TROOP ZERO and short films made by Arkansas teen girls highlight first night of Arkansas Cinema Society FILMLAND

Mckenna Grace in Troop Zero (2019)On August 22, Filmland’s curated programming officially gets underway with Troop Zero, which stars Viola Davis, McKenna Grace, Jim Gaffigan, and Allison Janney.

In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl dreams of life in outer space. When a competition offers her a chance to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime.

The film marks a reunion for Oscar winner (and Tony nominee) Janney with Oscar winner (and Tony winner) Davis who appeared in THE HELP.  It also reunites Janney and Grace, who appeared together in I, TONYA.

Before the film, “Ensemble” and “Justitia” two short films from the ACS Filmmaking Lab for Teen Girls will be screened.

After the film, there will be a Q&A moderated by ACS founder Jeff Nichols with writer Lucy Alibar and director BERT.

The showing is taking place at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater.  Doors open at 5:30pm for a 6:00pm screening.  The after-party will be at Buenos Aires Grill.

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Elvis Lives – or at least he will be on stage of Arkansas Rep in September with MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

August 16 marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.  (Or did he die?  Is he actually living in seclusion with JFK and others?)

In September, Elvis will come back to life as the Arkansas Repertory Theatre presents MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET.

Four musical legends. A one-in-a-million recording session.
On December 4, 1956, in the studios of Sun Records in Memphis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis gathered to meet with legendary producer Sam Philips. What happened next was pure rock and roll magic.

A casual introduction of Lewis to Perkins unexpectedly evolved into an epic jam session of country, gospel and rock classics, captured on tape but not released until 1981.

With a collection of hit songs that includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog,” this Tony Award-winning musical is guaranteed to blow the roof off!

The show, which won a Tony Award and was nominated for Best Musical, was written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux.  The Rep’s production is directed by Hunter Foster who played Sam Phillips in the original Broadway cast.
The production opens on September 6 and plays through October 6.

3 shows highlight Arkansas Rep’s Spring 2020 season!

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre, has announced its Spring 2020 Season. The new season, which begins in January 2020, marks the first productions selected under the leadership of Little Rock native Will Trice, the Rep’s new executive artistic director.
 
“The season is a trio of productions I think audiences are going to love,” Trice said, adding that in Fall 2020 The Rep will resume a full-season schedule on a school-year calendar. “We’ve got a Tony Award-winning icon in a tour-de-force performance; a visionary adaptation of a contemporary, best-selling novel; and undoubtedly the most fun of the classic musicals.”
 
Trice added: “These are three very different stories, each told in a very different way. But they are all uplifting, entertaining, and can only be experienced live at The Rep. I can’t wait to share this season with my hometown.”
 
The Spring 2020 Season starts with Ann. Written by Holland Taylor, the Rep’s production will star Tony winner Elizabeth Ashley as Texas Governor Ann Richards. Known for her no-holds barred approach, Ann Richards was opinionated and possessed a wicked sense of humor. Taylor’s script captures the essence of Richards. (When Taylor was still developing the play, she appeared at the Clinton School as part of the speaker series.)
 
Ashley, who won a Tony for Take Her, She’s Mine and has been nominated for Barefoot in the Park and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was most recently on Broadway in The Best Man. It will be directed by her frequent collaborator Michael Wilson. A Drama Desk Award winner, Wilson has directed two Tony nominees for Best Play and two more for Best Play Revival (three of which have starred Miss Ashley.)
 
Ann will run from January 29 to February 16 of 2020.
 
Next on Arkansas Rep’s stage will be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel of the same name, this play by Simon Stephens has won five Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and seven Olivier Awards, including Best Play from all three. 
 
It tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties” who has never ventured alone past his street. Now he is on a mission – an investigative adventure that will upturn the world of his family and community forever.
 
Through innovative design and storytelling, it puts the audience inside Christopher’s mind as together they go on this incredible journey. The production will run from April 1 to April 19.
 
The classic musical Bye Bye Birdie will take the Rep stage in the summer. Written by Michael Stewart, Lee Adams, and Charles Strouse, it takes a comic, tuneful, nostalgic look at rock ‘n roll, the early days of television, teenage love, and family dynamics.
Experience this beloved classic through a fresh, new production directed by Jeff Award-winner and Olivier Award-nominee David H. Bell (Hot Mikado, the Closing Ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics). When It first appeared, Bye Bye Birdie won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
 
It will be on the Rep stage from July 8 through 26 of 2020.
 
Season Subscriptions are on sale at TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Subscriptions start at just $96 and are the most economical way to see all of the productions included in the Spring 2020 Season. Single ticket will go on sale four weeks before a show opens.
 
Two productions remain in the Rep’s 2019 season. Million Dollar Quartet opens next month and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play is the December holiday offering.

GUYS AND DOLLS rolls in to Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre this summer

Logo.jpgGuys and Dolls is the musical in the 2019 season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

This self-described “Musical Fable of Broadway” is based on Damon Runyon’s stories. With a score by Frank Loesser, it has a book by Abe Burrows. (Contractual obligations required that Jo Swerling get credit as a co-author, though none of his original draft ended up in the final product.)

Telling the story of a pair of gamblers and their romantic entanglements, it features memorable characters who frequent nightclubs, a storefront mission, Cuba, and a floating crap game in a sewer.  The original production won the 1951 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Performances started last night (June 15) and continue today, June 16 (2:00pm), June 23 (2:00pm), June 25 (7:30pm), June 28 (7:30pm), June 30 (2:00pm AND 7:30pm), July 2 (7:30pm), July 4 (2:00pm), and July 6 (2:00pm AND 7:30pm). The musical is performed on the stage of the Reynolds Performance Hall.

The cast includes Chad Bradford, Emily Wold, Benjamin Reed, Chris Fritzges, Rebecca Brudner, Nick Narcisi, Patrice Phillips, Ben Grimes, Will Stotts, Barry Clifton, Cody Walls, Augustine Nguyen, Braxton Johnson, Kevin Alan Brown, Maureen Toomey, Mikala Hicks, Regean Allen, Stephanie Craven, Dylan Blackwood, Ashley Mahan, Anthony Bryant, Brian Earles, and Moriah Patterson.

The production is directed by Jenna Elser.  A native of Searcy, she is the Artistic Director of Glow Lyric Theatre in South Carolina. She also is Director of Converse Opera Theatre at Converse College.

Rebekah Scallet is the Producing Artistic Director and Mary Ruth Marotte is the Executive Director.

Experience Life on AVENUE Q at The Weekend Theater

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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.

The Hall is alive with THE SOUND OF MUSIC – (Robinson Center Performance Hall, that is)

A brand new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC is currently on tour across North America! The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the von Trapp Family  features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp.

Performances are this weekend at Robinson Center Performance Hall.  The Sound of Music is brought to Little Rock by Celebrity Attractions.  Show times are Friday, May 24 at 7:30pm, Saturday, May 25 at 2pm, Saturday, May 25 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, May 26 at 2pm.

The cast includes Jill-Christine Wiley (as Maria), Mike McLean (as the Captain), Amelija Hill, Hunter Brown, Lauren Kidwell, Jake Mills, Lauren O’Brien, Kate Turner, Ethan Douglas Cutillo, Riley O’Kane, Jenna Seasholtz, Emily Strugatsky, Quinn Titcomb, and Edward Turner.

The creative team includes Matt Lenz (tour director), Jonathan Warren (tour choreographer), Douglas W. Schmidt (scenic design), Jane Greenwood (costume design), Natasha Katz (lighting design), Shannon Slaton (sound design), and Michael GIlden (music director/conductor). The tour is based on a 2015 tour which featured direction by Jack O’Brien and choreography by Danny Mefford.