August Tuesday: An Introduction

THEREP_AUGUST (no credits)-page-001Our final show of the 2014-2015 MainStage Season is upon us!

August: Osage County, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play that is finally taking The Rep stage, will open June 5. And to highlight this critically acclaimed play, we are starting a brand-new weekly blog series, showcasing the various aspects of the show.

To kick things off, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the plot, characters and really why Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp wanted to bring this show to The Rep stage.

Plot

When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you’ve got a major new play that unflinchingly—and uproariously—exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family.

“I knew this production needed to live on the Rep stage, so we’ve had the rights to this play for four years. As my favorite American play of the past decade, the timing is right now—the movie has come and gone and the right actors are available. This is the don’t-miss show of the season,” Hupp said.

Characters

Beverly Weston: The father of the Weston family, aged 69, an alcoholic and washed-up poet. His mysterious disappearance one evening and eventually discovered death are the reasons for the family’s reunion.

Violet Weston: The sharp-tongued matriarch who is addicted to several prescriptions; she is aware of the family’s many secrets and is not hesitant to reveal them.

Barbara Fordham: The oldest daughter of the Weston Family who is the mother of Jean and wife of Bill, though they are currently separated. She has the intense need to control everything around her as it falls apart.

Bill Fordham: Barbara’s estranged husband and Jean’s father who is a college professor. He has left his wife for a younger woman named Cindy, one of his students, but wants to be there for his family.

Jean Fordham: Bill and Barbara’s precocious 14-year-old daughter. She smokes pot and cigarettes, is a vegetarian, loves old movies, and is bitter about her parents’ split.

Ivy Weston: The middle daughter of the Weston family; is the only daughter to stay in Oklahoma and teaches at the local college. Her calm and patient exterior hides a passionate woman who is gradually growing cynical.

Karen Weston: The youngest daughter in the Weston family who is newly engaged to Steve, whom she considers the “perfect man”, and lives with him in Florida, planning to marry him soon. Karen can talk of little else but her own happiness even at her father’s funeral.

Steve Heidebrecht: Karen’s fiancé; a businessman in Florida, (whose business, it is hinted, centers around the Middle East and may be less than legitimate) and is not the “perfect man” that Karen considers him.

Mattie Fae Aiken: Violet’s sister, Charlie’s wife and Little Charles’ mother; she is just as jaded as her sister, constantly belittling her son and antagonizing her husband.

Charles Aiken: Husband of Mattie Fae and the father of Little Charles. Charlie, a genial man, was a lifelong friend of Beverly. He struggles to get Mattie Fae to respect Little Charles.

Little Charles Aiken: Son of Mattie Fae and Beverly, 37 years old who is unemployed and clumsy.

Johnna Monevata: A Cheyenne Indian woman, age 26, whom Beverly hires as a live-in housekeeper shortly before he disappears; Johnna is the silent witness to much of the mayhem in the house.

Sheriff Deon Gilbeau: A high-school classmate and former boyfriend of Barbara’s who returns to the Weston household to relay some news.

Production History

  • The show was originally produced on Aug. 12, 2007 by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company at the Downstairs Theatre in Chicago.
  • The Broadway production began previews on Oct. 30, 2007, at the Imperial Theatre only days before the 2007 Broadway stagehand strike on Nov. 10, which temporarily closed most shows on Broadway. The strike continued through the official opening date of Nov. 20, forcing the show to re-schedule its Dec. 4 opening. The Broadway show closed on June 28, 2009, after 648 performances and 18 previews. The Broadway debut used much of cast from Steppenwolf in Chicago, and opened to receive wide acclaim.
  • The production, originally slated to close on Feb. 17, 2008, was extended for three weeks to March 9 after the strike, and later extended to April 13, 2008, when it was subsequently given an open-ended commercial run.
  • August: Osage County made its UK debut at London’s National Theatre in Nov. 2008.
  • Additionally, a US National Tour was launched at Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House on July 24, 2009. This production went on to tour throughout the country.

Awards

August: Osage County was the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, in addition to winning five 2008 Tony Awards, including Best Play, three 2008 Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Play, the 2008 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, the 2008 Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play and the 2008 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Play.

Check back every Tuesday throughout the run of the show (June 5-21) to get a glimpse into a new aspect of the show and buy your tickets for the show by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Project Élan: Dance Choreography with Stephen K. Stone

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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:

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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

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    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 TheRep.org 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 TheRep.org 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.

BOBBY BANISTER (Writer)

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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amZ_n-emHQw

ROBERT FROST (Writer)

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.