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Tri-State Theater
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Saturday, June 30, 2007

On Stage Tonight - New Works Fest (Day 3)

For the final night of the New Works Fest 2007, we have the presentation of an original musical based on the life of Huntington's founder. Collis P!, written by Clint McElroy, follows Mr. Huntington from his early years through to the end of his life, as he carves his niche in history as a true mover and shaker. It's a fascinating, funny and touching journey (trust me - bring a handkerchief).

The show includes new songs written by Clint and Mountain Stage's Larry Groce, and there will be a band performing the songs tonight.

But unlike most of you - I've seen the show before. Several years ago, Clint brought together a group of his theatre friends to do a read-through of the first draft of the show, and I can tell you that it was a moving experience, and a wonderful show. I can't wait to see how the musical has been changed in the years since, and I look forward to the day that we see this show performed on stage in a finished form.

In the meantime, I recommend making your way to Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center tonight at 8:00 p.m. as the history of Huntington (the city and the man) comes alive in Collis P!

New Works Fest in Review

I managed to catch the first two nights of the New Works Fest so far, and I've really enjoyed it.Basically, the Fest features new works read aloud by actors with no sets, props or special costumes - you get to hear the original written work unfiltered. It's interesting to note that you quickly overlook (or forget) that the actors are reading as the story unfolds. Here's a quick recap of the Festival so far:

The first night featured three new one-act plays. The first was Wedding Bells by Adriana Echeverri, a clever short play that focused on the fears of a bride-to-be just before she walked down the aisle. Adding to her anxiety is her maid of honor, an ascerbic sister-in-law-to-be. Clever and fun, though a few rough spots to be worked out.

The second one-act play was Interrogation by M. A. Cantrell. It was the toughest to sell to the crowd, because it tackled a very serious subject - the ethics of torture. That's not an easy subject to cover in a short period of time, but it was effective, in no small part because of the fine work of the three actors.

The final one-act play was Lunch At the Fork n’ Finger by Marshall University Theatre alumni Jonathan Joy. It told the story of a man who goes to a restaurant to meet his mother and her new love interest - his former high school gym coach. It was very funny, told in the style of a Woody Allen film. In fact, it really seemed more suited to film, given the main character's asides to the audience, which forced the other characters to freeze in place. Still, a very funny play, and another strong outing by the prolific Joy.

Last night the audience heard a new screenplay: Serious Business by professional actor/director T. Michael Murdock. It told the humorous story of a team trying to shoot a film despite a never-ending series of mishaps and blunders. To keep the movie going, they turn to a local gangster for funding - and then things get worse. It sets up a group of likable (if clumsy) filmmakers, adds lots of entertaining characters, hilarious situations and an improbable planned heist (criminal masterminds these characters aren't). Oh, and lots of profanity (not that there's anything wrong with that). It's a very funny script, and someday, hopefully, it'll make a very funny movie. I do have one bit of constructive criticism for Mike (that's right, Murdock, I'm talking to you - I see you out there glaring at your computer screen with that hideous Yankees cap on). I suspect when Mike wrote this movie he had in mind putting together a low-budget comedy that could be shot locally - and if so, he succeeded - it's very funny but staged in such a way that it would be (relatively) easy to shoot cheaply and quickly without hurting the story or losing any laughs. However, if he wants to sell it to a major studio, he may need to rework it a bit to make it "bigger" (in other words, make some minor changes without worrying about breaking the budget). Otherwise, a very funny script - I think this kid's got what it takes.

Tonight - well, I'll talk about that in the next post.


Tomorrow morning I'll have a recap of the New Works Fest so far (including short reviews of the works presented), and I'll preview tomorrow night's presentation of Collis P! (and I'll tell you the secret behind its first reading more than two years ago).

But first, I have to share a milestone that doesn't matter to anyone but me. This is post #300 for your humble Tri-State Theatre blog, which has been around just shy of nine months, or about 270 days - so we've managed just over a post a day! Like I always say, a bargain at twice the price!

Thanks for reading and writing along - we have lots of fun stuff coming up, so add us to your "Favorites" list and stay tuned!

Friday, June 29, 2007

On Stage Tonight - New Works Festival (Day 2)

A (surprisingly) large crowd turned out last night to enjoy three new one-act plays in the first night of the New Works Festival. More on that later, but here's a reminder that you have two more chances to take part in this celebration.

Tonight you can see a new screenplay, Serious Business, written by T. Michael Murdock. My inside sources tell me it's a hilarious comedy and it'll make a terrific film when someone in Hollywood wises up and gets around to filming it. You can have bragging rights over your friends by hearing it performed tonight by a small army of actors. After the show, Mike will be there to take comments from the audience.

It takes the stage tonight at 8:00 p.m. in the Experimental Theater at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. I advise getting there a bit early to find a seat - it might get crowded in there.

Saturday night you can catch a new musical, Collis P!, written by Clint McElroy with new songs written by Mountain Stage’s Larry Groce.

For further information or to purchase tickets, visit the Marshall University Theatre box office or call 696-ARTS (2787). Tickets are a steal at $5.00.

Update: By the way, you can see some photos from Thursday night's performance at the Herald-Dispatch Photo Galleries, or go here and click on the link at the right. The photos were taken by Chris Harris.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On Stage Tonight - New Works Festival (Day 1)

Taking the stage tonight at 8:00 p.m. is the New Works Fest 2007 in the Experimental Theater at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

Tonight, three new one-act plays will be presented: Wedding Bells by Adriana Echeverri, Interrogation by M. A. Cantrell and Lunch At the Fork n’ Finger by Jonathan Joy.

Coming up Friday, June 29, they'll present a new screenplay: Serious Business by T. Michael Murdock.

Then on Saturday, June 30, a new musical: Collis P!, written by Clint McElroy with new songs written by Mountain Stage’s Larry Groce.

For further information or to purchase tickets, visit the Marshall University Theatre box office or call 696-ARTS (2787). Tickets are priced at $5 per evening or a full festival pass (all three nights) at $12.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Discussion Goes On

The discussion thread that began as a debate about censorship in community theatre has grown into a discussion about what people would like to see on stage locally, and the possible need for a new theatre group. You can join the discussion, which is up to an amazing 33 comments, right here.

Update: Now it's up to 35 comments, and the last two (from Ryan Hardiman and Mike Murdock) have brought up some amazing ideas. Join in, y'all!

Another update: Mark and Paul join in, and we're up to 38 comments!

Still more: 42 and counting!

New Works Festival - Clint McElroy Speaks!

The New Works Fest is just a day away, so here's the last of our email interviews. This time around we hear from Clint McElroy, who I'd describe as an incredibly talented writer, actor and director, even if he wasn't such a good friend. Here's what he had to say about the musical he wrote called Collis P!

Q: Give us a quick recap of your work that's being presented.

A: I started out about a decade or so ago, wanting to write a musical based on the history of Huntington. I figured the best place to start would be researching the man who built the town, Collis P. Huntington. I came across so many great stories, so many fascinating details about him, I realized I had enough material for a show JUST about Collis. So, what we have is his story, from birth to grave. The man lived a jam-packed life... he was involved in just about everything of importance that happened in the century. It's a two-hour time machine...with songs about giant skeeters.

Q: How does a festival like this benefit you as a writer?

A: As a writer you tend to get a bit insulated... especially if no one knows you're writing. The workshop process has been invaluable to me, because the people who have been working on "Collis" in the rehearsals are some of the most talented people I have ever met, and their opinions have been vital to the final product. This is a much different play than the one we started with a few months ago. And just as important for me has been to hear what Larry Groce has done with the lyrics I created. It's a once-in-a-lifetime feeling to hear someone sing and play words you've written.

Q: What does it mean for you to present this through MU's Dept. of Theatre?

A: Let's face it, MUTD provides a level of creative excellence that can't be duplicated in our area. They have the best facilities, and the best people around. I also admire their guts in trotting out five brand new, unknown productions.

Q: Why would you say to the person reading this to convince them to see this performance?

A: If you come see this, you are going to see some of the best performers I have ever worked with, creating something brand new. You are going to hear a couple of amazing tunes by Larry Groce. You are going to learn a few things about a truly remarkable figure in American history. And you are going to laugh at a few jokes. And if it some day is a big hit, you'll be able to sell your playbill on Ebay. In summation: If you like it... I thank you with all my heart. If you DON'T like it, then I blame the director, Jack Cirillo.

Thanks, Clint! (Dang, I forgot to ask him about the exclamation point in the title.)

Once again, here's the schedule for the event:

Thursday, June 28, three new one-act plays will be presented: Wedding Bells by Adriana Echeverri, Interrogation by M. A. Cantrell and Lunch At the Fork n’ Finger by Jonathan Joy.

Friday, June 29, a new screenplay: Serious Business by T. Michael Murdock.

Saturday, June 30
, a new musical: Collis P!, written by Clint McElroy with new songs written by Mountain Stage’s Larry Groce.

For further information or to purchase tickets, visit the Marshall University Theatre box office or call 696-ARTS (2787). Tickets are priced at $5 per evening or a full festival pass (all three nights) at $12.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Works Festival - Mike Murdock Speaks!

OK, yesterday we heard from New Works Festival director Jack Cirillo. Now let's turn the podium over to Mike Murdock, whose screenplay Serious Business is being presented Friday night as part of the three-night event. Here are his answers to our email questions:

Q: Give us a quick recap of your work that's being presented.

A: I'm having a full-length feature film screenplay read. It's a comedy about a group of friends and filmmakers trying to make a movie against the odds, and all the terrible things that happen to them along the way. There are dirty words, midgets, gangsters, gunplay, comedy, tragedy and more comedy. It's a heapin' helpin' of entertainment.

Q: How does a festival like this benefit you as a writer?

A: It's great for me because not only do I get to hear voices lent to each character in the movie, but each reading will have a talk-back session afterward where the audience can talk about what they liked and what they didn't like. It's super to have a room full of people let you know what did work and what didn't. The process itself was great, too, because hearing people work with the text allowed me to polish it quite a bit and add or take away bits and pieces to make things better.

Q: What does it mean for you to present this through MU's Dept. of Theatre?

A: Honestly, it really means a lot. I've gone to several schools, but Marshall is my hometown venue, and where I graduated, so it holds a special place in my heart. They treated me well there and are continuing to even after I've gone to make my way in the world. It makes me think they're as proud of me as I am of being a Marshall graduate. At the end of the day, I would've loved to have been able to make this movie in Huntington. I guess we'll see how the response is on Friday, and we'll go from there.

Q: Why would you say to the person reading this to convince them to see this performance?

A: It's funny. It's belly-laugh-out-loud funny. And it's only a READING. Can you imagine if you actually saw it on screen? And I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my own horn, here, but even the actors still giggle and laugh through the readings, so something must be right about it. This is a great chance to see something read that 99 percent of the people in this area will never get. How often does a screenplay come to town? Especially from a hometown boy who has spent the last three years in Hollywood? I honestly believe that anyone that comes to see this will, on some level, enjoy it, or, at the very least, learn something about the process of writing. It's been a great month setting this up, and I would love to see big crowds on all three nights of the festival. Everybody has worked really hard to present something special each night, and it shouldn't be missed.

Thanks, Mike!

Tomorrow: we'll hear from writer / actor / radio personality / teen heartthrob Clint McElroy.

New Works Fest Information

It occurs to me that we've been talking about the New Works Festival, but I haven't printed the Press Release that gives all the basic information about the event. Allow me to correct that oversight:

The first annual Robert Hinchman New Works Festival 2007 will be presented by Marshall University Theatre and the Marshall University College of Fine Arts.

The three night festival will present both staged and unstaged readings of five new plays over three consecutive evenings, June 28-30. All readings will begin at 8:00PM in the Francis Booth Experimental Theatre of the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse.

Each evening’s readings will be followed by a discussion / question and answer session with the playwright, director and cast. Participation is both welcome and encouraged.

The schedule of events is as follows: On Thursday, June 28, three new one-act plays will be presented - two by student playwrights from Middle Tennessee State University - Wedding Bells by Adriana Echeverri and Interrogation by M. A. Cantrell. Also presenting that evening will be Lunch At the Fork n’ Finger by published playwright and Marshall University Theatre Alumni, Jonathan Joy.

On Friday, June 29, a new screenplay: Serious Business by T. Michael Murdock will be presented. Murdock is a Marshall University Alumni and a professional actor/director who currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca.

Finally, on Saturday, June 30, a new musical, Collis P!, written by one of Huntington’s most recognizable personalities, Clint McElroy; offers (in musical form) a biographic tale of the founding father of this great city. As an added bonus, three new songs written for Collis P! by Mountain Stage’s own Larry Groce will be presented.

For further information or to purchase tickets, visit the Marshall University Theatre box office or call 696-ARTS (2787). Tickets are priced at $5 per evening or a full festival pass (all three nights) at $12.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Works Festival - Jack Cirillo Speaks!

To learn more about the upcoming "New Works Festival" at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, we fired a few email questions at the director, MU Professor Jack Cirillo. Here's what he had to say:

Q: Just what is a "New Works Festival" and is this the first for our area?

A: The Robert Hinchman New Works Fest is in its first season and to my knowledge it is the first of its kind in this area. What “new works” and “playwright” festivals typically do is workshop and develop the workings of new plays in an effort to prepare them for production. It’s an opportunity for the playwright to have at his/her disposal a director and cast to work through their play aloud - sometimes with staging and sometimes without but always with script in hand — this insures that the emphasis of focus remains on the play itself and not on performance or stagecraft. This kind of reader’s theatre format often times gives a great deal of information to the playwright about clarity of plot points, character motivation and conflict.

Q: Why did MU's Dept. of Theatre decide to tackle this project?

A: We’ve been looking for ways to incorporate more contemporary material into our season and this is a great way of doing it. I think it also speaks directly to the educational mission of the Department, the College and most definitely the University. The New Works Fest is primarily focused on development and collaboration, not only among playwright, director, performers and designers; but with the audience as well. (SEE PROGRAM NOTES BELOW)

Q: How were the works chosen?

A: This first year I thought it important to feature “local” and alumni playwrights, i.e. Clint McElroy, Jon Joy and Mike Murdock. I also asked some colleagues from colleges and universities from our region that I am familiar with through the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (an organization that Marshall University Theatre is very involved with). I received (in a very short time) about 35 plays for perusal and I selected two from Middle Tennessee State University that I thought would pair well with Jon Joy’s one-act: Lunch at the Fork n’ Finger.

Q: What kind of challenge is this for the actors taking part?

A: Very challenging in that there is not a whole lot of rehearsal for these plays — about 20 hours each. The very nature of this work is in immediacy. By that I mean that changes may and will happen constantly throughout the process. An actor may get line changes or even recast 20 minutes before we do it for an audience! You’ve got to be able to adapt quickly. Also, the actor has do to much of the work with their voice as most of the time they are in a chair, reading their part.

Q: Do you hope to make this an annual event?

A: Absolutely. We’re committed to doing this for the foreseeable future. We hope to grow and learn from this season and hopefully broaden the scope of what we do and how we present the work in years to come. I look forward to developing other partnerships like the one created with Middle Tennessee State University this year. Also it is my goal to not only provide an opportunity for new playwrights, but for nationally recognized professional talents as well.

Thanks, Jack, for taking the time to answer those questions! He also sent along this information, which is also featured in the program for the event:

Great theatre begins with an idea and more often than not, that initial spark of creation is ignited by the playwright. But don’t get the wrong impression; the difficult journey of a play from “idea” to fully mounted production is not the solitary task of any one individual, quite the contrary. What makes the theatre such a magnificent art form is the fact that it is such a remarkable demonstration of collaboration. It is through the artistic collaboration of the playwright, the director, the actor, the designer—and eventually the audience that the initial idea of the playwright’s story can develop mature and (finally) be told.

It is the goal of the Robert Hinchman New Works Fest to encourage, develop, and present the playwright's tale in the early stages of the play's life. The plays of this year's festival are in the truest sense — works in progress. They have minimal staging, virtually no sets and very few props. What they do have however, is careful attention, hours of considered discussion and preparation, as well as the creative support of many gifted performers, directors and theatre artists to help define each play, each moment and each character. The plays will be read in “reader’s theatre” format so as to direct focus on the play itself (as opposed to individual performances and/or clever stagecraft).

What we hope to achieve is a clearer understanding of each play and the refinement of its story in an effort to bring it that much closer to full production. As an audience member of this “laboratory” experience, you too have an important contribution to make in the life of these plays. We are in need of your unique perspective. We need to know what your experience with this play is like. You are the “Test-Market” audience that will help to decide the future of these plays. In an effort to focus our discussion after the presentation you will see tonight, please consider these few guideline questions:

1. Did the play(s) capture your interest and imagination?

2. Were you in any way moved by the conflict of the central character(s)?

3. What did you find confusing or perhaps contrived in the piece?

4. Was the play given sufficient time to explore the story?

5. Would you be interested in seeing a fully mounted production of this play?

Tomorrow: We'll hear from writer / actor / bon vivant Mike Murdock.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Coming up - The New Works Festival

Marshall University's Department of Theatre is hosting a different kind of theatre event this week - a New Works Festival.

So what the heck is that, you ask? We were wondering the same thing - so we've arranged for interviews with some of the principles involved.

The first of those Q & A's will run in this space tomorrow, as we talk to the brains behind the idea: MU professor Jack Cirillo. Be there!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

One More Chance to catch "The Prayer List"

My family and I were part of the audience that enjoyed the performance of "The Prayer List" last night at the Joselyn Center (formerly the Camelot Theatre).

The play is a series of (seemingly) unconnected monologues delivered by several actors, all representing a different aspect of West Virginia culture - the good, the bad, and the underbelly. It made for a fun and funny hour, and congratulations to the cast for making the most of each part. It's not easy to create a character witout the usual props, with virtually no set and no other actors to interact with - but these performers did a great job.

The cast includes Dwight Slappe, Melissa Langham, Tressa Preston, Karah Markins, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy and Mike Murdock. (But be warned, that Murdock has a potty mouth on him.)

"The Prayer List" was written by local playwright Jon Joy, and it's also his entry in Charleston's FestivALL. If you missed last night's show, you have one more chance to catch it - there will be a performance at the Clay Center in Charleston Sunday at 4:00 p.m.


Friday, June 22, 2007

On Stage Tonight - "The Prayer List"

A reminder: tonight's the only Huntington show of "The Prayer List". The one-hour show starts at 8:00 p.m. at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (the old Camelot Theatre). Tickets are $6.00 (a bargain for live theatre).

Come on out and support the arts!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Record-Breaking Discussion

Hey, if you haven't checked out the comments section on the recent Censorship and Local Theatre entry, you're missing a good discussion!

Just click on the word "Comments" at the bottom of the entry to read it - and feel free to add to the discussion. With 23 comments (at last count), it holds the record for most comments to this blog in its nine-month existence!

Update: Now we're up to 25 comments!

Another Update: Make it 28!

One last update: OK, 29 it is!

It's not over yet: Make it 31!

More on "The Prayer List"

Speaking of "The Prayer List" (did I mention that it plays one night only this Friday?), our pal Dave Lavender has a story about it in today's Herald-Dispatch - you can read it right here.

On Stage - The Prayer List

Mike Murdoch (who is everywhere these days, directing, acting - I even hear he has a book being published) sent this information about a show Friday night in downtown Huntington:

"The Prayer List"
By Jon Joy

When: THIS FRIDAY, June 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center (the old Camelot Theatre)
Tickets are $6.00

This is a 1-hour monologue play written by local playwright Jon Joy, and is also his entry in Charleston's FestivALL. It will have a second performance at the Clay Center in Charleston at 4:00 p.m. THIS SUNDAY!

The show features the talents of: Dwight Slappe, Melissa Langham, Tressa Preston, Karah Markins, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy and Mike Murdock (imagine that!)

It's a really funny show, and it's only happening once, and it's only an hour, and it will be a lot of fun, and, and, and...if you don't have anything to do Friday night, JOIN US!

The show contains adult language.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In Our Thoughts and Prayers

I wanted to take a moment and send out my condolences to the family and friends of Chris Withers and Bobby Gleason, the two young men who were taken from us much too soon after a tragic car accident in Alabama.

Both had ties to the local theatre community - Chris was a member of Huntington High School's Chamber Choir, and Bobby had appeared in First Stage shows - he was one of the wild boys in "Peter Pan."

Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their loved ones.

Spring Awakening on the Tony Awards

By the way, in case you missed it, here's the Spring Awakening performance from the Tony Awards, including Zack Braff's introduction. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Tony Effect

So even though it didn't exactly kill in the ratings, the Tony Awards still had a strong effect in terms of Broadway tickets sales - both good and bad.

The big winner, Spring Awakening, has been playing to sold-out crowds. Other shows that didn't do as well are closing their doors. You can read more about it right here at

Monday, June 18, 2007

Coming Soon: the New Works Festival

In case you missed this recent comment, here's some information about a series of performances coming up that you won't want to miss:

<< Incredibly talented and devilishly handsome Mike Murdock here (hey, your words, Chuck, not mine), with the info requested about the Marshall New Works Festival coming up week after next.

What: Robert Hinchman New Works Festival 2007

Where: The Marshall University Experimental Theatre in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse

When: Thursday, June 28th; Friday, June 29th; Saturday, June 30th, 2007, starting at 8 p.m. each night.

This is the official Marshall School of Theatre production for the Summer.

Here's how it works:

Thursday, June 28th
at 8 p.m.
Wedding Bells by Adriana Echeverri (from Middle Tennessee State)
Interrogation by M.A. Cantrell (also of MTSU)
Lunch at the Fork 'N Finger by Jon Joy

Each short play will be read by a full cast of actors, the playwrights will be in attendance, and a talkback will be held after each show to discuss the work.

Friday, June 29th, 8 p.m.
Serious Business - a feature length screenplay by Mike Murdock (yeah, that's me. And?)
Again, this will be read with a full cast of actors, as well as a viewing of filmed segments throughout, and a talkback will be held afterward. It's where I get to stand against the wall with a blindfold and a cigarette and everybody gets to take their shot.

Saturday, June 30th
, 8 p.m.
Collis P! - a new musical by Clint McElroy with music by Larry Gross (of MountainStage fame) (Editor's Note: The show is based on the life of Collis P. Huntington, the founder of the city.)

This will be read by a full cast, and selections of music will be played for the first time ANYWHERE!

As always, there will be a talkback afterward for everyone to ask Clint why there's an exclamation point at the end of the title.

So that's the skinny. Tickets will be $5 on the night of the show, or you can get a $12, 3-night pass to see all of 'em!

Everybody has given up a lot of time to work on these pieces, and not only is there good writing (if I do say so myself), but also great performances by the actors. It's gonna be a great 3 day event for theatre lovers and people that want to see the process by which plays make it to the stage, or, in my case, the silver screen.

None of these shows have been performed anywhere before, so be the first on your block to be able to say "Hey, I remember that show! I supported that from the outset!!"

In the meantime, thanks, Chuck, for getting this out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone in a couple of weeks! >>

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Home Again

I just got back in town after a quick trip to North Carolina, only to find the debate still raging over content in local shows. It's a great discussion with lots of interesting and informed opinions - thanks to all who have taken part, and keep those comments coming!

If you've missed it, you can catch up by clicking on the "Comments" link at the bottom of this page.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Breaking and Entering

Most theatre groups are non-profit, which means they exist on the tightest of budgets and the slimmest of margins.

For that reason, it's distressing to hear that some lowlife (or group of lowlifes) has once again broken into the storage facility of Huntington Outdoor Theatre (HOT). A few incidents like that can mean serious problems for most groups - hopefully the culprit will be apprehended soon. You can read more about it here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Fun Discussion

I've been enjoying the discussion about censorship and local theatre - you can read it (or better yet, join in) by clicking the "comment" button at the bottom of the entry titled "Censorship and Local Theatre."

By the way, this evening at Tascali's (try the spaghetti!) I ran into my pal, the incredibly talented (and devilishly handsome) Mike Murdoch. He reminded me that there will be a dramatic reading of his screenplay coming up at Marshall University in a couple of weeks. I should know this, since sons Evan and Justin were recruited to perform in it (though only Evan is able to take part). It's part of a weekend of dramatic readings, which will include a musical written by my former tag team partner (during our oh-so-brief wrestling career), Clint McElroy!

I'll have more about the performances as soon as someone involved sends me more information! (HINT, HINT!)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Censorship and Local Theatre

During the recent voting for favorite stage shows, my pal (and local actor and artist) Ryan Hardiman sent in a comment that included a brief editorial about censorship and community theatre. I thought it was definitely worth more discussion. Here's his comment:
<< ... I'm not saying we need to always be safe...we're often too safe. I'd love to see us stretch... I believe the best theatre should provoke, which is not necessarily the same as being offensive. It's interesting to me what most people will watch and accept in a film, yet are afraid to put on the stage. I'd like to explore that as a topic sometime and get the theatre community's feelings about why that is. I remember doing "South Pacific" a few years ago where the decision was made to change every "Damn" to "Darn" in the songs "Nothing Like a Dame" and "Bloody Mary"... it was just odd and unnecessary. I mean, it's Rodgers and Hammerstein! And it's not just language... it just seems in general that if a show is not absolutely squeaky clean and happy, it's dangerous territory for us.

Anyway, sorry about the soapbox. >>
No need for apology, Ryan - you raise a very good point. It's a bit of a touchy subject, because community theatre groups regularly make little edits to scripts to try to avoid offending someone in the audience - and certainly our area is a bit more conservative when it comes to language and adult themes on stage.

And we're not the only offenders in that area - I've received copies of scripts that had been used by groups in other states where entire scenes have been crossed out and obviously were not included in the show.

I've certainly seen alterations happen in local shows. Perhaps it's understandable for children's theatre or church shows. Perhaps we worry too much about not offending people in the audience - there's always someone who will get offended over almost anything, even the most innocent innuendo.

Still, you'd think an adult theatre group wouldn't worry about changing "Hell" to "Heck" or "Damn" to "Darn," but I've certainly seen it happen - sometimes just as a production is about to take the stage.

So readers, what do you think? Is a little censorship ok, or should the plays be left in their original form? As Ryan says, you'll certainly see and hear worse things in movies. Should local theatre groups be a little more daring in their presentations? Send us your comments!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

So Long, Mr. Wizard

I'm sorry to hear of the passing of "Mr. Wizard" - Don Herbert - who was almost 90 years old. I have fond memories of watching his show when I was young, as he made science fun and interesting. He wasn't particularly flashy or showy - but he knew how to keep the attention and capture the imagination of young viewers. Those of us who grew up in the '50s and '60s learned a lot from these shows.

Here's the story from today's AP wire:
TV's 'Mr. Wizard' Don Herbert Dies at 89
AP Television Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Don Herbert, who as television's "Mr. Wizard" introduced generations of young viewers to the joys of science, died Tuesday. He was 89. Herbert, who had bone cancer, died at his suburban Bell Canyon home, said his son-in-law, Tom Nikosey.

"He really taught kids how to use the thinking skills of a scientist," said former colleague Steve Jacobs. He worked with Herbert on a 1980s show that echoed the original 1950s "Watch Mr. Wizard" series, which became a fond baby boomer memory.

In "Watch Mr. Wizard," which was produced from 1951 to 1964 and received a Peabody Award in 1954, Herbert turned TV into an entertaining classroom. On a simple, workshop-like set, he demonstrated experiments using household items.

"He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along," Jacobs said. "You were learning about the forces of nature."

Herbert encouraged children to duplicate experiments at home, said Jacobs, who recounted serving as a behind-the-scenes "science sidekick" to Herbert on the '80s "Mr. Wizard's World" that aired on the Nickelodeon channel.

When Jacobs would reach for beakers and flasks, Herbert would remind him that science didn't require special tools.

"'You could use a mayonnaise jar for that,'" Jacobs recalled being chided by Herbert. "He tried to bust the image of scientists and that science wasn't just for special people and places."

Herbert's place in TV history was acknowledged by later stars. When "Late Night with David Letterman" debuted in 1982, Herbert was among the first-night guests.

Born in Waconia, Minn., Herbert was a 1940 graduate of LaCrosse State Teachers College and served as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War II. He worked as an actor, model and radio writer before starting "Watch Mr. Wizard" in Chicago on NBC.

The show moved to New York after several years.

He is survived by six children and stepchildren and by his second wife, Norma, his son-in-law said. A private funeral service was planned.

Don't Miss Jazz - MU - Tazz

Hey, don't miss out on the great music festival that starts tonight at Marshall University. You can read all about Jazz - MU - Tazz right here!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

And the Winner Is...

The votes are in (including a late ballot from Ryan – but we’re easy-going at the Tri-State Theatre blog). To recap, we invited readers to name the shows they’d like to see a local theatre group present. Who know, this may help one of the local groups choose an upcoming show!

As expected, there are lots of shows on the list, and most of them got a single vote. By the slimmest of margins, though, our winner is: “Guys and Dolls!” The gangster musical was last staged locally several years back by Huntington Outdoor Theatre (HOT) – looks like it’s time for a revival!

There's a three-way tie for second place: “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Man of La Mancha” and “1776.” “Drowsy” is still on Broadway and it’ll probably be at least a few years before it’s available to community theatre, but it’s definitely one to look forward to. “La Mancha” is a terrific show, and it’s hard to understand why this one hasn’t been produced locally (although it’s no doubt a challenging show). “1776” has been on stage a few times locally, with Marshall, HOT and ARTS tackling it – but it’s a great show, and I'd be glad to see it again.

The rest of the shows got only a single vote, but they’re all well worth considering. Here they are in alphabetical order with a brief comment from yours truly:
“A Year With Frog and Toad” - (I love this show)
“Beauty and the Beast” - (Ditto, but a huge undertaking financially)
“Evita” - (I’d love to see this one locally)
“The Full Monty” - (Ditto, but don’t expect me to audition for it) ;-)
“A Gilbert & Sullivan musical” – (This would be awesome. Hello, MU?)
“Jekyll & Hyde” – (I believe this was staged in Ashland – a great show)
“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” – (An all-time favorite, last presented by First Stage)
“The Last Five Years” – (I know lots of people who love the music to this one)
“Little Women” – (Excellent suggestion!)
O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night" – (Another great suggestion, and a real challenge)
“Meet Me in St. Louis” – (This one would be a lot of fun)
“The Producers” – (Another fave – can’t wait to see it locally)
“Rent” – (The adult content makes it a tough show to do locally, but it has terrific music)
“The Secret Garden” – (Great choice and a literary classic)
“Shenandoah” – (Surely someone has done this locally. If not, what are you waiting for?)
“Sweeney Todd” – (This would be awesome, but a major challenge)
“Tommy” – (I’d buy a ticket right now)
“Urinetown” – (Ditto)
“White Christmas” – (Surely someone will do this soon – it’s a natural)
“Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” – (As long as it’s based on the original movie, I’ll be there. Gene Wilder rules!)

And that’s our list for 2007. So there you go, local groups – some ready-made suggestions for great shows to add to your schedule.

Readers, thanks for taking part in our informal poll! Shall we try this again next year, just for fun?

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Short Delay...

OK, I know I said I'd have the results today of our informal poll about your favorite shows, but between live-blogging the Tonys and keeping up with real-life stuff, I'll have to postpone it until tomorrow. Sorry for the delay!

The Morning After

Well, the sun is shining and my typing fingers have recovered, so I guess it was a successful Tony Award show!

The big winners were definitely the alternate rock musical "Spring Awakening," which won eight Tonys, and the non-musical (and no longer running) "The Coast of Utopia" with seven wins. Only 25 awards were handed out, and of the ten left over, only "Grey Gardens" (with three) won more than one award.

For a complete recap (including lots of info about each show), you can check out the site.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tony Post #13

The final stretch! It's 10:56pm as we return - look for a quick wrap-up as they hand the "Best Musical" award to "Spring Awakening."

Angela Lansbury is back to present the award - the winner: "Spring Awakening." Who'da thunk it? Seriously, of all the musical performances tonight, it's the only one that stands out. Congrats to the show for what looks like a near-clean sweep!

A quick wrap up and we're off to the local news. Didn't I tell you they'd finish on time?

So, a solid show, though not filled with the kind of awesome song-and-dance numbers we might expect. Still, classy, in good taste (aside from one blooper) and devoid of the usual over-the-top "aren't we great" feeling you get from most award shows.

Thanks to all for tuning in to our live-blogging experiment. It's been fun! I'll have a final recap of the show tomorrow, assuming I'm still able to type. Good night!

Tony Post #12

Another "Viva" commercial - thank goodness, I had almost forgotten about it!

It's 10:40pm as we return - hey, I see light at the end of the tunnel!

As we return: Jane Alexander honors the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta - the group received its award earlier. Hey, here's Fantasia to honor the award to the Alliance by singing. She's terrific, of course, as an "American Idol" winner should be. Her voice seems a bit distorted, though - her voice is probably too strong for the mic. Again, the perils of live performance.

Next: Bernadette Peters (who has apparently not aged in two decades) and Harvey Fierstein. The award: Best Performance by a leading actor in a musical - this is the one Michael Cerveris is nominated for. The winner: David Hyde Pierce for "Curtains." (Sorry, Michael.) He honors his fellow nominees, and seems genuinely shocked to win. Great speech.

Next up: Ben Vereen and Usher. The award: Best Performance by a leading actress in a musical. This is the one Kentucky's Laura Bell Bundy is nominated for. The winner: Christine Ebersole for "Grey Gardens." (Sorry, Laura.)

Seven minutes left, they'd better kick it in gear. Commerical break.

Tony Post #11

It's 10:28pm as we return - I'm hoping to get my second wind any second now.

Christopher Plummer steps out - he mentions the passing of Vincent Sarde (sp?), who ran a famous restaurant and was such a great supporter of Broadway. Next award: Best Play. The winner: "The Coast of Utopia." (I know, I'm shocked, too.)

It's a nice touch, by the way, that the poster of each show is projected behind the winners. I'm not sure why it looks like it's on fire, but it's a nice visual. Not a big deal, but I like it.

Next: Zach Braff, who admits that he likes musical theatre (the audience applauds his confession). He introduces the musical performance from "Spring Awakening." High-energy rock number - impressive! Looks like they censored themselves a few times there for the national audience, but it's definitely the best number of the night.

Commercial time!

Tony Post #10

Could they run more ads for the TV show "Viva Laughlin?" Are theatre fans also gambling addicts?

It's 10:09pm as we return. I can't feel my hands, either.

A performance from "Jersey Boys" kicks off the segment. Wow, it's easy to see why the show is a hit - these guys are awesome. They lead into a recap of the "Creative Arts" Tony Awards - once again, virtually every award went to "Spring Awakening" and "The Coast of Utopia" (though there are some exceptions. Hey, "Mary Poppins" won one for Best Scenic Design!

Next up: Best Performance By a Leading Actor in a (non-musical) Play. The winner: Frank Langella for "Frost/Nixon." It's his third Tony. He gives a classy acceptance speech.

Next: a performance from he musical "Grey Gardens." Looks like a funny show, but the problem with live performances (which is what we get with the Tonys): the orchestra seems to be trying to drown out Christine Ebersole - and is largely succeeding. Again, a strong performance - but not the show-stopper you would expect from Broadway.

Commercial break, with a tease of a performance from "Spring Awakening" and Fantasia (who's in "The Color Purple").

Tony Post #9

It's 9:57pm as we return. One hour to go - will I make it?

Jane Krakowski is back with Kevin Spacey - two talented folks, I must say. Spacey makes reference to her earlier skit with John Mahoney (the one where the naughty word slipped out). Funny. They present the award for Best revival of a musical. The winner: "Company." Whoops, their thank-you speech ran long - the mic was cut off before the last guy could talk. No running over in the Tonys, people!

Next: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a (non-musical) Play. Some heavy hitters here. The winner: Julie White for "The Little Dog Laughed." She seems outraged by the choice, mouthing "Oh my God!" and "What?" before she stands up. She's laying it on thick here. "I can't feel my hands. Is that a bad thing?" Funny. She ends with a resouding "Yah=hoo!"

Teaser before the commercial for "Grey Gardens."

Tony Post #8

It's 9:42pm as we return.

First up: they're reviewing the nominees for Best Play. Since they don't have flashy songs to present, they show us clips (or montages) from each show. Hey, "The Coast of Utopia" is nominated. Wonder if it'll win? Also up: "Frost/Nixon," "The Little Dog Laughed" and "Radio Golf."

Next award: Best Revival of a Play. They also show some clips from each nominee: "Inherit the Wind," "Journey's End," "Talk Radio" and "Translations." The winner: "Journey's End." Wow, there's a guy in their group wearing plaid pants. In a sea of tuxedos, that's confidence.

Theatre legend Tommy Tune steps out - he talks about the theatre people we're lost over the past year - they flash across the screen behind him while he talks and sings. I'd rather see a full screen of the clips, but at least the audience doesn't applaud each person like at the Oscars - a gruesome way to say "I liked him" or "I don't know that guy." Sorry, wandered off on a vent there. Commercial break to shots of Broadway turning out its lights in honor of those who passed away. Classy.

Tony Post #7

Angela was right, this live-blogging is tough work. Don't try this at home, kids! If not for DVR I'd never make it!

It's 9:24pm as we return. A couple of American Theater Wing executives come out to talk about the good work they do - and the Phantom of the Opera's chandelier drops on them - hilarious! And convincing! The "understudies" rush out and fight through the "script" - a funny way to get through the required dry catalog of the good work the group does. Holy cow, the actor just said the G-D curse word as he walked off (we're too genteel to repeat it here) and the censor bleeped at the wrong time! Someone's gonna get slapped on that one, even though he was obviously just joking around - he probably thought his mic was off!

Next (hey, the show must go on): a sample of the year's musicals: an excellent montage.

Next award: best direction of a musical. The winner: "Spring Awakening's" Michael Mayer. What a shock! Interesting - a quick shot from behind him - no wonder these people are nervous - he's talking in front of a crowd of about 10,000!

Next: a performance from "Company." A terrific performance, but it's a solo - not exactly a show-stopper. Still, excellent work.

Off to the next commercial - they're promoting Fantasia's upcoming performance heavily.

Tony Post #6

It's 9:10pm as we return. Ah, a classic Tony moment replay - great idea! Billy Crystal tries to "steal" the hosting job from Hugh Jackman. Funny bit.

The next presenter is Harry Smith. Which begs the question: why? Because CBS is hosting the show, of course. He introduces a look back at "The Year in Plays." Quick clips from shows that were presented this year - not all of them, though - I suppose the rest will follow later. (Update: Nope, it was just a sampling of shows.)

The next award: best direction of a play (by the way, Cynthia Nixon wins the "deepest cleavage on display so far" award.) The winner: Jack O'Brien for "The Coast of Utopia." Should they just go ahead and hand over all the non-musical awards to this show and all the mucial ones to "Spring Awakening?" It would save everyone a lot of time.

Hey, in looking at the last audience shot it occurs to me that the difference between this show and the Oscars is that the audience looks like real people, as opposed to androids. Just an observation, not a criticism.

Next award is presented by Eddie Izzard. Go figure (I know, he's in a show - I'm kidding.) He's also very funny, but you get the feeling he'd talk all night if they'd let him. Of cours, the show might be better for it. The award is for Best Special Theatrical Event. (Aren't they all special?) The winner: "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only."

Commercial break!

Tony Post #5

Coming back from the break, the Mayor of New York does a funny bit promoting Broadway - as well he should.

It's 8:53pm as we come back. The next award: best choreography. The winner: Bill T. Jones for "Spring Awakening." He dances down the aisle (which seems appropriate) and virtually mugs David Hyde Pierce. Again, I think we have a definite winning trend going here. He takes a moment for the people not here - "Some above and probably some below," he jokes.

On to the next award - you gotta like the Tonys, they keep things moving. Next: best performance by a featured actress in a (non-musical) play. The winner: Jennifer Ehle for "The Coast of Utopia." She gives an emotional and classy acceptance.

The next performance is from "Mary Poppins" - it's "Chim Chim Cherie," though I'll bet it goes into the awesome "Steppin' Time" (my favorite number from the movie, I should add). Yep! Let's see if they recreate the amazing stunt in the song, where Burt dances up the side of the stage. Nope, but they do have a dancing (virtually) naked statue out there. Yikes! Looks like they went with a montage of songs instead. Still mighty impressive.

Commercial time - no clever toss this time.

Tony Post #4

The next commercial break kicks off with an ad for the show "Spamalot," which I'd love to see.

Hey, here's an ad for the Clay Center's Broadway series - excellent idea, people! And a great lineup.

It's about 8:35pm as we get back to the show. The next award: best original score. By the way, whoever dreamed up those little mini-ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen during a show should be shot. I'm just saying is all. The winner: "Spring Awakening." Fighting-to-keep-from-crying guy is back - will he hold it together this time? Yep, he did it. His writing partner says, "Musical theatre rocks." Nice.

Next award: best performance by a featured actress in a muscial. A big one! The winner: Mary Louise Wilson for "Grey Gardens." It's her first Tony in her long career. Ha! She says everyone has been so articulate, and lets out a big hillbilly whoop. She said, people ask, if you win, do you feel a mistake has been made? She says, "I don't." Despite the beginning, she give a classy thanks. By the way, the mic they're using is too tall - it blocks the faces of the short people. Guess they don't have the adjustable one most of these shows use. Surprising, really.

The next musical number is introduced. It's from "110 in the Shade." It's by Audra McDonald and John Cullun (loved him in "Northern Exposure"). Wow, she's terrific (but then if you've seen her, you know that already)! He doesn't do much singing, but he does squeeze in some dancing.

They tease to the commercial with a Mary Poppins bit.

Tony Post #3

During the commercial break, an ad runs for "Lion King" - very smart of the producers to take advantage of the fact that theatre fans are tuned in. Great show, too - I recommend it.

It's about 8:20pm, and we're back for the next segment - it starts with an interview with Heidi Klum, talking about how much she enjoyed going to the theatre while growing up. She talked me into it. ;-)

The next award: best book of a musical. The winner: "Spring Awakening" by Steven Sater. I'm beginning to detect a trend. Funny, he says his son warned him not to start crying. Not sure he's going to make it. His voice is quavering. "I'm so proud to be part of the American Theatre." He made it without breaking down - good for him.

Next up: a presentation by an actress who is apparently wearing a gigantic pop tab around her neck (but it is holding up her dress, so it's ok). She presents a musical performance from nominee John Kander. He gets a standing ovation. (Hey, there's Michael Cerveris clapping in the audience.) Kander introduces the song from the show "Curtains." He moves out of the way and the first nominated number starts. It's another one of those "isn't show business great?" songs. Solid number, fun in an old-fashioned way.

With a brief excerpt from another show, we're off to the next commercial break.

Tonys Post #2

The 61st Annual Tony Awards kicks off with the cast of "Chorus Line" on the street in front of Radio City Music Hall - very cool! Marvin Hamlisch is playing - live, I assume - a good start. Now the obligatory introduction of the 8 thousand presenters, which is always boring.

Now the "Chorus Line" cast is on the stage, in full glittering costume. Pretty nifty.

The first presenter - Angela Lansbury, who gets a huge ovation - much deserved. She sets up the sho0w - the usual history - then introduces Neil Patrick Harris and Christina Applegate who will actually hand out the first award. First award - best performance by an actor in a (non-musical) play. The winner: Billy Crudup for "The Coast of Utopia." He thanks them for pronouncing his name correctly (it's "Crude-up"). He thanks a few dozen people, and is finally played off - seems like a nice guy.

Next up: the award for best performance by an actor in a musical. The winner: John Gallagher, Jr. for "Spring Awakening." He's talking incredibly fast - you'll note the Tonys always end on time (unlike the Oscars) - that's because they're required to by the networks. Despite his speed, he still gets played off by the orchestra at the end.

The inevitable "Sopranos" joke (from Frazier's brother, no less) sends us to the first commercial break.

The Tonys Post #1

Happy Tony night, everyone! I'll be updating regularly, so refreash often (say, during every commercial) and forgive me any typos - typing fast isn't exactly my strong suit!

Set the Stage

So tonight's the Tony Awards, and as Mark Evanier mentions in his blog, it's a show that usually tanks in the ratings. Even when it focuses on relatively familiar shows like "The Producers," or uses a well-known celebrity as the host (no "star" host this year - just lots of famous presenters), it usually does poorly in the ratings - and to add to its woes this year, it's up against the finale of "The Sopranos."

Still, to fans of theatre, it's a chance to sample the new shows or celebrate familiar ones, so it'll be interesting to see what they do - especially since none of the shows nominated in major categories, outside of "Mary Poppins," are known to the general public. Still I'll be watching - hope you'll join me and the other 99 people across the country!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tomorrow: the Tonys!

We'll be wrapping up two "events" tomorrow here at your friendly neighborhood "Tri-State Theatre" blog:

Sunday night we'll be live-blogging the Tonys. You can either check in after the show to read the running commentary or you can visit the site and hit "refresh" every now and then to read the latest. You can also leave your own comments as the show rolls on! I've been looking forward to trying this for a while - hope it works!

Also, tomorrow's the last day in our "what do the readers think?" poll. We want you to leave a comment, telling us what shows you'd like to see on stage locally. Who knows, your idea may get picked up by a local theatre group!

The clock is ticking...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Still Waiting To Hear From You, Readers

We're still looking for your suggestions for future community theatre shows. Local theatre groups tend to make those decisions in a dark room - here's your chance to shed some light and make your voice heard!

So tell us your favorite show, or name a show you'd like to see. We'll be taking votes until next Monday.

You can vote by leaving a comment (just click on the link at the bottom of this entry). You don't have to leave your real name or your email address - just tell us what shows you'd like to see and why. If you'd rather avoid the comments process, you can send an email to The

Uncle Chuck wants you - to vote!

"High School Musical 2" News

Hey, you can get the latest about the upcoming release of "High School Musical 2" over at Angela Henderson's excellent "Stay Tuned" site. Anyone who watches TV should check her site regularly!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we're about a month away from auditions for this fall's First Stage production of "Disney's High School Musical."

How I love cross-promotion!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Famous Faces at the Tony Awards

They've announced the final lineup of presenters who'll appear at Sunday night's Tony Awards. (You know what would be fun? Liveblogging the show!)

Here's the announcement:

2007 Tony Awards Names Presenters

New York, NY – Some of entertainment's biggest stars will be joining the already stellar line-up of presenters at the 61st Annual Tony Awards. Zach Braff, Matthew Broderick, Harvey Fierstein, Marvin Hamlisch, Marcia Gay Harden, Mark Indelicato, John Kander, Patti LuPone, Bebe Neuwirth, Donny Osmond, Bernadette Peters and Ben Vereen will take the stage at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 10. The Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall on CBS, Sunday, June 10, 8:00 – 11:00 p.m. The 2007 Tony Awards are presented by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing.

These talented names will be joining previously announced presenters Harry Connick, Jr., Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino, Neil Patrick Harris, Anne Heche, Marg Helgenberger, Judd Hirsch, Felicity Huffman, Eddie Izzard, The Jersey Boys – John Lloyd Young, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer; Melina Kanakaredes, Jane Krakowski, Angela Lansbury, Robert Sean Leonard, John Mahoney, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Bernadette Peters, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Plummer, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Spacey, John Turturro, Usher, Sam Waterston, Vanessa Williams and Rainn Wilson.

The Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards are bestowed annually on theatre professionals for distinguished achievement. The Tony is one of the most coveted awards in the entertainment industry and the annual telecast is considered one of the most prestigious programs on television.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What Do You Think?

I'm continuing my campaign to get suggestions for future community theatre shows - we have about 21 suggestions sent in so far, and we'll be taking votes until next Monday, so let us know what shows you would like to see on a local stage.

You can vote by leaving a comment - just click on the link at the bottom of this entry. You don't have to leave your real name or your email address - just tell us what shows you'd like to see and why. If you'd rather avoid the comments process, you can send an email to The

I know someone out there has a great idea for a show - so share already! If nothing else, it'll make my day!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Make Your Voice Heard!

OK, we have more than a dozen entries so far in our "Name your favorite show" question - but there are lots of you out there who have't expressed your opinion yet! (That's right, pal - I'm looking at you!)

We want to hear what theatrical show (musical or non) that you'd like to see a local theatre group tackle.

Here's how it works: you can vote by leaving a comment - just click on the link at the bottom of this entry. You don't have to leave your real name or your email address - just tell us what shows you'd like to see and why. If you'd rather avoid the comments process, you can send an email to The

If you don't vote you can't complain when a show you don't like wins!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Your Favorite Shows

OK, readers, it's time to make your voice heard! The question of the week is: what stage shows (musical or non-musical) would you like to see presented locally?

Most community theatre groups choose their shows the same way: a small group of people, usually members of the board guiding the theatre group, get together and decide what shows the group will tackle in the coming year.

Here at your Tri-State Theatre blog, we think it's time you had a voice in this process. So tell us what show (or shows) you'd like to see on stage. We'll add up the votes and present the winners a week from today.

You can vote by leaving a comment - just click on the link at the bottom of this entry. You don't have to leave your real name or your email address - just tell us what shows you'd like to see and why. If you'd rather avoid the comments process, you can send an email to The

Of course, there are many shows that aren't available to community theatre groups - like Wicked and Phantom of the Opera, for example. Anything that's still running strong on Broadway probably won't be available for a few years.

But here's your chance to make your voice heard - who knows, the local theatre groups all read this blog - maybe they'll like your suggestion and add it to their upcoming season! Your vote might change local theatre!

So vote now!

A Week to the Tonys!

Yep, the Tony Awards program is just a week away. The award show honoring the best in Broadway shows begins at 8:00 p.m. on CBS - and as I might have mentioned, I'll be live-blogging the event right here, so check in next Sunday and see how I'm doing.

In the meantime, tomorrow I'll be posing a question to you, dear reader - one that could affect the future of local theatre! What could it be? Be here and find out!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Wild Ride

Excuse the lack of blogging today, but the family and I finally got around to an activity I've been trying to talk them into for years - we went whitewater rafting on West Virginia's New River!

It was great fun, thanks to our pals at Songer Rafting (and our guide Doug, who was a hoot and a half). What better way to spend a beautiful Saturday than rolling down the scenic New River Gorge on a great day like today?

I'll admit that I was tossed into the drink by an unexpected bounce, but I had lots of company there, and it didn't take away from a great experience.

If you're interested in some real-world adventure, I recommend giving whitewater a try!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dancing Between Seasons

OK, so right now we're kind of in limbo when it comes to local theatre productions. Most groups are built around doing shows in the fall and the spring, so those groups are ready to hit the beach. Some groups do summer shows, and they're in the middle of rehearsals right now.

There is one group that takes the stage at this time of year - the dance studios. For the past few weeks they've been putting on their final recitals, and (according to the notices I've seen) they take on all different forms.

The only one I've seen featured my lovely wife, and it featured an assortment of dance styles and different ages, from toddlers to grownups.

I saw five shows mentioned in the Herald-Dispatch's Entertainment section this week, and two have already taken place. But if you're into dance, you can still catch these shows:

- Tonight at 7:30 p.m.: the Spring Concert for the Community at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center, presented by the Huntington Dance Theatre.

- Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.: Alice in Wonderland at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center.

- Saturday at 2:00 p.m.: Noah's Animal Parade and Soul Therapy at the Renaissance Theater, presented by Miracles in Motion Dance Academy.