Blog Archives

Quick Picks: ‘Spelling Bee,’ Senior Expo, more

Tommy Martinez as Chip Tolentino in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Tommy Martinez as Chip Tolentino in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee


W.O.W.APALOOZA returns to support Women’s Own Worth, an organization that offers financial support, therapy and programs to those affected by domestic violence and other violent crimes. The fundraiser — which includes drinks, dinner and a silent auction — takes place at the Governor’s Mansion from 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $50.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre at 8 p.m. The Tony Award-winning comedic musical follows junior high students on the cutthroat quest of becoming a spelling bee champion while dealing with the nuances of adolescence. Opening night includes a post-show reception with champagne and hors d’oeuvres. Tickets are $30-$55.


Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art opens to the public at the Arkansas Arts Center. The exhibit features 93 works of modern and contemporary Latino art provided by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The Arts Center is open 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.


The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Senior Expo takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Statehouse Convention Center. … Read more >

Fight for the throne: ‘Macbeth’ opens at The Rep

John David Pittman

Photo by John David Pittman

Something’s stirring inside The Rep.

And though it’s certainly due to the swelling excitement surrounding the company’s 40th season, right now, it’s probably the greed and paranoia of one 11th century Scot.

Centuries-old Shakespearean play Macbeth, directed by The Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp, opened Sept. 11, confidently mixing bloody revenge with a bit of spook.

From the first scene, Marianne Custer’s costume design and Robert Pickens’ wig design talents, complemented strategically by the stage’s stone-based set up, transport audience members back in time.

But the audience is also taken to a place more supernatural, more enchanted, more … ghouly. The three witches — played by Courtney Bennett, Heather Dupree and Joseph J. Menino — are androgynous in appearance, mystifying in voice. Their predictions kick-start Macbeth’s deadly quest to the throne, starting with the murder of King Duncan (Mitch Tebo) and eventually leading to the death of Banquo (Damian Thompson).

Macbeth (Michael Stewart Allen), drowning in guilt, begins to see things, ramble things and become increasingly removed from real-life situations. While his mind is plagued, he still has the throne to protect. Luckily, he’s got Lady Macbeth, one hell of an enabler, … Read more >

Quick Picks: Tequila Tasting Party, Jazz in the Park, more


Canadian comedian Landry visits the The Loony Bin this week, bringing inspiration from his personal life into his stand-up routine. Landry, who has appeared on the third season of TV One’s Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?, is also the winner of the 2011 Boston Comedy Festival and Best Male Comic at the Atlanta Stands Up Awards in 2010. He will perform at 7:30 p.m. each night, with additional performances at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $7 on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and $10 Friday and Saturday.


Jazz in the Park begins its fall lineup with a free performance by Dizzy 7 from 6-8 p.m. at the History Pavilion at Riverfront Park. Dizzy 7 play big band, Latin and other musical styles, and the members have performed at metro area events and locations such as Riverfest, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and more. Jazz in the Park is a partnership with Art Porter Music Education Inc. and takes place each Wednesday. The performance is open to the public.


Jazz musician Anat Cohen performs at 8 p.m. at South on Main. Cohen is a clarinetist and saxophonist who grew up with musical influences in her … Read more >

The Rep, Stone’s Throw to launch beer-naming contest



In honor of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s opening production for its 40th season, the theater company is partnering with Stone’s Throw Brewery to launch a Macbeth-inspired beer, the theater announced Aug. 12.

There’s just one little thing missing: a name.

Beginning Aug. 17, The Rep and Stone’s Throw will open the Macbeth Beer-Naming Contest, and they’re asking for your help. Need some inspiration? The beer will be a Scottish red ale, with the red paying tribute to the battles of Macbeth, and there will be a hint of rye for spice. “It’s a malty, full-bodied beer that is easy to drink,” the theater says in a news release.

Entries will be allowed until Aug. 21, and the top five names will be announced Aug. 24. From Aug. 24-26, voting will be open, with the winner being announced Aug. 27 at the brewery’s 402 E. Ninth St. location in Little Rock at 6:30 p.m.

A free growler and pair of tickets to Macbeth will be awarded to the person who submits the name that receives the most Facebook likes by the end of the voting period.

Submit entries here.

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth shows at The Rep from … Read more >

Quick Picks: New Play Fest readings, Monty Python screening, more

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette file photo

Update: Reading times for the Arkansas New Play Fest at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre have changed. 


What Will It Take? A Dance Narrative will show Thursday through Saturday at The Studio Theatre at 7:30 p.m., with an additional performance Saturday at 2 p.m. The narrative — written, choreographed and directed by Michael Goodbar and Allyson Bode — is a story of loss, love, connection and more. Tickets are $10. For more information, click here.


The Ron Robinson Theater begins its summer movie lineup by showing Monty Python and the Holy Grail at 10 p.m. The film marked its 40th anniversary this year. Tickets for the screening are $5. Beer and wine will be available at the screening and all Ron Robinson screenings after 5 p.m.


As a part of TheatreSquared’s 2015 Arkansas New Play Fest, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will hold two play readings in the theater’s lobby. At 2 p.m., Uncle by Lee Blessing will be read, and Dust by Qui Nguyen will be read at 7 p.m. Dust is a coming-of-age story about an Asian-American teenager who plans to find her father. Uncle is a comedy following a writer who … Read more >

August: Osage County brings the heat


Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

Nothing says downright dysfunctional like a Weston family reunion in the Oklahoma heat. Dark comedy and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County — written by Tracy Letts, who received a Pulitzer Prize for the play — premiered at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre on June 5, a hot day perfect for reminding audience members of the flaws that might afflict their own families and providing an opportunity to laugh out loud at them.

In a home near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the county seat of Osage County, an emergency brings the Weston daughters together once again. Patriarch Beverly (Cliff Baker, The Rep’s founding director) has run off one August day, leaving cancer patient and seemingly proud pill-popper matriarch Violet (Susanne Marley) to call on her three daughters, Barbara Fordham (LeeAnne Hutchison), Ivy (Brenny Rabine) and Karen (Kathy McCafferty) for comfort — and also because misery loves company, right?

As the wait for Beverly’s return drags on, family secrets unfold and things gets heated (think: slaps, whacks and the occasional dragged-by-the-hair scenario).

Violet is crude, foul-mouthed but insanely funny, which translates to Barbara, essentially a younger version of her mother, though she’d never admit it. Barbara travels to the … Read more >

Review: Project Elan unplugs, then plugs you in

Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

“Please, don’t let me block you,” threatens guitar-toting Maddie, the high-school-age girl who just doesn’t understand why her boyfriend, Nathan, can’t accept that checking into her favorite Starbucks location on Facebook is becoming way more important than actual human interaction with him.

After all, there’s a whole world out there to connect to through Instagram, Twitter and other forms of social media. But that’s exactly what the Arkansas Repertory Theatre doesn’t want you to do. At least for a couple of hours every night until May 16.

Project Elan, The Rep’s first original musical in its 40-year history, premiered May 5. Written by several of the company’s Summer Musical Theater Intensive (SMTI) program alumni and SMTI founder Nicole Capri, Project Elan is a culture-relevant musical that chronicles various struggles and characteristics of the millennial generation’s relationship with technology and signals the program’s 10th year.

Full of a cast of current and former SMTI participants, the musical follows six main story lines, a style inspired by the film Love Actually, Capri says, and represents various ages within the millennial generation from elementary school to 30s.

“I’ve been working with young people for over 25 … Read more >

Be Italian: Nine to premiere at Studio Theatre

Photo by Grant Dillion

Photo by Grant Dillion

With just 12 women and one man — played by both a child and adult — the story of Italian film director Guido Contini comes to life onstage when Nine: The Musical premieres Friday at The Studio Theatre.

As an adult, Contini struggles with forming a plot for his next production while balancing his romantic troubles, which stem from pivotal experiences in his childhood. As a boy, Contini attended a strict Catholic school with corporal punishment and scary nuns that left a traumatic effect, says James Norris, who plays Contini.

But near the school was a beach where a prostitute lived and taught young Contini about love, and he became consumed. The title relates to key moments in Contini’s life at age 9.

Throughout Nine, viewers are taken on a surrealistic journey where, like a Greek chorus, 12 women surround Contini and embody characters from his past and imagination — and even the imagination of other characters. The women include his wife, mother, muse, mistress, producer Liliane Le Fleur and more, and they also take on roles as reporters, fans, aunts and churchgoers.

Le Fleur, dressed in a fur coat, black gloves and flashy … Read more >

The Whipping Man makes you think, and that’s a really good thing

Michael A. Shepperd, Ryan Berry and Damian Thompson as Simon, Caleb and John in The Whipping Man. Photo courtesy of The Rep

Michael A. Shepperd, Ryan Berry and Damian Thompson as Simon, Caleb and John in The Whipping Man. Photo courtesy of The Rep

Almost a week removed from my experience viewing The Whipping Man (because that’s what it is, an experience) at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, I’m still trying to piece together my feelings about it. I’m still replaying scenes — some racing with dialogue, some tense in silence — as I try to work out questions left unanswered by the play that follows a Confederate Jewish soldier who waits with two former slaves for his family’s return.

In a pre-show interview several weeks ago, the actors said The Whipping Man would be a show about relationships. At its core, that’s what it is. It’s a reminder that despite our own notions about how different groups of people — black and white, young and old, religious and not — interact or should interact in theory, there’s really no compass for how those interactions will play out, neither now nor in the context of the play’s Civil War era. Wounded soldier Caleb and former slaves John and Simon (played by Ryan Barry, Damian Thompson and Michael A. Shepperd, respectively) challenge one another’s

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Syd Hayman is a beauty, entertainment and pop culture fanatic who enjoys trying different metro restaurants that satisfy picky eaters. Tweet her at @TheSydRichi.