Tri-State Theater

Let's discuss upcoming shows, secrets behind the scenes, things you never knew about the theater and why live theater is so darn entertaining.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Cast for "Noises Off!"

Noises Off is one of my all-time favorite stage comedies, and before the dust had settled from yesterday's auditions, the cast was announced - and a talented bunch it is!

My pal Stephanie Kay Sands (who's directing the show) posted the Noises Off cast:

Lloyd - Mike Murdock

Dotty - Mary Williams

Brooke - Ashley Bond

Gary - James Holley

Belinda - Kate Morris

Frederick - Michael Naglee

Poppy - LeAnn Haines

Tim - Greg Kiser

Selsdon - J. Roger Hagley

Can't wait to see it!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Auditions Coming Up...

My pal Stephen Vance sent in this comment with lots of useful audition info:
Auditions I keep getting notices for:

Jekyll and Hyde - ARTS - August 21st, 2 p.m - 5 p.m. at old Huntington High School
White Christmas - 5th Avenue - August 14, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. at City Hall
Bat Boy - Curtains Up - August 8, 6 p.m. at Kuhn Memorial Church
... and I assume Schoolhouse Rock is soon, too.
Indeed it is! Schoolhouse Rock Live auditions will be Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Premiere Dance Studio, 716 6th Street in Huntington.

Actors should come with a 30 second audition song and be prepared to learn a short dance. Show Dates: September 23-25, 29-30 and October 1-2.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This and That, and On Stage This Weekend

Sorry I haven't posted much this week - it's been hectic out there in the real world!

The end of July and the beginning of August are usually a time when things quiet down for community theatre, but it seems those days are behind us - several groups are holding auditions in August (more on that soon) and there are several outstanding shows taking the stage, too!

But if you're looking for a show to catch this weekend, here are several good choices:

- Box 11: Brave New Boxes - CYAC presents stories and monologues about young people July 28, 29 and 30 at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre at 123 Summers Street in Charleston.

- The Aracoma Story - Logan State Park hosts its annual production of the romantic legend of Princess Aracoma, Boling Baker and the Shawnee People who settled in this region. The show runs Tue-Sat Nights at 8:30 p.m.

- Jenny Wiley hosts:

The Frog Prince - July 31
The Legend of Jenny Wiley - July 29 and 30

So get out there and support your local theatre!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marshall Artists Series Announces Its 75th Anniversary Lineup!

It's always fun to see the new lineup for the Marshall Artists Series, and for the group's 75th birthday they've lined up some terrific shows, including the touring shows for In the Heights and Young Frankenstein!

I'm especially happy to see Elvis Costello and Glen Campbell on the list!

You can see a photo gallery of some of the featured stars right here.

Here's the story from today's Herald-Dispatch, as written by my pal Dave Lavender:
Don’t tell Morgan Spurlock, but for its 75th anniversary, the Marshall Artists Series is ordering up its entertainment — Super Sized.

To celebrate in style, the historic Artists Series — the second oldest town and gown artist series in the nation — has jumped from an average of about 10 season shows to a calendar-busting 18 blockbuster events.

The season, which kicks off with a Sept. 8 special event with red-hot Grammy Award winning pop artist, Cee Lo Green, features a stacked, eclectic mix of top-shelf entertainment including rare performances here by Larry King (on his first stand up tour), Glen Campbell (on his last tour), Jack Hanna, Michael McDonald and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Elvis Costello.

Tossed onto that heap is among other things — a unique Mountain Stage-made spring show, two new Broadway shows (Young Frankenstein and In the Heights), a Comedy Central new comics show, a talk by Pulitzer-Prize writer Lawrence Wright, and a talk and screening with Morgan Spurlock, a Beckley native who is one of the top documentary filmmakers of his generation.

New season subscription orders and season ticket orders are now on sale, and the deadline for season ticket renewal is Monday, Aug. 8. After that day, all orders will be processed in order of date and time received.

Individual tickets go on sale, Monday, Aug. 22.

"Marshall University's Marshall Artists Series will celebrate its 75th Anniversary this season by taking our patrons on an artistic and intellectual journey filled with many varied excursions along the way,” said Penny Watkins, executive director of the Marshall Artists Series in a release. “We are so very proud of our unique history (the second oldest "town & gown" arts organization in the Country) and are excited about the future."

This year, the Mount and the Baxter Series will both feature five events each with Super ticket-holders (who buy both series) also getting to pick either the Morgan Spurlock or the Jack Hanna show.

The Baxter Series features Broadway's Young Frankenstein at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10; “13 Most Beautiful... Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests,” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29; Glen Campbell: The Goodbye Tour at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11; “100 Years of Broadway,” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2; and “Larry King: Standing Up,” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1.

The Mount Series includes: “Lawrence Wright — The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,” set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29; Elvis Costello & The Imposters at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8; An Evening With Michael McDonald at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17; In The Heights at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21; and Mountain Stage Salutes 75 Years of the Marshall Artists Series at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 29.

The Superticket events include: “Jungle Jack Hanna: Into the Wild Live!” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11; and “An Evening with Morgan Spurlock” on 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16.

Spurlock’s appearance will kick off the Fall International Film Festival that runs Monday, Oct. 17, through Sunday, Oct. 23. The Spring International Film Festival will run Feb. 3 to 9, 2012.

In addition to the Cee Lo Green special event - tickets on sale 10 a.m. Aug. 1 at $40 - other special events for the Artists Series this year includes two intimate cabaret shows with the artists and patrons all on stage at the Keith, a World Music Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, and OH! What A Piano Can Do at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Friday, April 13, with master pianist, Duke Thompson.

During MU Homecoming weekend in the fall, the fifth annual Comedy Central on Campus tour will be in Huntington at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14.

The Marshall Artists Series accepts all major credit cards. Season tickets may be ordered via telephone by calling 304-696-3326. Orders may also be mailed in to Marshall Artists Series, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755-2210, be faxed to 304-696-6658 or emailed to artistsseries@marshall.edu.

The Marshall Artists Series office is located in the Jomie Jazz Center on 5th Avenue across from Marshall University's Student Center. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Go online at www.marshallartistsseries.org for more info and read The Herald-Dispatch Life section on Sunday July 31, as Artist Series Marketing Director Angela Jones talks about some of the details about the new series.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One More "Wedding Singer" e-interview!

OK, I used that photo yesterday - but it's the best one I have of my pal Michael Sidoti (that's him on one knee), and he's the subject of today's e-interview!

He stars as the you'll-love-to-hate-him heel in The Wedding Singer, and here's what he had to say:

Q: Why did you want to be part of The Wedding Singer?

Michael: Well, I had just finished my B.A. at Marshall University (GO HERD!!!), and while I had stage experience during that time, it was mainly in small Opera Theater Workshop productions - not musical theater. Since I want to have that experience as well, I thought it would be great to get my feet wet, so to speak, and do a community theater show. It has been a great experience, and I feel it has made me a more well-rounded performer.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Michael: I play the antagonist in the show, Glen Guglia - a Wall Street junk bond dealer who believes that making and spending money are the solutions to all of life's problems. He's a womanizer, and only wants to marry Julia because he wants a nice, docile wife at home while he pursues the American Dream - and lots of women!

Q: What's the most challenging thing about preparing for this role?

Michael: Well, I had to shave my beard, and that was hard to part with. My wife has become attached to it, and I have a baby face. But seriously - being a classically trained opera singer, I had to make sure I was NOT in "opera mode" while singing! The vocal techniques used for musical theater performance are a bit different from opera (and sound different, too) - but both can be done in a healthy way. I am grateful for the vocal training I received at Marshall under Dr. Larry Stickler - he is emphatic about vocal health, and assured me that a "Broadway belt" can be achieved without vocal stress or damage. This is important to me, since I sing in both styles!

Q: Is the musical different from the movie?

Michael: There are minor changes. For example: in the movie, the character of Rose is just a voice student of Robbie Hart's; in the musical, she is his grandmother. Also, in the movie, the whole scene where Robbie wins over Julia and defeats Glen all takes place on the plane to Vegas; in the musical, this happens IN Vegas, at the chapel where Glen and Julia are about to be married.

Q: Do you have a favorite song?

Michael: I'd be lying if I didn't say "All About The Green," which is Glen's big number that opens Act II. But I really like "If I Told You" - it's such a sweet tune with great lyrics that really portray the conflicted feelings that Robbie and Julia are experiencing.

Q: Has the summer heat made the play more challenging?

Michael: It has, indeed - but that's the nature of outdoor theater in July! On the plus side, I've dropped 20 pounds since rehearsals started. Who needs P90X - just get involved in summer community theater!

Q: Would you recommend this show to our readers?

Michael: Absolutely! Even if you have not seen the movie upon which the musical is based, it's a great love story about two people who are torn after making some life decisions that were not in their best interests, but overcome this and are able to get together with their true "soulmates." Our director, Helen Freeman, has gone to great lengths to edit this show for the "family theater" experience, so it's also great for the younger audiences.

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Michael: We're coming up on our final weekend, July 23 and 24. The main show starts at 8:30 p.m. each night, with the Children's Pre-Show starting at 7:00 p.m. Gates to the Ritter Park Amphitheater open at 6:30 p.m. for picnicking. Tickets $15 Adult / $12 Seniors (65+) and Kids (5-12) Kids under 5 free. Groups of 20 tickets or more are $11 per ticket. Tickets are available at the gate on show nights, and at Big Sandy Superstore Arena Box Office.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"The Wedding Singer's" Julia Speaks!

For our next e-interview with some of the stars from The Wedding Singer, let's talk with Michele Goodson-Burnett, who plays Julia, the delightful love interest in the musical (that's her on the left being proposed to by Michael Sidoti):

Q: Why did you want to be part of The Wedding Singer?

Michele: I have recently moved back to Huntington after being away for 13 years. I had enjoyed working at H.O.T. previously (playing Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA and Sara Brown in GUYS AND DOLLS) and was excited by the prospect of working with my friends again.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Michele: I play Julia Sullivan. Julia is a sweet, a bit naive, and an absolute hopeless romantic. Her self-esteem is not the best, so she thinks she has landed a prize possession in her fiance, Glen. Throughout the play she discovers that true love lies in the quality of a person. Those qualities are what are evident in Robbie.

Q: What's the most challenging thing about preparing for this role?

Michele: The singing! I am a lyric soprano, so anything below middle C is low for me. The role is written for a mezzo, so many of my notes fall well below middle C. But, hey, I can sing them now! I just wonder what's happened to my notes above the staff...

Q: Is the musical different from the movie?

Michele: The musical in concept and storyline is largely the same as the movie. There are a few minor changes. For instance, in the movie Rosie is a neighbor to whom Robbie gives singing lessons. In the musical Rosie is Robbie's grandmother. Robbie lives with his sister and brother-in-law in the movie, but in the musical Robbie lives with his grandmother.

Q: Do you have a favorite song?

Michele: Only one? Not possible! I love singing "Not That Kind of Thing." It's just so much fun to sing, and I think people can see that we are enjoying ourselves. "If I Told You" and "Grow Old With You" are great transition songs. The lyrics really move the storyline along and they provide a lot of character development.

Q: Has the summer heat made the play more challenging?

Michele: I recommend outdoor theatre for an excellent weight loss plan.

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

Michele: I recommend the show because is it just PLAIN FUN!!!! Really, you can't help but enjoy yourself when you watch this show. The energy is great. Our love of what we are doing on stage permeates throughout the audience. I know everyone who sees the show will love it.

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Michele: Only one more weekend people, so hop to! This Friday, Saturday and Sunday - July 22, 23, 24. The gates open at 6:30 p.m. for the picnicking types. Pre-show starts at 7 p.m. The Wedding Singer starts at 8:30 p.m. Get there early to grab a good seat. Hope to see you there!

Another "Wedding Singer" e-interview!

This time around let's hear from Kennie Bass, who's best known for his work as a television reporter for WCHS-TV (that's him on the left in this photo, with Ryan Hardiman and Shayne Gue - photo by Mark Webb).

He plays Sammy in The Wedding Singer, which wraps up its final weekend starting this evening at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheatre.

Here's what he had to say:

Q: Why did you want to be part of The Wedding Singer?

Kennie: It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Back in 2009, I had been out of theater for several years and decided to take the plunge and get back on stage. I actually made it to the H.O.T. auditions about five minutes before they were over. I was lucky enough to get a callback... and eventually be offered the role of Sammy. I was tremendously excited to be working with Ryan Hardiman and the rest of the cast. Although circumstances prevented us from doing The Wedding Singer that summer, I've been waiting two years to get the chance to perform in the show. I haven't been disappointed, it's been a wonderful experience.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Kennie: Sammy is the bass player for the band "Simply Wed." To be honest, he isn't the smartest guy in the room. But he's a loyal and faithful friend to Robbie and George. He's passionate about his music. And he's in love with Holly... who broke up with him six months ago. Sammy really believes in the band... he wants to sing and be a star! Plus, he doesn't want to get stuck managing the Orange Julius for the rest of his life.

Q: What's the most challenging thing about preparing for this role?

Kennie: Musicals are so different than doing straight drama and comedy. For me, the singing is usually not a problem. I'm not a great singer but I'm usually in the neighborhood of the right notes. However, the dancing is a different story. To get me to where I need to be, it takes a great amount of patience on the part of our director Helen Freeman and our choreographer Kerri Easter Stambaugh. I'd also like to apologize to any cast members whom I have accidentally bumped into or stepped on during this process. It wasn't on purpose... I just can't help it. But the toughest thing was the fact I was gone for more than two weeks during rehearsals. I was embedded with a West Virginia Army National Guard unit in the Middle East. Missing that much time could have been a major problem and Helen Freeman could have made a casting change and I would have understood. But she stuck with me... and I am extremely grateful. This has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had.

Q: Is the musical different from the movie?

Kennie: The basic story is the same. Robbie gets stood up at the altar by Linda. He's heartbroken, but slowly finds a new friend in Julia. They start to have feelings for one another, but the situation is complicated by the fact she's engaged. One big change from the movie to the musical is that in the film, Sammy was a limousine driver. In the musical there's really not much of a need for that type of job, so the writers made him a bass player in the band. I'm happy with the change, because I get the chance to have fun singing and dancing with Ryan Hardiman and Shayne Gue, two very good friends.

Q: Do you have a favorite song?

Kennie: Wow. Tough question. I love a lot of the songs in this musical. The opening and closing numbers, "It's Your Wedding Day," are fun, high-energy, up-tempo songs that just make you smile. Sammy's big solo is "Single." It's a very clever, "boy band"-style song with some fun harmonies and choreography. "If I Told You" is the big ballad, and it is beautiful. But "Casualty of Love" might be my favorite, just because of the way Ryan absolutely kills it! He's fantastic in that song... and the choreography makes me laugh.

Q: Has the summer heat made the play more challenging?

Kennie: Outdoor theater is challenging for many reasons. Of course, the heat is one of the major things you have to deal with. Couple that with high humidity and it can get interesting. We're under the lights. We're in full costume and we're singing and dancing. Plus, for this show, I'm wearing a wig to give Sammy a "rocker look." Every night is a workout and we're all drenched with sweat when it's over, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. Performing in a H.O.T. show is like going to summer camp when you're a kid. I have made many great friends because of
Huntington Outdoor Theater and I'm thankful to Helen Freeman for the opportunity.

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

Kennie: Because it's fun! Because Ryan Hardiman and Shayne Gue own their roles as Robbie and George. They just blow you away with their talent and timing. Because Michele Goodson-Burnett and Kerri Easter Stambaugh light up the stage every time they're on it as Julia and Holly. They're smart, talented and beautiful performers who nail it every time. Because Michael Sidoti is a great bad guy as Glen. Because Jessica Maier's singing and dancing as Linda will leave you spellbound. Because Jennifer Susan Leist is hilarious as Grandma Rosie. Because Kaitlin Despain handles a supporting role with ease while singing and dancing through the entire show like a pro! She could have a big future on stage if she chooses. Because we have an ensemble that includes Casey Homonai, Alaina Krantz, Elijah Boyles and Mark Radford who tackle multiple roles and feature dances with style. They are awesome. Because Mark Smith and his band rock! Because Helen and Steve Freeman have created a great family experience that everyone will enjoy. Because you'll laugh, have a great night at the theater and leave with a smile on your face. I guarantee it!

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Kennie: We have one final weekend of shows, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. A fun Children's Pre-Show gets going at 7:00 p.m. They perform a bunch of songs from the '80s. After a few folks from the Huntington area get a chance to shine in the Community Pre-Show, The Wedding Singer takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. You have a personal invitation from Sammy to come out and see the show... be prepared to have a good time, because "Love is what we do!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"The Wedding Singer" Speaks!

Time for an e-interview as we head into the final weekend for The Wedding Singer! Let's hear from my pal Ryan Hardiman, who stars in the title role:

Q: Why did you want to be part of The Wedding Singer?

Ryan: I'm all about the '80s! I graduated from high school in 1984 and the show is set in 1985, so I'm right in the middle of my era! Most of the "costumes" I'm wearing are actually my own clothes from 1985. I love the music, the look and the attitude of the '80s. When I do a show, I tend to immerse myself in that world for a time, so this summer has been like a homecoming for me... I've lived it! I've committed to the (bi-level) haircut, I'm rockin' the skinny ties on an almost daily basis, and I've been on a steady diet of Billy Idol, Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls and Missing Persons. This show was to have been produced by H.O.T. two years ago, but the rights were lost due to a touring company that brought the show to The Clay Center. We've all been waiting so long to do The Wedding Singer, and we're loving it! Working with Helen Freeman is awesome, and I'm having so much fun with this fantastic cast! I'll be sad for it to end, but we're going to blow it out and make the most of the final weekend! You have to see this!

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Ryan: Robbie Hart (the Adam Sandler character from the movie) is a singer and musician who has found his niche as lead singer for “Simply Wed,” the most popular wedding band in New Jersey. He is engaged to Linda (Jessica Maier) but she cannot accept his station in life and dumps him at the altar. Heartbroken Robbie starts a downward spiral until he starts to develop feelings for his new friend Julia (Michele Goodson-Burnet). Julia, however, is engaged to someone else, so it seems like Robbie is headed for heartbreak again... (Or is he?)

Q: What's the most challenging thing about preparing for this role?

Ryan: Although this role is very different from most of the parts I’ve played, it's actually closer to my own personality than anything else I've ever done. I can totally identify with this character. Although I'm not a guitar player, I forced myself to learn to play several songs in the show to keep it real. I had done this before when I played Roger in RENT, and I think it adds authenticity to the character. The real challenge comes in the sheer energy it takes to play this role, and the fact that I'm never offstage for very long. There is a section of the show in the first act which culminates in my being thrown into a dumpster, and I am so happy to be there after an exhausting stretch. They put ice water in the dumpster for me every night, and I'm in heaven for a couple of minutes before I have to get back in the game.

Q: Is the musical different from the movie?

Ryan: Fans of the movie will not be disappointed. The story and characters of the show follow the film very closely. The main difference is that the '80s songs in the movie were used mainly as background scene music. The writers of the Broadway show developed new songs that actually help to move the story. The two original songs in the movie, “Somebody Kill Me” and “Grow Old With You” remain. The music is awesome... totally '80s!

Q: Do you have a favorite song (which one and why)?

Ryan: I love all of the songs for different reasons, but my favorites that I sing have to be “It’s Your Wedding Day,” which is one of the best opening/closing numbers for a show that I’ve ever heard, and “Casualty Of Love,” which is just out-of-control fun! “Move That Thang” is a showstopper!

Q: Has the summer heat made the play more challenging?

Ryan: Absolutely! Our audiences seem to be very comfortable, but the stage lights combined with the ambient heat and the constant activity make for a completely exhausting show. From the time the first guitar chord strikes, the show never stops moving. We’re running on pure adrenaline.

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

Ryan: It’s a great story with great music, a colorful, high energy show with lots of laughs. A love letter to the ‘80s! From the reaction we’re getting, It’s very obvious that the audience is having as much of a blast as we are!

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Ryan: We have one final weekend to go... this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (July 22-23-24) at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheater. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for picnicking (bring your own food and drink, or buy at the amphitheater). Children's and community preshows begin at 7 p.m., and The Wedding Singer takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. Tickets available at the gate on show nights! You have three last chances! Don't miss it!

Thanks, Ryan!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"Peter Pan" in Pt. Pleasant

Here's a story from today's Herald-Dispatch about a popular show taking the stage in Pt. Pleasant:
The French Art Colony’s Riverby Theatre Guild is preparing for a production of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan featuring more than 50 local volunteer actors and crew.

The production will take place at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily Saturdays, July 23 and July 30, at Point Pleasant High School’s Wedge Auditorium.

The original production of Peter Pan premiered on a London stage on Dec. 27, 1904, with the popular book following 11 years later. RTG is producing a recently updated version of the classic, staying true to much of Barrie’s original dialog and intent for the audience experience.

The production is directed by French Art Colony and Riverby Theatre Guild Executive Director, Joseph Wright. According to Wright, Peter Pan has a unique history.

“It is clear when reading Barrie’s extensive character descriptions and stage directions he was passionate about capturing a child’s imagination in a very true and magical manner, speaking to every audience member, whether child or adult,” he said in a news release. “Our production highlights how simply one can use his or her imagination to create amazing adventures.”

The Darling Children, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, Tigerlilly, the Lost Boys, Nana, Smee and the pirates, mermaids and fairies are all featured in the production, and brought to life by volunteer actors age 4 through adult from throughout the area. Volunteer teams have created the many colorful costumes for the actors, as well as the imaginative sets to represent the nursery, a mermaids’ lagoon, the full Neverland island, and the large, 20-feet-long Hook’s pirate ship, recently seen in local parades.

The production is sponsored by The French Art Colony, Holzer Health Systems, WBYG Big Country 99.5, Sunny 93.1 and The Ohio Arts Council.

More information regarding the production, including ticket information, can be obtained by calling the French Art Colony at 740-446-3834 or by visiting www.frenchartcolony.org.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Return of "The Aracoma Story"

The modern adaptation of a story with tales of the region's rich history, The Aracoma Story: Spirits and Legends, opens at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, at the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre in Chief Logan State Park.

After two successful seasons, The Aracoma Story, Inc., has brought the classic tale back for another run. In the 2009, former cast members of "The Aracoma Story," Bill France and Geoff Allen, collaborated to adapt the show that has been presented in various forms since 1976 into a modern presentation. This will be the show's 35th consecutive season on stage in Chief Logan State Park.

This season's show brings several new faces along with some familiar names to the stage. Playing the title role of Princess Aracoma is Rachel Noe-Maynard of Logan. She has played her favorite role (Princess Aracoma) in previous years, but she's especially excited about this production where she will share the stage with her 5-year old daughter Maddy and her step-son, Luke. Noe-Maynard is a 2008 graduate of Marshall University earning her BFA in Theatre. She has worked in many community and regional theatre productions during the past 13 years in the Logan and Huntington areas.

Playing the role of Boling Baker is Scott Abbott of Logan. Abbott started performing with The Aracoma Story, Inc. productions in 1986 with "The Music Man." He has played just about every male role in "The Aracoma Story" drama including Boling Baker.

The entire cast of "The Aracoma Story: Spirits and Legends" is made up of more than 50 people including Rachel Noe-Maynard (Princess Aracoma), Scott Abbott (Boling Baker), Cody Vinson (The Man), Shyann Ferrell (Elly), Madyson Adams (Liz), Emilee Adams (M.J.), Richie Nelson (Jamie), Kobe Smith (Josh), Amber Richards (Anna), Mary Muncey (Greeter), Keith Muncey (Cornstalk), Nancy Kirkendall (Dream Teller), Jacob McCoy (Crazy Wolf), Brooke Browning (Oceana), Dennie Carver (Medicine Man), Aaron Stone (Logan), Zach Nelson (Gibson), Lee Gore (Waulalisippi), Jenny Young (Nonhelema), Rhonda Richards (Ruth), Heather Crisswell (Rebecca), Dakota Browning (Fish Hunter), Steven Botsch (Big Bear), Michael Tomblin (York/White Horse), B.J. Kilgore (Elijah/Lone Tree), Scott Light (Lt. Chapman/James), Jeremy Gibson (Dawes), David Brumfield (Monroe), Cindy Armstrong (Legend), Gracie York (Kathryn), Kayla Ojeda (Blue Feather), Jala Gore (Snow Lilly), Hanna Mosley (Raindrop), Walker Light (Running Deer), Samuel Mason Tomblin (Infant Waulalisippi), Maddy Noe (Flower Petal), Andrea May (Jessica), Katie Bojaski (Nancy), Billy Hager (Peter), Elizabeth Light (Amanda), Summer Jewell (Missy), Olivia Rice (Mary Louise), Sarah Rose (Ruby), Lexi Morgan (Ellen Grace), Payton Porter (Gertrude), Ally Maynard (Amelia), Jackie Blankenship (Mildred), Brianna Ball (Beatrice), Grace Kimler, Hannah Harrison, Morgan Stollings, Madison Nelson (Ceremonial Maidens), Addison Nelson, Bridgett Gore, Judy Wooten, Alex Wooten, Lexi Brumfield, Melinda Brumfield, Hannah Runyon, Jayla Lovejoy, Autumn Blankenship (Indians), McKenna Browning, Berdina Hager, Phillip Stevens, Natalie Rice, Sydnee Rice (Settlers).

Once again this summer season, The Aracoma Story, Inc. will salute the Armed Forces during each Wednesday night performance by offering free admission to all Active Military Personnel and half-price admission to all veterans for their ticket purchased at the box office before the show.

The show will run Tuesdays through Saturdays, July 19 through Aug 6. All performances start at 8:30 nightly. You can purchase tickets by phone, including group discounted tickets, using Visa or MasterCard by calling The Aracoma Story, Inc. office at 304-752-0253.

For more information, go online at www.loganshows.com.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The Wedding Singer"

I finally got a chance to see The Wedding Singer Friday night, and I'm glad I did!

It's a show that's very funny, loaded with talent and great songs.

The musical tells the story of Robbie Hart, a musician who specializes in performing at weddings (natch) - but his own luck in romance is shaky at best. His band mates are Sammy and George, and you'd be hard pressed to find two funnier sidekicks. Robbie plans to marry Linda, but when she breaks his heart, he is drawn to a waitress named Julia - but there's a problem. She's engaged to be married to an unethical banker named Guglia. So it's complicated - but very funny.

Of course, one of the firm rules of putting on community theatre is: you'll never go wrong casting Ryan Hardiman in the lead. Ryan has a fantastic singing voice, of course, and shines on stage - but he's also very funny in the part (I can't remember Ryan doing much comedy before, but he's a natural). Not many actors could manage a romantic conversation while lying in a dumpster, or melting down at a wedding reception - but Ryan shines every step of the way.

His band is made up of Kenny Bass, who plays the boisterous Sammy perfectly - Kenny is a very good singer and a hoot in his role as wingman and Romeo in his own right (the show is worth seeing just for a look at whatever-it-is that Kenny has on his head - I think it's a wig, but it might be an animal of some kind) - and Shane Gue as the flamboyant George. Shane is so funny in this part that he very nearly steals numerous scenes - in fact, as my pal Amy pointed out, it's a tribute to Shane's skill as an actor that he doesn't steal more scenes - a lesser actor would have stolen shamelessly, but Shane knows just when to scale it back - a very, very funny and talented performance, and he's also a tremendous singer.

The waitress / love interest is played by Michelle Goodson-Burnett, and she has the challenging role of being the "good girl" among a stage full of big characters, but she really shines in the part. Her voice is sweet and her character is very appealing - excellent work!

Her waitress friend (and one of those boisterous characters) is played by Kerri Easter Stambaugh, as she has great fun as the over-the-top, man-crazy Holly - and she has a couple of great songs in there, too.

Playing the "bad guys" in the show are Michael Sidoti as Julie's sleazy fiancee, and Jessica Maier as Linda, Robbie's ex-girlfriend. They're both excellent singers and great performers, delighting in their badness and playing it big every step of the way.

Another scene-stealer is Jennifer Susan Leist, who plays "old" as Robbie's grandmother Rosie. It's not a huge part, but she gets the most out of it and is hilarious.

Throw in a great band, led by my pal Mark Smith, and a fantastic supporting cast, and you have a great show!

I wasn't sure what to expect - I had never seen the musical before, and I've never seen the movie, either - but I had a lot of fun, heard some terrific songs and laughed a heck of a lot. What more could you ask?

Kudos to the entire production team, cast and crew on another outstanding show for Huntington Outdoor Theatre!

You just have three more chances to see the show - next Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheatre. Don't miss it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

On Stage This Weekend

You have six different shows to choose from in the weeks ahead:

- The Wedding Singer - HOT takes the stage at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheatre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with its production of the musical comedy based on the hit Adam Sandler movie.

- Willy Wonka, Jr. - Portsmouth Little Theatre presents the Roald Dahl classic July 15, 16 and 17.

- The Aracoma Story - Logan State Park hosts its annual production of the romantic legend of Princess Aracoma, Boling Baker and the Shawnee People who settled in this region. The show starts July 19 and runs Tue-Sat Nights at 8:30 p.m.

- Jenny Wiley hosts three shows, including:

Annie - July 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21
The Dixie Swim Club - July 15
and The Frog Prince - July 17.

LATE ADDITION: As my pal Stephen points out in the comment below, I missed one:

- Princess Ida will be presented at the Vern Riffe Center at Shawnee State University Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The comedic opera is the eighth of Gilbert and Sullivan's collaborative works. The opera satirizes feminism, women's education and Darwinism. Based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, it is the writer and composer's only opera written in three acts and with dialogue written in blank verse. Faith Esham, the lead soprano, is a graduate of Julliard School of Music and is among the leading opera singers of the 21st century.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Auditions for "Noises Off!"

My pal Stephanie Kay Sands sends along this info about the upcoming auditions for one of the funniest stage shows ever:
The City of Huntington Foundation and 5th Ave. Theatre Company Present: Noises Off!

Auditions for the play Noises Off! will be held on Saturday, July 30 at 1 p.m. in the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium at Huntington City Hall. The theatre is located on the second floor at City Hall on 5th Avenue in Huntington.

Auditions will be a series of cold readings from the script and will begin promptly at 1 p.m. and will last about 3 hours. Roles are available for 5 men and 4 women, ages range from 18 – 60. Headshots and resumes are welcomed, but not required.

Noises Off is a slapstick comedy farce about the goings-on backstage (and sometimes onstage) of a theatre group performing a bawdy comedy called “Nothing On." There are 3 acts of Noises Off, and each act contains a slightly varied version of the first act of “Nothing On.” The play focuses on the comedy of a love-triangle between the director and two of his lead actresses, as well as everything bad that can happen during the run of a show, whether it be missed entrances, wrong lines or wardrobe malfunctions.

Noises Off! will take the stage Sept. 9-11 and Sept. 16-18. On Fridays and Saturdays the show starts at 8 p.m., on Sundays it starts at 2 p.m.

For more information, contact: Stephanie Kay Sands, Director - 336-416-0950, or Maxine Loudermilk, Producer - 304-696-5522.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"The Wedding Singer" Rocks On

Today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch has more coverage of The Wedding Singer, which is halfway through its four-weekend-long run. You can also see a photo gallery from the show right here.

Here's the story from the paper:
About 250 people were on hand Saturday for Huntington Outdoor Theater's second weekend of The Wedding Singer, presented at Ritter Park Amphitheater.

Coordinators estimate that between last weekend and this weekend, around 600 people will have come to watch the show.

Carol Wright of Huntington said she has been absent from Huntington's theater presentations, but is glad to have made it out and see them doing so well.

"It's been about three years since I've come out," she said. "My friends and I just wanted a night out and it was a beautiful evening. I really enjoy the children's pre-show. We are a blessed place to have stuff like this."

At 7 p.m. before every show, there is a children's pre-show. Also, in between performances there is a community show. Any member of the community is welcome to get on stage and perform a talent before the show starts at 8:30 p.m.

Orletta McCoy said that she and her husband, Joe, have also been regular audience members for past shows and this year decided to bring some family members along.

"We brought our grandchildren from Florida," she said. "He (our grandson) has some aspirations and is in a children's choir in Florida. We wanted to bring him for the kids pre-show and show him a little bit of children's theater. There are a lot of people that are never exposed to musicals. This a very affordable way to see a show."

Joe McCoy said community events like this are important for a town like Huntington.

"It keeps the spirit going here," he said.

The Wedding Singer is a musical comedy based on the movie starring Adam Sandler, featuring a story about New Jersey wedding singer Robbie Hart and his roller coaster love story.

Adult tickets cost $15. Tickets for children ages 5 to 12 and seniors 65 and older are $12, and admission for kids under 5 is free. Tickets for groups of 20 or more cost $11 apiece. The show will continue on Friday, Saturday and Sunday each weekend until July 23.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for picnicking, with the children's preshow beginning at 7 p.m., to be followed by the main show at 8:30 p.m.

Friday, July 08, 2011

On Stage This Weekend

You have several great shows to choose from this weekend:

- The Wedding Singer - HOT takes the stage at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheatre Friday, Saturday and Sunday night with its production of the musical comedy based on the hit Adam Sandler movie.

- Jenny Wiley hosts a series of show, including:

The Frog Prince - July 6, 7, 10 and 12.

Annie - July 8 and 9.

The Dixie Swim Club - 8 and 13.

Check 'em out and support your community theatre!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Fantasticks!

I ran into my pal Mike Murdock in the K-Mart parking lot this evening and he handed over this card promoting the upcoming ARTS production of The Fantasticks, which hits the stage in August.

I post it here, of course, in hopes that he'll stop pestering me. (That, and it's a terrific show - the longest running show in Off-Broadway history, I believe.)

Mark your calendars!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Curtains Up Players Announces Its New Season

Curtains Up Players, a new local theater group, has announced its schedule for the upcoming season.

Curtains Up Players is a community based theater in Huntington. It just completed its first season including its most recent performance, a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in May.

Kicking off the fall 2011 season, Curtains Up Players will present Bat Boy the Musical. This production is set in rural West Virginia and features a boy who resembles a bat. Auditions will take place Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. at Kuhn Memorial Church in Barboursville. The performances will run Oct. 27 - 30 and Nov. 4 - 6.

Following the production of "Bat Boy," Curtains Up Players will present a Holiday Cabaret of Family Memories in November. This show will feature special guest artist, Chris Sizemore. Performances will take place Nov. 25 - 27.

Other 2012 season highlights will include The King and I, Avenue Q: The Musical and Dracula: The Musical.

All shows for the 2011-2012 season will be performed at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center on 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington.

The mission of Curtains Up Players is not only to provide the Tri-State with professional quality theatrical experiences, but also to focus time, energy and resources on educational outreach opportunities for students throughout the Mountain State and into Kentucky and Ohio.

For more information on Curtains Up Players, contact CUP President Michael Gore at 304-688-7403, find them on Facebook at Curtains Up Players, or follow them on Twitter at CUPofTheatreWV.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Josh Hits the "Big River"

Here's a story from yesterday's Herald-Dispatch about a local actor making his mark outside Huntington.

That's him in the photo - he's in character as one of the greatest figures in literature - Huckleberry Finn:
Marshall University student and Kenova native Josh Meredith, who has performed in many Tri-State theater productions, is spending the summer performing in some lead roles at the Weathervane Playhouse in Newark, Ohio.

Meredith, a theater major entering his junior year this fall, recently completed playing the lead role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. One reviewer said "Josh Meredith is Seymour, right down to the socks. Shy and reserved, Meredith maintains a meekness that gives his voice an unbelievable strength. Seymour goes from nobody to genius in the gardening world because of his strange plant and Meredith effortlessly shows the internal conflict caused by his dangerous decisions."

Meredith is now portraying Huck Finn in the current production of Big River, which runs through July 9. It is the story of a heartwarming, jaunty journey down the Mississippi River with Finn and his slave friend Jim.

Big River features a bluegrass, gospel and country score written by country music legend Roger Miller. Musical highlights from the show include "River in the Rain," "Muddy Water," "Arkansas," "Gov'r'ment" and "Worlds Apart."

Meredith also has leading roles in The Sound of Music and Chicago, which will be produced later this season.

The Weathervane Playhouse is located at 100 Price Road, Newark, Ohio. Big River (rated PG) will be performed at 8 p.m. July 5, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets are $26 for adults, $24 for seniors and students ($20 for matinee) and $16 for ages 12 and younger ($13 for matinee).

For tickets or more information, call 740-366-4616 or go online at weathervaneplayhouse.org.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

On Stage in July

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Hope you're having a great holiday! Here's the rundown of community theatre shows to expect in July - as always, if there's anything I missed, send me a note at TheMinskers@aol.com or leave a comment at the link at the bottom of this post.

Here's the rundown:

- The Wedding Singer - HOT takes the stage at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheatre every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in July with its production of the musical comedy based on the hit Adam Sandler movie.

- The Aracoma Story - Logan State Park hosts its annual production of the romantic legend of Princess Aracoma, Boling Baker and the Shawnee People who settled in this region. The show starts July 19 and runs Tue-Sat Nights at 8:30 p.m.

- Box 11: Brave New Boxes - CYAC presents stories and monologues about young people July 28, 29 and 30 at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre at 123 Summers Street in Charleston.

- Willy Wonka, Jr. - Portsmouth Little Theatre presents the Roald Dahl classic July 15, 16 and 17.

- Jenny Wiley hosts a series of show, including:

The Frog Prince - July 6, 7, 10, 12, 17, 24, 26 and 31
Annie - July 8, 9, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23
The Dixie Swim Club - 8, 13, 15, 22 and 27
The Legend of Jenny Wiley - July 29 and 30

And that's it for a busy July!