Don’t Miss Last Performances of SMTI

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Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

We can’t believe it but it’s almost the end of summer and you know what means: our mainstage season is just around the corner!

But before we kick off our landmark 40th Anniversary Season, our Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) Junior Session is taking center stage with their production of Once On This Island this weekend, Aug. 6-8.

From the Tony Award-winning songwriting team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Seussical, Ragtime) comes the Olivier Award-winning Once On This Island. This highly original and theatrical Caribbean adaptation of the popular fairy 15829_956660064376724_310560760827849491_ntale The Little Mermaid garnered eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.

Celebrate storytelling with this rousing Calypso-flavored tale of one small girl who finds love in a world of prejudice.

Performances are:

  • 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7
  • 1 & 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.therep.org or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

Q&A with SMTI Production Coordinator Katherine Tanner

FullSizeRenderCan you believe it has been 10 years since the Summer Musical Theatre Intensive got its incredible start within the confines of Arkansas Repertory Theatre?

Under the direction of Nicole Capri, the program has helped craft top-notch young artists in central Arkansas who have gone to big things in the entertainment world.

One person who actually saw the beginning of the program and has returned for the big 10th anniversary is production coordinator Katherine Tanner.

See what she had to say about her involvement with the program, how it’s evolved since its inception and more:

Q: What is your theatre training and experience?

A: As a young theatre educator, I have found that people (and not productions) are the most important aspect of my career. Real people are who I have studied and who I present when working on a production. I am an ongoing student of theatre and will never claim that ‘I’ve arrived’ or know all there is to know.

I was a ‘transferholic’ in college and because of it, have had a one-of-a-kind education.  I started at OBU, went to Columbia College Chicago and finally graduated from California State University Northridge, where I focused in directing.

In those areas, I was always able to work in the theatre departments and scene shops learning all I could in every aspect of theatre. I was mentored by many inspiring people in the last 10 years, including Susan Nichols, Fred Boosey, Scott Holsclaw, Eric Phillips (OBU), Sheldon Patinkin (co-founder of The Second City), Susan Padveen (CCC), Nicole Capri, Larry Biederman (CSUN) and Melissa Chalsma (co-founder of independent Shakespeare Co.) to name a few I greatly admire.  It is through their encouragement that I have skills that vary from welding steel to directing and most things in between.

Q: Can you give a brief history of your involvement with SMTI?

A: When SMTI began in 2005, there were only four women running the program and I was one of them.  I was titled the ‘Assistant Stage Manager,’ however, I was responsible for pulling props, running rehearsals, cleaning bathrooms, taking out trash, putting mics on the cast, tracking and mixing the mics from the sound console. In 2006, I was the Stage Manager with two peer interns and cast.  Let’s just say, it was as challenging as the prior year and then some.

Q: How do you think SMTI has evolved over the years?

A: The support from designers, choreographers, musical directors and directors has intensified the SMTI program, making it professional quality theatre entertainment.  It no long feels like a camp for kids–it’s a ‘coming-out’ celebration of the state’s young artists.

Q: What are you most excited about being a part of the 10th Anniversary of SMTI?

A: I am most excited to be back to celebrate the milestone– how far SMTI has come.

Q: Why is SMTI so important for local young artists?

A: This program rivals those nationally known and it’s in their backyard.  This program provides a network and support system for the young artists as they go off to college and into the professional world.

Don’t miss all of the incredible this summer when SMTI productions take flight in our new education space and on The Rep MainStage. Here is a lineup of productions not to miss this summer:

Senior SMTI: Once on This Island

  • 7 p.m. Thursday, July 23
  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 24
  • 1 p.m. Saturday, July 25
  • 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25

SMTI Select II: Really Rosie

  • 7 p.m. Friday, July 31
  • 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1
  • 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1

Junior SMTI: Once in This Island

  • 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6
  • 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7
  • 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8
  • 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8

Get more information about tickets for these shows by calling the Box Office at  (501) 378-0405!

Q&A with SMTI Select Director Ethan Paulini

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Ethan Paulini as Buddy in Elf. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre ended its 39th MainStage June 21 with the incredible production of August: Osage County and will resume in September with the first show of its landmark 40th Season with William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

But, just because there is a break in our seasons doesn’t mean the theatre takes a break. In fact, hundreds of young artists will be taking center stage through the summer for our annual Summer Musical Theatre Intensive sessions. The youngest of these artists will be learning from one of The Rep’s best returning actors, Ethan Paulini (Elf, Avenue Q, The Full Monty), for two SMTI Select sessions from July 6-18 and July 20-Aug. 1.

We had the chance to talk to Paulini about his return to Little Rock, what he loves most about coaching, his favorite Rep production and more. Here is what he had to say:

Q: What is your theatre training?

A: I grew up training at the Harwich Junior Theatre (HJT). I received a degree in Acting from Emerson College in Boston and I currently study voice with Larson Award Winner Marisa Michelson.
Q: You were most recently the lead in our show Elf and have been in several shows at The Rep. What keeps you coming back?

A: Arkansas Rep is one of the most welcoming and artistically supportive places I have ever worked. The directors, designers and actors I get to work with are fantastic. I always feel challenged. The audiences are curious and smart. Ultimately, it feels like home and home is made up of people.

Q: What will you be instructing the SMTI Select students on?

A: We will work on many aspects of performing. From presenting a successful audition to storytelling, voice, speech and movement. The students will participate in exercises that challenge their imagination and sharpen their actor toolbox. I will help them learn how to create their own process, from rehearsing to maintaining a performance. We will also be working on presenting the musical Really Rosie. It is a wonderful collection of musical vignettes by Carole King.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a theatre coach to young artists?

A: Growth. Theatre is not an exact science. There is no right or wrong, so I love watching each artist, regardless of age, bring themselves to the work. Oftentimes through that exploration, they discover a lot about themselves, both artistically and personally.

Q: Why is the SMTI program so important for young artists in central Arkansas?

A: Young artists in central Arkansas are so lucky to have Nicole Capri and the SMTI program. Not only does it create talented, exciting artists but also provides an important creative outlet to so many young people. Theatre training fosters discipline, creative thinking, builds self esteem and develops a community that can be an important support system both on and off stage.

Q: What is your favorite production you’ve been in at The Rep and why?

A: I love them all for different reasons, but I think the most recent show, Elf, was especially special. The reaction was so overwhelming. I got to spend the holidays doing what I love with people that I love. I also have two young nephews and a niece and it was the perfect way to share with them and create a wonderful holiday memory.


Sidenote with Ethan

Favorite place to eat in Little Rock: So many places! I think Little Rock is a GREAT food city. My dad runs restaurants, so I have grown into a bit of a foodie. If I only had time for one meal in Little Rock, though, it would probably be Whole Hog Cafe. I am from the northeast, so BBQ is really a special cuisine. I even ship their sauces home with me when I come to The Rep so I have a little taste of Little Rock in New York.

What you’re doing when you’re not on stage: I actually love going to see theatre and movies, spending time with friends and traveling. Performing takes lot of energy and stamina so I make sure to take time to rest and work out regularly. I also have multiple writing projects in the works so I steal time to work on those when I can. I am a huge baseball fan (Go Red Sox!) and I have an unnatural obsession with the TV show “The Golden Girls.”

Favorite musical right now: I saw the new Kander and Ebb musical The Visit four times during it’s recent Broadway run. They were responsible for such classic musicals as Cabaret, Kiss of the Spider Woman and Chicago. Fred Ebb passed away several years ago so this will be their final new show to make it to Broadway. It was dark, smart, chilling and the music was incredible.

Total shows you’ve been in at The Rep: six shows: The Full Monty, The Who’s Tommy, White Christmas, Avenue Q, Compleat Wks of WLLM SHKSPR (ABRIDGED) and Elf.

Don’t miss SMTI Select in action when their production Really Rosie takes The Rep stage at 7 p.m. Friday, July 17 and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 18 (first session) and 7 p.m. Friday, July 31 and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1 (second session). Tickets are $10 and can be booked online at TheRep.org or at (501) 378-0405.

 

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!

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!

SMTI Junior Session: Q&A with Elena McKinnis

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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.

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.

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!