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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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Shows Today (and Three Next Weekend)

My heart goes out to the cast and crew of the three shows that took the show this weekend. Whenever you stage a show, you always fear this kind of weather, because it keeps away all but the most hardy of theatre-goers.

Thankfully, things are warming up and the roads are (mostly) clear, so hopefully you'll get to see one of the shows running this weekend - and if not, they all have more performances next weekend!

Here's the lineup:

- I Love You... You're Perfect... Now Change - ARTS presents this musical comedy in the Renaissance Ballroom (Old Huntington High School). Shows will be presented today and Feb. 5-7. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00. Tickets for the show and dinner is $25.00 per person and $10.00 for show only. A group rate is available for groups of 10 or more. The story is based around four couples who take the audience through the whole journey of love, dating, and relationships and pokes fun at the process we go through in search of a mate.

- The Pirates of Penzance - the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical comedy today and Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. and Feb. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. All shows are at the Light Opera Guild Theater on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Roane Street in West Charleston. Tickets are $15 and it is festival seating. The box office number is 304-342-9312 - for more info go to www.charlestonlightoperaguild.org.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Making Improvements at the Keith-Albee

Hey, there's a great story in today's Herald-Dispatch about some improvements being made to the classic Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

As my pal David Malloy writes in this story (with photos by Lori Wolfe), some students took the stage to make some much-needed repairs:
More than two dozen Collins Career Center students were busy outside the classroom on Friday to help make repairs and clean up the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in downtown Huntington.

Twenty-seven students from the vocational school at Getaway, Ohio, replaced boards on the stage floor and did cleanup work to get the building ready for a production of Cats scheduled Feb. 8 and 9, said Bob Edmunds, a former Marshall University professor helping out at the Keith-Albee.

"They need 15 hours of community service before they can graduate," said Matt Parnell, a carpentry instructor at the vocational school. "We came over before they had the premiere of We Are Marshall. They've been sanding the floor, replacing some boards in the stage and vacuuming."

The students are from the carpentry class and the building maintenance class at Collins, Parnell said.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On Stage Tonight - "Love," "Penzance" and "Galileo"

The long drought is over, and tonight three great shows take the stage!

Two are in Charleston - a classic musical and a non-musical about a Renaissance man - and the other is in Huntington - another terrific musical!

So here's what you have to choose from:

- I Love You... You're Perfect... Now Change - ARTS presents this musical comedy in the Renaissance Ballroom (Old Huntington High School). Shows will be presented Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 5-7. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00. Tickets for the show and dinner is $25.00 per person and $10.00 for show only. A group rate is available for groups of 10 or more. The story is based around four couples who take the audience through the whole journey of love, dating, and relationships and pokes fun at the process we go through in search of a mate.

- The Pirates of Penzance - the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical comedy on Jan. 29 and 30 and Feb. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. All shows are at the Light Opera Guild Theater on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Roane Street in West Charleston. Tickets are $15 and it is festival seating. The box office number is 304-342-9312 - for more info go to www.charlestonlightoperaguild.org.

- Galileo - The Contemporary Youth Arts Company will present Bertolt Brecht’s classic drama Galileo at 8 p.m. Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6 at the historic WVSU Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers Street, Charleston W.Va. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for students and seniors.

So get out there and support your local theatre!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Huntington Symphony Announce Ellis Island Performance on Feb. 13

Here's one to mark on your calendar - a concert you won't want to miss! You can read about it at the Herald-Dispatch's site here, and here's an excerpt:
The Huntington Symphony Orchestra announced that on Feb. 13 they will perform Ellis Island: Dream of America.

Accompanying the orchestra will Beth McVey, Clint McElroy, Bil Neal and Amy Knell. Tickets are on sale now by phone at 304-781-8343, online at huntingtonsymphony.org or the HSO administration offices, 763 Third Ave., Huntington.

Ellis Island: The Dream of America was born out of Peter Boyer’s fascination with the relationship between history and music.

“I'm drawn to good stories - especially stories which come from the past but are relevant to the present - and as an orchestral composer, I'm intrigued by the potential of the orchestra as a storytelling medium,” Boyer said.

America is a nation of immigrants, and our immigrant history is a profound part of our American mythology. In the history of American immigration, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are icons of immense significance.

“When I decided to create a work about Ellis Island, I knew that I wanted to combine spoken word with the orchestra,” Boyer said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three Shows This Weekend

Now that January is nearly over, it's time for some new community theatre shows to take the stage! Here's the lineup of shows that start Friday night:

- I Love You... You're Perfect... Now Change - ARTS presents this musical comedy in the Renaissance Ballroom (Old Huntington High School). Shows will be presented Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 5-7. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00. Tickets for the show and dinner is $25.00 per person and $10.00 for show only. A group rate is available for groups of 10 or more. The story is based around four couples who take the audience through the whole journey of love, dating, and relationships and pokes fun at the process we go through in search of a mate.

- The Pirates of Penzance - the Charleston Light Opera Guild presents the Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical comedy on Jan. 29 and 30 and Feb. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. All shows are at the Light Opera Guild Theater on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Roane Street in West Charleston. Tickets are $15 and it is festival seating. The box office number is 304-342-9312 - for more info go to www.charlestonlightoperaguild.org.

- Galileo - The Contemporary Youth Arts Company will present Bertolt Brecht’s classic drama Galileo at 8 p.m. Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6 at the historic WVSU Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers Street, Charleston W.Va. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for students and seniors.

Monday, January 25, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Galileo"

My pal Mel sends along the latest about a show opening in Charleston which focuses on one of history's most famous figures. She writes:
Galileo opens January 29!

The Contemporary Youth Arts Company will present Bertolt Brecht’s classic drama Galileo at 8 p.m. January 29-30 and February 5-6.

Based on the clash between the observations of 17th century astronomer-physicist and the teachings of the Catholic church, Galileo is the saga of man versus science, science versus truth, truth versus faith and faith versus man.

The cast, including several CYAC alumni, includes Nik Tidquist as the title character, Caroline Kapo as Virginia, Craig Auge as the little Monk, Meredith Overcash as Barberini, John Szasz as the Philosopher, Mary Beth Griffith as Sarti, Austin Thomas as Andrea, Maria Fioravante as Federazoni with Amanda Mandarola, Paige Baisden, Emily Jessee and Quintin Baker filling out the cast.

Where: The historic WVSU Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers Street, Charleston W.Va.

Tickets: $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for students and seniors.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On Stage Next Weekend - "Pirates of Penzance"

After a bit of a dry spell for local theatre (that's January for you), things are going to start hopping next weekend.

My pal Marina Jurica sends along this information about one of my all-time favorite musicals:
I just wanted to let you know that the Charleston Light Opera Guild is opening Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirate of Penzance on January 29 through February 7!

Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Light Opera Guild Theater on the corner of Tennessee Avenue and Roane Street in West Charleston.

Tickets are $15 and it is festival seating. The box office number is 304-342-9312 and for more info go to www.charlestonlightoperaguild.org.

For the group of us who went to HMS Pinafore last year we came 30 minutes early and barely got seats since it is a smaller theater! The cast is really wonderful and is has been a great show to be a part of - I am playing the part of Mabel. Hope you and many others can make it!
It's a great show, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it! Highly recommended!

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Bitsy and Boots" Are Back!

Great news! The wacky sisters "Bitsy and Boots" are returning to the stage for their third adventure!

They're at the center of an original play being presented in February in Huntington (and as a fan of the first two plays, I highly recommend this show - the first two were hilarious! And the dinner is awesome!).

My pal Jerry Morse sent this press release with all the info:
First Church Dinner Theater presents the World Premiere of Bitsy, Boots and Friends by Jonathan Joy.

First United Methodist Church is thrilled to present yet another brand-new comedy by local actor, playwright and drama instructor Jonathan Joy. First Church Dinner Theater will be hosting the World Premiere of this show for your Valentine’s entertainment.

Bitsy, Boots and Friends presents still more of the unexpected, as Tommy brings his bride to southern Ohio for another visit with the two oddball aunts who raised him, their even odder cousin Ida, and an assortment of other friends, new and old.

The Dinner Theater has been a winter highlight in Huntington since 1991. Begun as a part of First Night, the Dinner Theater has been an integral part of First Church’s Mission program, raising more than $35,000 for Mission projects through 17 productions.

Huntington’s First United Methodist is a church in Mission, supporting community projects, Mission projects across West Virginia, and national and international relief efforts. Members volunteer throughout the community, and participate in mission work teams in West Virginia, Alaska and Nicaragua. Proceeds from the 2010 dinner theater will help fund the Church youth work team and many other projects.

Where: First United Methodist Church, 1124 5th Ave., Huntington

When: Feb. 12, 13 and 14

Dinner served at 6:30 p.m., the show begins at 8:00 p.m.
Choice of entrees: Prime Rib au Jus or Glazed Cornish hen, with Tossed Salad, Baked Potato, Green peas and Pearl Onions, Dilly Rolls and assorted Valentine Desserts.

Tickets: Dinner plus Show: Adult - $22, Child under 12 - $8, Show only (as space permits) - $5.

Babysitting available on request for all shows (advance notice required)

Reservations are required for all shows!
For Reservations, call: 304-522-0357 or 740-867-8576.

All profits benefit the Mission and Youth of First United Methodist

The producer/director is Jerry Morse. Jane Morse heads up the kitchen crew. The cast includes Loretta Hetzer, Jane Morse, Rebecca Payne, Melissa Langham, Zach Davis, Leann Haines, Sara Tschop, Adam Stephens, Michael Niday and Stacy Morgan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Stage Announces Its Next Season!

Hey, we're always trying to bring you the scoops here at the Tri-State Theatre blog, so here's a good one - First Stage Theatre Company has decided on its 2010-2011 season, which is the 21st for that group!

(As always, the seasons for the children's theatre follows the school year.)

They have three shows they plan to offer:

The classic musical comedy Once Upon a Mattress will be presented in the Fall of 2010. Based on the children's story The Princess and the Pea, it's a hilarious show that hasn't been staged in our area in far too long.

The group's second show will be James and the Giant Peach, which will be presented in Winter 2010. This non-musical play is based on the popular book by Roald Dahl.

The Spring 2011 show will be the beloved musical Annie. It's been more than a decade since First Stage last tackled the show, and it's a show tailor-made for a children's theatre - there are lots of parts available for lots of girls. (The guys will have to wait for the next production of Oliver!)

I'm prejudiced, but it sounds like a great lineup to me!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coming Soon: "I Love You... You're Perfect... Now Change"

My pal Eddie Harbert sends along this invitation to all of us for a terrific show coming up soon:
Just a note to invite you to come and see ARTS production of I Love You... You're Perfect... Now Change.

The show will be held in the Renaissance Ballroom (Old Huntington High School). It will be the first dinner theatre production that has been held there. They have just bought new lighting and sound systems and are hoping this will be the first of many dinner theatre productions to be held there. It is a very exciting event, especially since we are always looking for good venues to perform small shows in.

The show will be held January 29-31 and February 5-7. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8:00. The show is being directed by me with musical direction by Mike Campbell and choreography by Coni Anthony.

We have a very talented cast of actors. They include: Mary Olson, Mark Baker, Jane Modlin, Dave Benton, Betty Craddock, Ron Short, Jennifer Scott and Josh Taylor.

Cost of tickets for the show and dinner is $25.00 per person and $10.00 for show only. A group rate is available for groups of 10 or more. The prices are exceptional! Most dinner theatres are between $30-$50.

The show can be best described as Saturday Night Live with music. The story is based around four couples who take the audience through the whole journey of love, dating, and relationships and pokes fun at the process we go through in search of a mate. It is a perfect "date play!"

This is an opportunity for all of us to support a great organization and show that there is a desire and need for dinner theatre in Huntington. We have made many attempts to create such a forum, but it has never been that successful. We have the opportunity to change that. It also gives us a chance to support one another and show that we support all theatre and arts within our community not just one agency or another.

Tickets can be purchased by calling ARTS at (304) 733-2787. The easiest way though is to either email me at eddie_harbert@yahoo.com with your request or call me at 304-412-8738. I can take your reservation and have it waiting for you at the "Will Call" table the evening of the show. Just email me the date you would like to attend and the number attending with you.

You can pay by either check, cash, or credit card when you pick up your tickets. I will email back a confirmation for you of your order.

Thank you so much for the support and love that you have given me over the years. Please respond with your order and attendance so that we can make sure that theatre and more especially, dinner theatre, can make a go in the community.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lisa Sends Her List of the Best of 2009

Hey, here's yet another list of one reader's choices for the "Best of 2009" - these are the choices by my pal Lisa Williams!

I'm really enjoying these lists, so feel free to chime in!

She writes:
As a local theatre junkie and loyal audience member for years, here's my two cents:

I watched Nathan Mohebbi go from Aladdin in HOT's pre-show to Angel in Rent... talk about a "whole new world!" All I can say is WOW!!! Phenomenal performance. The entire cast and show of Rent was top notch.

I had not had the privilege of seeing Marina Jurica on stage until Man of La Mancha. Her performance left me with chills and tears. She was breathtaking.

As for Into the Woods... I was looking forward to watching Maggie Saunders as the Witch. I knew she would rock the house, and she did; but what an all-star cast. Sarah Hayes made me laugh and cry; Mary Kate Young was beautiful as Cinderella, the princes were hysterical, but it was Eric Newfeld's sweet and tender performance as the Baker that touched my heart. Just an outstanding show overall.

Thank you to all the people both behind the scenes on on stage in our tri-state area who work so hard to provide such wonderful, wonderful quality entertainment each season. Looking forward to the 2010 season!
Thanks, Lisa!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sending Help To Haiti

Not a usual topic for this blog, but this is a matter that needs your attention.

If you're looking for a way to offer some help to those suffering in Haiti, let me offer a recommendation: I've volunteered with the local branch of The Salvation Army for more than a decade, and it's an outstanding organization - one of the best in terms of getting help where it's needed, and quickly.

They're on the scene in Haiti right now, and they could use your help. You can make a donation at this website: SalvationarmyUSA.org, or you can make a donation to your local chapter and they'll forward it to the International effort. Clothing and other material donations should be processed through your local unit.

Thanks!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Some Additional Comments From Jon

Jonathan Joy had some additional thoughts to his last post, which he sends along here:
As soon as I sent (my list), I started thinking about shows/performances that I omitted.

I should mention the strong performances and direction of 5th Avenue Theatre Company's production of Man of La Mancha.

I also had the opportunity to see the Marshall Artist Series Spring production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and thoroughly enjoyed it.

And finally, I am thankful that the Huntington Museum of Art asked me to direct a production of Samuel Beckett's Ohio Impromptu in October. It was part of a night of offbeat, experimental work and very different from most of the plays that I saw or was involved in. I hope we see more theatre at the Museum in the coming years.

Of course, you can't see everything. I've heard rave reviews of Rent and Almost, Maine, two shows that I missed in 2009. And I didn't see a single play in Ashland for the first time in years. Sometimes, it's hard to take in everything when there is so much going on. I'm just glad we have such a wide variety of theatre groups/productions in this area.

Keep up the good work, everyone!
Thanks, Jon! We do have a wealth of great shows in our area, which makes it tough to see them all - but like the old saying goes, better too many than not enough!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jon's List of Best Shows for 2009

My pal Jon Joy makes my day by sending in his list of the best shows and performances for 2009!

He writes:
I've been reading everyone's "best of" list and I couldn't resist sending my own. I saw 13 shows in Huntington and Charleston (five of which I was involved in) in 2009 and, as always, I was really impressed with the amount of theatre talent in this region. I'm looking forward to upcoming 2010 shows.

Here it is:

Best shows/festivals:

Avenue Q - The Marshall Artist Series presented this touring production in early November. It was a unique, professional and hilarious production.

Into the Woods: This wonderful play really showcased the wide variety of young talent in the area. It was a treat!

The Third Annual New Works Fest at MU: This is a great outlet for new plays and I really enjoyed each one. Clint McElroy's Pep Sturdley was particularly entertaining. There's nothing else like this festival in the area.

Best actor:


Jack Cirillo in A Christmas Carol - It's one of my favorite stories and Jack did an awesome job of bringing all of the characters to life. It was an engaging and entertaining performance.

Best actress(es):

Jane Morse, Loretta Hetzer and Rebecca Payne as Bitsy, Boots and Ida in my First Church Dinner Theatre play. Of course, I am biased on this one, but the three of them cracked me up every night in rehearsal and got huge laughs out of the audience. Their performances were just perfect.

Best Director:

Mary Smirl for Into the Woods. Mary had a great creative vision for the show and united a large cast of young actors in an admirable way. It's not easy to do and she did a great job.

Honorable Mention(s):

First Stage's Charlotte's Web and Alexander were both fantastic and Charleston Stage Company's WV: Words and Music provided an excellent venue for West Virginia writers, actors and musicians. Taking my play Fly by Night to Festiv-all Charleston was also a lot of fun.

There were many others, as well, but these choices represent my fondest memories of the 2009 theatre season. I want to encourage everyone to keep up the good work in 2010! Have fun and support your local theatre.
Great choices, Jon - thanks!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Paul Names His Favorite Shows From 2009

I'm really enjoying the selections of "Best Shows and Performances from 2009" our readers have been sending in! Keep 'em coming!

Here's the latest, from my pal Paul Neace. He writes:
Although I’m barely qualified due to only having seen two local shows and participating in two others, here are my nominees for the best of 2009:

Show: The Guns & Hoses Benefit… for several reasons. First is, you can’t have a cast consisting of Marina, Danny, Zach, Linda, Mary, Ryan, Ron, Jennifer and Nancy without getting recognized as quite special. The fact that we all got along and bonded so well is testament enough.

Mike Campbell also needs a lot of props (not the Helga kind) for his outstanding work, he endured a great deal from us and never said "boo" to anyone. And Eddie and Coni’s expertise was evident throughout the show… it was just a wonderful experience.

Director: Mary Williams - sure, I’m biased, but the grace, patience, insight and leadership that she conveyed for her directorial debut was second to none. She’s an outstanding talent and we’re lucky to have her working with us in the community.

Lead Male Actor: Clint McElroy - for I Ought To Be In Pictures.

Lead Female Actor: Alyssa Fetherolf - for the same show.

Supporting Actor: Leanne Haines - ditto.

These three put on an acting clinic in that show. Nice job with the casting, Steven!
Great choices, Paul - thanks!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jeanette Names Her Favorite Performances of 2009

It's been a lot of fun seeing so many people send in their choices for best show or best performance of 2009. Here's the latest, from my pal Jeanette.

She writes:
Favorite performances for 2009 - what I've seen:

Breakout Performance: Nathan Mohebbi as Angel in Rent, as well as the entire chorus and band.

Best Non-Musical Peformance: Alyssa Fetherolf and Clint McElroy in I Ought To Be In Pictures.

Funniest Performance: Travis McElroy in Alexander Who's Not Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move. Honorable mention to Sarah Bryan's "Smoke on the Water" flute solo in the same show, and all the Rooney Girls.

Best Musical Performance: Ryan Hardiman, Mike Murdock and Marina Jurica in Man of La Mancha; as well as Maggie Saunders, Caleb Donahoe, Sarah Hayes and Mary Kate Young in Into the Woods.
Great choices! You'll get no argument from me!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Comment On That "Peter Pan" Video

The other day I posted a video showing a couple of near-disasters on the set of a community theatre production of Peter Pan (though not a production from around here, I should add).

My pal Elaine Young sent in this comment:
I watched the Peter Pan YouTube video you posted with disbelief. It was obvious that there was little thought on setting the stage in this production but especially with the safety of the actors and the wire flying.

First Stage Theatre Co. just presented Peter Pan in 2008 and we spent hours and hours training our flight crew, stage crew and actors as to the aspects of set placement, sight lines and actor safety.

In fact, we had our flight director from ZFX here 10 days during tech week and during our first weekend of performances. Sometimes, in an effort to conserve finances and with the idea that a short and simple instruction of wire flying will be adequate, some theatre companies can become overconfident about the ability to produce this type of show.

In the YouTube video, it was obvious the flight crew did not have a proper sight line and the set was improperly placed and constructed. I have to give credit to First Stage on always keeping the actors' safety as our primary goal in all of our productions.

Proper training with a mature and knowledgeable tech crew will lead to a safe and enjoyable production for everyone. Thanks for the reminder and thanks to the amazing flight crew, tech crew and cast of First Stage Theatre's Peter Pan in Fall 2008.
That video does show the importance of going that extra mile in rehearsals and planning. Apparently the show went on as planned after that incident, but watching it should send a chill through anyone who's taken part in community theatre.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Eddie Names One Of His Favorite Shows for 2009

My pal Eddie Harbert sends along this email about one of his favorite shows and performances from 2009. He writes:
I noticed that no one has mentioned another show that was not well-attended, but that was a great show with a lot of heart. That show was Damien, which was a one-man show based on the story of Father Damien who moved to an island that was a leper colony and served there until contracting the disease himself and dying.

The show was a one-man show starring Paul Neace and directed by Mary Williams.

It is very difficult to keep a one-man show moving along, especially in a drama like Damien. Paul did a great job at showing the emotion that Father Damien went through when arriving to serve the lepers and then the awful realization that he had contracted the disease himself.

This production was a production of love that was presented at the Huntington Museum of Art last October. If you missed it, you missed a real treat.

This was also Mary Williams' directoral debut. I am sure that we will be hearing from Mary again. This was a great show to do as a first endeavor and a challenging one. One-man shows are never easy to direct. It can be very taxing to the actor (and sometimes to the audience) to keep it flowing and interesting. Paul was very effective at keeping the audience involved in the show.

I wanted to be sure that we gave this show a nod, and I am sure that we will hear more from Paul and Mary in the 2010 season!
Thanks, Eddie! I wasn't able to see the show, but I've heard nothing but raves about it!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Peter Pan" On-Stage Accident

I caught this video online the other day, and wanted to share it as a cautionary tale. When it comes to live theatre, anything can happen - and sometimes, that can even mean danger for the actors onstage.

The site I saw this clip on was making fun of the fact that the show was fouled-up, but I have to tell you, I see nothing at all funny about this. I see at least two instances where cast members could have been seriously injured - it's every director's worst nightmare.

Here, look at the clip (it's about 1:45) and we'll talk more about it:



So not only did a huge section of the set fall over, thankfully not landing on anyone (though it's not clear if the actor playing Peter Pan was hurt), but when they get the scene reset, the wrong actor goes flying into the air and nearly slams into a set piece (they apparently thought they were lifting Pan and had their wires crossed).

Thankfully, no one appears to be injured, and the show went on - but these are the kinds of incidents everyone in theatre tries to guard against.

I mean no disrespect to the company that was staging this show. Sometimes things just go wrong no matter how careful you are.

Still, it's a good cautionary tale about checking and double-checking your sets, your effects - everything, really. I've been involved with shows that had some close calls, but thankfully, nothing on this order. (Knocks on wood.)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Levi Names His Favorite Performers For 2009

Here's another list of "Favorite Performers" - courtesy Levi "Charlie Brown" Kelley, who writes:
Okay, I have to say my Favorite Actor this year is definitely Ryan Hardiman, his performance in Man Of La Mancha gave me CHILLS, and in Rent he along with Beth Winkler as Mimi had me crying.

My choice for Best Actress is definitely Jessica Maier for her performance in All Shook Up. Such a strong presence and her comedic ability was awesome.

Best comedic actor had to be Stephanie Cook in ACTC's production of A Little Night Music. Her portrayal of the Countess Carl-Magnum had me rolling in the aisles, yet feeling sorry for her at the same time. Such a strong performance.

Those are my Favorites for this year. Oh, as well as Maggie Saunders in Into The Woods. Great job on such an iconic role as The Witch.
Thanks, Levi!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mel Names Her Favorites for 2009!

We invited readers to send along their own choices for the best shows and performances of 2009, and my pal Mel Larch sent along these comments:
For my money, the best of the lot was the premiere of Dan Kehde's Shadowman by the Contemporary Youth Arts Company this past July.

Dark and gritty with subtle moments of humor and compassion, it was masterfully performed by a talented young cast featuring Evan Wilson, Nik Tidquist, Michelle Spencer and Madeline Ranson.

It's rare to find a company with so much diversity in their shows, but CYAC is definitely one of those rare breeds. And there are some very talented young performers among their ranks. I'm sure we'll see more good things from them this year.
Mel, I couldn't agree more - CYAC does great work, and I look forward to seeing what the group has up its collective sleeve for 2010!

More "Best of 2009" Choices!

We have more choices by readers for their "Best of 2009" choices. An Anonymous writer sends these along:
This past year was filled with so many great shows. I am not sure how 2010 will fair against it - however, with the already-known shows, it seems to be shaping to be a great year as well.

I have been to many shows this past year and have several people that I want to point out. First, the three shows I think were the best of the year are: Rent, Bitsy, Boots and Ida, and Blood Brothers the Musical. All three made me laugh and cry.

Now on to three great actresses for the year. First there is a duo that can't be matched: Loretta Hetzer and Jane Morse from Bitsy, Boots and Ida. These two command your attention. They are fantastic.

The third actress is Leanne Haines. She does very little on stage anymore, which is a shame with her amount of talent. Her role in I Ought To Be In Pictures was fantastic.

Honorable Mentions go to Becky Pain from Bitsy, Boots and Ida (she was that cranky cousin); and Marina Jurica from South Pacific - another solid performance.

Now to the men. First off, of course, Ryan Hardiman for Man of La Mancha. He always has solid performances and is always a treat to see.

Next, Nathan Mohebbi for Rent. He really shined and I dare say was born for the role of Angel.

Now last but not least, Zach Davis for Blood Brothers. He truly connected with the audience and made you feel his pain.

I also have a pick for special event of the year: The Guns and Hoses Benefit. It was loaded with talent, such as Ryan, Zach, Marina, Danny Ray, Mary Olsen, Jennifer Scott and so many more. It was a terrific evening and was a riot and joy to watch.

Now I want to add one more thing: I want to pick a "Breakthrough" actor of the year. My choice is a young man who has been in community theatre for years and generally does bit roles. In those roles, however, he commands any audiences' attention. This past year he had the audience convinced as a farmer and a father. A 70 -year-old, accident-prone politician, and a 7-year-old who grew up addicted to pills. His ability as an actor and singer just keeps getting stronger. He has never disappointed an audience. This young man is none other than Zach Davis. He is the one to watch in 2010!
Thanks, Anon! And next time, don't be bashful - give us a name!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Shelly Names Her Favorites From 2009

From the comments, my pal Shelly sends along her comments about the best performers from 2009:
I definitely agree with most (of Bil's) choices. Clint McElroy was fantastic in I Ought To Be In Pictures.

I also feel Ryan Hardiman deserves a mention for Man of La Mancha and RENT.

Nathan Mohebbi, Ryan's cast mate, deserves praise as well for one of the best performances I've seen in West Virginia for his role in RENT.

I didn't get to see Marshall University's productions, but I'm sure they were great as well!
Indeed they were, Shelly! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On Stage Wednesday Night - CATS!

Hey, here's a great show you'll want to catch - CATS takes the stage Wednesday night, Jan. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Clay Center in Charleston!

There's no better way to introduce your family to the wonders of live theater than with the magic, mystery, and memory of CATS.

What began as a musical about cats after Andrew Lloyd Webber picked up a book of poems in an airport bookshop has become one of the longest running show in Broadway's history. Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, CATS features 20 of Webber’s timeless melodies, including the hit song, “Memory.”

It may be sold out, but you can get ticket information by calling the box office at 304-561-3570.

Highly recommended!

Monday, January 04, 2010

One More Show for January - "I Love You..."

Whoops, I missed a show for January - my pal Eddie Harbert sends along this reminder:
I am directing I Love You...You're Perfect...Now Change for Arts Resources for the Tri-State this month.

The show dates are Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 5-7. It will be performed in a dinner theatre format with show-only tickets as well. Cost is $25.00 for dinner and show and $10 for show only.

We have a great cast: Mark Baker, Mary Olson, Ron Short, Betty Craddock, Dave Benton, Jane Modlin, Jennifer Scott and Josh Taylor.

I will send more information along or you can call me at 304-412-8738 for more information. We are still looking for people to work backstage. If you're interested, give me a call!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Shows On Stage in January

Hey, I almost forgot to list the shows coming up this month!

As near as I can tell, it's a short list. The only show I know about is The Pirates of Penzance, the classic Gilbert and Sullivan musical. It's being staged beginning the last weekend in January by the Charleston Light Opera Guild.

More on that later, and if there are shows out there I missed, let me know!

There are a few more in February, and then in March we have a bumper crop!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Stephen Talks About Touring Shows

My pal Stephen Vance sends along this comment about touring Broadway shows (and the real deal) and he has some advice for all of us:
You guys are doing such a great job covering the local stuff, I thought I'd mention a couple of the bigger shows I've seen this past year.

Early in the year a group of us went to see The Drowsy Chaperone on its national tour at the Paramount in Ashland. When I saw it in NYC a couple of years ago it became one of my favorites, and this great touring version reminded me why. It's a laugh a minute and has great musical numbers.

In the spring, I saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Keith Albee as part of the Marshall Artists Series and it was hilarious, and it had some great heart as well. It was also fun seeing our own Clint McElroy up on stage as a guest speller.

I made a trip to NYC in the summer and saw In the Heights and Next to Normal. In the Heights blew me away. It didn't stop from start to finish. It is one of the most fascinating and entertaining shows I've ever seen, and now it is on national tour. I didn't know what to expect from Next to Normal, and I'm glad. It is a brilliantly crafted story with good modern music and a very tight cast.

The moral of this story for your readers: Get out and see stuff. I've seen a ton of community shows and the traveling stuff in the past year, and I'm enriched and entertained every time I do. Catch every local show you can, and when shows tour through Ashland, Charleston and Huntington, check those out too. You'll be glad you did!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Bil Names His Choices for the Best of 2009

Happy New Year, theatre fans!

I invited readers to send in their opinions about the best shows and performances from 2009, and my pal Bil Neal sent along his choices.

He wrote:
I agree with your opinions in general, may I submit a few thoughts of my own? (Chuck writes: Of course!)

LEAD ACTOR - Jeremy Plyburn in Charley's Aunt (hysterical, amazing physical humor) and Clint McElroy in I Ought To Be In Pictures (the best work I've seen from him ever - and that says a lot).

LEAD ACTRESS - Marina Jurica in South Pacific (Charleston Light Opera Guild), and Alissa Fetherolf in I Ought To Be In Pictures (small cast, short run, but one of the best things I saw onstage in 2009).

SUPPORTING ACTOR - Mike Murdock in Man of La Mancha (5th Ave) and Nathan Mohebbi in Rent (CLOG). (Special nod to Mark Near in Guys & Dolls at Portsmouth Little Theatre.)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Erika Lawson in Waiting for Lefty (MU) and both Jessica Maier and Kerri Easter in All Shook Up (HOT).
Excellent choices, Bil!