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, July 31, 2009

"Rent" Starts Tonight!

Rent takes the stage at Charleston's Little Theatre (at the Civic Center) tonight at 8 p.m., and I highly recommend it! (I hope to have my review posted tomorrow.)

For a preview, here's an excellent story by my pal Dave Lavender:
Ryan Hardiman looks at his fingernails and laughs.

Folks around the office are getting pretty used to the Milton resident's extreme makeovers by now.

This summer, it's bleach blond hair and black shiny fingernails and not just to look all vampire cool at the pool.

The veteran rocker/actor, who's starred in a slew of edgy musicals such as Rocky Horror, Jekyll and Hyde and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, has transformed for what he feels is the role of a lifetime.

Hardiman, who has seen the hit musical Rent six times, is immersed into the lead role of "Roger" in Charleston Light Opera Guild's production of Rent that runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 31, and Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, and at 8 p.m. Aug. 6 through 8 at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre.

Tickets are reserved at $20 each and may be picked up in person at the Little Theatre box office Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or by calling 304-343-2287.

Like fellow actors and Rent-heads around the country, Hardiman, and so many of the cast of 24 in this production, have been anxiously awaiting when Rent would become available for regional theaters. The show ended its 12-year Broadway run in 2006 and is one of the longest running Broadway productions.

"We've all talked about it but it always seemed like it was so far off in the future," said Hardiman, who saw Rent on Broadway in 1999 and has since seen five national tours of Rent. "You don't expect our area to have the opportunity to produce a show like this. It's like the idea of doing Phantom of the Opera - it doesn't seem like that will ever be available so it's like a far off dream. It was so unbelievable that not only the rights became available but that they became available for nonprofessional theater to do Rent. Charleston, West Virginia is at the top of the first theater companies in the nation that is able to produce it. There's a huge buzz about it, and it's amazing to be a part of this groundbreaking experience in our area."

For those not familiar with the Pulitzer-Prize and Tony Award-winning rock musical, Rent, a modern rock opera with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La Boheme.

First seen in 1994, Rent uses a stream of melodic, drama-laden rock songs to tell the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS.

Rent, which officially opened on April 29, 1996, on Broadway was an immediate hit, winning a Pulitzer Prize and taking Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.

Also adapted into a 2005 movie that featured most of the original cast members (including Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp), Rent, with such songs as "Seasons of Love," "Rent," "Light My Candle," and "I'll Cover You," has an almost unprecedented following among modern musicals.

"It's a lot like a rock concert," said Hardiman, who learned how to play guitar for the role. "Especially, the first half of it is like a rock concert and you're just bombarded with song after song and hit after hit, and you know what is coming up if you're a fan of the show. So it is very much like listening to an album of songs by a band and having those hits unfold in front of you. It's extremely exciting and it has that kind of vibe in that it melds theater and rock performance."

Act One takes place on Christmas Eve as a group of eight people reunite with old friends, and create new relationships as their lives intertwine.

Act Two follows their lives over the course of one year to the following Christmas Eve. The characters learn about themselves and about life.

Hardiman said the pace of the show makes it a tough, but very satisfying show to pull off.

"The music is completely brilliant, but it is also very complicated because you have to be 'on' at all times," Hardiman said. "Rent is a very upbeat rock opera, and the dialogue is all singing. Not only do you have to know your part, but you have to know everyone else's part as well as the complete structure and timing of the music. Once the show starts it's like jumping on a speeding train and you have to come in where your parts are, in time to the music, or everything derails. There's no room for hesitation. Fans know this show like the back of their hands, and will know if something is not right. I feel so good about this production and I have every confidence that even diehard Rent fans will be extremely pleased. Everyone in this cast is amazing."

While the show is set in New York City during that first initial wave of AIDS deaths, Rent has always been a show whose themes and message have played powerfully to audiences around the globe regardless of place.

"The theme of the show is really about making the most of the time that you are on the planet," Hardiman said. "I think that's what people take with them. ... It shows people lives in dealing with all the things that we are all dealing with and what we all want - to love and to be loved in return. That is something that everybody can relate to. That and wanting to leave something behind. Especially my character, Roger, he knows he won't be around for long and he really wants to create something worthwhile that he will be remembered by. He wants to write a song that will resonate with people and that will convey what he is all about."

If you go

WHAT: Charleston Light Opera Guild’s second summer theater production of the rock opera, Rent.

WHERE: At the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre, in Charleston.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as Aug. 6-8. Also 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2.

HOW MUCH: Tickets are reserved at $20

GET TICKETS: At the Little Theatre box office Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or by calling 304-343-2287.

THE CHARLESTON CAST: The show stars Ryan Hardiman as Roger, Chris Conard as Mark, Michael Barnes as Tom Collins, Beth Winkler Bowden as Mimi Marquez, Nakeila Killing as Joanne, Nathan Mohebbi as Angel, Mara Stewart as Maureen, D’laontie Lewis as Benjamin Coffin III. Other cast members include Ann McBurney, Kris Corbett, Madeline Gourevich, Michael Rose, Sarah Plata, Cassie Sorrells, Jessica Sensabaugh, Kristen Pennington, Paul Shannon, Cassia King, Megan Green, Nicholas Foster, Jessica Gardner, Shakira Martin, Kevin Swafford, Joanna Radow and John-Phillip Perry. It is directed and choreographed by Nina Denton Pasinetti, musical director is Bobby Hodges Jr. and accompanist is Mark Scarpelli. The guild’s Summer Theatre is sponsored by Mrs. Alex Schoenbaum.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Auditions for "Man of La Mancha" and "Into the Woods"

Here are a couple of shows coming up this fall in Huntington - but auditions are in August!

My pal Eddie Harbert sent this message about auditions for Man of La Mancha:
We will be holding auditions for Man of La Mancha in Huntington.

The show is being sponsored by Fifth Avenue Theatre Company. Auditions will be held Sunday, Aug. 2 from 2-6 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 3 from 6-9 p.m.

People interested in auditioning should have a prepared selection to sing. An accompanist will be provided.

Dates for the production are October 16-18 and 23-25 with two school performances scheduled for Oct. 22.

In Man of La Mancha, Don Miguel Cervantes finds himself in prison and must face the Spanish Inquisition. While awaiting trial, his fellow prisoners discover his manuscript for his novel. The prisoners hold a mock trial and, in order for Cervantes to save his manuscript from being destroyed by the prisoners, he must act out his story. The play will many songs such as “Impossible Dream,” “Ducinea” and “Little Bird.”

More information is available by calling Maxine Loudermilk at 304-696-5522 or Eddie Harbert at 304-412-8738. Hope to see lots of folks there!
First Stage is also holding auditions in August for its fall show, Into the Woods. Here's the notice from today's Herald-Dispatch:
Auditions for the First Stage Theatre Company's performance of Into the Woods will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church, 5747 Pea Ridge Road.

Casting is open to 6th through 12th grade students. Anyone who wants to try out should have a 30-second song segment prepared.

Performances will take place Friday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 15, and Friday, Nov. 20, through Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Jean C. Stephenson Auditorium.

More information is available by calling Mary Smirl at 304-525-2557, Elaine Young at 304-525-6132 or visiting www.firststagetheatre.org.

Into the Woods is a Tony award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

"Rent" Starts Friday

My lovely wife Jeanette and I got to sneak into last night's dress rehearsal for Rent, and we had a blast! (Thanks to Ryan and Sallie for making it possible!)

The show starts this Friday at the Charleston Little Theater, and I recommend buying those tickets early - they might be hard to get at showtime! The show runs July 31, Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m., and Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. It's presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

I'll have a full review here soon, but here's the quick version: it features a fantastic cast, great music and dancing, terrific singing - it's a wonderful show, and you'll be mad at yourself if you miss it! I give it my highest recommendation!

(I should also add that it deals with adult themes and situations, and there's some adult language, so it might be a bit much for the kids.)

In the meantime, you can see some photos from the show right here at the Herald-Dispatch Photo Gallery - and here's a shot of the cast:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Last Weekend for "Shadowman"

This weekend the adult drama Shadowman wraps up its run in Charleston.

My pal Mel Larch saw the show last weekend, and sent in this comment:
We saw Shadowman on opening night. It's a masterfully written and performed story of secrets, sin and redemption.

While dark and intense, there are still moments of humor and sweetness as it builds to a surprising, yet satisfying conclusion.

Due to the subject matter and overall intensity, it's NOT a show for the kiddos by any means. But those who love good drama and original theatre should definitely try to attend this week's final three performances.
The Dan Kehde play will be presented at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the historic WVSU Capitol Center, 123 Summers Street, Charleston.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Hair" on the Small Screen

Hey, if you're a fan of the musical Hair, you'll want to keep an eye out for this documentary: Hair: Let the Sunshine In. It traces the birth of the '60s musical and premieres this month on the Sundance Channel.

It's an illustrated history of the musical, and looks at the origins, impact and power of the "tribal love-rock musical."

Hair first opened Off-Broadway in 1967 and moved to Broadway in 1968, and won a Tony this year for the revival running on Broadway right now.

Like they always say, check your local listings and set the DVR!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"All Shook Up" Wraps Tonight and Lexington Theater Gets New Lease on Life

A couple of interesting theater stories in today's Herald-Dispatch:

- As you can read in this story, the comedy musical All Shook Up has its last performance today at Ritter Park Amphitheater. The production by Huntington Outdoor Theatre begins at 8:30 p.m. The Twistin' in the '50s children's pre-show starts at 7 p.m. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $16 and $14 for 65 and older and children 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free.

- There's also in interesting story right here about the re-opening of a classic theater in Lexington. Here's an excerpt:
Two hundred people gathered at Lexington’s East Third Street and Elm Tree Lane for the long-delayed beginning of the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center project.

The crowd included community leaders and city officials, some of whom had worked for 18 years to restore the Lyric, an icon of Lexington’s African-American community.

It also included many longtime Lexingtonians who have been waiting 46 years for their Lyric to reopen.

They’ll have another year to wait before the cavernous shell of a theater is rebuilt into a city-owned performing arts and community center.

After a 1987 fire damaged the Kentucky Theatre on Main Street and the city announced plans to restore it, Jefferson urged then-Mayor Scotty Baesler to appropriate $250,000 for the Lyric.

It was only fair, Jefferson said: “As a native Lexingtonian, I hadn’t had the right to go to the Kentucky Theatre because of segregation.”

But it would take years of struggle and legal disputes before Mayor Jim Newberry, the Urban County Council and a dedicated group of community activists would succeed in putting together the Lyric’s $9 million renovation and operating plan.

Many of those who came out remembered the Lyric as the place where black Lexingtonians came to see movies, vaudeville shows and jazz musicians from 1948 until the theater closed in 1963.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cartoons at the Paramount

Hey, things have been hopping lately at the Paramount Theater in Ashland.

They've started up the area's newest theatre group - they had auditions this week for a touring show of Tom Sawyer - and now they're getting ready to host a Cartoon Film Festival, as we see in this story by Kristy Moore:
"What's up Doc?" "Th-th-th-that's all folks!" "I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat." These are few of the things you'll hear and see on the big screen during the Cartoon Film Festival, Sunday, July 26, at the Paramount Arts Center.

The festival starts at 3 p.m.

Cartoons ranging from 50 to 90-years-old include Casper the Friendly Ghost, Betty Boop, Superman and many more. The festival will last four-and-half hours with two intermissions. Guests are welcome to stay for the full event, or come and go as they please.

Ashland native Paul Clere is a volunteer on the new Paramount Film Committee and has researched and selected many of the cartoons for the event.

"Some of the cartoons have been selected because of their historic nature, others are included because they stand the test of time and are as entertaining today as when they were created," he said. "The cartoons range from black and white animation, to early "talkie" cartoons, to the spectacular Superman features from the early 1940s.

"The Superman features cost over $100,000 each to produce in early 1940s, which was unheard of at the time considering they are each approximately 10 minutes in length. It amazes me to think that every frame of each of the cartoons was drawn by hand unlike most of today's computer generated animation."

Clere worked on the Nashville Independent Film Festival board for many years, which he said has helped expose him to many genres of film and animation. This experience ultimately spiked his interest in film; however, he attributes the beginning of his love of film to his childhood experience at the Paramount.

"Like so many others in the Tri-State, some of my favorite memories as a child are of watching movies at the Paramount," Clere said. "Cartoons and serials were usually shown prior to the feature presentation. They added to the overall movie-going experience and I miss that when attending movies in today's cinemas."

The Cartoon Film Festival is the kickoff to Paramount's new Second Sunday Film series beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, with Singing in the Rain. Admission is $3 for everyone ages 3 and over for the Cartoon Film Festival.

For more information about the upcoming film series call 606-324-3175. To sign up for the Paramount's film series newsletter, go online at www.paramountartscenter.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Stage This Weekend

As July winds down, so does the summer theatre season - but there are lots of shows to choose from this weekend:

- All Shook Up will be presented by Huntington Outdoor Theatre July 24, 25 and 26. The Twistin' in the '50s pre-show starts at 7 p.m., and the main show starts at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Ritter Park Amphitheater.

- The new Dan Kehde play for adults, Shadowman, will be presented at 8 p.m. tonight through July 25 at the historic WVSU Capitol Center, 123 Summers Street, Charleston.

- Portsmouth Little Theatre will present Honk, Jr. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

- Chief Logan State Park will host The Aracoma Story July 21 through August 8. All shows start at 8:30 p.m.

- Theatre WV will present Hatfields and McCoys July 24 and Seussical the Musical July 25.

- Jenny Wiley State Park will present All Shook Up July 24 and 25 and Smoke on the Mountain July 24.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cerveris Takes the Stage This Fall

Here's the latest project on Broadway for Huntington's own Michael Cerveris, according to Playbill:
Tony Award winners Laura Benanti and Michael Cerveris will star in the Broadway premiere of Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room, which begins previews at the Lyceum Theatre Oct. 22.

Press notes for In the Next Room read: "Set at the dawn of the age of electricity; the play centers on a doctor and his wife (to be played by Laura Benanti and Michael Cerveris) and how his experimental therapy affects their entire household."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More News and Notes

Some news and notes for you:

- My pal Shirlee Idzakovich asks:
Could you mention Portsmouth Little Theatre in Portsmouth, Ohio? They are doing Honk, Jr. this Friday, Sat & Sun. I would really appreciate it.
I'd love to mention it! Honk, Jr. is based on the story of the Ugly Duckling, and it's a very funny musical - one of my favorites, in fact! Highly recommended!

- Then my pal Stephen Vance sends this note:
The cast of All Shook Up is hosting a pancake breakfast with a twist. This Thursday from 5-9 p.m. the cast will stage a fundraiser at IHOP, with 20% of the sales that evening being donated to the Huntington Outdoor Theatre. The cast will be serving and entertaining through the night.
Nobody doesn't like pancakes - sounds like a fun way to enjoy a meal!

Monday, July 20, 2009

History Was Made, and I Was There

Well, actually I was sitting in my living room, watching history being made right there on my TV set.

I'm talking about the historic first moon landing (and subsequent moon walk), which took place almost exactly 40 years ago as I type these words - around 10:30 p.m., July 20, 1969.

I was a skinny 13-year-old kid, eyes glued to the TV and absolutely fascinated by the space program. Mom and Dad were there, too, but I'm not sure about my three brothers - my younger brother Eric was probably asleep, and older brothers Mike and Bill may have been elsewhere - but I was focused on what was happening on the screen.

I had followed the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs over the years, and probably still didn't grasp the incredible dangers those three astronauts faced to land on the moon.

As Neil Armstrong exited the Lunar Module to climb down to the surface of the moon, he activated a camera set to allow the world to see the historic moment - but the picture was upside down! I remember Walter Cronkite (rest his soul) saying, "All of America is standing on its head right now." After a few moments, technicians flipped the image right-side up, and we saw that first step.

According to a news story, most Americans today weren't even born when that happened, so they may have a tough time understanding what a moment of national pride it was for the American space program to have accomplished what many thought to be impossible.

I was convinced - and am still convinced to this day - that there's almost nothing the people in this country can't achieve, if they have the courage and the determination to try.

Here's a taste of that historic day, courtesy of our pals at NASA:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

On Stage Tonight - "All Shook Up"

Don't forget about tonight's performance of All Shook Up!

The show is presented by Huntington Outdoor Theatre.

The Twistin' in the '50s pre-show starts at 7 p.m., and the main show starts at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Ritter Park Amphitheater.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Theatre Notes and News

A few notes to share:

- My lovely wife and I had an excellent dinner this evening at one of our favorite restaurants, Chili Willi's, and as we walked in the door we ran into our pal Ryan Hardiman, who was hanging up a poster for his upcoming show, Rent, which takes the stage in Charleston at the end of the month. He told us the rehearsals were going great! I'm really looking forward to this one - don't miss it!

- I'm hearing good things about Huntington Outdoor Theatre's summer show, All Shook Up, which continues this weekend at the Ritter Park Amphitheater. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to see it yet - it's been a crazy month for me - but I hope to catch it before it wraps up a week from tomorrow!

- If you're a fan of giant invisible rabbits - and who isn't? - then you should know that auditions for Red Lion’s Harvey will be held Monday, July 20 and Tuesday, July 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairview High School. Auditions are open to all ages. Harvey tells the story of Elwood Dowd, whose best friend is an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey. My pal Sam Butler will direct this lovable show, which takes the stage August 27-29, with performances at 8:30 p.m. It is tentatively set to be at Greenbo Lake State Resort Park Amphitheatre. For more information, check out the website at redliontc.org.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On Stage This Weekend

As always in July, you have lots of shows to choose from:

- All Shook Up will be presented by Huntington Outdoor Theatre July 17, 18 and 19. The Twistin' in the '50s pre-show starts at 7 p.m., and the main show starts at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Ritter Park Amphitheater.

- The No Pants Players will be performing improv comedy Saturday, July 18 at 8 p.m. at the Labelle Theater at 311 D Street in South Charleston. The show is family-friendly. Tickets are $6 each and can be purchased at the door, or reserved by calling 1-877-IMPROV9. You can also visit the website at www.nopantsplayers.com.

- Theatre WV will present: Honey in the Rock July 19 and 23; Hatfields and McCoys July 18 and 21; and Seussical the Musical July 17 and 22.

So get out there and see a show!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Local Actor in the Spotlight

My pal Denise sent me an email this morning with information about another local actor who's in the national spotlight. She writes:
Ronnie Talbot, who is a Marshall graduate (I think) and did a number of local theatre shows, including playing "Rooster" in the Fifth Ave. Theatre Co. production of Annie, is a contestant on the new season of Big Brother 11.

The world keeps getting smaller and smaller.
The show (which I have to admit I've never watched) airs on CBS. You can see a photo and some basic info about Ronnie right here.

So tune in and cheer for the home team!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More Info About "Shadowman"

Hey, I promised more information about the upcoming show Shadowman, and here it is. It a drama that promises to be an intense experience.

First, here's the press release to tell you more about the show:
The long-awaited premiere of the new Dan Kehde play, Shadowman, arrives 8 p.m. Thursday, July 23 at the historic WVSU Capitol Center, 123 Summers Street, Charleston.

After more than three years in development, the play centers around the sin and redemption of a convicted rapist Jeremiah Fleetwood as he returns to his home town after 15 years in prison. Hired as counter man in the local pornography shop, Fleetwood confronts his victim, his former friends and the town sheriff before discovering that his only possible act of redemption is even more heinous than his original crime.

Featuring the talents of veteran actors Evan Wilson, Erin Martin, Nik Tidquist, Madeleine Ranson, Michelle Spencer, Shawn Casey, Kirill Gura and Shane Belcher, the drama is adult themed and not suitable for children.

Performances run July 23-25, 30, 31 and August 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5.50 for Students/seniors and $9.50 for adults, and are available the evenings of the performances.
To explain why they're tackling such a dark, adult subject, here's a powerful message from the show's creator, Dan Kehde:
From the Playwright...

With every new play I write come the same old questions: “Why do you do this? Why aren’t you doing shows that people want to come to see? You could make a lot of money if you just did Jesus Christ Superstar again or Across the Universe. Nobody wants to come to the theater to see depressing drama anymore. Why do it?” You’ve heard it. Some of you may even have asked me those questions yourselves.

So, why are we going to premiere Shadowman, another depressing drama?

Okay. Because, at its core, live theater is not about entertainment, despite the fact that the living stage is often the venue for it. If live theater were only about soliciting audience, then the concept of the stage would have been altered or replaced altogether after the first Olympics, or the first time the lions devoured the Christians, or the first public crucifixion, or the first Super Bowl, the first time the Beatles played Yankee Stadium, or any other first time a crowd gathered to watch a spectacle.

Conversely, if live theater were only about money, then its works would reflect only the most superficial values of the current generation. And while those pieces must always exist, it would be insulting to consider them the sole purpose for a three thousand year old institution.

No, the true potential of the living stage is for the constant confrontation of ideas and emotions to the human condition, whether humanity is in the mood to see it or not. The living stage is where audiences see themselves not as a mirror images, but as portraits: the interpretations of an artist/playwright, where all the warts and faults and failings can be highlighted or erased at the whim of the writer who creates it and actors who portray it.

There is no place in the world that can equal the sheer intimate power of the living stage. No movie theater, TV screen, stadium or coliseum can offer an audience anything near to the experience of sitting within 20 feet of human beings creating the human experience.

And regardless of the harshness of the civilization, or its technological advancements, in spite of war, the dark ages, and threat of nuclear annihilation, the living stage continues to exist because it holds a place in human artistry - in human existence - like no other.

What I do isn’t new. It isn’t even unique. (And oftentimes it may not even be very good.) There are hundreds of playwrights all over the world right now writing for the living stage, using plot, character and dialog to portray the human condition, striving to create moments so powerful that the actors and the audiences breathe and cry as one being, so moving that even the silences between the words are remembered long after the final curtain, and written with such discomfiting honesty that audiences must often times look away. But that is the purpose of the living stage and it must be acknowledged. It must be remembered.

For just as a thousand amateur groups in this country will be recreating Oklahoma to the delight of their resident communities this summer, there will also be playwrights like me, who, far from the pressures and constraints of the community standards of the day, are defiantly creating new dramas that, in their own ways, remind the members of their audiences, however few, just how irreplaceable the living stage is, and just how powerful the living stage can be.

So come. Be part of something you’ll see no place else.

Monday, July 13, 2009

On Stage Soon: "Shadowman"

Hey, here's a show I somehow missed that's coming up at the end of the month in Charleston.

I'll have more about it tomorrow (assuming my computer quits misbehaving), but here's a teaser to tide you over: it's the poster for Shadowman:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Auditions for "Tom Sawyer"

The Paramount Arts Center is looking for actors for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Auditions are 3 p.m. Sunday, July 19, at the Paramount. The performance is an in-house production for the PAC and will be directed by Melanie Sweeney, Paramount's Education Director.

"We are looking for actors of all experience levels," Sweeney said. "This is a great opportunity for young people to get some acting experience."

There are parts for actors ages 10 through adult. The performances will be Sept. 28-30. For more information or to get a copy of the script prior to auditions, contact Sweeney at 606-324-3175 ext. 311.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lots To Do This Weekend

As you can read in this story on the Herald-Dispatch website, there's plenty going on this weekend:
Huntington Outdoor Theater kicked off Friday with its performance of the Elvis-inspired All Shook Up.

It is one of dozens of events this weekend. Here is a look at some of this weekend's events. For a full listing, go to www.herald-dispatch.com and click on the calendar link.

ALL SHOOK UP: Huntington Outdoor Theater continues its show through Sunday as well as July 17-19, and July 24-26, at the Ritter Park Amphitheater. Gates open at 6:30 p.m., the pre-shows start at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 and $14 for seniors and children 5-12. Children 5 and under are free.

STARLIGHT CINEMA: Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington will have a free showing of the Nicholas Cage thriller Knowing today, with gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the movie starting at dusk. Admission is free with a ticket available at The Big Sandy Superstore Arena, The Herald-Dispatch and Big Sandy Superstores' Ashland and Chesapeake locations. The film is sponsored by St. Mary's Medical Center.

COUNTY FAIRS: Lawrence County, Ohio, and Putnam County, W.Va., both kick off county fairs today. The Lawrence County Fair will be at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds on Ohio 7 in Proctorville through Saturday, July 18. Saturday night's entertainment will be a Demolition Derby. The Putnam County Fair runs through Saturday, July 18, at the fairgrounds in Eleanor.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Stage This Weekend

There are lots of shows to choose from this weekend, including:

- All Shook Up will be presented by Huntington Outdoor Theatre July 10, 11 and 12. The Twistin' in the '50s pre-show starts at 7 p.m., and the main show starts at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Ritter Park Amphitheater.

- Theatre WV will present: Honey in the Rock July 11 and 15; Hatfields and McCoys July 10 and 11; and Seussical the Musical July 14.

- Jenny Wiley State Park will present: All Shook Up July 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15; and Smoke on the Mountain July 10.

So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Another Local Gal Makes Good!

Once again I get to brag on a local theatre alumnus who is doing great work out there!

Today we're talking about the lovely and talented Laura LaCara, who starred in more local shows than I can count! This fall she'll start her senior year studying theatre at Wright State.

And now she's received a big honor! The Dayton City Paper makes yearly "Best of the Theatre Season" picks every year. The paper covers the arts in the area, including touring and resident professional productions.

Both students and professionals compete for the same awards, and Laura received an honorable mention in the Breakthrough Female Performance category, for the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd! You can read about it right here!

It would be impressive if she were just competing against the talented students in the Dayton area, but to be honored alongside professional actors shows her talent! Friends who saw the show raved about her performance (I, sadly, didn't get to see it).

I'm so happy for her - she's an incredibly gifted singer, dancer and performer, and I know the future is bright for Laura!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"All Shook Up" Starts This Weekend

This summer's show from the Huntington Outdoor Theatre (HOT) is All Shook Up, and it takes the stage this weekend at Ritter Park.

You can read all about it in this story in Thursday's Herald-Dispatch, written by my pal Dave Lavender.

You can also see some photos from the show in this photo gallery.

Here's an excerpt from Dave's story:
One football-throwing Chad has already ridden into Huntington and stolen the hearts of many Tri-Staters with his good looks and athletic prowess.

Huntington Outdoor Theatre is banking on another hot, young Chad -- this one a black-leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, hip-shaking, guitar-playing bad boy -- to turn up the musical heat and win over just as many tender hearts in the Tri-State.

Chad, a James Dean-meets-Elvis kind of character, is just one of the stars ready to hit the stage Friday night as part of H.O.T.'s production of the new musical, All Shook Up, juiced with a jukebox full of Elvis Presley hits.

Now in its 16th season, H.O.T. is rocking the Ritter Park Amphitheater with the infectious sounds of a dozen Elvis hits during the musical, All Shook Up, which runs nightly Friday through Sunday as well as July 17-19, and July 24-26, at the amphitheater.

The show starts at 8:30 p.m. The pre-show starts at 7 p.m. with the children's pre-show called, Twistin' in the '50s, followed by the community pre-show.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for picnics, although full concessions are available.

Get your tickets early at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Box Office and Borders Books and Music in the Huntington Mall.

Tickets are $16 and $14 for 65 and older and children 5 to 12. Children 5 and under are free. Groups of 20 or more are $14 if they are purchased at the same time. All tickets include a $1 surcharge for the Greater Huntington Parks and Recreation District.

Set in the Midwest during a 24-hour period in the summer of 1955, the story follows Chad, played by Philip Cron, a character fresh out of jail who rides into a sleepy town whose prudish mayor Matilda played by Courtney Dugan has (like in Footloose) outlawed loud music, dancing and indecent behavior.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Local Gal (and Guy) Make Good

We're always glad to hear about local actors doing good work out there in the world of performance art.

My pal Denise sends along this note about a couple of performers who got their start right here:
Just thought you'd like to know that Autumn Seavey is in the ensemble of a show that is workshopping at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.

It's by Mark Conner and Hunter Foster. For a little more
info about the show, check out this story from Playbill.

The Signature just won the 2009 Tony Award for Regional Theatre. Awesome, huh?
And Denise also points out that, according to the article, Huntington's Chris Sizemore is part of the 21/24 acting company!

They're both terrific talents and wonderful, giving people. It's great to hear they're doing well. Thanks, Denise!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Rent" Tickets Going On Sale Soon

They're already cranking up the promotion for the upcoming production of Rent in Charleston.

Here's the latest press release from today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch:
Tickets will soon go on sale for the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s production of Rent.

Show dates are 8 p.m. July 31-Aug. 1, 3 p.m. Aug. 2, 8 p.m. Aug. 6-8, at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre.

Tickets are $20.

Charleston Light Opera Guild will be one of the very first theatre groups to be granted rights to produce Rent outside of Broadway and the Broadway tour.

Rent is a rock opera that tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of AIDS.
Tickets are expected to go fast, so it's not a bad idea to reserve them in advance. Words to the wise!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The End is Near for "Avenue Q"

Another long-running Broadway show has announced it's ending its run in a few months.

According to Playbill:
Avenue Q goes down in history as (among many other things) the most successful musical starring puppets ever to grace Broadway. It will play its final performance at the John Golden Theatre Sept. 13. It will have played 22 previews and 2,534 performances.
The show, which uses puppets and humans together in a variety of not-for-kids songs, won the Tony Award for Best Musical - beating none other than Wicked.

But don't worry - the show is going on the road, so if you don't see it on Broadway, you should be able to catch it someday in a town near you.

Friday, July 03, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - Several Shows

Lots of shows to choose from this weekend, including:

- Chief Logan State Park will host Willy Wonka through July 5. All shows start at 8:30 p.m.

- Theatre WV will present: Honey in the Rock July 3, 5, 7 and 9; and Hatfields and McCoys July 4 and 8.

- Jenny Wiley State Park will present: All Shook Up July 4 and 7-12; and Smoke on the Mountain July 3 and 5.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

An "All Shook Up" Update

Someone recently requested an update on the upcoming Huntington Outdoor Theatre (HOT) production of All Shook Up, and my pal Stephen Vance has us covered - he sends along this note:
HOT has been at the Ritter Park Amphitheater for about week now, the sets are nearing completion, and things are coming together. One set piece alone is 24 feet wide and 12 feet tall and it actually moves.

We received a $5000 donation from Massey Coal, and they sent a representative up to present the check on Monday. With it, HOT was able to purchase some new spotlights and rehearsal sound equipment.

HOT will be performing at the Huntington Mall this Saturday to promote the show. We will be there from noon to 2 p.m. presenting songs from both the Children's pre-show and All Shook Up.

Anticipation is building as we keep nearing opening night, hope to see you there soon!

"Web Side Story"

My pal Len sends along this link to a fun (if silly) video from the College Humor site based on the musical West Side Story - but with a modern, Internet-based twist.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

On Stage in July

This may be the busiest month of the year, as hardly a day goes by without a show being staged somewhere in the Tri-State area.

Here's the list so far - as always, if I leave anyone off, please let me know by sending in a comment to the link at the bottom of this post, or email me at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Mark your calendars for these shows:

- All Shook Up will be presented by Huntington Outdoor Theatre July 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. The Twistin' in the '50s pre-show starts at 7 p.m., and the main show starts at 8 p.m. at the Huntington Ritter Park Amphitheater.

- Chief Logan State Park will host Willy Wonka through July 5, and The Aracoma Story July 21 through August 8. All shows start at 8:30 p.m.

- Theatre WV will present: Honey in the Rock July 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 19 and 23; Hatfields and McCoys July 2, 4, 8, 10, 11, 18, 21, 24 and 29; Seussical the Musical July 14, 17, 22, 25 and 30; and High School Musical July 28 and 31.

- Jenny Wiley State Park will present: All Shook Up July 1, 2, 4, 7-12, 14, 15 and 21-25; and Smoke on the Mountain July 3, 5, 10, 16, 24, 28, 29 and 30.

- Rent will be presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild July 31, Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 2 at 3 p.m.

Whew! Theatre fans will be hopping this month!

"Rod Blagojevich: Superstar" - A Review

Chicago's Second City has become a legendary launching point for a number of comedians and performers, so I've long wanted to catch one of that group's performances - and last weekend, I finally got the chance.

The feature attraction for the group this summer is the theatrical production of the musical comedy, Rod Blagojevich: Superstar.

It follows the story of the Illinois Governor whose actions made for great comedy fodder, and the show leaves no gaffe unturned.

The songs included lift elements in equal parts from shows like Jesus Christ Superstar (natch), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hair and several others, all to great effect.

The small but talented cast includes Joey Bland in the title role, and he combines a fine singing voice with great comedic skill, playing the bumbling Rod with perfect timing.

Lori McClain plays Rod's wife Patti, a foul-mouthed shrew who threatens to steal every scene she's in (which is a high compliment considering the talent of the cast). She got a big laugh after delivering a particularly vulgar line, which earned a groan from the crowd - she said, "You heard me. It's Saturday afternoon, and I'm saying it again." She repeated the line again to howls from the audience.

John Hildreth plays the part of Roland Burris, the politician who was appointed to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat under dubious (and, in this show, funny) circumstances. Hildreth, Lauren Dowden and Randall Harr wear many hats in the show, and manage to be very funny and excellent singers, all at the same time.

It wouldn't surprise me to see any of these gifted performers showing up someday on a certain nationally-televised live show on Saturday Night.

I suspect "Superstar" is even more fun for residents of the state, since there are several "inside" jokes during the show, but I didn't mind at all - I thought the musical was clever, funny, rude and entertaining as can be (though obviously not for the kiddies).

After an intermission, the cast returned to take part in several comedy improv games, where the audience gets involved - pretty much along the lines of the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? It's always amazing to see performers create funny scenes on the spot - it takes quick thinking and a sharp wit. Lots of fun!

So, an entertaining show, and I finally got to see a Second City show. Highly recommended!