DETROIT ’67 is next play for UA Little Rock Theatre and Dance Department

UA Little Rock theater students, from left, Taylor Green, Tre Whitley, Keith Harper and Char Dupins, rehearse scenes from the upcoming production of Detroit 67, which opens Feb. 27, 2019. Photo by Benjamin Krain.The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Theatre Arts and Dance will present a production of “Detroit ’67” Feb. 27 to March 3. The play is winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History

Detroit ‘67” is a powerful play, written by Dominique Morisseau, that unfolds an explosive moment in American history – the race riots that ravaged the city of Detroit in 1967, all set to a vibrant soundtrack of the day’s Motown music.

In 1967 Detroit, Motown music is getting the party started, and Chelle and her brother Lank are making ends meet by turning their basement into an after-hours joint. But when a mysterious woman finds her way into their lives, the siblings clash over much more than the family business. As their pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and they find themselves caught in the middle of the ’67 riots.

Lawrence Smith, assistant professor of theatre history, directs the play featuring Taylor Green, Char Kendall Dupins, Tre’ Vaughn Whitley, Keith Harper, and Abby Jo Windsor. Additional crew members include Stage Manager Crystal Briner, Scenic and Lighting Director William Marshall, and Costume Designer Yslan Hicks.

The play will be held in the Haislip Theatre in the UA Little Rock Center for Performing Arts on the following days and times:

  •      Wednesday, Feb. 27: 7:30 p.m.
  •      Thursday, Feb. 28: 7:30 p.m.
  •      Friday, March 1: 7:30 p.m.
  •      Saturday, March 2: 7:30 p.m.
  •      Sunday, March 3: 2:30 p.m.

General admission tickets are $10 each, while tickets for UA Little Rock employees, students, seniors, and members of the military are $5. Tickets can be purchased online.

31 Days of Arkansas Rep: 2006’s A CHORUS LINE

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre put it all on the line — the chorus line when they presented the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winning A CHORUS LINE in 2006. Directed by Cliff Fannin Baker, this was one of the last productions allowed before a Broadway revival.

The musical, set in an audition for an unnamed musical, featured a cast of 25 triple threats.  Bob Gaynor and Kathryn Mowat Murphy played the leading roles of Zach and Cassie. The latter had played the role three times previously, each directed by a member of the original Broadway production of the show.

Others in the cast were Joi Chen, Case Dillard, Allison Stodola, Steven Baker, Darryl Calmese Jr., DJ Chase, Tony Falcon, Matt Gibson, Colleen Hawks, Hollie Howard, Kolina Janneck, Christina LaDuca, Deborah Leamy, Miguel A. Romero, Michael Susko and Melanie Waldron.

Rounding out the cast were Dennis Glasscock, Matthew D. Brooks, Lauren Farrell, Joey Murray, Cameron Wade, Eric T. Mann and Kim Scott.

The creative team included choreographer Lynne Kurdziel Formato (in her second collaboration with Baker at the Rep), Kristy Nicholson (musical director), Mike Nichols (scenery), Yslan Hicks (costumes), M. Jason Pruzin (sound) and Ken White (lighting).

The production played from June 2 through July 2 of 2006.

31 Days of Arkansas Rep: ANYTHING GOES in 2001

The Arkansas Rep concluded its 25th season with the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes. Directed by Rep founder Cliff Fannin Baker, it featured an onstage orchestra led by then-Arkansas Symphony maestro David Itkin.  (Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and Itkin had been trying for a while to find a project for collaboration.)

This shipboard romantic farce featured a book by Guy Bolton & P. G. Wodehouse which was revised before the 1934 opening by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse in their first collaboration. In 1987, Timothy Crouse (son of Russel) and John Weidman updated the script for a Lincoln Center Theatre production. It was that version which the Rep presented.

The cast was led by Rep newcomers Heather Ayers and Pat McRoberts. Kelly Vivian, Thomas-David McDonald, Rick Cox, Julie Conners, Marlene Toth and Steve Wilkerson also were featured.

Others in the cast included Bob Hulsey, Amy Curnow, Annie Mistak, Allison Stodola, Sarah Squire, Miranda Vannoy, Pamela Crane, Buddy Reeder, Case Dillard, Christopher Brown, Don Hill, Daryl Minefee, Matt Crowle, Christopher Crane, Scott Duquette and Joe Terry.

Ron Hutchens was the choreographer. Others on the creative team included Mike Nichols (set), Yslan Hicks (costumes), Japhy Weideman (sound), and Leland Jones (lighting).

The production proved so successful that even before its June 1, 2001, opening night, the run was extended a week. It closed on June 24, instead of the original June 17.

Pulitzers Play Little Rock: Lawrence Hamilton in THE PIANO LESSON at Arkansas Rep

LawrenceHamiltonAugust Wilson received his second Pulitzer for The Piano Lesson in 1990.   It was thirteen years later, that play would take the stage of Arkansas Rep in January 2003  And while he was not the lead, local favorite Lawrence Hamilton shone in the play.

Hamilton played Wining Boy, a musician and gambler who was smooth at hiding his secrets. (This being an August Wilson play, almost every character had secrets.)  Others in the cast were J. Bernard Calloway and Trish McCall as the brother and sister at the center of the play who were struggling about the future of a family heirloom.  Kevin E. Jones, Veronika G. Macon, Ron Scott, Dennis Bivings, and Marsha Murdock rounded out the cast.

The production was directed by Gilbert McCauley.  The design team included Mike Nichols (set), Yslan Hicks (costumes), Matthew Richards (lighting) and M. Jason Pruzin (sound).

Hamilton would revisit the role of Wining Boy in a production at Cape Fear Regional Theatre just a few weeks before his 2014 death.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.

Pulitzers play Little Rock – CLYBOURNE PARK


While A Raisin in the Sun did not win the Pulitzer, it did inspire a sort of prequel AND sequel which did win that award.  Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park was inspired by the earlier play.  After an Off Broadway production in 2010, it won the 2011 Pulitzer for Drama. A subsequent Broadway production won the 2012 Tony for Best Play.

In 1959, a white couple sells their home to a black family (the fictional Younger family from A Raisin in the Sun), causing an uproar in their middle-class neighborhood. Fifty years later in 2009, the same house is changing hands again, but the stakes have changed.

As neighbors wage a hilarious and pitched battle over territory and legacy, Clybourne Park reveals just how far our ideas about race and identity have evolved.

In 2014, Arkansas Repertory Theatre brought the play to Little Rock in a production directed by the founder of the Rep, Cliff Baker (up next at the Rep with God of Carnage which closes out the 2017-2018 season).

The cast included Shaleah Adkisson, Ryan Barry, Katie Cunningham, Lawrence Evans, LeeAnne Hutchison, Robert Ierardi, Jason O’Connell, and David Tennal.  The creative team includes scenic designer Mike Nichols, costume designer Yslan Hicks, lighting designer Yael Lubetzky, sound designer Allan Branson and properties designer Lynda J. Kwallek.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Pulitzer Prize for Drama being given. To pay tribute to 100 years of the Pulitzer for Drama, each day this month a different Little Rock production of a Pulitzer Prize winning play will be highlighted.  Many of these titles have been produced numerous times.  This look will veer from high school to national tours in an attempt to give a glimpse into Little Rock’s breadth and depth of theatrical history.

Creative Class 2016: Yslan Hicks

cc16-hicksYslan Hicks has dressed hundreds of people in all sorts of clothing.  As a theatrical costume designer and educator, she has worked throughout the United States.  She is currently an Associate Professor and Interim Department Chair for the UALR Theatre and Dance Department.

Yslan has design credits that include productions at UALR, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Lincoln Center Institute in New York City, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Portland Center Stage in Oregon, the Old Globe in San Diego and Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, Mass. As an artistic associate at Lifeline Theatre in Chicago, she has designed a number of literary adaptations including Dracula, Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

Her work with the Arkansas Rep spans over two decades.  Among her recent productions are The Whipping Man, Clybourne Park, and Gee’s Bend.  In addition to UALR, she has served on the faculties of the University of Tulsa and Tulane University. Yslan is a member of United Scenic Artists, Local 829.

Yslan is also an in-demand speaker.  Most recently, she has given a series of talks for the Central Arkansas Library System on the history of fashion. Among her topics have been Downton Abbey and bridal dresses.

Discover Mystery and History along the SCOTLAND ROAD at UALR Play

ScotRoad1000UALR’s third theatre production of the 2014-15 season opens tonight and runs through February 15.  Jeffrey Hatcher’s Scotland Road plays at 8pm tonight through Saturday and 2:30pm on Sunday in the University Theatre on the UALR campus.

Mystery, history, and human obsession plot the course of Scotland Road.  Reality is called into question when a simply dressed young woman is rescued from a small iceberg in the North Atlantic. All evidence, including her one word to the rescuers, “Titanic,” points to her being a survivor of the world’s worst sea disaster 80 years before.

The play navigates its way through several unexpected twists and turns as the woman is questioned by John Jacob Astor V, great-grandson of one of the Titanic’s most celebrated victims and a man preoccupied with every aspect of the event. Each meeting both unravels and deepens the mystery, and forces Astor to embark on his own voyage of soul searching.

Highly stylized and rich with imagery, the play examines the depths of who we are and brings to the surface the realization that few things, and fewer people, are what they seem.

The show’s director is Dr. Jay E. Raphael, professor and chair of UALR Department of Theatre and Dance.  The cast features Keaton Duersch, Ashley Mahan, Heidee Alsdorf and Stacy Pendergraft.  The creative team includes William Marshall (scenery and lighting), Yslan Hicks (costumes), Jim Spencer (sound) and Karen Harris (props).

Ticket prices are $10 for the general public and $5 for UALR students, faculty, staff, and seniors.  For more information, tickets, and reservations call 501.569.3456.