New shows, and returning favorites in 2019-2020 Celebrity Attractions season at Robinson Center

The five shows in the Celebrity Attractions 2019-2020 Broadway season in Little Rock were announced. They include four musicals and one play.  Two returning titles and three which will mark their debuts in the Little Rock market.

Up first is Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville. (November 1 – 3, 2019). It features many of Buffet’s standards as well as some original songs he wrote for the show.

Next is Wicked. Returning to Little Rock for the first time since 2013 (and the first time in the renovated Robinson Center Performance Hall), Wicked will kick off 2020 when it plays from January 1 through 19.

Waitress made Broadway history when it became the first musical with an all-female creative team.  With songs written by Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, it is inspired by Adrienne Shelley’s film of the same name. It will be in Little Rock from February 21 to 23 of 2020.

The Play that Goes Wrong lives up to its title. It concerns a troupe of actors performing a murder mystery where everything that could go wrong does. Repeatedly. It is a long-running hit in both London and New York.  It will be in Little Rock on March 28 and 29 of 2020.

Finally, the Memory will Live Again as Cats returns to Little Rock. It has been several years since this Andrew Lloyd Webber-T.S. Eliot musical has been at Robinson Center. It will be there from June 5 to 7 of 2020.

Advertisements

Little Rock Look Back: OKLAHOMA! first comes to LR

OkLRbill

Program cover from OKLAHOMA!’s February 1948 visit to Little Rock. From the collection of Mary and Booker Worthen.

On March 31, 1943, Alfred Drake sauntered on the stage of Broadway’s St. James Theatre and sang “Oh, what a beautiful mornin'” to launch OKLAHOMA! into not only theatrical history but popular culture as well.

In February 1948, as the original Broadway run was about to mark five years on Broadway, the national tour of Oklahoma! made its way to Little Rock for eight performances. The week-long stay it had in Little Rock at Robinson Center was a record for that building that would last until Wicked came in 2010.  (Hello, Dolly! in 1966 and Beauty and the Beast in 2002 had both equalled the record.)

By the time Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s first show made it to Little Rock, they were working on their fourth stage show, South Pacific, which had a leading character from Little Rock.

To get Robinson Auditorium ready for Oklahoma!, the Auditorium Commission had to spend $2,000 on upgrades.  That would be the equivalent of just under $21,000 today.

Oklahoma! opened at Robinson on Monday, February 9, 1948.  With eight performances, approximately 24,000 tickets were on sale during the run of the show.  There was a cast of 67 actors and 28 musicians.  The cast was led by Ridge Bond, Carolyn Adair, Alfred Cibelli Jr., Patricia Englund, and David Morris.  Mr. Bond had relatives who lived in Little Rock.  He was a native of Claremore, Oklahoma, which was the town in which the story took place.

OkAdLR

Ad in ARKANSAS GAZETTE on February 8, 1948.

While they were in Little Rock, the stars of the show made an appearance at Reed Music on February 10.  The music store (located at 112 and 114 East 7th Street–across the street from the Donaghey Building) was promoting the sale of the Oklahoma! cast albums, sheet music, and recordings of songs from Oklahoma! by other singers.

Both the Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas Democrat carried reviews of the show.  Another item, which appeared in the paper that week was a syndicated column which noted that the film rights for the show had been sold. It was speculated that the star would be Bing Crosby.  It would actually be 1955 before the film was made, and Mr. Crosby had no connection to that movie.  By the time it was made, the stars were Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones.  Mr. MacRae would appear in Little Rock for the 1963 opening of the Arkansas Arts Center.  Ms. Jones has made several concert appearances in Little Rock over the years.

Little Rock had seen its fair share of top Broadway shows on tour.  Prior to Robinson’s opening and since then, many well-known actors and popular shows had played Little Rock.  But just as it had been on Broadway, Oklahoma! in Little Rock was more than a show — it was an event!

Over the years, Oklahoma! has been performed by schools, churches, community theatres, dinner theatres, and colleges.  National tours have come through Arkansas again.  People have become jaded or dismissive of it, because they have seen it performed so often — and sometimes badly.  So it is hard to understand the excitement that was felt by Little Rock audiences in 1948 when they first saw it on the stage of Robinson Center.

But 75 years later (and 25 years after it was commemorated by the US Postal Service with its own stamp), Oklahoma! is still doing fine.  Countless new generations sing the songs and say the lines.

Two upcoming cultural events in Little Rock are a testament to the genius that helped create Oklahoma!  In May, Ballet Arkansas will present a dance piece which was the final dance created by Agnes de Mille.  Before choreographing Oklahoma!, Miss de Mille was already making her mark in the world of ballet.  She alternated between the two for decades.  At the 1993 Tony Awards, Miss de Mille accepted a special Tony upon the show’s 50th anniversary milestone.

The second connection to Oklahoma! will take place in February 2019.  The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra is bringing Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III, grandson of the beloved librettist and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, to host a celebration of some of America’s most cherished music from the stage.

Happy Birthday to PHANTOM – 6 weeks until it arrives in Little Rock

The-Phantom-of-the-Opera-North-American-Tour (1)29 years ago today, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA opened on Broadway.  It is still going strong at the Majestic Theatre.

Of course, Little Rock theatregoers will not have to wait much longer to see PHANTOM at the new Robinson Center Performance Hall.  It will be here from March 8-19. Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s phenomenal musical success, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, will come to Little Rock as part of a brand new North American Tour.

The production will be the largest musical to play in the building ever.  It will eclipse Beauty and the Beast and Wicked, which both have played at Robinson twice.

The musical, based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book & lyrics by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe and Mr. Lloyd Webber.  The production was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Harold Prince.

After opening in London in 1986, The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in January 1988. It is still running over 27 years later. Phantom is the longest running show in Broadway history.  Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 1988, it won seven: Best Musical, Actor in a Musical (Michael Crawford), Featured Actress in a Musical (Judy Kaye), Director of a Musical (Harold Prince), Scenic Design (Maria Bjornson), Costume Design (Bjornson) and Lighting Design (Andrew Bridge).

Hailed by critics as “bigger and better than ever before,” this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show’s legendary chandelier, new scenic and lighting designs, new staging and choreography. The beloved story and thrilling score will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this PHANTOM one of the largest productions now on tour.

Celebrity Attractions is bringing PHANTOM to Little Rock.  Ticket information can be found here.

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.

Robinson Center to welcome PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to Little Rock in March 2017

The-Phantom-of-the-Opera-North-American-Tour (1)Celebrity Attractions announced today that the U.S. national tour of The Phantom of the Opera will play at the newly reopened Robinson Center Music Hall during the 2016-2017 season. It will be here from March 8 to 19 in 2017.

The production will be the largest musical to play in the building ever.  It will eclipse Beauty and the Beast and Wicked, which both have played at Robinson twice.

The musical, based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book & lyrics by Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber.  The production was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Harold Prince.

After opening in London in 1986, The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in January 1988. It is still running over 27 years later. Phantom is the longest running show in Broadway history.  Nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 1988, it won seven: Best Musical, Actor in a Musical (Michael Crawford), Featured Actress in a Musical (Judy Kaye), Director of a Musical (Harold Prince), Scenic Design (Maria Bjornson), Costume Design (Bjornson) and Lighting Design (Andrew Bridge).

More details about other bookings at Robinson Center in 2016-2017 will be announced in the coming months.

2015-16 ASO Pops includes Cirque, Broadway, Movies and Holiday Favorites

aso_2-colorThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra returns to the Connor Performing Arts Center on the Pulaski Academy campus for the 2015-2016 season.  There is still time to order your tickets.

Things get started on October 24 & 25 with “Cirque Musical.” Debuting this summer at the Hollywood Bowl, this evening will feature contortionists, balances and jugglers providing a visual feast for the eyes while the ASO will play classical and contemporary music.

From December 18 to 20, it will be “Holiday Pops with the ASO.” This long-running tradition will feature Christmas carols and other holiday songs

February 13 & 14 will be “Broadway Rocks!” Featuring Broadway stars Christiane Noll, Carpathia Jenkins and Rob Evans, this evening will feature songs from such Broadway shows as Rent, Wicked, Mamma Mia, The Lion King, The Wiz and The Phantom of the Opera.  A lot of people throw around the term “Broadway stars” but these three deserve it.  If they are in a show, they steal it!

The Pops season will conclude with “The Movie Music of John Williams” on May 7&8.  The ASO will play selections from some of Williams’ mist famous movies. He has win 5 Oscars, 6 Emmys, 25 Golden Globes and 22 Grammys.

This weekend – Ashley Brown bring Broadway to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

POPS5 PhotoThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the fifth and final concert in the 2014-2015 Acxiom Pops Live! Series: Ashley Brown’s Broadway. Fresh from her run as Mary Poppins on Broadway, Ashley Brown and the ASO take over the stage with thrilling renditions of Broadway favorites. All ages will enjoy this special performance featuring music from Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music and more familiar hits from Broadway musicals and beloved Disney films.

Concerts are Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. & Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. and take place at the Pulaski Academy Connor Performing Arts Center, 12701 Hinson Road, Little Rock, AR.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online at www.ArkansasSymphony.org; at the Connor Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at the ASO website.

Ashley Brown, soprano, originated the title role in Mary Poppins on Broadway for which she received Outer Critics, Drama League and Drama Desk nominations for Best Actress. Ms. Brown also starred as Mary Poppins in the national tour of Mary Poppins where she garnered a 2010 Garland award for “Best Performance in a Musical.” Ms. Brown’s other Broadway credits include Belle in Beauty and the Beast, and she has starred in the national tour of Disney’s “On The Record.” Ashley recently returned to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to star in the role of Laurey in Oklahoma! She previously played Magnolia opposite Nathan Gunn in Francesca Zembello’s Show Boat at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ashley has performed with virtually all of the top orchestras in North America.

The Pops Live! Series is sponsored by Acxiom.

The program will include:

ACT ONE

  • Overture: Broadway Tonight  (ASO only)
  • Almost Like Being in Love/This Can’t be Love
  • So In Love
  • Le Jazz Hot
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (arr. Mancini) (ASO only)
  • Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins
  • Disney Medley

INTERMISSION

ACT TWO

  • The Sound of Music Selection (ASO only)
  • Ring Them Bells
  • Grateful
  • The Man I Love
  • Fiddler on the Roof  (arr. John Williams) (ASO only)
  • Defying Gravity
  • Our Time/Children Will Listen (with chorus)
  • I’ll Be Seeing You

(Selections subject to change)