Happy Birthday to Hall High and Arkansas Arts Center alum, award winning actor Daniel Davis

On November 26, 1945, future actor Daniel Davis was born in Gurdon.  As a child, his family moved to Little Rock where his parents ran a movie theatre.  As a child, he appeared on “Betty’s Little Rascals” local TV show with Betty Fowler.

While a student at Hall High, Davis had the lead as Horace Vandergelder in The Matchmaker (which would soon be musicalized on Broadway in Hello, Dolly!), appeared in Judgment at Nuremburg, sang in the Hallmarks (concert choir), and was a Harlequin Player (drama club). He was also on the staff of the Warrior (yearbook), War Whoop (newspaper), and Inkwell (literary magazine). His fellow members of the class of 1963 voted him the Wittiest boy in the class.

Davis at Hall in 1963

After graduating from Hall, Davis remained in Little Rock and enrolled in the new Arkansas Arts Center school of Art and Drama, a degree granting program.  While there, he appeared in numerous plays.  One of them was The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.  National theatre critic Henry Hewes of the Saturday Review came to Little Rock to review the production, which was presented a year after the play had won a Tony for Best Play.  Hewes actually liked the Little Rock production better.

After completing studies at the Arts Center, Davis worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American National Theatre Academy, Stratford Festival, and American Conservatory Theatre. He also started appearing in television, including a stint in the soap “Texas” and guest starring in many TV series. In 1993, he started a six year, 145 episode run as Niles the butler in “The Nanny.”  His British accent on the show caused many in the public to think he was from England instead of Arkansas.

Davis has continued to act frequently on stage.  In 1969, he made his Broadway debut as the Dauphin in Henry V followed by an appearance in Othello.  He was a replacement as Salieri in the original production of Amadeus.   In 2003, he received an Obie Award for his appearance in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.  Three years earlier he was nominated for a Tony for his appearance in Wrong Mountain.  Other recent Broadway appearances include The Invention of Love, The Frogs, La Cage aux Folles and Noises Off.


Broadway on Broadway with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

ASO_revThis weekend, the music of New York City’s Broadway will be heard along Little Rock’s Broadway as the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra presents the next pop concert of the season — “Best of Broadway.”

Get ready for a walk down the Great White Way in an evening of hits from Broadway’s most beloved show tunes! Join the ASO in a selection of music that crosses all genres and brings a smile to all faces.  The concerts are tonight at 8pm and tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.

The ASO musicians will be under the baton of Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson. One number will be led by special guest conductor Dr. Richard Wheeler.

The soloists for the concerts are Mandy Gonzales and Destan Owens.

Miss Gonzales has recently completed her run as Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway.  She was awarded Broadway.com’s Favorite Female Replacement Award for this performance. She created the role of Nina in the musical In the Heights.  She has appeared in Aida, Lennon and Dance of the Vampires (in which she starred opposite Michael Crawford and Max Von Essen).  She is perhaps best known for her Obie winning performance in the Off-Broadway musical Eli’s Comin’.

Mr. Owens is an Oklahoma native with a B.A. in Musical Theater from Oklahoma City University. His stage appearances have included Rent, Chicago, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Who’s Tommy, Dreamgirls, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sisterella. He appeared at Arkansas Rep in 2007 in It Happened in Little Rock.  He has been a soloist with several symphony orchestras across the country.



Final Weekend for A LOSS OF ROSES at Arkansas Rep

Theatregoers hoping to not lose out on on Pulitzer Prize winner William Inge’s A Loss of Roses have a few remaining performances to catch it at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

The production, directed by Tony nominee and Obie winner Austin Pendleton, stars Tony nominee Jane  Summerhays, Bret Lada and Jean Lichty as a mother, son and a visitor from their past who resurfaces.

Pendleton directed a staged reading of A Loss of Roses featured in TONGUES at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in 2010. Pendleton has served as artistic director of the Circle Repertory Theatre Company in New York and is an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

“Bringing a rarely-produced work by William Inge to the stage is cause for celebration; doubly so when the creative team is led by Austin Pendleton,” says Arkansas Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. “He’s assembled a dynamic cast for this fascinating play. Arkansas Rep is honored to introduce A Loss of Roses to a new generation of theatregoers and to re-examine Inge in the context of what he spoke of as his favorite among his many works.”

The cast also features Todd Gearhart, Max Jenkins and Sara Croft as members of a traveling troupe of actors and Keegan McDonald, Katye Dunn and Sydni Whitfield as neighbors of the central family.

A Loss of Roses plays tonight at 7pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sunday, July 1 at 7pm.

Clinton School presents panel on Ark Rep’s A LOSS OF ROSES

The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will host a panel discussion with Tony Award-nominated director Austin Pendleton and cast members of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of A Loss of Roses.  The panel will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13 at 12 noon at Sturgis Hall in Clinton Presidential Park. The program is free and open to the public.

A Loss of Roses is a little-known William Inge masterpiece that tells the story of two women struggling to make their lives bearable in a small Kansas town. Penned in the intimate style of Tennessee Williams, who was Inge’s mentor, A Loss of Roses is a bittersweet romance about the loss of innocence which garnered a young Warren Beatty a Tony Award nomination in the 1959 Broadway production. The play will run on The Rep’s stage from June 13 to July 1.

Director Austin Pendleton starred in the original cast of Fiddler on the Roof (and can be heard on the original cast recording). Since the 1960s he has had successful careers as an actor, playwright, director, lyricist, teacher and administrator.  In addition to his Tony nomination for directing Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton in The Little Foxes, he has received the Clarence Derwent Award (for Hail Strawdyke) and Obie Award (The Last Sweet Days of Isaac).  Among his many films are What’s Up Doc? and the Academy Award winning My Cousin Vinny.