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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On Stage in February: "Love Letters"

Here's a note about an upcoming dinner and a show from ARTS:
Love Letters is a Valentine's show for friends, lovers, or anyone in between.

Friday and Saturday - February 10 & 11, 17 & 18.
Renaissance Ballroom - 900 8th Street, Huntington, WV
Reservations Required
Dinner and show - $25 (6:30 p.m.)
Show - $15 (8 p.m.)

Love Letters is a Pulitzer Prize for Drama nominated play by A. R. Gurney. The play centers on just two characters, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Acted by Amy Knell Carlson and Bil Neal, the characters sit side by side at tables and read notes, letters and cards - in which over nearly 50 years, they discuss their hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, victories and defeats - that have passed between them throughout their separated lives.

Directed by SDC member Bruce Rous.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"100 Years of Broadway"

I hear this show was wonderful at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center yesterday (sadly, I was out of town).

Here's the story by my pal Jean Tarbett Hardiman:
The Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center was alive with the sounds of music and history on Sunday afternoon as theater fans gathered for Neil Berg's 100 Years of Broadway, brought to Huntington as part of the Marshall Artists Series.

The show featured some recent Broadway hits from Movin' Out and Jersey Boys and beloved favorites from shows such as Phantom of the Opera and Funny Girl.

The word "awesome" is overused, said nurse Gigi Gerlach of Huntington, who attended on Sunday. But that's exactly what the show was, she said.

"To have this caliber of talent here in the Keith-Albee on a Sunday afternoon in Huntington, we are blessed," she said. "I love (the Marshall Artists Series). We're really blessed to see shows in this setting. It just takes you back to another place in time."

Helping the audience do that today were pianist composer Neil Berg and Broadway performers Carter Calvert, Danny Zolli, Sandra Joseph, Chuck Wagner and an actor with some ties to Huntington, Ivan Rutherford.

Rutherford told the audience Sunday afternoon that he was born here and lived here until he was 4 years old. He said his parents went to Marshall, and that he had spent the day checking out his and his parents' old stomping grounds, including his house in Altizer and Marshall University's campus.

He also ate at Frost Top, which he said looks the same as he remembers and where, he now suspects, his family might have lifted a few of the old glass mugs once used there. He remembers using the mugs at home growing up, and when he asked about them Sunday, the server told him that they're not used anymore because people kept stealing them, he said with a guilty smile.

It was an enchanting day, he said, segueing into "Some Enchanted Evening." He followed with others such as "Bring Him Home," which he performed as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables" on Broadway - the same role once played by fellow Huntington native and Broadway performer Mark McVey.

Other songs performed by the group were "Memory" from "Cats," "If I Can't Love Her" from "Beauty and the Beast," "Gethsemane" from "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Cell Block Tango" from "Chicago," "Seasons of Love" from "Rent," a Rodgers & Hammerstein medley and many others.

The show was "fantastic," said attorney Larry Tweel, who attended with his wife, Cheryl.

"It's what my generation and the younger generation clamor for," he said. "The Artists Series needs to have shows that appeal to all ages, and this show truly appeals to all ages."

Jane Hustead, a Cabell circuit judge who attended, said she just wishes the theater had been filled to capacity.

"We have season tickets," she said. "We're so proud of how they've redone the theater and all the work they put into it. A landmark like this should be preserved, and they're doing a wonderful job of it."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Stage Sunday: "100 Years of Broadway"

You can enjoy some of the best of Broadway this Sunday as the Marshall Artists Series bring another great show to the Keith-Albee performing Arts Center.

100 Years of Broadway recreates the biggest moments from the biggest shows of the century, featuring the actual stars of shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Chicago, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Jekyll & Hyde. These amazing performers light up the stage with songs from the hit shows in which they starred, as well as other notable Broadway shows.

Neil Berg presents brilliantly revived arrangements of Broadway classics, as well as fantastic numbers from Broadway's newest hit shows. The show features a dazzling cast of Broadway stars accompanied by an all-star New York band.

The show takes the stage Sunday at 3 p.m.

Here's a sample of what to expect:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"1776" Auditions in February

My pal Jeanette Bills sends along this announcement:
1776 Auditions at ARTS

Auditions will be Feb. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Feb. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Callbacks may be necessary on Feb. 19 starting at 2 p.m.

Auditions will be at at ARTS Resources for the Tri-State at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

Performance dates are April 27, 28, 29, May 1, (school show) 4, 5 and 6.

Roles are available for 21 men and 2 women. Clint McElroy has accepted the role of John Adams.

All actors need to be prepared to show movement skills, have 16 measures of music prepared (accompanist provided), and participate in cold readings from the script.

For more information call Bil Neal at 304-544-3926
It's a great show - one of my all-time favorites, and I urge anyone interested (especially you guys out there) to try out and be part of the show!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Year's Oscar Nominees

We'll get together our annual "Pick the Winners" competition shortly, but here are the 84th Annual Academy Award nominations as announced today (list courtesy the Associated Press and the Herald-Dispatch):
1. Best Picture: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life," "War Horse."

2. Actor: Demian Bichir, "A Better Life"; George Clooney, "The Descendants"; Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"; Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"; Brad Pitt, "Moneyball."

3. Actress: Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"; Viola Davis, "The Help"; Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"; Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"; Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn."

4. Supporting Actor: Kenneth Branagh, "My Week With Marilyn"; Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"; Nick Nolte, "Warrior"; Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"; Max von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."

5. Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"; Jessica Chastain, "The Help"; Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"; Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"; Octavia Spencer, "The Help."

6. Directing: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"; Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"; Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"; Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"; Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life."

7. Foreign Language Film: "Bullhead," Belgium; "Footnote," Israel; "In Darkness," Poland; "Monsieur Lazhar," Canada; "A Separation," Iran.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants"; John Logan, "Hugo"; George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, "The Ides of March"; Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, "Moneyball"; Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

9. Original Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"; Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids"; J.C. Chandor, "Margin Call"; Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"; Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation."

10. Animated Feature Film: "A Cat in Paris"; "Chico & Rita"; "Kung Fu Panda 2"; "Puss in Boots"; "Rango."

11. Art Direction: "The Artist," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "War Horse."

12. Cinematography: "The Artist," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "The Tree of Life," "War Horse."

13. Sound Mixing:
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "Moneyball," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "War Horse."

14. Sound Editing: "Drive," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "War Horse."

15. Original Score: "The Adventures of Tintin," John Williams; "The Artist," Ludovic Bource; "Hugo," Howard Shore; "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Alberto Iglesias; "War Horse," John Williams.

16. Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets," Bret McKenzie; "Real in Rio" from "Rio," Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett.

17. Costume:
"Anonymous," "The Artist," "Hugo," "Jane Eyre," "W.E."

18. Documentary Feature: "Hell and Back Again," "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," "Pina," "Undefeated."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement," "God Is the Bigger Elvis," "Incident in New Baghdad," "Saving Face," "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom."

20. Film Editing: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Hugo," "Moneyball."

21. Makeup: "Albert Nobbs," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "The Iron Lady."

22. Animated Short Film: "Dimanche/Sunday," "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," "La Luna," "A Morning Stroll," "Wild Life."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Pentecost," "Raju," "The Shore," "Time Freak," "Tuba Atlantic."

24. Visual Effects: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," "Hugo," "Real Steel," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
Quite a few surprises and disappointments in that list - it would have been nice to see "Drive" and the final Harry Potter movie get more recognition, and Albert Brooks should have received a Supporting Actor nod - but how can you have a Best Animated Feature that doesn't include "Tintin?" Or even "Cars 2?"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Auditions Tonight for "How I Learned to Drive"

A reminder that auditions are tonight for How I Learned to Drive. Here's the info:
"Sometimes to tell a secret, you first have to teach a lesson,” says Lil Bit, the main character in How I Learned to Drive.

The lesson in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play isn't so much about driving as it is about survival, forgiveness and growth.

How I Learned to Drive will be presented March 8-11 at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center.

Auditions for How I Learned to Drive will be held Monday, January 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church, 955 Main Street in Barboursville, W.Va. Roles are available for men and women over 18 years old. Please park in the lot in the back of the church and enter through the rear door. Please arrive promptly and be prepared to read.

The play will be directed by Michèle Goodson, produced by Shayne Gue and Kaitlin DeSpain, and will feature a production team including Danny Ray, Holly Maynard and Bradley Leonard.

Michèle Goodson has performed in NYC in The Cradle Will Rock (Jean Cocteau Repertory Theatre), multiple performances for New York’s Theatre for Young Audiences, and various regional productions. Austin, TX productions include The Constant Wife (Martha), Lunch Hour (Nora), Hamlet (Polonius), and Muses II (Shana), for which she received a B. Iden Payne nomination. Since returning to Huntington, Michèle has been seen in productions of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy Park) and The Wedding Singer (Julia Sullivan). Michèle is a founding member of the Marshall Theatre of the Air, and has directed and performed in the National Broadcasting Society and Marconi award winning radio productions of Gaffe’s Trail and Murder in Real City. She is a recognized actor/combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors. Michèle has enjoyed working with her friends at CUP and is looking forward to directing their upcoming production of How I Learned to Drive.

Check us out online (www.curtainsupplayers.org) or on facebook (Curtains Up Players) for more information or to contact a production team member. A list of characters and additional show information can also be found on our website. Sponsorships and Advertisement packages are available for local businesses. For more information contact Shayne Gue at shaynegue@hotmail.com or 304-412-0129.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Cast List for "Stepping Out"

That was quick! The cast list for the upcoming ARTS production Stepping Out has alredy been chosen!

My pal Bil Neal (who's producing the show) sends along this note:
After two tough days of dancing and acting auditions, Gene & Coni Anthony are pleased to announce the following cast for Stepping Out.

Mavis.....Amy Browning
Dorothy.....Leann Haines
Lynn.....Maggie Saunders
Mrs. Fraser.....Karen Pruitt
Maxine.....Jennifer Scott
Andy.....Jennifer Naglee
Geoffrey.....Michael Naglee
Vera.....Emily Asbury
Sylvia.....Jane Modlin
Rose.....Linda Reynolds
Man, that cast is just loaded with talent! I can't wait to see this one!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Auditions Friday Night for "Stepping Out"

A reminder that the dance / musical Stepping Out (being presented by ARTS) is holding auditions Friday night at 7 p.m. at the old Huntington High School auditorium.

Stepping Out is a delightful piece for nine women of various ages and one man. It is a character-driven comedy, and an ensemble piece.

Eight women and one man, each with his or her own "baggage," assemble once a week for a community tap class which is taught by an ex-show girl. None but the teacher, Mavis, and one other lady in the class, know how to tap. They learn in the course of the play and it ends with the group doing a public, costumed performance for a charity event.

The show will be directed by Gene and Coni Anthony. The audition will be a dance audition.

Sounds like a lot of fun - break a leg, y'all!

Murder Mystery in Huntington

The latest murder mystery is waiting to be solved in Huntington - but if you want tickets you'd better hurry.

Silent Night, Deadly Night is a mystery being staged at Heritage Station in Huntington this weekend and next (Jan. 20-21 and 27-28).

For more information, call 304-523-7526.

Murder and Merriment's latest murder mystery features: Greg Kiser, Sarah Diamond Burroway, Bill Tussey, Brian Cook, Ashley Taylor, Kennedy Snider, Josh Taylor, Kendra Egnor and George R. Snider III.

Reserved Tickets only. Dinner each night served by caterers - 'A Taste From Above.' Lots of great prizes to be won!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A New Season for 5th Avenue Theatre

5th Avenue Theatre has apparently decided to change its plans for the coming year. The group was planning to stage Legally Blonde: The Musical and White Christmas this year.

But it has a new lineup - this was posted today on Facebook:
Maxine Loudermilk made this announcement today: It is my pleasure to announce changes in the 5th Avenue Theatre Company's 2012 season.

The season will be:

9 to 5 - performance dates are May 4 - May 14 with auditions on March 4 at 2 p.m.;

Sweeney Todd - performance dated Sept. 28 - Oct. 17 with auditions July 15 at 2 p.m.;

and White Christmas and Legally Blonde have been dropped from the schedule.

All auditions will be held in the JCS Auditorium located in Huntington City Hall.

Contact Eddie Harbert, Director, at 304-544-2831 or Maxine Loudermilk, Producer, at 304-654-1471 for information.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Auditions for "The Color Purple"

The Charleston Light Opera Guild is tackling a terrific show this spring, and auditions begin Tuesday for The Color Purple!

The group posted some detailed information about the auditions, reprinted here for your convenience:


January 17, 18, 19 ~ 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 17 - 7:30 p.m. ~ Singing
Prepare a musical selection to showcase your voice; bring sheet music for Guild accompanist

Wednesday, January 18 - 7:30 p.m. ~ Reading, Acting
Scripts will be provided for cold readings of major and cameo characters.
Some characters will be selected from the ensemble.

Thursday, January 19 - 7:30 p.m. ~ Dancing
Auditions for African scene dancers, dress to dance, barefoot or ballet or jazz shoes

All auditions at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre
411 Tennessee Ave at Roane Street
Charleston, WV 25302

will be performed at Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre
May 4, 5, 11, 12, 13, 18 and 19, 2012

CELIE: Female actress-singer 20s – 30s, insecure, yet spirited, appears meek and timid but has a tough interior, treated poorly for years, a strong passionate, belter

MISTER: Albert, an attractive, dominant man 30s – 60s, disrespectful and demanding, marries Celie and mistreats her; true feelings are for Shug Avery, strong vocalist with power

SHUG: Well-known singer, 30s – 50s, very charismatic, a sexy confident and powerful woman, comforts Celie and Mister, a dynamic Bessie Smith style bluesy singer

SOFIA: Female warrior, 20s – 30s, humorous, independent, physically larger with a self confidence in her own skin, marries Harpo, will not be mistreated, strong singer

HARPO: Mister’s vulnerable, good-natured son, 20s – 30s, marries Sofia, learns to treat women well, romances Squeak when Sofia leaves until her return, strong singer

NETTIE: Celie’s sister ages 20s – 30s, adventuresome, spunky and educated, has a strong bond with Celie, separated from Celie by Mister, she finds a new life and calling in Africa, strong belter

SQUEAK: Age 18 - 20s, Harpo’s girl after Sofia leaves and until she returns, spunky, fun, sassy opinionated, good mover-dancer, strong belt and soprano capability

OL’ MISTER: Mister’s father, owner of the farm and house that Mister works and lives on with Celie, self-centered man, verbally abusive towards his son, 55 - 80, strong actor often doubled as the Preacher

CHURCH LADIES (Doris, Darlene, Jarene): A trio of strong personalities and presences, character women who are the busybodies of the town, different types and ages, strong singers with comedic flair.

ENSEMBLE ROLES (Cameo role characters who also sing with the chorus):
Young Nettie, Young Celie (both ages 12-16), Mister’s daughter (8-14), Young Olivia (12-16), Henrietta (8-12), Young Harpo (8-12), Young Adam (8-12), Preacher, if not double cast with Ol’ Mister (30-60), Pa (40-60), Prison Guard (30-50), Buster, Chief, Guard, Older Olivia, Older Adam, Church Soloist, Daisy, Glodene, Odessa

ENSEMBLE SINGERS: Strong male and female voices, all physical and vocal types.

ENSEMBLE DANCERS: Strong male and female dancers for huge African dance scene. Dancers may double in the chorus or cameo roles.

THE COLOR PURPLE is a musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer winning novel. Scott Sanders, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey produced the musical on Broadway in 2005 starring LaChanze with a book by Marsha Norman, music and lyrics by Brenda Russel, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. The score features a blend of gospel, blues, soul and musical theatre arrangements. The 1985 film featured an impressive cast led by Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey.

The musical is presented as Celie’s march to freedom and search for peace. Taking place in rural Georgia the story spans the years between 1909 and 1949. Young Celie faces many hardships including a pregnancy at 14, marriage to a cruel farmer called Mister and Mister’s imposed separation of Celie from her sister and best friend, Nettie. Mister’s son, Harpo, grows up and brings home Sofia, a proud and strong-willed woman whom he loves and later marries. Mister’s former love, a blues singer named Shug Avery, helps Celie become a stronger woman.

Nina Denton Pasinetti, director/choreographer
Bobby Hodges, Jr., musical director
For more information call the director at 304-545-6945.

A Play for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Hope you're having a great Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

If you're looking for a good way to observe the event, here's a suggestion from today's Herald-Dispatch:
The Meeting is a critically acclaimed play depicting a fictional meeting and discussion in a hotel room between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, two of the strongest voices of the civil rights movement.

It will be presented at 6 p.m. Monday in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center on Marshall's campus. The program, which is free, also includes members of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities paying tribute to the women of the civil rights movement, specifically the wives of King and Malcolm X, Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz.

Members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus of Charleston also will perform.
Sounds like a great show - recommended!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Return of Bitsy and Boots!

One of my favorite theatre events of the year is on the way, as Jonathan Joy's characters Bitsy and Boots are back in a new original play!

It's all part of the annual First Church Dinner Theater 2012: 20 Years of Fun for Mission. You get to see a very funny show and enjoy a terrific dinner and support a great cause - who could ask for more?

Here's the information provided by my pal Jerry Morse:
They're back! But, where are they? Not Getaway, that's for sure.

How did Bitsy and Boots end up on a tropical island? Will Tommy and Kat get to enjoy their romantic vacation? How many people can one hotel room hold? Will Max survive?

All these questions will be answered when you attend Bitsy and Boots in the Tropics, another hilarious comedy by our resident playwright, Jonathan Joy. To keep the laughs coming, we have assembled a stellar cast of Dinner Theater veterans, including Jane Morse (Bitsy), Loretta Hetzer (Boots), Adam Stephens (Tommy), Melissa Langham (Kat), T. Michael Murdock (Max), Rebecca Payne (Ida), Leann Haines (Pearl), Michael Naglee (Raul), Stephen Vance (Franklin) and Stacy Morgan (Officer).

The Dinner Theater has been a winter highlight in Huntington since 1991. It is an integral part of First Church's Mission program, raising more than $38,000 for Mission projects through 19 productions. For example last year's proceeds helped West Virginia mission projects, the Campus Christian Center, the City Mission, flood buckets for disaster relief and food and clothing for local families in need.

The show will be staged at the First United Methodist Church at 1124 5th Avenue in Huntington on Friday, Feb. 10; Saturday, Feb. 11; and Tuesday, Feb. 14. Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 8:00 p.m.

Choice of entrees: Prime Rib au Jus or Glazed Cornish hen, with Tossed Salad, Baked Potato, Green peas and Pearl Onions, Dilly Rolls and Assorted Valentine Desserts.

Dinner plus Show: Adult - $24.00, Child under 12 - $8.00, Show only (as space permits)- $5.00.

Babysitting available on request for all shows (advance notice required)

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL SHOWS! For Reservations, call 304-522-0357 or (740) 867-8576.

All profits benefit the Missions of First United Methodist Church

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Auditions for "Stepping Out"

One of the area's finest directors in Gene Anthony, who recently retired from Marshall's Theatre Department.

I recently heard the great news that he's coming out of retirement, and with his lovely wife Coni will direct the show Stepping Out.

If you have any interest at all in theatre or dancing, I give this my strongest recommendation. I was lucky enough to work with Gene on a show years ago, and it was a delight from start to finish.

Enough gabbing from me - he sent out this note with the announcement:
My friend, Bil Neal, has recently been installed as the new president of Arts Resources for the Tri-state (ARTS).

Knowing that he has a high regard for my theatrical background, I decided that in celebration of his new appointment I would offer to come out of retirement and direct a show for ARTS. He enthusiastically accepted and so we are on for a project.

Coni and I will direct a production of Stepping Out with performance nights on June 15, 16, 17 and June 22, 23 and 24.

Stepping Out was written by British Playwright Richard Harris, and after its London run, was revived for Broadway by Tommy Tune.

Stepping Out is a delightful piece for nine women of various ages and one man. Basically, it is a character-driven comedy. All of the characters are delicious, challenging, and of equal importance; in other words, it is a true ensemble piece.

Eight women and one man, each with his or her own "baggage," assemble once a week for a community tap class which is taught by an ex-show girl. None but the teacher, Mavis, and one other lady in the class, know how to tap. They learn in the course of the play and it ends with the group doing a public, costumed performance for a charity event.

This is our plan of action. The initial audition will be held at ARTS (old
Huntington High), beginning at 7:00 p.m. on January 20. It will be a dance audition. All of my darling friends and associates that just groaned because they don't tap dance can take heart. The point of the audition is for us to discover which of our brilliantly talented actor/singer/musician buddies and any others would be able TO LEARN how to tap in the course of a rehearsal period.

The play's primary requirement is a cast of good ACTORS. Coni and I will spoon feed the tap dancing element to the cast.

So, y'all show up and we'll decide if we think you can learn to tap. What do you have to lose? Call backs will be scheduled at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. We will read from the script for the call back audition.

There are some very specific casting specifications: 1. All of the characters require a comic facility; 2. One of the females does not dance but needs to be able to play the piano; 3. The play would be extremely well served by an integrated cast.

Once a cast has been chosen we will begin a free tap class, meeting once a week on Thursday night beginning at 7:00 p.m. on February 2. The class will continue until show rehearsals begin starting the week of May 6. I prefer a five week rehearsal schedule of about four rehearsals per week; three on a weekday evening schedule and one at an acceptable time each weekend.

If you know how to tap dance, you still need to be at the dance audition on January 20. We'll just "stick you in the back row" so that you can't intimidate the newbies. Love you all and looking forward to this project.

- Gene and Coni

Monday, January 09, 2012

More Auditions!

Still more auditions - this one is for young actors in the Paintsville area.

Aladdin, Jr. auditions will be held Jan. 21 from Noon to 4 p.m. at 224 Main Street in Paintsville.

No preparation necessary, looking for all age ranges. People will be asked to cold read and sing selected tunes from the show.

Performances will be at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

"Les Miz" Controversy

So my pals on Facebook got into an interesting discussion recently about the planned movie based on the Broadway musical Les Miserables.

The film is using (mostly) film actors to fill the roles, including Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert. Other stars include Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter and Amanda Seyfried.

But the one that has fans of the Broadway show on edge in Taylor Swift, who will reportedly play Eponine. Some think she doesn't have the right voice or the acting chops to play the part.

Fans getting upset about casting choices seems to happen every time a film version of a Broadway show is made, but of course the filmmakers aren't making the film with theatre fans in mind (they probably figure they'll see the show anyway).

They're trying to bring in those who might not know the show at all, but are willing to see anything starring (name of celebrity here).

We should probably be grateful that they haven't cast a Kardashian in there somewhere.

As for me, I'll wait until I see the movie (and I will be seeing the movie, no matter who they cast) to decide if including Taylor Swift was a great idea - or a terrible one.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

"Annie" Auditions in Portsmouth Jan. 11

January is all about auditions, and here's another one coming up soon from the Portsmouth Little Theatre:
Annie offers various roles for all ages. Auditions will be held at the Portsmouth Little Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 10 and Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

Please enter the rear of the theatre on US 52 Westbound. You will enter and wait in the Green Room, you will fill out an audition sheet, your picture will be taken, and you will be given a number.

This is a closed audition process to encourage the actor to audition without inhibition (if a child requests their parents watch their audition they will be permitted to sit in the house and watch. However, under no circumstances will a parent coach or help their child through the performance part of the auditioning process).

All those auditioning will be required to read from a preselected monologue (which will be provided) and sing a verse of a musical theatre song of your liking (please bring tracks - no pianist is available). Please be wise in your vocal selections and demonstrate your range and strengths.

Please wear loose clothing and soft shoes (NO FLIP FLOPS). All those auditioning will be required to learn simple choreography. Choreography will be performed in small groups.
For more information, visit the Portsmouth Little Theatre site right here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Auditions for "How I Learned to Drive" Jan. 23

The Curtains Up Players have announced auditions for their next show, How I Learned to Drive.

Here's the announcement:
The lesson in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play isn't so much about driving as it is about survival, forgiveness and growth.

Auditions for How I Learned to Drive will be Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Kuhn Memorial Presbyterian Church, 955 Main Street in Barboursville, WV. Please park in the lot in the back of the church and enter through the rear door.

The play will be directed by Michele Goodson and presented in March 2012.

Please arrive promptly and be ready to read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Bil's Best of 2012

I invited readers to send in their "Best of 2012" lists, and here's what my pal Bil Neal had to say:
Yesterday I took all the "2011" pages out of my Franklin planner and added the first four months of 2012. Your blog about the Best Shows made me curious to see if I had any comments about the theatre I saw last year, and I'd like to share some of the scribblings I found in the margins of my calendar. Feel free to edit any or all for length or content, and keep in mind that I wasn't able to see everything I wanted.

Barefoot In The Park (ARTS) was a delight. Set was orange, and got a smattering of applause every performance. With Karen Pruitt nearly upstaging Clint McElroy, the entire cast was a pleasure.

Nunset Boulevard (First United Methodist Dinner Theatre) Leann Haines has mad puppetry skills.

Dead Man Walking (MU) Nathan Mohebbi was impressive. The work that man did blew me away.

Video Games Live (Artist Series) was one of the most interesting things I saw, and completely out of my comfort zone. What an event.

Titanic (5th Avenue) Orchestra, Orchestra, Orchestra. Mike Murdock (sings!) David Day. Ron Short.

Drowsy Chaperone (CLOG) I would pay to watch Laurie Pennington read the phone book.

Wedding Singer (HOT) Ryan Hardiman enjoyed himself, and made me. Shayne Gue did great. Kerri Easter and Kaitlin Despain surprised me.

Thoroughly Modern Millie (CLOG) Linda Reynolds - wish I could've seen her every performance.

ART's 10th Anniversary Gala (ARTS) Helga got a Lifetime Achievement Award. Ryan Hardiman and Randall Reid-Smith duet of "Lilly's Eyes" second only to Chris Bowling accompanying himself.

New Works (MU) Collis P! So much fun. Burgle - Dylan Clark writes! (really well) New kid Patrick Taylor - one to watch.

Princess Ida (Portsmouth) Mark Near is a bad guy? Set was amazing.

Hairspray (CLOG) Laurie Pennington makes me smile. Jon Lamp has worked his butt off. I knew him when....

Fantasticks (ARTS) environment was a blast. Murdock CAN sing! Owen Reynolds is a pleasure. Dylan Clark and Eric Woods need to be stopped or no one will see me and Mark Near. Tawney Burdine can play anything you put in front of her. Kristin Cavianni belts into a hairbrush. Stephen Vance has a hit.

Noises Off (5th Avenue) Best set they've had. Leann Haines cries. James Holley's physical work is good. I like Michael Naglee on stage, but I'm kinda crushing on Kate Morris.

Schoolhouse Rock (First Stage at ARTS) Who staged a million kids so well? Set was beautiful and used really well. Three IS a Magic Number.

Jekyll and Hyde (ARTS) Ryan Hardiman, Brittany Adkins and Andrea Parkins amazing. Mike & Jenn Naglee are this period. I wanna play in the laboratory.

Family Cabaret (Highlawn Prebyterian) 90 second of Ed Sullivan takes six months of work. My favorite thing.

Pillowman (Company of Dreams) not at all my taste - really well done. Looking forward to seeing more from this company.

Last Night of Ballyhoo (MU) well done. Patrick Taylor and Jordan Bean - I loved them together. She was born with that style.

Holiday Memories (Cup) Chris Sizemore is good, but the surprise pleasure was almost all of the Donahoes singing together. Love those people.

It's a Wonderful Life (Paramount) How long did they rehearse? Backdrops are stunning.

Things that I'm sorry I missed this year, (just from discussions with friends) include Marina Jurica's Farewell Concert, Albert's Hall, Bat Boy (Cup) - heard good things about Chris Sunderland's physical work, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Auditions This Week in Portsmouth

January is a time for auditions, and here's one this week for teen actors:
Sweeney Todd: School Edition auditions will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 3 and 4 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Portsmouth Area Arts Council & Children's Theatre Senior Co. will hold auditions for actors ages 14-18, who are still in high school, for the upcoming production of Sweeney Todd: School Edition.

Auditions will be held in Theatre 5 of the Wheelersburg Cinema, adjacent to the SONGS Stage.

Actors will be required to sing a solo of their choice and be asked to read from the script with other auditions. Actors do not need to come for both nights of auditions, but may if they like.

A small photo of the actor to attach to the audition form is recommended.

The production dates for the show are March 2, 3 and 4, 2012 on the main stage of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts in Portsmouth.

Rehearsals will be held at the Wheelersburg Cinema stage Monday-Friday 6:30-9:00 p.m. beginning Jan. 9.

Actors will be required to have signed parental consent to participate in the show before they accept a part.
Auditions will also be held for a special Pre-Show for younger actors:
The Portsmouth Area Arts Council & Children's Theatre will be producing a short pre-show for our production of Sweeney Todd: School Edition at the Vern Riffe Center.

Auditions will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 3 and 4 at 5:30 p.m.

Rehearsals will be 5-6 Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Jan. 12 at the Wheelersburg Cinema.

Production dates are March 2, 3 & 4 at the Vern Riffe Center in Portsmouth.

We are looking for singers and dancers to do a spooky pre-show in both the lobby and main stage before Sweeney Todd. Younger ones will be singing and doing simple choreography for the lobby and older ones will be auditioning for a more dance-centered routine to be performed on the main stage.

Parents, please be aware, this pre-show will be spooky and involve scary make-up and costumes.

Come to auditions prepared to move and learn small pieces of choreography.

Stephen's Best of 2012

I invited readers to send in their highlights from 2012, and my pal Stephen Vance sent in this note:
I always like to put a little different spin on "the best of" list you offer up every year. This time I'd like to mention some people I've had a chance to work with and be a fan of over the last couple of years and how they had some crowning moments in 2011. Call it a list of people I hope we don't forget when we are all making our lists list.

Shayne Gue has been someone I've seen on stage since before I even thought about getting involved. I've always appreciated his work, but this summer Shayne was at his best in HOT's Wedding Singer. His timing and commitment were superb. Best I've ever seen him.

Dylan Clark has been a good friend of mine for a long time and a counterpart in shows on many occasions. This summer during MU's New Works, Dylan presented his original play Burgle. It was hilarious. We all know he is a great performer, but he has got quite a writing talent as well. I can't wait to see what he does in the future.

Jonathan Lamp is another guy I've admired on stage for a long time and also had a chance to work with. I can easily say that the most surprising and delightful performance of the year goes to John as Link in CLOG's Hairspray. We all knew he could sing, but he danced like nobody's business. He was perfect as the charming young star to be.

Patrick Taylor is somebody I just met this year. He was fantastic in Burgle as the idiot criminal and wonderful as the mute in the Fantasticks. However, I was super impressed with his work in the Last Night of Ballyhoo. He was simply charming. As the new guy in town, I'm excited to see what he does next.

Karen Pruitt in Barefoot in the Park was a riot. If you missed her, you missed a wonderful, wonderful thing. She's quite a lovely lady in person also.

Lastly, I'd like to mention two people I don't know at all but got to see twice this year and thought their work was great, both from Charleston. Laurie Pennington as the Chaperone in the Drowsy Chaperone and Velma in Hairspray. She is a true joy to watch. Brynna Hornswell as Penny in Hairspray and JoAnne Galloway in A Few Good Men. Total commitment, totally different roles, completely wonderful.

I could go on but I wanted to catch some of the people that others might miss. This of course is not a complete list because I could brag on a lot of others, and I do.

It was a very good year.
Thanks, Stephen!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

On Stage in January 2012

Happy New Year, gentle readers! Hope you've been enjoying the holiday season!

Coming up in January - as far as community theatre is concerned - is nothing!

No shows, although lots of them are in rehearsal or about to hold auditions.

But take heart, the Marshall Artists Series has a touring show that will help us get through the first month of 2012.

100 Years of Broadway takes the stage at the keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m.

The show recreates the biggest moments from the biggest shows of the century, featuring the actual stars of shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Chicago, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar and Jekyll & Hyde. These amazing performers light up the stage with songs from the hit shows in which they starred, as well as other notable Broadway shows.

Neil Berg presents brilliantly revived arrangements of Broadway classics, as well as fantastic numbers from Broadway's newest hit shows. The show features a dazzling cast of Broadway stars accompanied by an all-star New York band.

Sounds like a great show - mark those calendars!