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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Stage This Weekend: "The Wind in the Willows"

   There's only one show hitting the stage this weekend, but according to my friends who have seen it, it's a lot of fun!

   I'm talking about The Wind in the Willows, which is being presented at the Alban Theatre at 65 Olde Main Street in St. Albans, W.Va.

   It offers a musical version of Kenneth Grahame's beloved classic featuring the adventures of Mr. Toad, Badger, Mole and Water Rat - plus 40 other actors! 

   Shows will be presented Aug. 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 1 at 2 p.m.

   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Shrek" Cast Interview #3

   For our third interview with the cast of Shrek the Musical, let's hear from a double threat!

   That's because she plays two characters in the play - and both are moms!

   Here's Melanie Manchester:

Q: Tell us the basic story of the musical comedy Shrek.

Melanie: Shrek goes on a quest to win his land back and ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for. And his life will never be the same. 

Q: Tell us about the characters you play.

Melanie: Mama Ogre - Shrek's loving mother. 
Mama Bear - A proud, no-nonsense woman who backs down to no one. 

Q: What's your favorite song in the show?

Melanie: I love "Freak Flag!" We all have a little freak in us and we should be proud to be who we are!

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Melanie: Like many, I started in church. Then I got involved with my schools drama team. My mom got me involved with Shawnee State University's Theatre Department at the age of 13, where I performed in several shows until I was 25. I continued my love of theatre all through my college career and eventually graduated from SSU with a degree in Theatre Business. In 2009 I joined the board of the Portsmouth Little Theatre and continue to work onstage as well as off with theaters in the tri-state area.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Melanie: I have always loved this fairy tale. When I saw the Broadway tour earlier this Spring I fell in love with it. I jumped at the opportunity to be part of such a great show! 
Q: This is a new show, never staged in this area - are you excited to be part of the first local cast to tackle it?

Melanie: I am so excited! This cast is amazing and I am so proud of everyone in it! 
Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Melanie: It's the "updated" fairy tale for all ages! It's funny, heartwarming, and educational for everyone! This show has no limitations on its audience! 
Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Melanie: We will be performing at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (1030 4th Avenue) on Sept. 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and a Sept. 7 matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. Also, the following weekend, Sept. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m and Sept. 14 at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., closing with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 15. 

   Thanks, Melanie!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Shrek" Cast Interview #2

   Time for another interview with the cast of Shrek the Musical!

   This time around, let's hear from the height-challenged (in the play) ruler who makes life difficult for Shrek.

   Here's my pal David Vickers:

Q: Tell us the basic story of the musical comedy Shrek.

David: Shrek is a tale that encompasses a collection of famous storybook creatures in a setting involving an ogre who finds companionship and true love. Of course, there's this villain that makes his journey more interesting along the way.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

David: I…am Lord Farquaad. Farquaad is a cheesy perfectionist with a Napoleon complex and daddy issues. Farquaad is on a quest to make his province a kingdom and will do anything (delegated of course) to make it so.

Q: What's your favorite song in the show?  

David: Obviously,  I love the songs I get to sing, especially "What's Up, Duloc," with the Duloc Dancers (kick line anyone?). My favorite is one that I just want to sing along to every time, "Traveling Song."  As a father of two, I believe any parent that has experienced a road trip of any kind will completely relate and will be singing along by the end! Ryan and Mark do a great job!

Q: What's your background in theatre?

David: My background is actually limited in theatre. My interest began in high school when I competed in forensics at Duval High School. Becky Wiley inspired me to work my talents, which took me to Marshall competing for the forensics team. I made some friends who were theatre majors, and in support, I checked out some plays and liked it. It wasn't until after I got married and started my professional career that I was asked by Jim and Trudy Fankhannel to audition for Annie in 2002. So I did. George Snider cast me in various roles then again in Gypsy (Helen Freedman, Tommy Smirl, et. al).  That started the "bug," but my availability as a professional, father and husband limited my opportunities. Since then I worked with ARTS in 1940's Radio Hour and 1776.  I also worked with Curtains Up Players when they were organized as Pullman Plaza Playhouse. I played Vice-Principal Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and then played Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors.  

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

David: Since I've seen the movie, I've always enjoyed the Farquaad character.  Of course, being of short stature brings the humor home a little bit but that's what's so fun about it! The DVD version had a CD ROM that allowed you to do your own voice over from your favorite scenes. I HAD to do the interrogation scene between Farquaad and Gingy! When I heard that CUP was doing the musical locally, I knew I had to go for Farquaad! I do want to thank Holly Maynard, Michael Rose and Shayne Gue for casting me in a "Bucket List" role! It's been a blast! 

Q: This is a new show, never staged in this area - are you excited to be part of the first local cast to tackle it?

David: Absolutely! We know that expectations are high. None are higher than our own for this show. We realize that future productions of Shrek: The Musical in the region will be compared to our production. We WANT their show to be awesome; therefore, we HAVE to be! I know my interpretation of Farquaad, in particular, will really be under the microscope as will any of the leads and the cast as a whole. My directors are great in allowing me to bring my own interpretation and sculpting it to be a memorable and enjoyable for the audience. I’d love for directors of future “Farquaads” to say, “do it just like David Vickers did it in 2013,” but I want them to do it even better! It’s my job to make that job harder for them and better for their audience. I think it’s great that new shows are being announced and produced in the Tri-State!  That’s not to say I do not enjoy the productions of favorites, however. The talent in this area enables the production companies to push the bar higher and higher.

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

David: If you like the movie, you’ll love the show.  If you love the movie, plan on seeing this production multiple times. I have enjoyed every rehearsal and the show doesn’t get old. There is such a balance of tenderness, cruelty, humor, outrageousness and sincerity spoken through familiar characters on their “great and noble quest!” The costumes are huge, the personalities are fun and the music is memorable. Oh, did I mention there was a dragon?

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

David: The shows will be performed at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center on 4th Avenue in Huntington. There will be four school shows on Sept. 12 and 13 at 9 a.m. and Noon. Evening performances will be held Sept. 5, 6, 12, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. MatinĂ©es will be held on Sept. 7, 14 and 15 at 2:30 p.m. You can pick your seat by ordering tickets online at curtainsupplayers.org. Walk up tickets will be available the day of show (cash, checks, and major credit cards are accepted)! If you know a cast member, you can get your tickets from them. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more.

   Thanks, David!

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Shrek" Cast Interview #1

   The next big show to take the stage in Huntington will be Skrek: The Musical, a Broadway show based on the beloved animated film. 

   Over the next few weeks we'll be presenting interviews with the cast! Let's start things off with the guy tackling the title role of a big, green and mean ogre. 

   Here's Ryan Jackson:

Q: Tell us the basic story of the musical comedy Shrek.

Ryan: The story essentially follows the plot of the first Shrek movie, but also includes some background as to how and why Shrek and Fiona end up the way that they do. It also expands upon the movie's central theme and message which is acceptance and tolerance. Additionally, it expands upon the lives of the fairytale creatures that find themselves on Shrek's swamp and pokes and prods into the bedtime fairytale stories our parents read to us every night. In the end, Shrek presents a very relatable and relevant message -- one of tolerance and acceptance of the differences of ourselves and others.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Ryan: I am portraying Shrek in Shrek: The Musical who has a huge chip on his shoulder and has been dealt a bad hand in the card game called life. He has lived his life in isolation and has constantly been tormented by those who fear and despise him. However, when he meets an annoying donkey and a feisty princess, he discovers that despite all of his previous interactions with the outside world, there is a chance that he could possibly find a place in the world.

Q: What's your favorite part (or song) in the show?

Ryan: My favorite part and song is "Freak Flag." Although Shrek is absent from this scene, this song perfectly displays the message that is the focal point of the show, which is acceptance and tolerance. We should embrace our differences and accept the differences of others.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Ryan: I wanted to be part of this show because it was one of my favorite movies as a kid and Shrek is a role that I can really relate to. Plus everyone should have a shot at being a hero.

Q: This is a new show, never staged in this area - are you excited to be part of the first local cast to tackle it?

Ryan: It is really exciting to be the first local theatre in the region to tackle this massive and extremely elaborate show. But with the production and directing staff that is involved, there is no other group of people that I would trust to put on a truly magnificent show.

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

Ryan: I would recommend this show because it is appropriate for all ages. Bring your kids, parents or grandparents. Shrek is chock full of humor that will please audience members of all ages. The score is full of upbeat and exciting music as well as songs that will tug at your heartstrings. It is just an all-around amazing show.

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

Ryan: Shrek: The Musical will be performed at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center on Sept. 5, 6, 12, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 7, 14 and 15 at 2:30 p.m. Go online to www.curtainsupplayers.org for all the info and to reserve your tickets today!

   Thanks, Ryan!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Final Performance for "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

    I try not to fill these posts with just information about shows that I'm involved with, but I have to take a moment to give one last "shout-out" for the play that wraps up tonight: The Man Who Came to Dinner.

   What a wonderful experience it has been to be part of a show with this dedicated and hard-working group of talented actors! I joined the play (taking on the small but fun role of Dr. Bradley) at the request of my dear friend, director Gene Anthony, and it's been a blast.

   I've made new friends and I've learned so much from this gifted group of actors and directors that ARTS has assembled.

   It's also been great to hang around "old" friends like: Mike Murdock, who's amazing in the title role (he's onstage virtually the entire show); Eric Wilson, who's a scream as an eccentric visitor; Greg Kiser, who's pitch-perfect in the vital role of the butler; Luke Hagley, who was a prince (literally) in the last show I directed; and Linda Reynolds, who I simply adore.

   It's also been wonderful to make new friends with cast members who I've admired on stage in other productions, and I have been delighted to work with them in the course of this show.

   The play itself is so much fun - a classic comedy set in the 1930s, loaded with funny moments, delightful characters and loads of trivia (and as a fan of trivia, I have to admit that this name-dropping show throws out references even I don't get).

   It's been a real honor to be able to work on this show, and I'm proud to recommend it to you. The set is terrific, the costumes are wonderful, and the cast is amazing. I confidently predict you'll have a great time!

   Your last chance to catch the show is tonight at 8 p.m. at the old Huntington High School at 900 8th Street - hope to see you there!

Friday, August 23, 2013

On Stage This Weekend: "Man Who Came to Dinner" and "Wind in the Willows"

   You have two terrific shows to choose from this weekend:
- The Man Who Came to Dinner - ARTS presents the comedy about a celebrity who is injured and forced to stay in a wealthy man’s home, where he turns the household upside down and wreaks havoc on their quiet existence. The show will be presented at the Renaissance Theatre (the old Huntington High School at 900 8th Street) on Friday and Saturday, Aug, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m.
- The Wind in the Willows - The Alban Theatre in St. Albans, W.Va., presents a musical version of Kenneth Grahame's beloved classic featuring Mr. Toad, Mole and Water Rat on Aug. 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and Sept. 1. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays are at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m.
   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"The Man Who Came to Dinner Interview #6

 As the final weekend performances of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner draws near, let's hear from the lovely and delightful Karen Kelly Pruitt, who plays the part of Mrs. Stanley, who tries mightily to keep the peace between their visitor (the famous and abrasive Sheridan Whiteside) and her husband, who finds himself on the verge of an explosion.

   Here's Karen:

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Karen: I play Mrs. Ernest Stanley (affectionately called Daisy by my husband). Mr. Sheridan Whiteside was visiting our beautiful home when he slipped on ice and injured his hip. He ends up staying in our home to recuperate. We have to be hospitable because of the unfortunate incident (and the threats of lawsuits)… right? Well, Daisy is THRILLED to have such a celebrity under her roof, even though she and her family are expected to put up with Mr. Whiteside’s demands, insults and eccentric friends and colleagues passing through. AND she must contend with her husband, Ernest, who is not thrilled by any means!

Q: What's your favorite part of the show?

Karen: It’s hard to pick out a favorite, single part….I’ll have to say anytime Mr. Whiteside (Mike Murdock) is on stage. That is pretty much all the time! It’s amazing to watch him with all of the cast! He is so talented and works to bring out the best from his fellow actors. Everyone ends up being their best!

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Karen: I did not get involved with theater until about 2003 or 2004. I don’t have any training in theater; I’ve learned by listening and watching other actors in plays as they develop their character. Fortunately, I have had amazing directors to give me wonderful opportunities and great advice and encouragement. I have truly been bitten by the acting “bug.” I am extremely proud to say I am a member of the ARTS Resident Acting Company!

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Karen: Three reasons….
A. Gene Anthony is the director – who would pass up this learning opportunity?
B. Mike Murdock is the lead – to be on stage with him is a check mark on my “Bucket List.” I’m not ashamed to say that I have a huge crush on Mike!
C. It’s a great comedy!! I LOVE comedy!!

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

Karen: It’s hysterical!!

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

Karen: One more weekend – Aug. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Theater at ARTS (the old Huntington High School).

   Thanks, Karen! And thanks to Stephen Vance for the photo!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"The Man Who Came to Dinner" - Interview #5

   For our fifth interview with the cast of The Man Who Came to Dinner, let's hear from the beautiful and talented Joanna Berner.

   She plays the part of a movie star who has no scruples, and joins "The Man" (as in the title character) in a plot to undo an unexpected romance.

   Here's Joanna:

Q: Tell us the basic story of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.
Joanna: The Man Who Came To Dinner is a classic comedy set in Mesalia, Ohio, in the 1930s at Christmastime.  Famous radio personality Sheridan Whiteside falls victim to a patch of ice outside the door of the Stanley family home and is forced to stay put through the holiday. Throughout the play, Mr. Stanley becomes increasingly unhappy with his houseguest, Whiteside’s secretary falls in love, and the audience meets a cast of eccentric characters.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Joanna: I play Lorraine Sheldon - glamorous actress and friend of Whiteside.

Q: What's your favorite part of the show?

Joanna: I can’t tell you my favorite moments in the show without spoiling the plot for you!

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Joanna: I've been involved in theatre most of my life. I started doing children's theatre with ACTC, the Backstage Players and in school. I graduated with a BFA from the University of Kentucky in 2005. I teach theatre arts workshops for the Paramount Arts Center (in addition to appearing in Paramount Players productions) and I've been involved with a number of local theatre groups since moving back to Ashland in 2008. I am currently part of the 2013 ARTS Resident Acting Company.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Joanna: Because I love classic comedies with big casts and witty dialogue! I wanted to work with all the talented people involved in the production - on and offstage.

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

Joanna: The Man Who Came To Dinner is incredibly well-written and full of witty dialogue. It’s also full of wonderful, eccentric characters (played by my talented castmates), wearing great costumes, and acting on a beautiful set. If none of that piques your interest, there’s also a sarcophagus.

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

Joanna: Come join us at ARTS! Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m., tickets are $10. If you are interested in dinner and show contact ARTS at 304-733-2787 - there are still a few spots left for Saturday’s dinner!

   Thanks, Joanna! And thanks to Stephen Vance for the photo!

Portsmouth Little Theatre Announces Its New Season

   More news! Portsmouth Little Theatre has announced its upcoming season - here's the press release:

   The Portsmouth Little Theatre is proud to announce its 2013-2014 Season. Now in our 65th year, we hope you will join us in celebrating this landmark season 

The 39 Steps
by: Patrick Barlow & John Buchan 
Rated PG

Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theatre! In The 39 Steps, a man with a boring life meets a woman with a thick accent who says she's a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called "The 39 Steps" is hot on the man's trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale!

Director: Jim Hays
Auditions: Aug. 26, 27 at 7 p.m.
Performances: Oct. 25, 26, Nov. 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m. 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
by: Barbara Robinson
Rated G

In this hilarious Christmas tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids-- probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won't believe the mayhem-- and the fun-- when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on!

Director: Melanie Manchester with Aundrea Perkins
Auditions: Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. and Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
Performances: Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.

South Pacific
Music by: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II, Book by: Oscar Hammerstein II & Joshua Logan
Rated PG

This epic musical romance centers on a group of American sailors and Navy nurses stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Arkansas native Nellie Forbush befriends and quickly falls for Emile de Becque, a French expatriate and plantation owner, and Lt. Joe Cable finds himself in a passionate affair with Liat, the young daughter of Bloody Mary, the local grass-skirt peddler. As the war against Japan escalates, reality sets in for both Forbush and Cable, who struggle to reconcile their unconventional love affairs with their long-held prejudices and insecurities.

Director: Jason Chaney
Musical Director: Linda Tieman
Auditions: Oct. 28, 29 at 7 p.m.
Performances: Feb. 14, 15, 21, 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 16 and 22 at 2 p.m.

by: Yasmina Reza, Translated by: Christopher Hampton
Rated R (Strong Language)

The funny, serious story of three friends and a canvas covered in white paint which becomes almost as much an object of obsession as Moby Dick. Is it Art? Serge thinks so; he paid gobs of money for it. Marc strongly disagrees. He thinks the painting is bogus and Serge has been taken. Serge claims that opinion tells more about Marc's ignorance than it does about the painting. Ivan is drawn into the fray. The arguments grow personal. The white canvas draws out old slights and failures. At last, Serge offers Marc the chance to prove his beliefs by scribbling on the canvas. Philosophy meets action: often known as putting ones money where ones mouth is.

Director: Michael Stapleton
Auditions: April 7, 8 at 7 p.m.
Performances: June 6, 7, 13, 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interview #4 with the Cast of "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

   Gearing up for the final weekend of The Man Who Came to Dinner, let hear from another cast member - this time around, the star (and title character) of the comedy, who's on stage for virtually the entire show. It's an impressive performance, and one that requires a top-caliber actor.

   They have that (and more) in Mike Murdock, a veteran actor and director who's been one of the key movers and shakers behind the reinvention of ARTS. 

   Let's hear from him:

Q: Tell us the basic story of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Mike: Kaufman and Hart, who wrote You Can’t Take It With You, also wrote The Man Who Came To Dinner. It’s a classic comedy set at Christmastime in Mesalia, Ohio, in the '30s. Sheridan Whiteside, a famous radio personality, slips on ice and hurts his hip, forcing him to stay with the family he was visiting. As his famous friends pay him visits and his secretary falls in love with a local newspaper man, hilarity ensues.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Mike: I play Sheridan Whiteside, the titular “Man” who has come to “Dinner.” He’s a guy who doesn’t like change. He loves his friends and loves his life to such an extreme that he can’t function if anything throws it off – so, of course, everything in the show throws his life out of kilter and he either has to come to grips with it or rally against it. He does a bit of both.

Q: What's your favorite part of the show?

Mike: There are a lot of them, actually, but they all revolve around other people. So many people are doing such good work in this show – Joanna Berner, Amy Carlson, Eric Wilson, Clay McKnight and Simon Woods, just to name a few. I eagerly await all of their scenes every night. The characters in the show tend to show up in a whirlwind, steal the scene and then blow right back out the door again. It’s a fascinating concept from a writing standpoint. This cast – the entire ensemble – is really doing some great stuff here. I’m proud to even just be on stage with them.

Q: What's your background in theatre?

Mike: I went to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and studied theatre and journalism for four years, then came back and graduated from Marshall. After that, I moved to Los Angeles for three years and ran my own theatre for a while in Hollywood. I’ve worked in a lot of places in Europe and North America, but now I’m one of the Resident Directors at ARTS. I got ARTS on the Shakespeare train this time last year with Macbeth, and I just directed Caesar a few months ago. Next, however, in November, I’ll be directing the Neil Simon comedy Laughter on the 23rd Floor. I’m really looking forward to that.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Mike: Sheridan Whiteside is one of the greatest roles in American comedic theatre. When Gene Anthony, the director, asked me to do it, I was both flattered and terrified. Whiteside is on stage for nearly the entire show. He has some 90 pages of dialogue. It’s crazy. But I enjoy working with Mr. Anthony, and he had directed in me in a lot of things at Marshall, including You Can’t Take It With You, the other big Kaufman and Hart comedy, so it was a natural fit, I think. I certainly love having the opportunity to play this role and I consider myself lucky to be able to put it on my resume. I just hope I do it some slight justice. It’s certainly been a blast.

Not only that, but I’ve wanted to act with several of the other folks in this show for a long time (and granted, some of us have been in the same show, like How To Succeed…, but we didn’t really share scenes. In this one, we really get to tackle some meaty comedy. It’s a pleasure to finally have dialogue with Amy Carlson, Simon and Joanna. They, along with the rest of the cast (even that guy with the beard that plays the doctor – what’s his name? “Minsker” or something?), do a fantastic job in the show. I couldn’t ask for better scene partners. I’m a really lucky guy. I never have any fear when I’m onstage with them. I hope they feel the same. I love it.

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

Mike: The set is beautiful. The costumes are beautiful. The actors are beautiful. The play is a classic. It’s ridiculous and funny. It’s a great night out at the theatre!

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

Mike: Only two chances remain to see the show! This Friday, Aug. 23, and this Saturday, Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. Tickets are 10 bucks! It’s cheaper than a 3D movie and ANYTHING can happen! It’s live theatre! Also, on Saturday, if you are interested in dinner before the show, contact ARTS at 304-733-2787. Dinner and show tickets are only $25, but there are only a few tables left and it will definitely sell out, so call today! Won’t you join us?

   Thanks, Mike! And thanks to Stephen Vance for the photo!

5th Avenue Theatre Classes

   More news! This is from my pal Eddie Harbert:

   Time for theatre class! Coni Anthony and I will be teaching two classes for the 5th Avenue Theatre Company Youth Academy. 

   Theatre 101 is for elementary-aged children ages 6 to 11 and will be held on Tuesday afternoons from 4 to 5:15 p.m. 

   Musical theatre class for teens will be held on Thursday afternoons from 4 to 5:15 p.m. 

   Both classes will be held at City Hall Auditorium and will run for 10 weeks with Showcase 2013 being performed on Nov. 10 in City Hall Auditorium. 

   Cost for the class is $20 per week or $200 for the entire class. 

   For more information, please call 304-544-2831 or leave a private message. Classes are limited to 20 participants so sign up now!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Auditions for "Kiss Me Kate" on Tuesday

   More news, as ACTC announces its new season:

   ACTC Theatre will open the 2013- 2014 Theatre Season with Kiss Me Kate, one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals and arguably Cole Potter’s biggest hit. Auditions are Tuesday, August 20 at 7 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre on the College Drive Campus of Ashland Community and Technical College. Performance dates for the musical are Oct. 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 20 and 27 at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre.

   Combine Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with Porter's music and lyrics to get 
Kiss Me Kate, an instant success with every cast and audience. This is a play-within-a-play where each cast member's on-stage life is complicated by what is happening offstage. Musical numbers include "Why Can't You Behave," "So In Love Am I," "Wunderbar," "Tom, Dick or Harry," "Were Thine That Special Face," "Too Darn Hot,""Brush Up Your Shakespeare," "I Hate Men," "Always True to You (In My Fashion)" and "Another Op'nin, Another Show." Kiss Me Kate is fun, melodious and sophisticated. The last Broadway revival in 1999 received four Tony Awards for Best Actor, Best Costumes, Best Director and Best Orchestrations. 

   Kiss Me Kate played for 1,077 performances on Broadway at the New Century Theatre and for 501 performances in London at the Coliseum Theatre. The original cast included Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang. The original cast album issued in 1948 by Columbia Records had the distinction of being the very first Broadway cast recording to be issued on LP. Kiss Me Kate was revived in 1999 at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway, where it played for 881 performances starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Marin Mazzie, and at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, where it played for about 300 performances starring Brent Barrett and Marin Mazzie. 

   The cast for the ACTC Theatre production will include roles for approximately 30 to 35 performers with equal parts for men and women. There is no advance preparation required to audition and all auditioning are expected to sing. Selections of music from the musical will be taught before auditions. Those auditioning should be prepared to learn a short section of dance as part of the audition process. All performers are expected to sing, dance and read as part of the audition. There are no non-singing roles in the show but all singers do not have to be of excellent voice. High school, college age and adults are encouraged to audition. Preferences in casting are given to ACTC Students with productions generally having equal numbers between college students and community members. Cast member should be able to attend 7 p.m. rehearsals and Saturday work sessions.

   Edward Figgins, ACTC Director of Theatre and Associate Professor of Theatre/Communications will be the Director. Karen Curnutte, ACTC Musical Theatre Director will handle the vocal duties and Eric Akers, ACTC Musical Theatre Conductor will be in charge of the orchestra. Max Jackson, ACTC Professor Emeritus of Music will be the rehearsal/performance accompanist. Paula Krepsik, ACTC Costumer will be the Costume Designer. Yvonne DeKay Sinnott, owner/instructor of Yvonne DeKay’s School of Dance, will be the Choreographer. Mr. Figgins will also be the Scenic/Lighting. Roger Hagley, ACTC Information Technology Staff is the Sound Designer.

   If further information is required please call the ACTC Theatre Office at 606-326-2073.

The Cast for "Shenandoah"

   Lots of theatre news to catch up on, starting with the announcement of the cast list for the ARTS production Shenandoah:

Charlie Anderson - Bil Neal
Jacob Anderson - Jesse Riggs
James Anderson - Eric Wilson
Nathan Anderson - Brian Cook
John Anderson - Clay McKnight
Henry Anderson - Andrew Surber
Jenny Anderson - Emma Imes
Robert (The Boy) Anderson - Armaan Karimpour
Anne - Leann Haines
Gabriel - William Meadows
Rev Byrd - Marc Albert
Sam - Eric Newfeld
Sergeant - Jonathan Maynard
Tinkham - Nic Skaggs
Carol - Len Trent
Carol's Posse
     -Todd Green
     -Jake Sharp
     -Jonathan Armstrong
     -Bill Stambaugh
Corporal - Michael Naglee
Marauder - Simon Woods
Marauder's Gang
     -Sheila Meade
     -Jake Sharp
Engineer - Todd Green
Sniper - Tristan Reynolds
Soldier - Greg Picklesimer
Female Ensemble
     -Fiona Reynolds
     -Karen Pruitt
     -Laura Armstrong
     -Lexie Thompson
     -Linda Reynolds
     -Maggie Rawn
     -Robyn Welch
     -Sarah Diamond Burroway
     -Sheila Meade
     -Stevie Brigode
     -Trinity Tiffany

Director - Stephen Vance
Choreographer - Coni Anthony
Musical Director - Dan Imes
Vocal Director - Lara Donahoe
Assistant Director - Amy Carlson
Fight Choreographer - Michael Naglee
Dance Captain - Tiffany McGuire

Saturday, August 17, 2013

On Stage Tonight: "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

   Tonight's the final performance for this weekend for the classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner - it starts at 8 p.m. at the Renaissance Theatre at 900 8th Street (in the old Huntington High School). (If you can't make it, the good news is: there are two more shows next week.)

   The first performance was last night, and judging by the enthusiastic audience, it went well. When laughter rings out and characters get applause as they exit the stage, you know it's something special.

   I admit my prejudice - I play a small part in the show. But (present company excepted) the cast is loaded with amazing talent, led by Mike Murdock in the lead role (he is "The Man"). It's an incredibly challenging part, and he handles it with amazing skill and sheer force of personality. He's surrounded by an All-Star cast, and they've assembled a very funny (and very intelligent) show.

   Hope you can catch it!



Friday, August 16, 2013

"Man Who Came to Dinner" Cast Interview #3

   For our third interview with the cast of The Man Who Came to Dinner, let's hear from the lovely and talented Amy Carlson.

   In the show she tackles the role of (virtually) the only character who's smart and tough enough to go toe-to-toe with the intimidating title character, Sheridan Whiteside, and his high-powered Hollywood friends!

   Here's Amy:
Q: Tell us the basic story of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Amy: The play is set in 1939 and it's about a famous radio personality named Sheridan Whiteside who is confined to a wheelchair for about a month after a accident at the home of the Stanleys leaves him with an injured hip. He must endure the comings and goings of townspeople and some of his famous Hollywood friends all while conspiring to keep his secretary, Maggie, in his employ and out of the reaches of a local newspaper man.

Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Amy: I play Maggie Cutler, Mr. Whiteside's secretary. She has worked for Mr. Whiteside for ten years and they have become best friends over this time. Whiteside depends on her and she enjoys being his "right arm." This story is a love story of sorts between a boss and his secretary. It's not a romantic love, but a friendship between Whiteside and Maggie.

Q: What's your favorite part of the show?

Amy: I have to say it's really difficult to choose a favorite. I love watching the show from the wings. We have such a talented group of actors that it makes me smile just watching them work. I am a sucker for an ensemble piece and this one certainly fits that description.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Amy: The show is clever and witty and at its core, sweet. I love the relationships between the characters and the comedy that comes from those relationships. We are trying to serve the script in an honest and funny way. It's also a period piece and that makes the show a lot of fun as an actress. I love the '30s and '40s styles that are played out so beautifully on the stage.

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

Amy: This show is one that is not done very often so here is your chance to see it! (In fact, I don't remember it being presented locally in recent memory. If it has I apologize.) You can come and laugh and smile your way through live theatre. There isn't much better than that!

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

Amy: The Man Who Came to Dinner will be presented at 8 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 17 and again Aug. 23 and 24 on the Renaissance Theater Stage at ARTS (the former Huntington High school).
Thanks for supporting local theatre!

   Thanks, Amy! And thanks to Stephen Vance for the photo!

On Stage Tonight: "The Man Who Came to Dinner"

   My pal Dave Lavender provides some info about this weekend's production of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner (along with some other theatre news) - you can read the whole thing right here.

   You can also see a photo gallery of scenes from a rehearsal earlier in the week here (though not everyone had their final costume at that rehearsal). The photos (like the one above) are by Bishop Nash.

   Here's what Dave had to say:

  ARTS Resources for the Tri-State, 900 8th St., Huntington, kicks off the second season of its company theater offerings with the classic American comedy by two of the 20th Century's greatest playwrights, George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

   Directed by professional actor and director Gene Anthony, The Man Who Came to Dinner will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17 and Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24 at the Renaissance Center.

   Set in 1930s Ohio during Christmas, The Man Who Came to Dinner centers around radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (played by Michael Murdock) and his recovery after an accident strands him at the home of a rich factory owner and his family. Zingers fly freely as his famous friends come to pay him visits.

   The cast, of course, includes lots of ARTS regulars such as Todd Green, Linda Reynolds, Greg Kiser, Tristan Reynolds and Eric Wilson, as well as some new faces, including Jake Sharp of the Cabell Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

   Sharp, who portrayed Johnse Hatfield in the re-enactments in the History channel documentary America's Greatest Feud: Hatfields and McCoys, plays a convict, a deputy and a radio man. Other radio men and convicts in the play include Luke Hagley and John Armstrong.

   The show only is $10 and dinner and a show is $25. Call 304-733 ARTS (2787) or go online at www.artstristate.org.

   Look for a story in Monday's The Herald-Dispatch Life section about next year's ARTS season.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"The Man Who Came to Dinner" - Interview #2

For our second interview with the cast of The Man Who Came to Dinner (which starts this weekend), let's hear from Jonathan Maynard, a terrific actor and a heck of a nice guy:
Q: Tell us the basic story of the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner.

Jonathan: Sheridan Whiteside, wit, radio personality, and celebrated know-it-all, while on a conscripted visit to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley suffers an unfortunate accident rending him unable to leave the home for several months. His charm and grace are on full display as he encounters the locals of the small town of Masalia, Ohio, and several of his famous friends. More importantly, however, he must endure the budding relationship between his beloved secretary Maggie, without whom he cannot function, and the editor of local newspaper. 
Q: Tell us about the character you play.

Jonathan: I play Bert Jefferson, editor of the Masalia Journal, who is one of the few people in town who is capable of matching wits with Sheridan but at the same time is completely out of his league.

Q: What's your favorite part of the show?

Jonathan: The ensemble. This is a show about personalities and there are tons of them. And more than that, each person brings such a wonderful energy and life to the characters. While Whiteside is the main character, the show is really about those around him. It has been fun to witness that circus.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this show?

Jonathan: It is a classic American comedy from a classic American team of writers. It is the essence of what theater is. It is witty and sharp but at the same time touching. Anytime I can work with the ARTS team to create a show that is visually striking, well directed, and acted with such joy, I will jump at the chance.
Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Jonathan: There are so few chances to see non-musical comedies in this area. And ARTS will be presenting one of the greats. There is nowhere that $10 will get you 2 ½ hours of entertainment presented by people who so deeply love what they are doing and love making the audience smile. 

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

Jonathan: The Man Who Came to Dinner will be presented at 8 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 17 and again Aug. 23 and 24 on the Renaissance Theater Stage at ARTS (the former Huntington High school). Won’t you join us?

Thanks, Jonathan! And thanks to Stephen Vance for the photo!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Stage to Present "Godspell"

    First Stage announced its fourth show for the upcoming season this week - Godspell! 

   Here's the official announcement:

   The modern version of the Broadway hit musical Godspell, which is based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, will be presented by First Stage Theatre Company on Feb. 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23, 2014, at the Renaissance Theatre Ballroom at 900 8th Street in Huntington.

   The show will be directed by Marshall University Theatre Professor / Theatre Program Director Jack Cirillo. The Music Director is Lara Donahue, the Choreographer is Mary Smirl, and the producers are Clint McElroy and Chuck Minsker.

   Auditions will be open to area high school students and will be held Dec. 7, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. 

   Conceived and originally directed by John Michael Tebelak, with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is one of the biggest off-Broadway and Broadway successes of all time. This is the revised 2012 version, incorporating some of the changes and updated references used in the 2011-2012 Broadway Production.

   Godspell boasts a string of well-loved songs, led by the international hit, "Day By Day." As the cast performs "Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord," "Learn Your Lessons Well," "All For The Best," "All Good Gifts," "Turn Back, O Man" and "By My Side," the parables of Jesus Christ come humanly and hearteningly to life.

   Drawing from various theatrical traditions, such as clowning, pantomime, charades, acrobatics and vaudeville, Godspell is a groundbreaking and unique reflection on the life of Jesus, with a message of kindness, tolerance and love.

   Godspell is part of the 24th season for Huntington's long-running children's theatre. Shows coming up this season include the musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in fall 2013, and Dear Edwina in spring 2014.

   The mission of First Stage Theatre Company is to provide opportunities for children to develop social and communication skills by participating in the performing arts and to promote fine arts education through the presentation of theatrical productions to children and families in our community.