Black History Month – Lawrence Hamilton and Robinson Center

LawrenceHamiltonAnother notable former Little Rock performing artist who is memorialized at Robinson Center is Lawrence Hamilton.

The son of the Dr. Oscar and Mae Dell Hamilton, he was born in the small southwest Arkansas town of Foreman With an interest in music stemming from childhood, Hamilton earned a music scholarship to attend Henderson State University in Arkadelphia where he studied piano and voice He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.

From Arkansas, Hamilton traveled to Florida to work as a performer at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida where he would meet talent manager, Tommy Molinaro. This fateful meeting would prove to be a life-changing encounter, as Molinaro would invite Hamilton to come to New York to audition for the famed actor/director Geoffrey Holder. This marked the beginning of Hamilton’s bold and creative career in the performing arts, leading to performances on Broadway and on tours in Sophisticated Ladies, The Wiz,Uptown – Its Hot, Porgy and Bess, Big River, Play On!, and Jelly’s Last Jam among others. Perhaps his crowning achievement was starring in Ragtime.

Hamilton has been a member of the Southern Ballet Theater, Brooklyn Dance Theater, Ballet Tap USA, and the Arkansas Opera Theater He has performed in concert with the legendary Lena Horne at the White House for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, and at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Hamilton’s career also led to a stint as musical director for the renowned opera legend Jessye Norman, as well as vocal coach/arranger for the pop group New Kids on the Block

Upon his return to Arkansas, Hamilton served for several years as director of choral music at Philander Smith College. He also appeared in several plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and made numerous appearances on the stage of Robinson Center with the Arkansas Symphony and other groups.  In addition, he performed at countless concerts, benefits and galas throughout Arkansas.  In 2003, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was appointed to the Little Rock Mayor’s Task Force on Tourism.

Hamilton died in New York in April 2014 due to complications from surgery.  Just weeks prior to the surgery, he had appeared in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson in Cape Fear, North Carolina.  He had also starred in that play at Arkansas Rep a few years earlier.

RobinsoNovember: Lawrence Hamilton

LawrenceHamiltonAnother notable former Little Rock performing artist who is memorialized at Robinson Center is Lawrence Hamilton.

The son of the Dr. Oscar and Mae Dell Hamilton, he was born in the small southwest Arkansas town of Foreman With an interest in music stemming from childhood, Hamilton earned a music scholarship to attend Henderson State University in Arkadelphia where he studied piano and voice He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.

From Arkansas, Hamilton traveled to Florida to work as a performer at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida where he would meet talent manager, Tommy Molinaro. This fateful meeting would prove to be a life-changing encounter, as Molinaro would invite Hamilton to come to New York to audition for the famed actor/director Geoffrey Holder. This marked the beginning of Hamilton’s bold and creative career in the performing arts, leading to performances on Broadway and on tours in Sophisticated Ladies, The Wiz,Uptown – Its Hot, Porgy and Bess, Big River, Play On!, and Jelly’s Last Jam among others. Perhaps his crowning achievement was starring in Ragtime.

Hamilton has been a member of the Southern Ballet Theater, Brooklyn Dance Theater, Ballet Tap USA, and the Arkansas Opera Theater He has performed in concert with the legendary Lena Horne at the White House for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, and at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Hamilton’s career also led to a stint as musical director for the renowned opera legend Jessye Norman, as well as vocal coach/arranger for the pop group New Kids on the Block

Upon his return to Arkansas, Hamilton served for several years as director of choral music at Philander Smith College. He also appeared in several plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  In addition, he performed at countless concerts, benefits and galas throughout Arkansas.  In 2003, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was appointed to the Little Rock Mayor’s Task Force on Tourism.

Hamilton died in New York in April 2014 due to complications from surgery.  Just weeks prior to the surgery, he had appeared in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson in Cape Fear, North Carolina.  He had also starred in that play at Arkansas Rep a few years earlier.

Broadway Rocks the Arkansas Symphony this weekend

ASO NewThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra welcomes Christiane Noll, Capathia Jenkins and Rob Evan for a weekend of Broadway music backed by the ASO.

Under the direction of Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson, this high energy show brings together exciting vocalists from the Broadway stage performing selections from rock and contemporary Broadway hits. Wicked, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Rent, The Wiz, The Phantom of the Opera – and many more of your favorites from the stage are featured on this exciting show for all ages!

Act I

  • Rocks Overture (arr. Fleischer)
  • Everybody Rejoice (The Wiz/Smalls)
  • This Is The Moment (Jekyll and Hyde/Wildhorn)
  • Good Morning Baltimore (Hairspray/Shaiman)
  • Jersey Boys Medley
  • Total Eclipse Circle of Life (Lion King/John)
  • Proud Mary (Fogerty)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar Overture (Lloyd Webber)
  • Seasons of Love (Rent/Larsen)
  • You Can’t Stop the Beat (Hairspray/Shaiman)

INTERMISSION

Act II

  • Come Sail Away
  • For Good (Wicked/Schwartz)
  • Anthem (Chess/Andersson/Ulvaeus)
  • I Will Survive
  • Defying Gravity (Wicked/Schwartz)
  • Mamma Mia Medley (Andersson/Ulvaeus)
  • And I Am Tellin’ You (Dreamgirls/Krieger)            
  • Phantom of the Opera (Phantom/Lloyd Webber)
  • Music of the Night (Phantom/Lloyd Webber)

All programs, dates and guest artists subject to change.

Capathia Jenkins, created the role of ‘Medda’ in the hit Disney production of Newsies on Broadway. She made her Broadway debut in The Civil War. She then starred in the Off-Broadway 2000 revival of Godspell. She returned to Broadway in The Look of Love and was critically acclaimed for her performances of the Bacharach/David hits. Ms. Jenkins then created the roles of ‘The Washing Machine’ in Caroline, Or Change and ‘Frieda May’ in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, where she sang ‘Stop the Show’ and brought the house down every night.

Christiane Noll was nominated for both the 2010 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award and won a Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of Mother on Broadway in the Kennedy Center Revival of Ragtime. She made her Broadway debut starring in Jekyll & Hyde, creating the role of Emma. Ms. Noll received an Ovation Award for her comedic turn as Hope Cladwell in the National Tour of Urinetown, wowed audiences again as Vanna Vane in the new musical The Mambo Kings, soared as Jane Smart in the American premiere of The Witches of Eastwick, and most recently received another Drama Desk nomination for her work in Chaplin.

Rob Evan has performed in seven leading roles on the New York Stage including the original Broadway cast of Jekyll & Hyde, playing the title roles for three years and over 1,000 performances worldwide. He also appeared on Broadway as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Kerchak in Disney’s Tarzan, “The Dentist” in Little Shop of Horrors, and Count von Krolock in Jim Steinman’s Dance of the Vampires. Off-Broadway, Rob created the roles of The Dancin’ Kid in Johnny Guitar and the hero Miles Hendon in Neil Berg’s m.

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.

Black History Month Spotlight – Lawrence Hamilton

LawrenceHamiltonLawrence Hamilton, the son of the Dr. Oscar and Mae Dell Hamilton, was born in the small southwest Arkansas town of Foreman With an interest in music stemming from childhood, Hamilton earned a music scholarship to attend Henderson State University in Arkadelphia where he studied piano and voice He graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in music education.

From Arkansas, Hamilton traveled to Florida to work as a performer at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida where he would meet talent manager, Tommy Molinaro. This fateful meeting would prove to be a life-changing encounter, as Molinaro would invite Hamilton to come to New York to audition for the famed actor/director Geoffrey Holder. This marked the beginning of Hamilton’s bold and creative career in the performing arts, leading to performances on Broadway and on tours in Sophisticated Ladies, The Wiz, Uptown – Its Hot, Porgy and Bess, Big River, Play On!, and Jelly’s Last Jam among others. Perhaps his crowning achievement was starring in Ragtime.

Hamilton has been a member of the Southern Ballet Theater, Brooklyn Dance Theater, Ballet Tap USA, and the Arkansas Opera Theater He has performed in concert with the legendary Lena Horne at the White House for President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, and at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II. Hamilton’s career also led to a stint as musical director for the renowned opera legend Jessye Norman, as well as vocal coach/arranger for the pop group New Kids on the Block

Upon his return to Arkansas, Hamilton served for several years as director of choral music at Philander Smith College. He also appeared in several plays at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  In addition, he performed at countless concerts, benefits and galas throughout Arkansas.  In 2003, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was appointed to the Little Rock Mayor’s Task Force on Tourism.

Hamilton died in New York in April 2014 due to complications from surgery.  Just weeks prior to the surgery, he had appeared in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson in Cape Fear, North Carolina.  He had also starred in that play at Arkansas Rep a few years earlier.

For more on Lawrence Hamilton and other inductees into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, visit the permanent exhibit at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. That museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

 

While downtown for Race & Foodtrucks – Stop by Rep for Costume sale

Rep Costume saleA lot is happening downtown this Saturday. Race for the Cure, Food Truck Festival, and also the Arkansas Rep’s annual costume sale.

This is a chance to pick up a well-made, hand-crafted costume or prop or decoration for prices as low as $2.  You’ve seen it on stage at the Rep, and now you can wear it.

Halloween is around the corner.  Mardi Gras will be here in a few months.  Or maybe you just like escaping the woes of everyday life by throwing on a costume.  The Rep doesn’t question or judge.  Just be sure to stop by.  Among the shows whose clothes will be up for sale are Avenue Q, The Wiz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, A Chorus Line and White Christmas.  (And since Christmas will be here soon, this is a good chance to pick up things for holiday entertaining!)

All proceeds benefit the Rep’s production office.

So stop by the Rep from 10am to 1pm.  You’ll be in the neighborhood anyway enjoying post-race foodtruck food!

Olio Folio – Updates from the Rep, CALS and ASO

Today we take a look at updates on a variety of previous posts.

First – the Arkansas Repertory Theatre has extended The Wiz through April 8.  It was originally supposed to end on April 1, but an additional week has been added due to overwhelming ticket demand.  Up next at the Rep after The Wiz – the annual ArtWorks auction followed by Next to Normal and A Loss of Roses.

Next up  – March 13 proved to be lucky for the Central Arkansas Library System as voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot initiative for future library expansion.  The vote was 4,548 FOR to 699 Against.  Because interest rates are at historic lows, bonds will be refinanced which will generate an estimated $19 million. Planned projects include:

– adding thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, children’s material, Arkansas history/genealogy materials, online audiobooks, databases, and eBooks to the collection
– adding space to accommodate the growing collections and services provided by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
– adding approximately 250 new parking spaces on the Main Library campus
– expanding Internet capacity and adding more computers and other electronic devices
– expanding children and adult spaces at the McMath Library on John Barrow Road
– constructing a 350-seat auditorium on the Main Library campus for expanded programs for children and adults
– making miscellaneous improvements and repairs to various Little Rock branch libraries
– purchasing land in far west Little Rock for a future branch

 

Finally, the audience spoke at the recent Arkansas Symphony Orchestra “People’s Choice” Pops Concert.  The audience chose the following pieces to be performed:

Best Classical Composer
*Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 First Movement

Best Classic Film Score
*Lawrence of Arabia

Best Contemporary Film Score
*Titanic

Best Sci/Fi Soundtrack
*Star Wars

Best Animated TV Show
* “Looney Tunes”

Best TV Show
*“Mission Impossible”

Best Kids’ Pick
*Anastasia

Best Video Game
*The Legend of Zelda

Best Broadway Score
*The Phantom of the Opera