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, April 18, 2014

On Stage This Weekend - Two Shows

   After a flurry of shows last week, things slow down considerably this weekend - here's the rundown of community theatre shows, courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman:

- Little Shop of Horrors (Musical)
by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
West Virginia State University
Wed. - Fri., April 16 - 18 at 8 p.m.
Davis Fine Arts Theatre
5000 Fairlawn Avenue, Institute, W.Va.
$10 Tickets available at the door

- The Vagina Monologues (Play)
by Eve Ensler
V-Day Charleston 2014 Benefit Production
ONE NIGHT ONLY Sat., April 19 at 7 p.m.
Alban Arts Center
65 Olde Main Plaza, St Albans, W.Va.
$15 tickets available at
Proceeds benefit REACH (Rape Education, Advocacy, Counseling, & Healing)

   So get out there and support your local theatre company!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Stage Tonight - "Little Shop of Horrors"

   On stage starting tonight, the science fiction musical Little Shop of Horrors will be presented at West Virginia State University in Institute, W.Va.

   The show is based on the famous Roger Corman low-budget film from the '60s, which was adapted into a Broadway musical in the early '80s, and then updated into a full-color movie musical starring Rick Moranis in 1986.

   It's all about a humble florist who can't get the girl he dreams of to pay any attention to him - until he starts getting advice from a strange plant he discovers. But the plant charges a high price for its advice.

   It's a fun show, loaded with great songs and black comedy.

   It'll be presented tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. Students get in free, the rest of us pay $10 for a ticket.

   It's a fun show with a great cast - don't miss it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Stage in May: "Leap of Faith"

   There's a great show taking the stage in a few weeks at Huntington High School - here's a press release all about the musical Leap of Faith:

    The Huntington High School Fine Arts Department is proud to announce its Theater students' performance of Leap of Faith during the first two weeks of May.
Show dates and times are: May 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and May 3, 4 and 11 at 3 p.m.
   Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.

    Leap of Faith, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater, is based on the motion picture Leap of Faith, produced by Paramount Pictures Corporation and written by Janus Cercone. The film was adapted from a book written by Janus Cercone and Warren Leight.
   Musical Theater International (MTI) offers the following synopsis:  "Love will get you every time… and one charismatic con-man is about to find that out. The “Reverend” Jonas Nightingale, an electrifying performer and con artist, is traveling with his ministry when his bus breaks down in a small Kansas town. The part-time reverend and full-time crook pitches a tent and invites the locals to a revival. The sheriff, a woman named Marla McGowan, is determined to stop Jonas from separating the townspeople from their money, and Jonas' real challenge arises when he meets the sheriff and her son, whose love forces an ultimate cynic to take a real leap of faith.
   Leap of Faith features a roof-raising score by eight-time Oscar®-winning composer Alan Menken (Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Little Shop of Horrors). The creative team includes bookwriters Janus Cercone and Tony®-winner Warren Leight (Side Man) and Grammy®-winning lyricist Glenn Slater (Tangled)."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Auditions for “Traipsin’ Woman”

 Jean Thomas “Traipsin’ Woman”
   Here's some information about upcoming auditions in Kentucky for actors of all ages:
   The Grayson Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Grayson Gallery & Art Center, Inc. is pleased to announce an upcoming arts event in Carter County. 
   The project will be a community drama featuring the life and adventures of Jean Thomas (the Traipsin' Woman) as she traveled on a "jolt wagon" throughout Eastern Kentucky, and how her experiences with the musical traditions and folkways of mountain people led to her to form the “American Folk Song Festival.” 
   The performances are set for June 13 at East Carter Middle School and on June 14 at West Carter High School; others to be announced. 
   This project was funded through an Appalachian Regional Commission grant through the Kentucky Department for Local Government and administered by Brushy Fork Institute of Berea College. These funds are made available to distressed ARC counties in Kentucky for projects that are designed to build capacity in these communities. Additional funding and/or support will be provided by the sponsoring organizations as well as community, business and individual supporters.
   Tryouts for this production will be on April 29 and 30 at 6 p.m. each evening at the Grayson Gallery and Art Center, located at 301 E. Third St. in Grayson, KY. 
   All are small speaking parts with the exception of Jean Thomas. The adult actors that do not require singing are: Jean Thomas (the Traipsin’ Woman); Modern Day Teacher; Judge; Lawyer, Sheriff and the Preacher. 
   We are seeking talented middle and high school students who can act and sing for the parts of Bride and Groom. The scene of Harper Valley PTA requires acting and singing in the parts of a Middle-aged Woman to play the part of the Mother and a High School-aged girl to play the part of the Daughter.
   For questions and information, please contact Robin Waggoner, Project Coordinator via e-mail: and watch for additional details coming soon.
(Photo of Jean Thomas is courtesy of University of Louisville Digital Collections; Louisville, KY)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On Stage This Weekend - Eight Shows!

    You have lots of great shows to choose from this weekend - here's the list:

Dear Edwina, Jr. - First Stage Theatre presents the musical that follows the adventures of plucky advice-giver extraordinaire Edwina Spoonapple as she directs the neighborhood kids in a series of production numbers as part of the latest edition of her weekly "Advice-A-Palooza" extravaganza. The “girl power” musical will be presented Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington. Tickets are $10 for children and $12 for adults.

Pippin - The City of Huntington Foundation and 5th Avenue Theatre Company present the classic Broadway musical at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Theatre in Huntington City Hall on April 11-13. Tickets are $15. The show takes the audience along with Pippin on his journey to try to find the meaning of life. The show occurs in a circus setting and there will be monkeys provided the Twins and Jungle Friends and aerial choreography by the aerial troupe Cirque d' Art.

Jesus Christ Superstar in Concert - Trinity Episcopal Church presents the beloved rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in concert April 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. at the church at 520 11th Street in Huntington. Admission is free. Performers include Ryan Hardiman as Jesus and Chris Sizemore as Judas.

- The Rack -  Contemporary Youth Arts Company (CYAC) presents this original play by Dan Kehde that tells the story of the aftermath of a fictional elementary school massacre as seen through the eyes of members of the community in which it occurred. C]The story centers around the grieving members of the shooter’s family as they try to understand the reasons behind the boy’s actions. The show will be presented Thursday - Saturday, April 10-12 at 8 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston. Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students.

- Damn YankeesIronton High School presents the Broadway musical April 11 and 12 at 8 p.m. and April 13 at 3 p.m. at 1701 S. 7th Street in Ironton, Ohio. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students. For more information, call 740- 532-3911.

- WV Shakespeare Festival - The event will be held April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Walker Theatre at the Clay Center (rear entrance) at One Clay Square in Charleston. There will also be a Stage Combat Workshop from 1 to 5 p.m.  Admission is free, donations will be accepted.

- Murder & Merriment - Interactive murder mysteries will be presented on: April 11 - "Dead Man's Hand!" Shanty Boat Night at the River Museum in Point Pleasant. Reservations Required: Ticket Prices & Time TBA,  Call 304-674-0144; April 12 - "Another Fistful of Bullets!" at Hawk's Nest State Park & Restaurant,  Ansted, W.Va. Reservations Required:  304.658.5212, ext 1542. Tickets are $40 per Guest.

   So get out there are support your community theatre!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Three More Chances to Catch "Dear Edwina, Jr!"

   You just have three chances left to catch the delightful Dear Edwina, Jr. (you can see part of the cast in this lovely photo by Stephen Vance).

   First Stage Theatre presents the musical that follows the adventures of plucky advice-giver extraordinaire Edwina Spoonapple as she directs the neighborhood kids in a series of production numbers as part of the latest edition of her weekly "Advice-A-Palooza" extravaganza. As her friends pose their problems, it's up to Edwina to come up with a solution (all presented in song, of course) - some are funny, some are touching and all are entertaining. 

   It's a great show for kids and grownups - it's fast, funny, and you just might learn something!

   The “girl power” musical will be presented Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. at theRenaissance Center at 900 8th Street in Huntington.Tickets are $10 for children and $12 for adults.

   Don't miss it!

"Jesus Christ, Superstar" in Concert

   Coming up this weekend in Huntington is a special performance of one of my all-time favorites: the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar. 

   It features an all-star cast and some terrific musicians - you can read all about it in this story in the Herald-Dispatch.

   Here's an excerpt:

   As the pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, Chip Graves has learned that when music director Mark Smith has a crazy idea, you just step back and let the spirit move.
   Armed with a good portion of his fellow musicians from Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.'s big band, and starring stage rockers Ryan Hardiman and Chris Sizemore (as Jesus and Judas), Smith directs a concert-only version of Jesus Christ Superstar: In Concert. at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 11-12 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 520 11th St., Huntington.
   The concert is free and open to the public. Donations will be taken, and you'll want to get there early as both shows are expected to be standing room only.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

A Day for "Gift-Bear" and "Dear Edwina"

 What a fun day for children's theatre! 

   This afternoon I saw the next-to-the-last performance of A Gift-Bear for the King at the Alban Theatre.

   It was a delightful show staged by ACT for an enthusiastic crowd of little kids (plus a few geezers like me). 

   It was lots of fun, light-hearted and cleverly staged for maximum laughs! That's the great thing about a young audience - you can tell when the show is working. They laugh, cheer and applaud gleefully - and there was a lot of that at this performance! 

   Great work, ACT!

   Then this evening my lovely wife and I saw Dear Edwina, Jr. - and we loved it! 

   It tells the story of a girl who's trying to take her place alongside "Dear Abby" by proving she's the best at giving advice. She solves all the problems her friends are facing - but can she deal with her own problems? 

   It's fast and very funny, loaded with wonderful performances and terrific songs. I knew nothing about the show, but I'll be seeing it again before the run is over - it's so much fun (and I must admit that the next-to-the-last song actually had me choking up)! 

   Highly recommended! 

Helen Freeman Wins the Herald-Dispatch Award for the Arts

   Congratulations to my pal Helen Freeman, who is honored in today's Herald-Dispatch for her efforts on behalf of the arts in Huntington.

   For her tireless work and her 20-year-successful run as a co-founder of Huntington Outdoor Theatre, and for her continued spirit-filled work as an award-winning speech and theater teacher at Huntington High School, Freeman received the 2013 Herald-Dispatch Award for the Arts.

   You can read all about it in Dave Lavender's excellent story right here.