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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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Community Players Reunion


   My pal Dave Lavender wrote a not-to-be-missed story this weekend for the Herald-Dispatch about the upcoming reunion for the community theatre group known as the Community Players!
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What do Marshall basketball coach Dan D'Antoni, two-time Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris, Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller, award-winning documentary filmmaker Deb Novak, Hattie and Nan's owner Joanna Sexton, Huntington High School teacher Helen Freeman and Academy Award-nominee Brad Dourif all have in common?
They are all players.
Or more accurately, they were players - and that is a good and memorable thing.
That illustrious group of multi-talented people are among the hundreds of talented folks who took to the stage during the six-decade history of the Community Players.
For the first time this Memorial Day weekend, Community Players - Huntington's community theater group that put on more than 250 shows in Huntington from 1937 until 1997 - is hosting a reunion on the street that was the heart of it all.
The main reunion, which is free and open to the public, is set for 5 p.m. Saturday, May 27, at the Charles Holley Gazebo, just a couple blocks from the empty lot at 420 14th St. W., that once held The Darwin E. Abbott Theatre, home to the Community Players from 1952 until December 1994.

Friday, May 19, 2017

On Stage This Weekend - "Sister Act" and "Sordid Lives"

   There are only two shows taking the stage this weekend!

   One is family friendly, and the other's for adults. Here's the rundown:

   Sister Act: The Musical - The Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the musical comedy based on the popular film on May 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre at One Civic Center Drive. Tickets are $25 - reserved seating

   Sordid Lives - Portsmouth Little Theatre presents the play that became a hit movie and cult television series. It will be presented May 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale at www.pltlive.com, and are $12 for adults and $10 for students & senior citizens. Rated R for language and adult themes.

   So go see a show!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Tonight Only; "Showcase 2017"

   GAME DAY!!!


   Today's your one and only chance to see some of First Stage's top talents perform at Showcase 2017!


   It's a special fundraiser for the children's theatre, and features some of that group's amazing alumni and young performers showing off their talents!

   We have some of the company's top young talent performing, along with several graduates, including Broadway performer Brooklyn Nelson, Becca Gaunch, Audrey Fosson, Levi Kelley, Sarah Hayes Navy, Evan Price, and Maggie Saunders!


   The show starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Huntington High School auditorium at One Highlander Way - you'll enjoy two hours of singing and dancing, and tickets are just $12 for adults and $10 for students age 12 and under.

   (I admit prejudice on this one - I'm one of the co-directors of the show, along with Amy Browning, Jonathan Joy and music director Lara Donahoe.)


   Don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On Stage This Weekend

   On stage this weekend, there are four great shows, including a concert by First Stage's top talent, a collection of Gilbert & Sullivan's greatest hits, a serious drama and a hit musical!

   Here's the rundown:

- Showcase 2017 - First Stage Theatre Company presents a concert and talent show featuring alumni and present-day performers. The performance will be one night only, on Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Huntington High School's auditorium at 1 Highlander Way. Tickets are available at the door - $12 for adults and $10 for children age 12 and under. The performance is a fundraiser for Huntington's children's theatre.

- An Evening with Gilbert & Sullivan - ARTS presents a concert of classic songs from the masters of musical theatre! Shows will be presented on Thursday, Friday and Saturday - May 11, 12, and 13 - at 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Tickets are $15 each. 

- Dutchman - Curtains Up Players present the play on Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. and May 14 at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium. Centered squarely on racial conflict, the play is literally a shocking play - in ideas, in language, in honest anger. A full question and answer discussion will take place after each performance. Some content may not be suitable for all audiences.

- Sister Act: The Musical - The Charleston Light Opera Guild present the musical comedy based on the popular film on May 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and May 14 at 2 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre at One Civic Center Drive. Tickets are $25 Reserved seating.

   So get out there and see a show!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Who Stars in "Showcase?"

   Yesterday we talked about Showcase 2017, a special fundraiser / concert / talent show that First Stage Theatre will be staging this weekend.

   The list of performers includes present-day performers, a handful of our talented alumni - and a special performer who is neither!

   Brooklyn Nelson got her start in stage just five years ago in First Stage's The Little Mermaid, and she performed in several other shows before landing a dream role - she was cast in the hit Broadway show Matilda the Musical!

   After a run of a couple of years, that show closed down a few months ago - which was our good fortune, because it meant Brooklyn had a short time between projects in New York to allow her to be part of Showcase!

   She's not really an alumni - she's not old enough! But since she's a professional actor, she can only take part in a benefit concert (with a community theatre group) like this with special permission.

   We're so happy to have her back where she started, if just for a short visit!

   Several other alumni will be joining her on stage, including the amazing dancer / singer Sarah Hayes Navy, actor and singer Maggie Saunders, the powerful singing voice of Evan Price, the versatile and talented singer Levi Kelly, the gifted singer Audrey Fosson, and our most recent graduate, and another terrific singer, Becca Gaunch!

   it's a terrific lineup - but there's more! We'll talk about that - in tomorrow's post.

   Showcase 2017 will be presented on Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. (one performance only) at the Huntington High School auditorium at One Highlander Way. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Working on a "Showcase"

   It's been a hectic week as First Stage Theatre prepares to bring back a classic: Showcase.

   Back in the mid-1990s when the children's theatre was brand new, it faced a big challenge: it takes money to stage shows, and the group didn't have enough for its next production.

   The solution was to stage a show that had minimal expenses, so it would serve as a fundraiser for the next show.

   The shows were talent shows, allowing young performers to demonstrate their talents - they could sing, dance, or juggle (to name just a few of their talents).

   The shows were a lot of fun, and First Stage presented them in 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2003. By that point, the group was on sound financial footing, so it turned its focus to producing shows.

   But six years ago, First Stage made a big investment in its future - the group bought a small warehouse near downtown Huntington. It serves as storage space for the group's sets, costumes and props - and provides work space to build sets.

   As soon as the building is paid for, First Stage plans to modify it into a small theatre space. To speed up the process, two special concerts were staged in 2012 and 2013 focusing on the group's alumni - performers who are now grown up, many of them working as professional entertainers around the country.

   The shows have been a great success, and the group is 2/3 of the way to paying off the building.

   For the third benefit concert, they're changing things up by combining the alumni concerts with the classic Showcase model - so the show will feature returning alumni and today's young performers!

   And that's just the beginning! We'll talk about some of the performers included in the show - and some of the other special events included - in our next installment tomorrow!

   Showcase 2017 will be presented on Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. (one performance only) at the Huntington High School auditorium at One Highlander Way. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

On Stage This Weekend

   You have three great shows to choose from this weekend, including a concert of beloved songs, and two classic musicals!

   Here's the rundown:

- An Evening with Gilbert & Sullivan - ARTS presents a concert of classic songs from the masters of musical theatre! Shows will be presented on May 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13 at 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Tickets are $15 each. 

- Sister Act: The Musical - The Charleston Light Opera Guild present the musical comedy based on the popular film on May 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m., and May 14 at 2 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre at One Civic Center Drive. Tickets are $25 Reserved seating.

- Company - Actors Guild of Parkersburg presents the musical by Stephen Sondheim on April 21, 22, 28, 29 and May 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and April 30 at 2:30 p.m. at 724 Market Street in Parkersburg. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and senior citizens. 

   So go see a show!