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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 >

Get your fill of performing arts this weekend

Feeling like you haven’t seen enough onstage this summer? How about you take the rest of the week to catch up — after all, this is your last chance for several of these performances, including those by the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, The Rep and Armadillo Rodeo.

Follow links to find out more about each performance.

Garrett Whitehead (left) as Pippin and Evan Tyrone Martin as Leading Player

Garrett Whitehead (left) as Pippin and Evan Tyrone Martin as Leading Player in Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre’s Pippin

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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 >

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.