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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Did I Err?

Well, it wouldn't be the first time. Apparently Daily Variety and I both had it wrong (or MTV changed its mind), but Legally Blonde (the Broadway show) was not aired yesterday, as originally announced.

According to this story on Broadway.com, MTV has announced the premiere date for its filmed version of Legally Blonde will be Saturday, October 13, 2007, at 1:00 p.m.

Sorry about that, chief!


Yet another milestone only I care about! This post is the 400th since the Tri-State Theatre blog started a year ago next Thursday!

As always, many thanks to all of you, the fans and followers of community theatre, for reading, commenting and contributing to our blog. Hey, we're just getting warmed up!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Coming Up: Little Shop of Horrors

Starting Wednesday at Marshall University is the first of several terrific shows taking the stage this fall in Huntington. It's the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors, and it runs October 3 through 6, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. All shows are in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway shows of all time, this affectionate spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies has become a house-hold name, thanks to a highly successful film version and a score by the songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who redefined the animated musical film with Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin. Charming, tuneful and hilarious, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Little Shop Of Horrors never fails to entertain.

I've really been looking forward to this one - Marshall's production of Hair last year was terrific, and this one promises to be another tremendously entertaining show.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Set for Dolly

This arrived in the comments a few days ago, but I wanted to post it out here in case you missed it.

Responding to the topic of building sets for shows, my pal Stephen Vance wrote:
In related news, we are finishing up the sets for Hello, Dolly! this week. It has been a huge undertaking with this being our eighth and final week of construction. I won't go into great detail but this set is huge and beautiful. Danny Ray has done a great job designing these sets.

Also, the cast of Hello, Dolly! will be marching in the Pumpkin Festival parade this Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Danny's sets (and shows) are always terrific, so this is definitely one to watch for!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2007 Fall International Film Festival

The Marshall Artists Series kicks off its new season this weekend with the 2007 Fall International Film Festival.

All the showings are at the historic Keith Albee Theater. There's a lot of variety to choose from in this year's offerings.

This year’s film festival showcases six critically acclaimed films from all over the world, including The Lives of Others, last year’s Academy Award winner for best foreign film.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $7. Season tickets may be purchased for $70 (12 films). Season ticket holders will be admitted 30 minutes prior to each film. Individual tickets may be purchased 15 minutes prior to the film.

For more information call 304-696-6656. Here's the rundown:

The Lives of Others - The Academy Award winner takes its audiences back to 1984, beginning in East Berlin, Germany. The film allows its audiences a look into Captain Gerd Wiesler’s life, an officer of Stasi, Germany’s secret police. Presented in German with English subtitles. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28; 9:45 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30; and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Family Law - The heartfelt story of a father-son relationship unfolds when Ariel Perelman, a law professor, begins to look inside his relationship with his own father to become a better father and husband. Presented in Spanish with English subtitles. Showtimes are 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28; 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29; and 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1.

Days of Glory - Four Algerian men enlist in the French Army to help free the ‘fatherland’ from its Nazi enemy. The heroes are depicted with the discrimination that they face from French authorities. Presented in French and Arabic with English subtitles. Showtimes are 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29; 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30; and 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles - A Japanese father travels to a secluded region of China seeking resolution with his estranged son. Presented in Mandarin and Japanese with English subtitles. Showtimes are 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29; 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30; and 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

After the Wedding - Jacob, the manager of an orphanage, returns to his homeland of Denmark from India, where he discovers a life-changing family secret. Presented in Danish with English subtitles. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29; 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 1; and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Maxed Out – This documentary displays an inside look at Americans’ approach to debt and credit. It gives new meaning to the term, “preferred customer” and explains why the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. Showtimes are 9:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28; 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30 (there will be a discussion after the film at this showing only); 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2; and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4.

The event is sponsored by the Cabell Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Pullman Plaza Hotel, Herald-Dispatch and Clear Channel Communications.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Sometimes, when working on a show, the funniest things can trip you up.

For example, when the directing team first starting brainstorming about First Stage Theatre's presentation of High School Musical, we decided early on that we'd cast adults in the roles of the two grownups in the cast - the drama teacher, Ms. Darbus, and the basketball coach (and Troy's dad), Coach Bolton.

Debbie Wolfe signed on quickly the play the part of Ms. Darbus, and several guys expressed interest in the part of the coach, but after some deliberation, each one realized that he had a scheduling conflict. One guy was really anxious to disqualify himself - he broke his jaw in a sports accident! (Hope you're feeling better, bro.)

Thankfully, we've finally found our man - so welcome aboard to Bill Bartlett, who's been in a number of local shows - for example, he was the Cowardly Lion when 5th Avenue Theatre presented The Wizard of Oz.

We're thrilled to have him, and that sets our cast - finally! Now, back to rehearsals...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Obituary: Marcel Marceau

Sorry to see that the world's greatest and most beloved mime, Marcel Marceau, passed away over the weekend.

He was always a favorite, whether for his TV appearances, especially on the Red Skelton Show, or for his cameo in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, where Marceau had the only speaking role.

Sadly, I missed his appearance in Huntington in 2004 as part of the Marshall Artists Series. Those who saw it raved about the show, and those who met him afterwards told me he was delightful.

More than just a great performer and entertainer, he was also a hero of the French Resistance during World War II.

Here's the obituary from the Associated Press:
PARIS (AP) -- Marcel Marceau, the master of mime who transformed silence into poetry with lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions that spoke to generations of young and old, died Saturday. He was 84.

Marceau's former assistant Emmanuel Vacca said on French radio that the performer died in Paris, but gave no details.

A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp during World War II, unlike his father who died in Auschwitz. Marceau worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children, and later used the memories of his own life to feed his art.

He gave life to a wide spectrum of characters, from a peevish waiter to a lion tamer to an old woman knitting, and to the best-known Bip.

The son of a butcher, the mime was born Marcel Mangel on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, France. His father Charles, a baritone with a love of song, introduced his son to the world of music and theater at an early age. The boy was captivated by the silent film stars of the era: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx brothers.

With his brother Alain, Marceau became active in the French Resistance, altering children's identity cards by changing birth dates to trick the Nazis into thinking they were too young to be deported. Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton's army.

His father was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.

Some of Marceau's later work reflected the somber experiences. Even the character Bip, who chased butterflies in his debut, took on the grand themes of humanity.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On Your Mark, Get Set...

It was a beautiful day Saturday, which worked out well since it was the day for our first work party to start building the set for High School Musical.

Yesterday I told you about Amy, our wonderful Choreographer / Assistant Director, and today I'm going to brag on the guy in charge of set construction - Jack Welch.

Jack and I sat down a few weeks ago and came up with a rough design for the set. It's a lot of fun kicking around ideas with a guy as creative as Jack - he's a veteran of several shows and knows what will work on stage and what won't work.

Now the real fun begins - he'll spend the next several weeks taking those rough drawings and turning them into the real thing.

Luckily, he doesn't have to do it all by himself - all the cast members are required to help out, and their parents are welcome as well. We had a small but hard-working crew on Saturday - five teens and four adults, and we got quite a bit accomplished.

One of the toughest jobs was disassembling the lockers donated by the Cabell County School System - we got about 15 old lockers from Cammack Elementary School (which is in the process of being partly demolished). Thankfully, the construction workers loaded them out of the school and onto our trailer - those things are really heavy!

For our set, we have to take the doors off the lockers so we can attach them to a mobile platform. It was a tough job, especially with the temperature climbing, but a team of several teens and one parent got the job done.

We also had a team of painters laying down the base coat on a huge backdrop that we'll be using. One way First Stage manages to put on these expensive shows is by reusing and modifying existing set pieces, so the huge flats painted to look like brick walls for Les Miserables: The School Edition will have an entirely different (and more modern look for HSM.

Of course, this is just the beginning - but we're off to a great start!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Speak Your Mind

So Friday we had lots of fun at High School Musical rehearsal, working on the big song that ends the first act.

Since I have two left feet, I just watched as choreographer Amy Browning patiently worked with the cast (virtually everyone is in the number) and got them started on the process of learning the complicated moves involved.

It made me appreciate yet again how talented the cast is and what a great directing team I get to work with. Amy is not only a terrific choreographer, she's also an excellent director, too - I always count my lucky stars that she's on the team.

So which song were we working on?It's probably my favorite in the show - Stick to the Status Quo. In case you've been living in a cave and haven't seen it, here's the clip from the TV movie:

Changing of the Guard

Huntington's 5th Avenue Theatre Company (which is affiliated with the City of Huntington Foundation) is having a change in command.

Sue Ann Torlone stepped down as Chairman and Co-Producer of that organization earlier this week. She had served that position since its inception. The good news is, she will continue to serve on the board. As one board member said, "Her dedication and hard work will be missed."

No word yet on who's taking on the job of Chairman - but we should know soon.

Friday, September 21, 2007

You're Getting Warmer...

We're just a couple of weeks from the kickoff to the fall community theatre season (thank goodness). But you don't have to wait that long - the Marshall Artists Series will kick things off in a week with the Fall International Film Festival, which runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 at the Keith Albee Theater. It's followed two days later (Oct. 6) by the talented Al Jarreau.

You can learn more about it - and keep tabs on the rest of the upcoming season for the Marshall Artists Series - by visiting the website, which you can find right here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Briefs and Shorts

My pal Mike Murdock sent this information in a recent comment, but I wanted to print it here as well- it's about a show coming up next week you'll want to see:
Next week sees the return of the Kanawha Players' Briefs and Shorts, which brings to you short plays, new and veteran actors alike, new directors and even new, original plays from area playwrights!

The show will be next Thursday, September 27 - one night only - at 8:00 p.m. at the Charleston Ballet building on Virginia Street (across the street from City National Bank - where you can park, I might add) and tickets are just $5.00!

Jon Joy has a new 10-minute play being performed for the very first time called The War On Halloween, starring Mike Murdock and Jen McComas.

For anyone that saw Joy's The Prayer List, Mike is once again playing the character of "Mark", who previously held quite a grudge against Christmas.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ahoy There!

Here at the Tri-State Theatre blog, we're big fans of imaginary holidays. So it is with great delight that we announce our support of Talk Like a Pirate Day, which hits every year on September 19.

So avast ye swabs! Make it a hearty one!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Legally Blonde - from Broadway to MTV

When I was a tyke, you could catch glimpses of Broadway on programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, as performers recreated songs for the national audience. These days, there doesn't seem to be an outlet for that sort of thing (though why Conan O'Brien or David Letterman don't take more advantage of the shows down the street, I have no idea).

That's about to change - at least momentarily - as MTV (as in Music Television - you know, the channel that used to show music videos) has announced plans to film the Broadway musical Legally Blonde and air it in its entirety. The first broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, September 29 at 1:00 p.m.

MTV will film Legally Blonde at the Palace Theatre. This isn't the first time a stage show has been recorded for TV, of course - but no show has ever been broadcast while still running on Broadway. It's an interesting experiment - will the broadcast spark interest in the live show or kill off the audience's interest?

Legally Blonde stars Kentucky native Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, the show features a score by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe and book by Heather Hach.

You know what I always say: set the Tivo!

Monday, September 17, 2007

On Stage Tomorrow - "Something in the Water"

It may be a lean time for stage shows, but every now and then an opportunity presents itself. For example, you can catch an original musical tomorrow night in Ashland. It's called "Something in the Water," and it's subtitled "A Tribute to the Heritage of Country Music in Kentucky.”

The production looks at the evolution of country gospel and mountain music that came out of eastern Kentucky. The show will be presented at The Paramount Arts Center Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $10, and children under 12 are free.

You can learn more about the show in this article in today's Herald-Dispatch.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

High School Musical Rehearsals

I haven't talked about High School Musical rehearsals much for two reasons: 1) I don't want to "wear out my welcome" in this blog by constantly talking about the show; and 2) I've been so busy working on the reheasals that I haven't had much time to talk about them.

We've wrapped up the first week-and-a-half of rehearsals (it takes about 10 weeks to get a show like this ready), and so far it's going very well!

One thing we had to "fix" was the cast. We had to make a few minor adjustments to deal with the loss of a couple of actors. That always happen when you're working with young people in school - in fact, in casting we allow for the fact that we'll probably lose five to 10 actors once the rehearsal schedule goes out. Lots of actors don't realize how much time a show requires and others just have unavoidable schedule conflicts.

We actually hit the ground running at the initial cast meeting. Ordinarily we do a read-through of the script with the cast at that meeting, but since virtually everyone already knows the High School Musical story, instead we starting out learning the "Stick to the Status Quo" song.

Learning the music is really the first step in a show like this, so the next couple of rehearsals focused on the four leads and their songs, and the week after that we focused on the entire cast. And let me just say, they sound great already!
(Not that I'm prejudiced or anything.)

We've also started working on the choreography - specifically, the dance for "Get'cha Head in the Game," which is tricky, since it involves basketballs, dribbling and dancing - the team still has quite a bit of practicing to do, but we're off to a great start.

Last night we started blocking scenes - where the actors work on their lines, their stage movements and interacting with the other actors. As I was watching them run the scene last night where they're in Ms. Darbus' homeroom class, I was impressed at how "in character" they all were, as they took on the part of their character - and that's half the battle right there!

To sum up, we're off and running, but there's still a lot of work - and a lot of fun - ahead of us!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tonight: African Children's Choir in Concert

Tonight at 7:00pm you can catch a great concert, as the African Children's Choir performs at the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.

The choir members arrived in town last night and visited with host families. There are 22 members in all, and they're wrapping up a six-week tour with their visit to Huntington.

You can learn all about it by reading this story in today's Herald-Dispatch.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Talent Search

I've been talking to my pals at Motion Masters in Charleston (for those who don't know, they're a video production / marketing firm in Charleston - probably the best in the state), and they tell me they're looking for some actors who can serve as potential spokesmen and spokeswomen (age range in the mid-30s) for some upcoming projects.

For more information, you can call the company at (304) 345-8800. The basic application form can be found right here: CastingApplicationMotionMasters.doc

So if you're interested give them a call. They're a good company and they do great work. Tell 'em Chuck sent you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9 / 11

It's a sobering day as always, looking back at the terrible events that unfolded six years ago today.

I was home that morning and got a news bulletin on my computer saying a plane had crashed into one of the Trade Towers. I assumed it was a small plane lost in the morning fog. "Just like when a plane crashed into the Empire State Building years ago," I thought. I turned on the TV to find live shots of smoke pouring out of one tower, and immediately noticed how clear and blue the sky was. "How could any pilot crash like that on a clear morning?" I wondered. I stepped out of the room for a minute, and when I returned, the second plane had crashed, and it was obvious that this wasn't just an accident. Later we learned about the crash at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania.

I hope we can all take a moment today to remember the innocent victims of that terrible day, and hope that our loved ones never have to face that kind of horror again.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not Blue about Artists Series

Single tickets sales are now available for the Marshall Artists Series by calling 304-696-6656 (and the phone line works, because I just ordered my tickets for several shows). You can learn more about the amazing season they have coming up by reading this article in today's Herald-Dispatch.

Also, on the online edition of the H-D tells us that the Blue Man Group is putting in an appearance in Charleston soon - you can read about it right here.

Apparently these groups are working together to take away all my spare change! (But I'm not complaining - we should have this problem more often!)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Go Herd!

I know, it doesn't have anything to do with local theatre (other than the fact that there was a lot of drama involved), but I just wanted to offer my congratulations to both Marshall and WVU on a terrific football game.

For three quarters, MU held its own against WVU's high-powered offense (which includes two Heisman candidates), and the Herd even led at the half!

Of course, WVU put it away in the fourth quarter, but it was an entertaining game with some good sportsmanship on display at the end, as both teams exchanged congratulations on the field. It was great to see, expecially in front of a national audience. MU has a lot to be proud of, to hold its own against the #3-ranked Mountaineers, and WVU demonstrated why it continues to be a national power.

All in all, a fun way to spend the day! (Next time, I'll talk about theatre. Honest!)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Cast for "A Christmas Carol"

5th Avenue Theatre has announced its cast for A Christmas Carol. Here 'tis:

A Beadle - D. B. Daugherty
Three Charity Men- Scott Burner, Nathan Mohebbie, Elijah Boyles
Mr. Smythe - Larry Schmitz
Grace Smythe - Elizabeth Schmitz
Scrooge - Clint McElroy
Crachit - Mark Near
Martha Crachit - Rachel Meadows
Mrs. Crachit - Amy Coughenhour
Tiny Tim - Franklin Norton
Poulterer - D. B. Daugherty
Fred Anderson - Brad Goodenough
Sally Anderson - Jessica Maier
Fred's son Charles - William Beverage
Fred's daughter Polly - Olivia Goodenough
Jonathon - Jack Mcghee
Ghost of Christmas Past - Lara Evans
Ghost of Christmas Present - Tommy Smirl
Ghost of Christmas Future - Joy Wilkes
Marley - Paul Neace
Judge - D.B.Daugherty
Scrooge at 9 - Nathaniel Porter
Scrooge's Mother - Mary Olson
Fan at 7 - Lydia Waybright
Scrooge at 15 - Scott Burner
Fan at 13 - Emily Waybright
Fezziwig - Jim Lamp
Mrs. Fezziewig - Joy Martin
Scrooge at 23 - Justin McElroy
Emily - Sydnee McElroy
Young Marley - Nathan Mohebbi
Char Women - Jazzy Dodson and April Morrison
Old Joe - Elijah Boyles
Undertakers/Grave Robbers - Scott Burner, Nathan Mohebbie, Jazzy Dodson
Belinda Crachit - Nikki Coughenhour
Rose Crachit - Rebecca Craig
Molly Crachit - Rileigh Smirl
Granny Pickwit - Debbie Jackson
Granny Chuzzelwut - Carolyn Fornash
Children under Robe of Ghost - Gavin Beverage and Anna Coughenhour
Sr. Dance Line - Ritchie Allen, Brittany Hazeldine, Keisha Runyon, Rachel Maynard, Becki Harless, Scott Burner, Nathan Mohebbi, Tiff McCulagh, Taylor Bellomy, Wendy Goodenough, Jess Maier, Rachel Meadows, Mallory Norton, Kristen Ritter.
Little Dance Line - Willow Maynard, Olivia Robets, Anna Coughenhour, Olivia Goodenough, Rileigh Smirl, Jenna Dorsey, Danielle Reber, Madyson Knipp, Cady Lewis, Zoie Fornash, Lindsay McKelvey, Madalyn Harless, Annie Wolfe, Savannah Shockley, Brooke Vaughn, Jade Stewart, Olivia Jenkins, Abbey Mandt, Madalein Jackson, Kathryn Booth, Becky Petit and Betsy Petit.
Company - Cara Romanowski, Stephanie Dorsey, Autumn Morrison, Chyanne Morrison, Danielle Deering, Sarah Bryan, Nathaniel Fornash, Marshall Harless, Jarrett Maynard, Blair Vaughn, Alissa Stewart, Alexandra Poore, Hanna Stapleton.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Rehearsal Time

It's the time of year, unfortunately, when you don't see many community theatre shows. September is traditionally a time when local groups are rehearsing for their next big production. For example, Marshall's Department of Theatre is busy getting ready to stage The Little Shop of Horror in about a month.

At the Renaissance Theater, ARTS is almost halfway through rehearsals for Hello Dolly, which will take the stage in mid-October.

Rehearsals are just beginning for First Stage Theatre's production of High School Musical.

And 5th Avenue Theatre will start working soon on A Christmas Carol: The Musical.

So for fans of theatre, it's a time to be patient - in about a month, you'll have some great shows to choose from!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to Blogging

I'm back! Did you miss me?

Sorry for the lack of blogging for the past few days - the family and I went to Chicago over the holiday weekend to help our youngest son get settled into his new apartment.

At least I got some much-needed exercise! The move included carrying a couch up to a third floor apartment, an effort that required all three of the Minsker men to accomplish. (Though between you and me, I think Old Man Minsker's days of moving heavy furniture up three flights of stairs are about over. That's a young man's game!)

But it wasn't all work - we also got in some sightseeing, visited the Art Institute and had fun hanging in the Windy City with our loved ones!

Still, it's good to be back home and we should be back to blogging as usual tomorrow. Hope you had a great Labor Day, too!