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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, February 22, 2017

Auditions for New Play Festival

   Auditions are coming up next week for the 4th Annual New Play Festival of Student Written Work at Ashland Community and Technical College.

   The auditions will be conducted: Feb. 27, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and Feb. 28, 2017 at 6 p.m.

   Auditions will be held at the J.B. Sowards Theatre located on the main campus at 1400 College Drive in Ashland. The auditions are open to ACTC students, faculty and staff, area high school and college students and members of the community. 

   No advance preparation or experience is required. Those auditioning will be asked to perform cold readings from the scripts.

   The 4th Annual New Play Festival will feature a collection of short plays, scenes and monologues written by students in the Fall 2016 English 207-Playwriting Class taught by Jonathan Joy, Assistant Professor of English and Writing.

   Performances are scheduled for: April 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and April 9 at 2:30 p.m.

   Audience members will vote for the "Best Play." For more information about auditions, contact Festival Coordinator Sarah Diamond Burroway at 606-922-2903 or Jonathan Joy at 606-326-2201.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

On Stage This Weekend: Lots of Shows!

   The floodgates open this weekend (and into next week) as six shows take the stages! 

   Here's the list:

- A Bitsy and Boots Murder Mystery - First United Methodist Church presents the seventh comedy in the “Bitsy and Boots” series by our resident playwright, Jonathan Joy. Shows will be presented at the First United Methodist Church, 1124 5th Ave., Huntington, on Thursday, Feb. 16; Friday, Feb. 17; and Saturday, Feb. 18. Dinner served at 6:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Dinner plus Show: Adult - $25, Child under 12 - $8. Show only (as space permits) - $5. Babysitting available on request for all shows (advance notice required). Reservations are required for all dinners. Call 304-522-0357 or  740-867-8576 or e-mail  firstchurchdinnertheater@gmail.com. All profits benefit the Missions of First United Methodist Church.

Circle Mirror Transformation - Marshall University’s Department of Theatre presents the play on Feb. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre at The JCE Performing Arts Center. The play focuses on four lost New Englanders who enroll in a six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games. Hearts are quietly torn apart and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for faculty and senior citizens, $7 for children ages 5 to 12, and free to full-time Marshall students with valid ID.

- 42nd Street - Marshall Artists Series presents the quintessential backstage musical comedy classic which includes some of the greatest songs ever written, such as “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and of course “42nd Street.” It will be presented Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $80 to $54. 

- The Importance of Being Earnest - The Alban Arts and Conference Center present the play by Oscar Wilde, whose famous 19th century comedy of manners gets a unique treatment as men and women switch roles in this new production. The cast includes Rachel Sanford as Algernon, Eric Rogers as Gwendolyn, Clayton Strohmenger as Cecily, Tim Alderman as Lady Bracknell, Nina Surbaugh as Rev. Chasuble, Jim-Bob Williams as Miss Prism, and Bethany Reed as Lane/Merriman. It will be presented Feb. 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 19 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 students and senior citizens.

- The Social Action Plays - CYAC presents a unique production that includes nine plays, and 18 performances over 12 Days, running from Feb. 16 to 25 at the  WVSU Captiol Center Theatre at 123 Summers Street in Charleston. The director explains: “Every few years we pull enough kids together to put on all the social action pieces in a single week. This year we'll do it during February. Back in the old days we used to take these into the schools, bring along an educator and try to show the victims in our audiences that they weren't alone and that we could give them someone to talk to, if they wanted. Now it seems that the subjects of date rape, dating violence, HIV/AIDS, grief, and teen predation are too controversial to talk about on the sites where most teenagers are exposed to them in the first place. So we'll be performing them on stage for anyone to come see. And that's fine. At least we're still trying, and the actors, the actors walk away knowing more about these problems and more about their solutions than any of their peers. For more info about dates and times, visit: http://cyaccharleston.com/Social-Action-Plays-2017.html

- A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Jenny Wiley Theatre presents the Shakespeare comedy of love and magic on Feb. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Jenny Wiley Mainstage in Pikeville. Tickets are $14 for adults and $9 for children.

   So get out and see the show!
    

Monday, February 13, 2017

Changes in Store for ARTS

   Changes have been in the wind this year for the long-running Huntington theatre company ARTS Resources for the Tri-State (ARTS) - and they recently unveiled some of their plans.

   When they announced this season's shows, they only announced three shows for the first half of the year - half their usual season.

   During last weekend's performance of Glengarry Glen Ross (a powerful production with stellar performances), they announced that they're in the process of moving!

   The group has been working out of the old Huntington High School (now known as the Renaissance Theatre) since they formed some 15 years ago, presenting shows in the theatre and in the ballroom.

   But a new space is being built for the group - a black box theatre in the former Corbin Building on Huntington's West End. The space is under construction, and ARTS won't move until it's ready - which means the other two shows they've announced so far - Steel Magnolias and An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan - will be presented in the Renaissance ballroom.

   It'll be interesting to see the effect that will have on the productions the group offers - and what will happen to the space at the old Huntington High School.

 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Interview with James Williams: "The Importance of Being Earnest"

    If you’re looking for an original approach to a classic, here’s the show for you: it’s a unique version of Oscar Wilde’s famous 19th century comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest. The production is reverse gender-cast, with men playing women’s roles, and women playing the part of men. 

   For our second interview with the cast, let’s hear from the talented James (Jim-Bob) Williams:

Q: Tell us about The Importance of Being Earnest.

James: One of the classics of the English language. Delightfully silly, poking fun at societal conventions of 1895 - and still relevant today. 

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?

James: After eight productions playing gruff old men, I wanted to be a gruff old woman.  Also, I owed (director) Patrick Felton a favour.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

James: Miss Prism is a governess with a secret in her past. She has a measure of respectability now, but she was wild in younger and happier days. Likely a suffragette who engaged in violent demonstrations and also an aspiring writer of bodice-rippers… until she made a fateful mistake which forced her to hide her shame.

Q: What's your background in theatre?

James: Two years of community theater for Alban Arts Center, Kanawha Players, and Astral Theatre Collective. Huge fan of improv.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene?

James: Act III, when all is revealed and resolved happily. That is what Fiction means.

Q: Tell us about the cast.

James: The Dream Team!  A diverse group in terms of experience, age and opinions. This is the second play I have seen Rachel Sanford perform as a man. She does it more convincingly than many with Y chromosomes. Danae Samms adds a touch of physical comedy and manic energy that sells every scene. Clayton Strohmenger and Eric Rogers may wear corsets, but they are far from uptight. Tim Alderman is a perfect Bracknell and bakes awesome cookies. Bethany Reed is a delight as Lane/Merriman. Nina Surbaugh is graceful and gracious. Leah Connelly Felton provides musical accompaniment that enhances the show. You asked for cast, but Marlette Carter , Adam Bryan, Mandy Shirley and Leah Connelly are just as important to the production. 

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

James: Patrick Felton knows comedy as a director and performer. This is a script with over 300 punch lines, witticisms, or sight gags, performed and prepared by people who want the audience to have as good a time watching as we did rehearsing. We live in a serious time which needs some good natured silliness. If it takes wearing a brassiere and talking with a silly accent to do it, count me in.

Q: Thanks, James!


The Importance of Being Earnest is being presented by the Alban Arts Center at 65 Olde Main Street in St. Albans on Feb. 11, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens. Group rates are available. Visit www.albanartscenter.com or call 304-721-8896.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Interview with Robert Hutchens: "Glengarry Glen Ross"


   As we roll up on the final weekend in Huntington for Glengarry Glen Ross (make those reservations now - the first weekend’s shows were sold out), we have one more interview with the cast to share.

   Let’s hear from the talented stage veteran Robert Hutchens:

Q: Tell us about Glengarry Glen Ross.  

Robert: Although Glengarry Glen Ross presents characters in dire circumstances, their strategies for dealing with them - self-delusion and denial, for example - result in darkly comic moments.

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?

Robert: I wanted to be in this play because: 1) I always want to be in a play; 2) it's an exceptionally good part; 3) I know and like a lot of people who tried out, so I was confident I'd be in good company; 4) I really enjoy being directed by Mike Murdock. At the time of the auditions, I had no idea he would be leaving Huntington, so I'm particularly glad I didn't miss this opportunity to work with him again.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Robert: I play Shelly Levene, the role with which Jack Lemmon won an Oscar, so obviously its a good part. Shelly used to be a successful salesman, in fact, if he is to be believed, "top man" for a number of years. His luck has changed, and though he struggles to delude himself, he is only intermittently successful. The satisfaction of playing him is the opportunity to play two things simultaneously: the facade he wants the world to see and the reality that's behind it - so bravado (occasionally almost heroic) and desperation (occasionally pathetic). 

Q: What's your background in theatre?  

Robert: I have acted in or directed over 150 plays, some in regional professional theatre, a lot in college and community theatre.  I spent a lot of years in undergrad and grad studies in theatre at the University of Tennessee Theatre Department, and later worked there as an adjunct teacher and public relations director for the Clarence Brown Company. Later I was executive director of the Clayton Center for the Arts during its opening and first years of operation. 

Q: This is an adult show - what's the most challenging thing about it - the language or the subject matter?  

Robert: Mamet's language is not only profane, it is poetic, particularly rhythmic. Anytime you have strong language, whether obscene or lyrical, it's a wrestling match to control it and to put it in the mouth of the character. I mean, you have to make the language an expression of the character and the story, not just the language itself.   

Q: Tell us about the cast and director.

Robert: It's a joy and a privilege to work with this theatre group. I can't believe how lucky I am to have found them, almost literally, on my doorstep.

Q: Why would you recommend this show? 

Robert: Glengarry Glen Ross is a powerful, suspenseful, gut-wrenching play. Like good plays are supposed to do, it entertains and engages and makes you feel more alive than you did when the curtain went up.

Q: Thanks, Robert!


Glengarry Glen Ross will be presented in the Renaissance Theatre Ballrooom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 9, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Dinner and Show are $30 each (reservations required - call 304-733-2787. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Show only tickets are $15 each. Also, the Feb. 9 (Thursday) show offers 2 tickets for $20. Visit www.artstristate.org for online tickets.

On Stage This Weekend: "Glengarry" and "Earnest"

   You can catch two great shows this weekend, including one with a special performance tonight!

   Here's the list:

- Glengarry Glen Ross - ARTS presents the play by David Mamet that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts to sell undesirable real estate to unwitting prospective buyers. It will be presented in the Renaissance Theatre Ballrooom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 9, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Dinner and Show are $30 each (reservations required - call 304-733-2787.  Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Show only tickets are $15 each. Also, the Feb. 9 (Thursday) show offers 2 tickets for $20. Visit www.artstristate.org for online tickets.

- The Importance of Being Earnest - The Alban Arts and Conference Center present the play by Oscar Wilde, whose famous 19th century comedy of manners gets a unique treatment as men and women switch roles in this new production. The cast includes Rachel Sanford as Algernon, Eric Rogers as Gwendolyn, Clayton Strohmenger as Cecily, Tim Alderman as Lady Bracknell, Nina Surbaugh as Rev. Chasuble, Jim-Bob Williams as Miss Prism, and Bethany Reed as Lane/Merriman. It will be presented Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 12 and 19 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 students and senior citizens.

   So get out this weekend and enjoy a show!

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Interview with Len Trent: "Glengarry Glen Ross"


   A reminder: there’s a special Thursday night performance of Glengarry Glen Ross being offered this week. I’ve talked to several people who saw it last weekend and they raved about it!

   Here’s a quick interview with yet another member of the cast - the talented Len Trent:

Q: Tell us about Glengarry Glen Ross.  

Len: This is the story of men at a time in their lives when desperation and pressure are the order of the day. How they deal with all of that is what makes up the heart of this show and it ain't pretty.

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show? 

Len: Mamet and Murdock

Q: Tell us about the character you play.  

Len: Richard Roma is the top of the board. He is good at what he does and wants to stay at the top no matter what.

Q: What's your background in theatre?  

Len: I have about 25 years of theatre experience.  

Q: This is an adult show - what's the most challenging thing about it - the language or the subject matter?  

Len: It poses the same challenges as any other show. As far as any "adult language" or subject matter is concerned, it is just part of the this world that we are creating. The "adult language" is not more or less important than anything else in the story. I will have to say the way Mamet writes makes it some of the hardest material to memorize.

Q: Tell us about the cast and director.  

Len: I love the cast. Everyone has worked very hard to tell this story as best as we possibly can. As for Mike Murdock, I love the guy. He is my director. I love doing his shows. I am going to miss my friend and brother as he rides off to bigger and better things.

Q: Why would you recommend this show?  

Len: Mamet and Murdock


Glengarry Glen Ross will be presented in the Renaissance Theatre Ballrooom at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Feb. 9, 10 and 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the Dinner and Show are $30 each (reservations required - call 304-733-2787. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Show only tickets are $15 each. Also, the Feb. 9 (Thursday) show offers 2 tickets for $20. Visit www.artstristate.org for online tickets.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Interview with Rachel Sanford: "The Importance of Being Earnest"

   There’s more than one show taking the stage this weekend, and we have more interviews to share from both shows!

   In St. Albans you can catch a unique version of Oscar Wilde’s famous 19th century comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest. The production reverses the genders of the cast, with men playing women’s role, and women playing the part of men. 

   For our first interview, let’s hear from the beautiful and talented Rachel Sanford:

Q: For those who haven't seen it, tell us about The Importance of Being Earnest.

Rachel: It’s a great comedy of errors. Jack lives in the English countryside circa 1890, and likes to pretend to have a younger brother called Ernest who constantly needs rescuing from his extravagant lifestyle, allowing Jack to go to London with little questions or interference. While away, he tells all his friends in London that he is in fact Ernest, and this becomes harder to keep up as he tried to win the affections of Miss Gwendolyn Fairfax. Therefore, the rest of the play is a delightful farce as the characters maneuver through Jack's web of lies (and a few of their own).

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?

Rachel: I have always loved Oscar Wilde. He is a brilliant satirist and social commentator. On top of that, when I heard that the show would have reverse casting, I knew I had to be a part of this show. Unconventional and eclectic things like that were one of the main reasons I wanted to continue theatre outside of high school, and I'm so thankful to have this opportunity.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Rachel: I play Algernon, Jack's cynical best friend. He is the first in the show to hear about Jack's double life, and he makes Jack's life all the more difficult because of it. He is very playful and carefree, living mostly for pleasure. However, he gets his foot caught in the door when he meets the beautiful and clever Cecily.

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Rachel: I did plays in high school in Pikeville, Kentucky. After graduation, I spent a summer studying theatre in New York, but came back to pursue other subjects. A few years ago, I moved into the Huntington area and got involved in community theatre, including roles with Paramount Players, ARTS, Murder and Merriment, and Astral Theatre Collective.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene?

Rachel: There is a scene between Cecily and Gwendolyn when they realize that they are both engaged to a Mr. Ernest Worthing, and they practically kill each other with kindness. The writing is so clever, and Eric and Clay's performances are hysterical. 

Q: Tell us about the cast.

Rachel: This is a reverse gender cast, so all the male parts are played by women and all the female parts are played by men. It really works in the play's favor, because part of Wilde's humor is based on gender roles. Also, deception and identity are a major themes of the play, and the reverse casting highlights that.

Q: Why would you recommend this show?

Rachel: It's a brilliantly written play with a modern twist that allows for a fun time and a little conversation. (Plus, it's two hours away from politics!) We are very excited for everyone to see our hard work!

Q: Thanks, Rachel!


The Importance of Being Earnest is being presented by the Alban Arts Center at 65 Olde Main Street in St. Albans on Feb. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens. Group rates are available. Visit www.albanartscenter.com or call 304-721-8896.