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 TheRep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405!

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!

Get Ready for The Rep’s Biggest Event of the Year: 31st Annual Saints & Sinners

12295416835_f56809181b_zOn Jan. 31, Arkansas art aficionados will come together to celebrate the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company, Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
The 31st Annual Arkansas Repertory Theatre Saints and Sinners Gala will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center Wally Allen Ballroom at 6 p.m. The 2015 gala will be emceed by KTHV Channel 11’s Craig O’Neill, and will feature special entertainment offering a glimpse of the magic The Rep produces throughout the year.
The gala is co-chaired by Marla Johnson and James Norris, both of Aristotle.
In addition to special entertainment, the evening will feature both a silent and live auction, 12295645564_0625e1982a_zdinner, and dancing. Tickets for the event are available starting at $400 per person. Table sales and sponsorship are also available.
“Saints and Sinners has the reputation of being the most fun black-tie gala of the year, and I honestly have to agree,” said James Norris, event co-chair.  “The Rep knows entertainment, so everything about the event is infused with theatricality and wonder.”
Funds raised at the gala will support the organization’s mission of creating a diverse body of theatrical work. A special education donation will be taken and fund The Rep’s educational programming, including its Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program and student matinees.
12295451364_4ef1f55494_z“The Rep is where we gather as a community to learn, share and celebrate what is important to us,” said Marla Johnson, event co-chair.  “The theatre means so much to so many of us. Without it as the long-time anchor, there would be no Main Street Revitalization; there would be no Creative Corridor. Without it, we would not be nearly as cool a city!”To purchase tickets to Saints and Sinners, contact Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445, ext. 203 or rlewis@therep.org.  Tickets can also be purchased online at www.therep.org.

SMTI Junior Session: Q&A with Elena McKinnis

ElenaMckinnis

The 2014 Summer Intensive Theatre Musical program is drawing to a close this weekend with three performances of Godspell performed by the junior class.

And one of the many dedicated young performers you will see onstage is Pulaski Academy 10th grader Elena McKinnis, 15, who hopes to continue her theatrical and dancing career beyond high school.

We had the chance to talk with this longtime ballet dancer about her experience with the summer program, her future goals in dance and how she has improved over the years.

Here is what she had to say:

When did you get started in theatre?  I started in theatre when I was about 11– it was my first year in SMTI. I had gone to see Follie Holidays the year before and I decided to audition the next year.

How has SMTI helped your theatre skills? It has really opened me up a lot. I’ve gained a lot of confidence through this program. When I first started, I was more of a dancer–because I’ve been dancing since I was three– so I’ve seen myself before, but through SMTI, I realized I can sing and I can do a monologue and speak in front of people, so it’s helped me just open up to everything.

There are quite a few students in SMTI. Do you think you will have any lasting friendships from the program? Most definitely! A lot of the people I’ve met through SMTI I probably wouldn’t have met. One of my best friends lives in Cabot and I probably wouldn’t have met her without this program.

You’ve been rehearsing for last few days for the upcoming performances of Godspell this weekend. What role will you be playing?  I’m mainly a part of the ensemble but I’m in a couple of the dance numbers and am one of the lead vocalists in the Godspell song “By My Side.” In the senior session production, I had a lot of dance solos.

What are some other productions people might have seen you in the last few years? I’ve done all the SMTI shows the last five years– Project elan and Singin’ on a Star were the most recent ones. I’ve also done Ballet Arkansas’ Nutcracker down at the Robinson Auditorium and I’ve also participated in the Arkansas Festival Ballet productions.

Do you plan on pursuing theatre or dance beyond high school? I plan on going to college [in California] and trying to make it as a dancer because I’ve been doing it my whole life and it’s just something I want to try and do. I’ve recently been taking a lot of hip hop classes, so I’ve been leaning toward that. Dance is my life– it’s what I do.

Are you excited about this weekend’s production? I am. It’s going to be so much fun! Doing the senior show with all of the older kids and then working with the juniors, it’s been such an amazing experience. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me!

Do you plan on being a part of SMTI throughout high school? I’m going to try to do SMTI throughout high school. Beyond that, I’ve thought about being a choreographer like Marisa Kirby– she’s the choreographer for director Nicole Capri. I’ve thought about doing something like that.

Why should young performers interested in theatre be a part of SMTI? It’s an amazing program. It’s a great opportunity for people to come and really work with a really good director and get that experience.

See her in this weekend’s productions of Godspell, alongside many other talented students! Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to get your tickets for any one of the performances, which are at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.

SMTI: Q&A with Instructor Tyler Rosenthal

Tyler Rosenthal

The Summer Musical Theatre Intensive program is still going strong here at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre with dozens of students singing their hearts out and putting their dancing skills to work on a daily basis.

Someone you’ll find behind the keyboard helping students with their vocals is assistant music director Tyler Rosenthal, a SMTI alumni who has been actively involved with The Rep for the last few years.

We had the chance to talk to the senior at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia– who also doubles as a professional photographer (he wears a lot of hats!)– about his theatrical experience, his favorite parts about SMTI and what he hopes student get out of the program.

Here is what he had to say:

When did theatre become a part of your life? I always grew up with my sister going to the theatre. I went to Little Rock Christian High School and she was always involved in the high school productions, so I always went to them and thought, ‘I want to do that someday.’ I started in sixth grade in the high school musical—my first role was in the Sound of Music. And throughout middle school and high school, I was a part of all of the school productions. I did just about every aspect of the shows– I starred in some and casted for a lot of the roles, along with directing, choreographing and helping teach musical parts.

How did you get involved in SMTI? I first auditioned for the SMTI Review the Revue show during my ninth grade year, but I was put on the waitlist. I still wanted to be involved, though, so I ended up doing an internship at the theatre and did the spotlight and helped with sound stuff. After helping backstage with Gridiron later on, they asked me to join Review the Revue— my first SMTI show. I then participated in the next few SMTI shows and then I was asked to perform in the Saints & Sinners event. Anytime Nicole Capri asks back some SMTI alumni, I usually come back and perform.

What are some of your responsibilities as assistant music director? Mark Binns is the music director, so I assist him with whatever he needs help with—from getting everything organized to figuring out what he needs to teach and making sure he meets with all of the students. We will also break off and I’ll take some of the soloists and the trios and work on their parts, teaching them harmonies or vocal techniques. For the actual performances, I am in the band. I play keyboard No. 2, so all of the organ, flute and string sounds are me. I also help cast for the show, so I sit in the auditions where students sing songs from the show and I help match their voice with a good song.

What do you enjoy most about your position? I really like the casting process because I like pairing a specific kind of voice with a particular song, maybe where a student would shine the most. I have one-on-one moments with kids and I love seeing how something clicks in their head, like ‘Oh, I could hit that note.’ That’s fun to see them get something. And, also to see the transformation from day one to the last day when they perform. So many of them have made a complete change– they sound completely different. A lot of these kids come in and aren’t really sure of their talent and then, they get out there and perform in front of all of these people.

What do you hope students are getting out of their experience with SMTI? I hope that they learned a lot about themselves– not just the performer they can be, but also the confidence level they can have and being comfortable in their own skin, especially the SMTI junior session. They’re still in this transition of who they want to be. Some of these kids I performed with were teeny and now they’re huge and their voices are changing. It’s crazy how quick it all happens and so hopefully, they have the confidence in themselves and the ability to relate to other kids their age. There are a huge number of students who pursue performing and I think this is an awesome program to give them special experience in a real equity theatre. There is no other program that really gives you the opportunity to perform on a real stage like this. There is professional lighting, professional sound and a professional band. People who do the actual MainStage shows here are doing this program for them.

Where will we see you after SMTI?  I have one more year of college left and it’ll be a crazy busy year. Hopefully after that, I’ll be back in Little Rock. I could see myself doing photography and communications, but also auditioning for shows when I can. I’m so involved in so many things, but I hope to still be involved in The Rep and SMTI. I still love to be able to have an impact on younger people. I’m excited for the new building [here on Main Street] and the whole educational side. I’m excited to see what opportunities come from that.

Hear some of his piano-playing next weekend’s productions of Godspell, alongside many other talented students! Call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to get your tickets for any one of the performances, which are at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2.

Arkansas Rep Partners With Local Animal Rescue Organizations This Holiday Season

Dear Friends,

The love of a pet is like no other. Pets give us many wonderful things, and ask nothing in return but a scratch between the ears and a soft spot to sleep in a place they can call home. But thousands of animals in shelters across Central Arkansas only dream of having a home.

So we’re doing something different this December at Arkansas Rep. We’re raising awareness of animal adoption in association with our production of a new musical based on the award-winning novel Because of Winn Dixie, a heartwarming story of a young girl who adopts a dog she finds at a local supermarket.

10952510353_10f75b0212Starring an Irish Wolfhound named Taran, trained by Broadway animal trainer Bill Berloni (Legally Blonde, Annie), and Rep Young Artist Julia Landfair (Les Misérables, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) in leading roles, Because of Winn Dixie also features music by Tony and Grammy Award winner Duncan Sheik and lyrics by Tony nominee Nell Benjamin.

While we are hard at work creating the world of Winn Dixie on our stage, we are also working with local animal shelters to feature adoptable animals in our lobby and local rescue organizations on our website throughout December. Please help us celebrate this special holiday production and raise awareness of animal adoption in Central Arkansas by making a donation to The Rep in honor of a special pet in your life. The first gift will come from me, in honor of my redbone coonhound, Rocky.

For every gift of $75 and above we receive before December 31, we’ll create an ornament with your pet’s name and display it in the lobby. Or make a gift to The Rep and we’ll recognize a pet from one of our local shelters and display their adoption information in our lobby.

Your tax-deductible gift makes all the difference in the world. Ticket sales cover only half of what it costs to produce the work you see on our stage and to create the community partnerships and educational opportunities that reach thousands of Arkansans each year. The rest must come from good friends like you.

From every rescue dog curled up in a loving home, and from all of us here at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, thank you for making what we do possible.

Warm and furry regards in this holiday season,

blue bob (2)

Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director

P.S. As much as we all love our pets, your donation to The Rep may also be in honor or memory of a human friend or loved one. Make a gift today and we’ll send your recipient a holiday card acknowledging your contribution.

You can donate online at www.therep.org/support/donate.

View adoptable animals in your area!

 

Young Artist Matthew Hugg featured in SMTI’s Silent Art Auction Fundraiser

The Rep’s Young Artists Host Silent Auction Fundraiser for Scholarships

Rep Young Artist, Matthew Hugg, surrounded by his pieces

Rep Young Artist, Matthew Hugg, surrounded by his pieces

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Young Artists will host a silent auction fundraiser beginning Friday, July 19. The auction will be open on performance days one hour before each performance. The auction is open to the public and will feature five artwork pieces by The Rep’s Young Artists including Matthew Hugg. All winners of the auction items will be announced following the final SMTI performance on August 3, 2013. Winners not present at the event will be notified. All proceeds from the auction will go to The Rep’s Young Artist Guild Scholarship fund. To date, the Young Artist Guild has given $75,000 in scholarships to students.

 

 

Auction times:

Friday, July 19 from 6 -7 p.m.
Saturday, July 20 from 12 -1 p.m. and 6 -7 p.m.
Friday, August 2 from 6 -7 p.m.
Saturday, August 3 from 12 -1 p.m. and 6 -7 p.m.

Featured Artist: Matthew Hugg

Matthew is 11 years old, ambidextrous and is a member of SMTI Select, the 10-12 year group of The Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) program. Matthew has always enjoyed drawing and decided to take a private art lesson just for fun with Anja Dewitt, an accomplished artist and photographer. Matthew takes occasional art lessons from Anja and she has instructed him on the artwork submitted for this exhibit. Matthew believes his participation in theatre has inspired his artistic talent, and he is immensely grateful. In addition to art and theatre, Matthew loves, drums, guitar, football and Miss Nicole. Matthew has donated his piece entitled, “Glorious Day” to the SMTI art auction. The piece is a 24×30 acrylic on canvas framed and would be a welcomed addition to any home.

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“Glorious Day,” acrylic on canvas, By Matthew Hugg

About The Rep’s Young Artist Program
The Summer Musical Theater Intensive, under the direction of Nicole Capri, The Rep’s Resident Director and Director of Education, is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed exclusively for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre. The SMTI staff is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and designers. Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multi-media, costume and stage make-up, 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 on The Rep Main Stage for patrons of all ages, and remains one of the most popular productions at the theatre each season.

For more information about The Rep’s Young Artist www.therep.org/attend/productions/seniorprojectelan.

Help The Rep’s Young Artists Fundraiser with Brighton Collectables Rank #1 Nationally

Store#88-2

Please bring a copy of this invitation with you to the party!

You are invited for a private party at the Brighton Collectables store in the Midtown Shopping Center in Little Rock (203 N. University Ave.) this Sunday, July 28th, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. You will need to bring a copy of this invitation to get into this private event. All patrons, friends, and supporters of The Rep are invited!

There will be refreshments and special performances by Mark Binns and several SMTI alumni, including a special performance of a song from The Young Artists’ original musical Project elan. SMTI will receive 20% of all sales during this party. (It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping!)

This year, The Rep’s Young Artists’ Fundraiser is listed in the top three for  national fundraisers with Brighton Collectables. We invite you to support The Rep’s Young Artists and help them become the top selling fundraiser with Brighton Collectables. 

Bracelet

American I.D. bracelet from Brighton Collectables

 

In addition to the contributions from the party, for each Independence Charm Holder Bracelet and Americana I.D. Bracelet sold through the month of July at Brighton Collectables in the Midtown Shopping center will contribute 50% of the retail cost to support young artists.

Please stop by and show your support for The Young Artists at The Rep! We look forward to seeing you. For more information about the fundraiser and to RSVP to the event, please email Pamela McKinnis at PKMcKinnis@jmoutdoors.com

Fundraiser for The Rep’s Young Artists Program with Brighton Collectables

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s

SUMMER MUSICAL THEATRE INTENSIVE

Start your summer on a high note with friends, shopping, entertainment, and a party!

Friends of Young Artists at The Rep,

You are invited for aBrighton Ecard private party at the Brighton Collectables store in Midtown Little Rock (203 N. University Ave. Little Rock, AR 72205) this Sunday, June 2nd, from 5:00-7:00pm. You will need to bring a copy of this email invitation to get into this private event. To RSVP please email guild officer, Pamela McKinnis, at pkmckinnis@jmoutdoors.com. All patrons, friends, and supporters of The Rep are invited.

There will be refreshments and special performancesBrighton Ecard Invitation (3) by Mark Binns and several SMTI alumni! The Young Artist Guild and SMTI will receive 20% of all sales during this party. (It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping!) In addition to the contributions from the party, for each Independence Charm Holder Bracelet and Americana I.D. Bracelet sold from May 24th through July 31st, 2013, at Brighton Collectables in Midtown Little Rock, the company will contribute 50% of the retail cost to support young artists at The Rep. 

Please stop by and show your support for the young artists at The Rep! We look forward to seeing you there!

SMTI Audition Dates Announced for 2013

Cast members from The Rep’s SMTI program perform in Singin’ on a Star, July 2012.

Audition dates for Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s 2013 Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) will be held on Friday, March 1 and Saturday March 2 at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Callbacks will be held on Sunday, March 3.

Candidates will be asked to prepare a one-minute monologue and 16 bars of a song (an accompanist will be provided). Those auditioning may also be asked to return for an additional movement and callback audition on Sunday, March 3.

Tuition for the program is $575. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available to those who qualify. Applications will be available at the time of audition.

SMTI alum Mary Katelin Ward on getting her start in the program

Appointments will be scheduled between 4:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 1 and between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. Callbacks will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. Applicants will be notified by mail of acceptance within three weeks of auditions.

Audition appointments will be scheduled starting January 15, 2013. To schedule an audition appointment, email education@therep.org with your name, age/grade, email, phone number and mailing address, and please include your preferred audition day. Audition appointments will be scheduled by email only.

The Senior SMTI Session (Ages 15 – 23) will be held from July 7 – July 20 with final performances on July 20. The Junior SMTI Session (Ages 10 – 14) will be held from July 21 – August 3 with final performances on August 3.

SMTI alum Zach Graham on his experience in the program

The Summer Musical Theater Intensive, under the direction of Nicole Capri, Rep Resident Director and Director of Education, is an intensive, audition-based theatre training program designed exclusively for motivated young artists who are serious about the arts and musical theatre. For two weeks during the summer, aspiring Young Artists will have the opportunity to work with the SMTI staff that is comprised of professional directors, choreographers, musicians and designers.

Daily rehearsals are structured similarly to a professional summer stock experience and include instruction in musical theatre techniques, multi-media, costume and stage make-up, dance and vocal coaching. Each session involves intensive daily rehearsals culminating in a public workshop performance of a selected musical or musical revue on the Arkansas Repertory Theatre MainStage.

For more information about The Rep’s Summer Musical Theatre Intensive program, visit www.therep.org/learn.