Rocking the Tony Awards – Past Tony nominees at Arkansas Rep

Photo by Peter Kramer/ Getty Images Entertainment

The 72nd Tony Awards take place on Sunday, June 10 at Radio City Music Hall (broadcast on CBS).

Over the years, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has had several Tony nominees work on stage and backstage.

Among these are:

Julie Andrews, who headlined a 2002 fundraiser for Arkansas Rep.  That evening she shared stories about her life and career.  A two-time Tony Award host, she has been nominated three times for Actress in a Musical: My Fair Lady (1957), Camelot (1961) and Victor/Victoria (1996).

Jane Lanier, who choreographed Ring of Fire at Arkansas Rep.  In 1989, she was nominated as Featured Actress in a Musical for her work in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.  

Mercedes McCambridge, who appeared in ‘night, Mother at the Rep in the spring of 1986.  She was nominated as Featured Actress in a Play for The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks for the 1972 awards.

Austin Pendleton, who directed A Loss of Roses at Arkansas Rep.  After appearing in the original cast of Tony winning Best Musical Fiddler on the Roof, he later received a Tony nomination for directing the 1981 revival of The Little Foxes which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Maureen Stapleton.

Jane Summerhays, who starred in the Arkansas Rep production of A Loss of Roses.  In 1987, she was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical for Me and My Girl.

John Tartaglia, who directed 2013’s Because of Winn Dixie.  He was nominated for the 2004 Tony for Actor in a Musical for his performance in Avenue Q.

Japhy Weideman, who was the Rep’s lighting designer in the early 2000’s.  While he was at the Rep, he lit several shows including The Grapes of Wrath, All My Sons and God’s Man in Texas.  He has received Tony nominations for lighting design for his work on The Nance (2013), Of Mice and Men (2014), Airline Highway (2015), The Visit (2015), and Dear Evan Hansen (2017).

The fact that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has been able to work with theatre artists of this calibre is a testament to the quality of work it has produced.  Giving the opportunity for Arkansas audiences to have this interaction without leaving the state is one of the values of the Rep.

Repertorium Praeter Theatrum

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Arkansas Heritage Month – Robert Hupp

HuppRobert Hupp is in his final months of his seventeenth and final season as producing artistic director of Arkansas Rep.  In recognition of all of his service and artistic excellence, in 2013 he was the Individual Artists recipient of the Governor’s Arts Awards.

During his tenure in Little Rock, Hupp has overseen continued growth and development at The Rep. Since he assumed the producing artistic director’s position in 1999, the theatre has tripled its budget (currently at $4 million annually), increased contributed income by 100%, completed a successful capital campaign, and broadened the company’s artistic and economic base through co-productions with other nonprofit theatres and partnerships with institutions of higher education and community organizations. Under Hupp’s leadership, the theatre and actor housing apartments underwent a complete renovation in 2011. The Rep also renovated a new downtown scenic construction facility and recently opened The Annex, a black box theatre and education space, in Main Street’s Creative Corridor.

Hupp’s artistic stewardship at The Rep has been marked by seasons that reflect the great diversity of the theatrical canon. Shakespeare and American classics join new and contemporary works, and seasons always include musicals or plays with music. The current season contains the regional theatre premiere of The Bridges of Madison County, a new adaptation of The Little Mermaid, as well as a new comedy, Windfall, directed by Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander. The theatre also recently produced a new musical, Because of Winn Dixie, by Duncan Sheik and Nell Benjamin. Hupp has directed 28 productions while at The Rep, including The Grapes of Wrath, God’s Man in Texas, Les Miserables, August: Osage County, and all of The Rep’s recent Shakespearean productions.

In addition to his duties at The Rep, Hupp has shown a strong commitment to serving the central Arkansas community. He has served on numerous civic committees in Little Rock, including Little Rock’s Arts and Culture Commission, the Advisory Board of the ACANSA Arts Festival, and Vision Little Rock. He has collaborated with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Wildwood Park for the Arts, and the Arkansas Arts Center.  In 2012, he was named “Nonprofit Executive of the Year” at the Arkansas Business of the Year Awards, and also received the Arkansas Public Relations Society of Arkansas (PRSA) Diamond Award. Hupp has also been a panelist and on-site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts and has served in various capacities for the Theatre Communications Group, including a term as vice president of the Board of Directors. Hupp has taught and directed at several Arkansas colleges and universities, including Hendrix College, University of Central Arkansas, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock where he also served as the Interim Chair of the Department of Theatre in 2005.

My Favorite Banned Books

BBW15_518x800This is Banned Books Week.  Here are some of my favorite banned books.  Heck, they are some of my favorite books period.

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  • All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  • The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  • A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  • Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  • A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  • A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Go to the Central Arkansas Library System or a bookstore and get a copy of one of these this week.  Or if you already own them all, read one this week.

Tony Awards Week – Japhy Weideman

Weideman

Weideman

Last month former Arkansas Rep resident lighting designer Japhy Weideman was recognized with an Obie Award for his continuous outstanding lighting design Off Broadway.  While he was at the Rep, he lit several shows including The Grapes of Wrath, All My Sons and God’s Man in Texas.

Sunday, Weideman is nominated for the Tony for Lighting Design of a Play for Airline Highway. He is also nominated for the Tony for Lighting Design of a Musical for The Visit.  In an even rarer feat, both shows opened the same night.  He is one of a handful of people to ever have two shows open on the same night.

Weideman was nominated in 2013 for Lighting Design of a Play for The Nance which starred Nathan Lane.  Last season he was nominated for his design of Of Mice and Men which starred James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton.

Other Broadway credits include The Snow Geese and a Lincoln Center production of The Scottish Play which starred Ethan Hawke.  This season he also designed the lighting for a revival of The Heidi Chronicles which starred Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs and Bryce Pinkham.   One of the producers of that revival was Little Rock native Will Trice.  Weideman and Trice will reunite next season in a revival of A. R. Gurney’s comedy Sylvia which is to star Tony winner (and current nominee) Julie White and two-time Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford.

Tony Awards Week – Tony Titles at Arkansas Rep

ark repNext year the Arkansas Repertory Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary season.  Since its first season, the Rep has often programmed plays and musicals which have been recognized with the Tony for Best Play or Best Musical of the season.

Many other Rep productions have been titles which have also won Tony Awards in some Broadway production.  But this list only looks at those which won or were nominated for the Tony for Best Play and Best Musical.

The first Rep production was The Threepenny Opera.  While it did not win the Tony for Best Musical, it goes on this list because it received a Special Tony in 1956 for its production.  The original production in the 1930s ran for just a few performances. So this production was not eligible for the Best Musical award. But it was so outstanding, it received a Special Tony.

That 1976-77 season also included a Best Play winner – The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, which took home the silver medallion for Best Play in 1966.

Rep SalesmanOther Tony Best Play winners produced by the Rep have been:

(Tony Year; Title; Rep season)

  • 1949 – Death of a Salesman – 2012-13
  • 1955 – The Diary of Anne Frank – 1977-78; 1981-82
  • 1960 – The Miracle Worker – 2004-05
  • 1963 – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – 1978-79
  • 1965 – The Subject Was Roses – 1981-82
  • 1973 – That Championship Season – 1984-85
  • 1979 – The Elephant Man – 2008-09
  • 1981 – Amadeus – 1995-96
  • 1984 – The Real Thing – 1986-87
  • 1985 – Biloxi Blues – 1987-88
  • 1986 – I’m Not Rappaport – 1989-90
  • 1987 – Fences – 2006-07
  • 1990 – The Grapes of Wrath – 2000-01
  • 1991 – Lost in Yonkers – 1994-95 (featuring future Tony winner Will Trice in the cast)
  • 1993 – Angels in America: Millennium Approaches – 1995-96; 1996-97
  • 1994 – Angels in America: Perestroika – 1996-97
  • 1997 – The Last Night of Ballyhoo – 1998-99
  • 1998 – Art – 2001-02
  • 2001 – Proof – 2002-03 (written by LR Hall graduate David Auburn)
  • 2005 – Doubt – 2007-08
  • 2008 – August: Osage County – 2014-15
  • 2010 – Red – 2013-14
  • 2012 – Clybourne Park – 2013-14

 

Next season the Rep will produce Peter and the Starcatcher which was nominated for Best Play in 2012.  Other Best Play nominees produced by the Rep include: Barefoot in the Park; Broadway Bound; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Crimes of the Heart; Frost/Nixon; The Gin Game; Glengarry Glen Ross; Having Our Say; Home; Lend Me a Tenor; A Lesson from Aloes; ‘Night, Mother; The Night of the Iguana; Noises Off; The Piano Lesson; The Rainmaker; A Raisin in the Sun; The Retreat from Moscow; Talley’s Folly; The 39 Steps; and A Walk in the Woods.

The Rep also produced House of Blue Leaves six years before it was nominated for Best Play at the Tonys. In addition, it produced All My Sons which received a Special Tony for playwright Arthur Miller at the first ceremony and is sometimes erroneously listed as being the Best Play of 1947. There was none that year.

 

THEREP_MEMPHIS (no credits)-page-001The 1971 Best Musical Company was part of the Rep’s inaugural season in 1976-77.  Other Tony Best Musicals winners produced by the Rep have been:

(Tony Year; Title; Rep season)

  • 1951 – Guys and Dolls – 1989-90
  • 1952 – The King and I – 2006-07
  • 1956 – Damn Yankees – 1999-2000
  • 1957 – My Fair Lady – 2004-05
  • 1960 – The Sound of Music – 2001-02
  • 1964 – Hello, Dolly! – 2007-08
  • 1967 – Cabaret – 2001-02
  • 1975 – The Wiz – 2011-12
  • 1976 – A Chorus Line – 2005-06
  • 1977 – Annie – 2002-03
  • 1978 – Ain’t Misbehavin’ – 1984-85; 2004-05
  • 1980 – Evita – 1989-90; 2010-11
  • 1986 – The Mystery of Edwin Drood – 1988-89
  • 1987 – Les Miserables – 2008-09; 2013-14
  • 2003 – Hairspray – 2010-11
  • 2004 – Avenue Q – 2012-13
  • 2010 – Memphis – 2014-15 (produced at Rep and on Broadway by LR native Remmel T. Dickinson)

In addition, the Rep has produced staged concert versions of 1958 Best Musical The Music Man and 1973 Best Musical A Little Night Music in collaboration with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Next season the Rep will produce The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee which was nominated for Best Musical in 2005.  Other Best Musical nominees produced by the Rep include: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Blues in the Night; Chicago; Dreamgirls; Five Guys Named Moe; The Full Monty; Gypsy; Into The Woods; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Mary Poppins;  Next to Normal; Oh What A Lovely War; Once On This Island; Peter Pan; Pump Boys and Dinettes; Quilters; Side by Side by Sondheim; Smokey Joe’s Café; Stop the World, I Want To Get Off; Sweet Charity; West Side Story; and The Who’s Tommy.

Don’t WAIT UNTIL the show is DARK – Final two performances of thriller at Arkansas Rep

THEREP_WAITUNTILDARK (no credits)-page-001Frederick Knott’s Tony-nominated thriller Wait Until Dark plays its final two performances today on the stage of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

This masterfully constructed tale of suspense will keep Rep audiences on the edge of their seat (but you still have to pay for the entire seat).

A sinister con man and two ex-convicts are about to meet their match. They have traced the location of a mysterious doll to the Greenwich Village apartment of Sam Hendrix and his wife, Susy. With murder afoot, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, as Susy discovers the only way to play fair is to play by her rules.

The cast is composed entirely of Rep veterans. It includes Amy Hutchins (It’s a Wonderful Life), Nate Washburn (Henry V), Michael Stewart Allen (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Romeo & Juliet), Robert Ierardi (Clybourne Park), Craig Maravich (Death of a Salesman), Michael Lowe (Les Miserables, Hairspray), David Tennal (Clybourne Park, Les Miserables), Reagan Hodson (Because of Winn Dixie), and Ella Moody (White Christmas).

The production is directed by Robert Hupp. Others on the production team include Mike Nichols (set), Marianne Custer (costumes), Yael Lubetzky (lighting), Allan Branson (sound), Lynda J. Kwallek (props), and D. C. Wright (fight choreography).

Show times are 2pm and 7pm.

No Longer a Wait – WAIT UNTIL DARK opens tonight at Arkansas Rep

THEREP_WAITUNTILDARK (no credits)-page-001Frederick Knott’s Tony-nominated thriller Wait Until Dark opens tonight on the stage of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

This masterfully constructed tale of suspense will keep Rep audiences on the edge of their seat (but you still have to pay for the entire seat).

A sinister con man and two ex-convicts are about to meet their match. They have traced the location of a mysterious doll to the Greenwich Village apartment of Sam Hendrix and his wife, Susy. With murder afoot, a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, as Susy discovers the only way to play fair is to play by her rules.

The cast is composed entirely of Rep veterans. It includes Amy Hutchins (It’s a Wonderful Life), Nate Washburn (Henry V), Michael Stewart Allen (Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Romeo & Juliet), Robert Ierardi (Clybourne Park), Craig Maravich (Death of a Salesman), Michael Lowe (Les Miserables, Hairspray), David Tennal (Clybourne Park, Les Miserables), Reagan Hodson (Because of Winn Dixie), and Ella Moody (White Christmas).

The production is directed by Robert Hupp. Others on the production team include Mike Nichols (set), Marianne Custer (costumes), Yael Lubetzky (lighting), Allan Branson (sound), Lynda J. Kwallek (props), and D. C. Wright (fight choreography).

The show runs through November 9th.  Show times are 7pm on Wednesday, Thursday and Sundays, 8pm on Friday and Saturday and 2pm on Sunday matinees.