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, November 25, 2015

On Stage This Weekend

   Even though Thanksgiving is this Thursday (hope you all have a great one!), there are actually two shows taking the stage this weekend - one a Christmas show and the other a special celebration.

   They are:

- MaryContemporary Youth Arts Company (CYAC) presents the rock opera about the life of the mother of Jesus. The original show features music by Mark Scarpelli and lyrics by Dan Kehde. It will be presented Nov. 27, 28 and Dec. 3, 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens. 

- 60th Anniversary Gala Reception and Show - The Actors Guild of Parkersburg present a special revue of past shows to celebrate the group's 60th birthday! It will be staged on Nov. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg at 724 Market Street in Parkersburg. Tickets to the Friday Night Gala Reception and performance are $40, with a second performance (with no reception before) on Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. for $20. 

   So get out there and see a show this holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"New Works Festival" Lineup Announced

   ARTS has an interesting and ambitious series of shows that will wrap up their 2015 season - a New Works festival.
   They'll present 28 new plays in a reading / performance format - no sets, no costumes, no props - just the words and the actors. It's a great way to take in some creative new works that are being prepared for the stage.
   Here's the complete lineup of performances:
   Here is the official schedule of New Works 2015.
   The ticket prices are as follows:
1st Weekend All Sessions, December 4 & 5 - $12
Friday Evening Session beginning at 7pm, December 4th - $5
Saturday All Sessions beginning at 12pm, December 5th - $10
Saturday Evening Session Only beginning at 7pm, December 5th - $5
2nd Weekend All Sessions, December 11 & 12 - $12
Friday Evening Session beginning at 7pm, December 11th - $5
Saturday All Sessions beginning at 12pm, December 12th - $10
Saturday Evening Session Only beginning at 7pm, December 12th - $5
Both Weekends, All Sessions - $20
New Works Plays Official Schedule
Friday, December 4, 2015 - 7:00 p.m.
Coffee/Reception with Jon Joy
8:00 p.m. - Pilfering Rome by Jon Joy
Director - Jonathan Maynard
Cast: Rachel Sanford, Becky McClelland, Andrew Surber, Len Trent, Robert Hutchens, Amy Carlson, John Barton
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 5, 2015 - Noon
Heights by Isabella D'Esposito
Director - Stephen Vance
Cast: Nora Ankrom, Joanna Murdock, Mike Murdock, Jenn Naglee, Rachel Sanford, Dylan Clark, Joan McPherson, Rick Walker
Director - Cyndi Fuller
Cast: Abigail Eplin, Greg Morris, Bil Neal, Nora Ankrom
The Conference by Philip Hall
Director - Rachel Sanford
Cast: Joan McPherson, John Barton
Sky Psych by Brad Field
Director - Todd Green
Cast: Rick Walker, Sheila Meade, Rachel Sanford
Following the Plays - Talkback with the audience, casts, directors, and authors.
Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 2:00 p.m. 
Keys by Rosa Storey
Director - Cyndi Fuller
Cast: Sheila Meade, Joanna Murdock, Jill Cochran, Greg Morris
Cut & Run by Allie Costa
Director - Andrew Surber
Cast: Nora Ankrom, Becky McClelland
Love in the Time of Cockleburs by Nancy Gall-Clayton
Director - Andrew Surber
Cast: Jonathan Maynard, Nora Ankrom, Becky McClelland, Jenn Naglee, Justin Vaughn
Alban Piece 1 by Student 1
Director - Mike Murdock
Cast: TBA
Alban Piece 2 by Student 2
Director - Mike Murdock
Cast: TBA
Keeping Traditions by Sarah Diamond Burroway
Director - Rachel Sanford
Cast: Mary Olson, Jonathan Maynard, Robert Hutchens, Becky McClelland
The Christmas Goat by Dwayne Yancey
Director - Sheila Meade
Cast: Todd Green, Nora Ankrom, Simon Woods, Becky McClelland, Cyndi Fuller
Following the Plays - Talkback with the audience, casts, directors, and authors.
Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 4:00 p.m. 
Ron and Wanda by Philip Kaplan
Director - Stephen Vance
Cast: Nic Skaggs, Amy Carlson
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.

Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 7:00 p.m. 
The Second Annual Administration Building Takeover And Slumber Party by Ian Thal
Director - Stephen Vance
Cast: Michael Naglee, Joanna Murdock, Nora Ankrom, Dylan Clark
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 8:00 p.m. 
Brighter Days by Mike Murdock
Director - Michael Naglee
Cast: Rick Walker, Anna Baker, Mike Murdock, Jason Eldridge, Tyler Eldridge, Simon Woods, Joanna Murdock, Stephen Vance, Linda Reynolds, Nora Ankrom, John Barton, Jonathan Maynard, Robert Hutchens, Jenn Naglee, Greg Morris
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Friday, December 11, 2015 - 7:00 p.m.
Starting a Family
by Tristan Reynolds
Director - Michael Naglee
Cast: Eric Wilson, Andrew Surber, Todd Green, Rachel Sanford, Joanna Berner, Mary Olson
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Friday, December 11, 2015 - 8:00 p.m. 
Wicked Life of Patience Boston by Bryan Stubbles
Director - Rachel Sanford
Cast: Jenn Naglee, Jill Cochran, Greg Morris, Justin Vaughn, Rick Walker, Joanna Murdock, John Barton
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Friday, December 11, 2015 - 9:00 p.m.
by Dan Shea
Director - Mike Murdock
Cast: TBA
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - Noon
by Len Trent
Director - Jonathan Maynard
Cast: Joanna Murdock, Michael Naglee, Tish Maynard, Jonathan Maynard
Cut the Cord by Annie Pulsipher
Director - Cyndi Fuller
Cast: Andrew Surber, Anna Baker, Robert Hutchens, Len Trent
Memento Mori by Tish Maynard
Director - Jonathan Maynard
Cast: Nora Ankrom, Jonathan Maynard, Tish Maynard, Rick Walker
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 2:00 p.m.
by Len Trent
Director - Todd Green
Cast: Mary Olson, Linda Reynolds
Ninety Degrees of Separation by David Guaspari
Director - Simon Woods
Cast: Jenn Naglee, Justin Vaughn, Anna Baker, Dylan Clark
The Authoress by Seth Freeman
Director - Sheila Meade
Cast: Simon Woods, Anna Baker, Jenn Naglee, Linda Reynolds
Deer Crossing by Roy Proctor
Director - Simon Woods
Cast: Jenn Naglee, Justin Vaughn, Anna Baker, Dylan Clark
Botherum by Richard Cavendish
Director - Sheila Meade
Cast: Len Trent, Robert Hutchens
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 4:00 p.m.
Night Music of the River
by Richard Cavendish
Director - Michael Sullivan
Cast: TBA
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 7:00 p.m. 
Coffee/Reception with Mickey Fisher
8:00 p.m. - The Marginal Way by Mickey Fisher
Director - Mike Murdock
Cast: TBA
Following the Play - Talkback with the audience, cast, director, and author.

Monday, November 23, 2015

HART Announces Summer Season

The Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District and the Huntington Area Regional Theater (HART) has announced its line-up for this summer’s productions at the Ritter Park Amphitheater.
The summer will open with the family classic The Wizard of Oz, which will run weekends from June 10 through June 26.
Then the Dr. Seuss-based Seussical the Musical will open on July 15 and run for three weekends through July 31.
Auditions for both plays and children’s pre-shows will be held at St. Cloud Commons Lodge on Saturday, Jan. 2 and Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 9 and 10. Cast announcements will take place on January 19. 
Anyone interested in working as stage hands, costume coordinators, or set builders are encouraged to contact Stacey Leep at: sleep@ghprd.org.
Tickets for the 2016 season of Outdoor Community Theater go on sale immediately and can be purchased on-line at www.ghprd.org, just click on the HART icon. Tickets are $15 for General Admission Adults and $12 for Seniors and Children under 12.
Ritter Park Amphitheater gates open at 7 p.m. on show nights, with pre-shows beginning at 7:30 p.m. and the feature show starting at 8:30 p.m.
For more information and ticket sales, visit: www.ghprd.org 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"A Christmas Carol" - A Review

   Like most of you who have seen lots of theatre, I've seen Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol many, many times - but I've never seen a better production than the one Marshall University is staging this weekend (in fact, the last performance is tonight at 7:30 p.m.)!

   It combines a top-notch cast with the kind of amazing stagecraft that MU has down to a science.

   The story, of course, introduces us to the classic skinflint, Ebenezer Scrooge, who faces his own past, present and future - and gets one last chance to learn the true meaning of Christmas.

   A successful production starts with the casting, and you could hardly do better than to cast Jack Cirillo in the lead. A terrific actor who revels in Scrooge's flinty attitudes, he manages to work in some moments of levity (all at Scrooge's expense) and even tenderness - all while being delightfully wicked. He's perfect in the role!

   The spirits who "haunt" Scrooge include Mary Poindexter Williams as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Clint McElroy in the roles of both the spirit of Scrooge's dead partner, Marley, and the Ghost of Christmas Present.

   The cast is terrific, providing a steady stream of characters, relatives, foils and carolers that keep the story moving at top speed.

   But one of the unsung heroes of the show is the stage design and technical work. The stunning set is designed on a rotating stage, allowing lightning-quick scene changes. That, combined with the unique lighting, sound effects, music and fog, immerse the audience into the world of Scrooge, the Cratchits and London's street life.

    The story is a classic for good reason - I defy anyone to watch it and not feel the true spirit of Christmas touching your heart.

   The members of Marshall's Theatre Department (and director Nicole Perrone) have crafted an amazing production here - not to be missed!


"The Wizard of Oz" - A Review

   I have been a fan of The Wizard of Oz since seeing the movie on TV as a child. It was also the first community theatre show I was involved with, as my oldest son had a small part in MAG-CT's production back in 1995.

   So anytime I get the chance to see it on stage, I take it. That led me to last night's performance at Grace Christian School (1111 Adams Avenue in Huntington). I wasn't sure what to expect - to be honest, school performances can range from wonderful to rugged.

   I'm happy to report that this performance... is wonderful!

   The cast is loaded with talent, from Rachel Lykins as the plucky Dorothy, Isaac Perry as the high-stepping Scarecrow, Chris Harmony as the lovable Tin Man, Jacob Wood as the hilarious Cowardly Lion, Joshua Callahan as the humbug Wizard and Olivia Fosson as the luminous Glinda, and Jordan Callahan, delightfully evil as the Wicked Witch.

   The huge cast is kept hopping, as almost everyone in the cast plays numerous roles throughout (backstage must be a flurry of costume changes)!

   Oz is a deceptively big show - there are lots of characters, costumes, set changes, big songs, dance numbers, and special effects - it's a challenge for any theatre company.

   Especially considering the size of the stage, Grace has worked miracles. The set changes are fast and efficient (how they manage to squeeze so much set into that small space is impressive), and the visuals are stunning. They must have a small army of tech crew working furiously to make it happen.

   And let me just say, of all the stage productions of this show I've seen, the Wizard effect was the most impressive yet!

   The show features a terrific orchestra, wonderful musical numbers and tons of energy and emotion! The sold-out crowd lunged to its feet at the end of the performance for a well-deserved standing ovation.

   Kudos to director Angie Jolicoeur and her directing team for an impressive production, and to her tech crew for a flawless production - a herculean effort all around!

   The show is highly recommended - but if you go, get there early. Tonight's show is the final performance, and it was standing room only last night! The final performance is tonight at 7 p.m. - don't miss it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Stage This Week - Two Classics!

   With the holidays closing in, you have two great classic community theatre shows to c goose from this weekend - one promises to be a new holiday classic, and the other is a beloved musical.

   Here's the list: 

- A Christmas Carol - Marshall Theatre Alliance presents the play by Charles Dickens at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center at Marshall University on Nov. 18, 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for Adults, $15 for senior citizens and faculty, $7 for children 5-12, and free to full-time Marshall students with a valid ID.

- The Wizard of Oz - Grace Christian School presents the musical Nov. 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. at 1111 Adams Avenue in Huntington. Tickets are $8.

   So get out there and support your community theatre!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Stage This Week: A Holiday Classic

   Marshall University's Department of Theatre is starting a new holiday tradition based around a fresh version of a holiday classic!

   They're presenting A Christmas Carol this week at the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, and it promises to be an amazing show, loaded with special effects and, of course, a wonderful story by Charles Dickens.

   My pal Dave Lavender turned in a terrific story about the show, which you can read at this link. 

   Here's an excerpt:


   Back in 2009 and 2010, professional actor Jack Cirillo took on the task of bringing Charles Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol, to life by himself in a riveting one man show.
   These days, he is getting by with a little help from his friends.
   Still a spot on Scrooge carved right from the storybook pages, Cirillo is joined by key veteran regional actors such as Clint McElroy and Mary Williams, a couple young talents, Dean Neal and Owen Jennings, and a host of college talent as Marshall Department of Theatre kicks off the holiday season with a deliciously dark and original recipe rendering of one of the season's meatiest classics, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted for stage by Romulus Linney.
   Directed by Nicole Perrone, A Christmas Carol, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Nov. 21. There will also be a Saturday, Nov. 21 matinee as well at 2 p.m. All shows are at The Joan C. Edwards Playhouse on campus.
   Tickets are $20, $15 for faculty and seniors and $7 for children five to 12. The show is free to full-time Marshall students with valid ID.
   Be sure to arrive early as at 30 minutes before each show, the cast will be performing Christmas carols they've worked up with the direction of David Castleberry and Michael Rose.
   (Photo of Jack Cirillo playing Scrooge by Larry Butcher)
   Don't miss it!

Ashland Theatre Companies Honored at Theatre Festival

   Congratulations to two Ashland area companies - both the Paramount Players and Actors for Children Theatre (ACT) won numerous awards from the Kentucky Theatre Association - and they will represent the state at the Southeastern Theatre Conference Community Theatre Festival in March 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
   Here's the list of local awards:
- Best Performance - Actors for Children Theatre, The Garden of Rikki Tikki Tavi
- Best Performance - Paramount Players, Rent
- Best Actress - Hannah Noel, Paramount Players
- Best Ensemble - Paramount Players
- Best Costume and Make-Up Design - Actors for Children Theatre
- Excellence in Vocal Music Direction - Mark Smith, Paramount Players
   Also, my pal Sarah Diamond Burroway has been invited to make a special presentation at the STCC about ACT's work reaching rural, arts-underserved audiences.
  Congratulations all around!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

"The Lion King, Jr." Wraps Up This Weekend

   It's been a heck of a journey for the cast of Disney's The Lion King, Jr. - auditions were held in August, and for the past two months the cast has been practicing their lines, learning the songs (many in Swahili) and dances that make up this fast-paced, high energy show.

   I've tried to avoid beating the "Lion King, Jr." drum too loudly here - if you didn't know the show was running, you're just not paying attention. But Saturday and Sunday wrap up the run for this show - the first production of it in the Tri-State area - so I wanted to throw in one last push. 
   I admit prejudice (as director), but the cast has done a terrific job, along with our costume team, set builders, tech crew and directing team. In his article about it, my pal Dave Lavender mentioned the "First Stage Army" of volunteers, and that's what it took to put this show together - it was a huge undertaking, and everyone stepped up and built an entertaining show!
   I hope you get to see it - the final shows are Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:30pm at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington (and show up a little early - the crowds have been big)!