Creative Class 2016: Chad Bradford

cc16-bradfordActor and director Chad Bradford started appearing on Little Rock stages while he was still a student at Hall High School.  Since then, he has appeared Off Broadway, in national tours, and in numerous regional theatres throughout the U.S.  While often appearing in Shakespeare or other classical plays, he is equally at home in farce, musicals, and drawing room comedies.  In 2015, he played the title character in the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre production of Puss in Boots. In other words, he is a versatile actor.

Earlier this year, he directed Twelfth Night for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (while also appearing in their productions of West Side Story and A Midsummer Night’s Dream).  Twelfth Night was later remounted at Shake on the Lake Shakespeare in New York and returned to Conway for another appearance.  (This is not his first show to originate in Little Rock and be performed throughout the US. In 2013, he helmed David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries here before it played elsewhere.)  In 2015, National Arts Strategies named him a Creative Community Fellows recipient.

He is currently in rehearsals directing David Ives’s The Liar on the UCA Mainstage.  It plays October 20-22, and 27 & 28.

On Twelfth Night – Remember TWELFTH NIGHT is part of 2016 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre lineup

AST 2016 TwelfthToday is Twelfth Night. (Or is it Tonight is Twelfth Night?)  It is a good time to remember that the 2016 the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season will feature Shakespeare’s play of that name, as the one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation.

Twelfth Night takes us to the island of Illyria, where shipwrecked Viola must disguise herself as a boy—causing complications in her love life.

Actual performance dates and casting will be announced later.

The other three titles for 2016 are:

The 2016 outdoor Shakespeare: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Robert Quinlan
A comic romp of epic proportions, this magical comedy and its lovers, fairies, and oh-so-Rude Mechanicals are the perfect company for an Arkansas midsummer night.

The 2016 tragedy: ROMEO AND JULIET
Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet
Romance, intrigue, and adventure abound in Shakespeare’s timeless tale of the original
star-crossed lovers caught between their
warring families.

The 2016 musical: WEST SIDE STORY
Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein , Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jeremy Williams
This beloved musical transplants the story of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York City, where the warring Jets and Sharks stand in the way of true love.

2016 season for Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announced

AST 2016Last week, the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre announced the four titles for the 2016 season, their 10th season of bringing the Bard and more to Central Arkansas.

Actual performance dates and casting will be announced later.

The 2016 outdoor Shakespeare: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
Directed by Robert Quinlan
A comic romp of epic proportions, this magical comedy and its lovers, fairies, and oh-so-Rude Mechanicals are the perfect company for an Arkansas midsummer night.

The 2016 tragedy: ROMEO AND JULIET
Directed by AST Producing Artistic Director Rebekah Scallet
Romance, intrigue, and adventure abound in Shakespeare’s timeless tale of the original
star-crossed lovers caught between their
warring families.

The 2016 musical: WEST SIDE STORY
Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein , Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed and Choreographed by Jeremy Williams
This beloved musical transplants the story of Romeo and Juliet to 1950s New York City, where the warring Jets and Sharks stand in the way of true love.

The 2016 Family Shakespeare: TWELFTH NIGHT
This one-hour Family Shakespeare adaptation takes us to the island of Illyria, where shipwrecked Viola must disguise herself as a boy—causing complications in her love life.

Robinson Redux March

Blackstone adWhile Robinson Center Music Hall is closed for renovations, the Culture Vulture blog is taking a look back at previous bookings in the facility each month.

March 1940 was the first full month that Robinson Auditorium was open.  The month started with Blackstone the magician in performances from March 2 through 4. In addition to his appearance touted by the auditorium, Muswick Beverage & Cigar Company promoted his appearance, and the fact that he endorsed Budweiser beer.  Later that month, appearances included the Shrine Circus, the AAU girls basketball championship, and the Saint Louis Symphony.

March 1950 was a particularly busy month. It featured singer Vaughn Monroe on the 6th and the Arkansas State Symphony playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on the 7th.  On the lower level, a circus took up residency from the 7th through 10th.  Back upstairs in the music hall, Ballet Theatre visited performing Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” featuring ballerina Nora Kaye and conductor Max Goberman.  The month concluded on the 27th with James Dunn starring in the Pulitzer Prize winning Harvey.

In 1955, Jose Greco and His Spanish Dancers entertained audiences on March 7. Five years later, the Chicago Ballet was featured on March 26, 1960. Earlier that month (the 16th), Max Rudolf conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. March 1965 feautured the Chicago Opera Ballet (on the 2nd) and an evening of country music stars including Buck Owens and Kitty Wells (on the 10th).

In March 1970, the national tour of the Broadway musical Mame starring Sheila Smith launched the month on the 6th and 7th. Later that month The Florida Boys were in concert. March 1975 saw much activity at Robinson Center. Guy Lombardo and his orchestra appeared on the 2nd and Richard Fredricks, baritone, gave a recital on the 4th, under the auspices of the Community Concert Series. On March 5 & 6, a statewide touring production of South Pacific played at Robinson. Produced by Vince Insalaco, it starred Judy Pryor (now Judy Trice) as Little Rock native Nellie Forbush. The month closed out with the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof.

March 1980 saw Dawn Wells starring in Neil Simon’s Chapter Two on the 8th. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra performed on the 15th and 16th with pianist Lorin Hollander as guest artist. Five years later, Marilyn Horne appeared with the ASO on March 2, 1985. At the same time that evening, the Shriners Ball was taking place on the lower level. Later that month a national tour of Sophisticated Ladies stopped by Robinson on the 12th. The ASO returned on March 20 & 21 with pianist Garrick Ohlsson.

The Sharks and the Jets lept on the stage on March 20, 1990, as a tour of West Side Story came to Robinson Center. The month concluded with pianist Jose Carlos Cocarelli in concert with the ASO.

Marilyn Horne returned to Little Rock, ten years and one day after her previous appearance, and performed with the ASO again on March 3, 1995. The month also included The Will Rogers Follies on March 10-12, Jazz Explosion II (with George Duke, Dianne Reeves, Phil Perry, Howard Hewett, and George Howard) on March 15, and the ASO in concert with cellist Jeffrey Solow on March 18 & 19. On March 22, the musical Raisin was performed. The cast included Peabo Bryson, Jeffrey Osborne and Lynette Hawkins.

As the 2000s rolled around, Robinson Center continued to feature an eclectic mix. In March 2000, Ann Hampton Callaway performed with the ASO on March 4 & 5. Later that month the original cast of Red, White & Tuna played at Robinson from March 14 through 19. In 2005, the national tour of Mamma Mia! played at Robinson from March 1-6. Later that month the ASO performed Broadway a la Carte with an eveningn of songs from the Great White Way (on March 18 & 19).

In 2010, the ASO performed a concert version of Porgy & Bess on March 12 & 13. It was the first time that title had ever been performed in its entirity in Arkansas. Irish dance took the stage the next night as Lord of the Dance took up residence at Robinson Center.

Fan Favorite Finalists announced by Arkansas Rep

rep fan favesLast week the people spoke.  The results are in.

In preparation for the 40th anniversary season, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre asked its fans which title from the previous 39 years they wanted to see return.

The results have been tabulated.  The top five (plus one bonus) are: Next to Normal (from 2011-2012 season), To Kill  a Mockingbird (from 1997-1998 and 2011-2012 season), West Side Story (from 1994-1995 season), Peter Pan (from 1994-1995 and 1996-1997 seasons), Amadeus (from 1995-1996 season) and God’s Man in Texas (from 2003-2004 season).

It is interesting to note that three are plays and three are musicals.  Two of the titles are from the 1950s, one from the 1980s, two from the 1990s and one from the 2000s. These represent the breadth and depth of the Arkansas Rep as it has been fulfilling its mission of presenting plays and musicals both recent and classic.

One of these titles will be part of the 2015-2016 season. But the final result won’t be known until Bob Hupp announces the 40th anniversary season in the spring of 2015.

Jets and Sharks in the Rock

Celebrity Attractions is bringing the national tour of West Side Story to Little Rock this week.  It will be at Robinson Center Music Hall on January 29, 30 and 31.

West Side Story features a book by Arthur Laurents and songs by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein.  This modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet was originally directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

The show was originally on Broadway in 1957.  In 2009, an award-winning Broadway revival opened. The current tour is based on the revival.

For this tour, Arthur Laurents’ direction has been recreated by David Saint.  Joey McKneely reproduced the choreography both on Broadway and for the tour.  He studied West Side Story with Jerome Robbins as they worked on creating Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.

The design team includes James Youmans, David C. Woolard, Howell Binkley and Peter McBoyle.

For tickets, visit the Celebrity Attractions website.

People’s Choice at Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

Forty candidates. Thousands of possibilities.

This weekend, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform a People’s Choice concert.  For the past several weeks, the ASO has been encouraging people to vote for favorites in a variety of musical genre categories.

The winners will be revealed at the concerts this weekend – tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 3pm – at Robinson Center Music Hall.  It is appropriate that a facility named after a beloved Arkansas politician would be the home to a concert programmed by popular vote.

Best Classical Composer
*Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 First Movement
*Gershwin – Summertime
*Mozart – Eine kleine Nachtmusik
*Tchaikovsky – Romeo and Juliet Overture
*Vivaldi – The Four Seasons

Best Classic Film Score
*James Bond
*Lawrence of Arabia
*The Pink Panther
*The Wizard of Oz

Best Contemporary Film Score
*Gladiator
*The Godfather
*Harry Potter
*Pirates of the Caribbean
*Titanic

Best Sci/Fi Soundtrack
*Back to the Future
*E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
*Star Trek
*Star Wars

Best Animated TV Show
* “The Flintstones”
* “The Jetsons”
* “Looney Tunes”
* “The Simpsons”

Best TV Show
*“Bonanza”
*“Hawaii 5-O”
*“Mission Impossible”
*“The Young and the Restless”

Best Kids’ Pick
*Anastasia
*Cinderella
*The Little Mermaid
*Mary Poppins
*Peanuts

Best Video Game
*Civilization
*Halo
*The Legend of Zelda
*Super-Mario Brothers
*World of Warcraft

Best Broadway Score
*Les Miserables
*The Phantom of the Opera
*The Sound of Music
*West Side Story

ASO Music Director/Conductor Philip Mann will conduct the winners.  The program hosts will be Craig O’Neill and Dawn Scott.