Bob Hupp’s 15 Year Repiversary

Today (Aug. 16) is a special day here at The Rep.

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15 years ago today Bob Hupp took his post as The Rep’s producing artistic director.  In his first 15 years with The Rep, Bob’s directing credits include Les Miserables, Red, Death of a Salesman, Henry V, To Kill a Mockingbird, The 39 Steps, Hamlet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Les Miserables, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure, The Full Monty, Moonlight and Magnolias, Of Mice and Men, Steel Magnolias, Much Ado About Nothing, Children of Eden, Romeo & Juliet, God’s Man in Texas, The Spitfire Grill, Fully Committed, Proof, The Temptest, You Can’t Take It With You and The Grapes of Wrath. 

In honor of Bob’s time here, members of the staff, friends and board of directors shared their favorite Bob memories and how they think he has influenced the theatre during his first 15 years.  Read below to find out what they had to say about Bob.

Fran Carter, Director of Development

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Favorite memory with Bob:  Every time I hear Bob talk about Arkansas Repertory Theatre, I learn something new. He is a great storyteller, and one of my favorite things to do is to meet with a Rep patron, with Bob, and to listen to him talk about why this theatre is so special, and so important to Arkansas.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years?  Bob has a great ability to understand that The Rep exists as a very important part of our community. The list of organizations that we have partnered with, successfully, is long and diverse. I love that his vision of what The Rep is and what The Rep means to Arkansas, is broad enough to include so many partnerships. Each production at The Rep is made even more special, because Bob helps many different people find many different ways to connect to what they see on our stage.

Ken Clark, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: I got to sneak a peek on the Rothko rehearsals a year or so ago. I sat about 10 rows behind Bob, who had his feet propped up on the seat in front of him. Watching him interact with the actors on stage from the dark audience, fine tuning their movements and collaborating with them on the creative process was everything I’ve imagined it to be. Fascinating and awe-inspiring to watch such a talented guy.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob brings a steadfastness of quality and purpose to the Rep. He has helped lay a foundation that other talented people can build upon and push creative boundaries with.

Charles Coleman, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: Bob has amazing talents, almost magical! How else can you describe someone who has transformed me (and I am sure many others) from having no desire to see Shakespeare to absolutely loving every Shakespeare work performed on The Rep stage! When is the next one scheduled?

Lesli Hugg, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: Bob speaks to a crowd in a way that is both astute and intellectual, while putting everyone at ease and placing a smile on their face. I loved the moment during Les Misérables when he gave his opening comments and bad weather was looming. He assured the crowd that The Rep was keeping an eye on the skies, but if the orchestra started playing the theme to Wizard of Oz, that was our cue. Laughs ensued, and everyone relaxed and enjoyed the show….including my guests!

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob is accomplished in both the arts and the complexities of running a business, and I believe that combination of talents has contributed greatly to the success of The Rep.

Catherine Hughes, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: Bob is well known for his creativity, his intelligence, his [slightly] intimidating intensity, and his demanding work ethic. While I am deeply appreciative of all of these attributes, my favorite memories of Bob are when his razor sharp sense of humor comes to the surface and he makes a deadpan comment in that dry, acerbic way of his, inevitably resulting in uncontrollable laughter on my part!

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? During Bob’s tenure as Producing Artistic Director, The Rep has received more and more national accolades for the quality of its productions. Bob attempts to fill each season with an array of plays which reflect The Rep’s mission “to create a diverse body of theatrical work of the highest artistic standards. With a focus on dramatic storytelling that illuminates the human journey, The Rep entertains, engages and enriches local and regional audiences of all ages and backgrounds.” Theatre lovers in Central Arkansas should feel extremely grateful that Bob chose to put his roots down in our community. We have indeed been entertained, engaged and enriched by the shows that he has brought to The Rep’s stage. The most common comment I get from first-time Rep goers is: “I saw this show on Broadway, but it was better here at The Rep!” Actors from major theatre hubs such as New York vie to come to Little Rock to be in The Rep’s productions. I applaud Bob’s genius, his tenacity and his generosity of spirit – here’s to many more years at the helm!

Michael McCurdy, Managing Director

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Favorite memory with Bob: There are too many to count over the past 14 years – from Grapes of Wrath to Les Mis I have seen everything that Bob has directed on our stage. He has been a fabulous teacher, mentor, artist and friend.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Just look around downtown. None of what is happening on Main Street would have been possible if Bob did not lead this institution with an eye to the community in which we work. His collaborative partnerships with all the arts groups in Little Rock have been a hallmark of his 15 years and what has made Arkansas Repertory Theatre such a respected arts organization both here in Central Arkansas and around the country.

Katherine Melhorn, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: I feel fortunate to have worked with Bob on two different occasions expressly in non-Rep capacities when I helped him purchase two homes and sell one. I’m very grateful for his business, but it was also fun to get to know him better off the Rep radar. Seeing him interact with his sons and his soon-to-be wife during our house hunting/selling adventures, enjoying his razor-sharp wit, cheerfully enduring his pickiness on houses (yes, Bob is picky)…I felt very fortunate to get to know Bob a little better outside of our Rep relationship. Happy 15th Anniversary with the Rep, Bob!

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob Hupp has put the AR Repertory Theatre on the map nationally. How? Because of his brilliant artistic direction and production of first class shows, because of his generosity in bringing outstanding directors to the Rep to direct outstanding shows, because of his collaborative spirit in wanting to work with the other arts entities in our city and state, because of his business acumen in keeping our theatre solvent during the toughest of times, because of his ability to surround himself with and retain exceptional staff, and because of his leadership on national repertory theatre boards such as LORT. And finally, because he tells stories that affect the human heart very, very well.

Cindy Murphy, Board Member and Bob Fan!

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Favorite memory with Bob: My favorite memory of Bob was when he texted me while I was in France 2 summers ago. He and Clea were looking for a place to get married and he told me where they had been so far. He asked if I knew of any other venues they should consider…I told him my favorite wedding was Tiffany’s and Daniel’s at our home! So, I hosted Bob & Clea’s wedding in our back gardens and it was beautiful! It was wonderful to finally “produce” something so special for Bob…He has done so very much for the state of Arkansas by creating Broadway quality shows for The Rep’s stage! What a huge gift!

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob’s influence on The Rep over his first 15 years as Producing Artistic Director is monumental! From world Premiere’s like Because of Winn Dixie, to -nternationally acclaimed musicals like Les Miz, Bob has entertained thousands of adoring fans who LOVE THE REP! He has created a stellar reputation for The Rep in NYC (among other noted cities) and created an atmosphere that Broadway performers have thoroughly enjoyed. He has encouraged the growth of SMTI which has introduced so many talented, young actors to learn about professional theater and perform before a packed house! From brilliant director to consummate professional, Bob is a gift to our state. And for those of who are really lucky, a loyal and special friend.

Aubrey Nixon, Board Member

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Favorite Memory with Bob: Working closely with Bob in my two years as Board Chair is my favorite memory. It provided me with the opportunity to not only develop a good professional relationship with him but also a genuine friendship for which I am truly grateful.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob has developed The Rep into a nationally recognized theatre and brought much acclaim to Arkansas and The Rep. Every year, he has taken The Rep to the “next level” and the quality of the work produced on The Rep’s stage continues to escalate year after year.

Bill Rector, Board Member

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Favorite memory with Bob: There are so many it’s hard to pick. Probably the time we bought a dinner for four at Bob’s house at some fund raiser and he prepared a very nice pasta dinner. Very nice evening.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? He has kept us doing substantial work, enhancing our national reputation while keeping us afloat financially.

Jeff Roper, Box Office Manager

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Favorite memory with Bob: The time I told Michele Clark that I was Bob Hupp. Bob was not amused when he introduced himself to her and she told him “no, he wasn’t.”

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? First of all, I like the phrase ‘First 15 years.’ Bob has brought the NYC experience with him and all the traits therein.

Douglas Webster, Guest Artist

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Favorite memory with Bob: Bob and I were in attendance for another theater company’s announcement of an innovative, to them, fund-raising scheme. The Development Director was effusive in how this would be a wonderful opportunity for the performers to interact with their adoring audience members, whilst the former would be holding buckets to receive inspired donations as the latter progressed to the exit through the gauntlet of bucket-wielding actors. Bob and I were well to the back of the crowd. He leaned in to ask, “How’re you doing?”
I replied in a direct, yet un printable manner that made clear my opinion of the whole scheme.

I asked him if he would be trying this tactic in Arkansas.

He replied, in much gentler phrase, that he was certain that, knowing his constituency, any replication of this tactic in Little Rock would result in his personal demise.

Bob did not use so many words to express this.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob has imbued his team, and the reputation of The Rep with an essence of professionalism, artistic merit and social involvement. He has guided The Rep to National recognition while remaining viable and present to his constituency. Honor and integrity are earned by time and example. And once earned, can only be retained through consistent and reliable action. Bob remains the catalyst, but has created an environment of artistic excellence that is independent of him and is poised to remain for the future. I cannot comment on where The Rep has been, but admire where it is and look forward to where it is heading.

“The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed…because people are changed by art – enriched, ennobled, encouraged – they then act in a way that may affect the course of events…by the way they vote, they behave, the way they think.” -Leonard ‪Bernstein

Mary Wohlleb, Board Member

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Favorite Memory with Bob: We loved being able to share in his joy at his wedding to Clea. Even the groom’s cake had a theatrical focus.

How do you think Bob has influenced The Rep during his first 15 years? Bob has done a magnificent job both artistically and managerially (if that’s a word) creating an ever more impressive Repertory Theater. His ability to partner up (to play well with others) has helped forge some worthy networking. His outreach into the community keeps The Rep on the radar screen of central Arkansas citizens in numerous creative ways. We are lucky to have him!

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