Chris McNiff, Allison Stearns, Kyron Turner, Tanner Ray Wilson, Tatiana H. Green, Kennedy Sample and Mary Katelin Ward.  The elves are played by Addison Rae Dowdy, Gunner Gardner, Reagan Hodson, Anna Beth Jeane, Ethan Marbaise, Max McCurdy, Danny Phillips, Corbin Pitts, Grace Pitts, Niall Prochazka, Marisol Sela and Madison Stolzer.

The creative team includes director Nicole Capri, music director Mark Binns, choreographer Marisa Kirby, costume designer Shelly Hall, sound designer Allan Branson, prop designer Lynda J. Kwallek and lighting designer Dan Kimble.

Final Two Days for The Engine That Thought It Could at AAC Children’s Theatre

Take a break from holiday shopping and events and return to a simpler time.

Today and tomorrow are the final performances of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of The Engine That Thought It Could.  This play takes the audience on an exciting journey in this classic tale of determination when it’s left up to the little engine to save the day. The little engine learns that hard work pays off even when faced with adversity. The Engine That Thought It Could is written by Alan Keith Smith and is based on the 1906 story by Reverend Charles S. Wing.

The cast for The Engine That Thought It Could includes:

  • Veronica Lowry, of Charlottesville, Va., as Fast Fanny
  • Jeremy Matthey, of Little Rock, as Mister Moon/Big Electric Bill/Yard Hand
  • Aleigha Garstka, of Little Rock, as Big Momma Engine
  • Sissy Anne Quaranta, of Denver, Colo., as Miss Phoebe Sunshine
  • Ben Fish, of Little Rock, as Uncle Big Reggie Engine/Yard Hand
  • Erin Fowler, of Little Rock, as Yard Hand/Choreographer
  • Mark Hansen, of Little Rock, as Conductor Mike/Big Don Diesel
  • Madison Stolzer, of Little Rock, Little Millie Engine

The production is directed by John Isner, artistic direction by Bradley Anderson, choreography by Erin Fowler, costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Penelope Poppers, musical direction by Lori Isner, properties by Miranda Young, scenic design by Mary Alyce Hare and Rivka Kuperman is the stage manager.

Presenting sponsors are Landers FIAT in Benton, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, JPMS Cox and Centennial Bank.  This production also sponsored by All Aboard Restaurant.

Recognized 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. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating unique experiences for family audiences. During the 2012-13 season, nearly 43,000 children and families enjoyed Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre productions which included more than 200 schools across Arkansas.

For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org or call (501)372-4000. “Like” the Arkansas Arts Center on Facebook for the most up-to-date information on exhibitions, events and educational offerings.

GENERAL INFORMATION
Contact: (501)372-4000
Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre – 9th and Commerce, Little Rock, AR 72202
Cost: General Admission Tickets are $12.50 for children and adults & $10 for AAC members.

Performance Times:
Saturday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Arkansas Arts Center programs are supported in part by: the City of Little Rock; The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; The City of North Little Rock and the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.

LITTLE ENGINE running at Arts Center Children’s Theatre

As the state’s premiere center for visual and performing arts with a renowned collection of international art, the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will present The Engine That Thought It Could November 29 – December 22.

“We are thrilled to bring this wonderful children’s book to life with the excitement and magic that only live theater can,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “Generations will enjoy the style and spirit of a story they know and love.”

The Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will take the audience on an exciting journey in this classic tale of determination when it’s left up to the little engine to save the day. The little engine learns that hard work pays off even when faced with adversity. The Engine That Thought It Could is written by Alan Keith Smith and is based on the 1906 story by Reverend Charles S. Wing.

The cast for The Engine That Thought It Could includes:

  • Veronica Lowry, of Charlottesville, Va., as Fast Fanny
  • Jeremy Matthey, of Little Rock, as Mister Moon/Big Electric Bill/Yard Hand
  • Aleigha Garstka, of Little Rock, as Big Momma Engine
  • Sissy Anne Quaranta, of Denver, Colo., as Miss Phoebe Sunshine
  • Ben Fish, of Little Rock, as Uncle Big Reggie Engine/Yard Hand
  • Erin Fowler, of Little Rock, as Yard Hand/Choreographer
  • Mark Hansen, of Little Rock, as Conductor Mike/Big Don Diesel
  • Madison Stolzer, of Little Rock, Little Millie Engine

The production is directed by John Isner, artistic direction by Bradley Anderson, choreography by Erin Fowler, costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Penelope Poppers, musical direction by Lori Isner, properties by Miranda Young, scenic design by Mary Alyce Hare and Rivka Kuperman is the stage manager.

Presenting sponsors are Landers FIAT in Benton, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, JPMS Cox and Centennial Bank.  This production also sponsored by All Aboard Restaurant.

Recognized 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. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating unique experiences for family audiences. During the 2012-13 season, nearly 43,000 children and families enjoyed Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre productions which included more than 200 schools across Arkansas.

For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org or call (501)372-4000. “Like” the Arkansas Arts Center on Facebook for the most up-to-date information on exhibitions, events and educational offerings.

GENERAL INFORMATION
Contact: (501)372-4000
Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre – 9th and Commerce, Little Rock, AR 72202
Cost: General Admission Tickets are $12.50 for children and adults & $10 for AAC members.

Performance Times: Friday at 7 p.m.
Saturday at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m.
Arkansas Arts Center programs are supported in part by: the City of Little Rock; The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; The City of North Little Rock and the Arkansas Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and the National Endowment for the Arts.

PINKALICIOUS opens tonight at Ark Arts Center Children’s Theatre

aacctpinkThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre kicks off its 2013-2014 season with Pinkalicious the Musical.  The production will run from September 20 – October 6.

Pinkalicious is a contrary little girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her indulgence lands her at the doctor’s office with pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe which sounds like a dream come true for a pink enthusiast, but she soon realizes that she may have gone too far.

“Children who love the original book will recognize all their favorite characters in this delightful tale that reminds us all of the importance of moderation,” said Arkansas Arts Center executive director Todd Herman. “The talented cast will capture the young audience’s attention while also proving enjoyable for the adult chaperones.”

The cast for Pinkalicious the Musical includes:
Veronica Lowry, of Charlottesville, Va., as Pinkalicious
Jeremy Matthey, of Little Rock, Ark., as Peter/Bird
Aleigha Morton, of Little Rock, Ark., as Alison/Dr. Wink/Butterfly 2
Sissy Anne Quaranta, of Denver, Colo., as Mrs. Pinkerton/Butterfly 1
Dennis Glasscock, of Little Rock, Ark., as Mr. Pinkerton/Bee
Abby Bannerman, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Gretchen Bush, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Riley Melton, of Little Rock, Ark., as Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Tasha Snyder, of Little Rock, Ark., Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees
Madison Stolzer, of Little Rock, Ark., Cupcake Girl/Swarm of bees

Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director for the production. Direction and choreography by Scott Ferguson, costumes are designed by Erin Larkin, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Penelope Poppers, scenic design and properties by Miranda Young and Rivka Kuperman is the production stage manager.

Pinkalicious  is written by Elizabeth and Victoria Kann and is based on their book with the same title. Music is by John Gregor and lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann.

Presenting sponsors for the event are Landers Fiat and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The production is also sponsored by Centennial Bank, JPMS Cox, PLLC with in-kind support provided by Boulevard Bread Company.

Pinkalicious the Musical is presented through special arrangement with and all authorized performance materials are supplied by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW), 570 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018. For more information, visit www.theatricalrights.com  or call (866) 378-9758.

Recognized 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. Since 1979, Children’s Theatre has been creating unique experiences for family audiences. During the 2012-13 season, nearly 43,000 children and families enjoyed Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre productions which included more than 200 schools across Arkansas.

For more information, visit arkansasartscenter.org or call (501)372-4000. “Like” the Arkansas Arts Center on Facebook for the most up-to-date information on exhibitions, events and educational offerings.