US premiere of play THE ROOSTER REBELLION at the Weekend Theater

Image may contain: one or more people and text

The Weekend Theater will stage The Rooster Rebellion by Little Rock playwright Anthony Mariani on Aug. 30-Sept. 8 at the theater, 1001 W. 7th St. in Little Rock.

Show dates are Aug. 30, 31, Sept. 1, Sept. 6, 7, 8. The Sept. 1 matinee starts at 3 p.m.; the Sept. 8 matinee starts at 2:30 p.m. All other shows start at 7:30 p.m.

The story takes place in fall 2015 and summer 2016 in London. Reese Anne, a London teenager, runs away from home to help her ex-history teacher, Shell, who is homeless. They busk by day in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. At night, they live in an underground abandoned tube station, where she tries to create a utopian homeless society, which falls apart on the eve of the Brexit vote.​​​​​

Mariani also directs The Rooster Rebellion, which makes its U.S. debut at The Weekend Theater. The play was staged in 2016 at The Drayton Arms Theatre in Kensington, London, and at The Edinburgh Fringe. In 2017, the play received a third-place award in the London Film Awards Stage Play competition and received third place for best stage play competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2017.

Tickets cost $16 for adults and $12 for students, seniors and military. To reserve online, visit centralarkansastickets.com.

For more information, visit weekendtheater.org or call 501-374-3761.

Experience Life on AVENUE Q at The Weekend Theater

Image may contain: text

The Weekend Theater kicks off its 2019-2020 season with the Tony Award-winning musical AVENUE Q, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty.  The original production was directed by Fayetteville native Jason Moore, who received a Tony nomination for his work on the show.

Avenue Q runs June 14-30 at the theater, 1001 W. 7th St. Show dates are June 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30. Sunday matinees starts at 2:30 p.m. All other shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Often described as Sesame Street-meets-South Park, “Avenue Q” conveys life’s tough lessons through the trials and tribulations of Princeton, a bright-eyed college graduate, who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q, where he and his new friends struggle to find jobs, dates and their ever-elusive purpose in life.

Due to language and adult situations, like full-puppet nudity, “Avenue Q” may be inappropriate for children under 17.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $18 for students, seniors and military. To reserve online, visit centralarkansastickets.com

For more information, visit weekendtheater.org or call 501-374-3761.

Laugh. Cry. Think. Act. with 2019-2020 season of The Weekend Theater.

The Weekend Theater’s 27th season kicks off with AVENUE Q (June 14-30).  The winner of the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical (as well as Tonys for Book of a Musical and Score), tells of life on Avenue Q for a group of twenty something humans and puppets.This is definitely NOT like puppet shows from childhood.

Next is the Arkansas premiere of Stephen Adley Guirgis’ Pulitzer Prize winning play BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY (July 26 to August 11).   Ex-cop and recent widower Walter “Pops” Washington and his newly paroled son Junior have spent a lifetime living between Riverside and crazy.

Anthony Mariani’s THE ROOSTER REBELLION (August 30 to September 8) is up next.  The story takes place in fall 2015 and summer 2016 in London. Reese Anne, a London teenager, runs away from home to help her ex-history teacher, Shell, who is homeless. They busk by day and at night seek to create a utopian homeless society, which falls apart on the eve of the Brexit vote.​​​​​

Cult classic SIDE SHOW (October 11 – 27) tells the story of Daisy and Violet. Conjoined twins, they are forced to be entertainers in a side show. As they struggle with very human emotions, they also must grapple with the fact that people see them as freaks.  With a lush score and colorful characters, it is a show that stays with audiences long after the lights come up.

2019 marks the 60th anniversary of Lorraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN (December 5-21). It tells the story of the Younger family as they make decisions about the best way to use money left to them.  Each member of the three generations has their own dreams, and sometimes they clash with the wishes of others.    This moving, explosive, and often humorous play seeks to answer the question, “what happens when a dream is deferred.”

2020 gets going with GOOD KIDS. by Naomi Iizuka (January 9 – 26).  Something happened to Chloe after that party last Saturday night. Something she says she can’t remember. Something everybody is talking about. Set at a Midwestern high school, in a world of Facebook and Twitter, smartphones and YouTube,It explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong and its very public aftermath.

Lynn Nottage’s SWEAT (Feb 14 – 29) won the Pulitzer Prize in 2017. It looks at the toll a factory closure has on a town and the friendships of the people who once worked in it.  Filial and familial bonds are tested as loyalties come into question and long-held beliefs are questioned. This gritty and compelling play has been described as one of the best ways to understand the different views voters held in the 2016 elections.

Regina Taylor’s CROWNS (March 20 – April 5) is a celebration of hats and the women who wear them.  Each hat holds a story of a wedding, funeral, baptism as a group of women share their stories of how they moved through life’s struggles. The hats aren’t just a fashion statement – they are testimonies of sisterhood – they are hard earned Crowns.

Paul Rudnick’s hilarious comedy of manners REGRETS ONLY (APril 24 to May 3) explores the latest topics in marriage, friendships and squandered riches. The setting: a Park Avenue penthouse. The players: a powerhouse attorney, his deliriously social wife and their closest friend, one of the world’s most staggeringly successful fashion designers. Add a daughter’s engagement, some major gowns, the president of the United States, and stir.

David Mamet’s RACE (May 15 – 24) explores and explodes various perspectives on race and justice.   Two lawyers find themselves defending a wealthy white executive charged with raping a black woman. When a new legal assistant gets involved in the case, the opinions that boil beneath explode to the surface. Mamet turns the spotlight on what we think but can’t say, dangerous truths are revealed, and no punches are spared.

More informaiton can be found at the Weekend Theater website.

Little Rock Look Back: HAIR brings Age of Aquarius to Robinson Center

Ad for the original production of HAIR in Little Rock. Note the ticket prices. And that they could be purchased at Moses Music Shops.

Forty-seven years ago today, on January 18, 1972, the musical Hair settled in for a week-long run at Robinson Auditorium.  The saga to bring the national tour to Little Rock had actually begun eleven months earlier.

In February 1971, a young Little Rock attorney named Phil Kaplan petitioned the Little Rock Board of Censors to see if it would allow a production of Hair to play in the city. He was asking on behalf of a client who was interested in bringing a national tour to Arkansas’ capital city. The show, which had opened on Broadway to great acclaim in April 1968 after an Off Broadway run in 1967, was known for containing a nude scene as well for a script which was fairly liberally sprinkled with four-letter words. The Censors stated they could not offer an opinion without having seen a production.

By July 1971, Kaplan and his client (who by then had been identified as Southwest Productions) were seeking permission for a January 1972 booking of Hair from the City’s Auditorium Commission which was charged with overseeing operations at Robinson Auditorium. At its July meeting, the Commissioners voted against allowing Hair because of its “brief nude scene” and “bawdy language.”

Kaplan decried the decision. He stated that the body couldn’t “sit in censorship of legitimate theatrical productions.” He noted courts had held that Hair  could be produced and that the Auditorium Commission, as an agent for the State, “clearly can’t exercise prior censorship.” He proffered that if the production was obscene it would be a matter for law enforcement not the Auditorium Commission.

The Commission countered that they had an opinion from City Attorney Joseph Kemp stating they had the authority. One of the Commissioners, Mrs. Grady Miller (sister-in-law of the building’s namesake the late Senator Robinson, she had served on the Commission since 1940), expressed her concern that allowing Hair would open the door to other productions such as Oh! Calcutta!

On July 26, 1971, Southwest Productions filed suit against the Auditorium Commission. Four days later there was a hearing before federal Judge G. Thomas Eisele. Judge Eisele offered a ruling on August 11 which compelled the Auditorium Commission to allow Hair to be performed. Prior to the ruling, some of the Auditorium Commissioners had publicly stated that if they had to allow Hair, they would close it after the first performance on the grounds of obscenity. To combat this, Judge Eisele stated that the Commission had to allow Hair to perform the entire six day engagement it sought.

Upon hearing of the Judge’s ruling, Commissioner Emily Miller offered a succinct, two word response. “Oh, Dear!”

In the end, the production of Hair at Robinson would not be the first performance in the state.  The tour came through Fayetteville for two performances in October 1971 at Barnhill Arena.

On January 18, 1972, Hair played the first of its 8 performances over 6 days at Robinson Auditorium.  In his review the next day, the Arkansas Gazette’s Bill Lewis noted that Hair “threw out all it had to offer” and that Little Rock had survived.

The ads promoting the production carried the tagline “Arkansas will never be the same.”  Tickets (from $2 all the way up to $8.50–the equivalent of $12 to $51 in 2019 dollars) could be purchased at Moses Melody Shops both downtown and in “The Mall” (meaning Park Plaza). That business is gone from downtown, but the scion of that family, Jimmy Moses, is actively involved in building downtown through countless projects. His sons are carrying on the family tradition too.

Little Rock was by no means unique in trying to stop productions of Hair.  St. Louis, Birmingham, Los Angeles, Tallahassee, Boston, Atlanta, Charlotte NC, West Palm Beach, Oklahoma City, Mobile and Chattanooga all tried unsuccessfully to stop performances in their public auditoriums.  Despite Judge Eisele’s ruling against the City of Little Rock, members of the Fort Smith City Council also tried to stop a production later in 1972 in that city. This was despite warnings from City staff that there was not legal standing.

Within a few years, the Board of Censors of the City of Little Rock would be dissolved (as similar bodies also were disappearing across the US). Likewise, the Auditorium Commission was discontinued before Hair even opened with its duties being taken over by the Advertising and Promotion Commission and the Convention & Visitors Bureau staff.  This was not connected to the Hair decision; it was, instead, related to expanding convention facilities in Robinson and the new adjacent hotel.  Regardless of the reasons for their demise, both bygone bodies were vestiges of earlier, simpler and differently focused days in Little Rock.

First 2019 play for The Weekend Theater – THE RUNNER STUMBLES

Image may contain: 2 peopleThe Weekend Theater starts 2019 with a mystery.

A young nun has died under mysterious circumstances in a remote parish in northern Michigan, and her superior, Father Rivard, has been charged with her murder. The action alternates between interrogations, testimony, and scenes from the past.

The relationship which forms, inevitably, spells tragedy, but not until the end of the play in which the extent of their sacrifice is made clear and the identity of the murderer is revealed.

This play, by Milan Stitt, has been captivating audiences since it premiered at Hartford Stage in the 1970s. It is directed by: Laurel Burnette

The cast includes Chad Fulmer, Laura Landers, Drew Ellis, Elizabeth Reha, Mikhala Denney, Leigh Baker, Lee Hill, Jerry Green, and Matt White.

The production runs for eight performances over three weeks.

  • Friday, January 11 – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, January 12 – 7:30pm
  • Friday, January 18 – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, January 19 – 7:30pm
  • Sunday, January 20 – 2:30pm
  • Thursday, January 24 – 7:30pm
  • Friday, January 25 – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, January 26 – 7:30pm

The Box Office and the theater open one (1) hour prior to curtain. The House opens 30 minutes prior to curtain. Please arrive promptly. There will be no late admission. No Refunds or Exchanges

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Pulitzers Play Little Rock: THREE TALL WOMEN at the Weekend Theatre

IMG_0277

Photo by Karen E. Segrave

Edward Albee received his third Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for THREE TALL WOMEN.  It not only marked his return to the Pulitzer fold, it was his first critical success in nearly two decades.

In April 2001, the Weekend Theatre presented the play.  Directed by John Haman, the play featured Glenda Hope Fortenbury, Deb Lewis and Sue Diaz as C, B, and A, respectively — the trio of the title.   The relationships between the characters may or may not change in the play.  As with most Albee plays, much is enigmatic.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.