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 31, 2007

Light and Scattered Blogging

Labor Day events may keep me away from the computer for a while, so entries may be limited for the next few days. (Hey, even bloggers need a break occasionally!)

Don't forget about auditions for "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" this weekend at City Hall Auditorium, and everyone eat your vegetables and go to the church or synagogue of your choice. (Why am I channeling my idol, Mr. Cartoon?)

Have a great holiday and we'll see you here after, as the theatre season gets ready to kick into high gear!

Free Labor Day Concert in Beckley

If you've never had a chance to catch the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, you're really missing a treat - and Monday you can see them for free! Here's the press release:

The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Grant Cooper will present a Free Labor Day Concert at Woodrow Wilson Auditorium in Beckley on Monday, September 3, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.

Admission to the concert, which is sponsored by the Beckley Area Foundation, is free and open to the public. Additional sponsorship of guest artists is provided by City National Bank.

The orchestra's program will range from the movies to the classics to the Broadway
stage. Classical selections will include the Festival Overture by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky's Overture: 1812. Music from the movies will include Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Broadway shows will be highlighted with music from The King and I. As a special addition to this concert, the WVSO will feature an excerpt, “I Can Hear Them Now,” from the musical Lincoln by the Charleston based composer and lyricist team of Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde. The Lincoln excerpt will feature vocalists Mariel van Dalsum-Boggs, Ryan Hardiman, and Jonathan Cavendish.

The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra is West Virginia 's premier performing arts organization, presenting over 30 concerts annually to audiences throughout the Mountain State.

The concert on September 3 is presented by the Beckley Area Foundation with sponsorship of guest artists provided by City National Bank, and with additional financial assistance from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The First Meeting

We had the first cast meeting for High School Musical tonight, and it was a lot of fun! We have such a talented cast, I know it’s going to be a great show!

The first meeting is always the toughest, just because there’s so much ground to cover. You have to introduce everyone (cast and directors), lay out the schedule, explain “the rules,” talk to the parents about the show and how they can help - and much more.

It’s always a little chaotic, with a big crowd like that, but it went well. At the first meeting it’s traditional to do a “read-through” of the script, but since the HSM story is so well known to the cast, I thought it’d be more fun to go ahead and start working on one of the songs.

So Music Director Mark Smith worked with the cast on “Stick to the Status Quo” - and in no time at all, they sounded fantastic!

Of course, the first meeting isn’t all fun and games - there are always a few cast members who don’t show up, and then you have to figure out whether or not they’re still in the show or if they’ve quit. A few others realize they have schedule conflicts and have to decide whether to stay with the show. I hate that part of it - I want everyone in the cast to be able to be there and join in the fun - but it’s just not always possible.

We still have a few tweaks to make to the cast, a few people to shuffle around - but we’re off to a great start!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It All Starts Tomorrow

At 7:00 p.m., we'll have our first meeting of the cast and their parents for the local production of High School Musical.

It's the first rehearsal of many, as we pass lots of information about what everyone can expect in the weeks ahead. I'll tell you all about it afterwards. Can't wait!

Recruiting for a Children's Choir in Kentucky

Here's a press release that should be of interest to young singers in eastern Kentucky (and thereabouts):

The newly organized Greenup Arts Children’s Choir (GACC) is seeking children from the greater Greenup County and Tri-State area to audition for this great opportunity to sing in a community children’s choir.

Children in grades 4th – 7th are invited to audition on Tuesday, September 18, 2007 from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the Raceland – Worthington Cultural Arts Center in Raceland, Ky.

To schedule your audition and for more information please call The Greenup County Extension office at 606-473-9881 or email Cora Hughes at: cora.hughes@uky.edu or Gail Rice at: grice@uky.edu.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Look at "Young Frankenstein"

I've mentioned the new musical that's headed for Broadway soon - it's Young Frankenstein, based on the Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder film.

Now you can see some stills from the show by visiting the Broadway.com website. It looks like they're keeping it as close to the original as they can manage, short of figuring out a way to eliminate the color from the stage (the film was shot in black-and-white, you see).

It looks like a lot of fun, although I imagine tickets will be tough to find for the first year or three.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Second Chance at Christmas (Carol)

Good news! If you missed out on the auditions for A Christmas Carol: The Musical, you get another chance!

5th Avenue Theatre is holding another round of auditions this Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the City Hall Auditorium. Be prepared to sing 30 seconds of the song of your choice.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Keeping Me On My Toes

My pal Denise sent in a comment to my last post that was right on the money, so I wanted to post it out here on the front page. Specifically, she took exception to my comment that "Depending on the show, the choreography can be extremely demanding (like Cats) or pretty minimal (like Fiddler on the Roof), but it’s a vital part of the show."

She wrote:
The great choreographer Jerome Robbins would probably disagree with that statement. He won a Tony for choreography for Fiddler On the Roof (and West Side Story). Indeed, when a group agrees to the performance rights for Fiddler, it is in the contract that they are supposed to do Robbins' choreography. While I would agree that Fiddler is not considered to be a dance show, take it from one that has been in the show (I played Chava when I was 19) and part of the directing team for a production. "Fiddler," when done correctly, has some of the most beautiful and awesome dance in any show. The bottle dance alone, when done with respect to ethnic tradition, is extremely challenging.
Here's how I responded:
Denise, I wanted to post your comment because I agree with it absolutely. When I wrote this entry I used a different example for the "minimal" dance show, and then I changed it to "Fiddler," because it's probably the most famous musical I could think of that isn't thought of as a "dance" show. (Maybe Camelot would have been a better example.) But even as I wrote it I realized it was a bad example, because the show does include some wonderful choreography - I just neglected to go back and correct it. I appreciate you keeping me honest!

The Role of Rehearsals

So next week we have our first cast meeting for High School Musical, and then the rehearsals start a few days later. So what are rehearsals all about? Well...

The rehearsals are where the cast and crew learn the show. I have to say, in watching a live show, I’m always amazed at how performers can memorize all the dialogue and music, and then perform on stage while dancing or moving or fighting. It takes more than just a good memory to make that happen. As the old gag goes, the three things you have to do to get a show on the stage: practice, practice, practice.

It takes a lot of studying on the part of the actor to learn his or her part, but it also takes lots of repetition at rehearsals to lock the part in place. Of course, even the best actors can make mistakes, skip lines or freeze up - that’s one of the things that makes live theatre so interesting.

By the way, I’m talking in broad generalities here - each show has its own demands and there’s no set formula for how to rehearse a show. It’s up to the directing team to decide how to set up a rehearsal schedule that works for each show.

If you’re working on a musical, the usual first step is to learn the music. The music director sits down with the cast and teaches each song, with the songs broken into parts, such as soprano, alto, tenor and bass (again, I’m simplifying here). It’s not unusual to spend several sessions just learning a single song.

The second step is to learn the dance movements, and that's the job of the choreographer - both to create appropriate dance steps for each song and to teach the dances to the actors. Depending on the show, the choreography can be extremely demanding (like Cats) or pretty minimal (like Fiddler on the Roof), but it’s a vital part of the show. A lot of the character movements are carefully arranged, even if they’re not literally dance steps. Again, it takes many sessions to coordinate and learn the dance movements.

Next up is the spoken dialogue and the stage movements. This is where all the parts of the rehearsal start coming together, as the actors learn the blocking (or stage directions) that will best tell the story of the play. Each show is generally broken into scenes, and the actors learn the show one scene at a time, constantly fine-tuning their performance. It's up to the director to see that all that is combined with the music and choreography - and then the show starts to take its final shape.

While all this is happening, the members of the tech crew are also learning the show, ready to operate the lights, the microphones and the proper movement of the set, props and all the other elements that go into staging the production.

All this occurs over the course of the rehearsal period. For community theatre, it’s usually a number of weeks, depending on how long and complex the job at hand. As a general rule, my personal preference is to allow six weeks of rehearsal for a non-musical, and eight to ten weeks for a musical. By the last couple of weeks of rehearsal, you’ve taken all the pieces and brought them together, and the rehearsal will cover at least one entire act. Hopefully, by that time you’re running through the entire show.

I always like to point out that putting on a show requires just as much teamwork as any sport. Each member of the show and the tech crew must do their job properly and help each other along for the show to work. That goes for everyone, from the star performer to the cast member with almost no on-stage time. When they all pull together, you get a great show. Having a great team, both actors and tech crew, is the most important part of putting on a great show. It also makes the whole process a lot more fun.

And it occurs to me that, in all this talk of the process, I’ve left out how much fun it is to be part of a show - you make new friends, you work together toward a common goal, and when you’re done (hopefully) you’ve created a work of art that you can be proud of. I know my sons have made lifelong friends while taking part in shows - and so have I.

Anyway, back to the process. The last week before the performance is the most hectic, the most demanding, the most stressful part of the job. It’s what’s known as Tech Week - but we'll save that story for later.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Coming up this weekend - Auditions

A reminder that auditions for 5th Avenue Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical are coming up this weekend. The auditions run Saturday, Aug. 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, Aug 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium.

They're looking for actors of all ages, and they're also auditioning for a children's pre-show.

Break a leg! (Uh, that means "good luck" in the theatre.)

Where Did The Time Go?

This is one of those days that just flew past.

I did manage to spend a couple of hours this evening going over set construction ideas for High School Musical with my pal Jack Welch. I don't know how we could do a show like this without him - he can take the crudest sketches and turn them into towering sets.

This show is going to be a challenge, with quite a few set pieces to build and some interesting on-set challenges to deal with - but that's all part of the fun!

Jack's also a heck of a nice guy, and I'm so glad to have him on the HSM team. Thanks, Jack!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Season Tickets for the Artist Series

Time's about to run out for those of you wanting to buy season tickets to the upcoming season of shows for the 71st Marshall Artists Series. Today's the last day to place your order!

I still say this is one of the best seasons I've seen for the Artist Series - it features a wide range of entertainment at the historic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in downtown Huntington.

You can learn more about season tickets by reading this story in today's Herald-Dispatch.

But if you just want to order new season tickets (or to renew your season tickets), call (304) 696-3326.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Auditions for "A Christmas Carol"

My insider on all things theatre (and longtime pal) Mark Near sends me this reminder:
Auditions for A Christmas Carol are coming up this weekend: Saturday, Aug. 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, Aug 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Huntington City Hall Auditorium.
That's the musical version of the classic Charles Dickens tale, and the director of the show is my pal Mary Smirl. This is the second year in a row 5th Avenue Theatre has staged the show, and they hope it will become an annual tradition. Recommended!

UPDATE: My pal Paul Neace tells me that they will also be auditioning for a children's pre-show that will run in front of A Christmas Carol. So they're not just looking for grownups here!


Hey, here's another one of those milestones that no one but me cares about. The next post will be number 365, which is pretty good, since we're about six weeks away from this blog's first anniversary!

In other words, I'm way ahead of my goal of posting at least one item every day. It's not always easy, but I'm really enjoying working on the Tri-State Theatre blog - hope you're enjoying it, too!

Hey, it would be a bargain at twice the price!

Monday, August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2 - It's a Hit!

At least that's what the numbers say. The audience was huge - in fact, it's the biggest ratings for a cable network program ever!

Work has already begun on High School Musical 3, which will apparently be released to theaters, and they've already started working on HSM 4! They'd better hurry, before those stars get too old to play high school kids anymore. (And somehow College Musical just doesn't sound right. Or should it be University Musical?)

You can read more about it, and check out Angela's review of HSM 2 (as promised) by paying a visit to the Herald-Dispatch's Stay Tuned blog.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yesterday's Stars on Public Access TV

Here's some information from Richard Bartram about a show coming up that local residents might remember.

He writes:
This may be of some interest to the local theatrical community. The movie being broadcast Tuesday night on Public Access featured several performers from Huntington's past. It will be a one-day only broadcast, so anyone wishing to get a peek at some of the theater veterans from the 60s should tune in or set their recorders.
And here's the press release announcing the broadcast:
Huntington Television Premiere of "Teen-Age Strangler" On Comcast Cable Channel 20

The 1964 cult classic, Teen-Age Strangler, will have its Huntington television premiere on Tuesday, August 21, 2007. The film will air at 8:00 p.m. on Huntington Comcast Cable Channel 20 (Huntington Public Access Television).

Independently produced in 1964 by Original VI Productions, which was made up of a group of Huntington investors, Teen-Age Strangler was released to theaters in 1967 as part of a double-bill with the Hershell Gordon Lewis exploitation flick, A Taste of Blood. The film developed cult status in the 1980s when it was 'rediscovered' and eventually given a comedic thrashing on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Though produced locally, 'Strangler' was never seen in a Huntington theater until 1994.

The Huntington television broadcast of Teen-Age Strangler is courtesy of Mike Vraney, whose company, Something Weird Video, markets the film on DVD.

Teen-Age Strangler is the subject of a documentary currently in production. If viewers have any personal connections or information regarding the film, they are encouraged to contact the producer via email at: rbartram@zoomnet.net.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

High School Musical 2

The Disney TV movie High School Musical 2 isn't exactly aimed at my demographic, but since I'm immersed in all things HSM (1 and 2), I figured I'd give my mini-review of the early-awaited sequel (you can read a more thorough review on Monday in Angela's Stay Tuned blog).

So what did I think? Well... I liked it. It had a tall order, living up to the first film, but it largely succeeded - thank in no small part to the members of the cast, who are just as talented and likeable as ever.

They wisely brought back the supporting cast, too, and gave them a bit more to do. The songs were good, though again, not quite as memorable as the ones in the original. Still, I suspect they'll have no problem selling copies of the soundtrack. The dancing, as always, is excellent. There will be kids out there who have already learned the dance from the opening song.

I really think the only mistake was in piling on commercials and breaks with the cast celebrating the premiere, but that's just me.

My review boils down to this: if you liked the original, you'll enjoy this one, too.

Now fans can start counting the days until the inevitable High School Musical 3 (or High School Musical: The Motion Picture).

Friday, August 17, 2007

An Update on Derek Keeling

I trust you all remember Derek Keeling, the Scott Depot native who was one of the finalists on the reality TV show, Grease: You're the One That I Want.

He finished in third place, much to the shock to virtually everyone watching the show, since he was obviously the best choice for the part (my unbiased opinion, of course).

Well, he may soon be on Broadway in a somewhat different role. According to reports, Derek has been cast as Charles Darnay in a musical version of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. The show hopes to hit Broadway in 2008. The show is described as a musical epic along the lines of Les Misérables (which sounds like good company to keep).

All we can say is, break a leg, Derek!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

On Stage This Fall

There are lots of great community theatre shows (and one Broadway touring show) coming up this fall. Here are the ones I know about (feel free to let me know if there are any I've missed).

Oct. 3 - 6: Little Shop of Horrors (Marshall's Dept. of Theatre)

Oct. 12 - 14, 19, 20: Hello Dolly! (ARTS)

Nov. 6,7: Peter Pan (Marshall Artist Series)

Nov. 14 - 17: The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 (Marshall's Dept. of Theatre)

Nov. 15 - 18: Disney's High School Musical (First Stage Theatre Co.)

Nov. 30, Dec. 1: Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Free Spirit)

Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 2, 7 - 9: A Christmas Carol (5th Avenue Theatre)

Nice to see them (mostly) spread out, so we'll be able to catch most or all of them. (There is some overlap in there, but with so many shows hitting the stage, that's almost unavoidable.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

High School Musical 2

So if you're out wandering around Friday night, you may notice that there are virtually no young people outside. That's because they're all going to be glued to the TV set, watching the Disney Channel premiere of High School Musical 2.

The first movie was a huge success, and it has been adapted into a community theatre stage show that has also become a huge success (it will, of course, be taking the stage at the Keith Albee in November). Will HSM 2 capture the magic again?

If you're asking the same questions, you can learn a lot more about the show and its plot by reading entries like this one at Angela Henderson's TV Blog, Stay Tuned.

The Bard and Broadway

Huntington native Michael Cerveris has a new project coming up on Broadway.

He'll be part of the cast for the Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming production of William Shakespeare's Cymbeline. The cast of 26 will include Cerveris, Jonathan Cake, John Cullum, Martha Plimpton and Phylicia Rashad.

The play begins performances on November 1 and opens December 2 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.

Cymbeline combines comedy, tragedy and history into an epic tale of power as two forces battle until the happy conclusion.

You can learn more about the production at this story on Broadway.com.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Star Added to "High School Musical"

When we announced the cast for the upcoming First Stage Theatre Company production of High School Musical, there were two cast members not listed. The show features about 50 high school and middle school performers, but there are two roles that will feature adults - namely, the basketball coach, Mr. Bolton, and the drama teacher, Ms. Darbus.

Our coach's real name is still under wraps as our candidate continues to think it over, but I'm happy to announce that we have our Ms. Darbus - and it's none other than Debbie Wolfe. Debbie has appeared in quite a few local shows, is a former Mrs. America and is a wonderfully talented actress. I first met her (mumblety-mumble) years ago, when I was a cameraman for WOWK-TV, and she was in the running for Miss America. I've worked with her talented children in shows before, but this is the first time we've worked together, and all I can say is - it's about darn time! I know she's going to love playing the funny, over-the-top drama teacher in HSM.

Hopefully we'll be able to reveal the coach's identity very soon now...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ee-gore or Eye-gore?

In keeping with this weekend's Young Frankenstein theme, here's one more clip from the movie. In this one, Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) first meets Igor (the hilarious and much-missed Marty Feldman) at the train station. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Little Song and Dance

Oh, in case you were wondering where the "Puttin' on the Ritz" line came from (in the blog entry before last), here's a clip from the movie Young Frankenstein in which Dr. Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) presents the monster (Peter Boyle) to his associates. What better way to demonstrate that the monster is harmless than with a musical number?

Here's the clip:

Sending In Ideas To This Blog

Here's a recent comment I thought I'd throw out here for everyone's info, since it was a darn good question.

Zach wrote:
"How do I submit things to you. I have a topic I would like to see done that would be a good one and you may agree."
Zach, I'd be glad to hear your idea - you can either send it in as a comment and write at the top "DO NOT PUBLISH" or you can email me at TheMinskers@aol.com. Whichever works better for you!

And that's true for the rest of you out there - if you have a comment or suggestion you'd like to send along, send it to the above email address or send in a comment - it's easy and painless! And heaven knows I can use the help - we're in the dry spell until October, when the community shows will start taking the stage.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Puttin' on the Ritz!

One of the most eagerly awaited shows heading towards Broadway is the adaptation of the Mel Brooks comedy, Young Frankenstein. It'll be a while before most of us can see it, but the show is on stage in Seattle, working out the rough edges - and you read a review of that show by visiting Mark Evanier's "News From ME" website.

But be warned: the review gives away some of the gags from the show. Of course, if you know the movie by heart (like a certain blog writer I could name), you can already recite the lines right along with the cast. Being a big fan of Mr. Brooks (well, most of his work), I'm really looking forward to seeing this show.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This Wacky Blog

Apparently higher powers are trying to keep that Marshall show from getting any publicity. I wrote a post yesterday for this blog, tried to post it, and it never appeared. After a few failed efforts, I deleted it and posted it again - and this time it worked - until today, when the post mysteriously vanished of its own accord.

I've posted it yet again - if it disappears this time we'll know the theatre gods are angry! (Or else the Internet is out to get me.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Coming Up: M.U. Summer Pops Chorale

It's always surprising, how many wonderful performances are presented to the public - yet we hear little or nothing about them. It's an oversight I try to correct with this humble blog, but stuff slips past me all the time. (Hey, I'm only human, after all!)

If not for my pal Mark Hayes, I would have missed this one: The Marshall Summer Pops Chorale will present a concert August 10th and 11th, 2007 at the Jomie Jazz Forum. The show will feature popular choral music and a performance by Beth McVey.

Adjunct Professor of Music Bruce Rous is both musical director and accompanist for the group, and has written some new material for the performance.

Tickets are $10, but seating is limited. For more information, call (304) 696-3117.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Attention Seniors: the Jim Stone Scholarship

I admit that I'm prejudiced, but among of the many nice things the First Stage (Children's) Theatre does is provide a scholarship fund for some of the outstanding members of the group who go on to study the arts in college.

The scholarship is named in honor of Jim Stone, a wonderful actor who I had the honor of working with on a couple of projects, and you couldn't find a more deserving guy to honor.

The scholarship isn't huge - it's for $250, but it's renewable for a total of four years, so it's actually like getting a $1,000 scholarship. If you're a senior who's been in a First Stage show and you're going into some branch of the Arts - theatre, music, writing, etc. - then you should apply before the deadline on August 15.

Here's the official reminder that went out today:
Jim Stone Scholarship Application Deadline Nears

The First Stage Theatre Company is still accepting applications for its annual Jim Stone Scholarship.

First Stage sponsors the scholarship to honor the memory of Jim Stone, a longtime supporter of and mentor to local children in the performing arts. Three $250 scholarships are available to entering freshmen or current full-time students who are studying dramatic or performing arts at a college, university or certified school of the performing arts.

The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 15, 2007.

Applicants must have been involved with at least one First Stage Theatre Company (or Musical Arts Guild - Children's Theatre) show, either on-stage (as a performer) or off-stage (as a member of the tech crew). Applicants must send a transcript of their last year's schooling, a list of the shows they've been in and a short essay (no more than 300 words) on why the applicant is planning to study dramatic or performing arts.

Applications should be sent to First Stage Scholarships, c/o Jim Lamp, P.O. Box 2488, Huntington, WV 25725.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Dragon Ruby

My pal Mike Murdock is best known around here for his acting - he's a Marshall graduate who's appeared in lots of shows for almost every theatre company in town. There's a reason for that - he's an outstanding performer, and a rarity in that he's equally good at drama and comedy.

Turns out he's also an excellent writer, too. He and his co-writer Herschel Jeffrey have a fantasy novel that's about to see print. It's called The Dragon Ruby, and you can learn more about it in this article in today's Herald-Dispatch.

The book isn't listed online yet (I checked), but it should be available soon - so start saving those nickels and dimes, gentle readers! And Mike - break a leg, already!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Watching "High School Musical"

That's where my lovely wife and I were last night (and I saw quite a few familiar faces there at the Clay Center) - we drove to Charleston to watch the Light Opera Guild's presentation of "HSM," and to say I was impressed would be an understatement. They put on a fantastic production to a sold-out, wildly enthusiastic crowd.

It was top-notch in every way, from the terrific performers to the original choreography to the sets and costumes - it was incredibly entertaining!

Their show makes me that much more eager to tackle "HSM" - it's a show that's loaded with energy, laughs and fun! Kudos to everyone in Charleston for a great production!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Free Spirit's Next Show

We're receiving all kinds of news items these days - which is a good thing, of course! The latest is from Jonathan Joy, the playwright / actor / director who heads up Free Spirit Productions.

Here's the word on that group's next show:
Free Spirit Productions announces Fall play

FSP continues its ninth season of live theatre in the Tri-State with our upcoming Fall production: Picasso at the Lapin Agile by Steven Martin. The comedy will be performed November 30 and December 1, 2007, at 8:00 p.m. at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center. Any actors or technicians interested in working on the show should e-mail director Jonathan Joy at joyjonathan@yahoo.com.


About the Company:

Over the past nine years Free Spirit Productions has staged 16 classic and contemporary plays. Dozens of local actors and technicians have worked to bring FSP shows to stages at the Huntington Museum of Art, the Paramount Arts Center, the John C.C. Mayo Amphitheater, Marshall University, the Clay Center, the Columbus Dance Theatre and the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center.

Previous productions include a wide variety of plays by William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, Lady Gregory, Anton Chekhov, local playwright Jonathan Joy and much more.

Festival appearances include productions for the West Virginia Shakespeare and Renaissance Association (2004), the Columbus Fringe Festival (2005) and Charleston Festiv-ALL (2005, 2006 & 2007).

FSP is featured in the book SHAKESPEARE FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD edited by Marcus Gregio.

Friday, August 03, 2007

New season for the Marshall Artists Series

I touched on this earlier, but I wanted to reprint the press release announcing the new season in its entirety - for theatre fans, there are some wonderful shows coming up. In addition to Hairspray and Peter Pan, you can catch multiple Tony Award-winning The Producers, Movin' Out, the show based on the music of Billy Joel, and a show I've heard raves about: Little Women – The Broadway Musical.

And that's just the beginning - there's something for everyone in the upcoming season. Here's the press release:

71st Season of the Marshall Artists Series

HUNTINGTON-The Marshall Artists Series proudly announces its 2007-2008 season of events. For 71 years the Marshall Artists Series has been a gateway to the world of cultural entertainment in the Tri-State and at Marshall University. “We are thrilled to announce such an exciting lineup of events for our 71st season,” says Penny Watkins, Executive Director for the Marshall Artists Series. “From our Broadway events to our family fare, this season we have something for everyone and events the whole family will enjoy.”

The following events will be featured on this season’s Baxter Series:

Direct from Broadway, Chase Bank and Cabell Huntington Hospital present Peter Pan as it flies into the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center with Tinkerbell and Captain Hook in tow November 6 and 7, 2007, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Take your family on a fantastical journey to Neverland for an event sure to please one and all!

The biggest Tony Award winner in Broadway history, The Producers, arrives February 2, 2008, at 8 p.m. at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Everything you’ve heard is true! “Mel Brooks has put the comedy back into musical comedy. The Producers is the funniest, most fearlessly irreverent thing ever seen on stage!”– USA Today.

Shakespeare’s forbidden love story, Romeo & Juliet presented by the Tchaikovsky Ballet & Orchestra March 11, 2008, leaps onto the stage of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center beginning at 7:30 p.m. At 125 members strong, including a 60-piece live orchestra, this performance will fill the stage with traditional ballet, artistic sets, and hauntingly beautiful music.

Join the remarkable March sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy as St. Mary’s Medical Center presents Little Women – The Broadway Musical. Louisa May Alcott’s timeless tale about the power of family, friendship and romance, comes to life April 23, 2008, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center at 8 p.m. This new musical is capturing the hearts of a new generation and captivating audiences of all ages!

The following events will be featured on this season’s Mount Series:

The Law Office of Doug Reynolds presents seven-time Grammy Award winning vocalist, Al Jarreau, the only vocalist in history to win a Grammy in 3 separate categories, as he lights up the stage of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on October 6, 2007, at 8:00 p.m. Known for his many hits including “Touch Me Tonight,” the theme from “Moonlighting,” and We’re In This Love Together.” “All I Got,” Jarreau’s recent duet album with George Benson won this year’s Grammy for best jazz album.

Movin’ Out, the Broadway musical collaboration between five-time Grammy Award winner Billy Joel and legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp, hits the stage of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on January 18, 2008, at 8:00 p.m. Movin’ Out brings 24 Billy Joel classics to electrifying new life as it tells the story of five lifelong friends over two turbulent decades.

Spend a hilarious Evening with Martin Short, on February 15, 2008, at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center at 8:00 p.m. Known for his films, Three Amigos and Father of the Bride, his recent Broadway success, Fame Becomes Me, and of course his stint on TV’s Saturday Night Live, Short will bring his humor, musical talent and special “guest” Jiminy Glick for an evening of fun entertainment, just in time for Valentine’s day.

Direct from Broadway, Hairspray takes you back to 1962 Baltimore as Tracy Turnblad sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show on April 30, 2008, at 8:00 p.m. at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, this mega hit is piled bouffant-high with laughter and romance – and enough deliriously tuneful new songs to fill a non-stop platter-party.
The following events will be featured on this season’s Belanger Series:

Animal expert Jungle Jack Hanna will bring many of his favorite animal friends to the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, as well as fascinating and humorous stories and footage from his adventures around the world during his live show on October 29, 2007, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Known for his television show Jack Hanna’s Animal Adventures, as well as hundreds of television appearances, Hanna’s show is sure to please everyone from the youngest child to the oldest adult.

The Kennedy Center’s fifth visit to the Marshall Artists Series brings Teddy Roosevelt & The Treasure of Ursa Major, 7 p.m. March 4, 2008, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. This fun story for the entire family was inspired by Teddy Roosevelt and his family during their time in the White House. In 1904 Roosevelt’s three young children stumble upon a real-life treasure map hidden in the White House library’s copy of Treasure Island. Together they untangle a decades-old mystery that leads them from the Red Room to the President’s Office to the Lincoln Bedroom. This clever and comical production features songs by Washington satirist Mark Russell.

The Fall International Film Festival will take place September 28 – October 4, 2007, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Featured films include: Lives of Others
(Germany), Family Law (Argentina), Days of Glory (France/Algeria/Morocco/Belgium), Maxed Out (USA), After the Wedding (Denmark), and Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Hong Kong/China/Japan).

The Spring International Film Festival will take place February 22 - 28, 2008, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Featured films include: The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ireland/UK), The Valet (France), Ghosts of Cite Soleil (Haiti), Away From Her (Canada), The Italian (Russia), and Ladron Que Roba a Ladron (Mexico)

Season Ticketing Information:

Superticket: Baxter, Mount, Belanger & Films - $495, $445, $406 & $370
Baxter Series: 4 Events - $245, $195, $175 & $157
Mount Series: 4 Events - $257, $207, $189 & $170
Belanger Series: 2 Events - $45 & $25
International Film Festival (12 Films) $70

Youth season tickets are available for children age 17 and under. Contact the Marshall Artists Series for more details.

Season ticketing begins Monday, August 6, 2007, at 9:00 a.m.

The deadline to purchase or renew season tickets is August 20.
New season subscription orders and season ticket renewal orders will be taken beginning Monday, August 6 at 9:00 a.m. Subscriptions may be ordered and current subscriptions may be renewed through the deadline date of August 20. After that day, all orders will be processed in order of date and time received.

The Marshall Artists Series accepts all major credit cards, checks and cash. Season tickets may be ordered via telephone by calling our administrative offices at (304) 696-3326. Orders may also be mailed in to Marshall Artists Series, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755-2210. Order may also be faxed to (304) 696-6658. Our offices are located in the Jomie Jazz Center on Fifth Avenue across from Marshall University’s Student Center. Our hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m..

Tickets to individual events will go on sale in early September. Details will be announced at a later date.

For additional information please call the Marshall Artists Series at (304) 696-3326 or send us an email at artistsseries@marshall.edu.

News Briefs

Lots of theatre-related stuff happening these days, including:

- The Marshall Artists Series has announced its new season, which includes some fantastic Broadway touring shows: Peter Pan and Hairspray! You can read more about it right here.

- This weekend is your last chance to catch the Charleston Light Opera Guild's production of High School Musical! (Hmm, why does that show sound familiar?) You can read more about it here.

- A couple of stories from Huntington Outdoor Theater: they've announced that next summer they'll produce two shows - Annie and Anything Goes; and you can read about HOT's upcoming Performing Arts Camp right here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Big Announcement

The First Stage Theatre Company production of High School Musical is going to make history by being the first community theatre show in more than three decades (if not longer) to be staged at the historic Keith Albee Theater in Huntington, WV.

That's a huge undertaking for any community theatre group, but the Keith is the only local theatre that can handle the demand for tickets this show will (hopefully) cause. It's also the grandest showcase for any production - it's been used for many years by the Marshall Artists Series for touring Broadway productions, and it's played host to local and national concerts, but First Stage is the first local group to put on a show there - and I have to tell you, I couldn't be happier. It's such a beautiful theater, a real cornerstone of Huntington's theatre history - I can't think of a better place to put on a show like High School Musical.

As this press release indicates, it's going to be a major challenge to raise the kind of funds needed to put on a show like this, but I think the final product will make it more than worth the effort.

Here's that press release - I'll have more about this in the near future:

Press Release – August 2, 2007

First Stage to Present “High School Musical” at the historic Keith Albee Theater

The First Stage Theatre Company will present its fall production, “Disney’s High School Musical,” in the historic Keith Albee Theater Nov. 15 – 18, 2007. It will be the first community theatre production in that theater in more than three decades.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to perform this show at the Keith Albee,” said director Chuck Minsker. “It’s the perfect showcase for a show as popular as High School Musical, and it give First Stage a chance to give back to the community by offering our support to the Keith.”

Foundation Co-Presidents David R. Tyson and Senator Bob Plymale are pleased to have the First Stage Theater Company as a partner in the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. “Making this beautiful theater a part of the entire arts community is our goal," said the presidents.

The production will present some unique challenges, according to Minsker. “The First Stage Children’s Theatre has been around for a long time – this show kicks off its 18th season – but we’re a volunteer, non-profit organization, so it’ll be a challenge to come up with the funds we’ll need to produce a show as big as High School Musical.”

The group is looking for support from area businesses to help defray costs. Minsker said, “It’s difficult for a theatre group to survive just on ticket sales. We’re planning fundraisers to help pay the expenses, but we’ll need all the help we can get.”

“Disney’s High School Musical” is based on the popular Disney film, which led to the top-selling music soundtrack, the top-selling DVD and a sequel coming up this month on the Disney channel: “High School Musical 2.”

The directing team includes director Chuck Minsker, music director Mark Smith, assistant director / choreographer Amy Browning and producer Jeanette Rowsey.

The First Stage Theatre Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational, developmental experience for young people through the performing arts. Based in Huntington, the organization draws on young performers from the tri-state area - West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

For more information, visit www.firststagetheatre.org or call 304-416-KIDS (304-416-5437).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tomorrow for Sure

Remember that big announcement I kept promising to make, but forces beyond my control kept causing delays?

Guess what?

The final obstacles have been cleared, so tomorrow, the secret shall be revealed! (Of course, now the problem is everyone has such high expectations that the announcement can't possibly live up to it. Scale back your expectations, friends - but it will be mighty cool.)

I appreciate your patience, gentle readers. Tune in tomorrow morning for the big announcement!