31 Days of Arkansas Rep: PETER PAN in 1994

Peter Pan flew into the window of the Darling’s nursery in December 1994 on the Arkansas Rep stage.  With a cast of thirty-six, Peter Pan was one of the Rep’s larger productions.

Directed by Brad Mooy, the production featured Steve Wilkerson in the title role. It gained some national press attention, because the role is usually played by women, so Wilkerson’s casting was a bit of a novelty.

Others in the cast were Ed Romanoff, Angie Ohren, Dustin Alford, Matthew Block, Peggy Billo, Tanya Duggar, Gary Taggart, Angie Foresman, and Linda Sue Sanders. The Lost Boys were played by Adam Napper, Bernie Baskin, James Knight, Brian Jones, Kale Ludwig, and Kyle Ludwig.

The pirates were played by Mark Hansen, Joel Gordon, Derek Reid, Shannon E. Farmer, Tony D. Owens Jr., DeJon Mayes, Kenneth Elins, Matt Patton, Eric Harrison and Tom Kagy. Taking on the roles of the indians were Suzan Hart, Rusty Miller, Mikel Brown, Ryan Martine, Patrick McNally, Christina Boatwright, Leslie Goodwin, Tori Petrus and Dennis Glasscock.

Glasscock was the production’s choreographer. Flying for Pan and others was created by Foy, the same firm which was responsible for Mary Martin’s flying in the role on Broadway in 1954. Hans Stiritz was the musical director, Mike Nichols was set designer, and Don Bolinger provided costume design.

The production was so successful, it was nearly sold out before it opened.  Two years later, the Rep reprised it.  There were some different design elements as well as a largely different cast. Wilkerson returned as did Ohren, Dugger, Gordon, Knight, Napper, Alford,  Petrus, and Kagy.

New Titles and Old Favorites Mark Celebrity Attractions 2018-2019 season in Little Rock

The 2018-2019 season marks 20 years that Celebrity Attractions has been bringing touring Broadway shows to Little Rock.  Next season’s lineup consists of five musicals including the return of some old favorites and two shows which are new to Little Rock but bring familiar characters.

CA1819JBUp first is JERSEY BOYS, the 2006 Tony winner for Best Musical.  Telling the story of the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, it makes a return visit to Little Rock from October 12 to 14.

Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the Tony Award®-winning true-life musical phenomenon, JERSEY BOYS. From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s just too good to be true.

CA1819LNDNext is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s LOVE NEVER DIES.  This is the long-anticipated sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.  It will be on stage at Robinson Center from November 20 to 25, 2018.

Ten years after disappearing from the Paris Opera House, The Phantom has a new life in New York where he lives amongst the joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island. Christine Daaé, now one of the world’s finest sopranos, is coming to perform in New York. In a final bid to win back Christine’s love, The Phantom lures her, Raoul, and their young son to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island… not knowing what is in store for them….

CA1819FNAnother familiar character returns to Robinson in a new show when Peter Pan comes back. This time, it is FINDING NEVERLAND which explores the origins of the Peter Pan story.  It will be at Robinson on December 22 and 23.

Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland, where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever. The magic of Barrie’s classic tale springs spectacularly to life in this heartwarming theatrical event.

CA1819EThe music of Andrew Lloyd Webber returns to Robinson for the second time in the season with EVITA.  Winner of the 1980 Tony for Best Musical, this show (with book and lyrics by Tim Rice) will be at Robinson from March 15 to 17, 2019.

Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world—while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. Evita tells Eva’s passionate and unforgettable true story, and features some of theater’s most beautiful songs, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying, Adored.”

TCA1819SOMhe last show of the Celebrity Attractions season at Robinson Center is the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II classic THE SOUND OF MUSIC.  Winner of the 1960 Tony for Best Musical, it will be at Robinson Center from May 24 to 26, 2019.

This classic musical is 59 going on 60 in the year 2019.  With a book by Pulitzer winners Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Robinson Center will truly be alive with the sound of music.  The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award®-winning Best Score, including My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Edelweiss and the title song.

Tickets will go on sale first to current subscribers and then to new subscribers.  Individual tickets will go on sale closer to each show’s arrival in Little Rock.  Information is available at the Celebrity Attractions website.

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.

Single Tickets On Sale at Ark Rep on Monday

ScottishPlayThe 2015-2016 season is the 40th one for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The audience gets the gifts.  It is not too late to subscribe, but for those wanting single tickets, the wait is almost over.  Single tickets go on sale on Monday, August 17.

The season kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Scottish play about the Thane of Cawdor and his wife Lady M. The cauldron the witches stir is not the only toil and trouble on the heaths and moors of Scotland.  It will run September 11-27.

SpellingBeeNext up is the Tony winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This tuneful, witty musical with book by Rachel Sheinkin and songs by William Finn, will play from October 16 to November 8.

TheLittleMermaidDisney’s The Little Mermaid will be the holiday show running from December 4 to January 3.  It will be a regional premiere of this musical featuring a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Doug Wright and a score by the Oscar winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater.

Starcatcher2016 will start off with another regional premiere–Peter and the Starcatcher.  This prequel to the Peter Pan stories is by Rick Elice. Though a play, it does have some songs by Wayne Barker and Elice.  This winner of  five Tony Awards will be on stage from January 15 to February 7.

BridgesThe regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County will take place on the Arkansas Rep stage from April 8 to May 1.  This musical has a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Marsha Norman.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 11.49.51 AMThe main stage season will conclude with a world premiere play Windfall.  Directed by Tony winner Jason Alexander, this comedy by Scooter Pietsch looks at greed among a group of office workers.  It will run from June 10 to 26.

The artwork for the shows for the 40th anniversary season was created by Marty Baragiola of Baragiola Creative.

Robinson Redux – April

RCMH AprilWhile Robinson Center Music Hall is closed for renovations, the Culture Vulture is taking a monthly look at past performances. Today’s entry looks at Aprils from 1940 to 2010 in years that end in a “0” or “5.”

Edward Everett Horton kicked off April 1940 at Robinson Auditorium on the 1st with the comedy Springtime for Henry. The performance was marred by the sound of the new building’s air conditioning system, which was being used for the first time during a performance.  Five years later, on April 1, 1945, the auditorium was home to An Evening of Sigmund Romberg which featured the composer in person with performers singing some of his songs.  April 1945 also saw a performance of Earl Carroll Vanities (the 3rd) and Carmen featuring the Metropolitan Opera singers (the 16th.)

Tenor James Melton performed on April 25, 1950.  In April 1955, the lineup included William Bendix in The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial on the 23rd. The next night the Spring Music Festival took place. It featured school children performing.

On April 25 1960, The Coasters, Bo Diddley, LaVerne Baker and others. The month ended with a youth concert aimed at children. April 1970 included a production of Arthur Miller’s The Price (the 6th), the Southwest Regional Ballet Festival (April 11) and drummer Buddy Rich (April 18).  In April 1975 (the 6th) Hair returned to Robinson for one performance. This time there was no controversy such as had met the first visit a few years earlier.

April 1985 was very busy. On the 13th, there was a Ballet Festival Gala. April 20 & 21 featured an Arkansas Symphony Orchestra classical concert.  A touring production of the musical Gigi performed on the 22nd.  It starred Louis Jourdan (who had appeared in the Oscar winning film, albeit in a different part), Betsey Palmer and Taina Elg. The ASO was back on April 28 with a children’s music concert.

Cathy Rigby flew into Robinson Center with a tour of Peter Pan from April 10 to 12.  On April 4, 1995, the Community Concert Association brought the Russian Seasons Dance Company for a performance.  The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performed Verdi’s Requiem Mass in Memory of Manzoni on April 8 & 9, 1995. Singer Millie Jackson wrote and appeared in the play Young Man, Older Woman, which played on April 30 of that year.

Several Contemporary Christian music acts performed on April 3. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra closed their 1999-2000 season on April 8 & 9 with a concert featuring Carolyn Brown on flute. On April 27, 2000, President Clinton headlined a memorial service for civil rights activist Daisy Bates.

April 2005 was full of a variety of performances. Natalie Cole was in concert on April 3 with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  On William Shatner narrated David Itkin’s Exodus with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra on April 9 & 10, 2005. Arkansan Kyle Dean Massey starred in the tour of 42nd Street which started its performances at Robinson Center on April 18, 2005. In conjunction with an exhibit at the Old State House Museum, a gospel concert featuring the Racy Brothers and the Hunter Brothers closed out April 2005 on the 30th.

David Itkin bid farewell to conducting the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in April 10 & 11, 2010, with a performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.  On April 15, the Electrify Your Strings! concert took place. Comedian Gabriel Iglasias and his Fluffy Shop Tour stopped at Robinson on April 24.

A Year Long Party for Arkansas Rep 40th Season

The 2015-2016 season is the 40th one for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. The audience gets the gifts.

The season kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Scottish play about the Thane of Cawdor and his wife Lady M. It will run September 11-27.

Next up is the Tony winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This tuneful, witty musical with book by Rachek Sheinkin and songs by William Finn, will play from October 16 to November 8.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid will be the holiday show running from December 4 to January 3.  It will be a regional premiere of this musical featuring a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Doug Wright and a score by the Oscar winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Glenn Slater.

2016 will start off with another regional premiere–Peter and the Starcatcher.  This prequel to the Peter Pan stories is by Rick Elice. Though a play, it does have some songs by Wayne Barker and Elice.  This winner of  five Tony Awards will be on stage from January 15 to February 7.

The regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County will take place on the Arkansas Rep stage from April 8 to May 1.  This musical has a Tony winning score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Pulitzer and Tony winner Marsha Norman.

The main stage season will conclude with a world premiere play Windfall.  Directed by Tony winner Jason Alexander, this comedy by Scooter Pietsch looks at greed among a group of office workers.  It will run from June 10 to 26.

The Rep also has three special offerings during the 2015-2016 year.

From February 11-14, Rebecca Wells, author of the “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” novels will present a one-woman show about the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

The Summer Musical Theatre Intensive production will be called Broken Wings and will play from March 1-12 of 2016.

From May 3-15 the Second City will return to Little Rock for Second City: Hooking Up. 

The Rep’s 40th season features comedy, tragedy and musicals spanning from Elizabethan times to world premieres.  It truly is a showcase of the Rep’s mission and the breadth and depth of the Rep’s commitment to bringing great stories to life for Little Rock audiences.

Fan Favorite Finalists announced by Arkansas Rep

rep fan favesLast week the people spoke.  The results are in.

In preparation for the 40th anniversary season, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre asked its fans which title from the previous 39 years they wanted to see return.

The results have been tabulated.  The top five (plus one bonus) are: Next to Normal (from 2011-2012 season), To Kill  a Mockingbird (from 1997-1998 and 2011-2012 season), West Side Story (from 1994-1995 season), Peter Pan (from 1994-1995 and 1996-1997 seasons), Amadeus (from 1995-1996 season) and God’s Man in Texas (from 2003-2004 season).

It is interesting to note that three are plays and three are musicals.  Two of the titles are from the 1950s, one from the 1980s, two from the 1990s and one from the 2000s. These represent the breadth and depth of the Arkansas Rep as it has been fulfilling its mission of presenting plays and musicals both recent and classic.

One of these titles will be part of the 2015-2016 season. But the final result won’t be known until Bob Hupp announces the 40th anniversary season in the spring of 2015.