The Herald-Dispatch |


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, October 28, 2006

Local Theatre History - Part 1

In thinking about theatre here in Huntington, I often think about the history of it. As far as I know, no history of local theatre has ever been assembled - and there's not much to be found on the subject on the Internet.

Touring shows have probably been presented in Huntington virtually since the city was founded, and certainly local schools have put on shows since the first teacher or parent walked through the door who was willing to take on the challenge.

A quick look at www.Ask.com reveals that the newest section of Marshall’s Old Main - the part with the auditorium in it - was built in 1907, and no doubt the students started staging shows there not long after. Although I don't have any research to back it up (and I trust you'll correct me if I'm wrong, dear reader), it seems safe to assume that Marshall has the longest continuing tradition of putting on shows in Huntington.

I have wonderful memories of seeing great shows in that auditorium. When I was a student in the late ‘70s, one of the outstanding performers was a guy named Joe Johns, who is well known today for his work on CNN (and NBC before that). Perhaps Marshall's most famous acting alumni is the Oscar-winning Brad Dourif (although Billy Crystal also attended for a semester). Actually, my hero Soupy Sales is probably the most famous, though I'm not sure if he ever acted on the Marshall stage.

These days Marshall has a new theater, and it’s a beauty. The Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center is a state of the art facility, and the Department of Theatre uses it to maximum effect. The shows they’ve staged in recent years certainly live up to (and often surpass) the ones from the past. They stage at least four shows a year, most of them directed by professors Jack Cirillo or Eugene Anthony - and they do amazing work.

In just the last couple of years, they’ve done shows like “The Foreigner,” which is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen on a stage, the outstanding “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which should be required viewing for every student everywhere, and the phenomenal “Hair” (to name just a few). Almost every year they tackle a Shakespeare play, like the excellent “Romeo and Juliet,” "Julius Ceasar" and “The Tempest” - you owe it to yourself to see these.

Really, if you’re not checking these out on a regular basis, you’re missing some excellent work - not to mention the chance to see the potential stars of the future!

So I'm assuming Marshall has been putting on shows the longest - although certainly the local high schools are also in the running, even though their output has been sporadic over the years. So who's next on the longest-running list?

That's the topic of the next post, which we'll call: History Part 2 - The Musical Arts Guild.

UPDATE: In doing some research I discovered an interesting fact: Marshall staged its first show in the Old Main auditorium on March 13, 1908. I still don't know which show it was, but I'll keep digging.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Spelling Bee on TV

Here's a clip of the performers from the Chicago version of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" making an appearance on a local telethon. Check it out (and I assume you can still make a donation if you're so inclined). This just proves that YouTube can do anything (except make money).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Now that the rush of local shows has abated (for the moment), here’s the review of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” that I promised over a week ago. (“Speedy Delivery” is not my slogan.)

Broadway shows don’t exist only in New York - they also ship ‘em around for extended runs in major cities like Chicago. That’s where my wife and I saw “Spelling Bee.” It’s a musical with a simple premise - six students are competing to be the local spelling champ, and during the course of the show we learn their stories, along with a few other characters.

Of course, each character has his or her own strange quirks, and the contest allows for some really funny gags. The production actually recruits competitors from the audience - before the show, you can sign up for the chance to be pulled up on stage. We didn’t register (the line was too long), but my pal Clint was chosen when he saw the show in New York, and had a hilarious time in his first starring role on Broadway.

The show has a lot to recommend it - the characters are very funny, often touching - or hilariously offensive. It may look like a children’s show, but it really isn’t, thanks to a few four-letter words and a few adult references.

The performers were terrific, and perfectly cast - especially James Earl Jones II, who has an amazing voice.

The songs are lots of fun, but my only complaint is that none of the songs are instantly memorable - you won’t walk home humming any tunes (though you'll probably remedy that by buying the soundtrack). But if you get the chance to see it, I do recommend the show - it’s funny, it’s entertaining, and who knows? You might get your big break, depending on how well you can spell.

Picture This

You can see a few nice photos from "Superstar" when you click on the link on this page. No idea why they lumped the Scooby-Doo photos in there.

What Did You Think?

Since this is our blog - yours and mine - I want to invite you to write in with your comments about any shows you've seen (I'd love to hear your thoughts on "Jesus Christ Superstar," for example). You can make comments at the end of each subject (click on the words "Post Comments") or send your thoughts to me at TheMinskers@aol.com and I'll create the post for you. Hey, we're all in this together!

Jesus Christ Superstar - The Review

Since it’s been 33 years (gulp!) since Ted Neeley played the title role in the film, the question on everyone’s mind going into this performance on his farewell tour was, “Can he still hit those high notes?”

The answer, I’m happy to say, is heck yeah! Oh, his voice may not be quite what it was, and he’s probably a bit too old to play the part of the 30-ish Jesus, but he’s still in amazing shape and is a fantastic performer. He brings such power and gravitas to the role, you know you’re in witnessing something special.

The cast was loaded with talent, not the least of which was Living Color’s Corey Glover as Judas, and Christine Rea-Briskin as Mary Magdalene - and a special tip o’ the hat to Larry Alan Coke as every bass singer’s favorite role, the high priest Caiaphas.

Touring shows like this have to travel light, but they still managed some amazing stage effects through a combination of a creative (and deceptively simple) set, lots of ingenuity and lighting effects. The show also featured a small but excellent live band and some great choreography.

I wondered in a previous post whether or not the show would incorporate the resurrection into the conclusion. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, but their solution was powerful and inspired - and amazing.

It’s not often you get to see a living legend of the theatre perform in a show like this, and I’m glad I was able to witness this one. If you missed it, you missed a great show.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Name That Tune

Another video clip from the 1973 film - here's the late great Carl Anderson singing the title song from "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Overture

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Stage Tonight

The rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" will grace the Keith-Albee Theater stage Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. as part of this season's Marshall Artists Series.

Could We Start Again, Please?

So back in the Summer of 2003 I was asked by my church – Pea Ridge United Methodist Church – to direct “Jesus Christ Superstar.” At that point I had directed two shows for the First Stage (Children's) Theatre Company, so tackling an “adult” show sounded like a good challenge – besides, it was a good way to give back to my church (assuming the show made money).

Auditions brought out some great talent, including Eric Wilson (Judas), Autumn Seavey (Mary Magdalene), Len LaCara (Herod), Brandon Giles (Simon Zealotes) and Anthony Donta (Caiphas), to name a few – but we came to the end of the auditions and didn’t have anyone to play Jesus… until the last person walked in. Michael Naglee was perfect for the role – a terrific singer and actor, he was the man for the part, and brought along the experience and leadership you need in any show.

The show is also special because it involved my whole family, with wife Jeanette and her sister Sherri playing “Soul Girls,” youngest son Evan was “Peter” and oldest son Justin my (unofficial) assistant director. The whole cast came together and overcame many obstacles to learn the (often difficult) music for the show.

It wasn’t an easy show to put together (in fact, in many ways it was the most difficult I’ve ever tackled), but thanks to the talented cast and some hard work by band leader Quinn Ballard (and his orchestra), choreographer Melissa McGuffin, set design and construction by Brandon Giles, and costume assistance by Denise LaCara (among others), it somehow came together and ended up being (in my humble opinion) a darn good show. Like most community theatre performances, it might lack the extravagant costumes and towering sets of the professional show, but it made up for it with spirit, energy and raw talent.

At the end of the show, we followed the lead of other community versions and added a sequence to represent the resurrection (which wasn’t easy – the effect didn’t come together until the dress rehearsal). I’ll be curious to see if Wednesday’s show does the same. But as I said in the program at the time, “The story of Jesus is too big to be captured in a single play, and too powerful to be brought down by a sometimes-controversial interpretation.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Superstar

As mentioned earlier, I have a few reasons for liking the show “Jesus Christ Superstar,” not the least of which is the terrific music. When I was in college at Marshall University, a friend of mine (Dana Grooms, where are you?) maintained that everyone who was buying albums in the early ‘70s had at least one of the following in his or her record collection: “Frampton Comes Alive,” Carole King’s “Tapestry” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Most had all three - including me.

Of course, there was a lot of controversy around “Superstar,” especially when it was first released in 1970. Many considered it to be sacrilegious because the story is actually presented from the viewpoint of Judas, and attempts to explain why he betrayed Jesus. It’s also criticized for the fact that the play ends with the crucifixion and doesn’t depict the resurrection. However, aside from those objections and a line or two in the songs, the story actually follows the scripture (fairly) closely, and has brought more than a few people back to the church. You can count me among that group - it really spoke to the teens at my church in the early '70s, and gave us a great topic of discussion.

The album later became a stage musical, then a movie in 1973. It’s been a TV special and a touring show, and quite a few community theatre groups have tackled the show. When my church decided to stage the show a few years ago, I found myself being asked to be the director - but I’ll save that story for my next blog entry.

Hosanna

There's a good story in today's paper previewing "Superstar." You can read it here.

What's the Buzz?

After a flood of local productions, we only have one show on tap for this week - but it's a good one! "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be presented by the Marshall Artists Series Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. at the newly-expanded Keith-Albee Theater.

I have several reasons for liking this show - which I'll share in an upcoming post. But you should be anxious to see it, too, because it may be your last chance to see the actor most associated with the title role.

This performance is part of the farewell tour for Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the 1973 film based on the musical. Just for fun, let's see if yours truly can insert a video here - click on the window below to see Ted singing the powerful song "Gesthemene."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Three Musketeers - The Review

There are lots of plays based on “The Three Musketeers,” and they fall into two categories - the ones that only cover the first half of the book (which gives the illusion of a happy ending), and the ones that cover the whole book, tragic events and all. Kudos to First Stage Theatre Co. and director Travis McElroy for taking the courageous route and tackling the latter version.

The story focuses on young D’Artagnan (Caleb Donahoe) as he journeys to Paris in hopes of becoming one of the King’s guards, the Musketeers. Along the way he becomes involved in court intrigue, murder plots, evil agents and more than a few sword fights. He also falls in love (more than once) and, of course, he befriends “The Three Inseperables,” Musketeers Athos (Chuck Hearndon), Aramis (Clint Wilson) and Porthos (Joseph Overstreet).

The cast features some terrific young actors who bring the classic story to life. They do a great job, including McKenzie Young as Queen Anne, Aaron Dunn as Rochefort, Lexi Smith as Constance, Sheila Arrowood as Milady, Eric Newfeld as the Duke of Buckingham, Blaine Roberts as Planchet, Chris Crawford as Bonacieux, Maggie Saunders as Madame Coquenard and Shane Stevens as Monsieur Coquenard (to name just a few).

The cast does an excellent job with the fight scenes - a real challenge in the limited space available, but they tackle it with great skill. Stage combat is difficult to master, and they’ve done a terrific job here.

Kudos also to the costume department. In a show like this, it’s a real challenge to come up with convincing period costumes - especially on a limited budget - and they’ve worked miracles here.

The set is also amazing - the stone bridge / castle may seem simple, but many long hours went into making it solid enough to handle the wear and tear of the cast marching across it. Jack Welch and his construction crew put in a lot of work to make it happen.

It takes almost two months of practice and preparation to make a show like this happen, and the cast and production crew have done an amazing job putting together a faithful recreation the original story.

You have one more chance to catch the show - Sunday at 2:30 p.m. the cast will bring the Dumas book to life one more time. Miss it not!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

On Stage This Weekend

The Three Musketeers

The First Stage Theatre Company's production of "The Three Musketeers" will be presented today at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow (Sunday) at 2:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Theater (the old Huntington High School). Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for children and $5.00 each for groups of 12 or more.

"Give Our Regards to Broadway"

The Musical Arts Guild will present a dinner show tonight at 6:00 p.m. in the Don Morris Room at the Marshall University Student Center. Tickets are $50.

Friday, October 20, 2006

On Stage Tonight

The Three Musketeers

The First Stage Theatre Company's production of "The Three Musketeers" will be presented tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Theater (the old Huntington High School). Tickets are $8.00 for adults and $6.00 for children. Shows will also be presented Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Three Musketeers

Even though I've had very little to do with the production of the show, I take great pride in the First Stage production of "The Three Musketeers." (Full disclosure time: I'm a member of the board of directors of First Stage Theatre Co.)

For one thing, they have a terrific cast, including familiar faces like Chuck Heardon, Clint Wilson and McKenzie Young, and quite a few new actors who've never been in a First Stage show. I take pride in the quality of show First Stage presents - these shows are much more than "just" children's theatre, as some of the most talented young men and women in the tri-state take part. I think it's great that these young people are taking part in a show that includes stage combat, which is a difficult skill to learn and master.

But perhaps most of all, I'm proud of the directing team. The Director, Travis McElroy, started his career on the stage, acting in First Stage shows like "Bye Bye Birdie," "The Wizard of Oz" and "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." He also worked behind the scenes for several shows, and was the Assistant Director for me on "A Christmas Story." He studied drama in college, and tackled this show as his first project after graduation. Travis was also one of my "Kidsmag" reporters back in the mid-1990s. His Assistant Director I take even more pride in, since he's my son, Justin - who also appeared in several local shows, including "Birdie" and "Oz," along with HOT shows like "Cinderella." Justin also worked backstage on many shows, and has been my Assistant Director (both official and unofficial) on almost every show I've directed.

Needless to say, I can't wait to see the show they've been working on for the past six weeks (or so). I know it's going to be a swashbuckling good time!

Read All About It

The H-D ran a nice story (with cool photos) in today's paper about "The Three Musketeers." Check it out at www.herald-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061019/LIFE/610190333/1004.

Not the Candy Bar

The First Stage Theatre Company's production of "The Three Musketeers" takes to the stage this weekend at the Renaissance Theater (the old Huntington High School), and here are a few interesting bits o' information about that show:

- The show is the first in the history of First Stage to feature swordfights using actual swords.

- The Director of the show is Travis McElroy, and the Assistant Director is Justin Minsker - both former actors in First Stage shows.

- It's the second consecutive show from First Stage to be set in France (last spring's "Les Miserables: School Edtion" was the other).

- It's a non-musical, but features instrumental accompaniment written by cast member Clint Wilson.

The show only runs this weekend, so mark your calendars!

A New Way of Seeing Things

Again, my apologies for the light blogging - I was out of town for a few days to have Lasik surgery on my eyes. For the first time, I can see objects at a distance without wearing glasses or contacts - and it's an amazing feeling. I'll try to make up for my two absences in the past week with several posts - thanks for bearing with me.

By the way, anyone who'd like to send in their own comments about local theatre, reviews of shows they've seen or previews of upcoming shows, feel free to post a comment, or send your thoughts to this email address: TheMinskers@aol.com.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Man Who Wasn't There

Many apologies for the light blogging this weekend, but I was out of town - the family and I went to Chicago to visit my son Evan, who attends college in the Windy City (which is, I must say, a wonderful town).

But don’t think I abandoned you completely - while there, my lovely wife Jeanette and I saw “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the musical that was last year’s darling at the Tonys. I’ll have a review later this week.

I trust you got out to see one or both of the shows that just wrapped up here in Huntington - both “Hair” and “Fiddler on the Roof” were great shows. Coming up this weekend is First Stage Theatre Company’s production of “The Three Musketeers,” and that show features several firsts - which I’ll also be telling you about later this week. But be warned - unlike most First Stage shows, this one runs one weekend only - so make room in your schedule!

Friday, October 13, 2006

On Stage This Weekend

Here are the shows to look for this weekend:

Hair

The Marshall University Theatre department will present Hair, the American tribal love-rock musical from the 1960s, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10, and free to full-time Marshall students with ID.

Fiddler on the Roof

ARTS (Art Resources for the Tri-State) will present the musical Fiddler on the Roof at the Renaissance Theatre (the old Huntington High School) Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for children. The Saturday performance will also be a dinner theater, with tickets costing $40 per person. The buffet includes oven roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, salad, vegetable, dessert roll and beverage. For reservations or information, call (304) 733-2787.

Fiddler on the Roof

This is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and it’s great to see it being staged in Huntington again - it’s been 10 years! In case you haven’t seen it, Fiddler on the Roof is the story of a man named Tevye and his family and friends. Together they go through many changes - and while the story is set on another continent, it’s one that’s all too familiar - and one that will touch the hardest of hearts. As Tevye tries to hold onto the old ways, he finds the world changing around him, and he must face the loss of his daughters as they fall in love and move away to start their own lives.

As staged by ARTS at the Renaissance Center (perhaps someday we’ll be able to leave off the description, “also known as the old Huntington High School”), Fiddler boasts an outstanding cast of local veterans of all ages. Playing the lead is Clint McElroy (of WTCR fame), and I’d tell you he’s one of the finest actors and singers in the area even if he wasn’t such a good friend of mine. Seeing him in this role will be a real treat.

Playing the part of his wife Golde is Mary Olson, and I’d tell you that she’s also a wonderfully talented performer with an amazing voice even if she wasn’t also a dear friend of mine (but I have known Clint longer - just barely). They have several wonderful songs and scenes together, but my favorite has to be the sweet “But Do You Love Me?” - it will bring a tear to any eye.

My pal Linda Reynolds plays Yente and - as always - she’s hilarious. (I’ll refrain from listing all the other cast members I know, but I’m pretty sure there are a few who I haven’t met - yet.)

Fiddler is an unusual musical - it has very little dancing, but makes up for it with lots of humor. But like the best musicals, the songs drive the story forward, and you’ll find yourself captivated. The show opens tonight, and I suggest you make the time to see it - you can thank me later.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

On Stage Tonight

Hair

The Marshall University Theatre department presents the musical Hair at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center tonight through Oct. 14 at 8:00 p.m., and Oct. 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10, and free to full-time Marshall students with ID.

Vicki Lawrence and Mama

The Marshall Artists Series presents the hilarious Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show, tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Keith Albee Theatre. The Emmy Award-winning comedienne was part of the cast of the “Carol Burnett Show,” where she created her most endearing character to date, “Mama.” Vicki went on to star in the sitcom “Mama’s Family.” Tickets for the show are $55, $45, and $35.

"Hair" - A Review

I just got back from seeing the opening night performance of “Hair,” and I have to say that if you don’t see this one, you’re missing a fantastic show. Marshall’s Department of Theatre has been putting on topnotch shows for a long time - and I’ve seen a lot of them - but I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed one more than this.

The show kicks off with a hilarious, memorable entrance for the band, and wastes no time launching into the terrific score, which includes songs like “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine,” and “Easy to be Hard.” It’s billed as “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,” and it’s tough to single out performers, since it’s very much an ensemble piece - but I have to give credit to a few actors, like Ryan Hardiman, who plays Berger. He manages to be fierce, loving, playful and intense (sometimes all at the same time), and the show is custom-built for his powerful voice. Then there’s Autumn Seavey, who plays Sheila. Like Ryan, she is an amazing talent, with an incredible voice and a commanding stage presence. Chris Ferris plays Claude, and he also turns in a strong performance in a difficult, sympathetic role.

Really, the entire cast deserves accolades; Ted Rose as the towering Woof is sweet, funny and has a great voice; Jennifer Scott is another wonderful singer with great stage presence; Nick Reynolds turns in an excellent performance; I could go on and on - oh, and special kudos to the scene-stealing cameo by Margaret Meade and her husband - I haven’t laughed so hard in years.

In addition to the actors, the directors and the production crew deserve a curtain call of their own - I am in awe of the amazing job they did in resurrecting the ‘60s and planting it on the stage. The costumes, the set design, the lighting - all were phenomenal. Also a tip of the hat to yet another excellent job by music director Mark Smith and his band - nothing beats a live orchestra.

Now, I have to say that if you’re easily offended, you might want to give the show a miss. There’s some vulgar language, drug use is depicted and there are a few jokes that might offend. But if you’re looking for a show full of energy, great music and the area’s top performers, you owe it to yourself to see “Hair.”

By the way, Friday and Saturday’s shows are sold out - so that leaves a few tickets left for Thursday and Sunday’s show. You’ve been warned!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On Stage

On stage tonight:

Hair

The Marshall University Theatre department will present five performances of Hair, the American tribal love-rock musical from the 1960s, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. The first performance is tonight at 8:00 p.m., with shows running through Saturday, Oct. 14 (each at 8:00 p.m.). There will also be a show Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10, and free to full-time Marshall students with ID.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Let the Sunshine In

The director of "Hair" is Jack Cirillo, and in case you missed it a couple of days back, he sent this comment about the show:

<< I might also add that "Hair" has been fortunate in that it has been choreographed --stunningly--by the Artistic Director of The West Virginia Dance Company of Beckly, Donald Laney. The work has been very creative and wonderfully organic, and the results are simply amazing. I would also point out that "Hair" has been made possible through a College of Fine Arts collaboration between both the departments of Music and Theatre. Collaboration after all, is the corner stone of the theatrical artform and it truely has found a wonderful example in this. The show is also being produced as part of the Birke Fine Arts Symposium 2006 which has lent great support for the project. We are all very excited about this project and look forward to seeing you there.
--Jack Cirillo >>

Good Morning Starshine

Courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman (who also stars in the show), here's the poster for "Hair." Click on it to enlarge the artwork (and your mind):

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Age of Aquarius

I realize that (especially to my sons) I'm an old-timer, and I actually am old enough to remember the musical "Hair" being both a bit hit and the source of controversy. In the late '60s I was attending Hayes Junior High School and I remember our choir singing a song from the show: "Aquarius" (which had also become a pop hit). Of course, at the time I was too young to get my parent's approval to see "Hair" on stage, even if it were being presented anywhere around St. Albans (which it wasn't).

Kudos to Marshall's Department of Theatre for having the courage to tackle a musical as challenging and (potentially) controversial as this one. Tuesday night they'll run their dress rehearsal, and then Wednesday it'll be the real deal. I'm looking forward to it - and Mom said it was ok for me to go. If only I still had a pair of bellbottoms.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Don't Remember Getting Older

I've seen "Fiddler on the Roof" on stage twice locally. The first time was at the Mountaineer Dinner Theater (hands up, those of you who remember that unique venue), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have no idea what year that would have been - an offhanded guess would be the late '70s.

The second time I saw the show was the last time it was performed in Huntington. The Musical Arts Guild staged it (I'm guessing in the mid-90s) at the City Hall Auditorium, with Jim Stone playing the lead perfectly. He was such a wonderful guy and a real friend to the Huntington theatre community - one day soon I'll write more about him.

If you've never seen "Fiddler," your chance is coming up next Friday, this time with the multi-talented Clint McElroy tackling the lead, supported by some of the top performers in the area, including Mary Olson and many others (oh, I'll include Mark Near on the list, just so his feelings won't be hurt). Throw in the directing talents of Broadway veteran Beth McVey, and you know you're in for a treat.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

On With the Show, This is it!

Here are the shows to look for this week:

Hair

The Marshall University Theatre department will present five performances of Hair, the American tribal love-rock musical from the 1960s, at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Performances are Oct. 11 through Oct. 14 at 8:00 p.m., and Oct. 15 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $10, and free to full-time Marshall studentswith ID.

Fiddler on the Roof

ARTS (Art Resources for the Tri-State) will present three performances of the musical Fiddler on the Roof at the Renaissance Theatre (the old Huntington High School) Oct. 13 and 14 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 2:30 p.m. It tells the story of Tevya, a poor farmer who attempts to maintain his family and religious traditions while adapting to new pressures – especially those caused by his eldest daughters. Tickets to the musical are $15 for adults and $7 for children. The Saturday performance will also be a dinner theater, with tickets costing $40 per person. The buffet includes oven roasted chicken, pork tenderloin, salad, vegetable,dessert roll and beverage. For reservations or information, call (304) 733-2787.

Vicki Lawrence and Mama

The Marshall Artists Series presents the hilarious Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show, Oct. 12 at 8:00 p.m. at the Keith Albee Theatre. The Emmy Award-winning comedienne was part of the cast of the “Carol Burnett Show.” At the ripe old age of 24 she created her most endearing character to date, Thelma Harper, or “Mama” as she is better known to her fans. Vicki went on to star in “Mama’s Family,” which is still airing in reruns around the country. Tickets for the show are $55, $45, and $35.

Friday, October 06, 2006

One for All and All for One

Coming up later this month from First Stage Theatre is the play The Three Musketeers. We'll talk about it more soon, but for now, here's the (quite awesome) poster for it:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Long, Beautiful Hair

One of the shows starting soon (on Wednesday, October 11, to be exact) is the hit musical Hair, being presented by Marshall University’s Department of Theatre. It’s a rare musical performance from MU (which is a real shame, given the level of talent they have), but with the terrific talent they're putting on the stage -- including Ryan Harridan, Autumn Seavey and Nick Reynolds (to name only three) - and the guidance of director Jack Cirillo and Music Director Mark Smith (to name only two), you know this is one that you must not miss.


When it ran on Broadway back in the late ‘60s, Hair was controversial because it included a scene where virtually the entire cast shed their clothing. If you’re wondering (and you know you are), there won’t be any actual nudity in Marshall’s presentation (or so I’m told) - but it will be “suggested.”


If you’re planning to go, my advice is to pick up your tickets immediately - when I ordered mine last week I was told they were “going fast.” MU’s shows have a bad habit of selling out (every theatre group should have such troubles) - might I suggest that they add more performances?

If I Were a Rich Man

It's always feast or famine with local shows - there are either too many going on at the same time or none at all. Next week it's feast time, as ARTS presents the classic "Fiddler on the Roof" the same weekend that Marshall University brings "Hair" to the stage.
Two great musicals at once - what's a theater fan to do? Clear your schedules now, because you won't want to miss either show. "Hair, " of course, will be staged at the Joan C. Edwards Theater, while "Fiddler" will be at the Renaissance Theater (the old Huntington High School).
I'll have more about those shows soon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Welcome!

Local theatre in an interesting phenomenon, wherein a group of people gather together to “Put On A Show.”
Huntington has a rich history of theatre, both at Marshall University and its outstanding Department of Theatre, and through community efforts, including groups like the Musical Arts Guild, the First Stage Theatre Company, Huntington Outdoor Theatre, Fifth Avenue Theatre and ARTS, to name the ones that leap immediately to mind.
You’ll also find active theatre groups at almost every local high school, and several groups just a short drive away in Charleston and Ashland.
And thanks to the Marshall Artists Series, we even get to see professional theatre groups perform locally.
So if you like live theatre (and we assume you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t), there’s a lot to choose from. In addition to its rich history, Huntington has a bright future ahead, with some impressive shows on the way in the months and years ahead.
In October alone, you can see "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Hair," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "The Three Musketeers."
That’s why, under the kind auspices of tThe Herald-Dispatch, we’re launching this theatre blog -- to focus on those local shows, and talk about the shows that are coming up, shows from years past (the ones you loved and the ones you hated), and to take you behind the scenes to see how shows are made.
If you have a topic you want to offer up, drop me an e-mail and we’ll get the discussion going. I’ll be offering my own comments, reviews and previews as we go along. Comments are always welcome, as long as they’re civil.
So thanks for stopping by -- we hope you’ll add us to your “Favorites List” (hint, hint)!