15 Highlights of 2015 – Ark Rep opens new performance space

Rep Black Box interiorThe Arkansas Repertory Theatre opened its new education and black box performance space in the summer of 2015.  Located in the 500 block of Main Street on the Creative Corridor, it also serves as additional rehearsal space for The Rep.

The Rep’s youth education programs have been limited by the available performance and rehearsal options the Rep previously had. It was fitting, that this space was opened with one of the Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive’s (SMTI) productions.  The Maurice Sendak-Carole King musical Really Rosie was performed by two different casts in the summer.  The performances, directed by Rep audience favorite Ethan Paulini, was the culmination of a two week workshop training for preteen students.  (At the same time, across the street in the Rep’s main building, older students were preparing for two different productions of Once on This Island.)

In September, during ACANSA, the Rep hosted a performance of Jason O’Connell in his autobiographical one-man play The Dork Knight.

The space will allow the Rep to not only showcase educational performances, but to produce plays in a black box setting.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND presented by Ark Rep SMTI junior students tonight and this weekend

Rep SMTI OOTIThe Tony nominated musical Once on This Island, by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is being presented tonight, tomorrow and two times Saturday by the senior level students in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI).

Performances are at 7pm tonight (Thursday the 6th), Friday and Saturday with a 1pm matinee on Saturday the 8th, as well.  Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling the Rep box office or stopping by in person. You can also order them online .

Once on This Island is based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy.  Set in the French Antilles, it mixes Caribbean mythology with elements of Romeo and Juliet as well as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.  It was nominated for 8 Tony Awards in 1991.  Four years later, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London.

Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) is The Rep’s annual training program for aspiring young artists in Arkansas.  Under the direction of Capri, SMTI is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed exclusively for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre.

The SMTI staff is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and designers. Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multi-media, costume and stage make-up, dance and vocal coaching.

Each session – broken into Select (ages 10 – 12), Junior (ages 13-15) and Senior (ages 16-23) – involves intensive daily rehearsals culminating in a public workshop performance of a selected musical or musical revue.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND presented by Ark Rep SMTI senior students tonight and this weekend

Rep SMTI OOTIThe Tony nominated musical Once on This Island, by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is being presented tonight, tomorrow and two times Saturday by the senior level students in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI).

Performances are at 7pm tonight (Thursday the 23rd), Friday and Saturday with a 1pm matinee on Saturday the 25th, as well.  Tickets are $10 and may be purchased by calling the Rep box office or stopping by in person.

Once on This Island is based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy.  Set in the French Antilles, it mixes Caribbean mythology with elements of Romeo and Juliet as well as Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.  It was nominated for 8 Tony Awards in 1991.  Four years later, it won the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in London.

Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) is The Rep’s annual training program for aspiring young artists in Arkansas.  Under the direction of Capri, SMTI is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed exclusively for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre.

The SMTI staff is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and designers. Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multi-media, costume and stage make-up, dance and vocal coaching.

Each session – broken into Select (ages 10 – 12), Junior (ages 13-15) and Senior (ages 16-23) – involves intensive daily rehearsals culminating in a public workshop performance of a selected musical or musical revue.

Musicals and Plays on schedule for 23rd Season at Weekend Theater

WeekendTheaterThe Weekend Theater has recently announced their 2015-2016 season.  The 23rd season for this volunteer theatre includes seven plays, three musicals and a one-man show.

The Addams Family
By Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice and Andrew Lippa.  Based on characters created by Charles Addams.
June 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 2015
Directed by Tom Crone; Music Direction by Lori Isner

Two families with vastly divergent cultures, mores, and expectations collide when the Addams hosts a dinner for Wednesday Addams’ “normal” boyfriend and his parents. Trust and fear, love and truth, acceptance and forgiveness are just a few things on the menu in this magnificently macabre new musical comedy created by Jersey Boys authors, Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice and Drama Desk Award winner, Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party).

 

American Idiot
By Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day and Michael Mayer
July 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 31, August 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 2015
Directed by Frank O. Butler; Music Direction by Lori Isner

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical — based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum album – is an energy-fueled rock opera that brings us face-to-face with the perils of war, drug addiction, escapism, and the power of true friendship, as Will, Johnny, and Tunny struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world.

Contains adult language and situations.

 

Two Trains Running
By August Wilson
August 21, 22, 28, 29, September 4, 5, 2015
Directed by Jamie Scott Blakey and Margaret Parker

This is the 1960s chapter of the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright’s decade-by-decade saga of ordinary African Americans in this turbulent century. In Memphis Lee’s Coffee Shop we meet a local sage, an ex con, a numbers runner, a laconic waitress, and a mentally handicapped man through which, with Chekhovian obliqueness, Wilson reveals simple truths, hopes and dreams, creating a microcosm of an era and a community on the brink of change.

 

The Shape of Things
By Neil LaBute
September 25, 26, October 2, 3, 9, 10, 2015
Directed by Byron Taylor

This modern day retelling of the fall of man challenges our most deeply entrenched ideas about art and love. In The Shape of Things, Evelyn, a sexy, aggressive artist, and Adam, a shy, insecure student, become embroiled in an affair after meeting in a museum. Before long, Adam, under Evelyn’s steady influence, goes to unimaginable lengths to meet her approval, and the show veers into the kind of dangerous, seductive territory that LaBute does best.

 

God’s Man in Texas
By David Rambo
November 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 2015
Directed by Allison Pace

Faith and egos collide in the age of mass-market religion at Houston’s Rock Baptist Church. A search committee has been secretly formed to find a successor to Rock’s legendary pastor, and a young up-and-comer is asked to audition for the job. The Biblical struggle climaxes during Rock’s spectacular annual electrical Christmas parade.

 

The Foreigner
By Larry Shue
December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 2014
Directed by Matthew Mentgen
Winner of two Obie Awards and two Outer Critics Circle Awards as Best New American Play and Best Off- Broadway Production, this off-beat comedy demonstrates what can happen when a group of devious and bigoted characters, including a two-faced minister and his bigoted associate, must deal with a stranger who (they think) knows no English but who has heard more than he should of their unscrupulous plans.

 

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays
By Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moisés Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, José Rivera, Paul Rudnick, and Doug Wright; Conceived by Brian Shnipper
January 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30, 2016
Directed by Duane Jackson

This collection of monologues and short stories celebrates the recent advances in winning marital rights for gay and lesbian couples, and how the changing laws are changing lives. This mostly genial and often funny omnibus holds a magnifying glass to the highs and lows, joys and fears, courage and silliness, of people bucking trends and making history.

 

Once on This Island: A Musical
By Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
February 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26 , 27, 28, 2016
Directed by Monica Clark-Robinson; Music Direction by Greg Robinson

From the Tony Award-winning songwriting team that brought you Ragtime, comes this Tony nominated, Olivier Award-winning musical set in the Caribbean Sea concerning a peasant girl on a tropical island, who uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes. From the first song you will be enthralled by the music and engaging lyrics of this magical story which includees hints of Romeo and Juliet and the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.

 

Vincent
By Leonard Nimoy; Based on the play “Van Gogh” by Phillip Stephens
March 18 and 19, 2016
Directed by Alan Douglas

In van Gogh’s lifetime, he sold only one painting and critics labeled his work madness. His story, however, is so much more than that of the misunderstood genius who cut off his own ear. In this play, Vincent’s brother, Theo, movingly reveals Vincent as few knew him, arguing the bigger meaning and significance of his brother’s life to all humankind. As seen through the eyes of Theo, Vincent van Gogh lives on as a symbol of inspiration, courage, passion, and the lust for life that art kindles in all of us.

This is a special presentation, not part of the regular season.

 

Driving Miss Daisy
By Alfred Uhrey
April 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 15, 16, 17, 2016
Directed by Andy Hall

The place is the Deep South, 1948, just prior to the civil rights movement, where Daisy Werthan, a rich, sharp- tongued Jewish widow of seventy-two learns that she must rely on the services of a chauffeur, a thoughtful, unemployed black man. In a series of absorbing scenes spanning twenty-five years, the two, despite their mutual differences, grow ever closer, realizing they have more in common than they ever believed possible.

 

A Piece of My Heart
By Shirley Lauro
May 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 2016
Directed by Betty Fernau

This is a powerful, true drama of six women who went to Vietnam: five nurses and a country western singer booked by an unscrupulous agent to entertain the troops. The play which was recently been named “The most enduring play on Vietnam in the nation,” by The Vietnam Vets Association, portrays each young woman before, during, and after her tour in the war-torn nation, drawing attention to the largely unsung American women who served in Vietnam.