Behind the Curtain Q&A: Communications Manager Lauren James

With the 2014-2015 MainStage Season in full swing, we want to showcase the people behind the Rep stage in a series called “Behind the Curtain.” This weekly Q&A series highlights staff members who keep the Arkansas Repertory Theatre running on a daily basis.

1689634_867417063269274_7763819236660539374_nThis week, I decided to take a stab at the Q&A and share my awesome experience with The Rep so far!

Here is what I had to say:

Job Title: Communications Manager

How long you have worked at the Rep: 5 months

Education/training: BA in Journalism from University of Arkansas; some graduate work at University of Memphis

How’d you get into the theatre biz: I just fell into it! I’ve always loved going to the theatre, but never thought it would be my line of work. After working in the publishing world for a few years after college, I was really aiming for marketing and PR work at a local nonprofit to be the next step in my career.  So, when I heard that the Arkansas Repertory Theatre was hiring in their marketing department, I thought it would be the perfect fit because of my love for the arts and my writing/communications background. And it was—one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Why your job rocks: Getting to be behind the scenes of professional theatrical productions is incredible in itself, but sharing The Rep’s story with the public and engaging with patrons is the most gratifying and the most fun. And working with professional actors and theatre professionals is pretty cool, too!

Best work day ever: When our ceiling shakes from dance rehearsals and we can hear Music Director Mark Binns’ piano playing show tunes above us in the third-floor rehearsal space. I definitely feel like I’m a part of something special when I hear (and feel!) the rehearsals going on!

Favorite Rep show you’ve worked on and why: With this being my first season, every show has been an awesome adventure, but I would have to say our first 2014-2015 show, Memphis, is my favorite. It was an extraordinary production to be a part of anyway and the fact that it was my first show made it even more special. Seeing how successful the show was and the way audiences enjoyed it made me so proud to be a part of it!

One thing people would be surprised about your job:  We are not just in the office working behind the computer all day. Our marketing staff is usually out and about coming up with new ways to engage our audience and before shows, spending lots of time with the cast at appearances and working with our creative team to best promote the theatre. It’s a great balance!

Favorite seat in the house: Center, first row of the First Mezzanine!

Best job perk: Seeing professional theatre for free and being able to share this incredible work with my friends and loved ones! My folks who live in Fayetteville and had never been to The Rep before this season, have been able to see every show this year and I’m so glad!

Be sure to check back every week to get a glimpse at a different member of The Rep staff. Buy your Flexpass subscription for the rest of the season here and buy gift certificates for the family this holiday season by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405!

Elfie Tuesday: Lobby Decorations Fit for Elf

LobbyDecorations1 Walking into Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s lobby this holiday season is like stepping into the Christmas wonderland Buddy the Elf created in Gimbels in “Elf” the movie.

From paper trains, snowflakes and oversized elf stockings hung up on the ceiling with care, accompanied with large candies and peppermint sticks, to wrapped presents stacked high and peppermint trees atop each table, it is truly a festive scene here at The Rep.

Decorations were created by the theatre’s Stagehands group, whose mission is to welcome and provide hospitality to The Rep’s visiting actors, directors and technical crew. With her vast interior design experience, Penny 044Beebe led the festive project that took over the lobby.

“When [the Stagehands] asked me if I was interested in doing decorations, I jumped on it,” Beebe said.

With just 10 days, there was not much time to create such a 045decorative space that would be suitable for Elf audiences, but along with several of the other Stagehands, they were able to create a one-of-a-kind scene that Buddy the Elf, himself, would approve of!

“When I saw the lobby area [and] saw the scale of it, [I knew] we need something big hanging from the ceiling,” Beebe said.

Enter the oversized elf stockings. The idea for these festive pieces came to Beebe at 2 a.m. one night, she said. Right then, she began cutting the felt for all of the stockings and started stuffing them all. Next up were the paper trains, snowflakes and the super-cute peppermint 047sticks, which Beebe said were made from old pool noodles (you know, the ones you use in the pool during the summer!).

“I had old pool noodles, so I took those, halfed them and found peppermint wrapping paper,” Beebe said.

If you haven’t seen the lobby firsthand, check it out before Elf‘s run ends on Jan. 4. While the remaining performances are sold out, there are 10 Standing Room Only seats at $40 apiece for each sold-out show. Just visit the Box Office an hour before curtain time to get a voucher. Get more information by calling (501) 378-0405 or by visiting TheRep.org.

The Rep’s Elf Sign Interpretation this Wednesday

IKcjgzqMcqn an effort to make Arkansas Repertory Theatre more accessible, we have a Sign Interpreter section for the deaf on the third Wednesday of every production run through the season.

Raphael James, an instructor in the Interpreter Education program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will be positioned in front of the new section, located on the First Mezzanine. He will sign directly for those who need his services.

Are we are gearing up for our next sign interpretation night, which will be the Elf performance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17. There are still seats available! Any open seats in the section will be released to the public at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, so get your seats now!

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Raphael James, an ASL interpreter, before his first night with The Rep

Here are the dates for the remainder of the season:

  • The Whipping Man: Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015
  • Mary Poppins: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
  • August: Osage County: Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to reserve your seat at our upcoming interpreter nights and get more details at www.therep.org/attend.

Don’t Miss Elf Carbaret on Monday

171What are you doing this Monday, Dec. 15?

Join the Elf cast members as they perform their favorites in cabaret style!

Emceed by Ethan Paulini (Buddy the Elf) with musical accompaniment by Elf Musical Director Mark Binns, the fun show will feature 15 of the cast, including members from both the ensemble and principal cast. Get ready for eclectic mix of holiday songs, musical theatre tunes and jazz standards, performed solo and in duets!
The cabaret will begin at 7 p.m. in the lobby of Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main St., Little Rock, with registration and a cash bar open at 6:30 p.m. A reservation is required. Individual tickets are $30 and couples are $50.

To reserve your seat, contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.Ticket sales from this event support the volunteer auxiliary group, The Stagehands, whose mission is to welcome and provide hospitality to The Rep’s visiting actors, directors and technical crew.

Get more information about the show here!

Join the Fun at Little Rock Family Day Saturday

To add even a little more fun to your theatre experience here at The Rep, Little Rock Family magazine is hosting a special Little Rock Family Day right before the 2 p.m. Saturday matinee performance of Elf!

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Ethan Paulini. Photo by Stephen Thornton

Starting at 1 p.m. in the lobby of the theater, 601 Main St., Little Rock, families can spread the Christmas cheer early with kids’ craft stations (Elf Christmas ornaments, anyone?), holiday coloring sheets, tons of giveaways and photos with the big man, himself, Santa Claus! Photos with Santa will be posted on LittleRockFamily.com next week, so be sure check back then!

We are especially excited to be selling our brand-new Loblolly Creamery ice cream, Rep-permint Chunk (reminder: it’s sweet cream ice cream with peppermint chunks and housemade mallows!) inside the theatre. Additionally, Loblolly will have their ice cream truck parked in front with tons of their delicious offerings, including a hot chocolate bar. Yum!

Don’t have tickets to the performance? No problem! This free event is open to the public.

Get your tickets to Elf online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Great seats are available after the Christmas holiday.

Elfie Tuesday: All About the Cast

With Elf taking The Rep’s MainStage this week, we thought it would be fun to showcase some of the cool backgrounds of some of the actors and where you might have seen them before they made it to our stage!

JackDoyleElfHeadshotWe will start off with Jack Doyle* (Mr. Greenway), who has worked alongside many celebrated talents, including Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Tommy Tune, Sandy Duncan, Cy Coleman, Comden & Green, Charles Strouse, Kristin Chenoweth, and Susan Stroman. He has been featured in numerous Broadway productions and national tours, including Young Frankenstein (Mr. Hilltop), The Music Man (Barbershop Quartet), Beauty And The Beast (Lumiere), Crazy For You (Mingo), Tommy Tune’s Doctor Dolittle (Dolittle US), The Will Rogers Follies (Wrangler Quartet) and Funny Girl (Ziegfeld Tenor). He also has several credits Off-Broadway and regionally and has made appearances on “The Today
Show,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” The Tony Awards and “Broadway On Broadway.”

J.B. Adams* (Santa) JBAdamsElfHeadshothas several Broadway credits to his name, including Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang (Grandpa), Beauty and the Beast (Maurice), Parade (Rosser), Me and My Girl (Sir Jasper) and Annie (Drake/Bert Healy), in addition to numerous Off-Broadway and regional credits across the country. You might have also seen him in movies like “Far From Heaven” and “I Married A Strange Person”; NBC shows, including “The Michael J. Fox Show” and “Law & Order: SVU’; and as Santa in the national Verizon FiOs commerical.

 

DavidHessElfHeadshot

We are excited to bring David Hess* (Walter) back to The Rep after appearing in the 2013 world premiere of Treasure Island. He has been in Sweeney Todd (Sweeney/Judge Turpin standby) and Annie Get Your Gun (Frank Butler/Buffalo Bill standby) on Broadway and has performed on the prominent stages of Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. In addition to theatre on the Broadway and several regional stages, Hess has appeared in film and TV, including “New York Crossing” and “Tennessee Nights,” “The Americans”, “Elementary”, “The Good Wife” and “Royal Pains”

Lead Ethan Paulini* (Buddy) is a six-time veteran of The Rep, appearing previously in Compleat Wks of EthanPauliniElfHeadshotWllm Shkspr, Avenue Q, White Christmas, The Who’s Tommy and The Full Monty. National tour and regional credits
include: Spelling Bee, Side Man, Urinetown, Spider Woman, Gross Indecency, Old Wicked Songs, The Last 5 Years, Forever Plaid, tick, tick…BOOM!, A Class Act, Moon Over Buffalo, The Drowsy Chaperone, The 39 Steps and Young Frankenstein (NH Theatre Award). He has appeared in TV and on film in “The Big Headache,” “It Is What It Is,” “Here and Now” (NBC) and “The Quinn-Tuplets” (CBS, directed by Emmy Award-winner Mimi Leder), as well as numerous national commercials.

TessaFayeElfHeadshotWhile Tessa Faye* (Deb) is making her Rep debut in Elf, she is no stranger to theatre. With several regional credits to her name, including the CCC Best Supporting Actress-nominated role of Babe in Good News! (Goodspeed Opera) and NHTA Best Supporting Actress-nominated role of Inga in Young Frankenstein (Weathervane Theatre), she has also been featured on TV in shows “The Electric Company,” “Made” and “Pokemon Learning League.”
Alyssa Gorgone* (Jovie) is also making her debut here at The Rep after being featured in AlyssaGorgoneElfHeadshotLes Misérables (Eponine), Legally Blonde: The Musical (Elle Woods) and Neil Simon’s
Fools (Sophia) at the Ocean State Theatre Company, in addition to The Shadow Box at Wimbledon Studio Theatre in London. Her educational background also extends internationally, having studied at Gaeity School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland and Rose Bruford College for Performing Arts in London.
Read more about these cast members of Elf, as well as the rest of the cast here! Great seats are available for Elf after Christmas. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.
* Denotes actor is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.

Choose The Rep for #GivingTuesday; Be Our ‘Buddy’ This Month

Giving-Tues-Logo.jpgNow that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, nonprofits, businesses and communities across the world are coming together for one day to give: #GivingTuesday.

Today (Dec. 2), be a part of this global celebration of a new tradition of generosity by making any size monetary donation to Arkansas Repertory Theatre to help keep live professional theatre alive and well in central Arkansas.

Your financial donation will ensure The Rep can continue provide:

  • Top-notch educational programming through our Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program
  • Deeply discounted matinees, attended on a regular basis by students from 29 Arkansas counties

Take the next step and join as a donor here!BuddyLogo

If you can’t join in on the #GivingTuesday movement, though, no problem! We are accepting donations the entire month of December as part of our end-of-year “I’m a Buddy” holiday giving campaign.

Did you know that The Rep is one of 125 Blue Star Theatres across the country, which means that we offer a discount a discount for veterans and current members of the military? We love providing them with a discounted opportunity to experience live theatre their whole family will enjoy. With your donation, you’ll also be supporting these service men and women and their families who benefit from the Blue Star Theatre program.

And, every person who attends Elf will be given the opportunity to write a holiday card to a local military hero. In partnership with the 19th Force Support Squadron at the Little Rock Air Force Base, we will send these cards to active military serving overseas during the holidays!

Learn more and become our Buddy here.

Elfie Tuesday: All About Our Elf-Inspired Ice Cream

With Elf The Musical taking the Arkansas Repertory Theatre stage, starting Wednesday, Dec. 3, we are penning a new short series called “Elfie Tuesday” every Tuesday throughout its run.

Winner Mary Ann Seibert posed with her special pint of ice cream alongside Ethan Paulini (Buddy the Elf) and her two children, Turner and Zoe. Photo by Stephen Thornton

Winner Mary Ann Seibert posed with her special pint of ice cream alongside Ethan Paulini (Buddy the Elf) and her two children, Turner and Zoe.
Photo by Stephen Thornton

Next up in our series is highlighting something sweet: our special Elf-inspired ice cream from  Loblolly Creamery!

For the first time ever, we partnered with Little Rock’s popular ice cream shop to create a special treat for patrons: sweet cream ice cream with peppermint chunks and homemade mallows. After Loblolly created this special concoction, the next thing that was in order was naming it.

This month, we launched an Elf Ice Cream Naming Contest where we asked fans to submit names for the ice cream that incorporated The Rep name and showcased the flavor.

The response was overwhelming. We received more than 200 entries into the contest and as you can imagine, it was pretty difficult to narrow it down, but we did. Here are the top 5 that were chosen:

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Paulini (Buddy the Elf) had a lot of fun scooping up the special Elf-inspired ice cream!
Photo by Stephen Thornton

  1. Rep-permint Chunk; Winner!
  2. Mintmallow Cheer
  3. Buddy’s REPpermint Surprise
  4. Buddy’s Swirly Whirly Mint Mallow Dream
  5. Mallow, Mints and REPeat

After days of voting and a tense battle between No. 1 and No. 4, Mary Ann Seibert’s “Rep-permint Chunk” was crowned the coveted winner of the contest. She won a pint of the special flavor with her name on the carton and a pair of tickets to see Elf!

The special ice cream will be sold at Loblolly Creamery, located inside the Green Corner Store, 1423 Main St., Suite D, Little Rock, and at The Rep the month of December.

Don’t miss your chance to try this one-of-a-kind sweet treat celebrating our holiday production and get your tickets to Elf online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. Great seats are available after the Christmas holiday.

Behind the Curtain Q&A: Resident Director and Director of Education Nicole Capri

With the 2014-2015 MainStage Season in full swing, we want to showcase the people behind the Rep stage in a series called “Behind the Curtain.” This weekly Q&A series highlights staff members who keep the Arkansas Repertory Theatre running on a daily basis.

Someone who directs not only our Young Artist program (including the Summer Musical Theatre Intensive), but also directs shows through the season, like the upcoming production of Elf– is Resident Director and Director of Education Nicole Capri.

WIN FOUR REPSHere is what she has to say about her theatre experience here at The Rep:

How long have you worked at The Rep? 12 years

Education/Training: Theatre, Dance and Music at the University of Memphis– attended college on an Orchestral Music scholarship (viola) but was received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre;  Professional theatre school at The National Theatre of the Deaf in Chester, Conn.

How’d you get into the theatre biz: My first play was Peter Rabbit. I was about five years old and I played the Cottontail Rabbit. My mom and dad asked me afterward if I wanted to be an actress and I said, ‘No… I want to be the director.’

Why your job rocks: I love conceiving, writing, casting and directing projects from start to finish, but the best part is working with young people and watching them embrace the process of ‘removing their Saran Wrap’ to become vulnerable and authentic. I teach my young artists that ‘their job as actors is to spread joy.’ The development and discovery process of young people is the most exciting part of my job.  My job is simply to love them, and their job is to learn to not only love and accept each other, but to learn how to love and appreciate themselves. Watching young actors take risks (painful and exhilarating), helping them to realistically identify their strengths and weaknesses and work to achieve attainable goals is the most rewarding part of my entire career.  I’ve seen kids from our SMTI training program go on to attend the best theatre schools in the country and become working professionals as actors, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, directors and teachers, but I’ve also seen our alumni use the skills they’ve learned at The Rep to become better doctors, and political activists and military officers and moms and dads.  My job and this program is about building confidence, building relationships, building a community that is solid and socially aware and most importantly, friendships and ‘safety-nets’ that will last a lifetime. Theatre can be a self-realizing and a healing art, and the more I work in this business, the more I realize that the main part of my job is to authentically love the people I coach and direct and to encourage young people learn how to trust and authentically love each other.

Best work day ever: Hmmmm… it’s so hard to choose.  There have been so many.  But the first thing that comes to my mind is in 2005 during our first SMTI tech rehearsal.  One of my first students, Hannah Eakin, (who ten years later is still my ‘adopted daughter’) sang ‘By My Side’ with the entire cast on stage. It was beautiful. Heart-felt. And I was genuinely moved.  It was at that moment that I think I realized that we really had something special here.  And it was at that moment I believe I finally embraced what I was really called to do with my life.

Favorite Rep show you’ve worked on and why: Professional show?  Probably Next to Normal. Young artist’s show?  It would probably be a toss-up between Singin’ on a Star (which was based on my journal as a struggling actress in my 20s) and the original musical my friends and I work-shopped last summer that will have a two-week run in the spring of 2015. Project Elan is a brand-new musical written by seven SMTI alumni and staff, including Bobby Banister, Conly Basham, Mark Binns, Sam Clark, Robert Frost, Jimmy Landfair, Charity Vance and myself.  This is a project that is so close to my heart and that I have huge hopes will have a life beyond The Rep’s stage. For more information, go to www.projectelan.com

One thing people would be surprised about your job:  My job is not glamorous… and for every one person I make ‘happy,’ I probably disappoint at least 10.  My job is not 9 to 5 and it’s definitely more sweaty than you could imagine.  I wear sweatpants, sneakers and a baseball cap more than dresses and heels.

Favorite seat in the house: I love every seat in the house.  The theatre is so intimate and no one is ever more than 40 feet away from the stage.  But when I’m directing, I sit in a different place all the time because I want to see my show from every angle.  Many times, I will drop by my show when it’s in a long run to ‘check in.’ You can see me leaning up against the back post on the house-left side of the theatre because I love to watch the audience watch my shows.

Best job perk: There are so many great things about my job— but the biggest job perk is what makes my job possible – my boss (but please don’t tell him because I always tell him that he’s ‘not the boss of me’). The thing I appreciate the most about working for Bob is that he seems to get how my brain works and encourages me to work in a way that allows me to be my most creative and productive (which is usually between 10 and 2 in the middle of the night). I’ve never been good at sitting at a desk and I’m too ADD to write in an environment with lots of distraction.  But working for him, I never feel like I’m punching a time-clock when I’m creating or writing a new piece. I am evaluated on my product rather than my crazy (sometimes unconventional) process.  I am praised for my efforts and listened to when I come to him with new ideas. I love working for an artist who understands the creative process.  Bob offers constructive criticism and never makes me feel micro-managed.  I am empowered and encouraged to do my best work. It’s an artist’s dream job.

Be sure to check back every week to get a glimpse at a different member of The Rep staff. Buy your tickets to Elf here!

Elfie Tuesday: An Intro to Elf The Musical

With Elf The Musical taking the Arkansas Repertory Theatre stage, starting Wednesday, Dec. 3, we are penning a new short series called “Elfie Tuesday” every Tuesday throughout its run.

To start our series– with the help of our dramaturg, Robert Neblett– we will take a look back at the musical and what it was before became a fixture in theatre: a movie of the same name, starring Will Ferrell and James Caan!

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History

After 10 years of development and pre-production, the film of Elf was finally released in November 2003, with a script by David Berenbaum and direction by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Chef). It starred Will Ferrell in his first post-Saturday Night Live role as Buddy, James Caan (The Godfather) as Walter, Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl) as Jovie, Arkansas native Mary Steenburgen (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) as Emily, Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) as Santa and Bob Newhart (The Bob Newhart Show) as Papa Elf.

They introduced the world to an unlikely new Christmas hero in the movie Elf. A contemporary fable, this comic film charmed audiences and critics alike, and Buddy the Elf soon became the unofficial mascot for the holiday season in 21st Century America.

Wide-eyed Buddy reminds us that there is still room for magic in our world of hyper-commercialism and Black Friday sales and that the most precious gift of all is the love of family.

The film opened at No. 2 at the United States Box Office and went on to gross more than $220 million worldwide.

It received relatively favorable reviews from critics and audiences for its good-natured humor and positive message. Ferrell’s childlike performance catapulted it to an audience favorite, and Buddy is now a regular fixture in Christmas decorations and holiday television offerings.

In 2010, the story took on a new dimension as it was adapted into a festive seasonal Arcelusmusical for the stage by Tony Award-winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and the Tony-nominated Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer and Shrek: The Musical).

Elf: The Musical broke Broadway box office records and toured the country before being snatched up by regional theatres across America, like The Rep this season!

Some differences between the film and the musical:

  • Papa Elf’s (Bob Newhart) role as the film’s narrator is replaced by Santa Claus onstage.
  • Buddy does get a job in the mailroom at the publishing house.
  • The snowball fight that endears Michael to Buddy is replaced by a science project onstage.
  • The role of temperamental author Miles Finch (played by Peter Dinklage), whom Buddy mistakes as an elf, is excised.
  • The musical does not reference the apocalyptic Central Park Rangers, who chase Santa’s sleigh in the movie.

Pulled from Elf study guide, prepared by Robert Neblett.

Great seats are available for Elf after Christmas. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.