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, August 29, 2014

On Stage This Weekend: "Much Ado" and "Emote"

   There's no excuse for not seeing everything on stage this weekend - there are only two shows on tap!

   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. and Sat., Aug. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.
ARTS Mainstage, 900 8th Street, Huntington
Tickets are $15
304-733-2787

- Emote: The Rock Opera (Musical)
by Harry Beall
Alban Arts Center
Fri. and Sat., Aug 29 and 30 at 8 p.m.
Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main, St. Albans, W.Va.
Tickets are $10 all ages
304-721-8896


   So get out there and support your community theatre!

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Much Ado About Nothing" - A Review


  Let's face it, watching a play by Shakespeare can be a challenge - who talks like that anymore?

   But if you're looking for one of his plays that offers easy access to the audience, that brings big laughs and an easy-to-follow story, then you should go see the excellent production of Much Ado About Nothing, which ARTS is presenting this weekend at the Renaissance Theatre (the old Huntington High School) at 900 8th Street.

   It's easily one of the (if not THE) funniest shows crafted by Shakespeare. It follows the tangled story of love for two different couples - the boisterious Benedick, an avowed bachelor and Beatrice, the contrary and sharp-tongued bachelorette who has no use for men; and Claudio, the love-struck young man who has fallen for the beautiful Hero - and she's crazy about him, too.

   Of course, the path of true love doesn't always run smooth, so the couple in love find their wedding disrupted by an enemy's evil scheme, while the couple not in love are drawn together by a kind-hearted scheme by true friends.

   What follows is a comedy of... well, not errors, but wrongs to right and lovers to be set right. (Or words to that effect.)

   The play has been cleverly moved to a more modern setting by director Mike Murdock. It's set in Las Vegas in the 1960s in Leonato's Casino. The costumes and sets are a wonderful change-up for the classic story, all brought to life with great skill and craft, and the characters translate perfectly to the new setting, which includs piano performances and several wonderful dance numbers with Vegas showgirls, courtesy of choreographer Coni Anthony

   But the real stars of the show, of course, are the actors:

- Len Trent (Benedick) has shown great skill at playing intense characters in past shows, but here he shows his range and absolutely kills with laughs. His comic eavesdropping scene alone is worth the price of admission.

- Joanna Berner (Beatrice) also gets to steal some very funny scenes in her own attempts to uncover a "secret" love interest. A gifted actress, she gets to show her comic chops throughout (not to mention some dance moves), and the results are delightful.

- Eric Wilson (Claudio) is the love-smitten young man who has to play it straight, but shows his emotional range in his outrage over charges against his beloved, and his shock at a surprising twist. He's always spot-on and charming.

- Emma Imes (Hero) doesn't get to do much more than be very sweet and also outraged, but she does it so well. And she does get a death scene - well, sort of...

- Stephen Vance (Don Pedro) and Bill Stambaugh (Leonato) get to ooze charm and gravitas as the top dogs in Vegas, and they're obviously having a lot of fun doing it.

- Dylan Clark (Dogberry), Luke Matlock (Verges), Jonathan Armstrong (Hugh Oatcake) and Andrew Surber (George Seacoat) are a scream as security agents who - quite inadvertantly, and despite their best efforts - play a key role in revealing the evil plot against the lovers. They're a pure delight.

- Andrew Potter (Friar) also gets some big laughs with a different twist on the role - he plays it as an Elvis impersonator! What more do you need to know?

- Simon Woods (Don John) revels in his part as the wicked brother of Don Juan, and it's his machinations that move things along. Can we just agree that any show is better for the inclusion of Simon? He's wonderful in every part he plays, and this is no exception.

   The entire cast does excellent work here, bringing life to a classic that - like all great works - is just as timeless and entertaining as ever.

    You only have two chances left (Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.) to catch this excellent production, the third Shakespeare play in three years from ARTS - and so far, they're batting a thousand.

   Face it, if you're a theatre fan at all, you owe it to yourself to see Much Ado About Nothing.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview #5 with the Cast of "Much Ado About Nothing"

You just have two chances left to catch the ARTS production of Much Ado About Nothing - it runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

For our latest interview with the cast, let's hear from the guy who plays the lead in the comedy - the talented and incredibly funny Len Trent:

Q: What is Much Ado About Nothing about?
Len: I have no clue. You have one pair that wants nothing to do with love and another pair that can only think of love. A bunch of conniving people trying to either set one pair up or tear the other pair apart. I still can't figure it out.
Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?
Len: I ask myself the same question everyday. I guess it's ARTS and (director) Mike Murdock. Also, the William guy that penned this piece ain't bad.
Q: Tell us about your part in the play.
Len: I play Benedick. He is one half of the pair that wants nothing to do with love. He is tricked into believing he is in love. And, well it makes for one of Shakespeare's better bloody tragedies.
Q: What's your background in theatre?
Len: Acting and stage combat in one way or another for 20 years or so. Thanks for ripping open that wound, Chuck.
Q: I'm here to help. Tell us about the cast and/or directors you're working with.
Len: It's unbelievable. Totally miscast. These people are out there getting laugh after laugh. This is serious theater yet there is no blood and no gore. People are leaving with big smiles on their faces every night. I don't get it.
Q: Why would you urge our readers to see this play?
Len: I have no Idea why. I mean if you want to see Shakespeare done in a '70s casino with attractive Showgirls and possibly have some laughs then I guess this is your show.
Thanks, Len!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Free Concert with Chris Sizemore


 
   He grew up singing and performing on local stages, and these days, Huntington's own Chris Sizemore makes his living acting and singing professionally in Washington, DC - in fact, he's just been cast in the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof, which will be presented this fall at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
 
   He's also getting ready to release an album - and you can get a sneak preview when he offers a free concert in Huntington at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church on August 31 at 7 p.m.
 
   He'll be singing his favorite songs, your favorites, some old, and some new. Some of the songs he's singing will be on his upcoming album.

   You can check in at his event page on Facebook (and you don't have to be a Facebook member to see the page):


   It's great to see our local talent making their mark in major markets around the country - and even better when they return home to share their gifts with us!

   Don't miss it!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Interview #4 with the Cast of "Much Ado About Nothing"

   Here’s the fourth in our series of interviews with the cast of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which is being presented by ARTS at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

   You have three more chances to catch the show - there’s a show tonight at 8 p.m. and two more next weekend!
   
   This time around, let’s hear from the talented and funny Andrew Potter:

Q: What is "Much Ado" all about?

Andrew: Love, deceit, and beautiful girls dancing.

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

Andrew: It’s one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, and it [hopefully] won’t require washing off gallons of blood before leaving the theater each night.

Q: Tell us about the part you play.

Andrew: I play Friar Francis, the rockin’est papa this side of Salerno, who humbly strives to someday become the Bishop of Rome. I also perform quickie wedding services at Leonato’s casino.

Q: What’s your background in theatre?

Andrew: I watched it from afar for years, mostly from near the back of the house. Eventually, I auditioned, and someone took pity and cast me. I’ve been conning my way from theatre to theatre for several years and managed to somehow convince ARTS that I was talented enough to put me in the Resident Company for an entire year. Suckers.

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

Andrew: I think Mike Murdock’s reputation for the treatment of Shakespeare is well enough known through his Macbeth and Julius Caesar that I couldn’t possibly add any more laurels to his crown, but I do have to say that this cast is incredibly funny. I got to sit in the auditorium and just laugh at what they would do for weeks of rehearsal. Also, the girls dance and are beautiful.

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


Andrew: It’s really a good play. Seriously, it’s entertaining. Also, did I mention beautiful dancing girls?

Friday, August 22, 2014

On Stage This Weekend

   Here's the list of shows running this weekend, courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman:

- Much Ado about Nothing (Play)
by William Shakespeare
Arts Resources for the Tri State
Fri-Sat Aug 22-23 / 29-30 at 8pm
ARTS Mainstage, 900 8th Street, Huntington, WV
$15 show only, $30 dinner and show by reservation only.
304-733-2787
DINNER MENU: Garden Salad w/ raspberry vinaigrette dressing/Chicken Breast/Scalloped Potatoes/Parmesan baked tomato/Summer Vegetables/Rolls/Berry Shortcake/Coffee or Iced Tea
DINNER WILL BE SERVED ONLY ON THE FOLLOWING DAYS:
Friday, August 22
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 22-23 at 8pm
Matinees Sunday Aug 24 at 2pm
Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main, St. Albans WV

- Frankenstein: A New Musical (Musical)
Scene One Theatre
Fri-Sat Aug 22-23 at 8pm
Matinees Sun Aug 22 at 2pm
ARTS/West 152 West State Street, Athens, OH
$11 Adults / $8 Children
http://scene1frankenstein.bpt.me/

- Hansel + Gretel: The Musical (Musical)
JAX Theatre
Fri-Sat Aug 22-23 at 7pm
Matinees Sat Aug 23 at 2pm
JAX Theatre
8805 Ohio River Rd. Wheelersburg, OH
Tickets $12 plus $1.65 fee if you buy online
http://www.eventbrite.com/e/hansel-and-gretel-the-musical-tickets-12493844425?aff=eac2

- 9 to 5 (Musical)
Actors Guild of Parkersburg
Fri-Sat Aug 22-23 at 8pm
Actors Guild of Parkersburg
724 Market Street, Parkersburg, WV
(corner of 8th and Market)
$17 Adults / $14 Students and seniors
304-485-1300

- Another Fistful of Bullets! (Interactive Murder Dinner Party)
Murder and Merriment
Fri-Sat, Aug 22-23 at 7pm
South Charleston Holiday Inn, Charleston, WV
Tickets $45
Reservations Required: 304.744.5301

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!