Blog Archives

Wait Until Dark a smart, suspense-filled thriller

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Truth be told, I’m not such a fan of scary anything. Movies, stories, TV shows, nothing. But I’ve never considered what it’d be like to be scared from the stage, so when I heard about The Rep’s most recent production, Wait Until Dark, my curiosity got the better of my nerves.

I say this to tempt the other scaredy-cats out there to get it together and give Wait Until Dark a chance. The chills come from suspense and intrigue more than a pop-out-and-say-boo kind of scare.

I won’t give away too much plot-wise, but the story centers around a woman named Susy (Amy Hutchins) and three con men who want a doll from her — a doll filled with heroin, naturally. Susy lost her sight in an accident a year prior, and her husband is gone most of the play, which takes place more or less within the span of 24 hours in Susy’s apartment. With the help of her neighbor, Gloria, a surly but loyal 8- or 9-year-old, Susy holds her own despite her blindness, which causes most people to underestimate her.… Read more >

Hockadoo! Memphis is maybe The Rep’s best yet

Photo by Stephen Thornton for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Photo by Stephen Thornton for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre

There’s a laundry list of reasons you should see Memphis, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s opening show of its 2014-15 season: the musical won four Tonys, including Best Musical, in 2010. Music and lyrics are by David Bryan, keyboardist for Bon Jovi (!). The Little Rock cast boasts incredible talent assembled from all of the country.

But with the musical’s setting in Memphis, Tennessee, less than a two-hour drive from Little Rock, much of the show’s music, lyrics and themes will hit closer to home for Arkansas audiences than those who have never been to Beale. To sit in the audience at The Rep’s Memphis is to witness a show about an old friend, or a relative you once met. Sure, he has a shady past and some truly deplorable habits, but man, could he sing!

Memphis delves into the role music played in racial divisions in the 1950s Bible Belt. One Huey Calhoun (Brent DiRoma), a lovable dope who can’t get enough of “that underground sound” despite his bigoted mother’s better judgement, is an unlikely hero. He and his mother are poor, and without an education or conventional work ethic, … Read more >

The Rep season ends on a high note with Compleat Wrks

Patrick Halley in The Rep's Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged).

Patrick Halley in The Rep’s Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged).

To be (or not to be) a fan of Shakespeare is not a requirement of enjoying the current show at The Rep.

See what I did there?

Plays on words and themes from Shakespeare’s 38-play repertoire are the focus of Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), which opened last week at The Rep. As a fan of The Bard, I’ve been looking forward to this show since The Rep’s season line-up was announced last year. But my date to the show admitted she’d never had the least bit of interest in Shakespeare, having zoned out during much of high school English, so she wasn’t sure she would catch many of the jokes.

But with our knowledge of the writer and poet at different ends of the spectrum, it’s safe to say we loved the show equally (we both complained of sore cheeks from laughing by intermission). The humor is a brilliant mix of choreographed and improvised, high-brow and slap-stick, inside jokes, rapping, puppet shows, audience participation, bathroom humor, all of the above. I’m a big fan of silly and surprising, and I felt constantly on my toes during … Read more >

Hilarious Second City cast here through Saturday

Photo by Todd Rosenberg // Sarah Shook and Adam Peacock are two of six Second City cast members at The Rep.

Photo by Todd Rosenberg // Sarah Shook and Adam Peacock are two of six Second City cast members at The Rep.

The Second City is part sketch comedy, part improvisation and all hysterically funny. The Chicago-based comedy troupe opened at The Rep last week and wraps up on Sunday, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you have this weekend to see live some actors who may end up being some of the biggest stars in comedy. The Second City is to the comedy world what the Mickey Mouse Club was to ’90s/2000 pop: the training ground for those who are going to make it.… Read more >

Clybourne Park is smart, honest and hilarious

Shaleah Adkisson and  LeeAnne Hutchison. Photo by John David Pittman.

Shaleah Adkisson and LeeAnne Hutchison. Photo by John David Pittman.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud as hard as I did the night I saw Clybourne Park.

These aren’t light-hearted giggles, though. The opening of the first act is as tense as they come, while audience members wonder what’s got Russ (Robert Ierardi) so down that he’s having a pajama day while eating ice cream straight out of the carton. His overly perky wife, Bev (LeeAnne Hutchison), a perfect caricature of the 1950s housewife, flitters around the house gabbing incessantly to him and their maid, Francine (Shaleah Adkisson). But when the other characters enter — namely the couple’s priest friend Jim (Ryan Berry), a very combative ambassador from a neighborhood association named Karl (Jason O’Connell), and Francine’s husband, Albert (Lawrence Evans) — the white people get really awkward, Francine and Albert do their best to maintain their composure and Bev tries to smooth everything over with iced tea.… Read more >

Because of Winn Dixie a heartfelt holiday musical

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From left: Danny Philips, Riley Costello, Julia Landfair, Imari Harden and Sydni Whitfield

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Because of Winn Dixie is a must-see this holiday season. Directed by John Tartaglia (Tony-nominated for Avenue Q), the show made its world premiere at The Rep on Dec. 5, but because of icy weather opening weekend and demand for the show, the show’s run has been extended to Jan. 5. If your family has a Christmas tradition of seeing a movie together over the holidays, switch it up this year and head to The Rep for an emotional and  captivating musical that is as well suited for adults as it is for kids.… Read more >

Short run for Red at The Rep: Don’t miss it

The Rep’s current production, Red, isn’t for the faint of heart — there are insults screamed and objects thrown, and discussions of life and death, humanity and purpose. But it’s an important one to see because of the display of passion from both characters: Mark Rothko, played by Joe Graves, and his apprentice Ken, played by Chris Wendelken.

Rothko and Ken’s relationship is an enigmatic one. When he’s not being a complete megalomaniac, Rothko can be very thoughtful and academic. He questions Ken and pushes him to see and think in ways he hasn’t before. From starry-eyed apprentice on his first day on the job to his disillusionment with his employer, Wendelken plays the entire arc of Ken’s character wonderfully. He’s convincing, relatable and genuine, and gives a stunning monologue in Scene 3.… Read more >

Pal Joey at The Rep

The Rep opened its 2013–2014 season last Friday with a production of Pal Joey, directed by Tony Award-winning Peter Schneider. The show is a derivative of the 1940 musical by Rodgers and Hart about Joey Evans, an ambitious young entertainer who will do whatever it takes, including hurt the people close to him, to open his own nightclub.

But that Pal Joey and this Pal Joey aren’t the same — not entirely, at least. The Rep’s is a significantly different Pal, one re-written by Patrick Pacheco which adds the layer of race to a story that already looks at the power of those of a certain class or sex. In Pacheco’s Pal, Joey (Clifton Oliver) is black (as is his love interest Linda, played by Stephanie Umoh), and the setting is the ever-so-slightly more recent Chicago of 1948.… Read more >

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