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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, October 31, 2009

A Nearly-Missed Anniversary

Wow, I must be slipping - I almost forgot that this month marks my third anniversary with the Tri-State Theatre blog, which kicked off way back on Oct. 4, 2006!

It's been lots of fun, and I hope you've enjoyed our efforts here, gentle readers.

Thanks to all those who have sent comments, story ideas, reviews, press releases and other information - as I always say, this blog is here for everyone in the Tri-State area who's interested in theatre, so if you have something to say or a show to promote, send it along!

You can send a comment by clicking on the link at the bottom of each post, or you can email me at TheMinskers@aol.com. You can also keep up to date on this site on Twitter right here.

There are lots of shows on the way in the days and months ahead, and as always, I'll try to keep up with the news as it develops.

Thanks again for reading, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "Pan" and "Murder"

You have two shows to check out this weekend, both of them in Charleston:

- Peter Pan - Presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild, the classic musical takes the stage at the Clay Center Saturday night and Nov. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and you can catch matinees on Nov. 1 and 8 at 2:00 p.m. A great show!

- Dial “M” for Murder
- Presented by the Kanawha Players Oct. Saturday night and Nov. 6-7 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 1 at 2:00 p.m. at the Kanawha Players Theatre. Recommended!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A No Pants "Scaretacular"

If you're looking for a fun way to spend Halloween, here's a suggestion from my pal Tony Slack:
The No Pants Players will be performing their annual "Scaretactular" Saturday, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m.

This will be an all-improv show, with lots of audience participation. As always, the show will be held at the Labelle Theater, located at 311 D St. in South Charleston.

Everyone is encouraged to come in costume for a contest that will be held during intermission, with prizes going to Scariest, Funniest, Most Original and Best Couple. Concessions and No Pants Players merchandise will also be available.

Tickets are only $6 each. For more info call 1-877-IMPROV9 or visit www.nopantsplayers.com.

Thanks, and hope to see everyone at the show!
Here's the official poster for the event:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - "Peter Pan" and "Dial M for Murder"

Our busy October is winding down, but November has several awesome shows on the way, which we'll talk more about in the days ahead - but first, here's the rundown of shows for this weekend.

There are two good ones to choose from, but you'll have to make a trip to Charleston to see them:

- Peter Pan - Presented by the Charleston Light Opera Guild, the classic musical takes the stage at the Clay Center Oct. 30, 31, Nov. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and you can catch matinees on Nov. 1 and 8 at 2:00 p.m. Highly recommended!

- Dial “M” for Murder - Presented by the Kanawha Players Oct. 30-31, Nov. 6-7 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 1 at 2:00 p.m. at the Kanawha Players Theatre. Also recommended!

Check 'em out!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts on "Glee"

I usually leave the TV shows to my pal Angela and her Stay Tuned blog, but Fox's TV show Glee touches on some interesting points about Glee Clubs (around here we call 'em Show Choirs) and Community Theatre, so I thought I'd mention it here.

I have to admit that I'm on the fence about the show (though obviously it's not aimed at a geezer like me). I like the musical numbers - they're well done and whoever picks the music has great taste - but the soap opera-ish hijinks between the songs don't do much for me. Still, it's good to see a musical-based show on TV.

The main reason I bring the show up is because, as near as I can tell, almost everyone involved in community theatre loves the show and watches it faithfully. Of course, Show Choirs and Community Theatre are closely related (in my opinion).

Community Theatre is all about bringing a story to life, often using music and dance to illustrate the tale. Show Choir is all about the performance, blending music and dance to provide an entertaining show. Sometimes there's a story there, but usually it's just a combination of somewhat-related songs. So both groups use similar tools, they just have a slightly different goal in mind.

Some people love one, some love the other. I certainly hope there's room for both in this big ol' world, though I know the two occasionally clash, mostly because of the time requirements for each. I've been involved in more than one show where time conflicts between a show and a Show Choir made for difficulties. It takes a lot of rehearsal to prepare for any show, and it's tough to do more than one show. It's possible, but it's difficult.

It's my experience that Show Choirs and Community Theatre groups try to coexist, with mixed results. The thing is, they're both drawing on the same talent pool, and both require the commitment of a lot of time and energy.

It's a shame that kids often have to choose one or the other (depending on the requirements of each) - it would be nice if they could do both. But there are only so many hours in the day, after all.

Glee is actually showcasing an activity that rarely gets time in the spotlight, and it's a well-done show, so hopefully it will spark interest and bring more young people to joining a local music or theatre group.

Whichever group they end up with (or both), being part of performances is a great experience for young people. They make friends, have fun, and build self-confidence.

It's what they call a "win-win" situation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Broadway in Town - "Avenue Q"

A Broadway touring show will be making a stop in Huntington a week from tomorrow.

It may look like a show for kids, but trust me here - this is a show for grownups only!

Avenue Q is Broadway’s smash-hit 2004 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical (it beat Wicked), Best Score and Best Book. A hilarious show full of heart and fun tunes, Avenue Q is 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" by Entertainment Weekly, the musical features a cast of people and puppets who tell the story in a smart, risque and downright entertaining way. The New Yorker calls it "subversive and uproarious!"

You can catch it at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center next Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Contributions to Children's Theatre Can Reduce State Taxes

As I've mentioned in this space before, it takes money to keep a community theatre running.

Most groups depend on ticket sales to keep going, but most organizations also accept donations. Now one local group is working with the state of West Virginia to offer tax credit vouchers to donors. Here are the details from this story in the Herald-Dispatch:
Those planning to make donations to Huntington's First Stage Theatre Company now have some added incentive.

The First Stage Theatre Company has received $3,930 in West Virginia Neighborhood Investment Program (NIP) tax credit vouchers, and it will distribute the vouchers to contributing businesses and individuals.

Contributors to the long-running area Children's Theatre can reduce certain West Virginia taxes. The West Virginia Legislature sets aside $2.5 million each year in state tax credits for the program that is divided among qualifying 501(c)3 nonprofit groups.

That allows First Stage to issue tax credits up to $3,930 to businesses and individuals who make donations. The minimum contribution that a donor can make to receive a tax credit is $500. The maximum is $3,930.

Contributors can get up to 50 percent of their donation amount in tax credits, which can help decrease their state corporate net income tax, business franchise tax and personal income tax.

"It's an opportunity for us to give back to the individuals and organizations who have supported First Stage over our 20-year history," said Elaine Young, vice-president of First Stage.

First Stage will use the funds to provide education, auditions and participation opportunities in the performing arts to low-income children.

For more information, contact Young by e-mail at eyoung4039@aol.com, by phone at 304-733-4909, and by mail at 6421 Rt. 60 East, Barboursville, WV 25504.

The First Stage Theatre Company, whose 2009 fall production Into the Woods will take place in November, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2010.

"Man of La Mancha" - A Review

Somehow I got through the Kanawha County school system and earned a Journalism Major and an English Minor at Marshall University without being assigned to read Cervantes' classic novel Don Quixote.

It's an oversight I've been trying to correct in recent weeks, as I finally got started on the copy of the novel I bought back in 1978.

It's been about the same length of time since the musical based on that book was last staged in Huntington, though sadly I missed that production.

Finally, I've made up for my missed opportunities by attending Saturday night's staging of Man of La Mancha by the 5th Avenue Theatre Company.

The flu kept me away last weekend, and I was certain that I was missing a great show, because everyone's been raving to me about how good the production is - and quite a few people have attended more than once - another sure sign of a terrific show.

And guess what? It is a great show! Presented as a "play-within-a-play," it begins with the incarceration of Cervantes as he prepares to face the Spanish Inquisition. His fellow prisoners threaten the destruction of his not-yet-completed manuscript of Don Quixote, and in an attempt to save his work, he offers to present the story to them and let them judge for themselves.

He tells the story of an old man who is so caught up with the story of knights and their heroic exploits that he decides to become one himself, and he recruits a servant, the endearing (if bumbling) Sancho Panza as his squire.

Despite his madness, wherein inns become castles, innkeepers become kings and whores become ladies of the court, Quixote sees the good in all and fights for a higher purpose - and his example changes the lives of those around him.

The secret to staging an outstanding show is to have a great cast, and here we have some of the area's top performers. The amazing Ryan Hardiman tackles both Cervantes and Don Quixote, and this gives him a chance to play a wide range of emotions - from the fearful Cervantes, faced with a terrible fate, to the aged by forceful Quixote, fighting against impossible odds, declaring his pure love for an unlikely woman, and facing his own infirmity. Ryan hits this one out of the park - and do I even have to mention his powerful singing on several classic songs?

Playing the gritty barmaid Aldonza is Marina Jurica, and it's difficult to imagine a more physically demanding or emotionally devastating role for any female actor. Her singing is terrific and her acting is phenomenal!

Sancho Panza is played by Mike Murdock, who absolutely kills in the role. His comic timing is right on the money, his songs are fantastic and he darn near steals every scene he's in.

Any director with a lick of sense should be begging these three actors to be in every show they stage.

Not to take away from the other dozen members of the cast - they all turn in outstanding work, and each one plays multiple roles. Kudos to: Jane Morse, Todd Preston, Nancy Jackson, Loretta Hetzer, Dave Benton, Kyle Fisher, Chloe Hardiman, Andrew Surber, Ron Short, Josh Taylor, Desiree Sowards and Ralph Pack.

I have to give a special shout-out to my pal Mike Campbell, the music director, who managed to take an electronic keyboard and make it sound like a full orchestra - an amazing accomplishment, with an assist from musician Mike Harbour!

Congratulations to the directing team on an amazing job, including director Eddie Harbert, producer Maxine Loudermilk, assistant director Merlyn Marten, choreographer Kerri Easter and everyone else involved.

It's a wonderful, moving show filled with memorable songs and an inspirational story - no wonder it's a classic.

Don't make the mistake I made all those years ago - you don't want too have to wait 30 years to see this one on stage!

You have one more chance Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. to catch this show at the Huntington City Hall auditorium - miss it not!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On Stage - "Man of La Mancha"

Hey, I've been telling you about the terrific show Man of La Mancha that's on stage tonight at Huntington's City Hall auditorium, but I can also show you.

This is a photo of the title character, Don Quixote, as brought to life by the talented Ryan Hardiman. Is that cool or what?

And you don't have to take my word that it's a great show - here's a letter that ran in yesterday's Herald-Dispatch:
Man of La Mancha was a great show and a treasure of talent to boot. Having seen this 5th Avenue Theatre Company production on Oct. 18, I can attest to the fact that live and lively musical theater is alive and well in Huntington.

I send my kudos to director Eddie Harbert, to leads Marina Jurica and Ryan Hardiman and to the entire cast and crew.

What a joyful enriching experience it was for me and for the rest of the audience, which gave this great production a standing ovation at the curtain call. Bravo and brava to all who had any part in this.

My experiences of having been privileged to see several operas performed by the New York Metropolitan Opera as well as several shows on New York's famed Broadway stages and London, Los Angeles and Atlanta have primed me to say I've never seen better or heard better than the likes of Jurica and Hardiman. The rest of the cast supported those leads so well.

The outstanding musical direction and performance by Mike Campbell and his "side men" was a joy to hear. And the directorial skills of Eddie Harbert should set him up for many future successes, although he has raised the bar for himself with the success of this first directorial effort. I cannot miss mentioning the dancing and singing skills of the rest of the cast, especially my friend Dave Benton.

I hope everyone will be fortunate enough to see this production on either Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m., or Sunday, Oct. 25, at 2:30 p.m. In my opinion you will never invest your time and your $10 in a better way.

Myron Bailes
Huntington
One small correction to that letter - this isn't Eddie Harbert's first directing job - but it may be one of his best!

Friday, October 23, 2009

So Long, Soupy

Very sad to read the obituaries today for Huntington's favorite son, Soupy Sales.

I'm the perfect age to be a fan of Soupy's - when I was a kid in the '60s, his TV show was the top children's show in the country. It was a fast, funny series of jokes, sketches and gags, as Soupy shared the show with puppets like the small lion Pookie and a series of characters who were mostly off-camera.

My favorites, of course, were his dogs White Fang and Black Tooth. You only saw their hands, but they were perfect foils for Soupy. White Fang was always gruff and confrontational, and you only got one side of the conversation.

Typical exchange:

Soupy: "What are you doing, White Fang?"
White Fang: "Ah uhh uhh uhh eh uhh uhh uhh."
Soupy: "So you're going to enter a beauty contest?"
White Fang: "Uh huh."

You get the idea. Black Fang was a girl and would always grab Soupy, pull him off camera and you'd hear smooching noises. "Don't kiss, Black Tooth" is a joke that still gets a laugh in my house.

The show was perfect for kids, with lots of funny jokes and outrageous characters. He managed to spark a national craze with "The Mouse," which was a silly takeoff on "The Twist." (Trust me.)

Soupy had a career beyond that, of course, with movies, records and appearances on assorted TV shows, especially the game show What's My Line?

I was lucky enough to see him in person three times. When I was a kid and he was at the height of his fame, he made an appearance in Charleston and my Mom took me down to join the thousands of kids in straining for a quick look.

When I was a student at Marshall, he returned to give a talk to the journalism students, and he told a number of very funny stories (my favorite is still the one about the dead pigeon and the basketball game).

Then in the late '80s he once again visited the town and I sat in on an interview he did for the local TV news show for young people, KidsMag (which I was producing). At the time, the kids knew him because he was providing the voice of Donkey Kong for a Saturday morning cartoon.

He was always funny, kind and generous with his time. Certainly most celebrities would find it easy to leave town and never come back, but Soupy never seemed too big for his old friends, even when he was one of the biggest stars in entertainment.

It's never easy to say goodbye to a childhood hero, but there must be a special place in heaven for an entertainer who brought so many laughs to kids of all ages.

Two Shows on Stage This Weekend!

One more reminder that this weekend is your last chance to catch two outstanding shows:

- Man of La Mancha - The 5th Avenue Theatre Company presents this classic stage musical tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under. Highly recommended!

- The Two Gentlemen of Verona - The Shakespeare play will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Capitol Theater on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Adults $15, Students $10. Also recommended!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stories About Theatre in the H-D

Hey, lots of stories about theatre in today's Herald-Dispatch, which is always good. For example:

- There's a story about this weekend's final performances of Man of La Mancha:
Director Eddie Harbert and the 5th Avenue Theatre Company dust off the 1960s musical Man of La Mancha that took home some five Tonys back when it came out back in 1965.

Not performed in Huntington since 1979, the musical, inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's 17th century masterpiece Don Quixote, gets an update with such top notch performers as Ryan Hardiman and Marina Jurica in the lead roles and some great support from well-known actors Michael Murdock and Dave Benton.

The show, which features such songs as "Dream the Impossible Dream," runs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 and 24 as well as 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 in the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 and $8 Children 12 and under.

Call 304-696-5522
- There's a story about the upcoming touring show, Avenue Q, which looks like a show for young kids - but isn't:
Don’t miss this three-time Tony-Award-winning musical’s first ever appearance in West Virginia. It’s people, it’s puppets, it’s complete pandemonium! It’s Sesame Street for the grownups. Join them all on a journey through New York City’s burrows as its inhabitance try to find what we’re all looking for, our “Purpose”.

Avenue Q is the story of Princeton, a bright-eyed college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He soon discovers that the only neighborhood in his price range is Avenue Q.
- You can also see a photo gallery of scenes from this evening's dramatic production about the 70th Anniversary of Huntington's City Mission right here! It was staged at the Renaissance Theatre.

Shrek the Musical Closes in January

Apparently the big green ogre will be shutting down on Broadway in a few more months.

According to this story in Playbill:
Shrek the Musical will play its final performance at the Broadway Theatre on Jan. 3, 2010, following 441 performances and 37 previews.
I'd heard mostly good things about the show, but I guess there aren't enough ogre fans to keep the show going.

Zach will be heartbroken!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two Shows Takes The Stage This Weekend!

This weekend you have two shows to choose from (which is a lot more manageable than the five we had last weekend, I'm sure you'll agree). (Although it's always nice to have lots of shows to choose from.) (Yeah.)

Sorry, got carried away there. Here are the shows - a Shakespeare classic in Charleston, and a musical legend in Huntington:

- Man of La Mancha - The 5th Avenue Theatre Company presents this classic stage musical Oct. 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under. I've talked to several people who saw it last weekend and they all raved about it, saying it's one of their all-time favorite productions. Highly recommended!

- The Two Gentlemen of Verona
- The Shakespeare play will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company Oct. 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Capitol Theater on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Adults $15, Students $10. All I know is that the director is theatre pro (and my pal) K. C. Bragg, and therefore it must be a terrific production. I hear great things about this Shakespeare fellow, too. Also recommended!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Casting Call Coming Up!

Hey, my pals at MotionMasters - West Virginia's premiere film, video and multi-media production company - sent an announcement about an upcoming Casting Call!

This is for all you actors (or aspiring actors) out there. They're holding talent auditions for - well, everyone: males and females of all ages and ethnicities. They want to expand the talent pool that they draw on for film productions, so here's your chance!

The open casting calls will take place Oct. 21 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their offices at Northgate Business Park, One Creative Place, Charleston, W.Va. 25301.

For more information, or to set a different appointment if you're not available that day, call 304-345-8800. You can also check 'em out online at www.motionmasters.com.

Tell 'em Chuck sent you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Mend

After a rough four days, I seem to be back on the road to recovery from this nasty cold / mild flu / whatever it is that hit me.

Thanks to everyone for the kind wishes, and we'll get back on track here this week as the next round of shows hits in this busy October.

A reminder that you can also be part of the Tri-State Theatre blog experience over in the world of Twitter, where you'll get notices when new posts arrive. Visit us at http://twitter.com/ChuckMinsker.

And since the flu is making the rounds (as I can attest), here's some advice on staying healthy from someone who's never had a sick day in his life - our pal Elmo!



Stay well and keep smiling, theatre fans!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Stage Today: "La Mancha" and "Blood Brothers"

From five shows yesterday, we're down to two shows taking the stage today. They are:

- Man of La Mancha - The 5th Avenue Theatre Company presents this classic stage musical today at 2:30 p.m. and Oct. 23, 24 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under.

- Blood Brothers - The rags-to-riches musical will be presented at Ashland Community and Technical College today at 2:30 p.m. at Ashland Community and Technical College. It's the final performance for this show.

Check one out today!

"Blood Brothers" Wraps Up Sunday Afternoon

The musical Blood Brothers wraps up its run at ACTC Sunday afternoon, and the show has some great supporters - they've bombarded us with comments about the show. In case you missed them, here's a sample:
I recently saw Blood Brothers the Musical in Ashland and I must say I have been seeing shows at that college for over five years and this by far was the best thing on that stage.

I have never seen as much talent hit that stage as this show offers. The five people that stick out of course are the main characters. First off the Narrator (Bill Hannah) has a fantastic voice and great stage presence. The rich mother Mrs. Lyons (Allison Conley) was simply delightful and has a powerful singing voice.

The costumes for everyone are stunning and fun. Now Mrs. Johnstone (Lindsey Taylor) has owned that role she has a good voice and acting to match it. Edward the rich brother (Tommy Gilipse) really plays a proper rich boy to a "T"! He along with the poor brother Mickey (Zach Davis) play and feed off another perfectly. You don't want to miss any action of theirs. Now Zach was the best I have seen in several years. He portrays all ages distinctively. His singing is the strongest it had ever been. I must say I have never seen him play a serious role like at the end but he can do it. He really has the audience in tears several times.

Zach and Tommy really complete each other and are a duo anyone would want in a show. This show has so many emotions and is simply beautiful. Everyone was perfection!
Next:
The music in Blood Brothers is some of the best music I've ever heard. The tunes stick with you. I must agree with the first comment that all characters are very strong in their parts... acting and singing. Zach Davis who plays Mickey really gets to you emotionally. Also, the twins best friend Linda, played by Lauren Saltsman, does a great job acting. She falls in love with both boys. Mr. Lyons played by Roger Hagley is an important character also. I must say the music is the best part!

Go see this show, you won't be disappointed! Oh yeah, bring some tissues.
Next:
I must comment about this because nobody else has. Mrs. Johnstone, played by Lindsay Taylor, has one of the best singing voices to hit the ACTC stage in a very long time. I also saw her in A Little Night Music last spring where she had to sing The Miller's Son. She gives me goosebumps. Unbelievable! Her voice is sensational, strong, and passionate in every song. The ending was to die for! Literally!

Lauren Saltsman (Linda) wasn't mentioned in the first post and absolutely should have been. She's a fantastic young actress and pleasure to watch with the two twins, Mickey (Zach Davis) and Eddie (Tommy Gillespie). Tommy is spot on with the character of Eddie, and Zach has nailed the different ages of the young men as they grow up.

Allison Conley who plays Mrs. Lyons was great as well and so was Roger Hagley who played her husband Mr. Lyons. The music is fantastic and the story is just as great! I walked out of there singing the "We'll go dancing" and the "Marilyn Monroe" lines for days. It's still stuck with me! This show is an absolute must see for the tri-state area!
Finally:
I must agree with the other writers, this is Zach Davis' best performance ever. The other actors in the production are excellent as well. Tommy Gillespie and Zach work extremely well with each other. This show was shortchanged on Broadway and is a must see. This is the last weekend!
That last show runs today at 2:30 p.m. - check it out!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Last Show for "Lefty" Tonight

Sorry for the limited posting lately - I'm fighting off the flu, and so far it's a toss-up as to which one of us is winning.

But I dragged myself to the computer to remind you that tonight is the last performance for Waiting for Lefty at Marshall University. Thanks to Kevin Bannon for the photos you see in this post.

Some background info: in 1935 Waiting for Lefty was the most widely performed play in America — and the most widely banned.

The story begins and ends in a raucous union meeting, but the real event of the Group Theatre’s famous production took place in the theatre itself. "Lefty" changed people’s idea of what theatre was and could be. More than entertainment or even a serious examination of contemporary issues, theatre at its best can be a living embodiment of shared values and aspirations.

In 1935 the Group Theatre proved that in a fragmented society of wounded individuals, theatre can bring people together and make them whole.

Marshall Theatre Alliance takes up the Group’s timeless challenge to make theatre that breathes energy, life, and new hope into us all.

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odetes will be presented tonight at 8 p.m. at The Playhouse at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On Stage This Weekend - Five Shows!

Whew! There are more shows this weekend than you can shake a Jack-O-Lantern at! Here's the rundown:

- Man of La Mancha - The 5th Avenue Theatre Company presents this classic stage musical Oct. 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 18 and 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under.

- Waiting for Lefty - The Marshall Theatre Alliance will present two more performances of this drama tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. at The Playhouse at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for Adults, $15 for MU Faculty & Seniors and Free to full-time MU students with valid ID.

- Blood Brothers - The rags-to-riches musical will be presented at Ashland Community and Technical College today and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Ashland Community and Technical College.

- The Pillowman - the Red Lion Theatre Company presents the drama tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Midnight.

- The Two Gentlemen of Verona - The Shakespeare play will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company tonight and tomorrow and Oct. 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Capitol Theater on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Adults $15, Students $10.

So make it a theatre-filled weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Talking to the Man of La Mancha

Most actors have roles that they dream about tackling, and talented singer and actor Ryan Hardiman gets to tackle one of his favorites, as Man of La Mancha takes the stage at Huntington's City Hall Friday at 8 p.m., with Ryan tackling the title role as Don Quixote and also doing double duty as Cervantes, the author of that famous book.

Ryan took the time to take part in an e-interview to talk about the show:

Q: This show has been at the top of your "want" list for a while - what makes it so special for you?

Ryan: I know a show has impact if it can affect me anytime, anywhere. I remember mowing the lawn last summer while listening to the soundtrack to Man of La Mancha... the ending is so emotional and stirring that I just burst into tears in my yard. So embarrassing.

Man of La Mancha has been on my wish list forever. It didn't look like anyone would ever produce it locally, and I understand it hasn't been done in Huntington in over 30 years. That boggled my mind, because it is such a classic, and to me, it's at the TOP of the list of classics.

This is a beautiful story of a man who sees all of the madness and pain in the world and rejects reality in an effort to change the world for the better. The show is set in a prison where Cervantes and his manservant have been deposited to await their trial before the Spanish Inquisition. The other prisoners immediately try to steal or destroy their possessions, including the original manuscript for Don Quixote De La Mancha.

In a desperate effort to save the only copy of his novel, Cervantes convinces them to allow him to plead his case by means of enacting a play. Then unfold the adventures of Don Quixote as a show within a show. This is an ingenious gimmick in that the whole play takes place in the prison, and the prisoners take on roles in the story, using the contents of the prison and of Cervantes' theatrical trunk.

This show makes you believe anything is possible. The world seems so corrupt and unjust today, and even though I think most of us would like to change things, it feels to me as if we're all caught in a machine... It seems that the way of the the world is set in stone and there's not really anything one person can do to overcome it. Man of La Mancha shows us that one person can make a difference. We can refuse to accept a life of wickedness and injustice. We can choose too see life as it ought to be, forge a different path, and inspire others to join us.

I'm drawn to certain shows very strongly, and some not at all. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I'm so glad that 5th Avenue Theatre Company chose to produce Man of La Mancha. I feel very lucky to have been chosen for this role, and I'm honored and excited to share the stage with this cast. My daughter, Chloe, has just moved here from Baltimore, and we get to be in this show together, which makes it even more special. I so appreciate Eddie Harbert, Maxine Loudermilk and everyone else involved in making this possible.

Q: You're tackling a double role here, as Cervantes and Don Quixote - does that make the role more challenging or more fun?

Ryan: The double role is challenging, not only because of the vocals and acting, but because it requires me to flip characters and keep the show moving. I take on the voice, mannerisms and posture of Don Quixote when acting the scenes, but then the scene changes and I snap back into the character of Cervantes, setting the next scene, handing costume pieces and props to the prisoners, or reacting to the looming threat of the inquisition.

In reality, though, ALL of the actors onstage have multiple roles. They each have their role as prisoner and another when they are playing parts in the story of Don Quixote. Some even have triple and quadruple roles, because they play more than one character in the story.

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Ryan: Audiences will experience an inspiring, beautiful story, told with humor and tenderness. The music is infectious and ranges from stirring anthems, beautiful ballads and comical tunes. The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards and the musical has been revived numerous times, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre.

The best known songs include "Impossible Dream," "Dulcinea," Little Bird" and "I, Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha)" but all of the songs are great! There's not one weak song in the show, and it's so hard not to get them stuck in your head. The cast is strong, with a lot of familiar faces including Marina Jurica and Dave Benton from WSAZ, and theatre veteran Mike Murdock, all of whom are extremely talented. The unit set, designed by Todd Preston, is impressive with a staircase that is lowered into the prison.

I think it is a good choice for families as well. (We even have a school performance of this one.) The movie, starring Peter O'Toole and Sophia Loren, was rated PG, and there is nothing in the show that wasn't in the film. This is a show that will make people feel good, and renew hope.

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for the show.

Ryan: Man of La Mancha presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Company, runs Friday and Saturday, Oct. 16-17 at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee on Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m., and returns for a final weekend Oct. 23-24 at 8 p.m. with a matinee Oct. 25 at 2:30 p.m.

The show is staged at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall, 800 5th Ave., Huntington. Reserved seating Tickets: $10 Adults / $8 Children 12 and under. Reservations and info: 304-696-5522 (you are not paying with a credit card over the phone, they will simply hold seats for you and you'll pick them up and pay for tickets when you arrive before the show. Calling in advance just ensures that you'll get good seats.)

Thanks, Ryan!

On Stage Tonight - "Lefty" and "Two Gentlemen of Verona"

There are two shows on stage tonight you should check out - one in Huntington and one in Charleston:

- Waiting for Lefty - Presented by the Marshall Theatre Alliance, performances are tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Playhouse at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for Adults, $15 for MU Faculty & Seniors and Free to full-time MU students with valid ID.

- The Two Gentlemen of Verona
- The Charleston Stage Company will present the Shakespeare play Oct. 15-17, 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Capitol Theater on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Adults $15, Students $10.

Don't miss 'em!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Talking to the Director of "Man of La Mancha"

Tackling the huge job of directing Man of La Mancha is my pal Eddie Harbert, and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions for an e-interview about the show.

Q: You've had a busy fall, directing the Guns and Hoses Benefit Concert and now Man of La Mancha - when do you sleep?

Eddie: The nice thing is that I don't really require a lot of sleep! I only sleep about 3 - 4 hours per night... something I inherited from my dad. Besides, you always find time to do the things that you love, and I love doing theatre!

Q: Why did you want to tackle this show?

Eddie: I really feel that this is a good time in our country's history to do this show. The story of Don Quixote is about finding the good in things even when you find yourself in difficult situations. Our country is currently coming out of a recession, we are currently at war, crime is at an all-time high and atrocities are all around us. I believe that we all need to hear the message of Don Quixote which is to "look for treasure where there is only trash." I think we all need to have the spirit of Don Quixote and try to add "a measure of grace to the world" and reach for the "unreachable star."

The other reason that I wanted to do this show is that it has not been done in our area in 30 years, and I felt it would be a great show to reintroduce to those who know it already as well as a new generation who have never seen it before.

Q: Talk about some of the outstanding cast you get to work with...

Eddie: I am very privileged to work with such a wonderful group of actors. Ryan Hardiman plays the dual role of Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quixote, Marina Jurica is Aldonza, Mike Murdock is Sancho, Jane Morse is the governor, and Dave Benton plays the barber.

All of those names are familiar to theatregoers here in the Huntington/Ashland area. I also have a group of supporting characters who are just as wonderful. Before I do a show, I always ask God to send me the actors who need to be a part of any production that I do. I truly believe that the group of people who come together to do a project, from the actors to the tech crew, are the people that are meant to come together to create the wonderful piece of theatre that we do. It is worth the ticket price just to hear the cast sing. Seeing the show is a bonus!

Q: The show includes some challenging songs - any concerns about that?

Eddie: The songs from this show all have a Spanish flavor to them which has been challenging for the actors to sing and for the musical director to produce. We are not using a traditional orchestra for this production. Modern technology allows us to use a keyboard into which we program each of the instruments individually to produce the sound of a full orchestra. We actually only have two musicians playing the show but will have the sounds of an 8 - 10 piece orchestra. All the instrument sounds had to be individually programed into the keyboard by our music director, Mike Campbell, to make it sound like an orchestra. It is a very time-consuming process but so worth it in the end. I think the music will be remembered by the audience long after the show is over.

Q: Tell us the dates, times and place for Man of La Mancha.

Eddie: The show will be performed at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in City Hall at the corner of 5th Avenue and 8th Street in Huntington. Dates for the show are October 16-18 and 23-25. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday matinees begin at 2:30 p.m. There is reserved seating so reservations are recommended. Tickets can be purchased by calling (304) 696-5522. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Thanks, Eddie! Tomorrow we'll hear from Don Quixote himself!

On Stage Tonight - "Waiting for Lefty"

In the crush of events this week, I'm afraid I have been remiss, gentle readers, in not telling you more about Waiting for Lefty, the play taking the stage tonight through Saturday at Marshall University.

These days the Department of Theatre is (apparently) going by a new name: the Marshall Theatre Alliance - but they're still turning out the kind of top-notch quality productions audiences have enjoyed year after year.

In 1935 Waiting for Lefty was the most widely performed play in America — and the most widely banned.

The story begins and ends in a raucous union meeting, but the real event of the Group Theatre’s famous production took place in the theatre itself. "Lefty" changed people’s idea of what theatre was and could be. More than entertainment or even a serious examination of contemporary issues, theatre at its best can be a living embodiment of shared values and aspirations.

In 1935 the Group Theatre proved that in a fragmented society of wounded individuals, theatre can bring people together and make them whole.

Marshall Theatre Alliance takes up the Group’s timeless challenge to make theatre that breathes energy, life, and new hope into us all.

Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odetes will be presented tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Playhouse at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center in Huntington.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

See "Romeo and Juliet" at Penn State - Without Leaving Home!

Hey, my pal Linda sends along this information about a performance over the next few days at Penn State that features her talented son, Nick Reynolds - and you can see it without leaving home!

Here's the info:
Penn State School of Theatre presents ROMEO AND JULIET by William Shakespeare on the Hintz Family Alumni Center Lawn.

Under the stars, free, and open to everyone!

If you can't make it to the Hintz Family Alumni Center, he show will be will be broadcast live right here.

Love at first sight becomes deadly as "star-crossed lovers" struggle against a world of opposition. Drenched in poetic eloquence, this timeless story crackles with contemporary relevance. Experience the perennial clash between new love and ancient hatred as one of William Shakespeare's greatest plays is re-discovered, re-examined, and re-imagined. No tickets required.

October 13, 14, 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Featuring:

Gilbert L. Bailey II as Romeo
Leah Mueller as Juliet
Robert Henry as Prince
Nick Reynolds as Mercutio
Nathan James as Tybalt
Joseph Barone as Bevolio

And it will be blogged about right here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On Stage Soon - "Man of La Mancha"

Here's a show that always lands at the top of our annual poll of "Shows You'd Like To See Staged Locally" - Man of La Mancha!

Presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Company, the show takes the stage over the next two weekends, Oct. 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 18 and 25 at 2:30 p.m. at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium in Huntington City Hall. Tickets are $10 for Adults and $8 for Children 12 and under. For reservations and more information, call 304-696-5522.

About the Production:

The City of Huntington Foundation, Inc. and 5th Avenue Theatre Company will present the beloved musical Man of La Mancha.

The cast features Ryan Hardiman as Cervantes/Don Quixote, Marina Jurica as Aldonza/Dulcinea and T. Michael Murdock as Sancho as well as an ensemble cast including Dave Benton, Kyle Fisher, Chloe Hardiman, Loretta Hetzer, Nancy Jackson, Jane Morse, Ralph Pack, Todd Preston, Ron Short, Desiree Sowards, Andrew Surber and Josh Taylor.

Man of La Mancha is directed by Eddie Harbert, with musical direction by Mike Campbell and choreography by Kerri Easter.

About the Show:

Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh.

It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes's 17th century masterpiece Don Quixote. It tells the story of the "mad" knight, Don Quixote, as a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition.

The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, and the musical has been revived numerous times, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre. The song, "The Impossible Dream", became a standard, and the musical is a popular choice for community theatre companies.

Man of La Mancha was first performed at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, and had its New York premiere on the thrust stage of the ANTA Washington Square Theatre.

Synopsis:

Miguel de Cervantes, aging and an utter failure as playwright, poet and tax collector, has been thrown into a dungeon in Seville to await trial by the Inquisition for an offense against the Church. There he is dragged before a kangaroo court of his fellow prisoners, who plan to confiscate his few possessions—including the uncompleted manuscript of a novel, Don Quixote.

Cervantes, seeking to save the manuscript, proposes his defense in the form of a play. The "court" agrees, and Cervantes and his manservant don make-up and costumes, transforming themselves into Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They then play out the story with the prisoners taking the roles of other characters.

Quixote and Sancho take to the road in a quest to restore the age of chivalry, battle all evil, and right all wrongs.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Three Final Shows Today

Today's your last chance to catch three great community theatre performances! Here's the rundown:

- I Ought to be in Pictures - The Neil Simon comedy will be presented in one final show at the Renaissance Center (the old Huntington High School) today at 3 p.m. Admission is $15. It's hilarious!

- Damien - The story of the Roman Catholic martyr known as "The Apostle of Lepers" takes the stage for its final show at the Huntington Museum of Art today at 3:00 p.m.

- Jungle Book - The last show of the classic tale of Mowgli and his animal friends will be presented by the Children's Theater of Charleston today at 2:00 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater.

Also on stage today is:

- Blood Brothers - The rags-to-riches musical will be presented at Ashland Community and Technical College today at 2:30 p.m. and next weekend, Oct. 16 and 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m.

A Glowing Testimonial About "Damien"

Hey, I wanted to share this email from my pal Stewart Duke. He writes:
Last night I experienced Theatre, as in my humble estimation, was as wonderful as Theatre can get!

Our dear friend Paul Nease did the one man show Damien at The Huntington Art Museum Theatre - Paul was simply great - bringing out the pathos, empathy, care and frustration of Father Damien, a Priest who ministered to the LEPERS on Molokai, Hawaii during the 1800s, who himself died of Leprosy.

The language and words were beautifully written and Paul managed to bring feelings to those words that were moving, inspiring and often very thought provoking - the stage setting was simple, almost understated - the show relied totally on Paul's interpretations as an actor, both verbally and physically!

If there is any way you can manage to see it, I certainly recommend that you do so.
The final performance takes the stage this afternoon at 3:00 p.m., so don't miss it!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Theatre Stories in the H-D

Hey, there are a couple of items of interest to theatre fans in the Herald-Dispatch:

- There's a nifty photo gallery of shots from the play I Ought To Be In Pictures which you can see right here. The photos were taken by Stephen Vance.

Oh, and here's an example:

As I've said before, it's a very funny show, and it wraps up this weekend, so drop by the Renaissance Theater and check it out!

- There's also a story about the show Damien, which you can read right here. Known as “the Apostle of Lepers,” Damien was a Roman Catholic priest who ministered to a leper colony.

That show also runs this weekend only at the Huntington Museum of Art, so catch it while you can!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Weekend Filled With Shows

One more time, here are the shows to watch for this weekend:

- I Ought to be in Pictures - The Neil Simon comedy will be presented at the Renaissance Center (the old Huntington High School) at 8 p.m. tonight and Oct. 10, and at 3 p.m. Oct. 11. Admission is $15. I loved it, and so will you!

- Damien - The story of the Roman Catholic martyr known as "The Apostle of Lepers" takes the stage in a one-man show at the Huntington Museum of Art tonight and Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 3:00 p.m.

- Blood Brothers - The rags-to-riches musical will be presented at Ashland Community and Technical College tonight and Oct. 10, 16 and 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct. 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m.

- Jungle Book - The classic tale of Mowgli and his animal friends will be presented by the Children's Theater of Charleston tonight at 7:00 p.m., Oct. 10 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Oct. 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Crawling Into the 21st Century

Well, I finally broke down and took the plunge - I created a Twitter account.

Because, after all, I just don't spend enough time with my friend, the Internet. (Just kidding! The Internet is our friend!)

But it's all to keep in touch with those of you who read our humble blog here.

The plan is to use the account to announce new posts on the Tri-State Theatre blog along with other occasional comments or bits of info, so drop by, check it out and follow along. You'll find it at http://twitter.com/ChuckMinsker.

And at some point, I'll hopefully figure out how to put a link on this site. One step at a time, y'all!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Busy Weekend Ahead

Lots of great shows taking the stage this weekend. Here's the rundown:

- I Ought to be in Pictures: The Neil Simon comedy will be presented at the Renaissance Center (the old Huntington High School) at 8 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10, and at 3 p.m. Oct. 11. Admission is $15. Oh, and you can read my review of it right here.

- Damien: The story of the Roman Catholic martyr known as "The Apostle of Lepers" takes the stage in a one-man show at the Huntington Museum of Art Oct. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 3:00 p.m. You can read more about it right here.

- Blood Brothers: The rags-to-riches musical will be presented at Ashland Community and Technical College Oct. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct. 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m. You can read more about it right here.

- Jungle Book: The classic tale of Mowgli and his animal friends will be presented by the Children's Theater of Charleston Oct. 9 at 7:00 p.m., Oct. 10 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Oct. 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater. You can read more about it right here.

So mark your calendars and get out there and support your community theatre!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Coming Soon - Smoke on the Water

Hey, this Saturday is the "Smoke on the Water" fundraiser for the Marshall Artists Series.

This poster gives the basic information, so give them a call at 304-696-6656 and offer your support.

Good fun, great food, and a terrific cause - what a deal!

Monday, October 05, 2009

On Stage Tomorrow - "Ohio Impromptu"

A reminder that the short Samuel Beckett play Ohio Impromptu will be performed tomorrow night at the Huntington Museum of Art as part of a night of offbeat, experimental work.

The event is called What in the World Was That? It's a night of short music and theater performances, and it takes the stage Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Grace Rardin Doherty Auditorium.

Matyas Seiber’s “Three Morgenstern Songs” for soprano voice and clarinet will be performed, followed by the short play Ohio Impromptu featuring Jerry Morse and Mike Murdock and directed by Jonathan Joy.

After the performances, a discussion follows with Dr. David Wohl.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Benefit for the Kanawha Players

My pal Tony Slack sends along this info about a fundraiser being staged soon by Charleston's Improv Comedy group:
The No Pants Players will be performing at 10 p.m. October 10 at the Kanawha Players building at 309 Beauregard St in Charleston.

Half of all tickets sales will go to benefit Kanawha Players.

This will be an "Adults Only" improv performance and will contain strong language and adult situations. Ticket prices are $10 each. Please spread the word and help make this benefit a success!

For more info call 1-877-IMPROV9.

"I Ought To Be In Pictures" - A Review

As any of my friends will tell you, I love a good laugh.

But comedy's not easy to find these days. Most TV sitcoms leave me cold and wishing they could do a show like the original Andy Griffith Show or the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Since that's not likely, the best place to find a good laugh is by attending a funny stage show, because comedy's always better live and in person.

And you can catch one of the funniest shows in recent memory playing right now at the Renaissance Theater (which is, of course, the old Huntington High School).

The show is I Ought To Be In Pictures, and it tells the story of a 19-year-old girl who travels across the country to find her long-missing father. She needs answers to some difficult questions, and she decides that her father is the one to provide them.

Her father has his own problems - he's a down-on-his-luck writer who can't seem to actually write anything, and he's struggling with his relationship with his feisty girlfriend.

There are two reasons why this show is so good: first, it's written by Neil Simon, one of the best and funniest writers to ever have a show staged anywhere. Like all his best shows, it's loaded with clever, interesting characters, funny situations and a lot of heart.

The other reason why this show is good: it has a fantastic cast. There are only three actors, but as Spencer Tracy once said, they're choice.

Starring as Libby Ticker (the daughter) is Alissa Fetherolf, an incredibly talented actor who has starred in dozens of community theatre shows locally. It's always great to see a performer grow from being a talented young actor into an even more talented adult actor, and it's been a delight to see Alissa grow up on stage. She's always been a gifted actor, but this is her best performance yet (and that's saying something)! Here she plays a character who has to be both tough and tender, forceful but timid, and she manages it while creating a perfect New York accent and being very funny at the same time. Her comic timing is terrific, and she's outstanding in this show!

Playing the writer's girlfriend Steffy Blondell is the wonderful Leann Haines. She gets to play the center in this show - often finding herself in the middle between father and daughter, trying to balance the two extremes, while hoping to build her own relationship into something more meaningful. She's funny, feisty, always on target, has great stage presence and great comic skills.

Our veteran on this team is Clint McElroy, who plays Herb Tucker, the gruff, down-on-his-luck writer who finds himself at odds with the two women in his life. I could ramble on and on about Clint's outstanding acting or his incredible comedic skills, but surely anyone reading this article should already know that Clint is one of our stage treasures - an actor who is equally at home with drama or music, and a master at comedy. He wrings every last laugh out of this show, and there are a heck of a lot of laughs to be had. It's not easy to play a character who's both gruff and likable, but Clint manages it with ease. Just seeing his name on the marquee should be enough to convince you to see this show. Add in the other two talented actors, and you have a very funny show - in fact, I think this is one of Simon's best, even though it's not as well known as The Odd Couple.

Kudos to first time director Stephen Vance for hitting a home run on his first time at bat, and hats off to his tech and stage crew for all their hard work.

You still have several chances to see this show - I Ought To Be In Pictures will be presented at the Renaissance Center this afternoon at 3 p.m, and next weekend, Oct. 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and at 3 p.m. Oct. 11.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants a good laugh! (And if you're not looking for a good laugh, nothing personal, but there's something wrong with you.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

On Stage Tonight - "I Ought to be in Pictures" and "The Blob"

There are two shows on stage tonight that you should take the time to see:

- I Ought to be in Pictures is a Neil Simon comedy about a young woman who travels to California to see her long-missing (and grouchy) Father. The show will be presented at the Renaissance Center at 8 p.m. tonight and 3 p.m. Sunday. It also runs next weekend on Oct. 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and at 3 p.m. Oct. 11. Admission is $15.

- The Blob is a musical based on the famous monster movie from the 1950s. The last performance of the show starts at 8 p.m. tonight at the historic WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston, W.Va. Tickets are $9.50 Adults, $5.50 Students/Seniors.

So get out there and support your local theatre!

Friday, October 02, 2009

On Stage Tonight - "I Ought to be in Pictures"

I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview last night of the comedy I Ought to be in Pictures, which takes the stage tonight at the Renaissance Theater (the old Huntington High School), and what a terrific show it is!

I'll have a complete review soon, but let me just take a moment to recommend it highly! It has a small but incredibly talented cast, and the show (written by the hilarious Neil Simon) is very funny and very touching.

You'll wipe away tears of laughter, and before it's over you'll wipe away the other kind of tears (the sweet sentimental kind).

Go see it - you can thank me later!

(This photo shows two of the three cast members - Clint McElroy, looking somewhat grizzled here on the left, and Alissa Fetherolf, beautiful as always on the right.)

But don't take my word for it - you can read more about it in this story by Beth Hendricks from the Herald-Dispatch:
It was the right script for the right cast at the right time.

First-time director Stephen Vance knew when he read I Ought To Be In Pictures -- after perusing nearly 30 scripts -- that he had the perfect players for the roles.

"It is a perfect fit for the people who agreed to be in the show for me," said Vance, who is staging the show for the non-profit Arts Resources for the Tri-State (ARTS). "It's a three-person cast, which was great for me since it's my first time as the director, and it was great for ARTS because we were looking for a show without a huge budget outlay so they can stage a bigger production, like a musical, this year or maybe next year."

Neil Simon's I Ought To Be In Pictures will be presented at the Renaissance Center at 8 p.m. Oct. 2, 3, 9 and 10, and at 3 p.m. Oct. 4 and 11. Admission is $15.

The show, written 30 years ago, chronicles a 19-year-old daughter's re-emergence back into the life of the father she hasn't seen since the age of three. The father tries to balance his life between his daughter, his failing screenwriting career and his relationship with his girlfriend.

"It was very cutting-edge when it came out years ago because people didn't talk a lot about divorce. The heart of this story is the relationship between father and daughter," said Vance, who has worked on or acted in more than 25 shows in the past five years. "It's a comedic drama, but there's a very nice story throughout. You don't go very long without a laugh, though, and it's a very uplifting tale."

Vance's cast includes Alissa Fetherolf as Libby Tucker, Clint McElroy at Herb Tucker and Leann Haines as Steffy Blondell.

For more information or tickets, call 304-733-2787 or visit www.733arts.org.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

On Stage in October

October promises to be a busy month for theatre fans (which is a good thing, natch). Here are the shows to watch for, and the first two shows are running this weekend:

ARTS - I Ought to be in Pictures

It'll be presented at the Renaissance Center at 8 p.m. Oct. 2, 3, 9 and 10, and at 3 p.m. Oct. 4 and 11. Admission is $15.

CYAC - The Blob

The show starts at 8 p.m. Oct. 2 and 3 at the historic WVSU Capitol Center Theater at 123 Summers Street in Charleston, W.Va. Tickets are $9.50 Adults, $5.50 Students/Seniors.

And later this month:

Huntington Museum of Art is hosting two shows:

- Damien

Performed Oct. 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 3:00 p.m.

- and the Samuel Beckett play Ohio Impromptu as part of a night of offbeat, experimental work called What in the World Was That? It begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 6, 2009, in the Grace Rardin Doherty Auditorium.

ACTC - Blood Brothers

Presented Oct. 9-11 and 16-18 at Ashland Community and Technical College.

5th Avenue Theatre Co. - Man of La Mancha

The show takes the stage Oct. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25 at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium.

Marshall University Theatre Dept. - Waiting for Lefty

Performances Oct. 14-17 at 8 p.m. at The Playhouse at Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for Adults, $15 for MU Faculty & Seniors and Free to full-time MU students with valid ID.

Red Lion Theatre Co. (Ashland) - The Pillowman

Shows run Oct. 16 at 8:00 p.m. and Oct. 17 at 8:00 p.m. and Midnight.

Charleston Light Opera Guild - Peter Pan

Performances are Oct. 30, 31, Nov. 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees on Nov. 1 and 8 at 2:00 p.m.

Charleston Stage Co. - The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The show will be presented Oct. 15-17, 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Capitol Theater on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Adults $15, Students $10.

Kanawha Players - Dial “M” for Murder

Presented Oct. 30-31, Nov. 6-7 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 1 at 2:00 p.m. at the Kanawha Players Theatre.

Children’s Theatre of Charleston - Jungle Book

Shows will be presented Oct. 9 at 7:00 p.m., Oct. 10 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and Oct. 11 at 2:00 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater.

We'll have more on all those shows in the weeks ahead!