Rock the Oscars 2019: Hal Holbrook

(Photo by Joseph Harris for the AP)

Oscar nominated actor Hal Holbrook’s visits to Little Rock have been fairly regular over the decades.  In the 1980s and 1990s, he came several times in conjunction with the TV shows “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade.”  He also made an appearance at Wildwood in his one man play Mark Twain Tonight.

His first visit to Little Rock was in the mid-1950s.  He was just out of college and on a national tour of schools and small towns performing scenes from Shakespeare opposite his then-wife.

In a lengthy essay reflecting on his early career, Holbrook speaks fondly of his visit to Little Rock and of the grandiose stage and auditorium at Little Rock Central High School.

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Twelfth Night, or What you WILL

Today is Twelfth Night. Since it is also the title of one of Shakespeare’s most-produced plays, it seems a good chance to preview the 2019 Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre season.

While they HAVE produced Twelfth Night, it is not part of the 2019 season.

The lineup DOES include: The Comedy of Errors (the first Shakespeare play I ever read), The Scottish Play (sorry, but I don’t want to invoke the curse so I won’t write or say the title), as well as a streamlined version of Romeo and Juliet for families.  Also on tap, in the non-Shakespeare musical slot is Guys and Dolls.

Here is more about each show.
The Comedy of Errors
A tragic shipwreck, two sets of twins divided at birth, mistaken identities, and unrequited love provide the perfect recipe for fun in this Shakespearean farce. The fates bring the brothers and their long-lost father Aegeon together in the land of Ephesus with hilarious results.
Outside on the lawn at UCA

Guys and Dolls
A Musical Fable of Broadway
Based on a Story and Characters of Damon Runyon
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows
High-rolling gambler Sky Masterson never took a bet he couldn’t win, until he met the no-nonsense Sarah Brown, a mission worker set on redeeming the sinners of Broadway. While fellow gambler Nathan Detroit has his own hands full with his fourteen year engagement to Miss Adelaide. It’s the audience who wins in this delightful musical of love and luck!
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall

[The Scottish Play]
Brave warrior The Thane of Cawdor emerges victorious from battle to be greeted by three witches who hail him as the future king of Scotland. What follows is a dizzying descent into political machinations, murder, and madness.
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall

Family Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
The fighting families of Montague and Capulet put their feud before their children’s happiness in Shakespeare’s classic tale of “star-crossed” young love, reimagined for audiences of all ages in this one-hour adaptation.
On-stage in Reynolds Performance Hall.  Also available to tour!

Performance dates will be announced in coming weeks.

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

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.

Spend Midsummer evenings at A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM this weekend

ACANSA Arts Festival presents Free Shakespeare this weekend!
Spend a mid-summer evening enjoying A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM July 20-22.  All performances take place at the Clinton Center Ampitheater, 6:30 pm.
The event is totally free- no tickets are required, audience members can just come as they are to any and every show.
“ACANSA is so pleased to be working with the Clinton Center to bring this wonderful show to the community,” noted ACANSA executive director Dillon Hupp.  “Shakespeare is timeless, and we are thrilled to offer three entirely free performances of a Midsummer Night’s Dream next weekend. We hope you will make your plans to join us and support some wonderful local artists!”
Image may contain: sky, grass, tree, outdoor and nature A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM is a romantic comedy that follows young lovers on the run and a group of amateur actors on their journey deep into the forest of Athens where they unknowingly stumble into the fairy kingdom. When the worlds collide, chaos ensues and the fairies realize they’ve made a mistake that has to be corrected before sunrise.

What to Bring:
Picnic, bug spray & sunblock
Concessions will be available.

Seating:
The natural amphitheater overlooking the Arkansas River and Rock Island Bridge. Bring a blanket and pillows for the best seating locations.

Limited locations:
Camping chairs
Wheelchair accessible

Donate:
Donations will be accepted at the event to benefit Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Shake a Spear, or As Will Likes It at 454

Today is the traditionally observed birthday of William Shakespeare. It is known he was born in 1564, which makes this the 454th birthday.

The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre earlier announced the lineup for the 2018 season.   The dates have now been announced.

The lineup for the June 8-July 8 season, which explores the theme of transformation, includes Shakespeare classics The Winter’s TaleHenry IV, Part One; and a family adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady. All four 2018 shows feature characters who undergo major changes — some for the better and others, perhaps, for the worst.

The season will open at 7:30 p.m. June 8 with The Winter’s Tale outdoors on the lawn of McAlister Hall on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas. Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady will open in Reynolds Performance Hall on June 15, and Henry IV, Part One, will open on June 22. AST’s family-friendly adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing will open June 28 in Reynolds and will also tour across the state in June and July.

The Winter’s Tale will be directed by Nisi Sturgis, an AST artistic collective member, Conway native and UCA graduate who was a part of the critically acclaimed tour of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced at the Goodman Theatre, Berkeley Rep and Seattle Rep.

One of Shakespeare’s late romantic plays, it follows the story of King Leontes, who grows jealous of his wife, leading him to make a series of terrible mistakes. “This is a rarely produced Shakespeare gem,” said Rebekah Scallet, AST’s producing artistic director.

Robert Quinlan, who directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in AST’s 10th anniversary season, will return at the helm of Henry IV, Part One. This adventurous tale is centered on the young Prince Hal, who prefers spending his time in the tavern with his fat and jolly friend Falstaff to time in castle with his father, the king. When rebellion stirs in England, he must make a choice as to where his true loyalties lie.

Scallet will direct My Fair Lady. This multiple Tony Award-winning musical premiered in 1956 and will be given fresh life in this intimate new production. A musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a flower girl who wants to transform her status by changing the way she speaks, and so goes to curmudgeonly speech professor Henry Higgins for assistance.

Enrico Spada will make his directorial debut with AST for the touring Family Shakespeare production of Much Ado About Nothing. With a cast of just eight people telling a reduced version of this classic tale, Much Ado is a romantic comedy with the great Shakespearean couple of Beatrice and Benedick at its center. This hour-long adaptation is perfect for families to enjoy together and will be performed on stage at Reynolds along with stops at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on Petit Jean Mountain, Hot Springs Farmer’s Market, The Joint in Argenta and The Griffin in El Dorado, among others.

Audiences will again be seated onstage for the three productions in Reynolds Performance Hall. AST’s 12th season will close on July 8 with a final performance of The Winter’s Tale.

For those who want a Shakespeare fix in the actual winter, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will present As You Like It from February 6 to 24, 2019.

Containing some of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, As You Like It is a comedy about love, exile, wit, and disguises all set in the Forest of Arden.  Orlando loves Rosalind. Rosalind loves Orlando. But Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede – who’s a boy! And Phebe loves Ganymede – who’s really Rosalind. Yet Silvius loves Phebe. And Rosalind’s best friend Celia loves Orlando’s brother Oliver. But Oliver hates Orlando. And Touchstone lusts after Audrey. Unfortunately, no one much cares for Jacques.

Celebrate romance as Shakespeare’s timeless comedy takes center stage at The Rep!  Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, it runs from February 6 to 24, 2019, with an opening night of February 8, 2019.

2018-19 Arkansas Rep Season includes MENAGERIE, Alcott, Shakespeare, and Rock & Roll History

ark repEarlier this evening (2/19) the Arkansas Repertory Theatre announced its 2018-19 Season. Beginning in September, the new season exemplifies The Rep’s mission of producing diversified work of the highest artistic standards. “Variety is, once again, the watchword at The Rep,” said Producing Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany.

The Rep’s 2018-19 Season opens with one of the most beloved American plays of the 20th Century. Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is a delicate memory play about family life set in a Depression-era St. Louis tenement. While rebellious Tom Wingfield dreams of running away from his tedious existence, his stubborn mother Amanda elegizes romantically about her Southern debutante past. And in the midst of their disputes, Tom’s timid sister Laura escapes from the cruelty of the world by retracting into an imaginary realm populated by her collection of fragile glass animals.  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs September 5 to 23 with opening night on September 7.

Next is the stage adaptation of the classic film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?  When Joanna decides to surprise her parents with an impromptu introduction to her new fiancé John, she overlooks one small detail – he’s Black. Despite their self-professed liberal political leanings, Mr. and Mrs. Drayton find themselves scrambling when their beliefs are put to the test. But Joanna has yet another bombshell in store – she has invited John’s parents over for the evening as well. The script is by Todd Kreidler, adapted from the screenplay by William Rose. Directed by Arkansas Rep founder Cliff Fannin Baker, it runs from October 24 to November 11 with an opening night of October 26.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has been a beloved novel since it was first published.  Every generation it seems to inspire a classic movie, and in the mid 2000s, it became a Tony-nominated musical on Broadway.  While the Civil War rages far away from their humble New England home, tomboy Jo refuses to conform to the demands made upon her by “polite society.” As her mother and sisters patiently await the return of their father from the battlefield, Jo’s contagious optimism endures in the face of romantic confusion and personal tragedy.  With the opening scene set at Christmas, it is fitting that Little Women is the Rep’s holiday musical.  The book is by Allan Knee with a score by Mindi Dickstein and Jason Howland.  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs from December 5 to 30, with opening night of December 7.

Containing some of Shakespeare’s most famous speeches, As You Like It is a comedy about love, exile, wit, and disguises all set in the Forest of Arden.  Orlando loves Rosalind. Rosalind loves Orlando. But Rosalind is disguised as Ganymede – who’s a boy! And Phebe loves Ganymede – who’s really Rosalind. Yet Silvius loves Phebe. And Rosalind’s best friend Celia loves Orlando’s brother Oliver. But Oliver hates Orlando. And Touchstone lusts after Audrey. Unfortunately, no one much cares for Jacques. Celebrate romance as Shakespeare’s timeless comedy takes center stage at The Rep!  Directed by Giovanna Sardelli, it runs from February 6 to 24, 2019, with an opening night of February 8, 2019.

 

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 Phillips. What happened next was pure rock and roll magic. Million Dollar Quartet shows what happens when 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. The show has a collection of hit songs that includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “Hound Dog.”  The show is written by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux from an original idea by Mutrux.  Directed by original cast member Hunter Foster (a Tony-nominated actor), the musical runs from March 27 to April 21, 2019 with opening night on March 29, 2019.

The season ends with the comedy Women in Jeopardy! Wendy MacLeod’s play tells the story of Liz who starts seeing a new man and throws caution (and her book club selections) to the wind. However, her friends can’t get over the fact that Liz’s latest beau is just plain creepy. What else are they supposed to think about a dentist with a Hannibal Lecter obsession and a bizarre collection of “antique” orthodontic contraptions in his basement? And then there’s the recent disappearance of his dental hygienist…  Directed by John Miller-Stephany, it runs from June 5 to 23, 2019. Opening night will be June 7, 2019.

Season Subscriptions are on sale now and start at $132. . For more information about Season Subscriptions, call The Rep’s Box Office at (501) 378-0405, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., or visit www.TheRep.org.

Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres, The Rep has produced more than 350 productions including 40 world premieres in its 377-seat theatre located in its historic building in downtown Little Rock.

Rock the Oscars: Hal Holbrook

(Photo by Joseph Harris for the AP)

Oscar nominated actor Hal Holbrook’s visits to Little Rock have been fairly regular over the decades.  In the 1980s and 1990s, he came several times in conjunction with the TV shows “Designing Women” and “Evening Shade.”  He also made an appearance at Wildwood in his one man play Mark Twain Tonight.

His first visit to Little Rock was in the mid-1950s.  He was just out of college and on a national tour of schools and small towns performing scenes from Shakespeare opposite his then-wife.  In a lengthy essay reflecting on his early career, Holbrook speaks fondly of his visit to Little Rock and of the grandiose stage and auditorium at Little Rock Central High School.