Behind the Curtain Q&A: Production Assistant Intern Jennifer Gregory

brokeologyjenWith the new 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 will highlight staff members who keep the Arkansas Repertory Theatre running on a daily basis.

Someone who helps keep productions running behind the scenes is production assistant intern Jennifer Gregory.

Here is what she has to say about her theatre experience here at The Rep:

When did you start working at The Rep: July 2013 as overhire; May 2014 as production assistant

Education/training: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in stage management from Southwestern University

How’d you get into the theatre biz: When I was about 11 years old, I participated in Youth Theatre of Central Arkansas in Conway, which might have been my first exposure to theatre outside of sitting in the audience. During my sophomore year of high school, I discovered stage management when the music director asked me if I’d like to ‘ASM’ the spring musical, Kiss Me Kate. I said, ‘Sure. What’s an ASM?’  (It’s an assistant stage manager, I quickly learned.)

Why your job rocks:  I get to see the show develop from the first rehearsal all the way to closing night, and every day in between.

Best work day ever: I have good days all the time– when the show goes smoothly, rehearsal goes well or tasks are accomplished. By and large, they blend together more than the rougher days. One time, though, a 10-year-old told me I was good at my job.  That was pretty cool.

Favorite Rep show you’ve worked on and whyLes Miserables (2014).  I’ve been listening to Les Miserables possibly since birth, and I was obsessed with it growing up.  For example, I wanted to have a Les Mis birthday party where all of my friends and I would get together and sing Les Mis and watch the 10th Anniversary Special.  My mom had a difficult time explaining to me why that was not going to work for a group of 6-year-olds.  My obsession has tempered a bit since those days, but working on Les Mis was always going to be wonderful for me.  It was even better than I imagined, though, because it was a great production with an amazing cast and crew.  My fellow dressers and I were particularly challenged by the hundreds of costume looks, which made the accomplishment of running the show that much sweeter.

One thing people would be surprised about your job:  That I actually like it.  Sometimes when I explain to people what exactly stage management entails, I get looks like this job must be a punishment on my way to something better.  Things like mopping and sweeping the stage or making copies of the script or updating paperwork are part of the job, and they are parts of the job that I really don’t mind. I like mopping the stage.  Really

Favorite seat in the house: I always put my family in first row, center, of the First Mezzanine. It’s where I’d sit if I had a chance to watch the show!

Best job perk: I get to work with some seriously great people doing a job I love. Oh, and I really appreciate the free food during photo calls.

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

Wait Until Dark Wednesday: Fight Choreography Photos

10599443_10152293686761105_3499274649356528634_nThere is no denying that there are some physical scenes in our production of Wait Until Dark– from an innocent slap to pushing to full-on fighting. And to get the actors prepped for the physical nature of the historical production, they have left it in the hands of master instructor and fight choreographer D.C. Wright.

Throughout rehearsals, Wright, who has worked on Rep productions, such as The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), Treasure Island, Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V and more, runs through each physical scene in slow motion to ensure actors are safely acting out their scenes and also make sure it’s as realistic as possible.

Check out these photos (and video!) that we captured during a recent fight choreography rehearsal before the run of the show!

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Craig Maravich (Mike Talman) and Amy Hutchins (Susy) run through their physical scene

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Maravich and Hutchins

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Nate Washburn (Sam) and Hutchins act out their innocent slap scene

VIDEO: Husband-and-wife team Hutchins and Michael Stewart Allen’s (Roat) fight scene in rehearsals below:

Great seats are available for Wait Until Dark. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

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D.C. Wright (Fight Choreographer) is excited to be back at The Rep again, having previously directed the fights for The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), Treasure Island, Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird, Henry V, Hamlet, both productions of Les Misérables, Moonlight and Magnolias, Of Mice and Men, and Romeo and Juliet. He has also directed fights for One Man, Two Guv’nors and Hamlet at Theatre Squared in Fayetteville; Romeo and Juliet, Winters Tale, Titus Andronicus, Taming of the Shrew, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged, Macbeth, Twelfth Night and Henry VIII for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival; and the Off-Broadway production of The Blowin of Baile Gall. D.C. Wright has been teaching, performing and directing violence since 1994.  He is recognized as a Certified Teacher of Stage Combat by the Society of American Fight Directors and as a Master Instructor by Dueling Arts International. D.C. teaches Movement and Stage Combat at Western Illinois University.

Wait Until Dark: Engage With Us

With our 39th MainStage Season in full force and our upcoming show Wait Until Dark opening next week, we have weeks of opportunities to engage with The Rep and the thriller about to take the MainStage.

From shopping and pizza-and-beer night to live music and a fun after-party with the cast, we have special programming and events for everyone.

Read below for full details about what’s happening this month at The Rep:

beerpizzaBoo & Brew sponsored by Sync Weekly

Wednesday, Oct. 29
5-7 p.m.

Enjoy pre-show pizza and beer.

 

Girls Night Out with Indigo sponsored by Inviting Arkansas
10511285_618969088217835_7659425666994540551_nThursday, Oct. 30
6 – 7 p.m.

Shop ’til you drop in black and white with Little Rock boutique Indigo in Foster’s before showtime. Cash bar available.

 

 

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The After-Party
Saturday, Nov. 1
After the show – until the party stops!

Stick around after the show for drinks, and look for members of the cast of Wait Until Dark to make an appearance in Foster’s.

 

Live from Foster’s with Sam Clarkd_img
Friday, Nov. 7
6:30-8 p.m.

Get your evening started early with live pre-show music from musician Sam Clark in Foster’s.

 

Great seats are available for Wait Until Dark. Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

Take a Leading Role: Benefits of Becoming a Member!

7163560187_e6600c6339_zIf you enjoy all of the professional productions that grace the stage of Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest non-profit theatre, and want to continue to make a difference in the lives of young artists, then consider taking a leading role and becoming a member of The Rep.

In addition to encouraging downtown economic development and revitalization, members receive a wide range of benefits, depending on their levels. Here is an outline of benefits you can take advantage of just by becoming a member:

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There are circle levels for those who donate at a higher level, as well. Here is a look at upper levels and included benefits:

Circle levels

Get more information on benefits here and donate online here!

Don’t Be in the Dark! Estate Planning Workshop Set for Nov. 3

7348753380_c46435326aIt may not be something you have thought about yet, but estate planning is an important step to securing your future with no questions asked.

Have a chance to learn more about estate planning and how you can join Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Encore Society– a planned giving program that allows supporters to provide financial support beyond your lifetime– with J. Lee Brown of Friday, Eldredge, & Clark, LLP on Monday, Nov. 3.

“People don’t typically think about giving– one thing the Encore Society will do is make people think about getting their affairs in order,” Brown said.

Here is a rundown of the program:

  • 5:30 p.m.: Meet & Greet in Foster’s
  • 6 p.m.: Discussion with J. Lee Brown
  • 6:45 p.m.: Backstage tour of the Wait Until Dark set

Refreshments will be provided. RSVP to Catherine Bays at (501) 378-0445 or cbays@therep.org.

16-20J. Lee Brown, a member of The Rep’s Leadership Council, concentrates his practice on tax, corporate, real estate and nonprofit matters, serving private clients in the areas of estate planning, wills and trusts, probate, and counseling corporate and business clients regarding tax planning, corporate and entity formation, and tax-exempt organizations and related matters.  He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Trusts and Estates and for Tax Law.

 

Wait Until Dark Wednesday: Learning to Play a Blind Character

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Actress Amy Hutchins will portray Susy Hendrix, a blind character in Wait Until Dark.

Think of the time it takes to play a lead role in a play. Weeks, months, days and hours memorizing lines, learning to interact with other characters, figuring out blocking on stage and keeping in mind various other things that have to be acted out flawlessly for each performance.

Now, imagine how long it takes to play a lead role who is blind– and the actor is not blind.

That is the very case of Amy Hutchins, who will be portraying Susy Hendrix, the blind lead character in the historical production of Wait Until Dark.

To better prepare for her role, Little Rock’s very own World Services for the Blind–the only facility in the world that offers comprehensive programs to blind or visually impaired for sustainable independence– offered free Life Skills Training to Hutchins, which involved learning basic techniques of daily living and orientation and mobility training, said Tony O. Woodell, President and CEO of World Services for the Blind.

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Robert Duvall as Roat terrorizes Lee Remick as blind Susy
in the 1966 Broadway production.

This included how to cook, clean, sew, iron and how to mark items appropriately for use.

“Ms. Hutchins was able to learn how to orient herself in a room by using senses other than sight and learn basic skills of travel for those that are blind and visually impaired,” Woodell said.

One thing Hutchins enjoyed about her class was observation– watching others at the WSB facility who are blind or are visually impaired go about their day. It was key to learning certain mannerisms and helped in learning different strategies to complete simple tasks that were critical to portraying the character Susy.

“My character knocks the salt and pepper shaker off the table and she has to find it later and [character] Gloria throws silverware all over the floor and she has to find it– she didn’t put them there so she has to find it,” Hutchins said. “So I asked, what is a good strategy?”

She said the instructor told her to think of the floor like grid pattern– think of the surface area like graph paper– you’ve got to go section by section.

19819996_BG1“Visiting WSB has given Ms. Hutchins practical skill knowledge that will help her better represent individuals who are blind or visually impaired.  With this practical knowledge, she can base her character in reality rather than stereotypes,” Woodell said.

For Hutchins, having the WSB in the area proved to be a valuable resource for her preparation.

“I just wanted to give an accurate representation,” Hutchins said. “It’s my job as an actor to figure out how to navigate the world without sight.”

Have a chance to see Hutchins in action when Wait Until Dark takes the stage from Friday, Oct. 24 and running through Nov. 9. Get more information and purchase your tickets at TheRep.org.

Behind the Curtain Q&A: Box Office Assistant Tara Clem

With the new 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 will highlight staff members who keep the Arkansas Repertory Theatre running on a daily basis.

Someone who helps keep our Box Office running is asssisant Tara Clem.

Here is what she has to say about her theatre experience here at The Rep:

When did you start working at The Rep: July 2014

Education/training: I am a senior musical theatre student at Ouachita Baptist University. I have also been apart of the SMTI program at the Rep for the past two years.

How’d you get into the theatre biz: When I was in the 5th grade, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Casa Manana summer program in Dallas where I got to be an extra orphan in their main stage production of Annie. Since that show, I knew that I had a passion for the stage.

Why your job rocks: It’s awesome getting to talk to so many different types of people on the phone when they are ordering tickets. Also, I love the people I get to work with! We have our own little quirky family in the office.

Best work day ever: Since I’m the newbie on staff, I would have to say that my first day has been the best so far. I really enjoyed getting to meet everyone and learning the box office system.

Favorite Rep show you’ve worked on and why: My favorite show so far was the SMTI production of Project Elan. I loved getting to be apart of the collaborative team of writing parts of the musical and since it was my first experience at the Rep, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

One thing people would be surprised about your job: There is a lot more pressure on us who working the Box Office then most people might think. We are the impression that someone has of the Rep so it is very important that we are very friendly and efficent.

Favorite seat in the house: My favorite seats are J8, J19, K8, or K19 in the center orchestra because it is right on the aisle and rows J and K are raised about a foot above the rest of the seats, which really helps since I’m short.

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

Behind the Curtain Q&A: Costume Shop Assistant Samantha Key

With the 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 will highlight staff members who keep the Arkansas Repertory Theatre running on a daily basis.

Someone who helps bring the beautiful costumes to life onstage is costume shop assistant Samantha Key.

Here is what she has to say about her theatre experience here at The Rep:

How long have you worked at the Rep? This is my third season at The Rep.  My first season I was the assistant to the costume designer for Gee’s Bend, and then last season, I was the Assistant Costume Designer for Clybourne Park and a dresser for Les Miserables.

Education/training: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

How’d you get into the theatre biz: I have been producing theatre since I was 10 and putting on productions in my aunt’s backyard. I continued to be involved in productions in high school, and when I started going to UALR, I knew that theatre was what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

Why your job rocks: My job rocks because I get to be involved in so many different parts of the costume world.  I get to be an assistant, a dresser, a wardrobe supervisor, a stitcher and a crafter.  It is so much fun to get to stretch all of my creative bones in one day.

Favorite Rep show you’ve worked on and why: Clybourne Park has been my favorite show. There were a lot of firsts for me on that show, and I got to work with my mentor.  The whole process was really great and it was a lot of fun.

One thing people would be surprised about your job: I think that when I tell people that I am a costumer, they assume that I just sew. I do so much more than that. There is a lot involved in my job that people don’t ever think about.

Favorite seat in the house: My favorite seat in the house is First Mezzanine, first row, middle seat.  You can see everything from up there and you don’t have to worry about tall people sitting in front of you.

Best job perk: The best job perk is getting tickets for my mom. I think that she has seen more productions since I started working at The Rep than in the last 10 years of her life.

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

Wait Until Dark Wednesday: A Look Back

Broadway 1The opening of Wait Until Dark is fast approaching and to highlight some of the cool aspects of the show, we’ll be doing a short series called “Wait Until Dark” every Wednesday through Nov. 5.

Before fans feast their eyes on the upcoming thriller, it’s important to take a look back at the long history of this legendary production.

Robert L. Neblett, an American theatre scholar, has prepared an educational study guide to accompany students for special student matinee performances of Wait Until Dark, which includes a historical rundown:

Knott Dial M for Murder

Frederick Knott and Grace Kelly on the Set of Dial M for Murder

Playing off the enormous success of Dial M for Murder, his 1952 television play that was later turned into a London and Broadway hit, then a blockbuster film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Frederick Knott wrote the stage version of Wait Until Dark in 1966.

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Robert Duvall as Roat terrorizes Lee Remick as Susy
in the 1966 Broadway production

The Broadway premiere of the thriller starred Lee Remick (Anatomy of a Murder, Days of Wine and Roses, The Omen) as Susy and Robert Duvall (The Godfather, The Apostle, Tender Mercies) as Roat. Remick was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance, for which she studied with the Lighthouse Foundation for the Blind to prepare for the role.

The play received overwhelmingly positive reviews and it ran for 374 performances.

In 1967, a film adaptation of the play starring Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, Funny Face) as Susy, Alan Arkin (Catch-22, Glengarry Glen Ross, Little Miss Sunshine, Argo) as Roat, Richard Crenna (Rambo series, The Real McCoys) as Mike, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (77 Sunset Strip, Maverick) as Sam. The film also featured a chilling score by Harry Mancini. It was one of the most popular films of the year.

As the screen is plunged into darkness, movie theatres dimmed and turned off their auditorium lights until the audience was in complete darkness during the film’s climactic scene.

Hepburn Match

Audrey Hepburn as Susy in the 1967 film

Hepburn earned an Academy Award nomination and she and Zimbalist were nominated for Golden Globes for their performances. It is rumored that Julie Andrews, George C. Scott, and Robert Redford were at one point considered for the roles of Susy, Roat, and Mike, respectively.

Bravo lists the climax of the film as No. 10 on its list of 100 Scariest Moments. The American Film Institute ranks the film as No. 55 out 100 best thrillers for the screen.

Tarantino Roat 1998

Quentin Tarantino as Roat in the 1998 New York revival of the play

In 1998, a New York revival starring Marisa Tomei as Susy and independent filmmaker Quentin Tarantino as Roat opened to mixed reviews, largely due to Tarantino’s “wooden” performance.

In 2013, a new stage adaptation of Knott’s play by Jeffery Hatcher opened at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, starring Alison Pill (The Book of Daniel, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Newsroom) as Susy. The adaptation transfers the action of the play from the 1960s to the 1940s and capitalizes on a film noir sensibility. It also replaces the heroin sewn into the doll with valuable diamonds, eliminating the theme of drug trafficking. This version of the play will open in New York in late October 2014.

See The Rep’s production of Wait Until Dark live onstage, starting Oct. 24 and running through Nov. 9. Purchase online here and get more information about the show–including special events– here.

Little Rock Welcomes NEA Chairman Dr. Jane Chu for Main Street Creative Corridor Update

From left: The Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, NEA Chairman Dr. Jane Chu and Rep Board President Catherine Hughes

From left: The Rep Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp, NEA Chairman Dr. Jane Chu and Rep Board President Catherine Hughes

Today was a special day in the field of arts in Little Rock.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre and City of Little Rock welcomed Dr. Jane Chu, the newly elected chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, for a special update on the award-winning Main Street Creative Corridor plan.

Mayor Mark Stodola opened the presentation on The Rep stage to a large audience, highlighting the main goals of the corridor and the NEA’s integral involvement in the master arts plan on Main Street. Stephen Luoni, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, followed with a “refresher” on the corridor’s future plans for downtown.

In 2011, the city received an NEA “Our Town” grant to support the design phase for this cultural corridor. With the construction of the first phase of this project nearly complete, Luoni looked at the continuing evolvement of Little Rock’s creative community and renewal of a central section of its downtown district.

This includes adding townscaping elements (arcades, marquees and stormwater management landscapes), in addition to creating gateways for shared spaces and building frontage systems with lighting support for a 24/7 live-and-work environment. One of the main things he emphasized was how all features will have multiple purposes.

“[It's about] creating public space that serves as an ecological component,” Luoni said.

013Chu, who grew up in Arkadelphia and received her B.A. in music from Ouachita Baptist University, ended the presentation with remarks on the the well-developed creative corridor plans and how it shows the high value that Little Rock residents place on the arts.

“You have shown how the arts are an essential part of our lives,” she said.

Following the event, Chairman Chu toured the arts organizations that help make up the arts corridor— Ballet Arkansas and Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, along with The Rep.

Thank you to Chu for visiting the epicenter of arts in Little Rock!

Check out the full plan here.