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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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Stage This Weekend: "Alice" and "Footloose"

   You have two great community theatre shows to choose from this weekend. One is based on a literary classic, and the other on a beloved film musical.

   Here's the rundown:

Alice Through the Looking Glass - The LimeLight Theatre Company will present the play on April 29, 30 and May 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. and May 1 and 8 at 2 p.m. at the  WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for ages 12 and under.

- FootlooseCapital High School Theatre presents the musical on April 28, 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capital High School Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students.

   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Monday, April 25, 2016

On Stage Tuesday: "Once"


   The Marshall Artist's Series wraps up its latest season this week with the touring Broadway show Once (which is based on a terrific movie by the same name).

   My pal Dave Lavender filed an excellent story in today's Herald-Dispatch, which you can read right here - here's an excerpt:

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   Florida native Sam Cieri has been everything from a motorcycle salesman in New York to a dueling piano player at The Mirage in Las Vegas.
   But oddly enough it was his time busking with his guitar in the NYC subways that prepared him most for his role of Guy in the Broadway tour of Once, which closes out the Marshall Artists Series' 2015-16 season.
   The winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and winner of the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album when it was on Broadway, Once, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, 925 4th Ave., Huntington.
ABOUT THE SHOW: Once, based on the 2007 award-winning indie movie, tells the tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights ... but their unlikely connection turns out to be deeper and more complex than your everyday romance.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

On Stage This Weekend: "Romeo & Juliet" and "Shrek"

   You have two great shows to choose from this weekend, including one of the most famous plays of all time, and a recent take on fairy tales!


   The classic is courtesy of Marshall University's Department of Theatre, as it presents Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington. 

   Director Jack Cirillo called it a rite of passage for college performers and production staff. "It's a love story and a tragedy, and it has a certain timeless quality to it," Cirillo said. "It's made up of mostly teenagers, and they act like teenagers even in the 16th century."

   Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and faculty, $7 for children ages 5-12, and free to full-time Marshall students.


   The other show is Shrek the Musical, which is based on the beloved animated film about an ogre who sets out to save his forest from a wicked King - and ends up teaming up with a talking donkey and saving a princess in the process.

    The show is being presented by Ironton High School at 1701 S. 7th Street on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Reserved tickets are $12.50, adult tickets are $8, student tickets are $5.

   So, two great shows running this weekend only - don't miss out! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Going to Extremes

   I had a case of theatre whiplash this weekend, after seeing two shows at opposite ends of the theatre spectrum.
   On Friday night I saw the wonderful Junie B. Jones the Musical, which was presented by Huntington's children's theatre - First Stage Theatre Company - at Huntington High School. 
   It's a terrific show about kids just starting out in First Grade, and going through the struggles of making new friends, losing old friends, getting eyeglasses, playing kickball and much more! Junie records her thoughts in her "Top Secret Personal Beeswax" journal, and that song (and several others) stick in your mind forever after. 
    Loaded with colorful dances, great characters (who will remind you of friends - or yourself - when you were in the First Grade), lots of laughs and high-energy songs, and you have a show that keeps you smiling and laughing from start to finish. 
   The show featured an amazing, talented cast of young performers, and it was terrific fun from start to finish!
   Then two days later I drove down to my hometown, St. Albans, and caught the Appalachian Arts Collective production of the musical The Last Five Years!
   That amazing production sits firmly on the adult end of the spectrum. It focuses on a man and a woman who have been in a relationship for five years. 
   One of the things that makes it unique (other than the fantastic songs) is that it plays hob with the usual timeline. 
   Cathy, played by the beautiful and talented Beth Winkler Bowden, tells (and sings) her story in reverse, starting with the end of her relationship and working back toward the beginning.
   Her love interest, Jamie, played by the amazing Cameron Vance, follows the traditional route, starting at the beginning and working toward the end. Their stories interweave (often in heartbreaking fashion) as we move through their story.
   It's a clever format, and the show is loaded with amazing songs - but it's definitely aimed at adults, as it features mature concepts and language.
   But it's impressive to see two gifted performers shoulder the entire show and carry it through with so much skill and heart. 
   Add in an ingenious set and some lighting-quick costume changes - and did I mention what outstanding singers Beth and Cameron are? It was a stunning production!  
   So I had a great theatre weekend, and it was a great reminder that the talent in this area is beyond impressive!
   We're so lucky to have so many outstanding shows to choose from!

Friday, April 15, 2016

On Stage This Weekend

   There are great shows this weekend for all audiences and all ages - here's the rundown:

Junie B. Jones the Musical - First Stage Theatre Company presents the show based on the beloved books on April 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and April 17 at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington High School Theatre at 1 Highlander Way. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under. Tickets are available at the door or can be reserved by calling 304-416-KIDS.

The Last 5 Years - The Alban Arts and Conference Center presents the musical on April 8, 9, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m., and April 10 and 17 at 2 p.m. at the Alban Arts and Conference Center at 65 Olde Main Street in Saint Albans. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and children.

- Into the Woods, Jr. - Fairland High School's theater department present Stephen Sondheim's humorous and realistic twist on a string of fairy tales Friday through Sunday, April 15-17, at the Fairland High School Cafetorium. Tickets are $6 and are available at the door.

Ring of Fire - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the musical about Johnny Cash on March 31, April 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and April 16 at 2 p.m. on the Pikeville Main Stage.

   So get out and support your local theatre!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

On Stage: "Junie B," "Romeo & Juliet" and much more




   My pal Dave Lavender checks in with a terrific story in today's Herald-Dispatch about the shows coming up this weekend, including First Stage's Junie B. Jones the Musical and Marshall University's Romeo and Juliet.

   You can read the full story right here (and there's a great photo gallery of shots from "Junie B." here.

   Here's an excerpt from the story:

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   All the world's a stage, and definitely this weekend all the Tri-State as well.

   Here's a look at some must-see theater around the region from Shakespeare in love to a delightful romp through the world of Junie B. Jones.

   Fresh off the heels of "Without Strings" last month, The First Stage Theatre Company is back in business again bringing to life a famous children's book series in "Junie B. Jones, The Musical," as adapted from the best-selling books by Barbara Park.

   First Stage will present the musical, created by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16, and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 16 and 17.

   Directed by Amy Browning with musical direction by Christopher Bowling, the musical is based on "Junie B. Jones Is A Graduation Girl," "Junie B. Jones First Grader at Last!," "Junie B. Jones First Grader Boss of Lunch," "Junie B. Jones First Grader Toothless Wonder," "Top Secret Personal Beeswax" and "A Journal By Junie B. (And Me)" by Barbara Park.

   The musical explores Junie B.'s first day of first grade, a day filled with changes - Junie's friend Lucille doesn't want to be her best pal anymore, and on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. In addition, Junie has trouble reading the blackboard, and her teacher Mr. Scary thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a friendly cafeteria lady, a kickball tournament and a "Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal," and first grade has never been more exciting.

   Tickets are available at the door or by calling the ticket line at 304-416-5437. Tickets $10; $8 for children 12 and under. For more info visit www.firststagetheatre.org.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This Weekend: "Junie B. Jones the Musical"


   I had fun this weekend - I got to drive a truck!

   Sunday was the load-in for Junie B. Jones the Musical - which means the cast, the parents and directors loaded up the set and props into a truck (which I got to drive!), and moved it all up the hill to the theatre at Huntington High School.

   The play is based on the beloved books about a young girl facing the trials of school as written by Barbara Park and illustrated by Denise Bunkus. 

   (A year ago I was in a meeting with some lovely people with Cabell County Schools. When I mentioned First Stage was going to present Junie B. Jones, they all let out a rousing cheer - their students love the books!)

   The show features great songs and a terrific, talented cast. But it runs one weekend only - this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. - so don't miss it!