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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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Broadway on TV

   There are a couple of shows coming up in the weeks ahead that you'll want to keep an eye out for:

- Kristin Chenoweth: Coming Home runs this weekend on Public Television - a wonderful concert from her hometown, it's loaded with amazing songs by one of Broadway's biggest talents.

- Peter Pan - NBC presents a live version of the beloved musical - it will air Thursday, Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. It'll be interesting to watch just to see the changes they've made - and Christopher Walken as Capt. Hook should be a lot of fun. 

Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years - ABC will showcase Disney's Broadway productions in this special. Hosted by Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the one hour special will feature Disney’s eight Broadway musicals: Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, AIDA, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, Mary Poppins, Newsies and Aladdin. The show will include musical performances from Elton John, Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen, Ashley Brown and Adam Jacobs. It airs Sunday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.

Friday, November 28, 2014

On Stage This Weekend: "Mary"


   Hope you're having a Happy Thanksgiving weekend, gentle readers!

   There's only one show taking the stage this weekend, but it's a great one:

   Mary - CYAC presents its 18th annual production of the original rock musical about the life of the mother of Jesus. The show will be presented Nov. 28, 29, Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street.

   Don't miss it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Magic Makers to Close

   Surprising news today as the long-time Huntington business known as Magic Makers announced it would soon be going out of business.

   The company (which is to say, Ken Epperly and Ken Fox) has provided costumes, props and other theatre services across the country for decades now, and has been especially generous with its expertise with area theatre groups.

   Their company has always been impressive, with a huge shop with acres of costumes from all time periods.

   It's almost impossible to put on a local show without renting some costumes or buying some props from the store - and they've always worked overtime to provide those hard-to-find items.

   For example, when First Stage produced Les Miserables: School Edition, there was a particular costume jacket that Magic Makers, surprisingly, didn't have in stock - so they made one for the show.

   Certainly everyone is entitled to retire after a long and distinguished career of service - but we're sad to see them go!

   You can read more about it in this story in today's Herald-Dispatch - here's an excerpt:

 The shop that has sold everything from standard green witch makeup to realistic Abraham Lincoln costumes year-round is ready to close its doors after more than 35 years. 
Magic Makers, 545 4th Ave., is in the process of obtaining a license to have its going-out-of-business sale. Ken Epperly, who owns the business with partner Ken Fox, said they expect to start the sale next week. They are closed all this week to prepare.
Epperly said declining sales, the multitude of seasonal Halloween shops and the Internet have all attributed to Magic Makers' slow descent.

Actors for Children Theatre Wins Three Awards at Theatre Festival


   Actors for Children Theatre of Flatwoods will represent Kentucky at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in March 2015, after winning top honors at the Community Theatre Festival of the Kentucky Theatre Association this past weekend.
   ACT received three awards in adjudicated performance at KTA, including Outstanding Production for Monsters Under the Bed written by Gay H. Hammond; Outstanding Ensemble and Best Costume and Make-Up Design.  
   The festival, held November 21-22, 2014 on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, included performances by ACT and community theatres from Ft. Thomas, Middlesboro, Bardstown, Murray and Richmond.
   “ACT is pleased to represent the state of Kentucky for the second year in a row at the SETC Community Theatre Festival,” said Sarah Diamond Burroway, director and co-founder of ACT.  
   At SETC, ACT will perform in adjudicated competition with community theatre troupes from ten state including Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“Monsters Under the Bed provides a great story for children,” Burroway said.  “It’s fun and quirky and shares an imaginative anthology of scenes, stories and poems with the underlying message for children that sometimes the things we fear really aren’t what they seem to be,” she concluded.
Cast members include:  ACT co-founder Bill Burroway, Emma Grace Imes and Miranda Hutchinson, all of Flatwoods; Ethan Darby and Kristina Richins, both of Ashland; and Matthew Johnson of Wheelersburg, Ohio.
ACT is a troupe of adult actors who perform theatre for youth in settings like schools, arts centers, libraries and other venues.  For more information about booking a performances by Actors for Children Theatre, contact director Sarah Diamond Burroway at 606-922-2903.  Or, look for Actors for Children Theatre on Facebook.
Photo by Brad Bear

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Catching Up...


   Whew! It's been a hectic couple of weeks for your ol' pal Chuck.
 
   - My oldest son married his beautiful fiancĂ©e last week in a lovely wedding ceremony. His brother got hitched to his beautiful fiancĂ©e in the spring, so it's been a wonderful (and busy) year for the Minsker family!
 
   - Then last weekend I caught the final performance of Little Women the Musical, and I'm so glad I did! It was a wonderful show, with amazing performances by the talented cast, several lovely and very moving songs, lots of heart and a terrific set. 
 
   - I also want to send out congratulations to our pals at ACT (Actors for Children's Theatre) - they took part in the Kentucky Theatre Association's 2014 Community Theatre Festival in Richmond, Ky., and took home several major awards for their production Monsters Under the Bed, including "Best Costumes & Makeup," "Best Ensemble" and "Outstanding Production"! They will represent Kentucky at the Southeastern Theatre Conference' s Community Theatre Festival in Chattanooga, Tenn. - congratulations! 
 
   - It's shaping up to be a busy December for community theatre groups, with lots of terrific shows on tap - we'll have a complete listing soon.
 
   So we all have a lot to be thankful for! Have a great holiday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Final Weekend for "Little Women: the Musical"



   First Stage Theatre Company puts a new musical twist on the 2005 Broadway show  Little Women: The Musical, based on the classic Louisa May Alcott novel set in the Civil War. The musical production rolls into its last weekend with shows at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22  and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23.

   Based on Alcott’s classic  semi-autobiographical novel, it focuses on the four March sisters — brassy, tomboy-like, aspiring writer Jo (Meg Barber), romantic Meg (Sarah Bryan), pretentious Amy (Rileigh Smirl), and kind-hearted Beth (Erica Clonch) — and their beloved Marmee (Tamara Meadows).

   The ladies are “home alone” in Concord, Mass., trying to keep things together while the family patriarch is away serving as a Union Army chaplain during the Civil War. Like a year in the life, “Little Women” is intercut with the vignettes in which their lives unfold are several recreations of the melodramatic short stories Jo writes in her attic studio.

   Director Mary Smirl said the musical is packed with emotions as the family deals the day-to-day drama and monumental events as their lives turn in the wake of war.

    “We have two weddings, the birth of twins, a death and so there is every emotion,” Smirl said. “It is a joyful, beautiful and hopeful story. It takes place within a year, four seasons and it moves quickly. There is not a lot of serious, heavy-duty dialogue.”

   Smirl said they picked the coming-of-age musical because of its strong literary and historical relevance.

   “When the production committee meets we try to pick things that one the kids will enjoy being a part of and two a show that we can do for the schools,” Smirl said. “This is a classic novel and it is historical as well.”

   The shows take place at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $12 and $10 students/seniors. Call 304-416-KIDS for more info.

On Stage This Weekend

    On stage this weekend - several terrific shows:

- Little Women: the Musical - First Stage Theatre Company presents the classic story Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall JCS Auditorium at 800 5th Avenue.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. It’s based on the novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, which follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. 

- The Three Sisters - Marshall’s Theatre Alliance presents the classic play by Anton Chekhov on Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. In Chekhov’s wistful tale of love and war, Olga, Masha and Irina, army daughters, posted in a backwater, long to get to Moscow where, they imagine, their lives will be transformed and fulfilled. They fall in love, try to engage with the local people, and remember happier times. “The Three Sisters” is truly one of the great treasures of 19th century theatre.

- Cinderella - Huntington High School presents the classic fairy tale about the girl who falls in love with a Prince - thanks to some help from her fairy Godmother. The show will be staged Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 3 p.m.

- A Doll's House - This is the inaugural performance of the St. Joseph Catholic High School Drama Society, presenting Henrik Ibsen’s immortal drama, Admission is free (donations are accepted), but seating is limited. Performances are Nov. 21 and 22 at 8 p.m, at St. Joseph Catholic High School at 600 13th Street in Huntington. The production is entirely conceived, directed, acted, and crewed by students of St. Joseph.

- KTA 2014 Community Theatre Festival - the Play Festival features these contributors:
Fri., Nov. 21 from 1 p.m. - 8:45 p.m.
Middlesboro Little Theatre - "The Miracle Worker"
The Village Players of Ft. Thomas - "On Weapons and Wounds"
Rose Barn Theatre - "One Day in Cleveland
Sat., Nov. 22 from 11:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Bardstown Community Theatre - "She's Gone"
Actors for Children Theatre - "Monsters Under The Bed"
Playhouse in the Park - "Hard Candy"
Brock Auditorium
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, Ky
Day Pass Admission: $5 at the door
www.theatreky.org

- The Children's Hour - Morehead State University Theatre present the play Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at the LCL Theatre in Brekinridge Hall in Morehead, Ky. Tickets are $10, $5 for seniors and non-MSU students, Free with ID to MSU students.

- An Enemy of the PeopleWest Virginia State University Dept. of Theatre present the play on Nov. 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. at the Skeen Theatre, Cole Complex at WV State University in  Institute. Admission by donation.

    So get out there and support your community theatre!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

On Stage This Weekend: "Cinderella"

   The timeless classic Cinderella tells the story of a neglected young girl, Cinderella, who is trying to find love.
   Cinderella will be produced by Huntington High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 21 and 22 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 23.
   Cinderella is portrayed by senior, Leslie Collins. She is a captain of the Speech and Debate team and is a Thespian Officer. Her theatre resume is filled with many Huntington High shows as well as multiple community shows. The prince is played by Franklin Norton, HHS's student body president and member of the Morning Show team. The show also features veteran senior actresses Cassi Hall and Lilly Dyer as the infamous stepsisters and Emily Underwood as the magical Fairy Godmother.
   According to Collins, "This is a family-friendly show that is entertaining for all ages. It has been a while since a theatre in the Huntington area has done a show like it. After all, everyone loves a good happily ever after."
   General admission is $5.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Local Stars Flying High


    We love to brag on our local stars - and here's the latest on a daredevil duo!

    Mary Ellen Wolfe, who grew up on local stages playing everything from Annie to Dorothy, now stars with her husband Tyce Nielsen as Duo Transcend.

   They're now appearing as part of CabaRAE in Hawaii, where they perform acrobatics with "nerves of steel" - it's a swift, award-winning trapeze act. Together, they bring strength, grace, sensuality and passion to the CabaRAE stage. 

   You can learn more about the show at this website

   Congratulations, Mary Ellen and Tyce!

Friday, November 14, 2014

On Stage This Weekend

   Lots of great shows to choose from, including a musical and a non-musical about sisters, and two productions of A Doll's House (one in Huntington, one in Charleston). 

   Here's the rundown, courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman:

- Little Women the Musical
First Stage Theatre Company
Fri. - Sat., Nov. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees Sunday, Nov. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
JCS Auditorium
Huntington City Hall
800 5th Avenue, Huntington
Adults $12 / $10 Students & Seniors
304-416-KIDS


- The Three Sisters (Play)
By Anton Chekov
Marshall Theatre Alliance
Fri. and Sat., Nov. 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.
and Thurs. - Sat., Nov. 20 - 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Joan C. Edwards Playhouse
One John Marshall Drive
Marshall University
Tickets $20 at the door, $15 for Marshall faculty and senior citizens, and free for Marshall students with valid MU student ID
304-696-2787

- A Doll's House (Play)
by Henrik Ibsen
St. Joseph Catholic High School Drama Society
Fri. - Sat., Nov. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m.
St. Joseph Catholic High School
600 13th Street, Huntington
FREE - Limited seating
Donations accepted

- A Doll's House (Play)
by Henrik Ibsen
George Washington High School's Theatre of the Nevertheless
Fri. and Sat., Nov. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m.
Matinee Sun., Nov. 16 at 1 p.m.
George Washington High School
1522 Tennis Club Rd, Charleston
$12 Adults / $10 Students

- This Was Your Life! (Interactive Murder Dinner Party)
Murder and Merriment
Fri. and Sat., Nov. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m.
The Greenhouse of Teays Valley, Hurricane, W.Va.
Tickets $45
Reservations Required: 304-397-6316

    So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Stage This Weekend - "Little Women: the Musical"



   On stage this weekend, First Stage Theatre Company (Huntington's long-running children's theatre) presents Little Women: the Musical. 

   It’s based on the beloved novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, which follows the lives of four sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March - and details their passage from childhood to womanhood. It's a great story and loaded with terrific songs (and be sure to bring a hanky - there are some tear-jerking moments, too). 

    It takes the stage Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, Nov. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall JCS Auditorium at 800 5th Avenue.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. For more info, call 304-416-KIDS.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Into the Woods" - the Movie

   Theatre fans are keeping an eye on the upcoming movie based on the musical Into the Woods.

   Some fear the film will take too many liberties with the original version - but certainly the talent involved, including Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp, is very encouraging.

   The first full trailer was released this week, and so far, I think it looks very good. So far.

   Judge for yourself:

Friday, November 07, 2014

On Stage This Weekend

   Just three shows to choose from this weekend - but they're good ones! Here's the list:

- Fiddler on the Roof The Charleston Light Opera Guild and The Clay Center present the beloved musical Nov. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences at One Clay Square in Charleston. Tickets are $25, all seats reserved. Call the Clay Center Box Office at 304-561-3570. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences threaten their lives and traditions. 


- Spring Awakening - The Shepherd University Scene Stealers present the hit Broadway production on Nov 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and Nov 8 and 9 at 3 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Train Station at 100 Audrey Egle Drive in  Shepherdstown. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for student and $7 for Shepherd students. The show is a rock musical that is based on the German play “Spring Awakening” (1891). Set in late 19th century Germany, it tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. 

- Murder Mysteries - Murder and Merriment present Interactive Murder Dinner Parties: "The Murdered Mistress" on Nov. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. at the South Charleston Holiday Inn at 400 Second Avenue. Tickets are $40, and reservations are required - call 304-744-5301.

   So get out there ands support your comity theatre!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Future of the Kanawha Players


  It's been no secret that the Charleston theatre group, the Kanawha Players, has been facing some real challenges in recent years. 

   To address those concerns and seek input from the public, the group is holding a special public meeting on Nov. 20. Here's the announcement the group sent out today: 

   Kanawha Players is announcing an emergency Special Meeting. Due to members and officers resigning, this meeting is for general information on the status of Kanawha Players, and welcomes everyone who is interested in saving this 94 year old organization. 

   Without community involvement and volunteers, West Virginia’s Official State Theater and the second oldest community theater is in danger of closing the theater doors forever.

    Please attend this meeting and discuss the events to help save this dying theater for future generations.

Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 p.m. 
Kanawha Players Theatre 
309 Beauregard St., Charleston, W.Va.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Wealth of Shakespeare

   Exciting news for fans of William Shakespeare!

   According to "The Stage," The Globe Theatre has tapped into modern technology to launch an online video-on-demand service that will allow viewers to see 50 of the theatre's performances, including Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Henry IV.

   The cost runs from about 4 pounds to 8 pounds (which is about $6.40 to $13, American).

   The service will also include free-to-view interviews with actors such as Ian McKellen and Judi Dench.

   You can read more about it at this link.


Monday, November 03, 2014

On Stage in November

   Lots of great shows on the way for November! Here are the shows to watch for this month:

- Little Women: the Musical - First Stage Theatre Company presents the classic story Nov. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 and 23 at 2 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall JCS Auditorium at 800 5th Avenue.  Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. It’s based on the novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, which follows the lives of four sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March—detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood. 

- The Three Sisters - Marshall’s Theatre Alliance presents the classic play by Anton Chekhov on Nov. 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Francis-Booth Experimental Theatre in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. In Chekhov’s wistful tale of love and war, Olga, Masha and Irina, army daughters, posted in a backwater, long to get to Moscow where, they imagine, their lives will be transformed and fulfilled. They fall in love, try to engage with the local people, and remember happier times. “The Three Sisters” is truly one of the great treasures of 19th century theatre.

- Elf The Musical - The Marshall Artist’s Series presents the touring show based on the beloved holiday film. It’ll be presented Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. It tells the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner ELF.

- A Doll's House - This is the inaugural performance of the St. Joseph Catholic High School Drama Society, presenting Henrik Ibsen’s immortal drama, Admission is free (donations are accepted), but seating is limited. Performances are Nov. 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m, at St. Joseph Catholic High School at 600 13th Street in Huntington. The production is entirely conceived, directed, acted, and crewed by students of St. Joseph.

- Fiddler on the Roof - The Charleston Light Opera Guild and The Clay Center present the beloved musical Nov. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences at One Clay Square in Charleston. Tickets are $25, all seats reserved. Call the Clay Center Box Office at 304-561-3570. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences threaten their lives and traditions. 


- Mary - CYAC presents its 18th annual production of the original rock musical about the life of the mother of Jesus. The show will be presented Nov. 28, 29, Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street.

- Spring Awakening - The Shepherd University Scene Stealers present the hit Broadway production on Nov 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and Nov 8 and 9 at 3 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Train Station at 100 Audrey Egle Drive in  Shepherdstown. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for student and $7 for Shepherd students. The show is a rock musical that is based on the German play “Spring Awakening” (1891). Set in late 19th century Germany, it tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. 

- Murder Mysteries - Murder and Merriment present Interactive Murder Dinner Parties: "The Murdered Mistress" on Nov. 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. at the South Charleston Holiday Inn at 400 Second Avenue. Tickets are $40, and reservations are required - call 304.744.5301; and "This Was Your Life!" on  Nov. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. at The Greenhouse of Teays Valley in Hurricane. Tickets are $45, reservations are required - call 304-397-6316.

   So get out there and support your local theatre!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

"Crazy for You" - A Review


   You only have one more chance to catch this wonderful show!

   My lovely wife and I caught Saturday night's performance and loved it! Crazy for You is a dance-filled, classic musical that's loaded with wonderful Gershwin songs, terrific performances and lots of laughs.

   It centers around a young man, Bobby Child (played brilliantly by the multi-talented Mike Naglee) who travels to a small town in Nevada where he falls in love with the beautiful woman (Jocelyn Clark-Knapp) who is also the owner of a theatre about to be taken away by the bank Bobby works for. Her father, played by a wistful Todd Green, also dreams of bringing life back to the theatre.

   To save the theatre, Bobby will impersonate a theatre owner, Bela Zangler (hilariously played by Mike Murdock), try to ditch his annoying fiancee (the equally-hilarious Joanna Berner), oppose the local business mogul (the boisterous Dylan Clark), draft a bevy of luscious showgirls (Amy Carlson, Tiffany Trent, Jenn Naglee, Nora Ankrom, Cyndi Fuller and Sheila Meade) and a host of raucous cowboys (Marc Albert, Bill Stambaugh, Luke Matlock, Jason Roach, Andrew Surber and Tristan Reynolds). Oh, and he must avoid his domineering mother, played by Karen Pruitt.

   Add in a lighthearted appearance by a couple of tourists (played with gusto by Bil Neal and Becky McClelland), and you have an All-Star cast. The show also includes a terrific 12-piece orchestra, led by conductor John W. Campbell.

   Crazy for You is a dance-intensive show, and kudos to choreographer Coni Anthony for assembling wonderful dance numbers and coaxing top-notch performances by the gifted cast. There are a number of standout performances and memorable, but the last number before Intermission - the tap-happy "I Got Rhythm" - brings the house down! But there are so many great numbers - "Slap That Bass," "Stiff Upper Lip," "Things Are Looking Up," "Someone to Watch Over Me" and "Embraceable You," to name just a few - and they all add up to a great time!

   With a clever, complex and amazingly efficient set design and terrific guidance from director Stephen Vance, this is a show for everyone who loves musical theatre. Don't miss it!