Project Élan: Dance Choreography with Stephen K. Stone


Photo by John David Pittman

The world premiere of young artist production Project Elan is taking center stage and to share the excitement of this brand-new show, we would like to showcase an integral part of the show: the fabulous choreography!

We recently had the chance to talk with one of the choreographers– Stephen K. Stone,  faculty member of UALR Theatre Arts & Dance — and we were enthralled by how moving the dancing was. Watch a sample of some of the choreography and learn more about this original production conceived and directed by The Rep Resident Director and Education Director, Nicole Capri!

Seats are $30 and $25 for season subscribers. Get your tickets by clicking here or calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405! Get more information on the blog here.

SMTI Alumni Week: Notable Alumni

It’s the last day of our Summer Musical Theatre Intensive Alumni Week and we thought we would end it on a high note by taking a look at some of the notable alumni who have gone on to the bright lights of Broadway, the “American Idol” stage and more.

Here they are:


Charity VanceHere they are:

  • Belinda Allyn: Broadway actress
  • Charlie Askew, Zach Hickman and Charity Vance: “American Idol” finalists and recording artists
  • Marisa Kirby: Professional actress and choreographer
  • Travis Mosler: TV producer for the Sportsman Channel and filmmaker
  • Brighton Barnard and Laura Leigh Turner: Jr. Miss Arkansas
  • Chad Burris: Lead in National Tour of Book of Mormon
  • Cole Ewing, Corey Clifford and Andishe Zoohorie: TV and film stars
  • Brennan Suen: Actor and political activist


    Chad Burris

  • Conly Basham: Singer/songwriter and professional actress based in New York City
  • Robert Frost: Composer and music director at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Conn.
  • Ken-Matt Martin – Producer, director, actor, activist
  • Tyler Rosenthal- Singer, musician and professional photographer in central Arkansas

This week, the latest young artist production is taking center stage: Project Elan! Get your tickets now by visiting or calling (501) 378-0405.

Also follow us on Facebook to see more alumni share their favorite memories and pictures from their time in SMTI!

SMTI Alumni Week: What is Summer Musical Theatre Intensive?

REP_SMTI_logoTo celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s young artist program, Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI), we are having a special alumni week highlighting those who have honed their acting, dancing and singing skills in the program.

So, what is SMTI– dubbed “Smitty’– exactly?

The Rep offers two summer programs as part of its SMTI training program for aspiring young artists in Arkansas. Under the direction of Nicole Capri, The Rep’s Resident Director and Director of Education, the program is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed  for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre.

The SMTI staff is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and 7880466730_e559c501e6_kdesigners. Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multimedia, costume and stage makeup, dance and vocal coaching. Each session involves intensive daily rehearsals culminating in a public workshop performance of a selected musical or musical revue.

The summer production is then refined, recast and remounted in the fall (or spring this season!) on The Rep Main Stage for patrons of all ages, and remains one of the most popular productions at the theatre each season.

This week, the latest young artist production is taking center stage: Project Elan! Get your tickets now by visiting or calling (501) 378-0405 and check back later this week on the blog for a look at some notable SMTI alumni who have gone on to TV, Broadway, music and more!

Also follow us on Facebook to see more alumni share their favorite memories and pictures from their time in SMTI!

Project Élan: Who Are The Writers?

Taking stage from May 5-16 is Project Élan, a brand-new, original, culture-current musical that seeks to shed light on the individual and universal needs of the millennial generation.

Patrons will see more than 60 Summer Musical Theatre Intensive alumni hitting the high notes, showing off their acting chops and putting their best foot forward in this world premiere production! But before this inspiring production takes over The Rep, we wanted to highlight the eight creative minds who worked together to make bring it to Little Rock.

Here they are:

BBBS-NicoleCapri-May1NICOLE CAPRI (Writer/Director/Choreographer)

Resident Director and Director of Education at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Nicole Capri is the 2011 recipient of The Governor’s Arts Award for Arts in Education and the author of “Young Artists at The Rep.” Now entering its 10th year, Nicole is also the founder and Director of The Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program for young artists – the fastest growing program in the history of The Rep. A theatre, music, writing and dance major at The University of Memphis and The National Theatre of the Deaf Professional Theatre School, Nicole has directed and/or choreographed more than 100 productions. Favorite Rep credits include: Next to Normal, Elf, White Christmas, Children of a Lessor God, The Foreigner, Glorious, Godspell, If you Sing It They Will Come, Review the Revue, That 80’s Show, A Christmas Story and Singin’ on a Star. Other credits include; Eve in The Apple Tree (Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf/Cleveland Playhouse/International Tour), “Best Performance” (First International Theatre Festival, Volgograd, Russia), original company of Ram in the Thicket (Off Broadway/Judith Anderson Theatre), “Critics Choice Award” Mary in The Miracle Play, writer/director for The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s 2013 Holiday Fantasy and Director/Choreographer/Editor for the world premiere of Rich Mullins’ original musical Canticle of the Plains.


The front man of the duo, Cheetah, Bobby has written and recorded six albums of work 6846215277_26453c56e3and numerous singles. Winner of the ASCAP songwriting competition and the rock genre in the Alchemy Songwriting Competition, Bobby’s music has been contracted for licensing for TV shows including “The Real World” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” His former band, Half Priced Hearts was named among “Best Unsigned Artists” on Tommy2 blog, recognized by Perez Hilton on his blog and toured the country playing shows with talented artists including: The Rocket Summer, Honor Society, Kaitlyn Tarver and Action Item. A graduate of Belmont University in Nashville with a degree in commercial music and a minor in music business, Bobby is an Arkansas native who now resides in Los Angeles where he is writing songs for major label artists while finishing Cheetah’s debut EP. “Songwriting is part of who I am and always will be. I’m thankful for the opportunity to put my feelings into the songs that just might be the soundtrack to someone’s day.”

ConlywebCONLY BASHAM (Writer)

Arkansas native, Conly Basham, is a singer-songwriter, teaching artist and equity actress who now resides in New York City. Conly has performed in the off-off Broadway theatre scene as both an actor and composer, and recently lead a cast with her original folk-scored production of Twelfth Night selected as part of the 2014 NYC’s Fringe Festival. As a cabaret performer, Conly’s original songs have been heard at such celebrated venues as Birdland Jazz Club, 54 Below and Top of The Rock Conservatory at Rockefeller Center. Rep audiences may remember Conly from her SMTI days or from Rep MainStage productions including: Peter Pan, Gypsy, Les Miserables and Next to Normal.

binns_mark-Web-640x612MARK BINNS (Writer/Music Director)

Originally from Little Rock, Mark is a musical director, singer, pianist, composer, arranger and teacher. At The Rep, Mark is music director for the SMTI program, has served as music director for White Christmas, Les Miserables, Memphis and Elf, and was assistant musical director for The Rep’s three world premieres; Treasure Island, Pal Joey and Because of Winn Dixie. Other music director credits include: The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre (Joseph, Oliver!, Pippin), The Studio Theatre of Little Rock (The Last Five Years), The Young Actors Guild of Fort Smith (Cinderella), and The Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (42nd Street, Hairspray). In New York City, Mark was the accompanist for the world premiere of Mark Hayes’ Gettysburg Address and Requiem at The Lincoln Center. Last season, Mark was the vocal director and arranger for The Rep’s Young Artists for The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Fantasy.

samclarkSAM CLARK (Writer) An engineer by day for CenterPoint Energy, Sam is a musician and performer at heart. Sam was a charter member of The Barbara Mashburn Scholarship Foundation, a vocal jazz ensemble, and regularly performs for open mic nights in Fayetteville and around Arkansas. Sam also was a state-level ranked jazz guitarist and has been playing for more than 10 years. An alumnus of The Rep’s SMTI program, Sam now enjoys playing with the guys in the band. Favorite theatre credits include leading roles in Sweeney Todd, Little Shop of Horrors, High School Musical and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Sam is currently working on developing original songs and cover pieces for several shows around the Central Arkansas.


Robert is an SMTI 11150216_10204499465819689_7602150572666660979_nalumnus and is thrilled to be back at The Rep. A graduate of the National Theater Institute, Robert works as a musical director, arranger, writer and director. He currently serves as the Resident Musical Director for The National Musical Theater Institute at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. In addition to his work with SMTI, select MD credits include the premiere of Jonah and the Whale: A New Musical (7th House/Guthrie Theatre), Little Shop of Horrors (7th House) and Pig Iron’s James Joyce is Dead and So is Paris (Connecticut College). As a director, Robert recently assisted Hayley Finn for the premiere of The Secret Lives of Coats and has worked in various capacities with The Playwrights’ Center. Robert also serves as one-half of Frosty Bob and J’s Summer Camp, a performance partnership with playwright/performer Justin Caron. Together, they have created Utopiacopia (Director) and STAY WHERE YOU F***ING ARE: A TRIBUTE TO ELAINE STRITCH (Musical Director/Co-Writer). FBJ’s Summer Camp was recently named “Best Performance Art 2014″ by l’étoile Magazine.

JJimmy-Landfair-Music-Inform-Discover-New-Music-New-Music-DiscoveryIMMY LANDFAIR (Writer)

Jimmy is a singer/songwriter and lead guitarist touring with the southern rock band, Bearcat. A songwriting/entrepreneurship senior at MTSU, accepted into the prestigious commercial songwriting program, Jimmy recently released his first solo project EP album “Schoolhouse.” A featured performer at The Arkansas Songwriter Showcase, a lead guitarist with The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a jazz guitar protégé of Ted Ludwig of New Orleans, Jimmy is excited to be returning to The Rep to write and perform again with the talented team of Project Élan. Jimmy’s music can be found on iTunes and YouTube.

charity-red-1CHARITY VANCE (Writer)

Charity is a professional singer-songwriter originally from Little Rock, Ark. A SMTI alumnus, Charity got her first big break at Arkansas Repertory Theatre starring as “Annie” at the age of nine. In 2010, at the age of 16, Charity wowed the judges of the hit FOX series “American Idol” with her unique rendition of “Summertime.” She continued her pursuit of music, writing and performing and is now living in Los Angeles where she is working to complete her next original music project and focusing on her YouTube Channel – /charityvancemusic.

Seats are $30 and $25 for season subscribers. Get your tickets by clicking here or calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405! Get more information on the blog here.

Project Élan: Q&A with Creator/Director Nicole Capri

Photo courtesy of Sync Weekly

Photo courtesy of Sync Weekly

Before the 39th MainStage Season comes to an end, The Rep is excited to showcase a world premiere show– young artist production Project Elan.

Taking stage from May 5-16, Project Élan is a brand-new, original, culture-current musical that seeks to shed light on the individual and universal needs of the millennial generation. Digital and uniquely undefinable, this generation seeks to find answers in an unpredictable world. And although they may appear to be an age overrun by technology and isolation, their dreams are timeless. The millennial generation still longs for the most basic of human needs – safety, hope and love.

I recently had the chance to talk with creator and director Nicole Capri, The Rep Resident Director and Director of Education, about the inspiration behind the show, what it’s about, songs to look out for and more! Here is what she had to say:

Q: What is Project Élan about?

A: Project Élan is a brand-new, original, culture-current musical about the millennial generation – how they connect and relate to each other, their relationships, their hopes, their dreams, their fears and how technology has changed the way they interact with the world and the people around them.

Philosophers have predicted and many people now fear that today’s youth are being overrun by technology and isolation, but the dreams they have are timeless. The millennial generation still longs for the most basic of human needs – safety, hope and love.

The writers of Project Élan hope to shed light on the individual and universal needs of a uniquely undefinable generation, and a growing digital industry that impacts all of us.

Q: What gave you the inspiration to create Project Élan?

A: I’ve wanted to create an original musical for years, but I wanted to have something significant to say and I knew I needed the right creative team of collaborators to make it happen.

A few years ago, I had been journaling for several months about technology and how it was affecting the young artists I work with. As an acting coach and director, my job is to teach young artists how to authentically communicate and connect with their audience – and more importantly – with each other. Over the years (as technology has boomed and everyone now has a cellphone in their hand), I have found my job to be more difficult. We’re all so over-committed– attention spans are so much shorter and I’ve often wondered if the ability to connect face-to-face would one day become a lost art form.

Without disparaging the growth or the use of technology, I wanted to pose several questions:

  • With so much connectivity around us, are we now entering a dark age of genuine, authentic relationships?
  • Are we allowing technology to cause us to withdraw from the people around us and those that we love the most?
  • or… Is our world simply projectelanbeing redefined?

The word ‘élan’ means – to live with passion and reckless abandon, to live in the moment and to live each day as if it were our last. I wondered if I was living my own life just trying to get through the next project or scratch the next thing off my ‘TO DO’ list. I felt as though I was living a life where I was ‘glorifying the idea of being busy.’ I was tired… and I wanted more ‘life in my life.’ Something had to change.

I finally felt like I had something significant to say.

While in New York City auditioning actors for The Rep’s production of White Christmas, my music director, Mark Binns, and I went to see the musical Once on Broadway. We both looked at each other at the end of the show and said almost simultaneously, ‘We need to write a musical.’ It was kismet. That was in the fall of 2011.

Q: How long have you been working on this original show?

A: Our team of song writers began working together in the fall of 2012. The writers are from all over the country now, so we gathered together for the first time for a week in the home of Susan and Herren Hickingbotham’s. We felt like a band of gypsy artists, sprawled out all over their living room, singing and writing and occasionally taking naps. They fed us and would come down and encourage us and listen to our latest lyrics and creations. They were definitely our biggest supporters throughout this whole project – tangibly and spiritually.

We’ve rarely all gotten to be together in the same place since then… we’ve done a lot of writing over the phone and via Skype. We had a week together in Nashville before Bobby and Charity moved to Los Angeles. Conly and I have had long coffee-shop talks when I go to cast in NYC. And we camped out again for another week at the Hickingbothams on the home-stretch finishing the final touches of the latest script. The songs and storylines have changed and evolved over time and the way we collaborate and interact has become stronger and more exciting. When we first began over two years ago… we were trying to figure out how we all work, dream and create. Now that we understand eachother’s creative rhythms better, it’s been easier to focus more on fine-tuning the storyline and streamlining the rough edges of the show. The final puzzle piece of the show is our project/stage manager, Beth Thiemann. Without her, none of this would have been possible.

Q: What will be patrons be able to expect from the show?

A: We hope that our audiences will leave our show asking questions.

We hope that our audiences will leave our show with a renewed desire to spend tangible, touchable time with the people that they love.

We hope that our audiences will leave our show with hope.

When we work-shopped the original idea for Project Elan two summers ago, one parent remarked that she ‘felt like she got a window into her kids world.’ Interestingly… during the rehearsal process, so many of the cast members said they felt that they understood their parent’s generation so much more after participating in the creation of the piece.

Maybe there is a type of ‘generation connector’ in Project Elan? Or even just a reminder that life is too short to continue trying to live it as fast as possible.

If nothing else, we hope that our audiences will feel that we have moved them and enriched their lives in some small way.

Q: Song that patrons should look out for?

A: The show has such a diverse musical score with original songs from almost every genre of music. This is not your typical ‘Broadway book musical.’ The music you will hear will be more like what you would find on the radio – contemporary-alternative, acoustic-folk, urban-rock, indie-pop, Nashville-sound and progressive-Broadway.

Those who saw the original workshop will also hear two brand-new pieces and some big changes to familiar songs.

I’ve been asked several times what my favorite songs are from the show… it’s hard to decide and it changes daily. They’re all so different, but the one that haunts me most and gives me the most hope is one written by Conly Basham. The title is ‘Morning Song’ and it sounds like something you might hear on a soundtrack from ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Some of the lyrics are:






Q: What was the best part of the writing process for the musical?


  1. Creating a beautiful piece with my favorite collaborators in the world who amaze me with their talents every single day
  2. Creating a piece from scratch with young artists who shared their lives and their hearts to create the book of the show
  3. Watching a show that was only a glimmer of an idea several years ago come to life in front of a live audience
  4. (always my answer) Watching my parents watch one of my shows.

And finally… on the front page of my journal in 2006… I wrote ‘What will be my legacy? How will they remember me?’ I always thought that would make great lyrics to a song. I shared that with Binns and he turned those two sentences into the opening number of the show. It always amazes me how one small idea can come to life in a way that I couldn’t even begin to imagine. That is the art of synergy and collaboration, and that is the rarity of working with artists who are not only amazingly talented, but people who understand your heart, your passion and your vision. Two sentences scribbled on the front of a notebook almost 10 years ago became a fully orchestrated number for 60-plus people. All I had to do was share that one idea with the right person. It’s an amazing thing if you think about it.

How did you select the writers of the show?

A: Conly Basham and I have been saying for almost 10 years that we should write a show together. She was the one who introduced me to Mark Binns four years ago. They have such a positive and uniquely indescribable chemistry. I’ve never seen two people create so seamlessly together. I knew that anyone else we added to the mix needed to be a positive energy force, but we also wanted interesting diversity. Other elements that were really important to us were people who understood the mission and honor code we try to instill in the young people we teach, and interestingly… we all share a love for Christ. It wasn’t really planned that way, but it is a powerful and prayerful group of people to collaborate with.

It almost seemed effortless in choosing the other members of our team; Bobby Banister who now lives in LA and is doing a ton of producing and writing, Charity Vance who was an SMTI alum who got her big break on ‘American Idol,’ Jimmy Landfair (who became involved in the program through his younger sister Julia) who is writing and touring out of Nashville, Robert Frost was another SMTI alumni who is an amazing writer/composer who is now the music director at The Eugene O’Neill Theatre and Sam Clark – an SMTI alumni and local singer/songwriter. We call Sam the ‘normal one’ in our group. Sam is an engineer by day and we all secretly hope that he will be the one to support us one day.

It’s a great group of people. There are times when everything works and clicks and obviously there are times when we don’t agree, but ultimately… we are all committed to the project and the message which we believe is a message of hope.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

A:This is the show you won’t want to miss. This is the game-changer for The Rep and for this program.

Seats are $30 and $25 for season subscribers. Get your tickets by clicking here or calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405! Get more information on the blog here.

Project Elan: Behind the Music with Mark Binns and Conly Basham

The world premiere of young artist production Project Elan is getting ready to take center stage and to get ready, we would like to showcase an integral part of the show: the fabulous music!

We recently had the chance to talk with the musical director/writer Mark Binns and writer Conly Basham and we were amazed by the heartfelt opening song of the show. Watch a sample of the song and learn more about this original production conceived and directed by The Rep Resident Director and Education Director, Nicole Capri!

The show will run May 5-16 and tickets can be purchased at or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405!

The Rep Presents ArtWorks XXVII This Saturday

It’s almost here!

ArtWorks1On Saturday, April 25, Arkansas Repertory Theatre supporters will come together to celebrate the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre company at ArtWorks XXVII, a silent and live art auction. The silent auction will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the live auction will begin at 7:30 p.m.

This fast-paced event features both a silent and live auction featuring work by more than 90 of central Arkansas’ most talented artists and artisans. Auction pieces include pottery, watercolor, acrylic, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more.

Guest emcees will take the stage throughout the evening to auction off artwork in the live auction in The Rep’s Main Lobby. This year’s celebrity emcees include: Lance Restum, Arkansas Travelers Marketing Director; The Honorable Buddy Villines, Retired Pulaski County Judge; Bill Tsutsui, Hendrix College President and The Rep Board Member; Dawn Scott, THV11 Anchor; Alan Leverett, Arkansas Times Publisher; Pamela Smith, Little Rock School District Marketing Director; Renee Shapiro, KATV Saturday Morning Daybreak Co-Host; Lisa Fischer, Co-Host of Jeff and Lisa on B98.5FM; Alan Rail, Lead IT Specialist at sponsor Southwest Power Pool; Charlie Coleman, Attorney at sponsor Wright Lindsey and Jennings LLP and The Rep Board Member; and Bob Hupp, The Rep Producing Artistic Director.

Guests will enjoy live music, beer and wine, and heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by Sufficient Grounds, RSVP Catering, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., Southern Gourmasian and BRAVO! Cucina Italiana. Read about what they’ll be serving up at the event on Inviting Arkansas’ blog here!

All artists who make a donation to ArtWorks are given the opportunity to display their pieces in The Rep lobby throughout The Rep’s MainStage Season. The art displayed in The Rep’s lobbies throughout the season are available for purchase with proceeds from gallery sales going directly to artists. Proceeds from donated art sold at ArtWorks supports Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s general operating budget.

Get a look at one of our longtime volunteers and participating artists here.

Tickets to ArtWorks cost $50 and can be purchased online at or by contacting Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445 ext. 203. Get more information here.

World Premiere of Young Artist Production Project Elan to Take Rep Stage in May

projectelanNow that Mary Poppins has taken flight and ended its run Sunday, Arkansas Repertory Theatre is gearing up for its next production– a world premiere that will be performed by Summer Musical Theatre Intensive program alumni.

Taking stage from May 5-16, Project Élan is a brand-new, original, culture-current musical that seeks to shed light on the individual and universal needs of the millennial generation. Digital and uniquely undefinable, this generation seeks to find answers in an unpredictable world. And although they may appear to be an age overrun by technology and isolation, their dreams are timeless. The millennial generation still longs for the most basic of human needs – safety, hope and love.

Conceived and directed by The Rep’s Resident Director and Director of Education, Nicole Capri, Project Élan is written by Capri and seven SMTI alumni and staff including: Bobby Banister; Conly Basham; Mark Binns; Sam Clark; Robert Frost; Jimmy Landfair; and Charity Vance. The production, which opens on the 10-year anniversary of The Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program, features approximately 50 of the best past and present alumni from the last decade of the program.

The musical features a diverse musical score with original songs from almost every genre of music – contemporary-alternative, acoustic-folk, urban-rock, indie-pop, jazz-fusion, Nashville-sound, progressive-Broadway and sunshine-pop.

The word “élan” – is defined in several ways — “to live in the moment,” “to live with reckless abandon and enthusiasm,” “confidence,” and “spirit.” The writers of this piece seek to produce a relevant and relatable musical that speaks to the heart of all generations.

Here is a rundown of the performances:

  • 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, May 5-8
  • 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Saturday, May 9
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, May 10
  • 7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, May 14-15
  • 2 & 7 p.m. Saturday, May 16

Seats are $30 and $25 for season subscribers. Get your tickets by clicking here or calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405!

Mary Poppins Monday: All About Our Mary-Poppins Ice Cream

Elizabeth DeRosa (Mary Poppins) at Loblolly Creamery. Photo by John David Pittman.

Elizabeth DeRosa (Mary Poppins) at Loblolly Creamery. Photo by John David Pittman.

Better late than never!

Last up in our production series is highlighting something sweet: our special Mary Poppins-inspired ice cream from Loblolly Creamery!

For the second time this season, we partnered with Little Rock’s popular ice cream shop to create a special treat for patrons: sweet cream ice cream with brownie chunks. After Loblolly created this special concoction reminiscent of the magical chimney sweeps in the production, the next thing that was in order was naming it.

In February, we launched an Mary Poppins 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:

  1. Chim Chim Cher-REP, Anna-Lee Pittman
  2. Super Creamy Brownie-licious, Stephanie Hamling
  3. Chimney Sweet, Neena Grissom
  4. Brownie REPrise, Abby Barker
  5. REPialidocious, Lucy Speed
  6. BONUS: Hupp-Town Chunk You Up!, Catherine DiVito
Anna-Lee Pittman and her winning name Chim Chim Cher-REP!

Anna-Lee Pittman and her winning name Chim Chim Cher-REP!

After days of voting, Anna-Lee Pittman’s “Chim Chim Cher-REP” 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 Mary Poppins!

You still have time to enjoy this magical treat– the special ice cream is being sold at Loblolly Creamery, located inside the Green Corner Store, 1423 Main St., Suite D, Little Rock, and at The Rep through mid-April.

Don’t miss your chance to try this one-of-a-kind sweet treat celebrating our magical production and get your tickets to Mary Poppins online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405. The show ends Sunday, April 12.


Mary Poppins Monday: Cast Reflections

Our big spring production is on our stage– Mary Poppins– and that means a blog series highlighting the various aspects of the show!


The cast of The rep’s production of Mary Poppins. Photo by Stephen Thornton.

Our dramaturg Robert Neblett asked the cast to reflect upon why this story, Disney’s film, and the title character are important to them, and here is what they had to say:

Elizabeth DeRosa (Mary Poppins)

Disney’s Mary Poppins means childhood, keeping on the straight and narrow, respect and love for authority, trust in your elders, joy, delight, wonder and the magic of one’s imagination.

When I was a little girl I fell in love with the film because it was real, not animated, and it was magical. There was truth I could grasp as well as just enough wonder for me to dream of more. As I grew into my teens I began to follow and admire Julie Andrews and fell in love with the film again, this time because of her ease and perfection in the role. I fell in the love with the film a third time when I was auditioning for the Broadway show. This time it was because I identified so closely with Mary. I loved children and had been a nanny, who came and went and fell in love with families, many times! As an adult, well, what can I say? This incredible, heartfelt and moving story has literally changed the course of my life. It has impacted it such that I will never be the same in so many glorious ways.

Rachel Perlman (Ensemble)

Mary Poppins means believing in the ability to find magic in anything that is seemingly ordinary and using your imagination to enhance or escape reality. It also means remembering the importance of the family/father-children relationship, and the balance of indulgence and discipline in a loving, healthy, happy home. I first saw the film when I was 6 years old, and it was always one of my favorites because it spoke so much to me about embracing my imagination (including being able to break into song and dance in any situation and setting choreography to “Jolly Holiday” and “Step In Time” on my younger sisters). Its lasting impact also includes finding “magic” in every day tasks, bravery to stand up for what I believe in, and understanding my father, who often reminded me of Mr. Banks.

Corey West (Ensemble)

I remember watching the film as a kid and thinking how great it was to really be able to use your imagination. It can take you anywhere you want to go! It was my first introduction to Musical Theatre. It was one of the movies that drove me to the conclusion that this is what I wanted to do as a career.

Stephen K. Stone (Ensemble)

The idea that it’s not about what others can do for you, it’s about what you can do for others. This is especially clear in the movie when Mary and the bird umbrella handle are talking just before her departure when the Banks family have left to fly a kite. As a kid, my primary memory of the film is the word “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” as well as the concept of a spoonful of sugar helping medicine go down. As an adult, I find the dichotomy of Mrs. Banks being a suffragette while being typically conceding to Mr. Banks when inside the household to be interesting both in terms of this possibility having been typical of the era, and/or did this have other effects upon marriages of the time. I am so looking forward to performing “Step in Time” and these amazing songs!

Chris Shin (Ensemble)

Disney’s Mary Poppins means a lot to me. For some reason, anything Disney related seemed “fancy” to me. It really was one of those movies that encouraged my wild childhood imagination. I loved that it didn’t take place in America. In terms of lasting impact, I had a wild imagination as a child and liked to make up games. Seeing the movie definitely encouraged my imagination. To this day, I just loved seeing those chimney sweeps in “Step in Time” and the community that they are together.

Thomas Cooper (Admiral Boom/Chairman)

I can’t remember when I first saw Mary Poppins as a child, but I do remember being enchanted by the animated characters interaction with live characters in the film. I also remember being touched by the song and message of “Feed the Birds,” even though at that time I couldn’t completely understand its full meaning. As an adult I have beautiful memories of my oldest son, now twenty-five years old, as a toddler dancing like a Hottentot on top of the couch to “Step in Time” with the rest of the chimney sweeps.


From left: Addison Dowdy (Jane), Elizabeth DeRosa (Mary Poppins), Madison Stolzer (Michael) and Monica Clark-Robinson (Bird Woman). Photo by Stephen Thornton.

Monica Clark-Robinson (Bird Woman and Mrs. Brill)

I’m feeling whimsical, so I decided to answer you with an acrostic poem:

Many nights, snuggled under blankets, eyes glued to the perfection of

Andrews, Dame Julie Andrews.

Really, need one say more?

Yearning to fly kites and jump into chalk pictures with her,

Perhaps even wanting to BE her.

Often, I would sing into a hairbrush at my dollar store mirror, imagining I was

Practically Perfect in Every Way.

People grow up, sadly, and brushes become just brushes.

I continued to sing, though–“Feed the Birds,”

Night after night to my sleepy-headed child

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, indeed.


Karen Q. Banks (Winifred Banks). Photo by Stephen Thornton.

Karen Q. Clark (Mrs. Banks)

What Mary Poppins means to me: Joy, imagination, beautiful, playful singing. Being together is more important than being stuffy. As an adult, I see the idea that family trumps a job. There are costs in life that are not monetary, and they can be more dear. I remember seeing the film as a little girl – probably aired on TV. I learned many of the songs and remember them to this day. I believe a number of the songs have become general knowledge. I remember the white and red dress Mary wore, and jumping into paintings. Loved the penguins.

Grace and Corbin Pitts (Jane and Michael Understudies), c/o Christen Pitts

Mary Poppins is the first Broadway show that Grace and Corbin ever saw (Corbin was 6 and Grace was 8). They loved the lights, set, costumes, energy, excitement, choreography, music, etc! We had a friend in the show and they got to go backstage and also had the opportunity to meet some of the cast members. They got to walk around the set and see some of the props. It was a magical moment for them! They got to visit with the children who played Jane and Michael. It is so cool that they now get to work together as real life brother and sister with some of the same people who were in the Broadway production that they saw! Grace and Corbin saw the film last year, but saw the Broadway show before they saw the movie. The lasting impact is the magic of live theatre!

They sing “The Perfect Nanny” together all the time at home! Grace got to learn some of the choreography for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” at a workshop with one of the Broadway cast members. They love the music in the show!

Tom Souhrada (Mr. Banks)

Mary Poppins has occupied a special place in my heart since I was a little kid. The story, the characters and, of course, all the wonderful songs have inspired me and brought me so much joy. Mary Poppins was the very first movie I ever saw. My parents took me and my two sisters to a Saturday matinee and my world was changed. I absolutely fell head over heels for Julie Andrews. When we got the album my sisters and I would listen to it for hours on end, memorizing every note and word. In fact we would put on little backyard versions of the movie playing all the characters. So I guess it inspired me to become a performer, in a way. It remains one of my very favorite films. I was fortunate enough to work with the original Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews herself, on the National Tour of The Boy Friend. An experience I will never forget. My favorite song in the show is “Feed The Birds.” With its soaring melody and beautiful message, it never fails to touch my heart.

Hannah Eakin (Ensemble/Mary Poppins Understudy)

What Mary Poppins means to me: Family, nostalgia, inspiration, joy. I first saw it when I was a little girl, before I can even remember. It was one of those movies that first instilled in me a love of music and theatre, and I truly believe it is a huge reason for why I am an actress today. “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” speaks to me most, because I remember literally going to fly a kite with my father and brothers and singing that song with them, all boisterous and uninhibited. To me, that song is symbolic of the joy of childhood, and of the way that joy can remain with us, long after we have grown up.

Michael Milkanin (Ensemble/Herr Von Hussler)

Mary Poppins is a Disney classic, and a childhood staple. It is a glimpse of whimsy in our world of chaotic reality. I don’t remember when I first saw the film. But I do remember watching “A Spoonful of Sugar” as part of my Disney sing-along VHS. I always loved Julie Andrews being sassy to her reflection and sing to fake birds. I also remember the magic of Disney and how much influence they have to encourage creativity in children. That moment during “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” of leaving your cares behind to be with the ones you love is something that has always spoken to me!

Burt Durocher (Robertson Ay)

To me Mary Poppins exists in that intangible moment where magic seems to seep into real life. Where, as is said in the show, anything can happen if you simply open your eyes to the possibilities and allow it to happen. I can’t recall exactly when I first saw the film – sometime when I was very young. The thing I remember liking most were all the scenes with Dick van Dyke; there was a mischievous twinkle in his eye that made you want to be his best friend. I especially loved learning that Dick insisted on also playing Mr. Dawes (I think the story goes he had to pay Disney to be allowed to do the part!). This, I’m sure, was an early lesson in the fun you can have as an actor…moving seamlessly from one character to another.

The moment that always makes me well up a little is the idea of saying au revoir, but not goodbye (perhaps it’s my French-Canadian roots.) Much like when a cast of actors disbands after a show, though you know you’ll probably see each other again, there’s no saying when. The idea of saying goodbye is simply too painful, so we part with the promise of another meeting. I can’t think of anything more bitter-sweetly human then that.

Paul Thiemann (Ensemble/Mr. Northbrook)

Honestly, as a kid Mary Poppins was just a fun movie that taught me if I could laugh hard enough I would float up by the ceiling. Later in life, especially after seeing Saving Mr. Banks, the movie has more depth and meaning to me. It is a beautiful fairy tale about redemption, family, and how to find joy in everyday events and relationships. I first saw the movie when I was a kid growing up in the mid 90’s. I remember watching the scene with Dick Van Dyke playing all the different instruments and thinking, “That looks fun! I want to do something like that.” The moment in the film when Bert talks about feeling sorry for Mr. Banks is such a beautiful moment. It reminds us the importance of seeing things from a different point of view. It shows us how to understand other people’s situations and how they influence their actions. It was one of the first lessons of empathy many kids got growing up.

Pulled from the Mary Poppins study guide, prepared by Robert Neblett.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this magical production and get your tickets to our biggest show ever by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visiting!