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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

ACTC Announces Its Upcoming Season of Shows

My pal Zach Davis sends along this message loaded with important information - especially in that last paragraph! Take it away, Zach:
ACTC Theatre held its annual banquet the other night at The Chimney Corner Restaurant in Ashland, Kentucky.

There was a record attendance of over 80 people. The night included several performances from the past year shows. In between performances various awards were given out for technical aspects and acting awards. There were many awards given out so I will not try to list all the winners (I'm afraid I might mess that up). I was fortunate to receive two awards myself. I shared the honor of Outstanding Shop Foreman and Technical Director with my great friend Susan Henderson for our work in Copacabana and I won Best Community Actor in a major role, also for Copacabana.

The evening held several highlights, but the one everyone looks forward to the most is the announcement of the next Theatre Season. What an exciting year ahead - some major, never before done productions are in store.

ACTC Theatre is excited to be premier some of Bernard J. Taylor's world renowned works. Taylor has had his productions appear in many different countries and on London's West End. Taylor now resides in Columbus, Ohio, and has been in contact with Edward Figgins at ACTC Theatre and together they decided on two of his works to hit our stage here in the Tri-State.

The fall show in October will be Taylor's Nosferatu The Vampire - (Rock Opera) based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, a new take on the legend in a mix of musical and rock opera. He writes, "The vampire in Nosferatu is a much more tragic figure than the creature generally portrayed." Reviewers wrote, "Nosferatu is dark and sombre yet with an inherent beauty - eerie, ethereal and passionate. The real fascination proves to be the depth and grandeur of the abundance of haunting melodies. . ." and "The vigorous, wide-ranging music of Nosferatu resembles a lusty love child of a blood wedding between Carmina Burana and Les Miserables, orchestrated and performed with an onward driving force which almost recalls Bernstein in its progressive, narrative energy."

The winter show of course will once again be A Christmas Carol - Scrooge and Marley, a beloved adaptation based of the story by Charles Dickens. (I have to say this is one of the Tri-State's longest running annual productions.) This will be the 16th annual production of this show. Last year the show took some new direction and I am sure this year will continue to be as fresh as ever.

The children's show will be performed in February, which is Once Upon a Mattress, as the story about the Princess and the Pea becomes a wild musical comedy adventure. Due to an unhappy curse, King Sextimus is unable to speak. Meanwhile, his terror of a wife, Queen Aggravian, has taken over control of the kingdom. Most importantly, in an attempt to keep Prince Dauntless single, she has decreed that only the princess that can pass her test may marry her son. Further, no one else in the kingdom may marry until Prince Dauntless does. Lady Larken and Sir Harry are extremely disturbed by this fact since Lady Larken is now pregnant with Sir Harry's baby. Luckily, Sir Harry is able to find an amazing princess, Winnifred the Woebegone. She instantly catches the attention of Prince Dauntless, and in the end, is able to pass the Queen's supposedly impassable sensitivity test.

Once again in April we are excited to perform yet another work of Bernard J. Taylor. Wuthering Heights the Musical. The haunting image of Heathcliffe searching the moors for the ghost of his beloved Cathy is one of the most enduringly passionate scenes in English literature. Taylor's adaptation has been recognized by the Brontë Society as marking the first time that the true spirit of this masterpiece "has been captured in music." Heathcliffe enters the House on the Hill and the wild boy falls for Cathy but attracts hatred from her brother. "The icy winds that blow across the moor would never pass beyond our door. But since the old man died, the storm has come inside, in our house on the hill - Wuthering Heights." It has magnificent music, verging on operatic arias including "He's Gone" and "I Belong to the Earth." Taylor's big, sweepingly romantic score is dark, brooding, fiery and as dramatic as the subject.

We are very excited about this huge upcoming year. I have to add that wasn't the only big announcement of the evening. I am overjoyed to announce my engagement to Allison Conley. I proposed to her during the banquet and she said yes! So we are very excited about our future together. Again it was a wonderful and exciting evening in Ashland and was so nice to see everyone looking their best.
Wonderful news! Congratulations to both Zach and Allison - and it looks like a great season for ACTC!

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day!

Of course, it can be a somber moment, as we take time to remember those loved ones who have passed before us, and to honor those in the military who make possible the freedoms we enjoy every day!

When I was a kid, this holiday was a day-long event, as we traveled to rural cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of loved ones. My Uncle Claude would always plant a small flag on the graves of the veterans in our family. We'd stop along the way, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then continue the caravan.

Even if you don't manage to make a trip to the cemetery, take some time today to remember those who walked the road before us. The path is a lot easier for you and me, thanks to them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cast List of "Harvey"

My pal Danny Ray is directing the upcoming production of Harvey, which is based on the Jimmy Stewart movie about a man and his giant invisible rabbit.

Danny just announced the outstanding cast for the show, and here 'tis:
Veta Louise Simmons - Nancy Jackson
Myrtle Mae Simmons - Amelia Rapp
Elwood P. Dowd - Dylan Clark
Miss Johnson - Jennifer Sias
Mrs. Chauvenet - Linda Reynolds
Ruth Kelly - Jordan Bean
Dr. Lyman Sanderson - Kenny Harbolt
Duane Wilson - Nick Husted
Dr. William Chumley - Mark Baker
Mrs. Betty Chumley - Loretta Hetzer
Judge Omar Gaffney - John Pritchard
Cab Driver - Brandon Ward

Director, Set & Costume Design: Danny Ray

Assistant Director: Clara Adkins

Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Stage Tonight - "Courting Disaster" and "Firebird"

There are two great shows to choose from tonight - one in Charleston and one in Huntington:

- Courting Disaster - the original musical comedy about lawyers and courtrooms premieres this weekend. You can catch it tonight at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard Street in Charleston, WV. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance. For more information, call 304-343-7529 or visit www.kanawhaplayers.org.

- Firebird - a Spring Recital will be presented by Mrs. Ella Hay and The Art Center School of Dance today at 8 p.m. at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

Friday, May 28, 2010

"Firebird" Takes the Stage on Saturday in Huntington

I usually don't mention dance recitals in this space because: 1) I know nothing about dance; and 2) there are so many dance studios around I'd be hard put to track 'em all down.

But I make an exception here because my wife attended the show by Ella Hay last year and said it was amazing, and because one of the lead dancers is Sarah Hayes, who's starred in dozens of community theatre shows (including several of mine), and she's off to college this fall, so this is one more chance for me to brag about her. (That's her in the photo with Cody Verbage.)

Here's the announcement about Saturday's show:

Mrs. Ella Hay and The Art Center School of Dance present their 2010 Spring Recital, featuring the ballet Firebird this Saturday, May 29, at 8 p.m. at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the first production of Firebird, which features music by Igor Stravinsky and classical choreography by Michel Fokine. The ballet’s story is based upon Russian folk tales of a magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captors.

The Art Center School of Dance’s production features dancers Sarah Hayes as the Firebird, Cody Verbage as Prince Ivan, Katie Wright as the Princess, Michael Martin as Kostchei and is directed by Ella Hay. Mrs. Hay also adapted the Fokine choreography for students.

Prior to the performance of Firebird, The Art Center School of Dance will present Jack and the Beanstalk (a children’s ballet) and “Divertissements”, featuring Mrs. Hay’s students performing a variety of ballet and tap numbers.

Tickets are $14, and are available by calling the Arts Center School of Dance at 304-429-6606, or at the door. The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. the night of the show.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Several "Courting Disaster" Interviews (#3 in the series)

We have three interviews in one for you, as this time around we hear from some of the actors who make up the cast of Courting Disaster, the musical comedy that premieres tomorrow night in Charleston.

Taking part in the e-interview is my pal Mel Larch, Natasha Harris and Mark Felton.

Q: Tell us about Courting Disaster.

Mel: Courting Disaster is a musical comedy which pokes fun at the legal process and all those involved with it, from litigants to lawyers to judges. You could say we’re an equal opportunity musical farce — only with slamming gavels instead of slamming doors.

Q: Tell us about the part you play in the show.

Natasha: I play Sue N. Winn, attorney at law. I sue for lots and lots of money for my clients and win most of my cases. Sue lets love come in between her and her money in the end.

Mark: I play Hughie. I start out as the defense attorney. My defense strategy is always the same - to find as much dirt as possible on the plaintiff, so as to ruin her credibility. In the process, I fall in love with the plaintiff, Tiff, and things get complicated from there.

Mel: My character is Judge I. M. Fair, an elected judge who has a reputation of diginity, propriety, and fairness. She’s no-nonsense on the bench - let the record show that’s not in a ‘Judge Judy’ way (laughs) — but she doesn’t exactly play by the book either. Judge Fair wants everyone who comes through her courtroom to receive “the very best Justice” they deserve. She can’t help it if some are a little more deserving than others. Add in some hints of a wild side and she’s really quite a character.

Q: What made you want to be part of this show?

Mark: Well, based on the audition notice, all I knew was that the show was an original musical and involved Mark Scarpelli and Kelly Strom. So far so good, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. It has been a great experience. I have never before done an original show that had never been performed before. That opportunity doesn't come up very often.

Natasha: I wanted to be a part of this show because this was something new that no one had ever seen before. Each character would have to be built from scratch and it was going to be up to the actors to figure out who these characters were. My other intent was because I had never been a part of a musical.

Mel: Bringing a show to life for the very first time ever is tremendously exciting, especially when you have the opportunity to work closely with the writers during the process. For example, Judge Fair was originally written to be played by a male actor. When Kelly Strom (the director) and Mark Scarpelli (the composer and musical director) decided they wanted me for the role, they talked with Jeremy Eisler (book and lyrics) about changing the gender. He agreed, re-worked some lyrics, and fleshed out a scene involving the Judge and some of the other characters. And Mark’s always willing to work with actors and make adjustments to his music. This is actually the second time I’ve been involved with the premiere of one of his musicals — the first was Jack The Ripper, with the Contemporary Youth Arts Company back in 2008. Mark’s a great composer and a good friend, so it’s always a pleasure to work with him. While I’ve known Kelly for many years, this is the first chance I’ve had to work under her direction. She has an amazing eye for all the little details that make up the big stage picture. It’s also great that Kanawha Players, one of the oldest, continually operating community theatre companies in the U.S., agreed to present the World Premiere of Courting Disaster. When you’re that established, it would be easy to say “no” and not take the chance on a new work. But they did and I thank them for it!

Q: What's the most challenging thing about this show?

Mel: Going from the first read-through to the finished onstage product in four weeks! (laughs) Like any show, Courting Disaster has its share of challenges. Luckily, I’m part of a wonderful cast of actors – Lisa Gandee, Craig Auge, Tasha Harris, Mark Felton and Sean Price — who aren’t just talented performers, but great people as well. As one of the characters says, “It’s a pleasure to go into work” when it’s time to head off to rehearsal!

Mark: The style of music is somewhat different than what I am used to singing, so I have had to make some adjustments. Hopefully, they are working. Also, because it is an original work, we each have to create our character, without seeing what someone else has done with it before. In a way this is probably good, as we are not biased by another person's interpretation.

Natasha: Character development. At first I had trouble finding all of those details of Sue's life and how all of those details shaped her as the woman the audience will see on stage.

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Natasha: For one because it is the world premiere show, never seen, and in my opinion very special opportunity to be able to see the first show of a new production. Second, this show is absolutely hilarious and even I as an actor have even broke out in laughter during the show when I shouldn't have.

Mel: It’s a fun and funny story with over the top yet likeable characters and terrific songs. And besides, it’s not every day you get the chance to see the World Premiere of a musical here in West Virginia!

Mark: The music is great, the show is funny and the directors and fellow cast members are very talented. Because it is original, you can be among first to ever see it. I think people will really like it, and if they don't, well, it's fairly short.

Q: When and where will the show be presented?

Mel: Courting Disaster will be performed Thursday, May 27, Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 30 at 2 p.m. All performances will be at the Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard Street in Charleston, WV. Tickets are $16.00 for adults, $10.00 for students and children under age 17, and can be purchased at the door or in advance. For more information, call 304-343-7529 or visit www.kanawhaplayers.org. Consider yourself served — with the chance to support original theatre!

Thanks, Mel, Natasha and Mark - now get out there and break those legs!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Another "Courting Disaster" Interview (#2 in the series)

We're back with another e-interview about the musical comedy Courting Disaster, which starts this weekend in Charleston.

This time around, we have comments from Kelly Strom, the director of the show.

Q: Tell us about Courting Disaster.

Kelly: It's about love and money and love of money. It's about what happens when love won't be left "unrequited"!

Q: What made you want to be part of this show?

Kelly: Mark Scarpelli. He is such an incredibly talented musician. Besides that, he's wonderful to work with. He understands what I need without much explanation, we have a great time and so far great success working together. Our first show together was Winnie the Pooh in 1996. I would do this or any show Mark asked me to, I like working with talented, professional people.

Q: What's the most challenging thing about this show?

Kelly: Bringing the characters to life. We had to add all the background for these characters. The author gives you the basics but you have to fill in all the holes. Since this has never been done before, there is no "supposed to be."

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Kelly: It's original live theatre! No kind of energy exists anywhere else like it!

Very true! Thanks for taking the time out of tech week to talk with us, Kelly!

The show takes the stage this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 30.

All performances will be at the Kanawha Players Theater, located at 309 Beauregard Street in Charleston, WV.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 304-343-7529. Cost is $16.00 for adults and $10.00 for students and children under age 17. For more information go to www.kanawhaplayers.org.

Our National Merit Scholar

Hey, I have to brag for a second about Eric Newfeld, who's starred in dozens of community theatre shows over the years.

He's graduating now and getting ready to move on to college, but he earned an impressive honor, which was announced today:
Only two students in the entire Tri-State region were named among the 2,800 winners of a National Merit Scholarship, which provides four years of monetary awards toward college tuition.

The first is Eric A. Newfeld, who will graduate from Cabell Midland High School. He plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and study law.

The second student is Alexandra L. Kirk of Fraziers Bottom. She is graduating from Winfield High School and plans to attend West Virginia University and study psychology.
Eric's a great young man who has starred onstage and backstage - he was the assistant director in the last show I directed!

Congrats to Eric and his family!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A "Courting Disaster" Interview

Thanks to my pal Mel, we have several e-interviews to share with you over the next few days about the upcoming premiere of the musical comedy Courting Disaster, which makes fun of judges, lawyers and litigants, all without fear or favor.

To kick things off, we have some comments from the composer and musical director of the show, Mark Scarpelli:

Q: Tell us a little bit about the writing of Courting Disaster.

Mark: I met Jeremy Eisler (Author of Courting Disaster from Mississippi) through a mutual friend here in Charleston and we corresponded entirely through the Internet. The music for this show was written March - October 2009. Rewrites were happening up to a few days ago (a week before the opening).

Typical process for writing music for Courting Disaster:
*Wake up drink coffee and walk the dog.
*Improvise on piano ideas for musical numbers
*Drink more coffee
*Demo ideas into a draft recording
*Invite friends in to sing and record character vocal parts
*Drink more coffee
*Make mp3's and PDF's of music and send to Jeremy for critiquing

This was an ongoing process that continued off and on for about six months. The production has 19 musical pieces not counting incidental music. All lyrics were written by Jeremy. The music is very song-like with a variety of styles ranging from ballads to rock to tangos. All six characters sing. There doesn't seem to be any one character who sings more than the other. It is truly an ensemble piece. This premiere performance consists of a rhythm section (drums, bass, piano) with a number of solos, duets and ensemble pieces.

Q: What made you want to be part of this show?

Mark: Doing original theatre is a rush. I love the sense of accomplishment you get from an opening night performance. The cast for this particular show is quite amazing. I've worked with most of them in other local productions and they work their ass off and give 110 percent. Plus working with Kelly Strom is inspiring. She is a positive ball of energy and her enthusiasm is infectious. I love working with her and am honored to have her as our director for this premiere event.

Q: What's the most challenging thing about this show?

Mark: Timing, timing timing... As in all comedy.

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Mark: Come support original theatre AND Kanawha Players. This KP production workshop (on the corner of Washington Street East and Beauregard in Charleston) is a beehive of creative activity. This past Sunday alone there was simultaneously, Courting Disaster tech rehearsal in the Theatre/Sanctuary, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) in the basement rehearsal space and auditions in the board room for an upcoming summer production. This place is a wonderful space for productions. It does need a lot of attention and money to assist and bring to life the structures incredible potential. I recommend ya'll attend KP shows... especially this premiere of Courting Disaster.

Mark, thanks for taking to time to talk to us. The show takes the stage this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 30.

All performances will be at the Kanawha Players Theater, located at 309 Beauregard Street in Charleston, WV.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 304-343-7529. Cost is $16.00 for adults and $10.00 for students and children under age 17. For more information go to www.kanawhaplayers.org.

Monday, May 24, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Courting Disaster"

Here's a press release with loads of information about a funny show taking the stage in Charleston this weekend - the premiere of a new musical comedy:

World Premiere Musical Comedy Opens May 27, 2010

Charleston, WV — Has your funny bone experienced pain and suffering due to loss of laughter? Kanawha Players will give you the humor compensation you deserve with the World Premiere of Courting Disaster, a new musical opening May 27, 2010.

Featuring music by Mark Scarpelli (Norman Rockwell’s American Paradise, Mary) and book and lyrics by Jeremy Eisler, Courting Disaster is a musical comedy which makes fun of judges, lawyers, and litigants, all without fear or favor.

Tiff and Howard are a married couple who make their living filing personal injury lawsuits. Accident-prone Tiff loses her memory after downing a bottle of miracle elixir “Health-E” which means only one thing... time to call in the lawyers!

Love triangles unfold when attorneys Sue N. Wynn and Hugo Hyde II enter the picture. Add in fast-talking, “Health-E” manufacturer Manny and disorder in the court ensues. It’s up to no nonsense, but not-so-by-the-book Judge Fair to administer the “very best Justice you’ll find.”

Kelly Strom, most recently seen as Big 8 in Charleston Stage Company’s Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, directs the six member cast consisting of Melanie Larch (Judge I.M. Fair), Lisa Gandee (Tiff), Mark Felton (Hugo Hyde II), Shawn Price (Manny), Tasha Harris (Sue N. Wynn) and Craig Auge (Howard).

Musical direction is by composer Scarpelli on piano, with Mike Fitzwater on drums and Matt Harris on bass. Emily Alice Dunn serves as Assistant Director and Stage Manager.

Performance dates are Thursday, May 27, Friday, May 28, and Saturday, May 29 at 8 p.m., and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, May 30.

All performances will be at the Kanawha Players Theater, located at 309 Beauregard Street in Charleston, WV.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 304-343-7529. Cost is $16.00 for adults and $10.00 for students and children under age 17. For more information, call 304-343-7529 or online at www.kanawhaplayers.org.

Consider yourself served — with the chance to see original theatre produced by Kanawha Players, one of the oldest continuously-operating amateur theatre companies in the United States.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Theatre Fun for Kids at the Paramount

I wanted to pass along this information about a fun summer activity for kids, called There’s a Camp For That!:
Summer Theater Camps Let Kids Make Movies, Star on Broadway and Perform in Their Own Music Videos

Paramount Arts Center is back with a great new lineup of summer camps including movie making, theatrical productions and performing in your own Music Video.

Other camps include arts extravaganza, hip hop dance, Nickelodeon Time and of course Disney character favorites. If clowning around is your thing, there’s a camp for that.

A complete list of camps with dates, times and age groups can be found at this website: www.paramountartscenter.com/kidzone/.

For more information or to receive a complete brochure, please call Melanie Sweeney, the Paramount’s Education Director at 606-324-3175 ext. 311 or send her an email at education@paramountartscenter.com.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Auditions for "Harvey"

Sorry for the short notice (I'm just back from a trip out of town to see son Evan graduate from college), but here's an audition notice you need to know about - because the auditions are this Saturday!

Here's the info about Harvey:
Arts Resources for the Tri-State (ARTS) is pleased to announce auditions for the classical comedy Harvey by Mary Chase.

The Pulitzer Prize winning play of 1945 was adapted into a film version which starred Jimmy Stewart as the affable and charming Elwood P. Dowd.

Auditions will be Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

This ensemble production has adult roles for six men and six women of all ages. Actors auditioning will be asked to read from the script. Rehearsals will begin on Monday, May 24.

A synopsis of the play and descriptions of the characters can be found on the ARTS website: http://www.733arts.org/.

The production will be directed by Danny Ray and is scheduled for performances on June 24-27.

For further information please call 304-654-0587 or email ray102@marshall.edu.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - Last Chance to see "Gypsy"

This weekend is your last chance to catch a classic musical in Charleston.

Gypsy is being presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild May 21 and 22 at the Civic Center Little Theater.

Don't miss it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red Lion at Greenup This Summer

Just got this recently - the lineup of shows the Red Lion Theatre Company will be presenting this summer at Greenbo State Resort Park:
A Midsummer Night's Dream The Musical

PERFORMANCES: June 3-6 and 10-13 at 8:05 p.m.

TICKETS: $12 General Admission / $10 Seniors & Students

Directed by Kory Helmick, Production Managed by Joanna Berner, Technical Directed by Tyler Bradley.

William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream the Musical is a tale of intertwined lovers. Hermia is in love with Lysander. Demetrius is in love with Hermia. Helena is in love with Demetrius. The four end up lost in an unfamiliar place where Oberon, King of the Fairies, and Titania, Queen of the Fairies, are in the midst of their own love spat. Oberon sends Puck, the King's comical servant, to acquire a magical flower, the juice of which can be used to make people fall in love. Puck, once sent to do his "cupid" duties, makes a mess of everything- causing one wrong love affair after another: Titania to a goofy actor named, Bottom, Lysander and Demetrius to Helena, and so on. Now set to a contemporary country and '80s rock and pop-rock score, William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream the Musical will have you singing in your seats and is a ton of fun for the whole family!


PIPPIN: His Life & Times

AUDITIONS: June 28-29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fairview High school Cafeteria

PERFORMANCES: August 12-15 at 8:05 p.m.

TICKETS: $12 General Admission / $10 Seniors & Students

Directed by Jim Maggard, Technical Directed by Tyler Bradley.

Once upon a time, the young prince Pippin longed to discover the secret of true happiness and fulfillment. He sought it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power (after disposing of his father King Charlemagne the Great). In the end, he found it in the simple pleasures of home and family.

Originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, this hip, tongue-in-cheek, anachronistic fairy tale captivated Broadway audiences and continues to appeal to the young at heart everywhere. The energetic pop-influenced score by three-time Oscar-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Children of Eden and the animated films Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Prince of Egypt) bursts with one show stopping number after another, from soaring ballads to infectious dance numbers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Marshall Artists Series sets fundraiser May 22

Tickets are now on sale for the Marshall Artists Series annual fundraiser Uncorked!: A food fair and wine festival, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 22, on 4th Avenue, between 9th and 10th streets, and inside the Arcade Galleria, in downtown Huntington.

Patrons are invited to shop the street food fair for organic, locally sourced, fresh market and enhance their palates with appetizers, main dishes and desserts, prepared by regional chefs, local restaurants and specialty shops. The street fair and food vendors are cash only.

Festival goers will have the opportunity to taste more than 40 wines complimented by the jazz sounds of Laura Evans & Company. Additionally, participants may bid on a number of items during a silent auction to be held from 1-3 p.m., concluding with a live auction for exclusive items during the final hour of the festival.

Offerings include: A VIP suite for a Justin Bieber concert, prime Cleveland Indians baseball tickets, an exclusive Sparkle and Stars Champagne pairing party, dinners courtesy of 21 at the Frederick Restaurant, Blackhawk Grille, Huntington Prime and Rocco’s Ristorante and multiple dinners hosted by local supporters of the arts and entertainment in the community.

Tickets are $35 and may be purchased the day of the event in the lobby of the Keith Albee Theater or in advance at the Marshall Artists Series box office, by phone 304-696-6656 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Corporate tables of eight are also available for $500 (price includes private table for you and your guests, special wine not included on the tasting, and a freshly baked loaf of artisan bread). A limited number of corporate tables are available. Reserve tables by calling 304-696-3326 or contact artistsseries@marshall.edu.

Uncorked! Is sponsored by Atomic Distributing, Kroger, Pepsi, Standard Distributing, The Herald-Dispatch, WSAZ, WKEE, WTCR and B-97.

The Marshall Artists Series is dedicated to contributing to the cultural enrichment of the community. In addition to presenting a variety of music, dance, theatrical productions, the organization has been providing workshops and outreach opportunities to the University's students, area youth and residents for more than 73 years.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Two Spring Concerts May 18

Here are two music events you'll want to see:
- The Huntington High and Cabell Midland combined orchestras under the direction of Ron Caviani will present their annual Spring Concert. The orchestra recently won third place at the Strawberry Festival Orchestra Competition. Come hear the music and see the performance of this award-winning orchestra on Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Midland High School auditorium. Doors open at 6:30 and the event is free to the public.

- The Tri-State Youth Orchestra and Youth Strings will present their annual Spring Concert. This completes their 13th concert season. The performance will be at the New Baptist Church, 610 28th Street (the old ice arena). The performance begins at 8 p.m. and the doors open at 7:30. Admission is $5, children 12 and under free.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spring Valley "After Hours"

My pal Zach Davis sends along news of a special music event coming up soon. He writes:
I just got wind from the Spring Valley High School Choir Director that they are putting on a performance that the are calling After Hours May 21 in the choir room.

They are offering two show times. The first is at 7:30 p.m. and the other is 9 p.m. Admission is $5 and that includes dessert and refreshments.

Several students will also be performing original compositions that they have written. So it is a great opportunity to not only show support to the students but to the arts that enrich our tri-state.

I will also be the emcee for the evening, which is always scary, for you never know what I will do with a microphone!

Audience members are instructed to enter out back of the school. Signs will be posted. So pass the word!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cast List for "Annie"

Huntington Outdoor Theatre has announced its initial cast list for Annie and the Pre-Show Cast:

Annie - Lydia Waybright
Miss Hannigan - Mary Olson
Grace - Jessica Maier
Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks - Paul Neace
Rooster - Mark Radford
Lily St. Regis - Angela Hunt
Bert Healey - Ryan Jackson
F.D. Roosevelt - Todd Green
Molly - Shelby Easter
Pepper - Sarena Johnson
Kate - Joanna Finley
Duffy - Sarah Miranda
Tessie - Sydney Fletcher
July - Cadyn Turley
Orphan - Jade Daniels
Orphan - Maddie Johnson
Orphan - Katie Fulks
Orphan - Ivy Idzakovich
Orphan - Hannah Spurlock
Orphan - Annie Wolfe
Drake - Kenny Bass
Mrs. Pugh (Cook) - Rebecca Prichard
Mrs. Greer (Housekeeper) - Rachel Bartrum
Annette (French Maid) - Kara Wagner
Cecille (French Maid) - Miranda Swanson
Mr. Bundles - Ryan Jackson
Appleseller - Levi Kelley
Dog Catcher - Andrew Surber
Assistant Dog Catcher - Chris Ellison
Lieutenant Ward - Zachary Brewer
Artie - Andrew Surber
Sophie - Natalie Perry
Eddie - Ryan Jackson
Mary - Nicole Jackson
Jane - Morgan McMicken
Fred - Kenny Bass
Peggy - Chloe Donahoe
Irene - Brea Ross
Hooverville/Servant - Tammy Barrett
Hooverville/Servant - Rachel Bartram
Hooverville/Servant - Kacey Blatt
Hooverville/Servant - Megan Boggs
Hooverville/Servant - Rebekka Bolt
Hooverville/Servant - Kerri Easter-Stambaugh
Hooverville/Servant - Chris Ellison
Hooverville/Servant - Ruth Finley
Hooverville/Servant - Christina Gayheart
Hooverville/Servant - Alyssa Hall
Hooverville/Servant - Megan Haynes
Hooverville/Servant - Helen Heffner
Hooverville/Servant - Casey Homonai
Hooverville/Servant - Alaina Krantz
Hooverville/Servant - Josh Mitts
Hooverville/Servant - Taylor Perdue
Hooverville/Servant - Rebekah Prichard
Hooverville/Servant - Laura Ptakowski
Hooverville/Servant - Jacob Smith
Hooverville/Servant - Hayley Spurlock
Hooverville/Servant - Miranda Swanson
Hooverville/Servant - Lexie Thompson
Hooverville/Servant - Kara Wagner
Hooverville/Servant - Elizabeth White
Hooverville/Servant - Brian Zepp
Cabinet (Louis Howe) - Levi Kelley
Cabinet (Francis Perkins) - Natalie Perry
Cabinet (Cordell Hull) - Andrew Surber
Cabinet (Henry Morganthau) - Kenny Bass
Cabinet (Harold Ikes) - Ryan Jackson
Bonnie Boylan - Miranda Swanson
Connie Boylan - Morgan McMickem
Ronnie Boylan - Kara Wagnor

Pre-Show Cast

Heather Adkins
Emily Bannon
Emily Bolt
Anna Brewer
Kaydie Brumfield
Justin Clayborne
Chloe Donahoe
Audrey Fossom
Olivia Fossom
Rebecca Gaunch
Drew Goodall
Bethany Hamilton
Holly Hamilton
Rachel Hamilton
Casey Homonai
Nicole Jackson
Alaina Krantz
Macie McCallister
Megan McCallister
Morgan McMicken
Josua Mitts
Gabrielle Moye
tsabelle Moye
Laura Ptakowski
Savannah Payne
Taylor Perdue
Gracie Perdue
Mark Radford
Olivia Roberts
Jacob Smith
J. Garrett Snyder
Claire Snyder
Grant Snyder
Lexie Thompson
Cody Verbage
Brian Zepp

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Gypsy"

There's just one show taking the stage this weekend - but it's a great one!

The classic musical Gypsy, which tells the tale of the ultimate stage mom will be presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild Friday and Saturday, May 14 and 15 at the Civic Center Little Theater.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ironton High Presents "How to Succeed in Business" This Weekend

Ironton High School has a long tradition of putting on great shows - and now they're ready to go home for their next performance!

Here's the story from the Herald-Dispatch:
After performing Broadway musicals at Raceland-Worthington High School for the past two years while their new auditorium was under construction, Ironton High School drama students will perform for the first time in their new 601-seat auditorium this weekend.

The inaugural play, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, will be performed Thursday through Sunday, May 13-15.

High school students have been attending class at the former junior high school building in North Ironton while a new high school was built on the site of the old school on South 7th Street. More than 60 students are working on the musical, the first official event at the new school, said Kathryn Price, high school vocal music and drama teacher.

“We’re supposed to get an occupancy permit for this section of the school this week,” Price said Tuesday. “We’re working hard to get it ready.

“The auditorium is state of the art,” she said. “It’s bright, clean and new. The acoustics are really good. We always do a Broadway musical in the spring. We’re about two months late for this, but we wanted to have it in the new school. The seniors are excited about it. The people at Raceland-Worthington were very nice, but it’s nice to come home.”

“The auditorium is better than I could have dreamed,” said Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance. “It’s unbelievable. The sound is great and the lighting system is like something out of Air Force One. I’d like to thank the Ironton community for providing the funds for this performing arts center.”

The high school kept the old entrance built in 1922 in the designs for the new high school. Construction on the new school started three years ago. It is scheduled to be ready for students in August.

“The third floor and the second floor are finished,” he said. “They’re still working on some classrooms on the first floor. It’s been a long process, but I think everyone will be happy with the finished project.”

The auditorium also has an orchestra pit and 15 students will perform there during the musical, Price said.

Matinees are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday. Public performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets cost $6 for adults and $4 for students. Reserved seating also is available for $12.50. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 740-532-3911, ext. 20.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cabell-Midland's Spring Concert

Here's a event any music lover should enjoy - and you can't beat the price!

Here's the info:
Cabell-Midland High School's music department is presenting their annual spring band concert on Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. in the school's auditorium.

Come hear the award-winning bands including the Concert band directed by Ron Caviani, the Sax Ensemble directed by Chris Shew, and the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band directed by Rhonda Smalley.

Doors open at 6:30 and the show is open and free to the public.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I Like Children's Theatre

This may just look like another photo from the St. Joe's Prom, but I find it touching, because the two stunning young people in the photo - Mary Kate Young and Eric Newfeld - performed together in a song in the second show I directed for First Stage Theatre Company - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

The show was staged in 2002 - and the song was all about the boy expressing his love for the girl (who wasn't exactly thrilled by the attention). And here they are eight years later - good friends, going to the prom together.

That photo is just more proof of the positive results of being involved with Children's Theatre - building confidence and making lasting friendships!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

A brief illness kept me from visiting my Mom today (I'm feeling better now, thanks), but I wanted to take a moment and wish her a Happy Mothers Day!

Mom's the greatest - she's loving, caring, supportive, hard-working, funny, intelligent and one of the best people I've ever known. If everyone could be more like her, the world would be a much better place.

I owe her everything, and I just wanted to tell her I love her.

Last Chance to Catch "The First Day of Summer"

You only have one more chance to see the original drama The First Day of Summer! The final performance is Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington Museum of Art.

I saw it Saturday night with my lovely wife and about a dozen good friends, and all I can say is: what a wonderful play!

Written and directed by Jonathan Joy, the show introduces us to Ron and Laney, two teens who meet in the woods near their homes during the summer.

They narrate the touching and often funny story of how they became friends, their encounters with other friends, enemies and schoolmates, and the effect they had on each other's life.

It's great to see young actors bring this story to life - they do amazing work here! So kudos to Thomas Armstrong, Cassi Bowen, Ayla Edwards, Sara Bryan, Madyelyn Hill, Rachel Lykens, Samuel Collins, Emily Bannon, Emily Underwood, Leslie Collins, Katie Fulks, Katlin Stricklin, Teddy Haddox and Delaney Waugh, along with the tech crew and the directing team on a job well done!

Highly recommended!

Friday, May 07, 2010

On Stage Tonight - "The First Day of Summer" and "Gypsy"

You have two great shows to choose from tonight: an original play taking the stage for one weekend only in Huntington, and a classic musical on stage in Charleston.

- The First Day of Summer - First Stage Theatre Company presents this original play by Jonathan Joy tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington Museum of Art.

- Gypsy - the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the classic musical tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theater. The show also runs for the next two weekends in May.

So get out there and enjoy some live local theatre - you'll be glad you did!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

"The First Day of Summer" - the Story

I've been talking it up (because it's a show all ages will enjoy), but today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch has a lovely story by my pal Dave Lavender about The First Day of Summer you should read (the show starts Friday at the Huntington Museum of Art and runs this weekend only). You can find it right here... and right here:
The First Day of Summer starts now.

OK, so the official first day of summer isn't for another month, but the new original play, The First Day of Summer, by prolific, award-winning playwright Jon Joy will be presented this weekend by the First Stage Theatre Company in the auditorium at the Huntington Museum of Art.

The show runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 7-8, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 9.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children.

This will be the first full-length premiere of the play, which was first written as a 30-minute, one act play in Summer 2004, and premiered to a sold out crowd at Shawnee State University in 2005. Since then, Joy has been workshopping the play, expanding it into an hour long full length with a larger cast.

Joy, who has written nearly 20 plays and has had one printed in The New York Times, performed at Columbus' Fringe Festival, FestivALL Charleston and Marshall University's New Works Festival, said the credit for inspiring this play goes to Marshall University professor John Van Kirk, who teaches a week-long class every May when students hike, write and stay at Twin Falls State Resort Park.

"It really is a neat class of just writing and hiking all day," Joy said. "I came up with the idea then and wrote it a 30-minute version and it has just grown over the years. It's about an hour-long now and is more developed with more characters, and this group has helped a lot. The kids are very honest when it comes to workshopping which has been nice. They have given me some good ideas and that's made me feel better about the play."

The play follows a boy named Ron and girl named Laney, who are now 18, but who met at age 12 while on summer vacation. Though they clashed at first, they grow close and begin a life-long friendship. They spend their days playing games, talking about hopes and dreams and sharing stories of fellow classmates from their two different hometowns. When they are split apart at the end of summer they make a pact. They agree to meet back at their favorite spot in the woods on the first day of summer following high school graduation.

"It is kind of about those people that stick with you throughout your whole life," Joy said. "It's that age when you are starting to meet people and meet friends that you have for a long time, so it's kind of that coming-of-age story at the same time."

Joy, who graduated from Marshall University in 2004 with a master's in English, said they've been utilizing a minimalist set at the museum, relying on the writing and the acting of the 14 students in the play from grades third to 11th to propel the story.

Although Joy has been on the board at First Stage for about a year and a half, this is the first production he has done with the children's theater company since he was in high school and did Alice in Wonderland in 1992.

Joy said they've all been enveloped in this rare chance for a children's theater group to get to mold and then premiere a play.

"It is so different than doing a scripted play because we can play around with it, and this is the first cast to play the roles and so they have a big impact on who these characters are," Joy said. "There have been a few line changes and some dialogue that works better, but mostly they have given me confidence in the story and the characters because the play is so different from anything I have written before. That had me worried going into it, but they gave me confidence and showed me the worth in it. I really like the play a lot more now seeing it on its feet."

"First Day of Summer" - Interview with Jonathan Joy

Wrapping up the organization's 20th Anniversary celebration, First Stage Theatre Company is presenting its first-ever original play this weekend.

The First Day of Summer was written and directed by Huntington's Jonathan Joy (that's him standing in the photo above), and he took time out from rehearsals at the Huntington Museum of Art to take part in this e-interview about the show, how it got started, and a certain other important job he recently tackled.

Here's what he had to say:

Q: Jon, give us some background - what is The First Day of Summer about?

Jon: It is a coming of age story surrounding two young people, a boy named Ron and a girl named Laney, who meet at age 12 one year while on summer vacation in the woods of West Virginia. The two clash at first, but eventually grow close and begin a lifelong friendship. They spend their days playing games, talking about hopes and dreams and sharing stories of fellow classmates from their two different hometowns. When they are split apart at the end of summer, they make a pact. They agree to meet back at their favorite spot in the woods on the first day of summer following high school graduation. It is a story about memory and the people and places that have an impact in our lives and stay with us forever.

Q: You wrote The First Day of Summer a while ago - how has the play changed since that first version?

Jon: The original draft was a 25 minute, two character, one act play. I wrote it for a graduate class at Marshall in May 2004. A year later, I re-worked it and staged it at Shawnee State University. We had a great response up there and I've been working on re-shaping it ever since. Over the years I've read it with students at Huntington High, the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center and my Governor's School students in Ohio. Each group gave me feedback and helped shape this version. Of course, my current cast has had more input than everyone. The current version is much more developed and perfectly suited for children's theatre. It is more than twice as long as the one act version and has a cast of 14 young actors.

Q: How have the rehearsals for this show been different from usual rehearsals?

Jon: We've spent a lot of time on character development and blocking, as usual. However, since the script is a flexible, changeable entity, we have also spent time discussing changes that should be made to the dialogue, backstory, and more. We've workshopped the piece, which, in its simplest definition, means we've made adjustments/changes to the script depending on how the lines sound and feel and the feedback I get from the actors. Each actor has had input into the growth of this play. I've workshopped a lot of plays and this has been the most honest workshopping experience ever. Kids don't hold back their thoughts, feeling, etc., and that is very helpful in this regard.

Q: Have the young actors had fun working on this?

Jon: I think they have had a blast. Playmaking is a great way to meet new people and explore your creative side. That is true with any play. In this specific case, the process and the play itself is a bit different from anything these actors have done before and I think they are really enjoying that aspect of it. I think it's vital, regardless of age, to challenge conventions and try new things every once in a while.

Q: Just to add to the challenge of staging a show - you and your wife had a baby recently! How are Mom and Baby (and Dad) doing?

Jon: We're great (although a bit tired). Our boy, Levi Tobin Joy, was born April 13 and he is awesome. Balancing work, the play and our new addition to the family has been tough, but we love parenthood. Levi (aka Toby) seems pretty happy, too. This is our first and we are both fascinated with his day to day growth and development. Being a dad rocks!

Q: Tell us when and where the show will be staged.

Jon: The show will play Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 9 at 2:30 p.m. Performances are at the Huntington Museum of Art.

Thanks, Jon! I should add that I read an early version of this play, and the audience is in for a treat - it's funny, touching and very entertaining. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

On Stage in May

I'm running late with this post - sorry about that!

Here are the shows coming up in May (a surprising number, really - usually there are few this late in the Spring):

- The First Day of Summer - First Stage Theatre Company presents this original play by Jonathan Joy May 7, 8 and 9 at the Huntington Museum of Art.

- Gypsy - the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the classic musical May 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 21 and 22 at the Civic Center Little Theater.

- Courting Disaster - the Kanawha Players presents this musical comedy that makes fun of judges, lawyers, and litigants without fear or favor. Shows are May 27, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. and May 30 at 2 p.m. at the Kanawha Players Theatre.

Check 'em out!

"The First Day of Summer" Photo Gallery

You can see some photos from last night's rehearsal of The First Day of Summer right here on the Herald-Dispatch's website.

In the photo below by Sholten Singer, actors Cassie Bowen and Thomas Armstrong practice a scene together.

The play will be presented Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 9 at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington Museum of Art.

The play was written and directed by Jonathan Joy. The First Day of Summer is a story of two young people, a boy named Ron and a girl named Laney, who meet at age 12 one year while on summer vacation. The two clash at first, but eventually grow close and begin a lifelong friendship. They spend their days playing games, talking about hopes and dreams and sharing stories of fellow classmates from their two different hometowns. When they are split apart at the end of summer, they make a pact. They agree to meet back at their favorite spot in the woods on the first day of summer following high school graduation. Four actors portray Ron and Laney at age 12 and at age 18.

Tickets $10.00 for Adults, $8.00 Kids 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved by calling 304-416-5437.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Tony Nominees Are...

Hey, they announced the nominees today for this year's Tony Awards. Lots of famous actors are in the running, but many of the shows are probably not familiar to the casual audience (other than the revivals).

Here's the announcement:
Nominations in 26 competitive categories for the American Theatre Wing’s 64th Annual Antoinette Perry “Tony” Awards® were announced today by Tony Award nominated actor Jeff Daniels and actress Lea Michele.

The nominees were selected by an independent committee of 27 theatre professionals appointed by the Tony Awards Administration Committee. The 2010 Tony Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

Marking 64 years of excellence on Broadway, The Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS, Sunday, June 13 at 8:00 p.m.
Here's the rundown of nominees:
Best Musical
American Idiot
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Play
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Next Fall
Time Stands Still

Best Book of a Musical

Everyday Rapture
Million Dollar Quartet

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Addams Family - Music & Lyrics: Andrew Lippa
Enron - Music: Adam Cork, Lyrics: Lucy Prebble
Fences - Music: Branford Marsalis
Memphis - Music: David Bryan, Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan

Best Revival of a Play
Lend Me a Tenor
The Royal Family
A View from the Bridge

Best Revival of a Musical
Finian's Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play
Jude Law, Hamlet
Alfred Molina, Red
Liev Schreiber, A View from the Bridge
Christopher Walken, A Behanding in Spokane
Denzel Washington, Fences

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Viola Davis, Fences
Valerie Harper, Looped
Linda Lavin, Collected Stories
Laura Linney, Time Stands Still
Jan Maxwell, The Royal Family

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical
Kelsey Grammer, La Cage aux Folles
Sean Hayes, Promises, Promises
Douglas Hodge, La Cage aux Folles
Chad Kimball, Memphis
Sahr Ngaujah, Fela!

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, Finian's Rainbow
Montego Glover, Memphis
Christiane Noll, Ragtime
Sherie Rene Scott, Everyday Rapture
Catherine Zeta-Jones, A Little Night Music

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play
David Alan Grier, Race
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Fences
Jon Michael Hill, Superior Donuts
Stephen Kunken, Enron
Eddie Redmayne, Red

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
Maria Dizzia, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Rosemary Harris, The Royal Family
Jessica Hecht, A View from the Bridge
Scarlett Johansson, A View from the Bridge
Jan Maxwell, Lend Me a Tenor

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

Kevin Chamberlin, The Addams Family
Robin De Jesús, La Cage aux Folles
Christopher Fitzgerald, Finian's Rainbow
Levi Kreis, Million Dollar Quartet
Bobby Steggert, Ragtime

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical
Barbara Cook, Sondheim on Sondheim
Katie Finneran, Promises, Promises
Angela Lansbury, A Little Night Music
Karine Plantadit, Come Fly Away
Lillias White, Fela!

Best Scenic Design of a Play

John Lee Beatty, The Royal Family
Alexander Dodge, Present Laughter
Santo Loquasto, Fences
Christopher Oram, Red

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Christine Jones, American Idiot
Derek McLane, Ragtime
Tim Shortall, La Cage aux Folles

Best Costume Design of a Play
Martin Pakledinaz, Lend Me a Tenor
Constanza Romero, Fences
David Zinn, In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play
Catherine Zuber, The Royal Family

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Marina Draghici, Fela!
Santo Loquasto, Ragtime
Paul Tazewell, Memphis
Matthew Wright, La Cage aux Folles

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Neil Austin, Hamlet
Neil Austin, Red
Mark Henderson, Enron
Brian MacDevitt, Fences

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, American Idiot
Donald Holder, Ragtime
Nick Richings, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Wierzel, Fela!

Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners, Fences
Adam Cork, Enron
Adam Cork, Red
Scott Lehrer, A View from the Bridge

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans, La Cage aux Folles
Robert Kaplowitz, Fela!
Dan Moses Schreier and Gareth Owen, A Little Night Music
Dan Moses Schreier, Sondheim on Sondheim

Best Direction of a Play

Michael Grandage, Red
Sheryl Kaller, Next Fall
Kenny Leon, Fences
Gregory Mosher, A View from the Bridge

Best Direction of a Musical
Christopher Ashley, Memphis
Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Ragtime
Terry Johnson, La Cage aux Folles
Bill T. Jones, Fela!

Best Choreography
Rob Ashford, Promises, Promises
Bill T. Jones, Fela!
Lynne Page, La Cage aux Folles
Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away

Best Orchestrations
Jason Carr, La Cage aux Folles
Aaron Johnson, Fela!
Jonathan Tunick, Promises, Promises
Daryl Waters & David Bryan, Memphis

Monday, May 03, 2010

On Stage This Week - "The Last Day of Summer"

Here's a great play taking the stage this week at the Huntington Museum of Art - The First Day of Summer, which was written and directed by Huntington's Jonathan Joy. Here's a look at the poster, along with more information about the show:

First Stage Theatre Company Presents
The First Day of Summer
Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 9 at 2:30 p.m.

Jonathan Joy, a local playwright and director has been workshopping with the cast to expand the play into an hour-long full-length play. It offered unique acting challenges that included approaching and developing a new text. The cast was an integral part of the further development of this play. The full-length version will make its premiere with First Stage Theatre in May 2010.

The First Day of Summer is a story of two young people, a boy named Ron and a girl named Laney, who meet at age 12 one year while on summer vacation. The two clash at first, but eventually grow close and begin a lifelong friendship. They spend their days playing games, talking about hopes and dreams and sharing stories of fellow classmates from their two different hometowns. When they are split apart at the end of summer, they make a pact. They agree to meet back at their favorite spot in the woods on the first day of summer following high school graduation. Four actors portray Ron and Laney at age 12 and at age 18.

Tickets $10.00 for Adults, $8.00 Kids 12 and under. Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved by calling 304-416-5437.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Camelot" - A Knight's Tale

OK, I've tried not to blab on too much about Camelot because we try to cover all community theatre efforts in this humble space - but since I'm in the show, and tonight (at 8 p.m.) and Sunday (at 2:30 p.m.) are the last performances, I should break down and say a bit more about it.

I've included some photos by the Mark Webb as proof that I'm actually in the show - that's me on the left as Sir Lionel (I think the insignia on my costume is supposed to be a phoenix, but I prefer to think of it as an angry chicken). Standing next to me are my pals Ron Short (Sir Dinadan) and Merlyn Marten (Merlyn).

It's been a childhood dream come true to play the part of a knight in King Arthur's court, and it's been a blast. I also seem to be surviving my short singing stint in one song (don't blink or you'll miss it), which was the source of much concern on my part when we first started working on the show.

Of course, the best reason to see the show is to catch the performances by the lead actors - Marina Jurica as Queen Guenevere, Mark Baker as Arthur (seen in the photo below), Todd Preston as Sir Lancelot, Danny Ray as King Pellinore and Andrew Surber as the delightfully wicked Mordred.

Of course, it takes a team to make a show work, and everyone in the cast and crew has worked long hours (over weeks and weeks) to make the show a real success!

Kudos to the team of directors who led the way to making Camelot a reality, including: director Eddie Harbert, who overcame some incredible obstacles to bring this show to life; choreographer Coni Anthony, who's amazingly talented and patient (especially considering she had to put up with ol' "Two Left Feet" Minsker here); music director Mike Campbell, who somehow manages to be a (virtual) one-man orchestra and a terrific guy; and the rest - producer Maxine Loudermilk, assistant director Clara Adkins, props manager Helga Thorn, stage manager Cynthia Simmons, backstage assistant Carol Scarberry and sound technician Chad Snead - heroes all!

It's been a lot of fun to work on the show, which has been one of my favorites since the days in the 1960s when I listened to the soundtrack at my Grandma Hill's house.

It's always fun when dreams come true. Drop by and see the show tonight or tomorrow - it's two-and-a-half hours of songs, music and magic!