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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.

Friday, May 27, 2016

On Stage for Memorial Day Weekend

   With the holiday weekend here, there's only one show taking the stage in the Tri-state area.

   Here's our humble list (and don't worry, June is packed with shows to see):

   - Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will - Paramount Little Theatre present the PG-rated Dramedy on May 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens.

   And that's it! Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

First Stage Announces Its New Season

   First Stage Theatre Company, Huntington's long-running children's theatre, recently announced its 2016-2017 season. It will be the 27th season for the group.
   The lineup includes:
   - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (non-musical) - Based on the classic story by Mark Twain, the show will be directed by Zach Davis and produced by Debbie Jackson. (It will be staged in late September / early October 2016)
   - School of Rock the Musical: Youth Production - The hit Broadway musical based on the film starring Jack Black, the show will be directed by Chuck Minsker, music director Mark Smith, choreographer Melissa Marcum, produced by Leslie Comer-Porter and Jeanette Rowsey. (It will be staged in November 2016)
   - Junior Theatre Festival 2017 - First Stage will take a group of students to the annual festival in January 2017.
   - Honk, Jr. - The beloved (and very funny) musical based on the story of the Ugly Duckling, the show will be directed by Amy Browning and produced by Jeanette Bailey. (It will be staged in the Spring of 2017)
   - Showcase 2017 - A talent showcase for both young performers and First Stage alumni, this is a special fundraiser for the First Stage Playhouse. (It will be staged in the Spring of 2017)
   Audition dates for these shows will be announced soon!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer Theatre Camp

   Summer's almost here, and this is the time of year that people are asking about summer theatre camps.

   ARTS is having two theatre camps this summer. Older camp begins June 13 and goes through July 2. Younger camp begins July 11 and goes through July 30. Campers will tackle the just-released Elf the Musical, Jr. 

   Camp from 9 a.m. through noon Monday through Friday. Participants will help build the set, help with costumes, learn choreography and participate in a musical! 

   Camp will be held at the Renaissance Theatre (old Huntington High School) at 900 8th Street. 

   For more info or to get an application, contact Eddie Harbert at 304-360-2749. Space is limited so register today!

   Instructors for the class are Eddie Harbert, Coni Anthony and Carol Scarberry

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Great Time for Community Theatre!

   This is an amazing weekend for everyone who loves community theatre!

   That's because we have not one, not two, but three Broadway-quality shows taking the stage in our area tonight.

   For your consideration:

   1) Last night my lovely wife and I saw CLOG's Spamalot at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre - and we absolutely loved it, we couldn't stop laughing. It's an amazing, top-quality show with great performers, a stunning set, fantastic costumes, hilarious songs and laughs throughout. It's a real achievement, professional in every way and a heck of a lot of fun. The last performance is tonight at 7:30 p.m. Highly recommended!

   2) I already raved in this review about ARTS' production of August: Osage County - an intense play about a dysfunctional family that shakes the audience to its core. The set has received plenty of raves, but the actors make the show - their performances are stunning, heartfelt and touching. It's an amazing, professional production, and also comes highly recommended! The final performance is tonight at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

   3) Tonight only John McAlister presents Broadway Showstoppers, an evening of American show tunes starring Tony winner Beth Leavel, West Virginia's Sean Watkins, and Vaudevillian Jesse Luttrell with the Fred Barton Orchestra.  It will be presented at  Christ Temple Church Auditorium at 2400 Johnstown Road in Huntington. How often do you get to see Broadway stars perform locally?

   You'll note the one problem with this embarrassment of riches - they all take place tonight! But you can't go wrong with any of these shows - they're all terrific! 

Friday, May 20, 2016

On Stage This Weekend

   Lots of great shows to choose from this weekend, including:

- August: Osage County - ARTS presents the play by Tracy Letts, which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It tells the story of an Oklahoma family that is dealing with the sudden and mysterious disappearance of the family patriarch. What unfolds is a dark and comedic drama that unveils secret after secret within the Weston family. Show only tickets: $15, Dinner and Show tickets: $30. Call 304-733-2787 to make dinner and show reservations. Tickets can be bought online or at the door on the day of the performance. The show runs May 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

- Monty Python's Spamalot - The Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the musical based on the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre on May 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at charlestonlightoperaguild.org or call the Box Office at 304-343-2287 Monday through Sat., 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. and one hour before showtime.

- Broadway Showstoppers - John McAlister presents an evening of American show tunes starring Tony winner Beth Leavel, West Virginia's Sean Watkins, and Vaudevillian Jesse Luttrell with the Fred Barton Orchestra.  It will be presented May 21 at  Christ Temple Church Auditorium at 2400 Johnstown Road in Huntington.

- Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will - Paramount Little Theatre present the PG-rated Dramedy on May 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for senior citizens.

- Murder Mysteries -  "Post Time for Murder!" on May 21 at the Greenhouse of Teays Valley, in Hurricane. Tickets are by reservation only - call 304-397-6316. Tickets are $45 per guest.


   So get out there and enjoy some local theatre!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Interview with "August: Osage County's" Mary Williams


 The final weekend of August: Osage County has arrived, and you just have a couple of chances to catch the acclaimed play at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington.

   We also have our final interview with the members of the cast. Let’s hear from the lovely and talented Mary Poindexter Williams, who plays a spitfire who’s at the heart of the family conflict that drives the play.

Q. Tell us about August: Osage County.

Mary: August: Osage County is a story about the Weston Family as they come to grips with their past and face their future. The patriarch of the family has disappeared and the family gathers in the large family home located in Osage County, Oklahoma. Both the climate and tempers can be HOT!!

Q. Why did you want to tackle this show?

Mary: OMG! A rare opportunity to be a part of a production of this  Pulitzer Prize winning play! Wonderful play. wonderful role! Wonderful theatre company! Wonderful director and cast!! Wonderful experience!

Q. Tell us about the character you play.

Mary: I play Violet Weston, wife of the missing Beverly Weston and mother to Barbara, Ivy, and Karen. Violet is  not a very likable human being. Violet is addicted to drugs, is undergoing chemotherapy treatments, chain smoking throughout the play, and lashing out at everyone in the Weston home. But I love delving into why Violet has become this kind of person. I like to try to understand events in her life that have molded her into this caustic and bitter woman. It has probably been the most challenging role I've ever played. There are so many layers to this woman. And, it's so fun to play this kind of character. I'm a fairly reserved person and it is cathartic in a way to express Violet's feelings with her ranting and raving!  I hope I haven't scared my husband, Steve! Ha Ha!

Q. What is your background in theatre?

Mary: The acting bug bit me on this very same high school stage. My first acting role was in the play Flowers for Algernon, performed on the Huntington High School stage in 1973. I did a few things in high school and then in college ( I attended Marshall University) and a few community theatre shows at the old Abbot Theatre and the Huntington Art Museum. But then I moved to Florida, got married, had two daughters and was busy homemaking, mothering, and working as a funeral director until I moved back to Huntington in the mid-‘90s. After my girls became adults and moved away, my husband encouraged me to return to MU to take some theatre classes. Next thing I know I'm in their theatre program and graduated with my BFA in 2010.

Q. Tell us about the set.

Mary: Just Wow!  I could never imagine this set, this absolutely realistic house that Greg Morris and Tom Olson have built-here on this stage! It's so easy to lose myself in my role and become Violet in "my house." The hours and hours that have gone into the building and dressing of this set is mind-boggling. These are men with careers and families and what they have put into this; their blood, sweat, and tears is awe inspiring.

Q. Tell us about the cast.

Mary: They are the best! I knew some of the cast and crew before we started rehearsals, but this is my first year as a company member so I've been thrilled to make some new friends. Everyone is so talented and  I'm honored to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience with this group.

Q. Why would you recommend this show?

Mary: This is the kind of theatre experience that stays with you, has an influence on your life. You may think you can not relate to this family. Your family may not have some of the problems that this family is struggling with, but all families have issues. This play forces  you to "feel." It makes you laugh, makes you cry, maybe even makes you cringe. But you have an experience watching this play. Theatre entertains, it educates, it motivates. This play has it all.

Thanks, Mary!


   ARTS presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, on Friday and Saturday, May 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Show only tickets: $15, Dinner and Show tickets: $30. Call 304-733-2787 to make dinner and show reservations. Tickets can be bought online or at the door on the day of the performance.

"August: Osage County" - A Review



   Sometimes you get to see a show that really stands out from the crowd.

   A production that has a real emotional impact.

   A play that leaves you in awe because of the skill of the execution, the intelligence of the script, and the talent of the performers.

   August: Osage County is just such an experience.

   It tells the story of the ultimate dysfunctional family, the Westons. The patriarch of the family is the intelligent (and somewhat eccentric) Beverly Weston (played with gusto by Robert Hutchens). He hires a live-in housekeeper (the lovely Sheila Meade) to look after his ailing - and abrasive - wife Violet (played with power and grit by Mary Poindexter Williams).

   When Beverly goes missing the family returns for the first time in years to support Violet and look for answers - and in the process, long-held secrets (in this show, everyone has a secret) are revealed. The events that follow shake the family structure to its core.

   The family includes the long-absent daughter Barbara (played with dynamic fire by Amy Carlson) who decides to take control - something she hasn’t been able to manage with her husband Bill (played both amiably and angrily by Simon Woods) and her rebellious daughter Jean (the engaging Amanda Maynus).

   The other sisters are Ivy, the one who stayed to look after her parents and struggles with her resentment (played by a controlled and sensitive Kate Morris), and Karen, the flighty sister (played with energy and passion by Joanna Murdock) who arrives with her finance, the secretive and sketchy Steve Heidebrecht (played with authority by Tyler Bradley). 

   Rounding out the cast are relatives Mattie Fae Aiken (the luminous Linda Reynolds), her husband Charlie (a flinty Todd Green), their son “Little Charles”  Aiken (a nervous and endearing Dylan Clark) and the local Sheriff, who has a history with Barbara (a sensitive Jonathan Maynard).

   The cast and the script flow together flawlessly to bring this story to life. It’s a tale that is at times surprising, shocking, repulsive and (at all times) fascinating to watch. Secrets are revealed (some quite dark), truth is spoken and emotions laid raw. It’s a powerful, moving story that will be on your mind long after you leave the theatre. 

   When you first arrive at the Renaissance Theatre to see the play you’ll be struck by the size and complexity of the set designed and built by Greg Morris and Tom Olson (with the assistance of many others). It’s a three-story home brought to life on the stage, including (by my count) seven distinctive, perfectly-decorated rooms - and it’s as important, in its way, as any performer. It’s a professional product that any company would be proud to work on, and quite an achievement - kudos all around!

   A few caveats - this is not a show for young children. It’s intense, it’s real - there is violence (both emotional and physical) and adult language and situations are included.

   But for those mature enough to handle it, it’s a terrific production (it’s no surprise that the original play walked away with a swath of honors and awards).  

   Congratulations to the cast, crew and directors for crafting one of the Tri-state’s most impressive shows! 


  ARTS presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 19, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Show only tickets: $15, Dinner and Show tickets: $30. Call 304-733-2787 to make dinner and show reservations. Tickets can be bought online or at the door on the day of the performance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Interview with "August: Osage County's" Jonathan Maynard

   You have three more chances to catch the ARTS production of August: Osage County in Huntington, starting Thursday night - and we have a few more interviews with the cast to share!

    Stepping up to the imaginary microphone today is the talented Jonathan Maynard, who plays a hometown boy who took on a surprising job.

Q: Tell us about August: Osage County.

Jonathan: The play follows the tale of the Weston family of Osage County Oklahoma in August of a year in the late 2010’s. Beverly Weston, the patriarch, hires a live-in maid and subsequently disappears. As the family converges on the house on the plains, family secrets are revealed, relationships are tested, and the question of what it means to be a family is brought to the forefront. 

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?

Jonathan: My favorite theatre pieces are those that teach us something about ourselves, the ones that show the truths about humanity and what it means to be a flawed individual. August: Osage County embodies everything about that idea. None of the characters are particularly lovable. There are no winners or losers. But there are people. Real people. 

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Jonathan: I play Sheriff Deion Gilbeau. He has the unenviable task of delivering bad news to people he's know his whole life and may care a little more than he wishes to admit about this particular family. 

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Jonathan: I have been performing in community theatre throughout the Tri-state since 2012. 

Q: I've heard the set is amazing...

Jonathan: Not only is it massive, it's functional. I've rarely seen a set this well thought out and put together, let alone acted on it. I mean, it's a three story house with a front porch for crying out loud. 

Q: Tell us about the cast.

Jonathan: The cast are some of the most talented  individuals in the area. They have worked tirelessly to create the world of the Weston family and I, for one, am honored to be a small part of this cast. 

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

Jonathan: If you go, you will laugh. You will feel uncomfortable. You will hate and pity and relate to the characters. You will lose track of time. You will learn something about yourself. You will see one of the most well-written pieces of American theatre produced by a group of people who truly care about the material. What could be a better use of an evening?

Thanks, Jonathan!


   ARTS presents August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, on May 19, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Renaissance Theater at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Show only tickets: $15, Dinner and Show tickets: $30. Call 304-733-2787 to make dinner and show reservations. Tickets can be bought online or at the door on the day of the performance.