Rocking the Tony Awards – Past Tony nominees at Arkansas Rep

Photo by Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

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 nominees work on stage and backstage.

Among these are:

Julie Andrews, who headlined a 2002 fundraiser for Arkansas Rep.  That evening she shared stories about her life and career.  A two-time Tony Award host, she has been nominated three times for Actress in a Musical: My Fair Lady (1957), Camelot (1961) and Victor/Victoria (1996).

Jane Lanier, who choreographed Ring of Fire at Arkansas Rep.  In 1989, she was nominated as Featured Actress in a Musical for her work in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  

Mercedes McCambridge, who appeared in ‘night, Mother at the Rep in the spring of 1986.  She was nominated as Featured Actress in a Play for The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks for the 1972 awards.

Austin Pendleton, who directed A Loss of Roses at Arkansas Rep.  After appearing in the original cast of Tony winning Best Musical Fiddler on the Roof, he later received a Tony nomination for directing the 1981 revival of The Little Foxes which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton.

Jane Summerhays, who starred in the Arkansas Rep production of A Loss of Roses.  In 1987, she was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical for Me and My Girl.

John Tartaglia, who directed 2013’s Because of Winn Dixie.  He was nominated for the 2004 Tony for Actor in a Musical for his performance in Avenue Q.

Japhy Weideman, who was the Rep’s lighting designer in the early 2000’s.  While he was at the Rep, he lit several shows including The Grapes of Wrath, All My Sons and God’s Man in Texas.  He has received Tony nominations for lighting design for his work on The Nance (2013), Of Mice and Men (2014), Airline Highway (2015), The Visit (2015), and Dear Evan Hansen (2017).

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

Shake a Spear, or As Will Likes It at 454

Today is the traditionally observed birthday of William Shakespeare. It is known he was born in 1564, which makes this the 454th birthday.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre earlier announced the lineup for the 2018 season.   The dates have now been announced.

The lineup for the June 8-July 8 season, which explores the theme of transformation, includes Shakespeare classics The Winter’s TaleHenry IV, Part One; and a family adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady. All four 2018 shows feature characters who undergo major changes — some for the better and others, perhaps, for the worst.

The season will open at 7:30 p.m. June 8 with The Winter’s Tale outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady will open in Reynolds Performance Hall on June 15, and Henry IV, Part One, will open on June 22. AST’s family-friendly adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing will open June 28 in Reynolds and will also tour across the state in June and July.

The Winter’s Tale will be directed by Nisi Sturgis, an AST artistic collective member, Conway native and UCA graduate who was a part of the critically acclaimed tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced at the Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep.

One of Shakespeare’s late romantic plays, it follows the story of King Leontes, who grows jealous of his wife, leading him to make a series of terrible mistakes. “This is a rarely produced Shakespeare gem,” said Rebekah Scallet, AST’s producing artistic director.

Robert Quinlan, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in AST’s 10th anniversary season, will return at the helm of Henry IV, Part One. This adventurous tale is centered on the young Prince Hal, who prefers spending his time in the tavern with his fat and jolly friend Falstaff to time in castle with his father, the king. When rebellion stirs in England, he must make a choice as to where his true loyalties lie.

Scallet will direct My Fair Lady. This multiple Tony Award-winning musical premiered in 1956 and will be given fresh life in this intimate new production. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl who wants to transform her status by changing the way she speaks, and so goes to curmudgeonly speech professor Henry Higgins for assistance.

Enrico Spada will make his directorial debut with AST for the touring Family Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing. With a cast of just eight people telling a reduced version of this classic tale, Much Ado is a romantic comedy with the great Shakespearean couple of Beatrice and Benedick at its center. This hour-long adaptation is perfect for families to enjoy together and will be performed on stage at Reynolds along with stops at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, Hot Springs Farmer’s Market, The Joint in Argenta and The Griffin in El Dorado, among others.

Audiences will again be seated onstage for the three productions in Reynolds Performance Hall. AST’s 12th season will close on July 8 with a final performance of The Winter’s Tale.

For those who want a Shakespeare fix in the actual winter, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will present As You Like It from February 6 to 24, 2019.

Containing some of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, As You Like It is a comedy about love, exile, wit, and disguises all set in the Forest of Arden.  Orlando loves Rosalind. Rosalind loves Orlando. But Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede – who’s a boy! And Phebe loves Ganymede – who’s really Rosalind. Yet Silvius loves Phebe. And Rosalind’s best friend Celia loves Orlando’s brother Oliver. But Oliver hates Orlando. And Touchstone lusts after Audrey. Unfortunately, no one much cares for Jacques.

Celebrate romance as Shakespeare’s timeless comedy takes center stage at The Rep!  Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, it runs from February 6 to 24, 2019, with an opening night of February 8, 2019.

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.

Robinson Center Redux- January

WAVW LR Jan65Since Robinson Center Music Hall is closed for renovations and restoration, this year the Culture Vulture will take a monthly look back at some of the featured attractions which have played there.  This month looks at January of years ending in “0” and “5.”

As noted earlier on the blog, even before the February 1940 opening of the music hall, the lover level exhibition hall was playing host to events including basketball games.

By 1945, things were well underway on both levels. Buddy Johnson & his Orchestra were playing a dance for African Americans in the lower level on January 10. Upstairs events ranged from a lecture on Christian Science (January 7), a play Good Night Ladies (January 17), a lecture by Dr. Emil Ludwig on Germany after World War II, and Paul Draper & Larry Adler in concert (January 23).

In 1950, Tallulah Bankhead starred in a revival of Private Lives (January 13), a Passion Play booked it for over a week (January 21 – 28) and a double-header of Shakespeare plays held court on January 30. Margaret Webster’s Shakespeare Company played The Taming of the Shrew in the afternoon and Julius Caesar in the evening. Also that month the Arkansas State Symphony (a forerunner to today’s Arkansas Symphony Orchestra) gave a concert on the 17th.

A highlight of 1955 was a women’s wrestling match on January 4 in the lower level.

In 1960, two theatrical productions were presented. On January 8 & 9, Odd Man In was presented “pre-Broadway” (it didn’t make it). Much more successful was the national tour of My Fair Lady from January 18 through 23.

Though Little Rock native Ben Piazza had helped develop the play, he wasn’t in the cast when the national tour of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? played Robinson on Januayr 25, 1965.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Robinson was at a crossroads.  Many performers wanted to play at larger spaces (such as Barton Coliseum) or smaller venues (such as churches or the UALR recital hall).  In 1970, the Happy Goodman Family gave a concert on January 21.  Five years later they returned on January 10, 1975 in a concert with Vestel Goodman. The next night, Johnny Paycheck was in concert.  On January 21, 1975, Robert Alda headlined a tour of The Sunshine Boys.

Orchestra concerts dominated most January offerings from 1980 onward.  On January 27, 1980, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra gave a concert at Robinson. In 1985, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presented concerts (January 19 & 20) with Misha Dichter, pianist.  January 1990 saw the ASO with Stephen Burns, trumpet on January 20 & 21.

In 1995, the ASO performed Rimsky-Korskaov’s Scheherazade on January 13 & 14.  Composer, pianist and conductor Marvin Hamlisch highlighted a concert with the ASO on January 22 in 2000. Earlier in the month the ASO performed Der Freischatz on the 15 & 16th.  The day before Hamlisch, the Martins were in concert.

2005 highlights included the ASO with Elmer Oliveira, violinist (Jan 15 & 16), the ASO Side by Side concert (where Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra musicians and ASO musicians perform together) on January 29 and the ASO Family Series: Secrets of the Orchestra on January 30.  The Irish dance spectacular Riverdance played Robinson from January 17 through 19.

Five years ago, Ron “Tater Salad” White performed his stand-up at Robinson on January 8, 2010. Later that month the ASO offered Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto on January 16 & 17. The 2010 ASO Side by Side concert was on January 30.  On January 20 the Shen Yun Chinese cultural performance took place in Robinson.

ROCKing the TONYS – Julie Andrews

Rock the Tonys

Photo by  Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

Photo by Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

Name – Julie Andrews

Little Rock Connection – Appeared at Arkansas Repertory Theatre at a fundraiser for the Rep

Tony Awards Connection – Thrice nominated for a Tony for Actress in a Musical – 1957 My Fair Lady, 1961 Camelot, 1996, Victor/Victoria. Hosted the 1970, 1984 and 1991 Tony Awards ceremonies. Has appeared as a presenter on numerous other Tony Awards telecasts.