ASO announces program for annual Home for the Holidays concert

Home for the HolidaysOne month from today, on December 19, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will present its traditional holiday concert Home for the Holidays

ASO’s traditional holiday show is back for a one-night-only performance including music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter, music from the hit film Polar Express, and your favorites like “O Holy Night”, “Sleigh Ride”, and “It’s Beginning to look a Lot like Christmas!”

Vocalist Stephanie Smittle will be performing with the ASO for “It’s Beginning to look a Lot like Christmas,” “This Christmastide (Jessye’s Carol),” “O Holy Night,” and “Mary Did You Know.”

Tickets are $16, $36, $57, and $70; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Robinson Center street-level box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 1.

Artists
Israel Getzov, conductor
Stephanie Smittle, vocalist

Program
HOLST – In the Bleak Midwinter
TCHAIKOVSKY – Nutcracker Suite, Op 71a, “Waltz of the Flowers”
Arr. O’Loughlin – Christmas Canticles
WILLSON/Arr. Holcombe – It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas*
FRASER – This Christmastide (Jessye’s Carol)*
SILVESTRI/Brubaker – Polar Express Concert Suite
ANDERSON – Sleigh Ride
TORME/ Lowden – A Christmas Song
ADAM/ Ryden – O Holy Night*
LOWRY/SCHRADER – Mary Did You Know?*
O’NEILL/Phillips – Mad Russians’ Christmas
O’NEILL/Phillips – Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24

*denotes a song that Stephanie Smittle will be performing with the ASO

15 Years Ago, Little Rock gave Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T in her concert with ASO

On November 16, 2004, the rafters of Robinson Center Music Hall were shaken by the vocal prowess of Aretha Franklin.

She shared the Robinson stage with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  The ASO brought Miss Franklin to town as part of the festivities surrounding the opening of the presidential library.  Long a favorite of the Clintons, Miss Franklin sang at his 1993 inaugural festivities the night before he took the oath of office.

Resplendent in a series of white dresses, Miss Franklin was in top form feeding off the love from the audience.  While backstage she may have been dealing with back and knee issues (which the Culture Vulture saw first hand), when she stepped on to the stage she was giving her all as she rolled through hit after hit from her starry career.  She sang, she played the piano, she entertained!

It was a sold out house and her voice and energy reached the last row of the balcony.

Prior to her appearance, the ASO played a few selections including variations on “Hail to the Chief” and “America.”

Earlier in the day, I had the privilege of picking up several copies of Bill Clinton’s autobiography for her to get signed by him.  I delivered them to her as she was resting between rehearsals. She was preparing for an interview with Craig O’Neill, and I hated disturbing her. But I wanted to be sure she got the books.  She was gracious and very appreciative.

All is Right as tickets for THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG are now on sale for Little Rock performances

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, the hilarious Tony Award®-winning hit Broadway comedy, will make its Little Rock debut at Robinson Performance Hall March 28-29, 2020. Tickets are now on sale at Celebrity Attractions, by phone at 501.244.8800 or by visiting Ticketmaster.com.

Get thee to the theatre for this one!  The first time I read the script I nearly hyperventilated I was laughing so hard.  If you love NOISES OFF or Monty Python or laughing, you must see this play! – Scott Whiteley Carter

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is a riotous comedy about the theatre. The play introduces The ‘Cornley University Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920’s murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong…does, as the accident-prone thespians battle on against all odds to get to their final curtain call.

Entertainment Weekly calls THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG “Hilarious! Non-stop pandemonium.” The Huffington Post calls it “The funniest play Broadway has ever seen!” And the New York Post says it’s “Broadway’s funniest and longest-running play! Nothing is as fall down funny. GO.”

The Broadway production of THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG opened at the Lyceum Theatre on April 2, 2017 and by its closing on January 6, 2019 played 27 previews and 745 performances, making it the 2nd longest running show in the history of the Lyceum Theatre. Not yet done with New York, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG officially opened Off-Broadway on February 20, 2019 at New World Stages – Stage 4, where it continues delighting audiences. THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG received a Tony Award® for Best Set Design, Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Award for Best Play, and the Theater Fans Choice Award for Best Play.

Awarded the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy, 2014 WhatsOnStage Best New Comedy and 2015 UK BroadwayWorld Best New Play Awards, THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is now in its fifth year in the West End and playing on six continents. The producers have avoided Antarctica for fear of a frosty reception.

It is a remarkable rags-to-riches story for a play which started its life at a London fringe venue with only four paying members of the public at the first performance and has gone on to play to an audience of over 2 million people around the world.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG tour is directed by Matt DiCarlo with original Broadway direction by Mark Bell, featuring set design by Nigel Hook, lighting design by Ric Mountjoy, sound design by Andy Johnson and costume design by Roberto Surace.

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG is produced on Tour by Kevin McCollum, J.J. Abrams, Kenny Wax, Stage Presence Ltd., Catherine Schreiber, Ken Davenport, Double Gemini Productions / deRoy- Brunish, Damian Arnold / TC Beech, Greenleaf Productions / Bard-Roth, Martian Entertainment / Jack Lane / John Yonover, and Lucas McMahon.

 

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG will appear at Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock for four performances only March 28-29, 2020 (Saturday at 2pm & 7:30 pm, Sunday at 1pm & 6:30pm).  Tickets may be purchased in person at Celebrity Attractions, via phone at 501.244.8800 or online at Ticketmaster.com.  Groups of 10 or more receive a discount by calling 501.492.3312.

 

Ticket buyers are reminded that for Celebrity Attractions’ productions, Celebrity Attractions and Ticketmaster are the only official retail ticket outlets and the only way to guarantee that you are paying face value for legitimate tickets.  Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party should also be aware that Celebrity Attractions is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance.

Little Rock bids “HELLO” to Carol Channing in November 1966

53 years ago tonight, on November 15, 1966, Carol Channing opened a six day stint in HELLO, DOLLY! at Robinson Auditorium.  She would play 8 sold out shows over those six days.

Channing, who had won the 1964 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role in this show, had recently returned to the national tour.  She had just wrapped filming THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (for which she would receive an Oscar nomination). She had specifically requested that Little Rock be added to the tour.

Her breakout role was in 1949’s GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDS. In that show she introduced the song “Little Girl from Little Rock.”  Since it had helped make her a star, she had long felt an affinity for the Arkansas capital.  Therefore when she rejoined the tour, she required that LR be one of her stops before she left the tour.

While in Little Rock, Channing was entertained at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and feted at parties.  She was made an honorary citizen of Little Rock, as well.

But she was here to perform. And perform she did. She was rarely known to miss a performance and always gave her utmost.  Bill Lewis, in his review in the ARKANSAS GAZETTE, stated “To hear Channing sing ‘Hello, Dolly!’ Is one of the great experiences of all musical theater to date…”

In assessing the show’s run in Little Rock (which would be seen by more than 20,000 people), Lewis summed up what many felt at the time — and to hear the reminiscences from a half century later, it still is a heartfelt sentiment — “A week’s too little.”

Daisy Bates, born 105 years ago on Nov. 11, 1914

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates and her husband were important figures in the African American community in the capital city of Little Rock.  Realizing her intense involvement and dedication to education and school integration, Daisy was the chosen agent after nine black students were selected to attend and integrate a Little Rock High School.

Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they enrolled in 1957 at Little Rock Central High School. President Clinton presented the Little Rock Nine with the Congressional Gold Medal and spoke at the 40th anniversary of the desegregation while he was in office.

Daisy Bates was involved in more than the Little Rock Nine.  In January 1956, she led 27 African American students in their attempt to integrate four Little Rock schools.  While the efforts were not successful, they did serve to put the Little Rock School District on notice that the African American community was expecting action on school integration.

In 1959, she was arrested for refusing to provide City leaders with the membership of the local NAACP chapter. The case ended up going to the US Supreme Court as Daisy BATES et al., Petitioners, v. CITY OF LITTLE ROCK et al.  The decision had far-reaching impact in stopping government entities from requiring membership rolls as a means of intimidation or curbing the right of public assembly.

When Mrs. Bates died, a memorial service was held at Robinson Center on April 27, 2000.  Among the speakers were President Bill Clinton, Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, and Rev. Rufus K. Young, pastor of the Bethel AME Church.  Others in attendance included Lt. Gov. Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, Mayor Jim Dailey, Presidential diarist Janis Kearney, former senator and governor David Pryor, and five members of the Little Rock Nine:  Carlotta Walls Lanier, Ernest Green, Minnijean Brown Trickey, Jefferson Thomas, and Elizabeth Eckford.

It was during his remarks at the service that President Clinton announced he had asked that Bates’ south-central Little Rock home be designated as a national historic landmark.