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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.

Friday, May 30, 2008

On Stage This Weekend - "Jane," "Morrie" and the Symphony

There are a couple of excellent shows this weekend in Charleston:

Jane Eyre
Charleston Stage Company
May 29 - 31 at 8 p.m. at the Clay Center

Tuesdays With Morrie

Kanawha Players
May 30, 31 and June 6, 7 at 8 p.m. at the KP Theatre

And don't miss Symphony Sunday with the WV Symphony Orchestra performance mentioned in the last blog entry!

Enjoy the shows!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Enjoy the Symphony on Sunday!

Here's a great way to spend your Sunday - enjoying the symphony in Charleston! Here's all the info about that show, which features my pal Ryan Hardiman (that's him singing in the photo on the right):
West Virginia Symphony Orchestra presents BAYER SYMPHONY SUNDAY 2008

WV Symphony Orchestra

On the Riverfront lawn of
University of Charleston
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Symphony Sunday is a full day of music, food, and family fun, culminating in a FREE performance at 8pm by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra featuring vocalist Ryan Hardiman, 2008 Symphony Idol. Concert will conclude with a spectacular fireworks over the Kanawha River.

Beginning at 1 p.m.: Entertainment and fun all day, featuring FREE lawn activities, including a Hats off to the Symphony exhibit, Wild Bass Saxophones, a used book, DVD, and video sale, hands-on learning activities for the kids, the Clay Center's erupting volcano, and much, much more! A tempting array of food items will also be on sale throughout the day.

Mainstage Entertainment Schedule

1:00 - 1:30 p.m. Kanawha Valley Ringers
1:30 – 1:45 p.m. WV Kickers (substage)
1:45 - 2:15 p.m. Mountain State Brass Band
2:15 – 2:30 p.m. WV Kickers (substage)
2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Charleston Neophonic Orchestra
3:00 – 3:15 p.m. WV Kickers ( substage)
3:15 – 3:45 p.m. Charleston Metro Band
3:45 – 4:00 p.m. WV Kickers (substage)
4:00 – 4:15 p.m. WVYS Cadet Strings
4:25 – 4:45 p.m. WVYS Youth Strings
4:55 – 5:15 p.m. WVYS Wind Ensemble
5:25 – 5:45 p.m. WVYS Youth Orchestra
6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Kanawha Valley Community Band
8:00 p.m. WEST VIRGINIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA featuring Ryan Hardiman, "2008 Symphony Idol"
Fireworks to follow concert

Driving directions from the West: Travel 1-64 East to Charleston. Take the Oakwood Road Exit 58A and follow the signs to Route 61 South-Marmet. Once on Route 61 South (MacCorkle Ave.), travel approximately 1.5 miles. The campus is on the left.

Parking for Symphony Sunday is available at the University of Charleston and in the parking lot of Columbia Gas Transmission, 1700 MacCorkle Avenue SE. Shuttle service will be provided between the Columbia Gas parking lot and the University of Charleston.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Thankfully Rare Event

I don't know about your neighborhood, but mine is buzzing - thanks to the swarms of cicadas that are putting in a brief appearance.

The big bugs burrow out of the ground and fly around, making a cumulatively loud buzzing noise worthy of any science fiction movie. They leave behind their husks and then they go away for another 17 years.

The Herald-Dispatch has a photo gallery with several shots of the visitors, including this one by Melissa Bossie in Charleston, who calls them "Beautiful bugs!"

Like I always say, it takes all kinds. You can see more photos right here.

(Yes, I know this has nothing to do with theatre - but I figure since they visit so rarely, the least I could do is give the cicadas a mention.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Coming Up - "Tuesdays with Morrie"

Running over the next two weekends in Charleston is the excellent play Tuesdays with Morrie. Here's some more information about the show and the cast, courtesy of my pal Ryan Hardiman:
The Kanawha Players presents Tuesdays With Morrie, the final show of their 86th season.

The stage version of Mitch Albom’s best-selling book will take the stage May 30-31 and June 6-7 starring Jim Lewis as the title character Morrie Schwartz and Jeff Haught as sportswriter Mitch Albom. Debbie Haught directs.

This is the first play to be produced onstage at the new theatre space currently undergoing renovation at 309 Beauregard Street on Charleston’s Historic East End. A special opening night performance will honor donors and season ticket holders.

Tickets for the remaining nights of performance, May 31, June 6-7, 2008, will be available online at ; $16 (adults) and $10 (students). With maximum seating of 225, tickets should be purchased early. If seats remain available, tickets will be sold at the door on the night of performance.

The play is based on the autobiographical story of Mitch Albom, an accomplished journalist driven solely by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Sixteen years after graduation, Mitch happens to catch Morrie’s appearance on a television news program and learns that his old professor is battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Mitch is reunited with Morrie, and what starts as a simple visit turns into a weekly pilgrimage and a last class in the meaning of life.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

Hope you're having a great holiday, gentle reader!

It's the time of year when we honor those who have passed before us and who made it possible for us to enjoy the freedom and security we take so much for granted - like the Soldiers on Iwo Jima, pictured here in one of the most famous photos of all time.

I've had quite a few of my ancestors who fought for this country, including my earliest known ancestor, Ludwig Von Minsker (no, I am not making this up) who fought in the Revolutionary War, to my grandfather, Pearl R. Hill, who fought in World War I, and my dad, Walt Minsker, who served in the Navy aboard a minesweeper in the Philippines during World War II.

Today's the day to bow your head and send a kind thought to your ancestors, too. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid - and should never be forgotten.

Heroes one and all!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

With apologies to the band Chicago, I thought I'd respond to a recent comment from my pal Mark. Referring to a recent post, he wrote:
Chuck...really... You posted this at 3:42 a.m.?? Do you need some warm milk and a bedtime story? Geez! LOL
As I told Mark: No, I wasn't posting at 3:42 a.m. - but I should explain that the times listed on the blog aren't always what they seem.

Part of the reason for that is that the company that hosts the site - Blogger - is based on the west coast, so all the times listed are Pacific time. So if I publish a post at 6:00 p.m., it shows up as being posted at 3:00 p.m. (This is especially noticeable on the rare occasions when I live blog, and I seem to be publishing three hours before the event.) There's probably a way to fix this, but I'm not computer savvy enough to figure it out, so I just live with it.

But the confusion doesn't stop there. Blogger also allows me to schedule posts to pop up at any time - so I often schedule the posts randomly, just for the fun of it, and to give you, gentle reader, a good reason to check back here. I try to post here at least once a day, but it would be boring if the post always showed up at the same time. I know, I'm weird. But it's a good kind of weird, right? Right?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Elmo's In Town!

You have one more chance to catch Elmo, Big Bird and the rest of the Sesame Street gang.

You can read the story from the Herald-Dispatch right here.

The show is called Elmo Makes Music, and the last show is Sunday at 2 p.m.

Admission prices are $12 and $15, with a limited number of $18 premium seats and $22 Gold Circle seats available. For tickets, call 304-523-5757 or visit Ticketmaster. Additional information can be obtained at

Friday, May 23, 2008

High School Drama Contest

Hey, in case you missed it in the Sunday Herald-Dispatch, USA Weekend is running another contest for high school musicals (which includes both regular high school musicals and groups that have staged Disney's High School Musical).

Thanks to my pal Len for sending me a reminder on this! Here's the info:
Is your high school's musical a winner?

High school students, parents and schools are invited to strut their stuff by entering the second annual HSM Showstopper event, the only national recognition of outstanding high school musicals. Any high school musical mounted during the 2007-08 school year is eligible.

PLUS: Is your school performing the smash Disney hit High School Musical? USA WEEKEND is partnering with Disney Theatrical Productions (DTP) to award a special HSM winner.

Go here and you can download the Entry Form for all the details.

The winning show will be announced to 50 million readers in an August issue of the magazine and featured on!

The Deadline for entries is June 6, 2008. Good luck!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hail to the Chief?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I recently received a "promotion" that was both humbling and frightening. At the last meeting of the board of directors for First Stage Theatre Company (the local children's theatre, natch), the board, in a moment of sheer insanity, decided to vote me in as President of the Board.

It should come as no surprise that I wasn't actually at the meeting, which makes it a lot tougher to duck these volunteer assignments. But since I spent the last two years as the group's Vice-President, I guess I shouldn't be so shocked.

Still, it's frightening to find myself at the helm of one of the area's oldest and most respected community theatre groups (with all due modesty). Thankfully, we have a fantastic group of board members to keep things rolling along, so it'll take a real effort on my part to mess things up. Also, the board had the wisdom to name Elaine Young as the group's Vice-President, and she may very well be the hardest-working - and most dedicated - person I know. Just knowing she's there gives me confidence!

I also have the benefit of following some outstanding past presidents. The most recent, C.E. Wilson, is a great friend, a terrific leader and an outstanding actor in his own right. He's been guiding the group for the past five years, and he's led us through some of our most successful seasons ever! First Stage is in terrific shape and ready for the years ahead, and C.E. deserves the credit for that.

The President before him was Tom Hastie, who helped guide First Stage through its first years of existence as a stand-alone organization. Tom was always ready with good advice, was ready to work and always focused on what was best for the kids.

Before Tom was Jerry Morse, and it was Jerry who managed the superhuman effort of creating First Stage. The organization spent its first 10 years as MAG-CT (Musical Arts Guild - Children's Theatre), a branch of the grown-up Musical Arts Guild. It was an incredible undertaking to create a new, standing-on-its-own-two-feet community theatre company for young people, and Jerry's the one who made it happen. He also directed several excellent shows and was (and is) fantastic at set design and building.

Before Jerry was Clint McElroy, who led the group to tackle some of its most challenging shows and built the group's reputation for outstanding productions. He also directed some of First Stage's most successful shows, including Peter Pan, Bye Bye Birdie (twice), Seussical and Cats, to name just a few. He's also one of the area's best actors (I'll let Clint, C.E., and a few others duke it out for the "Best of" title)!

Before Clint was George Snider, and if there were any presidents before him, they were before my time. George is one of the original founders who got MAG-CT up and running and he directed virtually all the group's shows in those early years - a most impressive feat!

So you can see, I have a lot to live up to. My main goal will be to try to stay out of the way of all the talented people we have on the board, and the wonderful parent volunteers who make the shows possible - and most importantly, the young actors who make up the cast and crew of First Stage shows.

What can I say? It's an honor to be part of the team!

Dave's Trippin' Friday Night (and Signing Books, Too)

It has nothing to do with local theatre, but Dave's my pal, so here's a free plug for his excellent new book.

Author, reporter and all-around swell guy Dave Lavender will be signing copies of his new Dave Trippin' book Friday at Borders - here are the details:
On Wednesday, gas just hit $3.99 in Huntington, and if want to go traveling in the region this Memorial Day Weekend and into the summer travel season, it’s good to be armed with knowledge of good places to go close by.

Road warrior and Herald-Dispatch travel and entertainment writer Dave Lavender has penned the Tri-State’s first travel book to encompass all three states.

Lavender, who was born and raised in southern Ohio, educated in Kentucky, and lives in West Virginia, will be signing copies of his book, Dave Trippin: A Day Tripper’s Guide to the Appalachian Galaxy of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 23 at Borders Books and Music Cafe at the Huntington Mall.

Featuring nearly a dozen trips in each state and hundreds upon hundreds of cool ideas for places to go, “Dave Trippin” takes readers on an always adventurous and usually humorous family journeys to lots of great places within an hour or less of Huntington and no place further than a four-hour drive.

Check out trips to some of Appalachia’s coolest towns such as Berea, Ky., Athens, Ohio and Fayetteville, W.Va., and the region’s big cities including Lexington, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Carved out of first-hand travel experiences, “Dave Trippin” (the book) is birthed out of The Herald-Dispatch Sunday travel series that started in 2003 and that continues today with Dave, his wife and award-winning photojournalist Toril Lavender, as well as their sons Timothy Jacob, 8, and Will, 5.

Lavender will also pass out free copies of the Herald-Dispatch’s just-released, Spring/Summer edition of the Tri-State Travel Guide, as well as Tri-State Family in which Dave gives some great summer-time tips for places to go.

“From Mountain Stage to Bob Evans Farm to Camden Park and the Kentucky Music Trail, we’ve got great, world-class things to do without handing over your entire paycheck to the oil companies or trading one of your kids for another full tank of gas,” Lavender said. “My motto is to think globally, and travel locally.”

On Friday night, Lavender will be joined at Borders by fellow Scioto County, Ohioan and award-winning songwriter Steve Free, whose songs are played all over the world on radio, will be performing at 8 p.m.

Free, who also plays this weekend at Camden Park in Huntington, was just honored with a Governor’s Award for the Arts, a prestigious statewide arts award presented to him by fellow Scioto County native Ted Strickland.

“Make a short run for the Borders to catch one of the most well-traveled and breeziest folk singers in the Tri-State and stop by the Dave Trippin’ table to get some great info on places to go traveling with your crew,” Lavender said.

For more information, go online at and

Go online at for a listen to some of Free’s latest tunes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Stage This Weekend - "Jane" and "Morrie"

There are a couple of excellent shows on tap over the next two weekends in Charleston:

Jane Eyre
Charleston Stage Company
May 22 - 24 and 29 - 31 at 8 p.m. at the Clay Center

Tuesdays With Morrie
Kanawha Players
May 30, 31, June 6, 7 at the KP Theatre

Both are highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

And the Winners Are...

My computer is finally cooperating again, so here are the results from our recent survey which asked the musical question: What shows would you like to see a community theatre group stage?

We had lots of great answers (as you're about to see, he said, drawing out the suspense just a moment longer). Here are the results (with an occasional comment by yours truly).

The show that got the most votes is: The Last 5 Years! I've heard lots of raves about that musical, and I'd love to see someone tackle it.

Tied for second place is: the musical Jekyll & Hyde and the non-musical 12 Angry Men.

Quite a few shows tied for third place, including: And Then There Were None, The Drowsy Chaperone, Into The Woods, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables (when available), Little Women, Mere Mortals, Phantom of the Opera (when available) and Pippin.

There were lots of other great shows suggested. They are:

A Few Good Men
Boxcar Children
Chorus Line
The Full Monty
Great Expectations
Guys & Dolls
- I'd love to see this one again - one of my favorites.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
James and the Giant Peach
- No relation to Hedwig.
Man of La Mancha
Mary Poppins
- Now this would be a challenge, but it probably won't be available for a while.
Miss Saigon
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Once Upon A Mattress
Prince and the Pauper
Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farm
Red Noses
The Secret Garden
Sherlock Holmes
Side Show
Singing in the Rain
- I love this movie! It would have to make a great stage show.
South Pacific
Sweeney Todd
The Wild Party
To Kill a Mockingbird - An excellent show and one of the all-time great books.
What the Butler Saw
White Christmas
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
- As long as it's based on the original movie, I'm all for it.
The Wiz
Year with Frog and Toad
- I call dibs on this one!

And one voter said that he'd like to see “more dramas and comedies... in other words, non-musicals.”

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. Now, feel free to discuss the results or suggest other shows we've overlooked. And don't be surprised if you see some of these shows popping up on stage in the near future!

Survey Results Tomorrow - Awards Tonight

Some minor computer problems are in the way, but I should have the results of our informal survey by tomorrow evening. In the meantime, here's are the results of Broadway's Drama Desk Awards - sort of a preview of the Tonys. Here's the story from our pals with the Associated Press:
South Pacific wins 5 prizes at Drama Desk Awards

AP Drama Writer

South Pacific, the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, was the big winner Sunday at the Drama Desk Awards, picking up five prizes including best musical revival.

August: Osage County, Tracy Letts'
tale of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family, was chosen best play of the New York theater season, and Mark Rylance, who portrays a hapless visitor to Paris, won the actor-play prize.

Deanna Dunagan, who plays the cantankerous matriarch in August: Osage County, received the actress-play award and the production's director, Anna D. Shapiro, also won.

Other featured performer winners were Linda Lavin in Paul Rudnick's comedy The New Century and Conleth Hill in Conor McPherson's The Seafarer.

Stew, who stars in Passing Strange, also won for lyrics and for the show's music, which he co-wrote with Heidi Rodewald. Douglas Carter Beane's book for the musical Xanadu also was honored.

The prize for solo performance went to Laurence Fishburne for his portrayal of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Thurgood, while The 39 Steps took the award for unique theatrical experience.

Rob Ashford won the choreography prize for Cry-Baby, while Katrina Lindsay received the costume-design award for Les Liaison Dangereuses. Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening was named best revue.

The Drama Desk, which was founded in 1949, honors both Broadway and off-Broadway productions.

The awards show took place at the F.H. LaGuardia Concert Hall at Lincoln Center.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

John Wolfe Joins The Young Ambassadors

It's always fun to get updates about local performers, and today we have news about John Wolfe, who appeared in dozens of shows locally before running off to college last year. He recently earned a special honor:
Brigham Young University recently announced its 2008 cast list for its international touring company, The Young Ambassadors, and Tri-State theatre-goers will recognize one name well: John Taylor Wolfe, son of Kim and Deborah Wolfe of Huntington.

Area theatre fans literally watched John grow up on area stages in productions with First Stage Children’s Theatre, Huntington Outdoor Theatre, Arts Resources Tri-State, and later, professionally with Theatre West Virginia in Beckley and West Virginia Public Theatre in Morgantown. Recent West Virginia roles included Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Marius in Les Miserables, Munkustrap in Cats, and Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. John was one of approximately 16 young performers accepted into the prestigious and demanding triple Music-Dance-Theatre major program at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. John studied dance with Ella Hay and Gene Anthony at The Art Center in Huntington, and also won gold medal ratings in violin and piano under the tutelage of Patricia Green, violin, and Alice Casto and Harriett Tucker, piano.

Since entering the world stage at Japan's Expo '70, The Young Ambassadors have literally circled the globe with live and televised appearances in 59 countries. Recent tours in Africa, South America and China were hailed enormously successful by arts critics and presenters. The Young Ambassadors have performed their vibrant blend of song and dance for the prime minister of India, the queen of Thailand, and the king and queen of Jordan, as well as in Olympic ceremonies.

Live and televised performances in major concert halls and impromptu appearances in hospitals, orphanages, town squares, and government palaces reach millions of people each year.

Gregory J. Newell, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said of the group, "As unofficial ambassadors for the United States, The Young Ambassadors are without peer."

The Young Ambassadors combine contemporary music and dance for a fast-paced showcase of American musical theatre.

Chosen through an extensive selection process, these talented performers offer a fresh view of America's culture and ways of life.
Congratulations, John!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Howdy to Denise, My Blogging Pal

Before she moved away, I was lucky enough to work on several shows with my pal Denise Duellman LaCara. She's one of those incredibly talented people you love to work with - she's a terrific director / music director / vocal instructor / costume designer - you name the theatre job, and chances are she's great at it.

These days she hangs out in Zanesville with her equally talented husband, Len - and I'm glad to say we still get to visit every now and then, as they make return trips to Huntington (one of these days I'll return the favor and drop by Zanesville - honest!).

I say all these nice things by way of introducing a great way for Denise's friends and fans to keep up with her projects - she's just started writing a theatre blog of her own! In the first entry she said many nice things about me, so it's only fair for me to return the favor.

You can check out her blog right here. Welcome to the Internet family, Denise!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

On Stage Tonight - A Chorus Line

Only one community theatre show is playing tonight, as the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents A Chorus Line at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theater. You can order tickets by phone at 304-342-5757.

In case you're not familiar with the show, here's a synopsis:
A Chorus Line was an unprecedented box office success and critical hit, receiving 12 Tony Award nominations and winning nine of them, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It ran for 6,137 performances, becoming the longest-running production in Broadway history up to that time. The show has enjoyed many successful productions worldwide and was revived on Broadway in 2006. A Chorus Line feels as fresh, powerful and pertinent today as when it first debuted.

The show was derived from several taped workshop sessions with Broadway dancers, known as “gypsies,” including eight who eventually appeared in the cast. With 19 main characters, it is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for chorus line members of a musical. The show gives a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers. A Chorus Line is a commemoration of those smiling chorus kids that back up the star. It is a tribute to anyone, in any line of work, who has ever taken a chance and put himself or herself on the line for appreciation, admiration, attention, approval or love. The show is dedicated to anyone who has ever marched in step... anywhere.

The show was last produced by the Guild in 1985, 1991, and 1999.

The Direction and Choreography is by Nina Denton Pasinetti; Musical Direction is by John Marshall; Technical Direction is by Tom Pasinetti; and Piano Accompaniment is by Mark Hornbaker.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Taylor Hicks on Broadway

One of my favorite American Idols, Taylor Hicks, is following in the footsteps of Fantasia and taking a role on Broadway.

According to the story in today's Herald-Dispatch:
Taylor Hicks is going from “Idol” to “Angel.”

The American Idol alum will join the Broadway cast of Grease on June 6, playing Teen Angel in the revival of the popular musical.

The gray-haired singer — whose “Idol” fan base was called “The Soul Patrol” — said he plans to add “soulful flavor” to his performance of “Beauty School Dropout.” The flashy role, he said, is “a classic fit for a classic performer.”

“It’s a big number, and, you know, I’ve made some pretty grand entrances before,” Hicks told The Associated Press on Thursday. “And this one is probably the grandest entrance I’ve had in my career.”

Well, besides “Idol.” Hicks, 31, took home the title in the fifth season of the top-rated Fox show — the biggest stage on television.
You can read more of the story right here.

And of course, for all the latest Idol news, you should be reading my pal Angela's blog, Idol Chit-chat, every day! Hey, it's on my "Favorites" list!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Vote is Extended to Friday!

Just to make it easier for everyone (including me), I'm extending the voting on "Favorite Shows" until Friday at 11:00 p.m. - so there's still time to vote. Just click on the "Post Comments" link at the bottom of this entry, or send an email to (don't worry, you won't end up on a mailing list).

Tell us what community theatre show you'd like to see produced locally! We'll post the results Monday, so vote early and vote often!

HOT's Summer Cast List

My pal Stephen Vance sends along the cast list for the Huntington Outdoor Theatre summer shows - thanks, Stephen!

There's a ton of awesome talent lined up here - and a couple of classic shows! This is the initial list, so there may be changes between now and showtime in July - but here's the list as it stands:

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo - Philip Cron
Juliet - Brittany Hazeldine
Mercutio - Chuck Herndon
Paris - Shayne Gue
Tybalt - Wesley Boggs
Benvolio - Josh Meredith
Nurse - Angela Hunt
Friar Lawrence - Kris Corbett
Lord Montague - Miles Klein
Lady Montague - Hilary Roush
Capulet - Stephen Vance
Lady Capulet - Joanna Bokovitz
Belthesar - Chris Crawford
Capulet Servant - Lexi Smith
Sampson - Keith VanDyke
Gregory - Nathan Cron
Abram - Mark Radford
Montague Sword fighting Servant - Chad Arthur
Prince Escalus - Ryan Jackson
Apothecary - Nathan Cron
Nobility of Verona - Kelsey Anderson, Brianna Fannin, Casey Homonai, Alaina Krantz, Logan Moye, Kelsey McCallister, Grace McMicken, John Purcell, Dee Dee Scott, Rachel Tadlock, Sheri Tadlock, Cody Verbage, Brittany Wood

Anything Goes

Billy Crocker - Kris Corbett
Hope Harcourt - Angela Pino
Reno Sweeney - Mary Olson
Sir Evelyn Oakleigh - Caleb Perry
Moon-Face - George Snyder
Bonnie Latour - Angela Hunt
Elisha Whitney - Greg Kiser
Mrs. Harcourt - Debbie Wolfe
Purser - Stephen Vance
Steward - Kenny Duthie
Bishop Henry Dobson - Todd Green
Ling - John Purcell
Ching - Elliott Imlay
Drunk - Chris Crawford
Ship's Captain - Charlie Woolcock
Reno's Angels - Jessica Handloser, Casey Homonai, Jesse Patterson, Megan Price, Maggie Saunders, Miranda Swanson, Mary Frances Wilkes
Dancers Crew Passengers - Elaine Adkins, Chad Arthur, Rebecca Bolt, Allison Conley, Philip Cron, George Fleshman, Ryan Jackson, Kellie Johnson, Miles Klein, Logan Moye, Josh Meredith, Mark Radford, Hilary Roush, Brea Ross, Lexie Thompson, Cadyn Turley, Cody Verbage, Antonia Wilkes

Children's Preshow

Emily Bolt, Sarah Carr, Carley Claudio, Katie Cowie, Jade Daniels, Emma Dolan, Shelby Easter, Ayla Edwards, Audrey Fosson, Katherine Fulks, Rachel Geiger, Bethany Hamilton, Tyler Henry, Maddie Johnson, Sarena Johnson, Abbie Leslie, Macie McCallister, Megan McCallister, Madison McCourt, Gabrielle Moye, Taylor Perdue, Betsy Pettit, Becky Pettit, Maizie Plumley, Haillie Runyon, Felicia Sargent, Shannon Reynolds, Hannah Spurlock, Garrett Snyder, Mariah Speas, Sullivan Yeoman, Annie Wolfe, Samantha Young

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Time's Running Out - Vote Now!

There's only one more day to get your vote into our informal "Here's the show I'd like to see locally" poll.

It's easy to vote, and you can even be anonymous - just click on the "Post Comment" link at the bottom of this entry and write down the show you'd like to see. Vote for one or a dozen - we just want to hear what you have to say!

For instance, I'd like to see someone stage The Producers (which just became available for community theatre groups). So there's a vote!

Jim Ross over at the Hot Topics blog (which is well worth visiting, by the way) always jokes that he has six readers - and that's about how many voters we have here so far. So help me show him up - be the seventh to cast your ballot and put the Tri-State Theatre blog in the lead!

It's easy, it's fun - and you'll make your ol' pal Chuck a happy man. So what are you waiting for - vote already!

And thanks!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 2008 Tony Award Nominees

The nominations for this year's Tony Awards have been announced, and the producers at CBS are probably furious.

The show is never a ratings winner, but the performances that are the most accessible to mainstream audiences - like Young Frankenstein and The Little Mermaid - didn't get nominated for best musical. The broadcast loves to kick things off with a big number from a show like that, but instead the only known shows are Xanadu (which is reportedly lots of fun but was largely panned by the critics) and Cry-Baby (the latest John Waters adaptation).

Still, I'm sure the show will be fun for the theatre fans out there, and (having apparently not learned my lesson last time around), I plan to live-blog the Tonys for your entertainment.

Anyway, here are the nominees for the 2008 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards, which will be presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing:

Best Play

August: Osage County
Rock 'n' Roll
The Seafarer
The 39 Steps

Best Musical

In The Heights
Passing Strange

Best Book of a Musical

In The Heights
Passing Strange

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

In The Heights
The Little Mermaid
Passing Strange

Best Revival of a Play

The Homecoming
Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Best Revival of a Musical

Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Sunday in the Park with George

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Eve Best, The Homecoming
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights
Stew, Passing Strange
Paulo Szot, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kelli O'Hara, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

Bobby Cannavale, Mauritius
Raul Esparza, The Homecoming
Conleth Hill, The Seafarer
Jim Norton, The Seafarer
David Pittu, Is He Dead?

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll
Mary McCormack, Boeing-Boeing
Laurie Metcalf, November
Martha Plimpton, Top Girls
Rondi Reed, August: Osage County

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Robin De Jesus, In The Heights
Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein
Olga Merediz, In The Heights
Loretta Ables Sayre, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Scenic Design of a Play

The 39 Steps
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
August: Osage County

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Sunday in the Park with George
In The Heights
Young Frankenstein
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Costume Design of a Play

Cyrano de Bergerac
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
The 39 Steps

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Sunday in the Park with George
In The Heights
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Lighting Design of a Play

The 39 Steps
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
August: Osage County

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Sunday in the Park with George
In The Heights
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
The Little Mermaid

Best Sound Design of a Play

Rock 'n' Roll
The 39 Steps

Best Sound Design of a Musical

In The Heights
Sunday in the Park with George
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Direction of a Play

Maria Aitken, The 39 Steps
Conor McPherson, The Seafarer
Anna D. Shapiro, August: Osage County
Matthew Warchus, Boeing-Boeing

Best Direction of a Musical

Sam Buntrock, Sunday in the Park with George
Thomas Kail, In The Heights
Arthur Laurents, Gypsy
Bartlett Sher, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific

Best Choreography

Rob Ashford, Cry-Baby
Andy Blankenbuehler, In The Heights
Christopher Gattelli, Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific
Dan Knechtges, Xanadu

Best Orchestrations

Jason Carr, Sunday in the Park with George
Alex Lacamoire & Bill Sherman, In The Heights
Stew & Heidi Rodewald, Passing Strange
Jonathan Tunick, A Catered Affair

Regional Theatre Tony Award

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Special Tony Award

Robert Russell Bennett
(1894-1981), in recognition of his historic contribution to American musical theatre in the field of orchestrations.

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre

Stephen Sondheim

* * *

Tony Nomination totals by production:

In The Heights
- 13
Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific - 11
Sunday in the Park with George - 9
August: Osage County - 7
Gypsy - 7
Passing Strange - 7
Boeing-Boeing - 6
Macbeth - 6
The 39 Steps - 6
Les Liaisons Dangereuses - 5
Cry-Baby - 4
Rock 'n' Roll - 4
The Seafarer - 4
Xanadu - 4
A Catered Affair - 3
The Homecoming - 3
The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein - 3
The Little Mermaid - 2
Come Back, Little Sheba - 1
Cyrano de Bergerac - 1
Grease - 1
Is He Dead? - 1
Mauritius - 1
November - 1
Thurgood - 1
Top Girls - 1

For more information, visit The Tony Awards website right here.

On Stage This Week

There's only one show on tap this week (no pun intended), but it's a good one.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild is presenting the legendary Broadway hit A Chorus Line Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17 at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theater.

Recommended, y'all!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

A few years back around this time of the year I was asked to host "Kid's Time" during the Worship Service at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church (which is my church, natch). I cooked up a goofy idea that actually worked.

The kids sat down at the front of the church with me, and I asked for two volunteers. I gave one a sealed envelope, and the other a microphone and asked her to play reporter. I told her to go out in the audience and ask anyone this question: "There's a Mother's Day and a Father's Day. Why don't they have a Children's Day?"

The reporter picked someone in the congregation and asked the question. He answered, "Because every day is Children's Day." I asked the other volunteer to open the envelope and show it to the audience. Printed on it were the words, "Because every day is Children's Day."

It wasn't a set-up, but I guessed that almost any adult would answer the question the same way. It does seem strange that we only set aside one day for the person who brought us into the world, but that's life for you.

I just wanted to say that, in my heart, every day is Mother's Day, as I offer thanks for being blessed with three great Moms: my mother Lucille, who is kind, thoughtful and caring to a fault - the best Mom ever; my mother-in-law Linda, who defies the comic stereotype by being supportive and good-hearted always; and my wife Jeanette, the mother of my children and the most wonderful, loving and thoughtful person I know.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back in Business - With a Confession to Make

We're back in business at the Tri-State Theatre blog! Sorry for the sporadic service of late, but I was without Internet service for about a week there, and had computer problems on top of that - but that's all cleared up now. Hopefully!

But I have a confession to make. I haven't been entirely honest with you, gentle readers, though I had the purest of motivations. It's like this: I've been out of town for two months.

My job sent me away to Maryland to go through some training, and that's why you haven't seen many reviews of shows, other than Children of Eden, which I managed to catch during my one weekend back home.

I didn't mention being gone because I didn't want to broadcast my absence - after all, these comments can be read by anyone, anywhere in the world. And not everyone is as nice as you are.

Oh, the blog has continued despite the distance, mostly thanks to the generous help of many of my friends, including Ryan Hardiman, Stephen Vance, Jack Cirillo, Jack Welch and Mark Hayes, to name but a few. Many thanks to them and all the others who helped keep me informed while I was on the road.

It's good to be home, and the posts will be flying with their normal frequency from here on (hopefully).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Apologies All Around

We've been struggling with some major computer connection problems here at ye olde Tri-State Theatre blog. Please bear with us - all should be well within another day or two.

In the meantime, don't forget to vote for your favorite stage show!

And check out the comments on the post about Capital High School's production of Phantom of the Opera - some great reviews there!

As Arnold once said, "I'll be back!"

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Vote for Your Favorite Shows!

A reminder that there's still time to send in your vote for what shows you'd like to see local theatre groups tackling. We have several votes already, and some excellent suggestions so far.

You can comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post or you can email your suggestions to

Maybe your suggestion will inspire a local group to tackle your favorite show! Groups are always struggling with the decision - here's your chance to help!

We'll take suggestions for the next two weeks and then announce the results on May 15.

Vote when ready, Gridley!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Special Performance at B'nai Sholom Congregation

My pal Stephen Vance writes:
Huntington High School will be performing its state championship piece, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, one last time, this Sunday as part of Holocaust Remembrance Activities at B'nai Sholom Congregation.

Our friend, Helga Thorn, will be speaking about her experiences at 5 p.m. and will be followed by the play at 5:30.

"Phantom of the Opera" - Ryan's Comments

My pal Ryan Hardiman got a chance to see a special show the other night, and he sent in these comments - and they were so entertaining, I wanted to post it here on the main page for all to enjoy. Here's Ryan:
So I went to see Capital High's production of Phantom of the Opera (Thursday) night, and I was impressed that they were able to pull of such a complicated show! It's not a "junior" version of the show... this is the entire score... nothing was missing as far as I remember... the chandelier was huge and impressive (and hanging directly above my head... I'm a trusting soul.) They even had a big elephant onstage! You ought to see the "Masquerade" scene... The costumes drew immediate applause from the audience before anyone sang a note. My fellow "Symphony Idol" finalists Sarah Pauley and Micah Atkinson were amazing! I was so proud of them!

Capital High was one of only six schools asked to produce "Phantom" as a pilot production in anticipation of releasing it for non-equity theatre companies. Quite an honor!

They had a few technical issues, but that can happen on opening night, especially with a show this ambitious. There was an extremely loud and obvious foul language slip when someone backstage didn't realize their microphone was live... that's always fun.

But check this out... this is one more reason to love live theatre... Something happened in the show that will never happen again in a million years... at the very end of the show when the ballerina Meg picks up the phantom's mask and holds it up, there is a 5-note musical scale... (the same 5 notes as at the end of "Music of the Night", if you remember.) Last night, on the very last musical note of the show, the school fire alarm went off AT THE EXACT MOMENT AND IN THE EXACT PITCH OF THAT NOTE!

It was Twilight Zone stuff! What are the odds? that will NEVER happen again! And I was there!

Last night was my only chance to see the show because of a previous commitment for the rest of the weekend. Thursday night is appointment TV night for me because my two favorite shows, The Office and Lost are both on, but I can watch them online later...

I'm so glad I went to see The Phantom of the Opera last night instead...Once the show is over, unlike TV or movies, you can never see that specific production again. It's a once in a lifetime experience, and I encourage everyone to get out there and see it!

Auditions This Weekend

Huntington Outdoor Theatre will be holding auditions this weekend for the summer shows Romeo and Juliet, Anything Goes and the Children's Pre-Show.

Auditions times are Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Huntington (enter by the side door).

You should bring a 30-second piece of music to sing. An accompanist will be provided.

Break a leg, y'all!

Friday, May 02, 2008

What Shows Would You Like To See?

We tried this last year and it was a lot of fun, so once again, your humble blog is going to throw open the floor and invite you to suggest shows you'd like to see a local theatre group tackle.

This is the time of year when groups are planning their next season, since most theatre seasons follow the school year, starting in September and ending in May. So let us know what shows - musical or otherwise - you'd like to see. You can send in a comment by clicking the link at the bottom of this post or you can email your suggestions to

Who knows? Maybe your suggestion will inspire a local group to tackle your favorite show! Groups are always struggling with the decision - here's your chance to help!

We'll take suggestions for the next two weeks and then announce the results on May 15.

So vote early and vote often!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

On Stage in May

May is usually a quiet month on stage - and it's certainly true in Huntington - but there are lots of shows around you'll want to check out. Note that three of the five shows start this weekend!

Here's the list of shows I know about - if there are others I've missed, let me know and I'll add them to the list (as always, you can send a comment by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post, or you can send an email to

Phantom of the Opera
Capital High School
May 1, 2, 3 at 7:30 and May 4 at 2:00 p.m.

A Chorus Line
Charleston Light Opera Guild
May 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, & 17 at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theater (Reserved Seating)

Anything Goes
West Portsmouth High School
May 2, 3, & 4 at The Vern Rife Center at 7:30 p.m.

Jane Eyre
Charleston Stage Company
May 22 - 24, 29 - 31 at 8 p.m. at the Clay Center

Tuesdays With Morrie
Kanawha Players
May 30, 31, June 6, 7 at the KP Theatre