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 20, 2014

Interview #3 with the Cast of "Much Ado About Nothing"

  Here’s the third in our series of interviews with the cast of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which is being presented over the next two weekends by ARTS at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington.
   This time around, let’s hear from the multi-talented Stephen Vance:

Q: What is "Much Ado" all about?

Stephen: "Much Ado" is the story of love, misunderstanding, and the people who live it.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Stephen:This is my favorite Shakespeare show. I love the wit and the comedy. 

Q: Tell us about the part you play.

Stephen: I play Don Pedro, the prince. My character takes it upon himself to make sure his best friends get the girls of their dreams and makes sure everyone has some fun along the way.

Q: What’s your background in theatre?

Stephen: I started by working backstage with Helen Freeman at HOT. I ended up in the chorus of Thoroughly Modern Millie two years later. Over the last few years, I have the privilege to be a part of nearly every show at ARTS over the last 6 years either on or off stage. I'm now one of the resident directors at ARTS and couldn't be more honored to be working with such a talented and dedicated group of performers.

Q: Tell us about the cast and/or directors you’re working with.

Stephen: Murdock is something special. The Tri-State is really fortunate to have such a gifted and hard-working artist sharing his abilities with us. He makes you better and gives you the freedom to grow. This cast is unbelievably good. Who would've thought three years ago that a local group could pull off one Shakespeare show, let alone three? I started to list the people in this cast individually who I'm proud to share the stage with and realized I was typing everyone's name. They are so cool.

Q: Why would you urge our readers to see this play? 

Stephen: This is the coolest show you may see in a long time. In my opinion, "Much Ado" is also the most accessible of Shakespeare's show. It's easy to follow and so much fun. I'm so proud of this cast and crew and want everybody to have a chance to see it.

   Thanks, Stephen!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Aladdin" Diary #4

   I love work parties!

   An important part of putting on a show is building the set that goes with it.

   For First Stage Theatre, that means putting together work parties to assemble, paint and decorate the set for the musical Disney's Aladdin, Jr.

   One of the big advantages to a children's theatre is that you (hopefully) have a built-in work force to pitch in and tackle that construction effort. But I'm not just talking about the parents of our actors (though we certainly appreciate their help).

   On shows I direct, the cast is actually required to put in a couple of hours working on the set. It's a "win-win" situation - it's a great experience for the young actors, to learn some basic construction skills (everyone should know how to paint, for example). It's also a good lesson - that set doesn't just appear when the cast arrives at the stage. And it gives them the pride of ownership!

   And it's a boost for the show, as we get the work force we need to build the sets (as you see in the photo above of three of our intrepid painters).

   For this show, the effort is organized by three members of the First Stage board - Jack Welch, Hunt Bryan and Mike Barbour. They finalize the design, make sense of my scribbled notes and suggestions, and create the setting for our magical tale.

   They're heroes all!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Interview #2 with the Cast of "Much Ado About Nothing"

   For our second interview with the talented cast of Much Ado About Nothing, the Shakespeare play that's taking the stage over the next two weekends at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington, let's hear from the lovely and talented Cyndi Fuller:

Q: What is Much Ado About Nothing about?

Cyndi: Ok so there's this girl and this guy and they're all like, "Oh no I'll never be in love it's so yucky." Then there this other girl and guy and they are totes 100% into each other. BUT there are villains and they are out to ruin the WHOLE thing. I really don't know why they are so mean. Maybe they had really awful kindergarten teachers. The showgirls who never wear pants. If that isn't reason enough to see it you need to get your priorities straight.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Cyndi: ARTs is a rad group of people. They welcome people with open arms (take a moment to sing the Journey song here). Mike (Murdock) is a fantastical director. I couldn't imagine a more wonderful group of people to work with. For reals.

Q: Tell us about your part in the play. 

Cyndi: I literally don't wear a shirt the entire show. I'm covered in rhinestones and adoration. I was cast for my legs and facial expressions. My role as cigarette girl steals the show (excited emoji).

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Cyndi: I'm a professional chorus member. Background emotions and dancing on tables are my forte. If you are ever looking for someone to shimmy and shake during a show, I'm your gal. My facial expressions are on POINT.

Q: Tell us about the cast and/or directors you're working with.

Cyndi: I've met some of the best people in the world doing this show. Mike is one of the most spectacular directors to grace the Tri-State and the cast has welcomed me with open arms. I can't imagine a more wonderful group of human beings to work with. 

Q: Why would you urge our readers to see this play?

Cyndi: The dancers are hot. The acting is on fire. The games and music are mesmerizing. You're missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you don't see Much Ado About Nothing

   Thanks, Cyndi!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Interview #1 with the Cast of "Much Ado About Nothing"

    They’ve just wrapped their first of three weekends, so before it’s too late, let’s hear from the cast of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which is being presented over the next two weekends by ARTS at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

   To kick things off, let’s hear from my pal, the amazingly talented Frederick Walker:

Q:  What is "Much Ado" all about? 

Frederick: Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy and a tragedy rolled into one.  A couple in love despite their pretense of  disdain for each other.  Another whose true love is thwarted (is it?) by a lie told by a villain!

Q: What part do you play, and why did you want to be part of this show?

Frederick: I play the part of the sexton, a small part befitting one who is in only his second play.  I wanted to be in this show to experience the other wonderful cast and learn from them.  It has been a wonderful ride.

Q: Tell us about the cast and/or directors you’re working with.

Frederick: The cast has been very supportive and as each brings different talents, each is willing to share and teach. The Director (Mike Murdock) is great to work with because, even though he knows his is the final word, he is always willing to listen to suggestions and create a fantastic show from the "pool" of talent.

Q: Why would you urge our readers to see this play? 

Frederick: I invite everyone who loves to laugh and/or cry to come to this show. I urge anyone not familiar with the play to read a two paragraph synopsis prior to the show, as the show jumps right into the action and foreknowledge of the main characters will prevent the many nuances of a William Shakespeare play from passing you by!

   Thanks, Frederick!

Friday, August 15, 2014

On Stage This Weekend

   Lots of great shows on tap this weekend - here's the rundown, courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman:

- Much Ado about Nothing (Play)
by William Shakespeare
Arts Resources for the Tri State
Fri. - Sat., Aug. 15-16 / 22-23 / 29-30 at 8 p.m.
Matinee Sun., Aug. 17 at 2 p.m.
ARTS Mainstage, 900 8th Street, Huntington
$15 show only, $30 dinner and show by reservation only.
DINNER MENU: Garden Salad w/ raspberry vinaigrette dressing/Chicken Breast/Scalloped Potatoes/Parmesan baked tomato/Summer Vegetables/Rolls/Berry Shortcake/Coffee or Iced Tea
Opening Night - Friday, August 15th
Saturday, August 23

- The Legend of Sleeping Beauty (Musical)
Book and lyrics by Thomas W. Rieser. Music and lyrics by Alan W. Gill and Laura Derocher.
Alban Arts Center
Fri. - Sat., Aug. 15 - 16 and 22 - 23 at 8 p.m.
Matinees Sun., Aug. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.
Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main, St. Albans WV

- Joseph, Mother of Jesus (Original Play)
by Dan Kehde
Contemporary Youth Arts Company (CYAC)
Thurs. - Sat., Aug. 14 - 16 at 8 p.m.
West Virginia State University Capitol Center Theatre
123 Summers Street, Charleston WV
$15 Adults / $8 Students / Seniors
Tickets are available at the door the evenings of the performances
304-342-6522 for reservations and group rates.

- Frankenstein: A New Musical (Musical)
Scene One Theatre
Fri. - Sat., Aug. 15 - 16 / 22 - 23 at 8 p.m.
Matinees Sun., Aug. 17 and 22 at 2 p.m.
ARTS/West 152 West State Street, Athens, OH
$11 Adults / $8 Children

- A Murderous Reunion! (Interactive Murder Dinner Party)
Murder and Merriment
Fri. - Sat., Aug. 15 - 16 at 7 p.m.
The Greenhouse of Teays Valley, Hurricane, WV
Tickets $40
Reservations Required: 304-397-6316

- Hansel + Gretel: The Musical (Musical)
JAX Theatre
Fri. - Sat., Aug 15 - 16 / 22 - 23 at 7 p.m.
Matinees Sat., Aug 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
JAX Theatre
8805 Ohio River Rd. Wheelersburg, OH
Tickets $12 plus $1.65 fee if you buy online

- 9 to 5 (Musical)
Actors Guild of Parkersburg 
Fri. - Sat., Aug. 15 - 16 / 22 - 23 at 8 p.m.
(*Sat., Aug. 16 show is at 7 p.m.- Fireworks afterward)
Matinees Sun., Aug. 10 and 17 at 2:30 p.m.
Actors Guild of Parkersburg
724 Market Street, Parkersburg, WV
(corner of 8th and Market)
$17 Adults / $14 Students and seniors

   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Much Ado About Nothing"

  Taking the stage this weekend is the ARTS presentation of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing - and as you'd expect, it's an original interpretation of the classic story.

   Here's their description of the show:

   "It tells the story of an upcoming wedding and a hilarious plan to make two wisecracking rivals fall in love. All is well until the prince’s brother decides to interfere with all of the joy of the occasion. Will love save the day? Director Mike Murdock has adapted Shakespeare’s whimsical tale of romance and wit, and has set the play in 1960s Vegas. After huge successes with updates of Macbeth and Julius Caesar, the bard’s comedy is sure to please."

   I'm hearing great things about the show! It runs for three weekends, starting Friday night. Don't miss it!

   Here's all the info you need:

WHEN: The show runs August 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 at 8 p.m. and August 17 at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Renaissance Theatre (Old Huntington High School) at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

HOW MUCH: General Admission tickets are available at the door for $15. Dinner and show $30 with reservation.

Dinner seating for this show is extremely limited and will sell out (the first Friday is already sold out) - call today to make your reservation: 304-733-2787.

Garden Salad w/ raspberry vinaigrette dressing
Chicken Breast
Scalloped Potatoes
Parmesan baked tomato
Summer Vegetables
Berry Shortcake
Coffee or Iced Tea


Opening Night - Friday, August 15
Friday, August 22
Saturday, August 23



Len Trent - Benedick
Joanna Berner - Beatrice
Eric Wilson - Claudio
Emma Grace Imes - Hero
Stephen Vance - Don Pedro
Bill Stambaugh - Leonato
Simon Woods - Don John
Cameron Knight - Borachio
Jinnie Knight - Conrade
Sheila Meade - Margaret
Jamie Mathis - Ursula
Dylan M. Clark - Dogberry
Luke Matlock - Verges
Frederick W. Walker - Sexton
Jonathan Maynard - Staffer
Jonathan Blair Armstrong & Andrew Surber - Watchmen
Nic Skaggs - Balthasar
Andrew Potter - Friar
Cyndi Mac Fuller & Jocelyn Clark Knapp - Cigarette Girls
Todd L Green & Karen Kelly Pruitt - Visitors

Director: Mike Murdock
Choreographer: Constance Anthony
Stage Manager: Michael Sullivan

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Paying Tribute to Robin Williams

   The outpouring of grief over the death of Robin Williams has been touching - he's an amazing entertainer who touched countless lives with his humor and talent.

   Broadway expressed its feelings last night at the end of the performance of Disney's Aladdin, as the cast joined the audience in singing "Friend Like Me" in honor of the man who created the character of the Genie onscreen.

   You can catch the clip here: