VIDEO: The Plot of Windfall with Jason Alexander & Scooter Pietsch

A new play by Scooter Pietsch and directed by Jason Alexander, Windfall is a dark comedy Rep audiences will get to experience first!

Watch our latest From Script to Stage video below to hear as Director Jason Alexander and Playwright Scooter Pietsch explain the plot of the show and why they think Arkansas audiences need to experience it.

Tickets are on sale now at www.TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ‪#‎WindfallatArkRep‬ ‪#‎ArkansasRep‬

Peter and the Starcatcher: 8 Fun Facts

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Faith Sandberg (Molly Aster), Steve Pacek (Boy/Peter), Nathaniel Stahlke (Prentiss) and Garrett T. Houston (Ted) in The Rep’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher. Just 12 actors play more than 100 characters onstage. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

We are in the middle of our run of Peter and the Starcatcher and to highlight some of the history and interesting trivia about the Peter Pan story, we thought it would be fun to share eight fun facts that you maybe didn’t know!

Here they are:

  1. One of the reasons that adult women played the role of Peter Pan in the first half of the 20th century was to avoid British child labor laws that prevented child actors from working on stage after 9 pm.
  2. Aerial effects company Flying by Foy earned its international reputation based on the flying effects it created for stage versions of Peter Pan, beginning in 1950.
  3. In stage versions of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell is often created only by a spotlight and the sound of bells.
  4. In Peter and the Starcatcher, 12 actors play more than  100 roles onstage.
  5. Jungian psychologists refer to the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” in which an adult male’s  mental maturity seems to be stalled in adolescence as Puer aeternus, which is Latin for “eternal boy.”
  6. In the 1978 dark comedy ‘dentity Crisis by Christopher Durang, the character of Jane delivers a monologue about attending an absurd, accident-prone production of Peter Pan in which the actress playing Peter Pan accuses the children in the audience of not clapping hard enough and, therefore, killing Tinker Bell.
  7. As Smee, Borle featured a tattoo on his left arm that is the Mandalorian crest from the Star Wars universe, which is the same symbol featured on bounty hunter Boba Fett’s armor in the Star Wars films.

Information compiled by Dramaturg Robert Neblett.

Read more about Peter and the Starcatcher in our Study Guide here.

Tickets to Peter and the Starcatcher are on sale NOW! Purchase yours online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. And it’s your lucky day– we’ve added two additional Tuesday night performances on Feb. 2 and 9!

 

From Script to Stage: The Little Mermaid Choreography

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of The Little Mermaid. photos by STEPHEN B. THORNTON

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of The Little Mermaid.
photos by STEPHEN B. THORNTON

In our production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, many design elements come together to create the lively world that takes audiences on a magical voyage. From the breathtaking costumes and set to the props and classic score, our production of The Little Mermaid is fit for an underwater paradise.

Something else that adds a lot of pizzazz and gusto to our production of this Disney classic is the choreography, masterminded by Choreographer Adam Cates.

See what he had to say about the dance styles you’ll see onstage and how the incredible aerial stunts – created by 2 Ring Circus – will be incorporated into this underwater adventure!

Little Mermaid Monday: Q&A with Aerial Director Joshua Dean

Flying 1We are in the second week of our blog series Little Mermaid Monday highlighting all-things The Little Mermaid. One thing is for sure: this is going to be a musical that you’ve never seen before.

To create the movement you’ll see in this underwater adventure, Choreographer Adam Cates enlisted the help of 2 Ring Circus, a theatrical circus group out of New York City, to add aerial and groundwork circus acts. Our Dramaturg Robert Neblett interviewed aerial director Joshua Dean, who, alongside Ben Franklin and Lani Corson, will be a part of the ensemble in the show.

Find out what he had to say about how they got involved in the show, what magical elements you’ll see and more:

Q: Tell us a little about 2 Ring Circus.

A: 2 Ring Circus is a company of four friends who came together to create their own brand of circus. We all came from musical theater or dance backgrounds before becoming circus artists. Now, we try to combine the theatricality of those genres with the excitement of the circus to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Q: How did you first become involved with this type of movement/aerial work?

A: I was asked by director Donna Drake to choreograph and perform aerial fabric in a show that she was directing. I began taking classes at once and it all grew from there. I spent several years working to become a professional aerialist and then began to teach. As a teacher, I began to train my friends and future company members.

Q: If a student were interested in “learning to fly,” what would you suggest they need to do to prepare and train for a career in this unique field?

A: Train, train, train. This is field that takes a lot of discipline. It is very dangerous and without Flying 2that discipline, you could get injured by an accident or fall. I do believe that anyone can do this. It just takes the drive and patience. It will take a while to build the strength and any type of conditioning can help.

Q: Is this the first time you have ever worked with the Arkansas Rep? Have you worked with any of the other members of The Little Mermaid’s artistic team?

A: This is my first time working at The Rep. Ben, Lani and I are all very excited to create the circus elements for the show. Ben has worked with our amazing director, Melissa, before. Ben and myself have done several shows with Adam, our choreographer.

Q: What attracts you to a project like The Little Mermaid?

A: As a company, we love to combine theatre with circus. Two of our original production show creations have a very theatrical feel. We like the challenge of making circus elements integral to the plot and finding apparatus and movement that can help forward the story without distracting unnecessarily.

Q: How is this kind of specific movement/aerial work integral to a musical like The Little Mermaid?

A: This show has the potential for lots of magic and spectacle. We are using circus elements to make the life under the sea even more exciting. This includes the various sea creatures floating around under the ocean and the drowning prince being rescued to a mermaid floating on an anchor. These are just a few examples of how you will see circus integrated in the show.

Q: The Little Mermaid is not technically a Christmas story. How do you think this piece, with its memorable music and the special performance aspects you will be contributing, will contribute to the holiday spirit in Little Rock this year?

A: The holiday season is about the joy and wonder of it all and I believe The Little Mermaid checks those boxes perfectly.

Q: What is your favorite moment in the show a) from a choreographic standpoint and b) from an emotional perspective?

A: My favorite moment to create in the show will be the transformation. It is the moment when Ariel first gets her legs. It is going to be quite tricky to get it all right, but that is what will make it worth it. In that instance, it will take every department: costumes, direction, choreography, lights, tech crew pulling lines, etc. Trying to make everything work as we have conceived it is the fun moment for me. It will take a lot of tries, but I am certain it will be worth it.

Q: What do you hope audiences will take with them from this production?

A: The joy of theatre. It is my passion and I am so blessed to be part of it. I hope we can inspire people not only to want to do this, but to want to come back and see another show. Without an audience, we do not have an art.

Q: What is the first instance of theatrical magic you remember? How has that moment shaped you as an artist?

A: The first time I saw a scrim, my mind was blown. I remember seeing a tour of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories brought to the stage on a school trip. When I was looking at a painted drop of a house and then saw an actor appear through it clear as day, I could not believe my eyes. I did not understand it, but I wanted to know more.

For more information about 2 Ring Circus, visit their official website here.

Hurry! Get your tickets to The Little Mermaid online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

Spelling Bee Thursday: Meet the Spellers!

We are in the third week of our Spelling Bee Thursday blog series highlighting all-things The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

In the Opening Week, we would like to introduce who you will be seeing vying for the Spelling Bee championship in Putnam County.

Meet the spellers:

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Tommy Martinez as Chip Tolentino. Photo by John David Pittman.

Chip Tolentino
An athletic, social, boy scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title, but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment.

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Tessa Faye as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (Schwarzy). Photo by John David Pittman.

Logainne Schwartzandgrunenierre (Schwartzy)

Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures. She is driven by internal and external pressure, but above all by a desire to win to make her two fathers proud. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and will be back next year.

Ethan Paulini as Leaf Coneybear. Photo by John David Pittman.

Ethan Paulini as Leaf Coneybear. Photo by John David Pittman.

Leaf Coneybear

The second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark and finds everything about the bee incredibly amusing. He is home-schooled and comes from a large family of former hippies. He has severe Attention Deficit Disorder and spells words correctly while in a trance.
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Patrick Halley as William Morris Barfee. Photo by John David Pittman.

William Morris Barfee
A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts and is back for vindication. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy, bullying personality. He develops a crush on Olive.
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Conly Basham as Olive Ostrovsky. Photo by John David Pittman.

Olive Ostrovsky
A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. Having found comfort in its words and vastness, Olive made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition. She starts enormously shy, and shyly blossoms.
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Laura Dadap as Marcy Park. Photo by John David Pittman.

Marcy Park
A recent transfer from Virginia, Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, hides in the bathroom cabinet, and is getting very tired of always winning. She is the poster child for the Over-Achieving Asian, and attends a Catholic school called “Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows.” She is also not allowed to cry.
Don’t miss the highly acclaimed musical when it takes center stage Oct. 16-Nov. 8– book your tickets by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

From Script to Stage: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Costume Design

21218014154_a9b054655a_kIn addition to props, costumes are a major thread in the storytelling of any show.

For The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Costume Designer Shelly Hall created the costumes with children in mind.

We have launched a new video series From Script to Stage this season and for the fourth in the series, we had a chance to talk to Hall about the  inspiration of the costumes and how she was able to transform the adult actors into kid characters, plus more. Check it out below!

See all of the fun costumes firsthand by booking your tickets when the musical takes center stage Oct. 16-Nov. 8– call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

Spelling Bee Thursday: Q&A with Ethan Paulini

Ethan Paulini as Leaf Coneybear. Photo by John David Pittman.

Ethan Paulini as Leaf Coneybear. Photo by John David Pittman.

Can you spell F-U-N?

To highlight all of the cool (and funny) things about our upcoming show The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, we have launched a week blog series called Spelling Bee Thursday!

Our dramaturg, Robert Neblett, had a chance to talk with Ethan Paulini on his role as the cute and socially awkward Leaf Coneybear, his incredible involvement with Arkansas Repertory Theatre, what patrons can expect from the interactive show and tons more.

Here is what he had to say!

Q: You’ve had a busy year with The Rep. Can you talk to us about your growing relationship with the company and your activities in Little Rock over the past few months?

A: I started working at the Rep in 2007 and The Bee will mark my seventh production. Recently, I have come even more frequently because I directed the SMTI Select program in a production of Carole King’s musical Really Rosie in the brand new Education Annex. As an artist, beyond looking for a community, you also really seek an artistic home. I have found that here. To watch this organization grow and evolve and for me to be able to go on that ride to some extent is so rewarding. I am so grateful to Bob, Nicole, Mike and everyone at The Rep for their continued support and trust. From being able to play incredible roles like Buddy in Elf to becoming a staff member of SMTI, I take great responsibility and pride in the challenges The Rep presents to me. In addition, the patrons and community of Little Rock has been so welcoming that central Arkansas has really become my second home. I strive to do the best work here because both the supportive staff and the astute patrons deserve that. I look forward to watching the organization continue to thrive and hope to continue to be a part of that.

Q: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a unique work of musical theatre, combining improvisation and audience participation with a wickedly funny script and score. What can Rep audiences expect when they walk into the theatre?

A: At the risk of sounding cliche, audiences should expect the unexpected. The fun of this show is that it is never the same twice. We, as actors, are at the mercy of what the audience gives us. Their experience is almost entirely up to them and how they participate. While the improv is very structured and well thought out, it is impossible to know who and what will be joining us onstage. The results are deliciously unpredictable. If we as actors really respond to that, it is quite clear to the audience that it is not planned. The shared experience between us and the audience is indescribable. That is ultimately the thrill of live theatre– that sense that anything can happen. This is a show that takes that idea, turns it on it’s head and multiples it by a thousand.EthanPauliniPutnamHeadshot

Q: Tell us about your character, Leaf Coneybear, and his journey in the show.

A: Leaf marches to the beat of his own drum. He didn’t actually win his qualifying bee and instead is here as an alternate. He is just thrilled to be there and is probably the least competitive and most surprised by whatever success he achieves. He is the product of homeschooling and has many brothers and sisters who he feels inferior to in the intelligence department. The biggest thing Leaf gains is real confidence that while he may have issues learning from a book, he in fact is and always has been quite smart. Because of his inability to connect with people, he could be called a bit misunderstood but this experience really helps him come out of his own shell.

Q: How did you prepare for this role?

A: I played this role previously in Northern Stage’s production. It has been a few years, so I had to revisit his storyline, his mannerisms and his relationships to the world of this play. Of course as I have already mentioned, this show is never the same twice, even when doing the same production. So to prepare for this go-around, I really am just approaching this with an openness toward what these new actors and creative team will bring to it. The advantage is that many of these actors and creative team are near and dear and frequent collaborators. If ever there was a show that called for a sense of playfulness, this is it, so I just am gearing up for a few weeks of playing with friends new and old in pursuit of an authentic and earnest production.

Q: Do you feel Leaf exists along the autism spectrum or is just socially awkward? How does this impact your portrayal of the character?

A: I do think he probably exists on the spectrum but that’s just one more clue I gather about this character. Whether clues exist in the text or you infer them based on your own human experience, they all come together to create a vivid and alive character. When I was growing up, Autism was not as common a diagnosis, so I am sure I have had many peers who have existed on the spectrum. For me, the decision as an actor to accept that information is no different than information that exists such as his relationship to his family, or that he likes apple juice, or tosses his hair. It is just one more piece of the portrait you hope to put together when creating an alive, vivid character.

Q: You also play another role in the show. Tell us about this character and how you alternate between roles in the course of the performance.

A: I also play Carl Grubinierre, one of Logan’s adoptive fathers. He appears twice. Once during Logan’s song “Woe is Me” and then again in a very pivotal scene toward the end. Carl is educated, a bit fussy, mature and fiercely competitive. I think he is kind of the opposite of Leaf’s go-with-the-flow attitude. A lot of the work I get to do is about creating very broad but distinct characters, so I really relish the opportunity to find the differences between the characters but also not shy away from the parts of my own personality that can act as a sort of through line. It hopefully allows for some cohesion in the performance for the audience.

Q: The characters in the musical are misfits and outsiders, but in the competitive world of the spelling bee, they have found a place in which they excel, in which they belong. What does this aspect of the show have to say about our lives and a search for community?

A: Ultimately, I think as humans we strive to be a part of something. It validates us, bears witness to our lives and allows us to share experiences. This is easier said than done sometimes. I think this show really celebrates that idea of embracing who you are and accepting everyone. There is also comfort in realizing that everyone has insecurities and personal struggles. Despite the competition that these kids face from each other, ultimately they find support and a place to belong and be themselves at the Bee.

Q: What advice would you give to students in the Little Rock area who are interested in building a career in musical theatre?

A: It’s the same advice I would give to anyone hoping to pursue a career as an artist: STUDY, STUDY, STUDY. To be a successful artist, you have to be willing to constantly evolve. The advantage an aspiring artist in Little Rock possesses is access to professionals and resources. The Rep and the resident artists here are as good as anyone I have worked with anywhere. Learn from them and take advantage of their expertise. The SMTI program is so wonderful and unique. No matter how serious a student may be about pursuing this as a career, there is an immeasurable amount of benefit that can come from participating in that program.

Q: Did you ever participate in spelling bees as a child? Do you have any anecdotes that you would like to share.

A: I’ve never been in a Spelling Bee, but in seventh grade, I was the Massachusetts State Geography Bee Champion and I went to nationals in Washington, D.C. The Bee was hosted by Alex Trebek. I didn’t get too terribly far. I think I came in 40th or 41st out of 52.

Q: Spelling Bee is a hilarious show, yet I am always surprised by how moved I am by this show and its characters. Can you talk about the emotional impact of the musical? Is there a particular moment in the play that speaks to you?

A: Well, ‘The I Love You Song’ breaks my heart every time. But I think when the audience catches their breath from laughing, they realize these are earnest, sweet and unique characters who all face both struggles and triumphs equally. I also think watching characters have personal discoveries and change is what makes for a great musical and these characters do that. Not one person in this show is the same at the beginning as they are at the end. It’s a snapshot of the growing process and I think that can be very poignant.

See Ethan in action by booking your tickets when the musical takes center stage Oct. 16-Nov. 8– call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

From Script to Stage: Macbeth Original Score

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. photos by Stephen B. Thornton

The cast of The Rep’s production of Macbeth.
Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

To set the atmospheric tone for a show like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it takes an eerie, beautiful and at times, haunting, score.

For the first time ever, The Rep enlisted to help of Musical Director Mark Binns to compose an original score for a production

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the third in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Binns to look at the inspiration of the score, his process, what he enjoyed most and a few samples of the pieces you’ll hear during the production. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage through Sept. 27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Macbeth Monday: Q&A with Lighting Designer Dan Kimble

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we have launched a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

In the final week, we are highlighting the incredible lighting elements of the Shakespeare tragedy with some insight from Lighting Designer Dan Kimble. Find out his approach for the production, how the set affects the design, the cool effects created just for the show, plus more.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: What piqued your interest in lighting design?

A: I was first exposed to theatre in high school. I was in shows like Oklahoma! and The Music Man, but I was most interested in how the lighting worked. I was fascinated by everything that went into lighting a show: the color options, power requirements, angle and placement, the followspots, etc. I started college without knowing what major I wanted to pursue. Fortunately, I had to take a theatre class as part of the general education requirements for all majors. In that class, the students had to work on tech crew for one of the university’s mainstage shows. I asked to be a followspot operator for Annie Get Your Gun and loved doing it. After talking with the professor of the class and learning that people had full careers being lighting designers, I was hooked.

Q: How do you approach the lighting design for a play like Macbeth?

A: Most of Shakespeare’s plays can be (and frequently are) interpreted in a variety of ways; the creative license can be very broad. The first step is to read the script and understand what the text is giving you. Any questions moving forward can usually be answered by referring to the script, especially with Shakespeare. After thinking about what preliminary concepts I want for the lighting, the next step is beginning a dialogue with the director and the other members of the creative team. Director Bob Hupp was great with knowing the themes he wanted to convey while allowing me to focus on the story I wanted to tell with the lighting. Studying the work of the other designers (scenic, props, costumes, music, and sound) also helped inform my approach because it was crucial that I support their concepts while also helping it all come together.

Q: How does the set affect your design?

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

A: No other design element affects the lighting of a show more than the set. Lighting a show is 50 percent lighting the actors and 50 percent lighting the set. Scenic design, though self-sustaining, can give me great surfaces, structures and details to use to create environments and tell my story, much like in Macbeth. However, it can also create physical challenges when I am trying to figure out where to put lighting fixtures to achieve the looks that I want. Sometimes, a wall or some other scenic element can be between me and the ideal lighting angle. But, as part of a creative team, those challenges are discussed and solved in a way that supports the show and its overall aesthetic.

Q: In addition to the lights, there will special effects in the show. What will patrons be able to expect?

A: Without giving anything away, expect to see some things that you haven’t seen on our stage before. We incorporated a new design element into Macbeth, and I believe it is quite successful and helps particular scenes have a eerie and creepy feel (hint, hint).

Q: What do you enjoy most about creating the design for theatre?

A: I enjoy helping to create the moments that only a live performance can give you. The goosebumps, the awe and the surprise. Sure, more can be accomplished in a movie, but as an audience member, you are not an active member of that viewing. As a patron of The Rep, you are as much a part of those moments on stage as the actors, designers and technicians are. No two performances are the same; each show is singular and unique. It’s just part of what makes theatre so great.

See the cool lighting yourself by booking your tickets before the show ends this Sunday, Sept. 27– call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

From Script to Stage: Macbeth Costume Design

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The cast of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

From the leather armor and tunics to the moccasins, helmets and other pieces, there is no doubt much time went into planning and crafting these incredible pieces. And the woman behind these extensive costumes is returning costume designer Marianne Custer, the resident costume designer for the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. and head of the MFA design program at The University of Tennessee.

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the second in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Custer on the inspiration behind the incredible costumes, the patterns and fabrics used, as well as a look at the badges on the armor, the moccasins and more. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.