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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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ACTC's New Season

See, I knew I was going to overlook some shows. As my pal Zack points out, I left out ACTC's upcoming season.

Sorry about that! Here's the lineup:

ACTC:
Fall - Blood Brothers
Dec. - A Christmas Carol
Spring - Willy Wonka Jr.
Spring - Copacabana the Musical by Barry Manilow

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The New Theatre Season Begins

Now that summer is over and school is back in session, it’s time for most community theatre groups to announce (or decide on) their fall and spring productions.

(Many theatre groups base their season on the traditional school schedule, September through May.)

So here are the shows I’ve tracked down so far - and I’ll hopefully have lots more information about these as their show dates draw near. Please let me know about any shows I’ve missed (and I’m sure there are plenty) - email them to me at TheMinskers@aol.com.

The list so far:

First Stage Theatre:
Nov. - Into the Woods
March ‘10 - You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy!
May ‘10 - The First Day of Summer by Jonathan Joy

5th Avenue Theatre Co.:
Sept. - Guns and Hoses Benefit Concert
Oct. - Man of La Mancha

Marshall University Theatre Dept.:
Oct. - Waiting for Lefty
Nov. - Almost Maine
Dec. - Christmas Gala Performance
Feb. ‘10 - Born Yesterday
April ‘10 - Our Country’s Good

Marshall Artist’s Series:
Nov. - Avenue Q
Nov. - The Rat Pack is Back! – Here For The Holidays
Feb. ‘10 - An Evening with Lucille Ball: “Thank You for Asking”
Feb. ‘10 - Cats
April ’10 - Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance

Red Lion Theatre Co. (Ashland):
Oct. - The Pillowman

Charleston Light Opera Guild:
Oct. - Peter Pan

Charleston Stage Co.:
Oct. - The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Dec. - Underneath the Lintel

Kanawha Players:
Oct. - Dial “M” for Murder
Dec. - Miracle on 34th Street
Feb. - Twelve Angry Men
April - A Raisin in the Sun
June - The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)

Children’s Theatre of Charleston:
Oct. - Jungle Book
Dec. - Ebenezer
March - Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

And that's all I have - it looks like a great season to me!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Stage Tonight - "Harvey"

Here's a show that slipped past me, but you can catch the final performance today!

The Red Lion Theatre Company in Ashland will present Harvey, the comedy classic about a man and his giant invisible rabbit.

Shows are today at 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on the second floor at 1301 Winchester Ave. in Ashland, KY.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Coming Soon to This Blog...

The summer theatre season is over and the fall and spring seasons are around the corner, so here's what you can look forward to in the days ahead right here at your Tri-State Theatre blog:

- A look at the upcoming season for theatre groups in Huntington and Charleston.

- A review of the "State of Theatre" here in our community.

- A look behind the scenes at a couple of shows that are already in rehearsal.

- A look at the history of community theatre in Huntington.

All that and much, much more! (A bargain at twice the price!)

And if there's a topic you'd like to see talked about in this modest space, let us know! You can send in a comment at the link at the bottom of this post (you can even be anonymous if you like), or email yours truly at TheMinskers@aol.com.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to Broadway

My pal Bruce Rous sends this reminder: Don't miss Back to Broadway, an evening of music starring Beth McVey.

Bruce Rous at the piano
Special Guest – Don Williams on Clarinet

Sat. August 29 - 6 p.m.
Highlawn Presbyterian Church
2814 Collis Ave., Huntington
Dinner and show - $25
Show only - $15
Call (304) 522-1676 for Reservations

Broadway actress Beth McVey sings music from the Broadway stage, telling personal anecdotes about her journey "Back to Broadway." Accompanied by friend Bruce Rous, also a Broadway musician, the duo offers an evening of entertainment served up dinner theatre style at Highlawn Presbyterian Church on August 29. Music from West Side Story, Funny Girl, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and other shows you know and love.

A cool show on a hot summer night!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rehearsals Underway for "Guns and Hoses"

My pal Paul Neace sends along a link to the Fifth Avenue Theatre website, where you can see a bunch of photos of the cast of the Guns and Hoses Benefit rehearsing.

Just go right here to check it out!

And don't forget to order your tickets!

All proceeds go to the Huntington Police Dept. (Guns), the Huntington Fire Dept. (Hoses) and the City of Huntington Foundation.

The show will take place Sept. 10, 2009, at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium.

The cost is $100 per person for dinner and the show, or $40 each to just see the performance.

Dinner is served at 6:00 p.m. and the performance follows at 8:00 p.m. with the Fifth Avenue Theatre Company presenting a stage performance of Broadway tunes. Debbie Wolfe and Clint McElroy are the hosts, and performers include: Mary Olson, Linda Reynolds, Jennifer Scott, Marina Jurica, Ryan Hardiman, Danny Ray, Paul Neace, Ron Short, Nancy Jackson and Zach Davis.

The event is being sponsored by Kindred Communications and the Herald-Dispatch.

Tickets are on sale - for more information, call Maxine Loudermilk at City Hall at 304-696-5522.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Needed: Actors to Bring History to Life

Thanks to my pal Zack for pointing out this story from today's Herald-Dispatch:
The West Virginia Humanities Council is seeking applications from individuals interested to portray historical figures as part of the council's popular History Alive! program, according to a release.

Historically significant persons no longer living from any period are eligible for consideration.

The humanities council is particularly interested in proposals for characters related to the Civil War and West Virginia statehood, such as “Stonewall” Jackson, John Brown, Francis Pierpont, Arthur Boreman and others.

The application deadline is Jan. 1, 2010. Those chosen receive a stipend to support research to develop the proposed character. Proposals are limited to two potential characters per applicant and must be for portrayal of an actual person. Potential presenters must pass an audition. Selected presenters will join the History Alive! roster effective Nov. 1, 2010, for a minimum two-year period.

Each year, approximately 200 History Alive! presentations are given for schools, libraries, civic groups, historical societies and a wide range of public gatherings across West Virginia.

To apply, contact program officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or payne@wvhumanities.org.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't Forget the "Guns and Hoses" Fundraiser!

Here's the latest reminder to order your tickets for the upcoming Guns and Hoses Benefit!

All proceeds go to the Huntington Police Dept. (Guns), the Huntington Fire Dept. (Hoses) and the City of Huntington Foundation.

The show will take place Sept. 10, 2009, at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium.

The cost is $100 per person for dinner and the show, or $40 each to just see the performance.

Dinner is served at 6:00 p.m. and the performance follows at 8:00 p.m. with the Fifth Avenue Theatre Company presenting a stage performance of Broadway tunes. Debbie Wolfe and Clint McElroy are the co-hosts, and performers include: Mary Olson, Linda Reynolds, Jennifer Scott, Marina Jurica, Ryan Hardiman, Danny Ray, Paul Neace, Ron Short, Nancy Jackson and Zach Davis.

The event is being sponsored by Kindred Communications and the Herald-Dispatch.

Tickets are on sale - for more information, call Maxine Loudermilk at City Hall at 304-696-5522.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shakespeare Auditions This Weekend

The Charleston Stage Company is holding auditions Sunday and Monday for its fall production of William Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The audition times are 7 p.m. August 23 and 24. The auditions will be held at the WVSU Capitol Center at 123 Summers Street in Charleston, W.Va.

They have a terrific director lined up - it's my pal K.C. Bragg. He was the director and I was the producer on a show First Stage put on about 10 years ago (The Hobbit), and he's done a bunch of shows since. He's a pro at both acting and directing - if you're part of this show, you're going to have a great time!

Performers will be asked to read scenes and/or monologues from the script. They plan to cast 11 performers (and one dog) to fill 16 roles! They're also looking for one actor who can sing well.

If you like to perform, or if you've always wanted to give it a shot, then show up and audition! Call 304-766-5721 if you have questions.

The show will be staged October 15-17 and 22-24, 2009.

Break a leg, y'all!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Clint's On The Wall of Fame!

All I can say is, it's about time!

My pal Clint McElroy was named this week to Huntington's Wall of Fame - an honor he's earned a dozen times over for all his work promoting the region, his efforts for charity and numerous non-profit organizations, and just because he's a heck of a great guy (though I admit to being prejudiced - we've been friends since we first met in college, lo these many years ago).

His work for First Stage Theatre Company alone should earn him honors - he's been a board member almost since the group started 20 years ago, and he's directed a number of shows, including Seussical the Musical, Cats, Bye Bye Birdie and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (to name a few). He's offered leadership and guidance to hundreds of kids through that organization, and has helped build it into a successful community theatre group.

Bryan Chambers wrote a fine story previewing this year's class of inductees, although he did make one small mistake - Clint's not 59 years old (though he is over 50). On the up side, this gives us something to tease him about for at least five more years.

You can see photos from some of Clint's past escapades right here (don't you just love the one I pulled for this post?). Here's an excerpt from the story, which you can read right here:
Four well-known Huntingtonians will become the newest members of the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame, which honors individuals who have made lasting contributions to the community.

The City of Huntington Foundation has announced that Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins, Clint McElroy, Henriella Perry and Paul W. Whear will be this year's inductees.

The Wall of Fame now has 92 members and is in the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Each member has a plaque with a picture and biography.

To be considered for the award, one must have been born in Huntington or have lived in the city for at least 10 years, performed a community service that has benefited the entire community and/or achieved national recognition in their chosen field.

McElroy, 59, wears many hats in the Tri-State. Professionally, he is a staple in broadcast radio in the area, working for stations such as WRVC, WKEE, WEMM and WTCR.

But his contributions to Huntington extend into acting in and directing community theatre as well. He has acted in more than 20 community theater productions and produced eight.

He also was one of the founders of the Ronald McDonald House.
Congratulations, amigo!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Looking for Talent for Local Film

I had a message recently from Lukas de Gruyl with MotionMasters in Charleston, and he says they're looking for some local talent to appear in some educational films they're producing.

They're a great company - one of the best film and video producers in the state - so if you're interested, here's the information:
Immediately casting college age students (19-27) male and female for a series of educational films about "Moving Out On Your Own."

There is some pay for the roles.

Call Producer Lukas de Gruyl at MotionMasters 304-345-8800.

Shoot will be in late August and September.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Cast for "Into the Woods"

Over the weekend I helped sign in young people auditioning for Into the Woods, and let me tell you, I'm glad I didn't have to cast that show! Some amazing talent showed up and gave it their best shot - it had to be a tough call!

Looking over the cast list, there's no doubt that this is going to be a fantastic show.

Here's the list:

Witch: Maggie Saunders
Narrator/ Mysterious Man: Caleb Donahoe
Baker: Eric Newfeld
Baker's Wife: Sarah Hayes
Jack: Jesse Donahoe
Little Red Riding Hood: Sarah Bryan
Cinderella: Mary Kate Young
Cinderella's Stepmother: Meg Riley
Florinda: Mary Frances Wilkes
Lucinda: Emily Dennison
Cinderella's Prince/ Wolf 1: Daniel King
Jack's Mother: Kristin Caviani
Rapunzel: Holly Smith
Rapunzel's Prince/ Wolf 2: Cody Verbage
Steward: Andrew Edwards
Cinderella's Mother: Chloe Donahoe
Cinderella's Father: Michael Parker
Granny: Cassie Bowen
Milky White: Elizabeth Schmitz
The Harp: Amanda Harris
Snow White: Grayson Collins
Sleeping Beauty: Mallory Norton
The Woods Chorus: Hannah Stevenson, Catherine Dennison, Libby Goetz, Samantha Young, Sarena Johnson, Abigail Manis, Meg Barber, Justin Hesson, Brooke Alexander, Emily Underwood, Leslie Collins, Casey Knopf, Kiona Graley

See what I mean? I can't wait for this show!

Back to Broadway

This is the time of year when most community theatre companies are just starting to work on their fall shows - but there are some great performances coming up to keep us entertained in the meantime.

Here's one called Back to Broadway. It's billed as "An evening of music starring Beth McVey."

Saturday, August 29 at 6 p.m.
Highlawn Presbyterian Church
2814 Collis Ave. in Huntington
Dinner and show $25
Call (304) 522-1676 for Reservations

Broadway actress Beth McVey sings music from the Broadway stage, telling personal anecdotes about her journey "back to Broadway."

Accompanied by friend Bruce Rous, also a Broadway musician, the duo offers an evening of entertainment served up dinner theatre style. Music from West Side Story, Funny Girl, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and other shows you know and love. Special Guest – Don Williams on clarinet.

A cool show on a hot summer night!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Review of "Rent"

I received this review of the Charleston Light Opera Guild's performance of Rent while I was out of town, so apologies to my pal Zach Davis for running so late getting it posted here.

Here's his review:
RENT!!! First off I want to say that many people know that I am very critical of productions and I report every flaw I see, but last night for the first time I found myself speechless.

Rent was by far the best community show I have seen in years - in fact, it was more like a Broadway touring show. The cast was just wonderful. I must admit that I am not the emotional type, but I during the show I got chills, goosebumps and even teared up a few times.

The whole cast was amazing but I would like to pinpoint a few. Ryan Hardiman, who played Roger delivered a spot-on performance (as always). You really felt heartbroken for him.

Beth, who portrayed Mimi was extremely seductive and marvelous. She owned that character.

Mara, who played Maureen, was hysterical and had the whole audience captivated and at one point had everyone mooing.

Kris Corbett also had some very powerful solos that really fell heavy on the hearts of everyone.

In my opinion, the two who truely stole the show were the power couple of Nathan, who played Angel, and Michael, who played Tom. Nathan really found his role. The way he moved and sang was remarkable. I would have broken both ankles. Then what a voice Michael had. He sounded just as good if not better than the original Tom on Broadway. When he sang the reprise at Angel's funeral I guarantee that there wasn't a single dry eye in that building. The whole cast was great. So many awesome solos.

The set was perfect with the bare stage look and then at the end the projections on the wall. Just amazing. Now I will say my only complaint was that the costumes were not original, but that's okay - they were perfect but would have liked to have seen a little more personal touch on them. The lighting looked super professional. The sound I have to pick at - the orchestra mics were a little too heavy and a few of the cast mics were hot and some feedback came through - but that's normal. Heck the Tonys had mic troubles, so no biggie.

I have to say that every time I make the journey to Charleston I am never disappointed and always have a wonderful time. I enjoyed the show and seeing all the theatre community coming out to support the wonderful production.

I saw this blog's two-time Tony Picking champ... who when hugged me and boasted, "I beat you I beat you at picking the Tonys!" I am just glad Denise doesn't like to brag and rub things in to the losers. Hahaha.

Anyway if you didn't get to see Rent, I am sorry you missed a remarkable show. On my scale of 1-5 stars it gets 10!

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Guns and Hoses" Benefit Concert Coming Up Soon!

My pal Paul Neace sends along this information about a terrific show coming up soon - and best of all, the money raised will go to a very good cause.

It's the Guns and Hoses Benefit! Here's what it's all about:
All proceeds go to the Huntington Police Dept. (Guns), the Huntington Fire Dept. (Hoses) and the City of Huntington Foundation.

The show will take place Sept. 10, 2009, at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium.

$100 per person for dinner and the show, or $40 each to just see the performance.

Six front tables are available at $1,000 apiece

The evening includes: 6:00 p.m. - Dinner catered by Big Sandy Superstore Arena (steak or chicken) served inside City Hall on first floor and mezzanine - servers will be the fine men and women of the Huntington Police and Fire Departments as well as local celebrities - performance follows at 8:00 p.m. with the Fifth Avenue Theatre Company presenting a stage performance of Broadway tunes.

Performers include: Mary Olson, Linda Reynolds, Jennifer Scott, Marina Jurica, Ryan Hardiman, Danny Ray, Paul Neace, Ron Short, Nancy Jackson and Zach Davis.

Debbie Wolfe and Clint McElroy are serving as co-hosts.

Directed by: Eddie Harbert
Choreographed by: Coni Anthony

The event is being sponsored by Kindred Communications and the Herald-Dispatch.

Paul adds: "I know the price tag is a little steep for some but one must consider the cause and we promise to do our best to make it a $120 show."

Tickets are already on sale - call Maxine Loudermilk at City Hall at 304-696-5522
A great show for a great cause - what more could anyone ask? I advise reserving those tickets as soon as possible!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Auditions for Sunday

There are auditions today for two upcoming local shows:

- Into the Woods auditions will be held this afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m. at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church at 5747 Pea Ridge Road in Huntington, W.Va. Casting is open to students who will be in the 6th through 12th grades this fall. Anyone who wants to try out should be prepared to sing a 30-second song segment. A pianist will be available. Performances will take place Nov. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at the Jean C. Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington's City Hall. Into the Woods is a Tony Award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

- The Paramount Arts Center will hold auditions for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow today at 3:00 p.m. Parts are available for a cast of five males and four females, ages 14 through adult. Those auditioning will be asked to read from the script and do some improvisation. Performances will be held on November 4 and 5 and will tour to local schools. Please call Melanie Sweeney at 606-324-3175 with any questions.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Stage Tonight - The No Pants Players

My pal Tony Slack sends this note about this evening's improv comedy performance:
Just spreading the word, the No Pants Players will be performing at the Labelle Theater Aug. 15 at 8pm.

This will be a special event because it will be the official stage premiere of the two latest members of the troupe, Mandy Petry and Adam King. There will also be a raffle for a "Harry Potter Prize Package."

As always, the show will be family friendly, concessions and No Pants Players merchandise will be available.

The Labelle Theater is located at 311 D Street in South Charleston. Tickets are only $6 each and can be purchased at the door, or can be reserved by calling 1-877-IMPROV9. For more info on the troupe visit the website at www.nopantsplayers.com.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Into the Woods" Auditions on Saturday & Sunday

Here's another reminder about this weekend's auditions for the musical Into the Woods - here's the press release:
First Stage Theatre Company will hold auditions this weekend for the popular musical Into the Woods. The musical gives a modern and often surprising take on several classic fairy tales.

Auditions will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church at 5747 Pea Ridge Road in Huntington, W.Va.

Casting is open to students who will be in the 6th through 12th grades this fall. Anyone who wants to try out should be prepared to sing a 30-second song segment. A pianist will be available.

Performances of Into the Woods will take place Nov. 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 at the Jean C. Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington's City Hall.

More information is available by calling Mary Smirl at 304-525-2557, Elaine Young at 304-525-6132 or visiting www.firststagetheatre.org.

Into the Woods is a Tony Award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

The First Stage Theatre Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing an educational, developmental experience for young people through the performing arts. Into the Woods kicks off the organization's 20th season.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Marshall Artists Series Announces Its New Season

Hey, while I was out of town this announcement showed up about the 74th Season of the Marshall Artists Series!

It looks like another outstanding season, including the Broadway musical Cats and Michael Flatley’s Lord of The Dance, Broadway’s smash hit musical Avenue Q, 40 Years Under the Sea with Jean-Michel Cousteau and Comedy Central Star Mike Birbiglia.

Here's the official press release:
The Marshall Artists Series turns 74 years old this season. Over the course of those 74 years, the Marshall Artists Series has been a gateway to the world of cultural entertainment in the Tri-State and at Marshall University.

"The Marshall Artists Series 2009/2010 season will broaden your view of our world and through art: whether it be an opera, a foreign film, Broadway musical or a fascinating presentation of rarely seen corners of our planet, you will be transported and transformed emotionally, intellectually and spiritually,” says Penny Watkins, Executive Director for the Marshall Artists Series. “The Marshall Artists Series season endeavors to take you on many diverse journeys, journeys that invite you to explore the vast array of human experiences and emotions. These journeys offer the opportunity for laughter and humor, pathos and understanding, as well as run the gamut of personal growth to universal exploration.”

The following events will be featured on this season’s Baxter Series:

Chesapeake Energy proudly presents the son of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel Cousteau, marine explorer, filmmaker, environmental advocate and educator - as he brings his deep sea journey – The Great Ocean Adventure – to the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Oct. 15, 2009 at 7 p.m. In this multimedia “great ocean adventure” Cousteau will share his stories, photographs and videos from over 40 years of studying the world under the sea. Patrons of all ages will experience delight and awe as he fills the theater with ocean life, inspiring our audience to protect this precious resource.

Ring-a ding-ding in the holiday season as The Rat Pack is Back! – Here For The Holidays comes to the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Nov. 30, 2009 at 8 p.m. The swingin’, free-wheelin’ and festive sounds of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop will certainly get you in the mood for the holiday season! The Rat Pack is Back features uncanny vocal recreations, unbridled humor, and a hot, live orchestra featuring the original rat pack arrangements that will send the audience back to the coolest time in history.

Celebrate the first lady of television in An Evening with Lucille Ball: “Thank You for Asking” directed by Lucie Arnaz on Feb. 23, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. This touching, funny and uplifting play is written and performed by actress and renowned impressionist, Suzanne LaRousch, in association with Lucie Arnaz and Laurence Luckinbill. The evening recreates the comic genius and the magic behind the “Queen of Comedy”. Lucy guides us through a lifetime of personal memories inspiring her timeless sketches on I Love Lucy, her 30-year television career and never-before heard personal recollections about her tempestuous and complicated marriage to Cuban bandleader turned impresario, Desi Arnaz.

St. Mary’s Medical Center and HIMG present Mozart’s Masterpiece Don Giovanni, with 30-piece orchestra, on March 15, 2010 at 8 p.m. Hailed by many as the greatest of all operas, Don Giovanni is based on the true-life escapades of Don Juan of Seville, and aristocratic lothario who lived during the 1600s. The full-scale production features beautiful sets and costumes and a cast of soloists who are excellent actors as well as first class singers. Don Giovanni is performed in original Italian with English supertitles.

The following events will be featured on this season’s Mount Series:

Homecoming will be hilarious as MU’s Alumni Office and Student Activities Programming Board team up with the Marshall Artists Series to bring Comedy Central’s Mike Birbiglia to the Veterans Memorial Field House on Oct. 2, 2009 at 8 p.m., just in time for homecoming. Birbiglia achieved cult status with the release of his Comedy Central CD “Two Drink Mike,” and the accompanying “Medium Man on Campus” college tour. He just finished a successful run off Broadway with his show “Sleepwalk with Me.” Mike is a talk show regular, the star of two Comedy Central Presents specials and broadcasts to millions on the nationally-syndicated “Bob & Tom Radio Show.”

Don’t miss Broadway’s smash hit Avenue Q on Nov. 3, 2009 at 8 p.m., at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Winner of Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book at the 2004 Tony Awards, Avenue Q is a hilarious show full of heart and hummable tunes about trying to make it in NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account. Called “one of the funniest shows you’re ever likely to see,” Avenue Q features a cast of people and puppets who tell the story in a smart, risqué and downright entertaining way. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Sponsored in part by The Law Office of Doug Reynolds, American Babbitt Bearing, Pritchard Electric, and Chapman Printing Company.

Cabell Huntington Hospital proudly presents Cats in its first appearance at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Cats is the second-longest running show in Broadway’s history and features 20 of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s timeless melodies including the hit “Memory.” There’s no better way to introduce your family to the wonders of live theatre than with the magic, the mystery and the memory of Cats!

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “a showpiece extravaganza,” Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance arrives on April 22, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. to bring a mesmerizing blend of traditional and modern Celtic music and dance to the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. The story is based upon mythical Irish folklore as Don Dorcha - Lord of Darkness, challenges the ethereal Lord of Light – The Lord of the Dance. Battle lines are drawn, passions ignite and a love story is fueled by the dramatic leaps and turns of dancers’ bodies against a backdrop of Celtic rhythm. Described by The New York Post as “fascinating and entertaining!

The Fall and Spring International Film Festival:

The Fall International Film Festival will take place November 6 - 8, 2009, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Featured films include: Food, Inc. (USA), The Song of Sparrows (Iran), Rudo Y Cursi (Mexico), Waltz With Bashir (Israel), The Country Teacher (Czech Republic), and Summer Hours (France).

The Spring International Film Festival will take place March 5 -7, 2010, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Featured films include: Departures (Japan), Lemon Tree (Israel), Flow: For the Love Of Water (USA), Lake Tahoe (Mexico), The Girl From Monaco (France), and Burma VJ: Reporting From A Closed Country (Belgium).

Avett Brothers Special – On Sale Now:

The red hot non-traditional bluegrass band, The Avett Brothers, make a tour stop at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center Oct. 29, 2009 at 8 p.m. Brothers Seth and Scott, along with Bob Crawford, combine old-time country, bluegrass, punk, pop melodies, folk, rock and roll, honky-tonk and ragtime to produce a sound described by the Washington Post as “post civil-war modern rock.” The Avett Brothers were recently signed to Columbia Records and released their fifth album with acclaimed producer Rick Rubin at the helm.

Season Ticketing Information:

The Marshall Artists Series 2009-2010 Season is proudly sponsored by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

TICKET INFO:

Superticket: Baxter, Mount, + choice between Avett Brothers & Films - $435, $385, $350 & $315

Baxter Series: 4 Events - $265, $215, $195 & $175

Mount Series: 4 Events - $235, $185, $170 & $155

Avett Brothers Special - $27

International Film Festival (12 Films) $70

The Marshall Artists Series is now offering a new kind of payment plan that we hope will offer our patrons greater flexibility in their season planning -- the NEW TWO-PAYMENT PLAN. Please also note that we have restructured our youth season package at a 20% discounted cost. If you are interested in our NEW TWO-PAYMENT PLAN please call 304-696-3313.

The deadline to purchase or renew season tickets is Friday, August 14, 2009.

New season subscription orders and season ticket renewal orders will be taken beginning Aug. 3 at 9 a.m. Subscriptions may be ordered and current subscriptions may be renewed through the deadline date of August 14. After that day, all orders will be processed in order of date and time received.

The Marshall Artists Series accepts all major credit cards. Season tickets may be ordered via telephone by calling our administrative offices at (304) 696-3326. Orders may also be mailed in to Marshall Artists Series, One John Marshall Drive, Huntington, WV 25755-2210. Orders may also be faxed to (304) 696-6658. The Marshall Artists Series office is located in the Jomie Jazz Center on Fifth Avenue across from Marshall University’s Student Center. Our hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tickets to individual events will go on sale September 8, 2009. For additional information please call the Marshall Artists Series at (304) 696-3326 or send us an email at artistsseries@marshall.edu. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back In Town

Sorry to have dropped out of sight for a few days - my lovely wife and I just got back from a trip down to Texas to help son Justin move to his new home in that beautiful state.

(Turns out it's a heck of a long drive from here to there. Who knew?)

Give me a day to get back up to speed, and I'll have some new posts ready.

It was a great trip, but it's good to be home!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Auditions for "Into the Woods"

Summer's not over yet, but it's already time to start looking toward the fall.

With that in mind, First Stage Theatre Company is getting a head start on the fall by holding auditions this weekend for the fall show in the company's 20th season.

That show is the modern classic Into the Woods, a musical that gives a modern and often surprising take on several classic fairy tales.

Auditions will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, and from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church, 5747 Pea Ridge Road.

Casting is open to 6th through 12th grade students. Anyone who wants to try out should have a 30-second song segment prepared.

Performances will take place Friday, Nov. 13, through Sunday, Nov. 15, and Friday, Nov. 20, through Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Jean C. Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington's City Hall.

More information is available by calling Mary Smirl at 304-525-2557, Elaine Young at 304-525-6132 or visiting www.firststagetheatre.org.

Into the Woods is a Tony award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Autumn Takes The Stage

Here's yet another local performer making her mark on the world of professional theatre!

Autumn Seavey starred in a number of community theatre productions, and then studied at (and graduated from) Marshall University's Department of Theatre.

She's since appeared in a number of professional productions, and was recently part of a performance at the Kennedy Center - and you can see part of it by clicking this link (if you have the right video player on your computer - unfortunately, I can't embed the video on this blog).

If your computer can't read it, trust me - she does a terrific job!

I'm proud of Autumn and the great work she's doing - and you should be, too!

(Oh, and thanks to my pal Denise for sending along the link!)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Emily In The Spotlight

Hey, it's always great to hear about local performers who go on to success on the big stage out there, and here's another such story.

Emily Asbury starred in dozens of shows locally, and then studied theatre at Otterbein, a very prestigious college. She graduated in June and made her way to New York, where she auditioned for a show that's set to tour the country.

The great news is, she got the part - she'll be appearing in the very funny show, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing!

One audition in the Big Apple and she's already part of a professional company - I'm so proud of her!

Of course, I admit to being prejudiced - her parents, Jill and Gerald have been friends of mine since forever, and I've known Emily since she was a baby, and I've seen every community theatre show she ever starred in. So forgive me if I take special pride in bragging about her achievements!

Way to go, Emily!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "Rent"

You just have three chances left to catch the premiere performance of Rent, as presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

You can read my review of the show right here (here's the short version: it's great! Go see it!). Be warned that the rock musical contains adult situations and language.

The show runs at 8 p.m.tonight, Friday and Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre.

Tickets are reserved at $20 each and may be picked up in person at the Little Theatre box office Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or by calling 304-343-2287.

This is one of the first community theatre productions of the show anywhere, and well worth seeing. No day like today! (Or at least Thursday, Friday, Saturday.)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An SCTV Reunion!

This probably belongs on my pal Angela's Stay Tuned blog, since it has a TV angle to it - but what the heck, I got here first (and it is about a live theatre event, so there).

Lots of famous comedians got their start in Second City, the improv comedy group out of Chicago, and many of them starred in the TV comedy series SCTV.

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the group is planning a reunion show! Here are the details:
The Second City - the timeless producer of improvisational based comedy - celebrates its milestone 50th Anniversary this fall with a series of events and happenings that will bring together alumni, recreate renowned sketches and characters, and bring the history of the theatre to life.

During the weekend of December 11-13, the theatre's home on Wells Street in Chicago will serve as an historic backdrop for celebratory alumni reunion performances, panels and screenings. Some of the weekend highlights include the SCTV Reunion, a benefit for The Second City Alumni Fund, on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 featuring Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis, Martin Short and Dave Thomas with special guests (times and tickets TBA).

Alumni panels and screenings will take place during the day on Dec. 12 and 13, and alumni reunion performances in all spaces the evening of Dec. 12. Tickets and showtimes to be announced in the coming weeks.

The Second City is also launching its 50th Anniversary microsite this week, featuring alumni photos, video and audio clips - www.secondcity.com/50.

"Beginning this fall, we will honor The Second City - both those who make it a legend as well as those who will keep us legendary," said Andrew Alexander, Proprietor & Executive Producer of The Second City. "At 50, we're toasting our success of staying original and gleefully defying convention all these years."

Beginning as a small cabaret theatre on Chicago's north side in 1959, The Second City has grown to become a comedy empire - building a robust business based on its core improvisational methodologies.

Resident theatres in Chicago and Toronto create topical sketch comedy revues that satirize politics, culture and news of the day. Beyond its stages, The Second City created the foremost school of improvisation-based arts in the world - with training facilities in Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles that currently enroll over 3000 students; a corporate division works with hundreds of Fortune 500 companies in areas of training, marketing, entertainment and brand services; and The Second City's forays into television and new media include the classic, Emmy-award winning comedy series SCTV as well as a number of new productions originating from The Second City Entertainment's offices in Los Angeles.

The Second City is best known as the incubator for North America's best and brightest comedy superstars: Alan Arkin, Ed Asner, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Peter Boyle, John Candy, Steve Carell, Dan Castellaneta, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Bonnie Hunt, Robert Klein, Andrea Martin, Elaine May, Jack McBrayer, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, Mike Nichols, Catherine O'Hare, Amy Poehler, Gilda Radner, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, Amy Sedaris, Martin Short, Nia Vardalos, Fred Willard and many, many more all have roots extending to The Second City.
Here's hoping that they record this event and put it on cable for all of us to enjoy!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jim Stone Scholarship Applications Still Being Accepted

There's still a week left to apply for the annual Jim Stone scholarship! If you know of (or are) a student studying the performing arts in college, and you've taken part in a First Stage show (either as an actor or on the tech crew), they you might be chosen for the annual award.

Here's the info:
The First Stage Theatre Company is still accepting applications for its annual Jim Stone Scholarship.

First Stage sponsors the scholarship to honor the memory of Jim Stone, a distinguished local actor and a longtime supporter of and mentor to local children in the performing arts.

A $1000 scholarship is available to an entering freshman or current full-time student who is studying dramatic or performing arts at a college, university or certified school of the performing arts.

The deadline for entries is Monday, August 10, 2009.

Applicants must have been involved with at least one First Stage Theatre Company show, either on-stage (as a performer) or off-stage (as a member of the tech crew).

Applicants must send a transcript of their last year's schooling, a list of the shows they've been in and a short essay (no more than 300 words) on why the applicant is planning to study dramatic or performing arts.

Applications should be sent to: First Stage Scholarships, c/o Nancy Newfeld, 3 Stratford Way, Huntington, WV 25705. For more information, call 304-736-4366.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Broadway News

As my pal Zack points out to me, I've neglected to mention another big show closing on Broadway: Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical will close Sept. 6.

However, a national tour will launch Sept. 20 in Nashville.

And yesterday a new show stormed the stage - the sizzling Burn the Floor. Here's a review from Michael Kuchwara with the Associated Press:
There's nothing like a little help from a popular television talent contest to put some oomph into a Broadway show's potential box office appeal.

Burn the Floor, an exhausting, perpetual-motion dance extravaganza on view at the Longacre Theatre, has spiced up its footwork with the addition of two big names from ABC's Dancing With the StarsMaksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff (pictured here).

The twosome, appearing in the production through Aug. 16, are the best thing about this relentless show, nearly two hours of hip-wiggling, pelvis-grinding and arm-waving by a bevy of often bare-chested guys and babes in the skimpiest of outfits.

Chmerkovskiy and Smirnoff have definite personalities. He possesses a swagger and a smile that borders on a boyish sneer. She generates a wild abandon. Maybe it's all that untamed red hair.

And their personalities come through when they dance together in a show that could use more character. Despite the overt sexiness, there's something bland about the evening, a generic eroticism that needs a dose of quirkiness during a surprisingly monotonous tour through the history of ballroom dancing.

It's not that the 20 dancers, drawn from all over the world, aren't technically proficient. They can swirl, swerve, kick, slide and glide with ease. But Australian director and choreographer Jason Gilkison has arranged the show, which has toured the world over the last 10 years, in a deadening manner.

There are scattered salutes to the waltz, fox trot, tango, cha-cha, samba, rumba and some jivey boogie-woogie. And a cursory nod to what appears to be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, performed to one of the tunes associated with those movie icons, Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance."

Unlike theater greats such as Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett or Jerome Robbins, Gilkison brings no distinct style to his dance creations. Efficiency is all.

Still, a couple of other dancers make more than a fleeting impression. A quicksilver lad named Sasha Farber scampers across the stage with the fleetness of a gazelle doing high kicks. And the long-legged Petra Murgatroyd slithers seductively. One wonders what she might be like as one of the merry murderesses in the musical Chicago.

Singers Ricky Rojas and Rebecca Tapia are backed by a hardworking, on-stage band that is heavy on percussion. Most of the musical selections are obvious: "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing), "Magalena" and "Sing Sing Sing," for example.

The backdrop for all this athleticism is a setting of Las Vegas glitz with the ice machine going into overdrive for several numbers when a foggy air of mystery is called for. And, of course, stars twinkle in one of the more obvious romantic numbers.

To get a better idea of the fascination of ballroom dancing rent the DVD of Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrmann's wonderful 1992 film about two outcasts who try to make it in this unique world.

Still, the cast of Burn the Floor seems to be having a good time, even to the point of carrying the action into the aisles of the Longacre. But then ballroom dancing may be more fun to perform than to watch. Lessons anyone?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Auditions for "Man of La Mancha"

If you missed today's auditions, there's still time to try out for Man of La Mancha!

Another round of auditions will be held Monday, Aug. 3 from 6-9 p.m.

People interested in auditioning should have a prepared selection to sing. An accompanist will be provided.

Dates for the production are October 16-18 and 23-25 with two school performances scheduled for Oct. 22.

The show is being sponsored by Fifth Avenue Theatre Company.

In Man of La Mancha, Don Miguel Cervantes finds himself in prison and must face the Spanish Inquisition. While awaiting trial, his fellow prisoners discover his manuscript for his novel. The prisoners hold a mock trial and, in order for Cervantes to save his manuscript from being destroyed by the prisoners, he must act out his story. The play will many songs such as “Impossible Dream,” “Ducinea” and “Little Bird.”

More information is available by calling Maxine Loudermilk at 304-696-5522 or Eddie Harbert at 304-412-8738.

Good luck!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

"Rent" - A Review

Theatre companies around the country have been dreaming of the day that Rent would be available to community theatre groups. The day finally arrived, and one of the first community groups in the country to stage the show is the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

And what a fantastic production they've put together! It doesn't feel right to call it a "community theatre production," because in every sense, it's a professional theatre production.

Rent is a groundbreaking Broadway musical production that follows the lives of eight young artists in New York's East Village who are struggling to find their voices and their place in the world. It's a dark story at times, tackling issues such as AIDS and drug addiction, and it's certainly adult in nature (both in language and situations), but it's ultimately an uplifting tale of love and friendship.

It features a great rock score, brought to life by an outstanding, all-star cast and a terrific orchestra.

The cast is loaded with talent! Roger (played by Ryan Hardiman) is a talented musician who's a recovering addict, trying to get his career going again. He shares an apartment in a dilapidated building with Mark (Christopher E. Conard), a young filmmaker who is torn between his desire to be an independent filmmaker and the lure of a high-paying commercial job. He's also still getting over his break-up with Maureen (Mara Stewart) who's an eccentric performance artist now involved with Joanne (Nakeila Killing).

Roger falls for Mimi (Beth Winkler Bowden), a performer with demons of her own. Mimi used to date Benny (D'laontie Lewis), who owns the building, and is friends with Roger and Mark. Also living in the building is Angel (Nathan Mohebbi), who lives up to his - or her - name by saving Tom Collins (Michael Anthony Barnes), another friend of Roger and Mark.

If it seems a little confusing, don't worry, the show clears it up. The story follows a year in the life of these friends, as they face the joys and sorrows life has to offer.

The songs take all shapes - from deeply moving to lewd and lively and very funny, and the cast is loaded with amazing singers. In Hardiman they have the guy I consider to be one of our best performers and certainly one of (if not the) best singers - a terrific talent! Conard is the central figure in the production, and he does an excellent job guiding us through events, and he's also a strong performer. Barnes leads one of the most heart-wrenching songs in the show, and does it with a powerful voice. Bowden also turns in a thrilling performance, one that would push any actor to the limit, and she does an amazing job.

I don't want to leave anyone out - the entire cast is wonderful - but I have to give special kudos to Mohebbi, who plays the show's most outrageous and beloved character, and does it all with great assurance and skill. Hey, just being able to dance and leap across the stage in those heels is amazing, and he also turns in a terrific performance and almost steals the show.

Hats off to the directors for tackling such a challenging production and creating such an outstanding show. The set designer / technical director is Tom Pasinetti, and he and his tech crew have assembled a set that is functional, perfect for the show and never gets in the way of the performance. Technically it must be a very difficult show to manage, and they do a great job. The tech guys are the unsung heroes in any show, and they deserve a lot of credit here.

The musical director is Bobby Hodges, Jr., and he's done an amazing job, getting the most out of the performances by the actors and the orchestra. Kudos also to accompanist Mark Scarpelli, who heads up a terrific orchestra.

Nina Denton Pasinetti manages to wears the hats of both the Artistic Director and the Choreographer, and has done a great job with both. My wife Jeanette was raving about the show's choreography afterward, and I agree with her completely - the dancing was outstanding. I was also very impressed with the staging and the performances in the show - like I said, this was a professional production in every way.

It's rare to see this kind of top-notch production and this much talent in one show. Keep in mind that it's an adult show with mature themes, but I give it my highest recommendation!

After seeing the show (and this is my first time seeing it on stage), it's easy to see why Rent has such a rabid and growing group of fans. It's a powerful, moving story with great characters and wonderful songs. Add to that the experience of seeing it live on stage with such a talented cast, and you can see why it's one of Broadway's top shows of all time. Don't let the chance to catch this one pass you by!

Rent runs at 8 p.m. tonight and Sunday at 3 p.m., and at 8 p.m. Aug. 6 through 8 at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre. Tickets are reserved at $20 each and may be picked up in person at the Little Theatre box office Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. or by calling 304-343-2287.