Title

Tri-State Theater

Let's discuss upcoming shows, secrets behind the scenes, things you never knew about the theater and why live theater is so darn entertaining.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Interview with Amy Browning from "A Catered Affair"

   Just one more day until the musical A Catered Affair takes the stage again in Huntington, as ARTS presents a special Thursday performance! 

   We’ve been sharing interviews with cast members, and next up in my pal, the amazingly talented and beautiful Amy Browning.

Q. Tell us about the musical A Catered Affair.

Amy: I was unfamiliar with the musical before starting on this project. It is based on a 1956 movie of the same name with actors such as Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds, and Ernest Borgnine. This family is struggling with the loss of their grown son and the realization that the only child left (a daughter) is getting ready to get married and leave home. The daughter wants a simple ceremony, but the mother struggles with regrets and insists on a grand catered affair instead. Everything is rushed and at some point everyone's feelings are hurt. As in life, things don't go the way they planned, and they find themselves trying to accept the idea that the life they do have is good enough.

Q. What roles do you play? 

Amy: I am both Myra (a gossiping neighbor) and the Dress Saleswoman.

Q. What's your favorite song and/or scene in the show?

Amy: My favorite scene has to be the dinner scene because it is fast, fun, honest, and passionate. But my favorite song is "Our Only Daughter,” specifically the line "and the only bit of joy we ever brought her.” The music itself is haunting. The character is desperately trying to hold on to a dream of what life should have been, but she acknowledges their reality is not what they are living. She doesn't want her legacy to be one of disappointment.

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show?

Amy: This can be an emotional show for the actors and the audience. To portray a character you have to connect with him/her emotionally. In this show our characters struggle with expectations of what their life is supposed to be, of being accepted, and a desire to be "enough" that you're worthy of someone else's love. Those are the same struggles most of us face at some time or another. 

Q. What makes this show fun for you?

Amy: The fun is in the ensemble. We have varied backgrounds. Some of us spend a lot of time near a stage and others are new to the group. But the conversations we've had as the characters have developed have been both thought provoking and entertaining. 

Q. Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Amy: Because it's a new old story. This play hasn't been done in our community so the music and the story is new and interesting. But the characters are familiar. They will remind you of a relative or neighbor you grew up with. You may even find some of yourself in the dress shop or around the dinner table.

Q: Thanks, Amy!

A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Interview with Sheila Redling from "A Catered Affair"

   The musical A Catered Affair has three more shows coming up this week in Huntington, but order your tickets early - last weekend’s shows sold out! 

   We’ve been sharing interviews with members of the show’s cast, so let’s hear from the lovely and talented Sheila Redling.

Q. Tell us about the musical A Catered Affair.

Sheila: When I heard A Catered Affair my first thought was a light, glitzy musical comedy of manners but I was way off. Although there is comedy and a few rousing musical numbers, the show is quite serious and very moving. It's a story of love and life, regret and redemption.

Q. What roles do you play?

Sheila: I play one of the nosy neighbors, Delores, as well as the caterer for the titular event. My accents get a workout. 

Q. What's your favorite song in the show?

Sheila: It's impossible to pick a favorite song from this show. The music is fantastic and I've always got one of the tunes stuck in my head. If I must pick one, it would be the rousing number, “Immediate Family.” Not only is Robert (Hutchens) wonderful, the rest of the cast react so beautifully. It's a show-stopper.

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show?

Sheila: My biggest challenge was just showing up. This is my first ARTS production and I had to take a huge leap out of my comfort zone. Our director, Bil Neal, has been wonderfully supportive, enthusiastic, and refreshingly candid in helping us develop our choices. I'm so impressed with the level of talent and dedication in every aspect of the production.

Q. What makes this show so much fun?

Sheila: As I mentioned earlier, the show holds significant emotional weight. You will be moved. Thankfully, however, I'm not in those scenes. Let's just say that I put the "broad" in "broad comedy" and I'm happy to do so. The script has so much color and fun, and Bil has given us license to really flesh these characters out. 

Q. Why would you recommend this show? 

Sheila: There are so many reasons I would recommend A Catered Affair. The most obvious is the quality of the production. The script and music are wonderful. At the risk of cliche, you'll laugh and you'll cry. The is the first time a company in West Virginia has put on the show so you'll be seeing something fresh. And finally, everyone should see the show because we all need more art in our lives. We need to make it, share it, and support it.  

Q: Thanks, Sheila!


A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Interview with Robert Hutchens from "A Catered Affair"

   The musical A Catered Affair has wrapped up its opening weekend in Huntington, but you have three more chances to catch the show! (But order your tickets early - last weekend’s shows sold out!) 

   We’ve been sharing interviews with members of the show’s cast, and up next is the very talented Robert Hutchens!

Q. Tell us about the musical A Catered Affair.

Robert: I would call A Catered Affair a "musical dramedy" because it has a very strong story with characters pursuing high stakes which are in conflict with other characters' pursuits. It's a domestic story, a family story, rich with powerful, but ambivalent relationships. The characters have much more dimension and depth than most characters in a musical. People who dislike musicals for superficial plots and one-dimensional characters will be gratified to have such fully realized people to relate to.    

Q. What role do you play? 

Robert: I play Winston, the gay uncle, who late in his life makes dramatic changes in himself and in his living situation. He is a secondary character, but provides an interesting and complementary sub-plot to the story.

Q. What's your favorite song in the show?

Robert: I have a song entitled "Immediate Family," which is daunting for a number of reasons, but has the potential to be a highlight of the show. It's fast with tongue-twister lyrics, tricky rhythms, an octave and a half range, and not the most hummable melody, but it's meant to be theatrical and comic. We'll see. It will be memorable - one way or another. 

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show? 

Robert: The aforementioned song: "Immediate Family." 

Q. What makes this show so much fun? 

Robert: I said in the beginning that the show is a "musical dramedy."  Well, my character is the "-edy" part, in other words the comic relief.  I always like to play "-edy." 

Q. Why would you recommend this show? 

Robert: First of all, there have not been many opportunities to see this play. It's my understanding that ours is the first production in West Virginia. Second, there are some really sympathetic, admirable, very authentic characters in the play. You can't help but care what happens to them because their struggles and aspirations are so identifiable. Finally, the ARTS dinner shows are really an enjoyable and complete evening of entertainment. The food is delicious; the menus varied and fresh, the ambiance friendly and relaxed. There is an opportunity for the audience to bond in mood and mind and prepare to share the experience of theatre… well-done theatre, I dare say.  

Q: Thanks, Robert!

A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Interview with Chad Arthur from "A Catered Affair"

   The musical A Catered Affair is being presented this weekend by ARTS in Huntington, and the first performance got rave reviews! 

   We’ve been sharing interviews with members of the show’s cast, and this time around we hear from Chad Arthur, who’s at the heart of the show!

Q. Tell us about the musical A Catered Affair.

Chad: A Catered Affair appears to be a love story but main theme is less about love and more about the difference in relationships. As the new budding relationship of Ralph and Janey progress through the show we see how their love is meant as a juxtaposition to the longer and matured relationship of the brides parents. Showing that time changes us but just because the new relationship is the classic cute and fun couple the older and matured relationship has its own values, strengths, and problems.

Q.  What role do you play?

Chad: I play Ralph Halloran, the groom of the story.

Q. What's your favorite song in the show?

Chad: My favorite song is probably "I Stayed." I think that not only is it well performed by our James Holley but it is the most telling song. We are suppose to be on the Aggie's (the wife’s) side in the play but the song changes the entire dynamic of the show, really allowing the audience members to grasp the relationship of the Aggie and Tom’s relationship and not Aggie's one-sided definition of it.

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show? 

Chad: The most challenging part of the show is trying to be realistic. In most musicals you can be bigger then life but this story really requires tact to tell it a proper way without making the story "cheesy." It's a very loving and real story so we as actors must be the same.

Q. What makes this show so much fun for you? 

Chad: The music in this play is so unique. It's unlike the music that theatre goers will be used to and that is really where it shines.

Q. Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Chad: If a reader is interested in a truly honest and well written portrayal of what relationships are, then A Catered Affair is perfect. I think that everyone should give it a chance and you will fall in love with it like I have.

Q: Thanks, Chad!


A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 12, 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.

Friday, August 11, 2017

On Stage This Weekend

    Some great shows are taking the stage this weekend, including happy musicals and scary plays!

   Here's the rundown: 

- A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show.

- Carmilla - Crooked Letter Creative and Astral Theatre Collective present the play on Aug. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. at the Alban Arts Center at 65 Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans, W.Va. (Horror Genre. Contains strong imagery. Viewer discretion advised.) Tickets are $15 each.

- Big Fish - The Actors Guild of Parkersburg presents the musical based on the film Aug. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. at 724 Market Street in Parkersburg. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and senior citizens.

- ShadowmanContemporary Youth Arts Company presents the play by Dan Kehde Aug 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston. (The play is adult themed and not suitable for children.) Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students.

- Grease - The Aracoma Story Inc. presents the beloved musical  on Aug. 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19 and 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater in Chief Logan State Park in Logan, W.Va. 

    So go see a show!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Interview with John Campbell from "A Catered Affair"

   We're just two days away from the premiere of the musical A Catered Affair, being presented by ARTS in Huntington. 

   Here’s another interviews with members of the show’s cast. Stepping up to our invisible microphone is the talented (and very busy) John Campbell, who just finished directing a Gilbert & Sullivan musical for ARTS, and then jumped into this show!

   Here’s John:

Q. Tell us about the musical A Catered Affair.

John: Girl and boy decide to get married. They want a quiet civil ceremony, but then the parents get involved with their own ideas of what the wedding should be like. Family dynamics, expectations of others, hopes and dreams, keeping up appearances, and - finally - love, all play a role in a funny, perplexing, sometimes stormy, often poignant story. 

Q. What roles do you play?

John: I play two roles: Sam, who shares ownership in a cab with the bride's father; and Mr. Halloran, father of the groom.

Q. What's your favorite song in the show?

John: It's hard to choose. The songs that I get to sing - “Partners" (a double-duet by the two cab drivers and the bride/groom) and "Your Children's Happiness" (with Mrs. Halloran) - keep playing in my head, and I am enjoying them. But there are several other catchy, solid tunes in this show too. 

Robert Hutchens as uncle Winston is fabulous, and his rendition of "Immediate Family" will be a show-stopper. 

The warmth but also pathos as the bride (refreshingly played by Abby Manis) and mother (by a terrific Rachel Sanford) choose a wedding dress, is a delight to watch in rehearsal each night, including their buoyant duet "Bridal Shop." 

Too many songs / scenes? It's just that good of a show.

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show?

John: It has been challenging, but fun, to get inside the heads of 1950s characters, without iPhones, air conditioning, microwaves; before the turmoil of the '60s, Nixon and the distrust of government in the ‘70s... you get the idea.

Q. What makes this show fun for you?

John: First, doing it with these people. New friends, old friends, getting to act again under Bil Neal's direction, with T.K. Lombardo at the keyboard. These folks (actors, production crew, all) are good at what they do, and a pleasure to work with.

   Second, despite the family arguments and genuine anger that are portrayed, there is an underlying heart to this show that makes each rehearsal an optimistic event. 

   Third, I really do enjoy the tunes and word play of the songs and script.

Q. Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

John: You will experience deep emotion, and have a good time while doing it. You'll laugh. You just may cry, too. You might even feel the urge to call that daughter or son or dad or mom after you recognize something of your own relationships on the stage.

Q: Thanks, John!


A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Interview with Abigail Manis from "A Catered Affair"

   We’re just a few days away from the premiere of the musical A Catered Affair, being presented by ARTS in Huntington. 

   We have several interviews to share with the show’s cast, and up next is the wonderful Abigail Manis.  

Q. Tell us about A Catered Affair.

Abigail: Pretty much, A Catered Affair is a show about a cab driver and his family living in the Bronx during 1950. I won't go too deeply into the plot, but suffice to say it's about the tension in the family when his daughter Janey wants to have a civil ceremony at City Hall and then leave on her honeymoon immediately, but wife and mother Aggie insists on having a big... well, catered affair. 

Q.  What role do you play?

Abigail: I play the daughter, Jane Hurley.

Q. What's your favorite song or scene in the show?

Abigail: Oh gosh. That's tough. I really like the scene in the bridal shop, where Janey, who isn't a girly girl by any means, has her first taste of what a fairy tale wedding would be like (in the song “One White Dress”). The softness of interactions between mother and daughter, who have never been this close before, it's just really beautiful, not to mention Janey's giddiness, which is so unlike her and really shows how new all of this is to both of them. The moment is so delicate I feel like holding my breath every time because I don't want to burst the bubble. 

Q. What's been the most challenging aspect about the show?

Abigail: The romantic scenes. Definitely. Being tender and girly and romantic is the thing that comes least naturally to me. I'd much rather be expressing humor, or anger, or sadness, I really like raw emotions like that. Fluffy flirty stuff is not my thing. 

Q. What makes this show fun for you?

Abigail: Interacting with all the other actors and playing off of each other. This is such a small show, only 10 cast members, but it doesn't feel small because everyone fills up the space with their acting and reacting. Also the accent. I love being able to have a Bronx accent. 

Q. Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Abigail: If you come and see this show, I promise you, it will hit your heart. This is a show everyone can relate to. It has humor, and sadness, and romance, and anger, and yet everything you'll see is played so naturally and beautifully you'll feel like you're one of them. Bil told us not to brag on him in these questions but I can't help but reflect on how beautifully this came together. I'd never heard of this show before, as you probably haven't, but after being a part of it I think it's one of my new favorites. 

Q: Thanks, Abigail!


A Catered Affair - ARTS presents the musical on Aug. 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. General Admission is $15 show only and $30 for dinner and show. You must reserve reservations for dinner by calling 304-733-2787. The dinner menu for this show is: fresh kale lemon salad, baked steak with mushroom gravy, rice pilaf, apricot glazed carrots, and three tier wedding cake for dessert.