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, September 12, 2014

On Stage This Weekend

   Courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman, here's the lost of shows taking the stage this weekend:

- Shrek: The Musical (Musical)
Music by Jeanine Tesori / Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire
Southern Coalition for the Arts
Fri. - Sat., Sept 12 - 13 at 8 p.m.
Matinee Sun., Sept 14 at 3 p.m.
The Coalfield Jamboree
308 Main St, Logan, W.Va.
$10 Adults / $5 Students
304-951-5950 or online on at .Tickets will be on sale at the Coalfield Jamboree box office during the Shrektember celebration and can also be purchased at the door before each performance.

- The Year of Magical Thinking (Play)
by Joan Didion
M.T. Pockets Theatre Company
Fri. - Sat., Sept. 12 - 13 at 8 p.m.
Thurs. - Sat., Sept, 18 - 20 at 8 p.m.
1390 1/2 University Ave., Morgantown, WV
$15 Adults, $13 Seniors, $10 Students

- A Murderous Reunion! (Interactive Murder Dinner Party)
Murder and Merriment
Fri., Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
Tascali's Restaurant, 6007 US 60 Barboursville, WV
Reservations Required: 304.736.0504

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Aladdin" Diary #5

   Whew! As we wind down the final weeks before Disney's Aladdin, Jr. takes the stage,  things are getting hectic.

   Rehearsals continue, costumes are being created and assembled, sets are being built, and we have our big fund-raising event on Sunday! (It's a Bowl-A-Thon and it's a lot of fun - join in!)

   The cast is doing an amazing job - they've learned the songs, the dances, the dialogue - I'm really impressed with their hard work!

   And there's much more to do - but you can see for yourself by attending the show on Sept. 26, 27 and 28 - and there's still some spaces available for special school performances the morning of Sept. 25 - call 304-416-KIDS for more info!

   It's been a lot of fun, working on the musical stage version of the Disney animated film (wait 'til you see our Flying Carpet!) - don't miss it!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bowl-A-Thon at Strike Zone to Benefit Children’s Theatre

  A special Bowl-A-Thon event to benefit Huntington’s long-running children’s theatre, the First Stage Theatre Company, will be offered Sunday, Sept. 14, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Strike Zone Bowling Center at 141 Eastern Heights in Huntington.
   The event is open to the public, and all funds raised will go toward upcoming productions by the non-profit theatre company, including Disney’s Aladdin, Jr., which takes the stage the last weekend in September. 

   Each bowler is asked to donate a minimum of $25 to take part. Take pledges from friends and family and join the fun! Sign up by Wednesday, Sept. 10, and you’ll receive a free T-shirt and be eligible to win free door prizes. After Sept. 10, the cost to take part is $30 per bowler. You’re welcome to bowl alone or bring your own 4-to-6-person team (come up with a cool team name) and bowl for two hours. Have fun and support a great cause!

   First Stage Theatre Company has presented more than 60 shows in 25 years. Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. is based on the beloved animated film. That show will be presented Sept. 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 27 and 28 at 2:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre (the old Huntington High School) at 900 8th Street in Huntington, W.Va. 

   Based in Huntington, W.Va., the First Stage Theatre Company is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational, developmental experience for young people through the performing arts. 

   For more information about the Bowl-A-Thon call 304-634-5919.

Friday, September 05, 2014

This Weekend - A Rummage Sale!

   First Stage Theatre Company has a couple of fundraisers coming up over the next two weeks.

   First up is the big Rummage Sale, which runs this Saturday, Sept. 6 from 8 a.m to 2 p.m. at the old Electronics Supply building at 222 7th Avenue in Huntington.

   They have lots of furniture,  clothes, toys, books, snacks, knickknacks and more stuff for sale!

   Stop by, say Howdy and "Buy!"

   The money all goes to a great cause - sending dozens of kids to a special theatre event in Atlanta next January!

   Don't miss it!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

On Stage in September

   The fall season for community theatre is starting to get geared up - here are the shows to watch for in September:

- Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. - First Stage Theatre Company presents the musical based on the beloved Disney animated film, in which a poor boy finds a magic lamp, becomes friends with the Genie of the lamp and tries to win the love of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. The show will be presented at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington on Sept. 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 27 and 28 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 for children and seniors and $12 for adults.

- The Last 5 Years - Paramount Players presents the musical about a couple dealing with divorce. The show is rated PG-13 for adult situations. It will be presented at the Paramount Arts Center at 1300 Winchester Ave. in Ashland, Ky. on Sept. 4, 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 

- Shrek: The Musical - the Southern Coalition for the Arts present the musical based on the animated film Sept. 5, 6, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Sept 14 at 3 p.m. at The Coalfield Jamboree at 308 Main St, Logan, W.Va. Tickets are $10 Adults and $5 Students. 

- On Golden Pond - the Barn Lot Theatre presents the drama about an elderly man trying to make peace with his family. It will be presented Sept. 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. at the Barn Lot Theatre at 207 S. Main St., Edmonton, Ky. Tickets are $12 Adults, $10 Seniors (55+), Student (K-College) and Active Military, and $7 Pre-School. Thursdays are "pay what you can" nights.

- All Ages Improv Comedy Show - the No Pants Players present Improv Comedy - One night only, Sat, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Alban Arts and Conference Center at 65 Olde Main St, Saint Albans, W.Va. Tickets $12 at the door, $10 in advance online at

- Murder and Merriment presents Interactive Murder Dinner Parties, including: A Murderous Reunion on Sept 12 at 7 p.m. at Tascali's Restaurant, 6007 US 60 Barboursville, W.Va. Reservations Required: 304.736.0504 / Murder at the Museum! on Sept 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. at the Greenhouse of Teays Valley, Hurricane, W.Va. Tickets are $45, Reservations Required: 304.397.6316 / The Murdered Mistress on Sept 25 at 7 p.m., a Fundraiser for Charleston Jr. Women's League, Charleston, W.Va. / Trial for the Living Dead - Based on the true story of the Hawk's Nest Tragedy. It will be presented on Sept 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. at the Hawk's Nest Restaurant, Hawk's Nest State Park, Anstead, W.Va. Tickets are $40, Reservations Required: 304.658.5212, ext. 1542.

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

- 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

   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.