Rock The Tonys: Tony Award winners at The Rep

Will Trice at the 2014 Tony Awards

The 72nd Tony Awards take place on Sunday, June 10 at Radio City Music Hall (broadcast on CBS).

Over the years, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has had several Tony winner work on stage and backstage.

Among these are:

Jason Alexander – In 1989, he won the Tony Award for Actor in a Musical for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. The play Windfall, which closed the Rep’s 2015-2016 season, was directed by Alexander.

Bill Berloni – One of the 2011 Tony Honors went to Berloni, who has made a career out of training animals for the stage. It started with the original 1977 Tony winning Annie. He put his skills to work at the Arkansas Rep in 2013 for the musical Because of Winn Dixie.

Cleavant Derricks – The 1982 Tony ceremony recognized Derricks with the Featured Actor in a Musical award for his role as James “Thunder” Earley in the original production of Dreamgirls. 31 years later he appeared in the Arkansas Rep production of Treasure Island.

Remmel Dickinson – As a producer, Dickinson has won Tony Awards in 2009 for The Norman Conquests (Revival of a Play), Memphis (Musical) and War Horse (Play). In 2014, he produced Memphis at the Rep.

Ann Duquesnay – At the 50th Tony Awards in 1996, Ms Duquesnay won the Featured Actress in a Musical for Bring in ‘da Noise/Bring in ‘da Funk. (She was also nominated for contributing to the show’s score.). In 1999, she starred at the Rep in Cookin’ at the Cookery: The Music and Times of Alberta Hunter.

Peter Schneider – The 1998 Tony for Best Musical went to The Lion King. Peter Schneider was the Disney executive who led the effort to produce it. In 2013, he directed Pal Joey at the Arkansas Rep.

Will Trice – In 1994, Trice appeared on the Rep stage as a young actor in the production of Lost in Yonkers. As an adult, he has received Tony Awards as a Broadway producer, including: Porgy and Bess (2012 Revival of a Musical), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013 Play Revival) and All the Way (2014 Play). He has received five additional producing nominations.

In addition, both Tony winning actress Jane Alexander and Tony winning producer Rocco Landesman each appeared on the Arkansas Rep stage as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts in conjunction with appearances in Little Rock.

The fact that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has been able to work with theatre artists of this calibre is a testament to the quality of work it has produced.  Giving the opportunity for Arkansas audiences to have this interaction without leaving the state is one of the values of the Rep.

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

Creative Class of 2015: Mark Binns

mark binnsComposer, arranger, vocal coach, musical director, pianist, teacher, performer.  Mark Binns is all of these things.

He has been involved with Arkansas Repertory Theatre for six seasons now as a keyboardist, musical director and composer. Mark has been the Rep’s musical director for White Christmas, Les Miz, Memphis, and Elf. He has is currently at work on their upcoming The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  For the Rep, he has also worked on their Summer Musical Theatre Intensive for several years.

In addition to the Rep, he often works with the Studio Theatre and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.  Other regional Musical Director credits include Hairspray, Oliver!, Cinderella, Pippin, The Last Five Years and Fiddler on the Roof. He has composed original music for the University of Central Arkansas’ production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and served as Vocal Director/Arranger for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Fantasy.

When not working on a show, he can often be found performing at the Lobby Bar, the Afterthought or any number of other venues in Little Rock.

Tony Awards Week – Tony Titles at Arkansas Rep

ark repNext year the Arkansas Repertory Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary season.  Since its first season, the Rep has often programmed plays and musicals which have been recognized with the Tony for Best Play or Best Musical of the season.

Many other Rep productions have been titles which have also won Tony Awards in some Broadway production.  But this list only looks at those which won or were nominated for the Tony for Best Play and Best Musical.

The first Rep production was The Threepenny Opera.  While it did not win the Tony for Best Musical, it goes on this list because it received a Special Tony in 1956 for its production.  The original production in the 1930s ran for just a few performances. So this production was not eligible for the Best Musical award. But it was so outstanding, it received a Special Tony.

That 1976-77 season also included a Best Play winner – The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, which took home the silver medallion for Best Play in 1966.

Rep SalesmanOther Tony Best Play winners produced by the Rep have been:

(Tony Year; Title; Rep season)

  • 1949 – Death of a Salesman – 2012-13
  • 1955 – The Diary of Anne Frank – 1977-78; 1981-82
  • 1960 – The Miracle Worker – 2004-05
  • 1963 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – 1978-79
  • 1965 – The Subject Was Roses – 1981-82
  • 1973 – That Championship Season – 1984-85
  • 1979 – The Elephant Man – 2008-09
  • 1981 – Amadeus – 1995-96
  • 1984 – The Real Thing – 1986-87
  • 1985 – Biloxi Blues – 1987-88
  • 1986 – I’m Not Rappaport – 1989-90
  • 1987 – Fences – 2006-07
  • 1990 – The Grapes of Wrath – 2000-01
  • 1991 – Lost in Yonkers – 1994-95 (featuring future Tony winner Will Trice in the cast)
  • 1993 – Angels in America: Millennium Approaches – 1995-96; 1996-97
  • 1994 – Angels in America: Perestroika – 1996-97
  • 1997 – The Last Night of Ballyhoo – 1998-99
  • 1998 – Art – 2001-02
  • 2001 – Proof – 2002-03 (written by LR Hall graduate David Auburn)
  • 2005 – Doubt – 2007-08
  • 2008 – August: Osage County – 2014-15
  • 2010 – Red – 2013-14
  • 2012 – Clybourne Park – 2013-14

 

Next season the Rep will produce Peter and the Starcatcher which was nominated for Best Play in 2012.  Other Best Play nominees produced by the Rep include: Barefoot in the Park; Broadway Bound; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Crimes of the Heart; Frost/Nixon; The Gin Game; Glengarry Glen Ross; Having Our Say; Home; Lend Me a Tenor; A Lesson from Aloes; ‘Night, Mother; The Night of the Iguana; Noises Off; The Piano Lesson; The Rainmaker; A Raisin in the Sun; The Retreat from Moscow; Talley’s Folly; The 39 Steps; and A Walk in the Woods.

The Rep also produced House of Blue Leaves six years before it was nominated for Best Play at the Tonys. In addition, it produced All My Sons which received a Special Tony for playwright Arthur Miller at the first ceremony and is sometimes erroneously listed as being the Best Play of 1947. There was none that year.

 

THEREP_MEMPHIS (no credits)-page-001The 1971 Best Musical Company was part of the Rep’s inaugural season in 1976-77.  Other Tony Best Musicals winners produced by the Rep have been:

(Tony Year; Title; Rep season)

  • 1951 – Guys and Dolls – 1989-90
  • 1952 – The King and I – 2006-07
  • 1956 – Damn Yankees – 1999-2000
  • 1957 – My Fair Lady – 2004-05
  • 1960 – The Sound of Music – 2001-02
  • 1964 – Hello, Dolly! – 2007-08
  • 1967 – Cabaret – 2001-02
  • 1975 – The Wiz – 2011-12
  • 1976 – A Chorus Line – 2005-06
  • 1977 – Annie – 2002-03
  • 1978 – Ain’t Misbehavin’ – 1984-85; 2004-05
  • 1980 – Evita – 1989-90; 2010-11
  • 1986 – The Mystery of Edwin Drood – 1988-89
  • 1987 – Les Miserables – 2008-09; 2013-14
  • 2003 – Hairspray – 2010-11
  • 2004 – Avenue Q – 2012-13
  • 2010 – Memphis – 2014-15 (produced at Rep and on Broadway by LR native Remmel T. Dickinson)

In addition, the Rep has produced staged concert versions of 1958 Best Musical The Music Man and 1973 Best Musical A Little Night Music in collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Next season the Rep will produce The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which was nominated for Best Musical in 2005.  Other Best Musical nominees produced by the Rep include: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Blues in the Night; Chicago; Dreamgirls; Five Guys Named Moe; The Full Monty; Gypsy; Into The Woods; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Mary Poppins;  Next to Normal; Oh What A Lovely War; Once On This Island; Peter Pan; Pump Boys and Dinettes; Quilters; Side by Side by Sondheim; Smokey Joe’s Café; Stop the World, I Want To Get Off; Sweet Charity; West Side Story; and The Who’s Tommy.

Cast members from MEMPHIS to perform at Lobby Bar tonight

lobbybarThe cast of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of MEMPHIS is extremely talented.  In addition to displaying their talents on stage at the Rep, the performers will be showcasing their talent tonight in another downtown venue.  

The Lobby Bar will host a cabaret performance tonight featuring members of the cast.  Mark Binns, music director for MEMPHIS will be the accompanist.  The evening will features showtunes as well as standards.

There is not cover charge or admission charge.

Opening night of MEMPHIS as Arkansas Rep kicks off 2014-2015

THEREP_MEMPHIS (no credits)-page-001A regional theatre premiere at Arkansas Rep, Memphis is a new musical with music and lyrics by David Bryan of Bon Jovi fame and lyrics and book by Joe DiPietro loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s.

Appearing on Broadway from October 19, 2009 to August 5, 2012, Memphis garnered eight 2010 Tony Award nominations, and won four 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations and Best Musical.

Set in the 1950s in the musically-rich Tennessee city, Memphis tells the story of a local DJ with a passion for R&B music and an up-and-coming singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. As their careers rise, their relationship is challenged by personal ambition and the pressures and prejudice of the outside world.

From the first notes of its opening number “Underground” right up to a rousing finale called “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Memphis delivers one energetic song after the next, with electrifying singing and dancing along the way.

The production is directed and choreographed by Lynne Kurdziel-Formato.  Other members of the creative team include Mark Binns (music director), Mike Nichols (scenic designer), Rafael Colon Castanera and Mark Nagle (costume designers), Bill Webb (lighting designer), Allan Branson (sound designer), Lynda J. Kwallek (properties designer) and Rob Pickens (wig designer).

The cast is led by Brent DiRoma and Jasmin Richardson.  Others in the cast include Ann-Ngaire Martin, Bill Newhall, Tony Perry, Arthur L. Ross and Gregory L. Williams.  The cast also includes Katie Emerson, Ryan Farnsworth, Maris Kirby, Daniel McDonald, J. Nycole Ralph, Courtney Blackmun, Michele May Clark, Tatiana H. Green, DeCarl Jones, Chris McNiff, Gregory Omar Osborne, Shuan Repetto, James Roberts, Kyron Turner and Laura Leigh Turner.

Performances are at 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, 8pm on Friday and Saturday evenings and matinees on Sunday at 2pm.  The production runs through Sunday, September 28.

MEMPHIS at Arkansas Rep is focus of Clinton School Program today at noon

THEREP_MEMPHIS (no credits)-page-001The 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, September 4 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall in Clinton Presidential Park.

Join Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, Memphis Director Lynne Kurdziel-Formato, cast members Brent DiRoma and Jasmin Richardson, and author Marvin Schwartz for a panel discussion on this Tony Award-winning musical.

 

Memphis opens officially on Friday evening and runs through Sunday, September 28.

For Arkansas Rep’s MEMPHIS tonight, it is Pay What You Can night, presented by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

MemphisAs the Arkansas Rep kicks off 2014-2015 with Memphis, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette presents The Rep’s “Pay What You Can Night.”

Patrons can pay any amount they wish for their ticket.  Tickets must be purchased in person at the Box Office located at 601 Main Street the day of the performance. The Box Office will be open from 9 a.m. until curtain.  Tickets are limited to (2) two per person.  Offer is based on seating availability.

Kicking off Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s 2014-2015 MainStage Season is Memphis, an electrifying musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love.  With high-energy music by David Bryan of Bon Jovi fame, this hard-hitting story of love is loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music on the radio in the 1950s.

Winner of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, the New York Times says Memphis “evokes the powerhouse funk of James Brown, the hot guitar riffs of Chuck Berry, the smooth harmonies of The Temptations, [and] the silken, bouncy pop of the great girl groups of the period.”

In the Beale Street nightclubs of 1950s Memphis simmers a new sound, born of the blues, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll and birthed in the Delta.  It takes a young white DJ, a white man in a black world, to catapult this new sound to the airwaves of Memphis radio and into the living rooms of white Memphis.  What follows is a love story that pushes the racial boundaries of the times and ignites a musical revolution that grips the entire country.