3 shows highlight Arkansas Rep’s Spring 2020 season!

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre, has announced its Spring 2020 Season. The new season, which begins in January 2020, marks the first productions selected under the leadership of Little Rock native Will Trice, the Rep’s new executive artistic director.
“The season is a trio of productions I think audiences are going to love,” Trice said, adding that in Fall 2020 The Rep will resume a full-season schedule on a school-year calendar. “We’ve got a Tony Award-winning icon in a tour-de-force performance; a visionary adaptation of a contemporary, best-selling novel; and undoubtedly the most fun of the classic musicals.”
Trice added: “These are three very different stories, each told in a very different way. But they are all uplifting, entertaining, and can only be experienced live at The Rep. I can’t wait to share this season with my hometown.”
The Spring 2020 Season starts with Ann. Written by Holland Taylor, the Rep’s production will star Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley as Texas Governor Ann Richards. Known for her no-holds barred approach, Ann Richards was opinionated and possessed a wicked sense of humor. Taylor’s script captures the essence of Richards. (When Taylor was still developing the play, she appeared at the Clinton School as part of the speaker series.)
Ashley, who won a Tony for Take Her, She’s Mine and has been nominated for Barefoot in the Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was most recently on Broadway in The Best Man. It will be directed by her frequent collaborator Michael Wilson. A Drama Desk Award winner, Wilson has directed two Tony nominees for Best Play and two more for Best Play Revival (three of which have starred Miss Ashley.)
Ann will run from January 29 to February 16 of 2020.
Next on Arkansas Rep’s stage will be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name, this play by Simon Stephens has won five Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and seven Olivier Awards, including Best Play from all three. 
It tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties” who has never ventured alone past his street. Now he is on a mission – an investigative adventure that will upturn the world of his family and community forever.
Through innovative design and storytelling, it puts the audience inside Christopher’s mind as together they go on this incredible journey. The production will run from April 1 to April 19.
The classic musical Bye Bye Birdie will take the Rep stage in the summer. Written by Michael Stewart, Lee Adams, and Charles Strouse, it takes a comic, tuneful, nostalgic look at rock ‘n roll, the early days of television, teenage love, and family dynamics.
Experience this beloved classic through a fresh, new production directed by Jeff Award-winner and Olivier Award-nominee David H. Bell (Hot Mikado, the Closing Ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics). When It first appeared, Bye Bye Birdie won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
It will be on the Rep stage from July 8 through 26 of 2020.
Season Subscriptions are on sale at TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Subscriptions start at just $96 and are the most economical way to see all of the productions included in the Spring 2020 Season. Single ticket will go on sale four weeks before a show opens.
Two productions remain in the Rep’s 2019 season. Million Dollar Quartet opens next month and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is the December holiday offering.

DOLLY turns 50 in Little Rock this week

It was fifty years ago this week, on January 16, 1964, that HELLO, DOLLY! opened on Broadway.  The 50th anniversary national tour is playing in Little Rock tonight through Thursday (the actual 50th anniversary date).

Winner of ten Tony Awards including Best Musical, Hello, Dolly! is one of the most enduring Broadway classics. Emmy- award winning Sally Struthers (All In the Family, Gilmore Girls) stars as the strong-willed matchmaker Dolly, as she travels to Yonkers, NY to find a match for the ornery  “well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Featuring an irresistible story and an unforgettable score including the title song, “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “It Only Takes A Moment,” and the show-stopping “Before the Parade Passes By,” Hello, Dolly! has been charming audiences around the world for 50 years.

Joining Struthers in the cast are John O’Creagh as Horace Vandergelder, Matt Wolfe as Cornelius Hackl, Lauren Blackman as Irene Molloy, Garett Hawe as Barnaby Tucker, Halle Morse as Minnie Fay, Brad Frenette as Ambrose Kemper and Hilary Fingerman as Ermengarde.  Others in the cast are Michael Baxter, Zachary Berger, Erin Chupinsky, Joseph Cullinane, Brooke Robyn Dairman, Lucas Fedele, Michael Gorman, Jamey Hood, Liesl Jaye, Louis Jones, Lauren Krautmann, Joseph Nicastro, Michael J. Rios, Lisa Rohinsky, Taylor Schramm, Tony Triano and Paige Wheat.  Also in the cast is A.J. Hughes who played one of the leading roles in the 2012 Arkansas Rep production of White Christmas.

The production is directed by Jeffrey B. Moss and choreographed by Bob Richard.  Others on the creative team include Charlie Morrison (lighting design) and Peter Fitzgerald (sound design).  The production is produced by Big League Productions/Daniel Sher and is brought to Little Rock by Celebrity Attractions.

Hello, Dolly! features a score by Jerry Herman and book by Michael Stewart.  It is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1955 play The Matchmaker, which was a reworking of his earlier effort The Merchant of Yonkers (which played roughly a month in 1938).  Wilder based his play on Johann Nestroy’s Einen Jux Will Sich Machen (which is loosely translated as “He Wants to Have a Lark”).  Nestroy’s play is based on the English play A Day Well Spent by John Oxenford.  Wilder took the minor character of the matchmaker and named her Dolly Gallagher Levi for The Merchant of Yonkers.  He expanded the part (though he himself termed it “minor revisions”) for the reworking of the play in the 1950s.  The new play starred Ruth Gordon as the meddling matchmaker.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

It is appropriate that Hello, Dolly! be one of the final touring shows to play Robinson Center Music Hall before it is closed for renovation.  Original star Carol Channing brought the production to Little Rock on her national tour, one of the first times an original Broadway star brought a show to Robinson.