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, December 31, 2012

The Best Shows of 2012

The end of the year is a great time to look back at the best shows of 2012.

But I don’t do top 10 lists (at least not for community theatre), for several reasons:

1) I hate applying the "Best of" label to community theatre shows - every single show was created after a lot of hard work by a lot of people, and while some may be more successful or more accomplished or have a bigger budget than others, they were all a labor of love.

2) It's apples and oranges. Unless you're comparing different productions of the same show, there's no way to compare different shows made with different casts, different budgets, different conditions, etc.

3) I didn't see all the shows that hit the stage in the Tri-State area in 2012. I saw 19 shows (by my count), but there were approximately 90 shows in our area, so I (sadly) missed lots of ‘em. I do have two good excuses: I was in one show in the Spring and I directed two more in the fall. I have friends who see lots of shows, more than I see - but I don't think there's anyone who sees every show. 

4) And I can't be impartial, because I'm the current President of First Stage Theatre Company - so I can’t pretend I’m not prejudiced.

What I will do is talk about some of the shows I saw and enjoyed, and invite you, gentle readers, to make comments about shows you liked, too. Send your comments to the link at the bottom of this post, or email them to me at TheMinskers@aol.com and I'll share them.

Brag on shows you worked on, rave about shows you saw, but no negative put-downs, please. (I don't believe in "Worst of the Year" lists, either.)

Of course, I did have a favorite show from 2012 - Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. - but that’s not fair, because I directed the show. But I’m very proud of the show - it featured an amazing, talented cast in a spectacular, beloved musical. It was a huge success and a heck of a lot of fun to be part of the production.

My other favorite show was All Grown Up: A Benefit Concert, which brought back some of First Stage’s most talented stars (kids no longer!) in a special concert to raise funds for the First Stage building, the new home for the children’s theatre. It was so much fun to be part of, and wonderful to see these talented young adults showing off their talents for a good cause. But I must admit that I directed that show, too, so once again I must admit I'm not impartial. 

And then there’s my other (other) favorite, the musical 1776, which was staged by ARTS. Again, not exactly fair, because I was in the show (playing a mercifully small part), but it was a terrific production, with a wonderful cast of amazing guys (and two amazing gals). It’s a long-time favorite show and I had a blast being part of it. But again, I’m hardly impartial.

But I did see some other excellent shows just as a member of the audience. In the Spring, First Stage presented one of my all-time favorite shows, Seussical, and it was a real delight, with an amazing cast. It’s a  wonderful musical that’s funny and heartwarming. A month ago, Scrooge took the stage, a high-spirited musical version of A Christmas Carol set in the Old West. A talented mix of adults and kids brought this delightful show to life!

ARTS presented several outstanding shows this year: Stepping Out was a dance-centric drama/comedy set in a dance studio. It was funny, touching and a pure delight, with a terrific cast of actors / dancers. Crimes of the Heart was a straight drama about the relationship between sisters, with wonderful performances by a great cast, and a truly impressive set. The group’s final show for 2012 was Shakespeare’s Macbeth, an amazing reimagining of the classic tale of ambition and madness. Brutal, bloody, high-energy and packed with stunning performances by a gifted group of actors, it was not to be missed.

HOT's July show was the fast-paced and upbeat musical Legally Blonde, with an amazing performance by Kathryn Davis as Elle Woods, the college student who becomes a student at Harvard by sheer force of will - and the power of love. A great cast, and a show that was a heck of a lot of fun!

Fifth Avenue Theatre tackled 9 to 5, a fast and funny musical version of the hit film. Terrific performances brought the story of three professional women dealing with the boss from Hades to life!

Marshall's Theatre Alliance always creates excellent, top-notch work, and this year was no different. Proof was a drama about a young woman and her relationship with her father - a genius who has a slender grip on reality. She wonders, is she afflicted with the same problem? An impressive show! The year’s most imaginative show was Marshall’s New Works Festival production of Dead Letter Office, a clever stream-of-consciousness play set in an odd, futuristic post office (of sorts). Very smart, with amazing work by the actors.

Charleston Light Opera Guild always does terrific work, and that was certainly true of Next to Normal, the musical drama about a family dealing with heartbreak and sanity. This was a truly impressive production - easily equal to a professional production. Definitely one of the year’s best.

I caught two shows from Curtains Up Players. The most recent was Dracula the Musical, based on the classic novel. The title character was brought to life by the gifted Jon Lamp, along with a terrific supporting cast. The group also presented the impressive production Avenue Q, an adult musical comedy that featured fantastic work by the cast - acting, singing and operating a small army of puppets. The show mixed together songs, comedy and some important messages, all on a state-of-the-art set, with an excellent orchestra and audio-visual support! Very, very impressive, and one of the year’s best productions. 

   Company of Dreams in Ashland presented The Curious Savage, an endearing adventure of high comedy about an older woman who inherits a great deal of money - but her children don’t like her plans to dispose of the money. A fun show!

   Charleston’s Children’s Theatre presented Willy Wonka, Jr., and it was an impressive production, with fine performances and an army of Oompa-Loompas!

   CYAC presented one of my favorites, Jesus Christ Superstar, with the amazing Ryan Hardiman in the title role. A terrific production with some stunning set pieces and a outstanding rock performance.

   Fifth Avenue Methodist Church also presented its annual fundraiser: Jon Joy added a new chapter to the hilarious adventures of the title characters in Bitsy and Boots in the Tropics, and it was a pure delight, with lots of laughs and lots of scene-stealing along the way. What a hoot!

   And that’s it for 2012 - sad that I missed so many great shows, but I hope you’ll chime in, readers, and let us know about some of your favorites.

   So, another great year of theatre - and hopefully another great one on the way! 

   Happy New Year, theatre fans, and thanks for joining us here at the Tri-State Theatre blog! 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Moonage Daydream" with Ryan Hardiman

   If you're looking for a great way to spend New Year's Eve, here's a great idea: 

   Charleston Community Music Association and "Goodnight 2012" present two free New Year's Eve performances 

   Ryan Hardiman- "Moonage Daydream: The Bowie Songbook" 
   Special guest vocalist: Madeline Gourevitch with pianist Mark Scarpelli and a string quartet featuring Molly Lynn Page and Kristi Holstein (violin), Alasha Al-Qudwah (viola) and Shawn Simms (cello)

New Year's Eve, Monday, December 31
Two 45-minute performances at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Trinity Lutheran
1600 Kanawha Boulevard East
(Corner of Kanawha Blvd and Elizabeth Street)

Featuring the songs of David Bowie:

Moonage Daydream
Space Oddity
China Girl
The Prettiest Star
Life on Mars?
Wild is the Wind
Absolute Beginners
Under Pressure
Lady Grinning Soul

Jonathan Tucker will also be performing in the same venue at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., performing the songs of Josh Groban. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Auditions for First Church Dinner Theater

   Just in time for the New Year, I received this announcement about auditions for a fun show in Huntington:
   It is that time again. Auditions for First Church Dinner Theater 2013 (our 21st season) will be held at First United Methodist Church, 1124 5th Ave., immediately after church, Sunday, Dec. 30; Wednesday, Jan. 2, from 6-7 p.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 5, Noon-2 p.m.  
   Auditions will be held in the Fellowship Hall - enter through the double wooden doors off the parking lot behind the Church, off 4 1/2 alley, between 11th and 12th Streets.

   This year's show (Feb. 14, 15 and 16, 2013) will be skits and music. So, we need actors of all ages and singers. As an interested actor, you don't have to come with anything prepared, just come. For singers, a brief demo of your choosing would be good.

   Because of the skit-and-song format, the rehearsal schedule will be very flexible. Come join in the fun.

Jane and Jerry Morse
First Church Dinner Theater
Phone (740) 867-8576 

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Beatles Perform Shakespeare

   Here's an interesting bit of video - sort of a collision of theatre and pop culture.

   It's video of The Beatles (I'd guess from the mid-to-late '60s) taking part in a scene from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

   It's all played for laughs (as is the play itself), and a hoot to watch:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ARTS for Young Performers

   Some upcoming offerings by ARTS for young people:

   ARTS young voices taught by Ms. Kristie Finney for ages 9 thru 11. Ms. Finney is the music educator at Fatima schools and has a talent of teaching young people a lasting love for music. Children who love to sing and want to improve their abilities are invited to participate when classes begin on Jan. 17 at 4 p.m. for one hour at the  Renaissance Center.  The classes run for 8 weeks. Registration will take place on Saturday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Center.

   Cotillion and Etiquette classes will be conducted by Mrs. Elizabeth Withers starting Jan. 6 for 8 weeks. The classes are on Sunday afternoons at the Renaissance Center concluding with a Grand Ball. These classes will teach proper phone etiquette, social skills, as well as basic dance steps. Please contact Mrs. Withers at 304-5220463 for further details.

   ARTS will start the ARTS Youth Jazz Band with auditions on Jan. 8, 2013. Auditions will be held from 7:30 til 9 p.m. in the classroom at ARTS. The Jazz Band will rehearse Tuesdays from 7:30 til 9 p.m. in that same room.  The season will run from Jan 8 thru May 25. This will be a Big Band style Jazz Band with 2 Alto saxes, 2 tenor saxes, a Bari sax, 4 trombones, 4 trumpets, and a rhythm section consisting of a guitar, bass, keyboardist, drummer and a percussionist. Auditions will consist of a prepared piece, scales fin the major, natural minor and melodic minor modes and sight reading. For more information please contact Ron Caviani at tsyo@aol.com.

   Art classes are taught by Mrs. Susan Tschantz for children and adults. Please contact her at the Renaissance Art Gallery.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

   OK, so your pal Chuck is going to take a few days off to enjoy the Christmas season - maybe catch a showing of Les Miserables - but here, to tide you over in the meantime, is one of those crazy Christmas lights displays that makes you think, "Thank goodness I don't live next to this family."

   Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Les Miserables" - "Suddenly"

  I know what you're thinking - there's no song called "Suddenly" in Les Miserables!

   Ah, but there is now. See, even though the stage musical has been made into a brand-new movie, the "old" songs in the show aren't eligible for a Best Song Oscar nomination - so to get around that, it's standard for a film adaptation to add a new song, which will be eligible.

   Here's a feature about that new song, as sung by Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman).

"Les Miserables" - The Trailer

   One more Les Miserables teaser for your enjoyment!

   This is the trailer that showcases Ann Hathaway singing "I Dreamed a Dream," the heartbreaking song Fantine sings when the tragedy in her life becomes overwhelming.

   If this doesn't give you chills, nothing will.

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Les Miserables" - "One Day More"

    Here's an impressive clip from Les Miserables - from the website Hypable (and apparently from a European site, judging by the subtitles), here's the big song that wraps up Act One in the stage show.

   It starts slow and builds, but it's hard not to love the powerful "One Day More."

   To see the clip, click on this link and scroll down a bit to the video.

Auditions for "Almost, Maine"

   A reminder that auditions are being held this weekend for Almost, Maine.

   Company of Dreams will hold auditions for the comedy Friday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m. (both days) at Fairview High School in Westwood / Ashland Ky.

   Those auditioning will asked to do a cold reading from the script. Five men and five women will be cast. 

   The show dates are Feb. 7-9, 2013, on the Hillside Stage at Hillside Community Church, 900 Greenup Avenue, 2nd Floor, Ashland Ky. 

   For more information, contact the director at 606-615-8439.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On Stage This Weekend - the Last Two Shows of 2012

   It's time for the final shows for 2012 to take the stage! 

   This weekend wraps it up (not counting the premiere of the film Les Miserables, of course). Here's the lineup:

   A Christmas Carol: The Musical - Jax Theatre presents the Charles Dickens tale, with makeup effects by special effects artist R.J. Haddy. Shows will be presented at TG-Entertainment Live in Wheelersburg, Ohio, on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. and at 7 p.m.

   The Nutcracker Story - The LimeLight Theatre Company presents an original (non-ballet) play at the Capitol Theatre in Charleston Dec. 20 - 22 at 7 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 22.

"Les Miserables" - "At the End of the Day"

   One of the key story points in the original book Les Miserables was the plight of women and the terrors they were subjected to if they fell on hard times.

   Without work, they were forced into the most degrading, difficult circumstances - and that's exactly what Fantine (the amazing Anne Hathaway) faces, as her secret - that she had a child out of wedlock - threatens her job at the company owned by the reformed Jean Valjean.

   Her confrontation with the Foreman is at the heart of the song, "At the End of the Day."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Les Miz" Clip - "On My Own"

   Here's another clip from the upcoming film Les Miserables, as Eponine (Samantha Barks) sings about her heartbreak as she realizes that the man she loves, Marius, is in love with someone else.

   The song is "On My Own," and it's one of the best - and more heartbreaking - in the show.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Les Miserables" - The Film

   There's a great Christmas present on the way for fans of musical theatre - the film version of the hit Broadway show Les Miserables arrives at theatres on Dec. 25!

   It features a great cast and is getting (mostly) rave reviews - and the scenes they've released so far are very impressive.

   The play and the movie are based on the classic novel - considered by many to be one of the greatest ever written.

   I'm a big fan, myself - I saw the traveling version of the show in Pittsburgh (it featured the brilliant use of a revolving stage) and I was lucky enough to direct an amazingly talented cast in the School Edition of the show for First Stage in 2006.

   So needless to say, I'm anxious to see the big screen (and big budget) version. Over the next couple of days I'll be sharing some clips from the film.

   In this one (from early in the story) we meet the powerful and bitter Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), who has been a prisoner for 19 years - convicted for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) warns Valjean that his release has conditions that will follow him - forever.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Cast of "The Secret Garden"

   Director Eddie Harbert has posted the cast list for the next 5th Avenue Theatre Company show, The Secret Garden

   Here's the announcement: 
   Thanks to everyone who auditioned today for Secret Garden! What an awesome turnout with awesome talent.  
   Here is the cast list: 
Lily: Jen ScottMary Lennox: Fiona RushtonMrs. Medlock: Tina HaynesNeville Craven: Ron ShortMartha: Jane ModlinArchibald Craven: Mark BakerBen Wetherstaff: Jeremy RamsierDickon: Ethan DarbyMs. Winthrop: Ashley TaylorColin Craven: Logan DarbyMajor Shelley: Jeremy RamsierMrs. Shelley: Marisa MillerJane: Tiffani TaylorRose Lennox: Rebekah PritchardAlbert Lennox: Andrew PotterAlice: Katie JonesLt. Wright: Colby AdkinsMajor Holmes: Scott BlackMrs. Holmes: Abby ManisFakir: Josh TaylorAyah: Kyle FisherYoung Dreamers: Lily Ramsier, Ian Rushton, Ada MeneAdult Dreamers: Courtney Parsley, Isabella

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Cast of "Julius Caesar"

   Director Mike Murdock has announced the cast for the upcoming production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - and here it is:

Thanks to all who auditioned! It was great to see so many folks come out to play at Shakespeare with myself and ARTS! 
If you aren’t on this list, I either couldn’t work around a conflict or couldn’t use you in this particular show, but I hope you audition for us again. We’ve got p
lenty of shows coming up this season at ARTS and we’d love to have you back! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your time and talent with us!

Congratulations to the cast of Julius Caesar at ARTS!

Julius Caesar – Barry Dailey
Calpurnia – Amy Carlson

Mark Antony – Len Trent
Octavius – Tristan Reynolds

Cassius – Brian Cook
Brutus – Owen Reynolds
Portia – Joanna Berner

The Conspirators:
Casca – Simon Woods
Cimber – Jinnie Knight
Cinna – Jonathan Maynard
Ligarius – Gregory Picklesimer
Trebonius – Todd Green
Decius – Stephen Vance

The Tribunes:
Marullus – Bill Stambough
Flavius – Christal Barton

Lucius – Eric Wilson
Pindarus – Michael Naglee
Messala – Dylan M. Clark
Titinius – Bill Burroway
Strato – Jenn Naglee
Popilius Lena – Emma Grace Imes
Publius – Chelsey Keathley
Lepidus – Bill Stambough

Cinna the Poet – Jonathan Maynard

The Soothsayer – Sarah Diamond Burroway

Press, Citizens, Crowd, Paparazzi, Police, Soldiers, et al:
Simon Woods, Jinnie Knight, Gregory Picklesimer, Todd Green, Stephen Vance, Christal Barton, Victor Barton, Eric Wilson, Michael Naglee, Jenn Naglee, Dylan M. Clark, Bill Burroway, Emma Grace Imes, Chelsey Keathley, Sarah Diamond Burroway

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On Stage This Weekend

   You have four holiday shows to choose from this weekend, all guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit. Here's the rundown:
-  Miracle on 34th Street - The Alban Arts Center presents the beloved holiday show at the Alban Arts and Conference Center on Olde Main Street in St. Albans on Dec. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.

 -  A Christmas Story - Kanawha Players presents Jean Shepard's memoir of growing up in the midwest in the 1940s as young Ralphie dreams of getting a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. It’ll be presented Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m.

 -  A Christmas Carol: The Musical - Jax Theatre presents the Charles Dickens tale, with makeup effects by special effects artist R.J. Haddy. Shows will be presented at TG-Entertainment Live in Wheelersburg, Ohio Dec. 14, 15 and 22 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.

 -  A Charlie Brown Christmas - Portsmouth Little Theatre presents the adaptation of the classic Peanuts holiday cartoon. Shows run Dec. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Portsmouth Little Theatre. 

    So get out there and support your local theatre company - and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Cast List for "The Bully Plays"

   The next show for First Stage Theatre Company in Huntington is The Bully Plays (it takes the stage at the end of February), and the cast list was announced this week.
   Here's the announcement:
   NOTE TO PARENTS: The Bully Plays is a collection of small plays that address bullying on all levels. The material is very delicate in some 
of the pieces but we feel that no one is better equipped than First Stage Theatre to frame and present this play in an effort to raise awareness and hopefully bring an eventual end to a disease that is literally killing our children. 
    Some of the topics broached are prejudice, suicide, bad language, cyber bullying, sexting, and homosexuality. We ask that you talk to your child prior to him or her accepting a role to make certain you both are comfortable with the subject matter. 

   As always, if you were not cast, please do not be disheartened. We have limited parts to offer and two times that number auditioned. Everyone did a wonderful job and it made it very difficult for the directors to stick to the smaller cast number but this time we simply had to. 
The cast of
The Bully Plays

Ben Barber
Drew Edwards
Stone Van Camp
Luke Hagley
Nick Wood
Andy Wood
Rocco Gentilella
Ian Carlton
Salem Carlton
Nathantiel Fornash
Teddy Haddox
Sarah Bryan
Alya Williams
Sam Young
Rileigh Smirl
Emily Bannon
Bailey Sanders
Kathryn Jennings
Meg Barber
Hannah Clay
Rose Colclough
Ali Bartram
Brynne Kyle
Shannon Kyle
Madalein Jackson
Becca Gaunch
Kathryn Booth
Ruth Finley
Taranee Karimpour
Sarah Carr
Scott Barber
Chad Lovejoy
Tara Jennings
Jennifer Williams

The cast will be contacted this week about the time and place of the first cast meeting.
Thank You in advance for the hard work we will all do together to spread this very important message!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Auditions Coming Up for Four Shows

   If you're looking for a theatre project to tackle, are you in luck!

   No less than four shows are holding auditions in the near future - here's a rundown:

- Julius Caesar ARTS production of William Shakespeare's play will hold auditions Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. at the Renaissance Theatre on the bottom floor in the dance studio. Roles are open to both men and women. The show will be presented March 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, 2012.

- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - The CUP production will hold auditions Saturday, Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church (corner of 5th Avenue and 11th Street). Please come prepared with a 16-bar vocal selection from a "Disney"-type movie or show. Wear comfortable clothing for movement and be prepared to read from the script The directors are Katie Cook and Cody Vinson. Roles are available for men, women and teenagers (age 13 and up). Performances will be March 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. 

- Secret Garden5th Avenue Theatre will hold auditions for the musical Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. at Huntington's City Hall auditorium. Be prepared with a 30-second cut of a song, dressed for a movement audition and come prepared to read selected cuttings from the script. Dates for the show are March 1-3 and 6-10 with a school performance on Thursday, March 7 at 9 a.m. There are roles for adults 18 and above as well as children ages 8-18. For more information, please contact Eddie Harbert at 304-544-2831.

- Almost, Maine - Company of Dreams will hold auditions for the comedy Friday, Dec. 21 and Saturday, Dec. 22 at 6:30 p.m. (both days) at Fairview High School in Westwood / Ashland Ky. Those auditioning will asked to do a cold reading from the script. Five men and five women will be cast. The show dates are Feb. 7-9, 2013, on the Hillside Stage at Hillside Community Church, 900 Greenup Avenue, 2nd Floor, Ashland Ky. For more information, contact the director at 606-615-8439.

    So, lots of great shows to choose from - pick one and have fun being part of a community theatre production! You can thank me later.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables"

    I don't usually link to TV stories, but I'm making an exception here - there was a great story tonight on CBS's 60 Minutes about Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean in the film adaptation of the musical Les Miserables (which is based on the classic novel, of course).

   You can see the story right here.

   Boy, am I looking forward to this movie!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Last Chance to Catch "Scrooge"

    Sunday afternoon is your last chance to catch First Stage Theatre's production, Scrooge the Musical! The show starts at 2:30 p.m. at Huntington's City hall auditorium.

   Surprisingly it's only the second time the group has tackled a play based on Charles Dickens' story, "A Christmas Carol." (The previous version was a non-musical, staged about 15 years ago!)

   The version that's been running the last two weekends is a musical based on a film from the '70s, which was adapted into a stage musical in the early '90s.

   It's a fun show with great songs, excellent performers and a terrific orchestra! Directors Justin and Sydnee McElroy have done a wonderful job bringing the show to life, and they've assembled a great team of directors, actors and tech crew!

   And best of all - you can hear it all! The main criticism of City Hall's theatre is that it can be difficult to hear clearly - the acoustics can be challenging. First Stage's Hunt Bryan and Jack Welch worked long hours to improve the sound, adding six additional speakers along the sides of the theatre and using the company's state of the art sound board to get the maximum in sound quality.

    So stop by tomorrow afternoon and hear what you've been missing! You'll see (and hear) a great show, and jump start your holiday spirit at the same time!


Thursday, December 06, 2012

On Stage in December

   Lots of great holiday shows taking the stage this month (not including all the Nutcracker performances). Here are the ones I've tracked down so far:

   Scrooge the Musical - First Stage Theatre Company presents the classic Christmas story at Huntington’s City Hall auditorium Dec. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m.

   Miracle on 34th Street - The Paramount Players present the story about a man who may - or may not - be Santa Claus at the Paramount Arts Center Dec. 6, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.

   The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Children’s Theatre of Charleston present the story of a pageant that goes wrong... and very right. It’s presented at the Charleston Civic Center Little theatre Dec. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 and 9 at 2 p.m.

   Miracle on 34th Street - The Alban Arts Center presents the beloved holiday show at the Alban Arts and Conference Center on Olde Main Street in St. Albans on Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 9 and 16 at 2 p.m.

   A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley - Ashland Community and Technical College Theatre present the Christmas classic on Dec. 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m.

   A Christmas Story - Kanawha Players presents Jean Shepard's memoir of growing up in the mid-west in the 1940s as young Ralphie dreams of getting a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. It’ll be presented Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at 8 p.m.

   A Christmas Carol: The Musical - Jax Theatre presents the Charles Dickens tale, with makeup effects by special effects artist R.J. Haddy. Shows will be presented at TG-Entertainment Live in Wheelersburg, Ohio Dec. 14, 15 and 22 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 15 and 22 at 2 p.m.

   A Charlie Brown Christmas - Portsmouth Little Theatre presents the adaptation of the classic Peanuts holiday cartoon. Shows run Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Portsmouth Little Theatre. 

   The Nutcracker Story - The LimeLight Theatre Company presents an original (non-ballet) play at the Capitol Theater in Charleston, Dec. 19 thru 22 at 7 p.m. and at 2 p.m. on Dec. 22. 

    So get out there and get in the spirit of the season!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Auditions for "Julius Caesar"

   My pal Mike Murdock sends along this notice about auditions coming up soon for the ARTS production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:

   Auditions for the ARTS production of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar will take place Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. at ARTS (the Renaissance Theatre), on the bottom floor in the dance studio. 

   The show will be directed by Mike Murdock and will be put together by the same creative team that brought you last October's MACBETH. If you enjoyed MACBETH, this is your chance to play with us! The audition should last about two hours on each day. Please come at the start time and we'll cycle throug
h everyone as quickly as we can.

   Those auditioning need only bring themselves (but headshots and resumes will be welcome). Everyone will be cold-reading Mark Antony's "Friends, Romans, Countrymen..." speech and then doing several scenes from the show. Feel free to read that speech and/or the play to prepare yourself for the audition.

   ROLES ARE OPEN TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. Yes, you heard me correctly. I am not only interested in casting Calpurnia and Portia, but I am interested in casting other women in major roles that had previously been presumed only for men. EACH ROLE IS OPEN TO ANY SEX, so bring your A-GAME, ladies and gentlemen. This is your shot to make some magic and show us what you've got!


Julius Caesar
Octavius Caesar
Popilius Lena
Cinna the Poet
Gaius Trebonius

MARCH 15, 16, 22, 23 - 8 p.m. each night - NO MATINEES.
MARCH 21 - SCHOOL SHOW - 9 a.m.

   We will have our first read-through on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at ARTS. We will read through the play, get measurements, talk business, etc., and then we won't meet again until Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, where we will start rehearsing as normal.

   Rehearsals will run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday typically from 7-10 p.m. There will be at least one school show Thursday at 9 a.m., March 21. IF YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS PERFORMANCE (or any performance, obviously) IT'S A DEAL BREAKER. Please be prepared to discuss all potential rehearsal conflicts at auditions.

   Thanks, and I can't wait to see you at auditions! Won't you join us?


   From the creative team that brought you Macbeth comes a new look at another Shakespeare masterpiece. In an era so consumed with celebrity, presentational spin, and the struggle for power, Julius Caesar is as relevant today as it was when it was first presented 400 years ago.

   Traditional presentation and casting conventions will be destroyed. Man, woman, young, or not so young, if you have ever considered being a part of a Shakespeare show, this is your chance. The process and the creative vision of this show is guaranteed to be fun, and you may just learn something along the way.

   If you are just curious to see how this show will be tackled, get ready, you might be surprised.

   Beware the Ides of March.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Looking for Actors in Ashland

   My pal Sarah Diamond Burroway sends along this call for adults interested in being part of a new theatre group based in Ashland:
   Casting Call! Actors for Children Theatre is looking for a MALE ACTOR to help us launch our inaugural season in Spring 2013! 
   We are a new touring ensemble based in the Ashland area and will tour schools and other kid-friendly venues with an hour long show. Our rehearsals are scheduled primarily on Saturdays and occasionally Wednesdays, so as not to interfere with other shows in which you may be cast. 
   Our tour schedule for "The Emperor's New Clothes" is anticipated to include up to 10 performances from February through April, so the actor must be able to commit to intermittent day performances. 
   Rehearsals are already underway, so please message me for more details. Call 606-922-2903, email at intermission_sarah@yahoo.com, or visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ActorsForChildrenTheatre?ref=hl

Monday, December 03, 2012

Auditions for "The Bully Plays"

   First Stage Theatre Company is in the middle of its run of Scrooge the Musical (which continues next weekend at Huntington's City Hall), but it also sent out this announcement for auditions for its next production:

   First Stage Theatre Company announces auditions for The Bully Plays.

   Auditions are open to students in grades 6 - 12. They will be held Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highlawn Presbyterian Church in Huntington.

   This is a non-musical production and is limited to approximately 20 cast members. No preparation is needed – script excerpts will be provided for audition readings.

   The Bully Plays is a collection of 10-minute plays that are touching, imaginative, powerful, uplifting and funny. The effect of bullying is explored along with the dangers of cyber-bullying. This collection of short plays will challenge, inspire and enlighten audiences and help confront the issue of bullying in a constructive and creative way.

   Performance Dates: Feb. 21-23, 2013; school shows on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21 at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center. Cast members must be available for all performances.

   The directors are Mary Smirl, Sydnee McElroy and Cindy Westbrook, the producers are Elaine Young and Jennifer Wood.

   For more information, call 304-525-2557 or email to FSTCBullyPlays@gmail.com.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

This Weekend: "Scrooge the Musical"

Scrooge encounters the ghost of his old business partner, Marley.

   Friday's Herald-Dispatch included an excellent article about Scrooge the Musical, as written by my pal Dave Lavender.

   You'll have to pick up a print copy to read the whole story (it hasn't been posted online yet as I write these words), but here's an excerpt:
    Everyone has their holiday movie. 
   For Justin McElroy that movie is the magi­cal musical holiday gift that was the 1970 classic retelling of Scrooge starring Albert Finney. 
   While McElroy has already chalked up an annual viewing of his favorite holiday flick, he and his wife Syd­nee have put their own twist on the musi­cal inspired by that movie as First Stage Theater Company presents Scrooge The Musical that  runs this week­end and next at Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium at Huntington City Hall.

   Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 - Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 - 8, as well as at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9 for “Scrooge,” which First Stage has moved westward to the mythical Colora­do mountain town of London during 1881 in the midst of a silver mining boom.

   Tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and children ages 12 and under. Group rates of 10 or more get $2 off ticket price.