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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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oscar Winners - Neal's Choices

Our first entry in our Oscar Winners competition comes from my pal Neal A., who hails from sunny Florida. (I don't resent him living there in the winter, and in return he doesn't resent me living here when it's hurricane season.)

He said, "I’d prefer to pick lots of Clint Eastwood, but the Academy deprived me of that pleasure. The bums!!" I couldn't agree more!

Here are his choices:
1. Best motion picture of the year

- Slumdog Millionaire


2. Performance by an actor in a leading role

- Mickey Rourke
in The Wrestler

3. Performance by an actor in a supporting role

- Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

4. Performance by an actress in a leading role

- Melissa Leo in Frozen River

5. Performance by an actress in a supporting role


- Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona

6. Best animated feature film of the year

- WALL-E

7. Achievement in visual effects

- The Dark Knight


8. Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

- WALL-E

Friday, January 30, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "Pinafore" and "Lincoln"

You have two great musicals to choose from in Charleston this weekend:

- HMS Pinafore by the Charleston Light Opera Guild runs at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre at 411 Tennessee Avenue on the west side of Charleston. Box office hours are Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Tickets can be ordered by calling 304-342-9312. All tickets are $15 for festival seating.

- Lincoln by CYAC runs today and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre 123 Summers Street, Charleston, W.Va. Tickets are $5.50 for students and seniors and $9.50 for adults. For more info, call: 304-342-6522.

Check 'em out!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Li'l Abner" Postponed

The weather has pushed a show back, as my pal Stephen Vance tells us in this comment:
Due to the inclement weather, HHS's Production of Li'l Abner has been postponed until Feburary 19, 20, 21 and 22.

The kids lost a week of blocking and were supposed to open next week. Who knows what is in store for next week's weather?

They have one more postponement date available, but hopefully all goes well, and they can get on stage in February.
Thanks, Stephen!

It's been a rough week for rehearsals - we've canceled two so far, but hopefully we'll be back on track now. I'm looking forward to seeing "Abner!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "Lincoln"

Coming up this weekend in Charleston is a show that's perfect for the upcoming President's Day holiday!

Here's a note from Mark Scarpelli about Lincoln:
This musical about the last day of Lincoln's life is shaping into an amazing production!

2009 is the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, so come to CYAC's Lincoln opera production and honor this historic American figure.

A cast of 27 will be accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra!

Performances will be Jan. 29, 30, 31, Feb. 5, 6 and 7 at 8:00 p.m., and a Sunday, Feb. 1 matinee at 2:00 p.m. All performances are at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre 123 Summers Street, Charleston, W.Va.

Tickets are $5.50 for students and seniors and $9.50 for adults. For more info, call: (304)342-6522.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I hope you're all somewhere warm and safe this evening, since (to quote the great W.C. Fields), it's not fit out for man nor beast!

When we saw how bad the snow and ice was, we cancelled our "Alexander" rehearsals this evening. Thank goodness no shows were taking the stage tonight!

This is the kind of weather every theatre company dreads. Actually, getting the right weather for a show is a bit tricky. If it's too cold or raining too hard, many people stay at home. If it's too sunny and warm, people don't want to go to a theatre - they'd rather go out and have fun.

So I guess the ideal weather you hope for when you put on a show would be dry, but just a little on the cool side - say about 60 degrees.

Which brings up another famous quote - this one by Mark Twain - something along the lines of, "Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it."

That's enough rambling for one day. Stay safe, readers!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Your Turn to Choose the Oscar Winners

OK, here we go - by popular demand (my pal Sam Popular, to be exact), here's our Oscar competition. Choose the winners in each of these categories, and the one with the most right answers gets bragging rights and a cookie, to be awarded when I durn wll feel like it.

The deadline for sending in your choices is the moment the Oscar broadcast begins on Feb. 22.

Send in your choices via the comment link below (be sure to include your name or make up a name to go with your entry) or email it to me at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Good luck!

----------

2009 Oscars

1. Best motion picture of the year

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Frost/Nixon
- Milk
- The Reader
- Slumdog Millionaire


2. Performance by an actor in a leading role


- Richard Jenkins in The Visitor
- Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon
- Sean Penn in Milk
- Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler

3. Performance by an actor in a supporting role

- Josh Brolin in Milk
- Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt
- Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
- Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road

4. Performance by an actress in a leading role

- Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
- Angelina Jolie in Changeling
- Melissa Leo in Frozen River
- Meryl Streep in Doubt
- Kate Winslet in The Reader

5. Performance by an actress in a supporting role

- Amy Adams in Doubt
- Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Viola Davis in Doubt
- Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler

6. Best animated feature film of the year

- Bolt
- Kung Fu Panda
- WALL-E


7. Achievement in visual effects

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- The Dark Knight
- Iron Man


And, just as a tie-breaker:

8. Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Defiance
- Milk
- Slumdog Millionaire
- WALL-E

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ready to Pick the Oscars?

At the suggestion of my pal Mark (and even though it's not really the focus of our humble blog here), we thought we'd have a "Pick the Oscar Winners" competition.

We did this last year with the Tony Awards and had a lot of fun - the winner (and still champion) was my pal Denise LaCara.

So the question is, do we just choose for the major categories, like Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress - or should we include all the categories included in the broadcast?

Let me know what you think, and I'll put up the voting list. The Oscars are on Feb. 22, so we'll have to decide soon.

The only prize, as always, will be bragging rights - what more could you want?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ABBA Members Are Pals After All

It's good to know that our pals with the Associated Press are covering the really important stuff.

For example, for decades now the rumor has been running around that certain members of the band ABBA didn't get along with certain other members. According to this AP story, it turns out that rumor is total rubbish:
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - The two women members of 1970s hit group ABBA have rejected long-standing rumors that they are bitter enemies.

In a rare joint interview published Friday, Agnetha Faltskog, 58, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 63, took a chance to set the record straight.

"A lot has been written about how Agnetha and I fought and quarreled with each other. There is absolutely no truth in that," Lyngstad was quoted as saying by tabloid Aftonbladet. "Of course we competed, but to good effect."

Lyngstad and Faltskog formed ABBA together with male members Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus.

The band has sold more than 370 million records and is famous for hits like "Waterloo," "Dancing Queen" and "Money, Money, Money."

After ABBA split in 1982, rumors of fights between Lyngstad and Faltskog swirled in articles and books about the band.

"No, we didn't fight. But we have to live (through) a whole lot of such misinterpretations," Faltskog said.

The two women came together Thursday to accept Aftonbladet's lifetime achievement award.

The four former ABBA members are rarely seen together in public, but were reunited in 2008 for the Swedish premiere of Mamma Mia! a film based on their hits.
Whew! Glad we got that cleared up!

Friday, January 23, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "HMS Pinafore"

This weekend is your last chance to catch a classic production.

EDIT: WRONG WRONG WRONG! Sorry, your old pal Chuck obviously was looking at the wrong calendar. "Pinafore" runs this weekend AND next weekend. Sorry about that!

The Charleston Light Opera Guild begins its 60th anniversary year with HMS Pinafore, the first musical produced by the group in 1949.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Jan. 30-31 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25 at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre at 411 Tennessee Avenue on the west side of Charleston.

One of the most loved theatre pieces of the English speaking world, HMS Pinafore was the fourth collaboration of Sir William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan and opened in May 1878 at D'Oyly Carte's Opera Comique where it ran for 571 performances and became a huge fad in England.

HMS Pinafore is fully costumed and staged with an orchestra.

Box office hours are Friday and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Tickets can be ordered by calling 304-342-9312. All tickets are $15 for festival seating.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Oscar Nominees

This is yet another year when I haven't seen any of the movies nominated for Best Picture in the Oscar candidates announced this morning.

In case you missed it, here's the list:

Best motion picture of the year


* The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
* Frost/Nixon
* Milk
* The Reader
* Slumdog Millionaire


Performance by an actor in a leading role

* Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor”
* Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon”
* Sean Penn in “Milk”
* Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

* Josh Brolin in “Milk”
* Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
* Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
* Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
* Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

Performance by an actress in a leading role


* Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married”
* Angelina Jolie in “Changeling”
* Melissa Leo in “Frozen River”
* Meryl Streep in “Doubt”
* Kate Winslet in “The Reader”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

* Amy Adams in “Doubt”
* Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
* Viola Davis in “Doubt”
* Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”

Best animated feature film of the year

* “Bolt”
* “Kung Fu Panda”
* “WALL-E”

Achievement in art direction

* “Changeling”
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “The Duchess”
* “Revolutionary Road”

Achievement in cinematography


* “Changeling”
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “The Reader”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”

Achievement in costume design

* “Australia”
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Duchess”
* “Milk”
* “Revolutionary Road”

Achievement in directing

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “Frost/Nixon”
* “Milk”
* “The Reader”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best documentary feature


* “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”
* “Encounters at the End of the World”
* “The Garden”
* “Man on Wire”
* “Trouble the Water”

Best documentary short subject

* “The Conscience of Nhem En”
* “The Final Inch”
* “Smile Pinki”
* “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306”

Achievement in film editing


* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “Frost/Nixon”
* “Milk”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best foreign language film of the year

* “The Baader Meinhof Complex”
* “The Class”
* “Departures”
* “Revanche”
* “Waltz with Bashir”

Achievement in makeup


* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “Defiance”
* “Milk”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”
* “WALL-E”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

* “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”
* “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
* “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best animated short film

* “La Maison en Petits Cubes”
* “Lavatory - Lovestory”
* “Oktapodi”
* “Presto”
* “This Way Up”

Best live action short film

* “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)”
* “Manon on the Asphalt”
* “New Boy”
* “The Pig”
* “Spielzeugland (Toyland)”

Achievement in sound editing


* “The Dark Knight”
* “Iron Man”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”
* “WALL-E”
* “Wanted”

Achievement in sound mixing


* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”
* “WALL-E”
* “Wanted”

Achievement in visual effects

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “The Dark Knight”
* “Iron Man”

Adapted screenplay


* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
* “Doubt”
* “Frost/Nixon”
* “The Reader”
* “Slumdog Millionaire”

Original screenplay

* “Frozen River”
* “Happy-Go-Lucky”
* “In Bruges”
* “Milk”
* “WALL-E”

"Alexander" Is Off And Running! (So is "Charlotte!")

Tonight was the first cast meeting for both Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move and Charlotte's Web.

I was at the "Alexander" rehearsal (since I'm directing it), and it was a promising start! The cast is small - an even dozen actors - but they're a good group, and music director Mark Smith worked with them on the opening song - and it already sounds great. Pretty impressive for the first run-through!

We also introduced the newest cast member - playing the part of "Dad" is Travis McElroy, a veteran of past shows and a recent college graduate who studied theatre in Oklahoma. We're lucky to have such a talented performer in our cast!

Judging by all the laughter during the rehearsal, I think it's going to be a fun show!

More About Stopping the Show

The debate over Patti Lupone stopping a Gypsy performance to berate an audience member who was taking photos during the show continues. (If you missed it, just scroll down - it was the subject of the last post.)

Some people applaud what she did - and certainly the audience was loud in its approval, as heard on the audio - but others, myself included, think she was way off base, interrupting a show to address some lout in the audience.

Most theaters have ushers to keep the audience under control and toss out troublemakers, and the actors should leave those matters to them. For that matter, if someone was being annoying enough, the audience members would probably rise up and run him off.

But actors are taught to keep the show moving if at all possible, and stopping the orchestra and breaking character brings the show to a screeching halt. I've seen young performers keep on singing and dancing while alarms were ringing - if they can do that, surely a pro like LuPone can deal with someone being rude.

Of course, her character in Gypsy is a big diva - so maybe she was just so into character that she couldn't help herself.

I wasn't there, so maybe she was justified - but it sure seems to break every rule in theatre.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Audio Only - Stopping a Show

I read about this over at Mark Evanier's "News From ME" website and had to share it. It's audio from a performance of the Broadway show Gypsy on Jan. 10.

Apparently someone in the audience was taking photos during one of Patti LuPone's big numbers, and she stopped the show until that person was thrown out.

It's a problem that seems to be growing all the time in theatre - people will take out their cell phones and take pictures, check or send text messages, even make phone calls - apparently unaware (or uncaring) that they're disrupting the show for everyone around them.

The smallest cellphone sends out a blaze of light when it's activated, and in a dark theatre, it's just like turning a flashlight on the people behind you. And I see this happen all the time!

It's actually dangerous for the performers, too. They're working on a dark stage where the slightest misstep could mean trouble - and a flash can blind them just long enough for a serious injury to occur.

I saw a performance in Charleston where one of the directors got up and made a funny and heartfelt plea to the audience to turn off their cellphones and leave them off. He said, "If you want photos, see me after the show - I have tons of photos."

It was a great way to deal with the problem, but it's amazing to think people have to be reminded of common theatre courtesy. It's easy: enjoy the show, laugh and clap along, but don't talk, sing, use your cellphone or take photos or video!

Anyway, here's audio (which was no doubt recorded illegally) showing how a big star deals with boorish behavior. The audio levels jump around a bit - and the rant starts at about 45 seconds in. The crowd's response is priceless:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coming Soon - "Lincoln"

President's Day isn't far away, and the same is true for an original production from CYAC in Charleston.

Here's a note about Lincoln from Mark Scarpelli:
Hey Folks,

This production about the last day of Abraham Lincoln's life is shaping into an amazing production.

2009 is the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, so come to CYAC's Lincoln opera production and honor this historic American figure. A cast of 27 accompanied by a 17 piece orchestra will present Lincoln.

Performances:
January 29, 30, 31, February 5, 6, 7 all at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 1 matinee at 2:00 p.m.

All performances at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre at 123 Summers Street, Charleston, W.Va.

Tickets are $5.50 for students and seniors, $9.50 for adults.

Call for more info: (304) 342-6522

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bob the Builder Visits Ashland on Thursday

Those of you with young kids will want to check this out: Bob the Builder is on his way to Ashland, according to this story by Herald-Dispatch reporter Beth Hendricks:
The original "Yes, we can!" man is headed to the Tri-State Thursday.

Bob the Builder Live!, the cartoon construction worker who coined "Can we fix it? Yes, we can!" long before Barack Obama won the White House on it, will stage two shows - 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. - at the Paramount Arts Center. Tickets are $15 and $20.

The show begins as Bob and his team builds the first-ever recycling center and wind farm in Sunflower Valley. It isn't long before items go missing and a few of Bob's friends mysteriously disappear. Faced with a mountain of garbage, they must figure out who is responsible for the mess and work together to fix it. The first touring "Bob" stage show in five years is dubbed "Spud's Big Mess" and features singing, dancing and an interactive atmosphere for budding builders and their families.

"This show reinforces the positive messages of caring for the environment, recycling, teamwork, cooperation and, of course, the importance of a can-do spirit," said John Tellem, tour publicist.

The storyline of the show focuses on lessons for kids and good reminders for the grown-ups about taking care of the earth, understand what it means to recycle and reuse and understanding its importance."

For tickets or general information, call the Paramount at 606-324-3175.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Will Feature a Play

Monday is set aside to honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and part of the celebration includes a play, as you can read in this story from the Herald-Dispatch:
A play with a serious message, kids activities and the traditional march are planned as part of the 16th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in Huntington.

This year's theme for the celebration is "A Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." The program is presented by the Marshall University Division of Multicultural Affairs.

The events begin at 2 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19, with a series of youth activities at the A.D. Lewis Center in Huntington. Students from throughout the area have been invited to take part in activities, which include fun and creative exercises led by Marshall University professors and students in writing, theater and career opportunities. The center is located at 1450 AD Lewis Ave.

The traditional march will form at 4 p.m. at the 16th Street Baptist Church, 1647 9th Ave., and will take marchers via 20th Street to the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Huntington Mayor Kim Wolfe will be this year's grand marshal. The parade is open to the public.

The celebration will end with the play 1001 Black Inventions at 5 p.m. in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. 1001 Black Inventions features the lives of men and women and focuses on how a typical American family attempts to survive in a world without the inventions created by Africans and African Americans. The play focuses on black ingenuity being an integral part of their daily lives.

A dessert reception will follow, and music will be provided by Charles Lloyd, pianist. Although tickets are required for the performance, they are free and may be obtained by calling 304-696-4677.

"I am honored that Marshall University's Division of Multicultural Affairs is an integral part of the celebration of Dr. King's life, which demonstrates unity between campus and community and idealizes Dr. King's vision," said Dr. Shari Williams-Clarke, MU's vice president of Multicultural Affairs, in a prepared release.

All of the events are open to the public.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On Stage: HMS Pinafore

Here's a show I can't wait to see - it's a Gilbert & Sullivan classic, it's part of a big birthday celebration, and it starts next weekend in Charleston!

Here's the story from the Herald-Dispatch:
The Charleston Light Opera Guild begins its 60th anniversary year with HMS Pinafore, the first musical produced by the group in 1949.

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Jan. 30-31 and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25 at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre at 411 Tennessee Avenue on the west side of Charleston.

One of the most loved theatre pieces of the English speaking world, HMS Pinafore was the fourth collaboration of Sir William S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan and opened in May 1878 at D'Oyly Carte's Opera Comique where it ran for 571 performances and became a huge fad in England.

The popularity of HMS Pinafore lay in its infectious tunes, mirth and silliness and its gentle satire of the Royal Navy and the British obsession with social stature. The show's popularity spread to America where it was copied illegally by dozens of performing companies as well as by Gilbert & Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte themselves. The comic operetta is more in demand today than a century ago - proof of the lasting brilliance of Gilbert & Sullivan.

This wonderful, seafaring musical romps through some of Gilbert & Sullivan's best loved tunes as it tells the story of two young lovers, Josephine and Ralph who are denied the one thing they most desire - marriage! Can a proud Captain's daughter marry the lowly sailor she secretly loves?

Meanwhile, the Captain arranges for his daughter to marry the First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Joseph Porter. The lovers, separated by the obstacles of class, dastardly plots and the British Navy, search for happiness while Sir Joseph Porter, Head of the Queen's Navy (and a man who has never gone to sea) struggles to control his Cousin Hebe and numerous other female relatives.

The veteran cast includes Joe Romagnoli as Sir Joseph Porter; Roger Lucas as Ralph Rackstraw; Eva Vidavska Kumar as Josephine; Mark Hornbaker as Captain Corcoran; Leah Marie Heater as Little Buttercup; Roger Wolfe as Dick Deadeye; Bill Rainey as Boatswain's Mate Bill Bobstay; Tim Harper as Carpenter's Mate Bob Becket; Erin Kishpaugh as Cousin Hebe. Portraying Able Seaman are Evan Buck, Mark Felton, Rick Fleenor, Greg Garner, Bob McCarty, Jared Morgan, Mark Parsons, Richie Robb, Tim Whitener and Chris Williams, and Sir Joseph's Sisters, Cousins and Aunts will be performed by Jessica Cooper, Alina Cuadra, Liz Falstreau, Courtney Fint, Jeanne Matras, Johanna Meisner, Toni Pilato, Caroline Chamness Rainey, Shirley Romagnoli and Tiara Sanders.

HMS Pinafore is fully costumed and staged with an orchestra. The show is directed by Nina Denton Pasinetti and musical director Ron Neal. Box Office hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. beginning Wednesday, January 14 at the Charleston Light Opera Guild Theatre at 411 Tennessee Avenue or by calling 304-342-9312. All tickets are $15 for festival seating.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Cast for "Lil Abner"

My pal Stephen Vance sends along this cast list for the upcoming production of Lil Abner at Huntington High School. It's a fun musical based on the classic comic strip, and it runs February 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Here's the cast list:
Lil Abner - Mark Radford
Daisy Mae - Julia Galloway
Mammy - Kinsey Mason
Pappy - Cody Verbage
Marryin' Sam - Adam Porterfield
Moonbeam McSwine - Lauren Simms
Evil Eye Fleagle - Drew Sowards
Appasionata - Josefine Landgrave
Phogbound - Michael Parker
Earthquake McGoon - Sam Garton
Available Jones - Clark Lewis
Stupefying Jones - Ashley Davis

Stephen adds: "Of course there is a very talented ensemble consisting of a blend of both stage veterans and rookies."

The play is being directed by Helen Freeman, choreographed by Kerri Easter, and music directed by David Chenoweth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The No Pants Players Need More Players (and, Presumably, More Pants)

This message arrived courtesy my pal Tony Slack:
So here it is everyone. Constant badgering has finally paid off. On January 17th and 18th from 5 til 7 p.m. at the KP Playhouse, your No Pants Players will be holding auditions for new troupe members.

I know what you're saying: "Am I ready?" "Can I do it?" "Will the glare from my untanned wintery legs blind people from the stage?"

Well, the answer to all these questions and more is: you won't know know until you come on down to 309 Beauregard St. on January 17th and 18th from 5 til 7 p.m.

(Note: in all seriousness if you truly want to be a part of the NPP I suggest coming to both afternoons of auditions. The better sampling we have of your abilities and cohesiveness with us the more comfortable we will be in selecting you to be a part of WV's premiere improv comedy troupe).

Hope to see everyone there!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Passing of Two Favorites

Sorry to hear about the deaths today of two actors who turned in lots of wonderful work in their careers: Patrick McGoohan, 80, and Ricardo Montalban, 88.

McGoohan was already famous as the star of Secret Agent Man, but achieved cult status when he took the same character (without actually saying so) and moving him over into the surreal TV series, The Prisoner. One of my all-time favorite shows.

Montalban was the classic gentleman and someone who seemed to be having a great time with every part he tackled. He's best known for his long run as the mysterious host on TV's Fantasy Island, but I'll always remember him as Star Trek's greatest villain, Khan, who dueled with Capt. Kirk in the second Star Trek film (which was also the best of that series).

Both fine actors who will be missed.

Laura is Elle Again!

Kentucky's own Laura Bell Bundy is back in a familiar role. According to Playbill, she's appearing as Elle Woods - the role she originated on Broadway - in the touring show of Legally Blonde: The Musical.

She's stepping in for an injured actor:
Tony nominee Laura Bell Bundy will return to the role of determined Harvard Law undergraduate Elle Woods in the national tour of Legally Blonde, which will next be seen at East Lansing's Wharton Center.

Bundy will step in for the tour's current star, Becky Gulsvig, who suffered a broken toe backstage Jan. 8.

During Gulsvig's recovery Bundy and understudy Lauren Zakrin will alternate in the role of Elle Woods for six weeks, beginning Jan. 13 in East Lansing, MI. Bundy is expected to remain with the tour through Feb. 22.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Cast List for "Alexander" and "Charlotte's Web"

The cast list for First Stage Theatre Company's spring shows were posted earlier today at that group's website, and as promised, I'm printing the list here, as well:

Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going To Move

The Cast List

ALEXANDER - Drew Edwards

ANTHONY - Justin Hesson

NICK - Drew Goodall

PAUL - William Beverage

AUDREY - Mary Stevenson

SWOOZIE - Kate Colclough

RACHEL - Meg Barber

THE ROONEY GIRLS - Sarah Bryan, Catherine Dennison, Kylie Magner, Taylor Perdue, Melody Chalvin

--------------------

Charlotte's Web

The Cast List

Fern Arable – Abigail Turner

John Arable – Zach Davis

Martha Arable – Sarah Stevenson

Avery Arable – Jonathan Ross

Homer Zuckerman – Jonathan Lamp

Edith Zuckerman – Caroline Hunter

Luray – Rachel Geiger

Wilbur – Samantha Young

Templeton - Jack McGee

Charlotte – Sarena Johnson

The Narrators – Leslie Collins, Rebecca Craig, Chloe Donahoe

Farm Animals:

Goose - Brooke Alexander

Gander - Kathryn Booth

Sheep - Emily Bannon

Lamb - Kennedy Magner

Chorus Members - Cassie Bowen, Karenann Flouhouse, Madalein Jackson, Hannah Kirby, Shelby McKeand, Emily Underwood, Angel Yarussi, Stephanie Yuhasz

Baby Spiders/Chorus Member - Nathaniel Fornash, Morgan Hush, Maria Vance

Auditions in Ashland for "Alice"

Auditions are being held next week in Ashland for young people, as you can read in this story in the Herald-Dispatch.

But it's a little bit different from most Community Theatre - here young people are apparently auditioning for a show and signing up for a class at ACTC at the same time:
Third to ninth grade students are invited to participate in the Ashland Community & Technical College Children’s Theatre production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland Jr.

The production is a lifelong learning enrichment course for youth who want to learn theatre techniques and get on-stage experience. Roles will be determined in auditions held Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 20 and 21 at 4:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre at the College Drive Campus.

More than 24 roles are available. Those auditioning will be required to sing and read from the script, with no advance preparation. Additional information for parents will be given during the auditions.

This fast-paced stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland features updated dialogue and new arrangements of such classic Disney songs as “I’m Late,” “The Un-birthday Song” and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

The production is based on the 1951 Disney film Alice in Wonderland and the novels by Lewis Carroll.

Karen Curnutte will be the Musical Director and Production Director. Edward Figgins, Director of Theatre, will produce and also be in charge of scenery and lighting.

Rehearsals will be held from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and performances will be given Feb. 19-22.

The course fee is $100. Enrollment is through ACTC Lifelong Learning, 606-326-2072, 800-928-4256 ext. 62072 or email: as_LLL@kctcs.edu.

Monday, January 12, 2009

One More Day...

The cast for both Charlotte's Web and Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move will be announced tomorrow afternoon - it'll be posted first on the First Stage Theatre Company website, which is: www.firststagetheatre.org.

I'll also post it here tomorrow evening, if you can stand to wait that long.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is that I never cease to be impressed by the high quality of the talent in our area. There were so many really impressive auditions this weekend, including excellent singers, outstanding dancers, and impressive actors.

And above all, I'm always impressed by the courage it takes to stand up in front of strangers and try out, in hopes of being part of a production. I could never have done that when I was that young. (Yes, I was once young - hard to believe, I know.)

Of course, I've long been an advocate for kids taking part in community theatre - it helps build the self-confidence every young person needs, and they'll make life-long friends along the way. And they have lots of fun!

That's what we call a "win-win" scenario!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Audition Aftermath

Whew! The ol' scout here is tuckered out, as today we wrapped up the auditions for two First Stage Theatre Company shows: Charlotte's Web and Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move.

Like most auditions, we had a good turn-out, though we could always use more - especially more males (there's always a shortage of guys in community theatre, no matter what age group you're talking about).

Still, the casts are taking shape, and the line-ups will be announced on Tuesday. Then we start getting ready for rehearsals, and both shows take the stage in March!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Auditions This Weekend for "Charlotte" and "Alexander"

Auditions are being held this weekend for two spring shows in Huntington: Charlotte’s Web and Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move.

The shows are part of the 19th season for the local children's theatre, the First Stage Theatre Company.

Auditions for both shows will take place at the Pea Ridge United Methodist Church at 5747 E. Pea Ridge Road in Huntington on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Young actors can audition for the show of their choice, or they can audition for both shows at the same time. There is no charge to audition.

Auditions are open to performers ages 9 to seniors in high school. Those auditioning for both shows will be provided scripts to read aloud. Those auditioning for “Alexander” should be prepared to sing a 30-second song selection. There will be a pianist, but you may use an accompaniment tape or CD (with no vocals). Wear comfortable clothes for dance.

Charlotte’s Web is based on the popular children’s book by E.B. White. The show will be presented at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington, W.Va., March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15, 2009. The non-musical play tells the story of a girl named Fern who saves a runt pig named Wilbur, and how his life in turn is saved by a clever spider named Charlotte. The play will feature a cast of about 35 young performers and will be directed by Amy Browning and produced by Jeanette Bills.

Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move is a musical comedy based on the popular book by Judith Viorst with music by Shelly Markham, and is the sequel to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which First Stage presented in 2002.

"Alexander" tells the story of a young boy and how he reacts when his parents tell him the family has to move to a new town. The show will be presented at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center in Huntington, W.Va., March 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29, 2009. The musical will feature a cast of about 15 performers. The directing team is: director Chuck Minsker, producer Jeanette Rowsey, music director Mark Smith, choreographer Melissa McGuffin, and assistant director Eric Newfeld.

The First Stage Theatre Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational, developmental experience for young people through the performing arts. Its website is www.firststagetheatre.org.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Dark Days on Broadway

My pal Shirlee recently wrote:
Chuck... just got back from NYC. Can not tell you how eerie it was to see half the theatres closed. I know a lot of new shows are going to be opening up but a few rumors have put the hold on some of them.... I hope Broadway figures out where they are going or we will see a lot of local, talented people, who want to be there out of work before they even begin!
.. And now this from Broadway.com:
Nine productions said good-bye to the Great White Way on January 4: 13, Boeing-Boeing, Dividing the Estate, Grease, Hairspray, Liza's at the Palace, Slava's Snowshow, White Christmas and Young Frankenstein.
Of course, some of those shows are tied to the holidays and were planning to close anyway.

But that's not the end of it - other shows (like Spring Awakening) close this month and in February, though quite a few shows will soldier on, of course.

New shows will take their place eventually, and many are in rehearsals now - but for the moment, the lights are shining a little darker on Broadway.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Remembering "Charlotte" and "Alexander"

With auditions coming up this weekend for both Charlotte's Web and Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move, my thoughts have been turning back to the first time I encountered each show (well, sort of).

First Stage tackled Charlotte's Web back in 1998 (if memory serves). The show actually had two directors - Jerry Morse and Sarah Chupp - and it was the first show (that I'm aware of) that used double-casting. In other words, there were two different casts, one for each director. (That allowed us to cast more kids in the show, although it was very difficult to coordinate.)

The casts took turns performing the show, using the same set. I saw every performance because I helped run the sound on that show. If I remember correctly, my oldest son Justin worked backstage on the tech crew, and it was one of the first appearances on stage by my youngest son, Evan, who played Young Spider #2.

It was a wonderful show, with lots of great parts and a funny and touching story. I look forward to seeing it again (although this time around, First Stage will only use one cast).

As for "Alexander," the second show I directed (back in 2002) was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - and I ended up directing it almost by accident.

For my second directing effort, I thought it would be fun to tackle "Alexander," which was based on a popular children's book - but for some reason, I thought it was a non-musical. Imagine my surprise when the script arrived and I realized I had a musical on my hands! (The lesson is: always read the fine print.)

What a great experience that show was! It was a fun, creative story that used a variety of performers, with the younger actors playing Alexander and his friends, and the older teens playing the grownups.

I smile every time I think of the "parents" in that show - Michael Moore played the Dad, and Emily Asbury played the Mom. Michael got huge laughs, not only for his comedic ability, but also because of the fake moustache he wore. Emily was so convincing, one kid who saw the show asked her if she was really "Alexander's" Mom - I think she was 16 at the time, not much older than the young man playing the title role - Chuck Herndon - and what a terrific job he did! All three actors are now studying drama in college, and doing incredibly well - it's a tribute to the talents. I'm so proud of them! (And no, I don't take any credit for their accomplishments - they've done that entirely on their own talent and initiative - but I knew 'em when!)

The cast was perfect, the show was a hoot, and with each performance, the crowds got bigger, until finally, at the last show we literally had standing room only!

Fond memories! Now I look forward to making new memories with these new shows!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Auditions for the No Pants Players

If you've ever wanted to try improv comedy, the group called the No Pants Players is a great place to start - and they're getting ready to hold auditions for new performers.

Tony Slack writes:
Just wanted to pass along to everyone about the No Pants Players auditions coming up soon.

They will be on Saturday, Jan. 17, and Sunday, Jan. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Kanawha Players building. Tell all your family and friends, and also anyone else that you think might want to give it a shot.

Check our website for all the juicy details at www.nopantsplayers.com.

Also, this Saturday, Jan. 10, there will be an improv workshop at The Book Exchange at 1588 E Washington St. (Next to the dog park.) Time will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will be a good chance for anyone who wants to give improv a try before actually auditioning.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The "Phantom" Returns!

Here's a story I almost forgot to share - some recent information about plans to create a sequel to the longest-running show ever on Broadway - Phantom of the Opera!

Here are the details from our pals with the Associated Press:
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber says the long awaited sequel to Phantom of the Opera should be ready at the end of 2009, with a possible simultaneous opening on three continents.

Lloyd Webber told The Times of London that he hopes the new musical, to be called Phantom: Love Never Dies, will open in New York, London and possibly Shanghai or another Asian city.

He said the locale of the celebrated musical will be switched from the Paris Opera to New York's Coney Island. The sequel will be set about 10 years after the original, which has been seen by approximately 80 million theatergoers in 124 cities worldwide.
Coney Island? Really? That Andrew - what a maniac!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Auditions for "Alice, Jr."

Yesterday I mentioned the auditions this weekend for Charlotte's Web and Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move, but there's another show with auditions coming up, according to this message from someone named Elphie3-15. She or he wrote:
Auditions for ACTC's Disney's Alice in Wonderland Jr. are Monday the 12th, and Tuesday the 13th at 4:30 p.m.

Auditions are open to children from third grade to ninth grade. There will be a cold sing and read from the script, no preparation needed.
Thanks for the info, Elphie!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Auditions Next Weekend for "Charlotte" and "Alexander"

Auditions are coming up next weekend for the two spring shows being presented by First Stage Theatre Company: Charlotte’s Web and Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move.

Auditions for both shows will take place at the Pea Ridge United Methodist Church at 5747 E. Pea Ridge Road in Huntington on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 11 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Young actors can audition for the show of their choice, or they can audition for both shows at the same time.

Auditions are open to performers ages 9 to seniors in high school. Those auditioning for both shows will be provided scripts to read aloud. Those auditioning for “Alexander” should be prepared to sing a 30-second song selection. There will be a pianist, but you may use an accompaniment tape or CD (with no vocals). Wear comfortable clothes for dance.

Charlotte’s Web is based on the popular children’s book by E.B. White. The show will be presented at the Renaissance Theatre in Huntington, W.Va., March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15, 2009.

The non-musical play tells the story of a girl named Fern who saves a runt pig named Wilbur, and how his life in turn is saved by a clever spider named Charlotte. The play will feature a cast of about 35 young performers and will be directed by Amy Browning and produced by Jeanette Bills.

Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move is a musical comedy based on the popular book by Judith Viorst with music by Shelly Markham, and is the sequel to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which First Stage presented in 2002.

"Alexander" tells the story of a young boy and how he reacts when his parents tell him the family has to move to a new town. The show will be presented at the Jeslyn Performing Arts Center in Huntington, W.Va., March 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29, 2009. The musical will feature a cast of about 15 performers. The directing team is: director Chuck Minsker, producer Jeanette Rowsey, music director Mark Smith, choreographer Melissa McGuffin, and assistant director Eric Newfeld.

The First Stage Theatre Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational, developmental experience for young people through the performing arts. Its website is www.firststagetheatre.org.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Blast From the Past (And Into the Future)

Just over a year ago First Stage Theatre Company staged Disney's High School Musical, and it was a tremendous success.

Playing the part of the dizzy drama teacher, Ms. Darbus, was my pal Debbie Wolfe - but these days she's moved on to bigger things. In November her husband, Kim Wolfe, was elected Mayor of Huntington, so Debbie's now the First Lady of our fair city!

A few weeks back she emailed me with a special request - she was planning the inauguration and wanted to see if some of the cast of the original "HSM" could reassemble at the event and reprise the song "We're All in This Together."

How could I say no? I contacted Assistant Director / Choreographer Amy Browning, and she agreed it would be a fun reunion, and she offered to re-teach the choreography to our returnees. Then I called Music Director Mark Smith, and he agreed to work with the cast to brush off the rust - and he also agreed to play at the event.

I emailed the cast and invited them to gather for a "brush-up" rehearsal (which was going to be a challenge, since it was during the holiday season), and last Tuesday about eight of our actors gathered to refresh their memories on the song and dance steps.

Then Friday afternoon a dozen cast members (including virtually all the lead actors) gathered at City Hall for another brush rehearsal - and then they performed as the final act at the inauguration - and I must say, they did an amazing job!

They weren't the only members of First Stage involved - Debbie's son John Wolfe, who starred in quite a few First Stage shows and now attends school and performs at BYU, sang a song at the inauguration, and board member Clint McElroy appeared in character as Collis P. Huntington, the city's founder.

All in all, it was a lot of fun - a real family affair! Congrats to Kim, Debbie and the entire Wolfe pack!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Coming Up in 2009

It's good to see that 2009 will offer a lot of different shows for theatre fans to enjoy!

Lots of theatre groups haven't decided on their summer or fall shows yet - for example, I haven't heard yet what shows 5th Avenue Theatre Company, ARTS, Huntington Outdoor Theatre or ACTC's Theatre are planning to tackle this year.

Here are the ones I've been able to track down so far. As always, let me know about any I've missed and I'll add them to the list - just send in a comment to the link below or email it to me at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Now, on to the shows of 2009:

Only one show is taking the stage in January, but it's a good one - Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore will be staged Jan. 23-25 and 30-31 by The Charleston Light Opera Guild. It's their diamond anniversary performance of this comedic opera - it's the first production the guild ever did!

On February 2 the Clay Center will present the touring show of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It's a terrific show!

The Marshall Artist's Series has a great lineup this spring, including Sweeney Todd on Feb. 5, Golda's Balcony on March 7, Blues Journey on March 9, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on April 28.

First Church Dinner Theatre will present the comedy Bitsy, Boots...and Ida at the First United Methodist Church in Huntington on February 13 and 14.

Marshall University's Department of Theatre will present the madcap comedy Charley's Aunt February 25-28.

Also in February, the Charleston Stage Company will present Doubt, which is John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, which is now also a film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep.

The Kanawha Players will present Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage February 6-7 and 13-14 at the Kanawha Players Theater.

The Children's Theatre of Charleston will present The Secret Garden on March 5-7.

The First Stage Theatre Company will present two shows in March: the non-musical Charlotte’s Web, based on the classic book by E.B. White, will be presented the first two weekends in March; and the musical comedy Alexander, Who’s Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move, which is based on books by Judith Viorst, will be presented the last two weekends in March.

Mark Twain's classic tale, Tom Sawyer, comes to exuberant musical life in an adaptation of America's favorite book. It will be presented by the Kanawha Players April 3-4 and 11-12.

In April Marshall's Dept. of Theatre will present Epic Proportions, the story of two brothers who go to the Arizona desert to be extras in the huge Biblical epic - but get much more than they bargained for.

The classic musical South Pacific will be presented in May at the Civic Center Little Theater by the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

The Jenny Wiley Theatre has a full schedule this summer. including the Elvis-centric All Shook Up in July, the popular Smoke on the Mountain from June to August, The Legend of Jenny Wiley in August, and Broadway Kids through July and August.

As for the fall, the only show being planned that I've heard about is First Stage Theatre Company's production of Into the Woods.

And that's all I have for now - but isn't it great to have so many outstanding shows in our future?

EDIT: Here's one I missed somehow: CYAC will present Scarpelli and Kehde's Lincoln in February, just in time for the birthday of one of our greatest presidents!

EDIT #2: My pal Stephen Vance tells me that I missed another one - Huntington High is doing Li'l Abner the first week in February!

Auditions for "Bitsy, Boots... and Ida"

Just got this note from my pal Jon Joy about auditions coming up for his next show:
First Church Dinner Theatre is now casting my new full length comedy - Bitsy, Boots...and Ida.

Auditions will be held Sunday, Jan. 4 at noon and Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 6:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Huntington. There are roles available for four women and two men. Rehearsals will start mid-January and the show will be performed Friday and Saturday, February 13 & 14.

FCDT began its annual dinner theatre celebration in 1991. Through the years, they have used the event to raise over $30,000 to support community projects and to aid in national and international relief efforts. This will be the 17th play that FCDT (headed up by Jane and Jerry Morse) have presented to Tri-State audiences.

It is my second consecutive year working with them. Last year, they produced Bitsy and Boots in February and we had a great response. I've been working on the sequel for a few months now and I will be finishing it up just in time for rehearsals to begin.

For more info on the organization and the original play, click on the Herald-Dispatch link to this story from last February. http://www.herald-dispatch.com/life/x1596894020

The sequel revolves around the same set of characters with one new addition. Ida is a relative of Bitsy and Boots who has overstayed her welcome on a recent visit and whose presence threatens to interrupt the wedding of Tommy and Katherine.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Adios, 2008!

Happy New Year!

It’s been interesting, surfing the web today - I see lots of sites bemoaning how bad 2008 was. I guess I’m the eternal optimist - there were certainly some bad things about last year, but there were lots of good things too - you know, just like ever other year in living memory.

So let’s focus on the good and look back at the some of the theatre shows that stood out in the past year. Since this is my personal list of shows I saw and liked, please forgive me if your favorite show isn’t listed - I didn’t get to see every show last year, so there will be some omissions.

Feel free to send me your list of favorites, and I’ll post them here - you can send them via the comments link at the bottom of this post, or you can email them to me at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Anyway, here’s my list (in no particular order):

The Marshall University Department of Theatre continues to be a class act for local theatre productions, including two important productions - The Seagull in February and The Glass Menagerie in November. Then it added a terrific musical for good measure with George M! in October. All terrific productions - you should really make it a point to see all the shows MU stages each season - they’re outstanding!

I’ve admitted being prejudiced about the production of First Stage Theatre Company, but I think anyone would have to be impressed by the top caliber of talent on display in the two shows it presented this year. Back in April the group staged the excellent Children of Eden, an outstanding and moving musical about families and love and forgiveness. It was exceptional!

The other show from that group was the amazing Peter Pan in November, which included great songs, terrific performances, a stunning set, excellent costumes, and flying actors - who could ask for more?

ARTS has also staged some excellent shows this year, including The Odd Couple (Female Version) in March, which flipped the genders of the original play (male to female, natch), and it was just as funny - and perhaps funnier - than the original!

Just a month ago ARTS also presented The 1940s Radio Hour, an outstanding musical with terrific talent and lots of wonderful songs - if you missed this show, you missed a great one!

I usually don’t include touring professional shows in my list, but two were so good, they deserve inclusion: both The Producers and The Wizard of Oz were presented at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center this year as part of the Marshall Artists Series, and both were amazing.

As long as I’m talking about professional shows, I saw Jersey Boys in Chicago this year, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite Broadway shows - I recommend it highly!

As proof that a show can be a lot of fun without a huge cast or a flashy production, I really enjoyed the premiere of Bitsy & Boots in February. It was a comedy written by Jonathan Joy and staged by the First Church Dinner Theater. Very funny, and the good news is, a sequel is in the works!

If there was an award for courage in theatre, it would go this year to Huntington Outdoor Theatre for its production of Romeo & Juliet in July. The classic by Shakespeare was edited and had modern songs added - some loved it, some did not - but it was a brave thing to attempt, so kudos to HOT!

Another original production took on an intense subject, as Scarpelli and Kehde created a musical based on the story of Jack the Ripper in October. The excellent 9and intense0 production featured a terrific cast and excellent songs.

Local theatre doesn’t get much more intense than The Pillowman, a drama produced by the Charleston Stage Company in February. Featuring a great cast, including K.C. Bragg and Ryan Hardiman (who was also the star of Jack the Ripper), it kept audiences on the edge of their seats.

Another intense production centered around a series of murders. Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None was presented by the 5th Avenue Theatre Company at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium in October, and the terrific cast brought the classic murder mystery to life. A excellent production!

So it was a great year in theatre - and again, there were many other excellent shows that I didn’t get to see, and I apologize for any omissions.

So what does 2009 hold in store? That’s what we’ll talk about tomorrow!