GUYS AND DOLLS rolls in to Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre this summer

Logo.jpgGuys and Dolls is the musical in the 2019 season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

This self-described “Musical Fable of Broadway” is based on Damon Runyon’s stories. With a score by Frank Loesser, it has a book by Abe Burrows. (Contractual obligations required that Jo Swerling get credit as a co-author, though none of his original draft ended up in the final product.)

Telling the story of a pair of gamblers and their romantic entanglements, it features memorable characters who frequent nightclubs, a storefront mission, Cuba, and a floating crap game in a sewer.  The original production won the 1951 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Performances started last night (June 15) and continue today, June 16 (2:00pm), June 23 (2:00pm), June 25 (7:30pm), June 28 (7:30pm), June 30 (2:00pm AND 7:30pm), July 2 (7:30pm), July 4 (2:00pm), and July 6 (2:00pm AND 7:30pm). The musical is performed on the stage of the Reynolds Performance Hall.

The cast includes Chad Bradford, Emily Wold, Benjamin Reed, Chris Fritzges, Rebecca Brudner, Nick Narcisi, Patrice Phillips, Ben Grimes, Will Stotts, Barry Clifton, Cody Walls, Augustine Nguyen, Braxton Johnson, Kevin Alan Brown, Maureen Toomey, Mikala Hicks, Regean Allen, Stephanie Craven, Dylan Blackwood, Ashley Mahan, Anthony Bryant, Brian Earles, and Moriah Patterson.

The production is directed by Jenna Elser.  A native of Searcy, she is the Artistic Director of Glow Lyric Theatre in South Carolina. She also is Director of Converse Opera Theatre at Converse College.

Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director and Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director.

Advertisements

The show will go on! Ark Rep production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER opens tonight

 Despite the snow which caused many cancellations this morning, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER opens tonight.  Think you know all there is to know about Peter Pan? Think again.

This Tony winning play by Rick Elice is based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  In this swashbuckling prelude to J. M. Barrie’s fantasy classic, the secret history of the Boy Who Would Never Grow Up is revealed with theatrical panache.

Based on the popular Dave Barry books, and mixing British pantomime with playful elements of childhood make-believe, this raucous adventure journeys into the forgotten realms of the imagination filled with mermaids, fierce natives, pirates and magic. 

Embark upon a treacherous ocean voyage as Molly, a young Starcatcher aboard the good ship Neverland, races to escape the comical clutches of the dread pirate Black Stache. Accompanied by a trio of Lost Boys from a British orphanage, she is soon marooned on a not-so-deserted island filled with otherworldly enchantments and exhilarating danger around every turn. Each breathtaking adventure leads them closer to the mysterious origins of the Peter Pan you know and love.

Peter and the Starcatcher will be presented as a co-production with TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, Ark. The Rep presents the regional premiere of this award-winning play as a perfect outing for young and old alike. It opens tonight and runs through Februry 14. 

The cast includes Seth Andrew Bridges, Marc Carver, Patrick Halley, Carey Hite, Garrett T. Houston, Bryce Kemph, Hugh Kennedy, Steve Pacek, Faith Sandberg, Jason M. Shipman, Nathaniel Stahlke and Bruce Warren.  Moriah Patterson and Garrett L. Whitehead are understudies. 

The production is directed by Mark Shanahan.  Other members of the creative team are Music Director: Mark Binns; Fight Director: D.C. Wright; Set Designer: James J. Fenton; Properties Designer: Brodie Jasch; Lighting Designer: Martin E. Vreeland; Costume Designer: Trish Clark; and Sound Engineer: Allan Branson.

Final Weekend of PUSS IN BOOTS at Ark. Arts Center Children’s Theatre

PussInBoots_posterThis weekend marks St. Francis Day.  He was the patron saint of animals.  It is also the final chance to see the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of Puss in Boots.

Based on Charles Perrault’s world famous feline fun-time fairytale, Puss in Bootsis an electric story set in song and dance. This fun for all ages show will run Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. 

Be amazed as swashbuckling Puss the Cat raises his master, Claude, from a down-and-out miller’s son to the heights of happiness. Enjoy all the madcap fun as Puss brandishes, not his sword, but his superior feline intellect to conquer kings, ogres and even a few rabbits along the way. It’s all about brain over brawn. Oh, and you’ll just love his shoes.

The cast includes:

  • Chad Bradford of Little Rock as Puss
  • Mark Hansen of Little Rock as Claude
  • Katie Campbell of Little Rock as Coquette
  • Nick Spencer of Nashville, Tenn. as Major Domo
  • Jeremy Matthey of Little Rock as the King
  • Lauren Linton of Memphis; Aleigha Morton of Beebe; and Moriah Patterson of Sheridan as the Trio.

Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director for the production. Costumes are designed by Erin Larkin and Nikki Webster, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Mike Stacks, setting and properties design by Miranda Young, choreographed by Erin Fowler and Sarah Gasser is the stage manager.  

The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will feature six Main Stage shows: Puss in Boots;The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; The Gingerbread Man; The 13 Clocks; Schoolhouse Rock Live! and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. And 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.

$12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more (Children 2 years of age and under are free, however the child must remain in an adult’s lap at all times.)

PUSS IN BOOTS launches Ark. Arts Center’s 2015/16 Children’s Theatre season

PussInBoots_posterThe Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre is excited to begin the 2015/2016 Main Stage season with Puss in Boots, September 18-October 4.

Based on Charles Perrault’s world famous feline fun-time fairytale, Puss in Boots is an electric story set in song and dance. This fun for all ages show will run Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. September 19 through October 4.

Be amazed as swashbuckling Puss the Cat raises his master, Claude, from a down-and-out miller’s son to the heights of happiness. Enjoy all the madcap fun as Puss brandishes, not his sword, but his superior feline intellect to conquer kings, ogres and even a few rabbits along the way. It’s all about brain over brawn. Oh, and you’ll just love his shoes.

The cast includes:

  • Chad Bradford of Little Rock as Puss;
  • Mark Hansen of Little Rock as Claude;
  • Katie Campbell of Little Rock as Coquette;
  • Nick Spencer of Nashville, Tenn. as Major Domo;
  • Jeremy Matthey of Little Rock as the King;
  • Lauren Linton of Memphis; Aleigha Morton of Beebe; and Moriah Patterson of Sheridan as the Trio.

Bradley D. Anderson is the artistic director for the production. Costumes are designed by Erin Larkin and Nikki Webster, technical direction by Drew Posey, lighting design by Mike Stacks, setting and properties design by Miranda Young, choreographed by Erin Fowler and Sarah Gasser is the stage manager.  

The 2015/2016 season of the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre will feature six Main Stage shows: Puss in Boots; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; The Gingerbread Man; The 13 Clocks; Schoolhouse Rock Live! and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. And 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.

$12.50 General admission, $10 for Arkansas Arts Center members, $10 per person for groups of 10 or more (Children 2 years of age and under are free, however the child must remain in an adult’s lap at all times.)

Best enjoyed by all ages.

On Father’s Day, a look at Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

AST FiddlerFiddler on the Roof is about a father to five daughters. Since today is Father’s Day, and Fiddler is being produced by Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre this summer, today seems a good day to discuss it.

This classic beloved musical tells the story of Tevye the dairyman who takes ultimate joy in his family and traditions. He works to raise his five daughters and see them married well, but must struggle against modern ideas and the rising tide of anti-Semitism in 1900s Russia that threaten to destroy his family and their way of life.

The cast is led by Peter Kevoian, Jo Blackstone, Stacy Pendergraft, Mark Fox, Jocelyn Vammer, Hunter Ringsmith, Hannah Moulder, Garret Whitehead, Sydney Ippolito, Matthew Holcomb, Mattie Bogoslavsky, David Bauman, Holly Ruth Gale, Dan Matisa, Jess Prichard, Ricky Pope, David Weatherly, Josie Ghormley, Claire Gillaspy, Tanner Berry, Charlie Friedman, Taylor Galloway, Garrett Houston, Moriah Patterson, Harrison Trigg, Jackson Karl, Rebecca Kuo, Amanda Kuo, Zoe Russell, Kendall Watson, Joey Whisenhunt and Maggie Whisenhunt.

Originally produced in 1964, Fiddler went on to win nine Tony Awards in 1965 including Best Musical.  

The production opened on June 10 and continues today at 2pm and 7:30, Wednesday at 2pm and 7:30 and Saturday at 7:30.

NINE a 10

imageOne would be hard pressed to find a stronger volunteer theatre production than the Studio Theatre’s current offering of Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopjt’s Tony Award winning musical NINE. (The term “volunteer” theatre is used because “amateur,” “community,” or “non-professional” belie the quality of the production.)

Rafael Colon Castanera’s production is both visually stunning and full of surprises. The cohesive ensemble is up to the task of telling this compelling, complex tale in an entertaining and enchanting manner. They find the humor and humanity in these sometimes thinly sketched characters and scenarios.

The anchor of the production is James Norris as auteur Guido Contini. He deftly morphs from reality to fantasy while juggling numerous romantic conquests and searching for fulfillment. It is a challenging role because Guido is, at the same time, supposed to be worthy of the audience’s sympathy while also behaving in a unsympathetic manner.  Norris had many touching moments as the man-child desperately seeking something. A fearless actor, he threw himself into the role whether the moment called for romance, humor or desperation. These different moods are also reflected in the wide range of singing styles required of the role–all of which he handled skillfully.

As the younger version of Guido, Price Clark showed maturity beyond his years. His performance of “Getting Tall” at the end wrapped up the show as a lesson to the audience about the challenges and opportunities of getting older. Clark also had a wonderful rapport with both Norris (acting as a mentor to his older self) and Beth Ross as his mother (showing love, respect and embarrassment).

Ross was one of many in the cast who had the chance to showcase a wider range of their talents. Often cast in wisecracking roles, she here displayed a maternal warmth and daffiness as well as weariness and frustration. Likewise Julie Atkins often plays long-suffering, noble women. In this show she had the chance to show her comic skills and her bawdiness as an all-knowing spa proprietor. Often playing heartbreaking heroines, Erin Martinez zealously attacked her role as a tambourine-wielding unapologetically, earthy strumpet.

Antisha Anderson-Scruggs was audacious and bodacious as one of Guido’s mistresses. She was bawdy but never crass as she flaunted her sexuality. Anderson-Scruggs also displayed depth as her character faced disappointment with resolve and a new-found strength.

As another mistress, Rachel Warnick elegantly captured the persona of a classic European beauty who is no longer content with being a trophy. She was grateful and forgiving toward Guido, but resolute nonetheless to pursue her new life.

Mary Ann Hansen put the gal in Gallic as a gamine French film producer. She relished her moments in the spotlight and evoked a bygone era as she celebrated a past career (and joyously took the audience along on this reflective journey). Amy Young and K. L. Martin played her entourage; the pair enjoyably insulted, threatened and otherwise antagonized Guido each in her own way.

Elena McKinnis, Bailey Lamb and Moriah Patterson were a protean trio who functioned as a sort of Greek chorus (or was it Italian chorus?) playing various parts and keeping action moving.  Together with Martin, these performers showcased their dancing talents as showgirls during the musical within a musical numbers.

Heather Smith was Guido’s long-suffering wife. While clearly in love with him, she was also weary of her stagnant life.  A high point of her performance was her sung defense of him to the press in which she is convincing them of his sincerity, while also trying to convince herself.

As director, Castanera elicited layered performances from each of the actors and kept the action moving seamlessly.  As designer, he used a deceptively simple, classically elegant scenic design as a framework for the action. Tyler Herron’s transformative lighting and Greg Wirges’ evocative sound design reflected the many different moods and settings.

The orchestra led by music director Bob Bidewell played almost nonstop through this cinematic, nearly operatic production. This lush score has many moods which were ably performed without overpowering the actors.

The costumes by Castanera are almost worth the cost of admission by themselves. Each character was uniquely clad in black attire that reflected their character down to minute details. It is safe to say this show has the most intricate and lavish costumes of any volunteer theatre production in Little Rock history. For the “film” sequence, Castanera mixed some white in with the black and created fantastic, over the top ensembles (again often with unique and humorous touches). The wigs by Robert Pickens were the same quality as the costumes. Together, wigs and costumes helped define the characters without distracting from the actors’ performances.

As a musical, NINE has challenges. In the wrong hands the characters can be vapid and unlikeable.  It is also vocally demanding. Much like the source material (a semi-autobiographical Italian film), it has moments of absurdity and a plot which wavers between linear and concept. But NINE also has enormous warmth, heart and joy. The Studio Theatre’s production captures these merits without betraying the complexities of the characters. NiINE is another step forward in the development of both The Studio Theatre as well as volunteer theatre in Central Arkansas.

NINE continues April 4, 9-12 and 16-19. Performances are at 7pm except for Sundays, which are at 2pm.

NINE next at Studio Theatre

The 1982 Tony winning Best Musical Nine takes the stage oimagef the Studio Theatre tonight to begin a three week run.

Written by Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit, and based on Fellini’s autobiographical 8 1/2, it tells the story of Guido Contini, a filmmaker, and the women in his life.

This production is directed by Rafael Colon Castanera with musical direction by Bob Bidewell.  Castanera also designed the set and costumes as well as co-choreographed the musical with Bailey Lamb.  Tyler Herron designed the lighting and served as assistant director.  Robert Pickens designed the wigs, Greg Wirges designed the sound, and Cara Smith is the stage manager.

The cast includes Antisha Anderson-Scruggs, Julie Atkins, Price Clark, Mary Ann Hansen, Bailey Lamb, Elena McKinnis, K. L. Martin, Erin Martinez, James Norris, Moriah Patterson, Beth Ross, Heather Smith, Rachel Warnick and Amy Young.

Performances are tonight (an opening night gala), Saturday (April 4), April 9 through 12 and April 16 through 19.  Showtimes are 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2pm on Sundays.