Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Little Rock Look Back: Opening of the Arkansas Arts Center!

On Saturday, May 18, 1963, amidst fanfare and fans of the arts, the Arkansas Arts Center officially opened its doors.  (This was thirty-five years and three days after the Fine Arts Club had opened the first permanent art gallery in Arkansas in the Pulaski County Courthouse).

The dedication ceremonies on May 18 featured U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright (who was in the midst of championing what would soon be known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Congressman Wilbur Mills, Governor Orval Faubus, Little Rock Mayor Byron Morse, Winthrop Rockefeller and Jeanette Rockefeller.

On Friday, May 17, 1963, film star Gordon MacRae performed two separate concerts in the theatre space.  There were other assorted small events and tours on May 16 and 17.

The culmination of the weekend was the Beaux Arts Bal.  This black tie event, featured Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), James Rorimer of the Metropolitan Museum, and Dave Brubeck.  Chaired by Jeane Hamilton, the event set a new standard for events in Little Rock.

Among the exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center for the grand opening was a special exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Five Centuries of European Painting.  In Little Rock for six months, this exhibit featured works by El Greco, Titian, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Pierre Renoir, Paul Signac, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin among many others and spanned from the fifteenth century Early Renaissance era to the nineteenth century.

Prior to the opening, a profile on the Arts Center in The Christian Science Monitor touted the building as one of the first regional arts centers in the country to be completed. Benefiting from national ties of the Rockefeller family, the events in May 1963, set a high standard for the institution, and for other regional art museums.


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Arkansas Heritage Month – Celebrities and Celebrations open Arkansas Arts Center on May 18, 1963

AAC opening programOn Saturday, May 18, 1963, amidst fanfare and fans of the arts, the Arkansas Arts Center officially opened its doors.  (This was thirty-five years and three days after the Fine Arts Club had opened the first permanent art gallery in Arkansas in the Pulaski County Courthouse).

The dedication ceremonies on May 18 featured U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright (who was in the midst of championing what would soon be known as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Congressman Wilbur Mills, Governor Orval Faubus, Little Rock Mayor Byron Morse, Winthrop Rockefeller and Jeanette Rockefeller.

On Friday, May 17, 1963, film star Gordon MacRae performed two separate concerts in the theatre space.  There were other assorted small events and tours on May 16 and 17.

The culmination of the weekend was the Beaux Arts Bal.  This black tie event, featured Oscar winner Joan Fontaine, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), James Rorimer of the Metropolitan Museum, and Dave Brubeck.  Chaired by Jeane Hamilton, the event set a new standard for events in Little Rock.

Among the exhibits at the Arkansas Arts Center for the grand opening was a special exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Five Centuries of European Painting.  In Little Rock for six months, this exhibit featured works by El Greco, Titian, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Pierre Renoir, Paul Signac, Edgar Degas, and Paul Gauguin among many others and spanned from the fifteenth century Early Renaissance era to the nineteenth century.

Prior to the opening, a profile on the Arts Center in The Christian Science Monitor touted the building as one of the first regional arts centers in the country to be completed. Benefiting from national ties of the Rockefeller family, the events in May 1963, set a high standard for the institution, and for other regional art museums.


Pay a call on THE ADDAMS FAMILY at the Weekend Theater

twt-Addams-FamilyCue the finger snaps and help the Weekend Theater kick off their 2015-2016 season with the ghoulishly fun Tony nominated musical The Addams Family.  Based on the Charles Addams cartoons and incorporating aspects of the 1960s TV series, this original musical is by the authors of Jersey Boys and The Wild Party.

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).

The cast is led by Drew Ellis, Claudia Moskova Cremeens, Mackenzie Holtzclaw, Victor Basco, Dahren White, Ryan Whitfield, and Xavier Jones as the Addams household.  The guests are played by James West, Kristin Marts and Ethan Patterson.  Rounding out the cast are Emma Boone, Chloe Clement, Brian Earles, Kelsey Ivory, and Payton Justice.

The production is directed by Tom Crone with music direction by Lori Isner.  The show runs through July 28.  Performances are at 7:30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 on Sunday afternoons.  On Friday, June 19 the curtain time is 8pm.

 


69th Tony Awards wrap up (published on 6/9)

Tony Tony TonyThe 69th Tony Awards have been distributed. The medallions have been spun. Producers are already starting to think about their shows for the 70th ceremony in June 2016. And actors are auditioning for the next jobs.

While Little Rock’s Will Trice did not personally pick up another Tony this year, two of the Tony winners were for shows he produced.  Annaleigh Ashford won the Tony for Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in You Can’t Take It with You.  Christopher Oram won the Tony for Costume Design of a Play for Wolf Hall, Part One and Two.  Catherine Zuber, who won a Tony for her costume design of The King and I will be working with Trice next season on a production of Fiddler on the Roof.

One of the Tony Awards went to Bob Crowley and 59 Productions for Scenic Design of a Musical for An American in Paris.  Ben Pearcy is the American representative of 59 Productions.  Ben’s father grew up in Little Rock, and his grandmother Janet Pearcy was a longtime supporter of Wildwood, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Arkansas Rep.   One of Ben’s first Broadway projects was on the lighting design team of the Broadway revival of Chicago which earned him a mention from Ken Billington in his Tony acceptance speech.

Time will tell, but undoubtedly some of the titles nominated for Tonys will eventually be performed in Little Rock either at the Rep, on tour courtesy of Celebrity Attractions, or as part of one of the seasons of one of the volunteer theatre seasons. This month, on stage in Little Rock are 2008 Tony winning Best Play August: Osage County at the Rep, 2009 Tony nominee 9 to 5 at Community Theatre of Little Rock and 2010 Tony nominee The Addams Family.

A couple of more Little Rock connections to Sunday’s ceremony.  Nick Jonas, who appeared at the Clinton Center 10th anniversary concert, was one of the presenters at the ceremony. Darren Criss, who attended the Clinton Center 10th anniversary events, hosted a red-carpet preview program.

I went 19 for 24 in my predictions.

The ones I got right:

Play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens

Revival of a PlaySkylight

Revival of a Musical – The King and I

Actor, PlayAlex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Actress, Play – Helen Mirren, The Audience

Actor, MusicalMichael Cerveris, Fun Home

Featured Actress, Play – Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You

Direction, PlayMarianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Direction, MusicalSam Gold, Fun Home

ChoreographyChristopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Book of a MusicalLisa Kron, Fun Home

Original ScoreJeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron, Fun Home

OrchestrationsChristopher Austin, Don Sebesky, Bill Elliott, An American in Paris

Scenic Design, PlayBunny Christie & Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Scenic Design, MusicalBob Crowley & 59 Productions, An American in Paris

Costume Design, PlayChristopher Oram, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two

Costume Design, MusicalCatherine Zuber, The King and I

Lighting Design, PlayPaule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Lighting Design, MusicalNatasha Katz, An American in Paris

 

I missed:

Musical – Fun Home (I picked An American in Paris)

Actress, Musical – Kelli O’Hara, The King and I (I picked Kristen Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century)

Featured Actor, Play – Richard McCabe, The Audience (I picked Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall, Parts One and Two)

Featured Actor, Musical – Christian Borle, Something Rotten! (I picked Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century)

Featured Actress, Musical – Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I (I picked Judy Kuhn, Fun Home)

 


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.