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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, February 05, 2016

“As You Like It” - A Review


   I should admit up front that, when it comes to Shakespeare, I’m more of a fan of his comedies.

   So I expected to enjoy the ARTS production of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which wraps up this Friday and Saturday at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington (at 900 8th Street). 

  But even going in with high expectations, I must admit - the show was amazing! It’s a classic story about love, impetuous youth, vindictive Dukes (and other, nicer Dukes) and a woman who disguises herself as a man, which leads to comic mischief when the man she loves asks him/her for romantic advice.

   Whew! Sounds complicated, but it rolls along easily, thanks to the tremendously talented crew of actors who make up the ARTS resident company. 

   They work together seamlessly to bring the characters, story and era to life, all set on a clever stage “in the round” (meaning the audience is seated all around the edges of the stage, centered around an impressive tree at the center of the forest). The setting works well, and there's never a problem hearing an actor no matter where they're located. 

   Much of the show rests on the slender shoulders of Joanna Berner Murdock, who plays the beautiful Rosalind, the daughter of royalty who’s forced to flee from her home with the evil Duke (John Campbell), who threatens her with death if she stays. (Campbell also plays the evil Duke’s good-hearted brother, a much happier fellow, though the switch from one character to another can be confusing at times.)

   When her upbeat cousin Celia (Kate Morris) offers to go along, Rosalind disguises herself as a man to protect them both from “predators” - and they take along the court Jester (don’t leave home without one), played with manic intensity and perfect comedic timing by Jonathan Maynard.

   So Rosalind becomes the manly Ganymede - and her efforts at disguising (or failing to disguise) her true nature are hilarious.

   Her lover, Orlando, is played by the amazing Mike Naglee, who is a wonder in this play, whether trading humorous quips, taking part in an amazingly physical (and convincing) wrestling match with the athletic Cameron Knight, or writing sickening love songs in the woods.

   But the cast is loaded with such riches! Nora Ankrom absolutely kills as Phebe, a woman indifferent to the pleas of the (equally funny) shepherd Silvius, played by Dylan Clark. Phebe's interest is roused by an encounter with the “manly Ganymede,” and her transformation into a she-wolf is delightful.

   The play’s most famous line is delivered by the melancholy traveler Jaques, who provides the “All the world’s a stage” speech - and Robert Hutchens does so masterfully.

   There’s not a weak point in the show, which includes: the commanding Simon Woods as Orlando’s ever-angry brother; Rick Walker as Orlando’s comically hapless (but well-meaning) servant Adam; Tyler Bradley as the serious and stolid shepherd Corin; Todd Green as the funny would-be lover (but-alas-ill-fated) William; the luminous Cyndi Mac Fuller as Audrey, the innocent object of William’s interest; and the Lara Donahoe-led trio of musicians who provide sweet support to the proceedings.

    Kudos to director Mike Murdock and the cast and crew of As You Like It - it’s a real treat, and yet another in the ever-growing line of top-notch Shakespeare productions from ARTS.

   Highly recommended!

On Stage This Weekend: Shakespeare and "Moonlight!"

   Only two shows on tap this weekend - but they’re great ones! 

   Here’s the list:

- As You Like It by William Shakespeare - Arts Resources for the Tri State (ARTS) present the classic play at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.

- Moonlight and Magnolias - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the play on Feb. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. at 218 2nd Street in Pikeville, Ky. Tickets are$16 for adults and $12 for students. 


   So get out there and enjoy a show! 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

"As You Like It" Interview with Kate Morris

   Tomorrow the play As You Like It takes the stage in Huntington for the first of its final two shows - and we have two more interviews with the cast to share! (I know, I said the same thing yesterday - but we received one more interview today!)

   So here’s our next-to-the-last interview (so far), as the lovely and talented Kate Morris tells us about the joys of a Shakespeare play:

Q: How does the show relate to modern-day audiences?

Kate: Who doesn’t love love? It’s a fun and playful romp through the forest. Unless you don’t like fun. Then you definitely shouldn’t come see it. But even if you don’t like fun, you might like Jaques because he doesn’t like fun either. So you should still see it!

Q: Tell us about the character you play

Kate: My part of the story is about two young women who make a bold decision to leave their oppressive life at home and go on an adventure. It’s like Thelma and Louise in corsets. I play Celia, Rosalind’s devoted, fearless, and spirited cousin and best friend. She always looks on the bright side and doesn’t take life too seriously even when things look bleak. It’s nice to be able to go to the theatre each night and live in the shoes of someone with such a positive outlook on life. Speaking of shoes, the costumes are wonderful. Anna Baker and Becky McClelland have outdone themselves.

Q: What's your background in theatre? 

Kate: The theatre has been drawing me in with its siren song since I was a teenager. Whether it’s on stage, backstage or in the audience, I can’t seem to stay away.

Q: Tell us about the cast.

Kate: As Celia, I spend a lot of time on stage observing and listening without talking. I have the best seat in the house to watch this talented cast work hard to create a neighborhood of characters that speak beautiful words and feel honest emotions. I have to admit I wasn’t completely sure we could pull this off in the allotted rehearsal time, what with illnesses and holidays and snow, but I am as proud of this show as any I’ve been in. More.

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

Kate: Shakespeare is always a challenge for me. Shakespeare’s comedies are even more so. I like a challenge. 

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

Kate: It’s cold outside, but it’s warm and cozy in the Forest of Arden. Come “live a little; comfort a little; cheer thyself a little.” 

Q: And how do you like it?

Kate: Above freezing.

   Thanks, Kate!

   As You Like It by William Shakespeare will be presented at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"As You Like It" Interview with Ashby-Lee Foutch

  You have two more chances to catch the ARTS production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, which wraps up this weekend at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington. (By the way, I’ve seen it, it’s wonderful - do yourself a favor and go see it.)

   We have a two more cast interviews to share, starting with the lovely Ashby-Lee Foutch, who plays The Page:  

Q: Tell us about As You Like It.

Ashby-Lee: As You Like It is a comedy about fools, exile, adventure, and love. Every character has their own unique story, and each story ties into a celebratory ending in the forest. Huzzah!
Q: How does the show relate to modern-day audiences?

Ashby-Lee: Shakespeare may have lived in a different time and spoken in a slightly different way, but his ideas are still relevant in today’s society. It’s full of love stories, each one with its own challenges and twists.
Q: Tell us about the characters you play.

Ashby-Lee: I’m the page to Oliver and a court musician. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Lara Donahoe, who wrote the majority of the music in the show. It has been fun learning about the different instruments and music of the time period. 
Q: What's your background in theatre?

Ashby-Lee: I’ve been involved in theatre for five years, and I have loved every minute of it. I auditioned for my first show as a nervous middle schooler, and now I feel at home on stage. I never expected to fall in love with this art form, but I am beyond happy that I did.
Q: Tell us about the cast.

Ashby-Lee: The cast is such an amazing group of people. I am the youngest, and they all have taken me under their wing in a way. They are an absolute blast to work with, and I am thankful for the opportunity to create with them!

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

Ashby-Lee: I have never been in a Shakespeare show before, and I thought that As You Like It would be a great start. I also love working with the people at ARTS!  
Q: Why would you recommend this show?\

Ashby-Lee: It is truly a beautiful show that has something for everyone. It will shock you, make you laugh, make you cry. The set is gorgeous. The costumes are wonderful. You don’t want to miss it. 

Q: And how do you like it?

Ashby-Lee: I love it!
   Thanks, Ashby!
   As You Like It by William Shakespeare will be presented at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Bitsy and Boots Return!

   Every year at Valentine's Day we get a real treat in Huntington - a new production from First Church Dinner Theatre1 And this year's show features the return of a favorite duo in an all-new story!

   Here's what you need to know about:

“Bitsy and Boots On the Move” by Jonathan Joy

     Bitsy and Boots are back along with Tommy, Kat and their zany friends!
  
              Why are Bitsy and Boots on the move? Where are they going?

                          What is Max running for (or from) now?

              What will Boots contribute to Max’s latest political campaign?

             What’s new with Bertie Lou?

Bridget said what?

      All these questions will be answered when you attend “Bitsy and Boots on the Move”, yet another hilarious comedy by our resident playwright, Jonathan Joy. To keep the laughs coming, we have assembled a stellar cast of Dinner Theater veterans:
             
           Bitsy - Jane Morse                 Boots - Loretta Hetzer
                       Tommy – Eric Wilson                                   Kat -  Jenn Naglee
          Bertie Lou – Linda LeMaster                        Bridget – Leann Haines 
                       Policeman – Antwon Williams                     Max - Michael Sheets   
                       Raul - Michael Naglee
                  
 The Dinner Theater has been a winter highlight in Huntington since 1991.  It is an integral part of First Church’s Mission program, raising more than $52,000 for Mission projects through 23 productions. For example last year’s proceeds helped West Virginia mission projects, the Campus Christian Center, the City Mission, Blessings in a Back Pack, food and clothing for local families in need, and Christmas in Nicaragua.

First United Methodist Church, 1124 5th Ave., Huntington
Friday, February 12; Saturday, February 13; Sunday, February 14

Dinner served at 6:30 p.m.     Show at 8:00 p.m.
Choice of entrees: Prime Rib au Jus or Glazed Cornish hen, with
Tossed Salad         Baked Potato
Green Peas and Pearl Onions
Dilly Rolls
Assorted Valentine Desserts

Dinner plus Show:  Adult - $25.00   Child under 12 - $8.00
Show only (as space permits) - $5.00
Babysitting available on request for all shows (advance notice required)

RESERVATIONS REQUIRED FOR ALL DINNERS
        Call:  (304)522-0357 or  (740)867-8576 


All profits benefit the Missions of First United Methodist Church.

Monday, February 01, 2016

On Stage in February

    Lots of great shows springing up in February - here’s the rundown:

- As You Like It by William Shakespeare - Arts Resources for the Tri State (ARTS) present the classic play at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.

- Mauritius - Marshall University’s Theatre Department presents the play on Feb. 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. at The Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre. The play revolves around two estranged half-sisters who discover a book of rare stamps that may include the crown jewel for collectors. In this gripping tale, a seemingly simple sale becomes dangerous when three seedy, high-stakes collectors enter the sisters’ world, willing to do anything to claim the rare find as their own. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for faculty and senior citizens, and $7 for children ages 5 to 12. 

- Bitsy and Boots on the Move - First Church Dinner Theater presents the play by Jonathan Joy at the First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall at 1124 5th Avenue in Huntington on Feb. 12, 13 and 14. The dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., nd the show at 8 p.m. Tickets for adults are $25 for dinner and the show. Children under 12 are $8 for dinner and the show. Tickets for the show only are $5 for all ages. Reservations are required - call 304-522-0357 or 740-867-8576.

- Annie - The Marshall Artist Series presents the Broadway touring musical on Feb. 24 at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington.

- Disney's The Little Mermaid - Huntington High School Theatre present the beloved musical on Feb. 18, 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., and Feb. 28 at 3 p.m. at the Huntington High School Auditorium at 1 Highlander Way. Tickets are $7 for  adults and $5 for students.

- A Thousand Cranes - The Covenant School Dramatic Eagles present the play on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at Covenant School at 2400 Johnstown Road in Huntington. Tickets are $5 each.

- Mercy - The Contemporary Youth Arts Company presents a new musical drama with music by Mark Scarpelli and Books and lyrics by Dan Kehde on Feb. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. The show centers on the people of Salem Village who blame witchcraft and devilry for the fall from grace that led to Indian attacks, starvation and illness. Suspicions of witchcraft bloom into accusations, investigations and, finally, condemnations as mass hysteria envelops the town and no one, no one except Mercy and the children, is safe from the hangman’s noose.

- Urinetown: The Musical - The Alban Arts Center presents the musical on Feb. 19, 20, 26, 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 21 and 28 at 2 p.m. at the Alban Arts Center at 65 Olde Main Plaza in St. Albans. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children.

- Moonlight and Magnolias - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the play on Feb. 4, 5 , 6 at 7:30 p.m. at 218 2nd Street in Pikeville, Ky. Tickets are$16 for adults and $12 for students. 

- Much Ado About Nothing - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the Shakespeare play about two young lovers, Claudio and Hero, who are to be married imminently but the devious scheming of a resentful Prince looks set to thwart the nuptials. It will be presented on the Jenny WIley Main stage in Pikeville, Ky on Feb. 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. 

   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

On Stage This Weekend

   No musicals on tap for this weekend, but you have three amazing plays to choose from! 

   Here's the rundown:

- As You Like It by William Shakespeare - Arts Resources for the Tri State (ARTS) present the classic play at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Jan. 29, 30 and Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.

- The Belle of Amherst - The Paramount Arts Center presents the play based on the life of poet Emily Dickinson. It’ll be presented on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for students.

- Moonlight and Magnolias - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the play on Jan. 26, 28, 29, 30 and Feb. 4, 5 , 6 at 7:30 p.m. at 218 2nd Street in Pikeville, Ky. Tickets are$16 for adults and $12 for students.


   So get out there and support your local theatre!

"As You Like It" Interview with Dylan Clark

   There are just two more days until the premiere of the ARTS play As You Like It - and here's our final (so far) interview with the cast.

   But it’s a good one, as the incredibly funny and talented Dylan Clark checks in with his comments about working on one of Shakespeare’s finest shows:

Q: Tell us about As You Like It.

Dylan: It's a story about a bunch of people falling in love in a forest. 

Q: How does the show relate to modern-day audiences?

Dylan: There's some kissing, I think! 

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Dylan: I play Silvius, a shepherd deep in the throes of unrequited love. 

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Dylan: I got myself a shiny BFA in theatre at Marshall University.

Q: Tell us about the cast.

Dylan: A ragtag group of misfits that band together against all odds. 

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

Dylan: Easy. The doublets.

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

Dylan: It's funny and looks neat.

Q: And how do you like it?

Dylan: I don't like it... I LOVE it!

   Thanks, Dylan!


   As You Like It by William Shakespeare will be presented at the ARTS Renaissance Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Jan. 28, 29, 30 and Feb. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the show only, and $30 for dinner and show - for dinner, you must make a reservation by calling 304-733-2787.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Auditions for "Junie B. Jones The Musical" This Weekend


   The beloved book starring Junie B. Jones takes to the stage this Spring in a musical - and local kids can be part of the show!
   Auditions for First Stage's production of Junie B. Jones The Musical will be held on Saturday, January 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Pea Ridge United Methodist Church at 5747 East Pea Ridge Road in Huntington.
   Auditions are open to young people from 8 years old through seniors in high school. The cast size will be approximately 30.
   Please prepare 32 - 64 bars (or 1 - 2 minutes) of a musical theater song (NOT a pop song). An accompanist and CD player will be available. You may bring sheet music or a karaoke track- but please, no a cappella auditions. Actors should be prepared to learn a short dance.
   The show will be staged April 7-17.
   Don't miss Junie B!