Creative Class of 2015: Mark Binns

mark binnsComposer, arranger, vocal coach, musical director, pianist, teacher, performer.  Mark Binns is all of these things.

He has been involved with Arkansas Repertory Theatre for six seasons now as a keyboardist, musical director and composer. Mark has been the Rep’s musical director for White Christmas, Les Miz, Memphis, and Elf. He has is currently at work on their upcoming The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  For the Rep, he has also worked on their Summer Musical Theatre Intensive for several years.

In addition to the Rep, he often works with the Studio Theatre and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.  Other regional Musical Director credits include Hairspray, Oliver!, Cinderella, Pippin, The Last Five Years and Fiddler on the Roof. He has composed original music for the University of Central Arkansas’ production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and served as Vocal Director/Arranger for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Fantasy.

When not working on a show, he can often be found performing at the Lobby Bar, the Afterthought or any number of other venues in Little Rock.

DEATHTRAP, first show of CTLR 60th season, continues

CTLR DeathtrapThe Community Theatre of Little Rock begins its 60th Season with the Tony-nominated murder mystery Deathtrap by Ira Levin.  It opened on September 3rd and continues tonight, tomorrow afternoon at September 10-13th The Studio Theatre, 320 West 7th Street in downtown Little Rock.

Regular admission is $16 for adults and $14 for military, students (10yrs – College) and seniors age 65+. $6.00 for Children (4-9 yrs). Children age 3 and under are given free admission. Groups of 10 or more can get in for $14. Bring a pair of gently used running shoes and receive $1.00 off your admission.
Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a “dry” spell which has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. A possible break in his fortunes occurs when he receives a script from a student in the seminar he has been conducting at a nearby college—a thriller which Sidney recognizes immediately as a potential Broadway hit. Sidney’s plan, which he devises with his wife’s help, is to offer collaboration to the student, an idea which the younger man quickly accepts. Thereafter suspense mounts steadily as the plot begins to twist and turn with devilish cleverness, and with such an abundance of thrills and laughter, that audiences will be held enthralled until the final, startling moments of the play.
The cast includes Harold Dean, Jennifer Lamb, Jeremiah Elliott, Miki Thompson and Chris Boggs (who is also the producer). Jerry Woods is the director, and Karena White is the stage manager.
Performances on Thursday – Saturday ~ Box office opens at 6:30 pm, curtain rises at 7:30 pm.  Performances on Sundays ~ Box office opens at 1:00 pm, curtain rises at 2:00 pm.

Meshugga Klezmer Band tonight at The Studio Theatre

klezmerCome hear Arkansas’s premiere (maybe only) klezmer ensemble!!!

It all begins tonight at 7:30 pm at The Studio Theatre. For only a $10 cover, experience the joy of Meshugga Klezmer Band (Meshugga.org)

Meshugga Klezmer Band was formed in Little Rock in 1999 and has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and at Jewish food festivals, Juanita’s Cantina, Wildwood Park, the Afterthought Lounge, Acoustic Sounds Café, and private parties.  They have played on the stage of both the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium and the Ron Robinson Theater.

Klezmer music has eastern European Jewish folk roots and is characterized by the cantorial, vocal, often crying style reminiscent of Jewish prayer. Like the cantor, the lead musicians sob, laugh, and slide from note to note.

The musicians include:

  • Jim Harper: clarinet
  • Izzy Getzov: violin
  • Stephanie Smittle: vocals
  • Rand Retzloff: drums
  • Peter Miller: guitar
  • Casey Huie: Trombone
  • Roland Gladen: bass

 

Musical DOGFIGHT up next at The Studio Theatre – this weekend only

(LtoR) Koty Mansfield, Payton Justice, Ethan Patterson, Xavier Jones, Ben Mills, Chase Cundall

(LtoR) Koty Mansfield, Payton Justice, Ethan Patterson, Xavier Jones, Ben Mills, Chase Cundall

The Studio Theatre presents the regional premiere of Dogfight, a story of compassion, heartbreak and redemption adapted from the 1991 movie. With music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (James and The Giant Peach, A Christmas Story) and book by Peter Duchan, Dogfight offers audiences the winning combination of a great musical score, an unexpected love affair and a genuine soul.

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to the small but growing ‘little conflict’ in Southeast Asia (and unbeknownst to them, also the eve of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination), three young, fresh and cocky Marines are looking forward to one final night of partying. They set out to find the ugliest girl to bring to the “dogfight”, a cruel game where the men put up money for a party and a cash prize for whoever brings the ugliest girl. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win the cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion. Dogfight is a powerful and haunting musical about the end of the age of innocence in the 60’s.

Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical in 2013, Dogfight runs August 20- August 23 at The Studio Theatre located at 320 West 7th Street. Performances are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 20, 21 and 22, 2015 at 7 PM and Sunday August 23, 2015 at 2 PM. Ticket price is $20 for Adults and $15 for Students, Senior Citizens and military (with valid id). Seating is general admission. Tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com.

Due to mature themes, adult content and strong language, this production is not recommended for young children.

The cast is led by Ben Mills and Kayla Walker. Others in the cast include Payton Justice, Koty Mansfield, Bridget Davis, Ethan Patterson, Xavier Jones, Chase Cundall, James Norris, Georgeann Burbank and Jennifer Restum.  Rounding out the cast are Rachel Caffey, Brooke Melton and Hayley Coughlin.

The production is directed by Mark A. Burbank.  Bob Bidewell is the music director.  Others on the crative team include Hannah M. Sawyer, Anthony McBride, Stacey Johnson, Sarah Scott Blakey and Tye Davis.  Justin A. Pike is the Artistic Director of The Studio Theatre.

 

The Studio Theatre offers six musicals in 2015-2016; one show still remains in current season

studioThe Studio Theatre has announced the shows for their second season.

Up first, however, is Dogfight which will close out the first season.  Adapted from the 1991 movie of the same name, Dogfight is a story of compassion, heartbreak and redemption. Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical in 2013, Dogfight runs August 20- August 23 at The Studio Theatre located at 320 West 7th Street in downtown.

The 2015-2016 season includes six musicals.  Four of them will be making their Little Rock premieres. One of the other musicals will have its first non-touring production in Little Rock.

The new season kicks off on October 22 with a show filled with scary tales about the evils of doing bad. It is the satire Reefer Madness based on the non-satirical but unintentionally hilarious 1936 movie of the same name.

This musical, written by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, premiered in Los Angeles in 1998 and Off Broadway in 2001.  The Studio Theatre production will be directed by Ryan Whitfield.  The show will run from October 22 until October 31.

The Studio Theatre had a hit in 2015 with Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years.  In January 2016, they will present his first musical Songs for a New World.  This song cycle premiered Off Broadway in 1995 and has become a popular show throughout the US.  The musical style of the score varies broadly. The thing that unites the songs is the concept of making a choice or taking a stand.

The production will be directed by Monica Clark Robinson.  Songs for a New World will run January 21 to 24.

Once upon a time, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine wrote a musical based on the Grimm Brothers’ folk tales.  Into the Woods will be the third show next season.  Opening on Broadway in 1987, it may have lost the Tony for Best Musical to The Phantom of the Opera, but it has not suffered as a popular musical.

This production of Into the Woods will run from March 10 to 26.  It will be directed by Rafael Castanera, who beautifully directed Nine earlier this year.

Based on the Alice Walker novel and the Steven Spielberg movie, The Color Purple will be the fourth musical of the season.  Running from May 12 to 22, it will be directed by Crystal Mercer.

After it premiered in Atlanta in 2004, it made it to Broadway the following year.  The show has a book by Pulitzer winner Marsha Norman. The songs are by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.  The show was nominated for 11 Tonys and won one.

The 1980s hair bands will be honored by the 5th show as Rock of Ages takes the stage. Directed by Justin A. Pike, it will run from July 14 to 24. With a book by Chris D’Arienzo, the musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe.

Rock of Ages first played Off Broadway before transferring to Broadway.  It closed in January 2015 after playing more than 2300 performances on Broadway.

The final musical of the 2015-2016 season is James and the Giant Peach. Based on the Roald Dahl book, this musical features a score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.  The pair were nominated for a Tony for their score of the musical version of A Christmas Story.

This show will run from August 11 to 21.  It will be directed by Mark Burbank.  He is also directing Dogfight which features a score by Pasek and Paul.

(This is not connected to the production offered by the Arkansas Arts Center a few seasons back.)

Final Day of 2015 Little Rock Picture Show

LRPS-Sponsors-Poster-1024x663No rest for the weary!  The last day of the 2015 Little Rock Picture Show starts at 11am with Backyard Blockbusters at the Studio Theatre.  The Last Survivors starts at 11:15 at Vino’s.

The afternoon features four blocks of shorts:

  • Arkansas Shorts Block 1 – 1:30 – Studio Theatre
  • International Shorts Block 3 – 1:45 – Vino’s
  • International Shorts Block 2 – 3:45 – Vino’s
  • Arkansas Shorts Block 2 – 4pm – Studio Theatre

At 5:45, Aura will be shown at Vino’s.  The final two screenings will take place at the Studio Theatre with filmmaker David Allen in attendance.  At 6:15, Boo will be shown.  Dog Soldiers will close out the 2015 edition of the Little Rock Picture Show at 8:15.

Eleven hours of film and music today at Little Rock Picture Show

LRPS Mad MaxThe Little Rock Picture Show starts at 2:15 this afternoon and goes until past midnight.  It offers films and live music at three different venues in downtown.

This afternoon’s films are Apt 3D (2:15 – Studio Theatre), International Shorts Block 3 (3:15 – Public Theatre), Aura (3:30 – Vino’s) and International Shorts Block 1 (3:45 – Studio Theatre).

At 5:15, evening activities kick off with The Divine Tragedies at the Public Theatre. Arkansas Shorts Block 1 starts at 6pm at Vino’s.  At 6:30, Time Lapse starts at the Studio Theatre, while at 7:45 Capsule starts at the Studio Theatre.  A live performance of Mothwind, Feeble and Sol Inertia starts at 8pm at Vino’s.

At 8:45 Jackrabbit will be shown at the Studio Theatre.  Filmmakers Carleton Ranney, Destin Douglas and Rebecca Rose Perkins will be in attendance.  Madman Morgan takes the stage at 10:15 at the Public Theatre.  Around the corner, The Road Warrior will start at 11:15 at the Studio Theatre.