Opening week of The Little Mermaid: Engage with Us!

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

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

It’s the Opening Week of our blockbuster holiday musical, The Little Mermaid, the third production in The Rep’s landmark 40th MainStage Season!

Now that we are in our first week of December (can you believe it?), we are excited to get our big musical started and give our patrons engaging activities.

Here is this week’s lineup of fun events:

Wednesday, December 2:

  • Preshow Director Talk, 6:15-6:45 p.m.: Get exclusive insight into our production of The Little Mermaid from Director Bob Hupp and the creative team before the start of the preview performances. FREE!
  • Pay What You Can Night, 7 p.m.: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette presents The Rep’s “Pay What You Can Night” on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Patrons can pay any amount they wish for their ticket. Tickets must be purchased in person at the Box Office at 601 Main Street the day of the performance. The Box Office will be open from 9 a.m. until curtain. Tickets are limited to (2) two per person. Offer is based on seating availability.

Thursday, December 3:

  • Clinton School Speaker Series, 12-1 p.m. Clinton School Join Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp and members of the cast and creative team for a panel discussion on this musical. RSVP by calling the Clinton School at (501) 683-5239. FREE!
  • Preshow Director Talk, 6:15-6:45 p.m.: Get exclusive insight into our production of The Little Mermaid from Director Bob Hupp and the creative team before the start of the preview performances. FREE!

Friday, December 4:

  • Opening Night performance and post-show party, 8 p.m.: Opening Night for The Little Mermaid will include a post-show reception with the cast immediately following the show. Complimentary champagne and light hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

Sunday, December 6:

  • Pay Your Age Night, 7 p.m.: Little Rock Soiree presents The Rep’s “Pay Your Age Night” on Sunday, Oct. 18. Are you age 22 – 40? Pay Your Age at The Rep! Top off your weekend with great theatre at a great price. Plus, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting provided by Colonial Wines and Spirits. Tickets are limited to four per household, Proof of age for each member of the party is required at time of pick-up.

Check out our full lineup of surround events during the show’s run from December 2- January 3 here and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

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.

Little Mermaid Monday: An Introduction

LittleMermaidToday is a big day: We are kicking off our blog series Little Mermaid Monday highlighting all-things The Little Mermaid.

To get you in the mermaid spirit and as a refresher, we are taking look at the story and characters with a little help from our Dramaturg Robert Neblett.

Plot

Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs: “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.”

Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea.

From MTIshows.com

Characters

(In Order of Appearance)

  •  ARIEL, a mermaid, King Triton’s youngest daughter
  • PILOT, helmsman of Prince Eric’s ship
  • SAILORS
  • PRINCE ERIC, a human monarch
  • GRIMSBY, guardian of Prince Eric
  • FLOUNDER, a fish, Ariel’s best friend
  • SCUTTLE, a seagull, expert in human artifacts
  • SEA CREATURES of various shapes, sizes and species
  • WINDWARD & LEEWARD, trumpet fish, heralds in King Triton’s court
  • KING TRITON, King of the Sea
  • SEBASTIAN, a crab, advisor to King Triton
  • MERSISTERS (Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, AdelIa, Allana), daughters of King Triton
  • FLOTSAM, an eel, lackey to Ursula
  • JETSAM, an eel, the other lackey to Ursula
  • URSULA, the Sea Witch, sister of King Triton
  • GULLS
  • MAIDS
  • CHEF LOUIS, the Palace chef, a culinary perfectionist
  • CHEFS, sous staff of Chef Louis
  • PRINCESSES, potential mates for Prince Eric

The magical musical will run for five weeks with performances from Dec. 2-Jan. 3, Wednesday through Sunday, with special Saturday matinees on Dec. 5 and 26 and Jan. 2. Check out all of the fun surround events here.

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

Help Name Special Beer for The Little Mermaid

LittleMermaid

With our production of The Little Mermaid taking The Rep MainStage in December, we have teamed up with Moody Brews to create a beer for the underwater wonderland production.

And guess what? We need your help naming it!

Here is the scoop on the beer contest:

Beer Naming Contest

Starting Monday, Nov. 23, The Rep is following up with a Little Mermaid Beer Naming Contest, where we will be accepting entries for the tropical brew– a tropical saison. 5% ce46c3e5297f7bd48b1b154bab2da76354942964_gold-recipeabv farmhouse/saison style ale fermented atop citrus fruits of lemon, tangerine, pineapple, and hibiscus and lightly dry hopped with amarillo (orangey, apricot aroma) hops.

Here is the rundown of the contest:

1. Submit your clever beer name from 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25.  Bonus points if you include “Rep” somewhere in the name! Enter HERE!

2. Our top five favorite names will be selected and fans will be allowed to vote for their favorite on our Facebook page from 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 26 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29. The name with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the voting period will be the winner!

3. The winner will receive a growler of the special flavor and a pair of tickets to see The Little Mermaid!

The special brew will be on tap at Vino’s Brew Pub, 923 W. 7th, Little Rock, and in Foster’s, located on the First Mezzanine at The Rep, during the run of the show, Dec. 2, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016.

Don’t miss your chance to try this one-of-a-kind sweet treat (and beer!) celebrating our holiday musical and get your tickets to The Little Mermaid online or by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405.

Vote for your favorite beer name HERE!

Win Cool Prizes in First-Ever Saints and Sinners Raffle

photoThink of what you could do with $5,000 or who could use 10 tickets to the hottest ticket in town this holiday season, The Little Mermaid, or who would like to hone their acting skills.

By buying a Saints and Sinners Raffle ticket, you would have a chance to win one of these cool prizes!

While the annual gala may be months away, the fun begins now with this special raffle, which includes three amazing prizes. The three raffle prizes include:

  • $5,000 Cash
  • 10 Tickets to The Rep’s Production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Includes ice cream and drinks
  • Private Performing Arts Workshop for up to eight young artists (or adults). Minimum age 10.

Winners will be announced during a live online drawing at 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. The public can follow along on Facebook and Instagram as the winners are announced.

Tickets cost $20 each and are $100 for six. They can be purchased online at www.TheRep.org/saintsraffle; by calling Ronda Lewis at (501) 378-0445, ext. 203; or at The Rep’s Box Office at 601 Main Street, between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Saints and Sinners Raffle benefits The Rep. For more information, visit www.TheRep.org or call Ronda at (501) 378-0445, ext. 203.

Spelling Bee Thursday: Famous Last Words

1401418262000-A01-v2-NL-SPELLING-BEE-30-sJust a few more rounds of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are left and for the final week, we are looking at some of the famous last words at the National Spelling Bee!

Would you be able to beat the national champion? Here is a list of the winning words from the final round, from the past 10 years:

  • appoggiatura (2005): an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size.
  • Ursprache (2006) a parent language; especially one reconstructed from the evidence of later languages
  • serrefine (2007) a small forceps for clamping a blood vessel
  • guerdon (2008) reward
  • Laodicean (2009) lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics
  • Stromuhr (2010) a rheometer designed to measure the amount and speed of blood flow through an artery
  • Cymotrichous (2011) having wavy hair
  • guetapens (2012) a trap
  • Knaidel (2013) matzo ball
  • Stichomythia (2014) dialogue in which two characters speak alternate lines of verse, used as a stylistic device in ancient Greek drama
  • feuilleton (2014) a part of a newspaper or magazine devoted to fiction, criticism, or light literature
  • Scherenschnitte (2015) meaning ‘scissor cuts’ in German, is the art of paper cutting design, often featuring elements of symmetry
  • nunatak (2015) an exposed, often rocky element of a ridge, mountain, or peak not covered with ice or snow within (or at the edge of) an ice field or glacier

(Source: International Business Times)

Don’t miss the highly acclaimed musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee before it ends this Sunday, Nov. 8– book your tickets by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

And don’t forget: we are offering $10 off all remaining tickets to the musical. Get yours now!

Closing Week of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Engage with Us!

the-25th-annual-putnam-county-spelling-bee-at-the-rep

The cast of The Rep’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Just a few more rounds of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are left and for the final week, there are a few things to look out for!

Here is this week’s lineup of fun happenings:

Tuesday, Nov. 3

Preshow pizza: Take a bite out of FREE Vino’s pizza before the 7 p.m. performance!

Thursday, Nov. 5

Beer Night with Arkansas Times and Lost 40: Get your evening started early with a preshow beer tasting. Sponsored by Arkansas Times and Golden Eagle.

Saturday, Nov. 7

The After-Party: Stick around after the performance of Spelling Bee for drinks and look for members of the cast to make an appearance in Foster’s.

Don’t miss the highly acclaimed musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee as it runs through Nov. 8– book your tickets by calling the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

And don’t forget: we are offering $10 off all remaining tickets to the musical. Get yours now!

Spelling Bee Thursday: The Spelling Bee in Popular Culture

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

To get you in the spelling spirit, this week, we are taking a look at spelling bees in popular culture with a little help from our Dramaturg Robert Neblett.

Spelling bees have become one of the most recognizable symbols of American education and have infiltrated many aspects of popular culture throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The bee represents hard work, ingenuity and even the democratic impulse of the American Dream. In addition to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, many books, plays, TV programs and films have explored the quirky, cutthroat world of this academic competition.

CB Spelling Bee 2 Cropped In 1969, the Peanuts characters made their animated feature film debut in “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” which followed everyone’s favorite blockhead as he becomes an unexpected local celebrity by qualifying for the National Spelling Bee. One of the most iconic aspects of this movie’s portrayal of the bee participants is the way the spellers’ heads “pop” and disappear when they are eliminated, expressing the deflation and disappointment that accompanies losing the contest. Another classic sequence features Charlie Brown, Linus and Snoopy learning basic spelling rules through the mnemonic song “I Before E Except After C,” accompanied by the country’s favorite beagle on a twangy jaw-harp.

spellbound-contestant-1

The documentary “Spellbound.”

Season 3 of “South Park” parodied the Peanuts in the episode “Hooked on Monkey Fonics,” in which Cartman loses the bee to a pair of home-schooled siblings. The female sibling, Rebecca, is based upon the winner of the 1997 National Spelling Bee, whose idiosyncrasies included shouting out each letter of her assigned words and whispering into her hands before answering.

In 2006, the film “Akeelah and the Bee” featured Keke Palmer as the title character, who competes in the National Spelling Bee. The film also stars Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett. The film has been embraced by the Scripps National Spelling Bee and is recommended in a number of spelling-related activities on the organization’s websites as a way of raising awareness of the love of spelling.

In 2002, writer and director Jeffrey Bilitz released an Academy Award-nominated documentary called “Spellbound” that viewed the 1999 National Spelling Bee through the eyes of eight of its young competitors. The film exposes many of the quirky techniques employed by young spellers, some of which were adapted by characters in the Spelling Bee musical.

jason-bateman-bad-words

Jason Bateman in “Bad Words.”

In 2013, the dark comedy “Bad Words,” starring Jason Bateman, features an adult character who enters a fictionalized version of the Scripps National Spelling Bee due to a loophole in the rules which makes him able to compete because he dropped out of middle school and, therefore, never completed the eighth grade. During the course of the film, Bateman’s character befriends a young Indian-American competitor.

The 1992 play Eleemosynary by Lee Blessing features a character who was a spelling bee champion and struggles to aid her eidetic mother in caring for her grandmother, who has recently suffered a stroke.

In 1986, the ABC family movie “The Girl Who Spelled Freedom” tells the story of a young refugee from Cambodia who confronts the difficulties and prejudices of her new American home by competing in a local spelling bee.Simpsons Spelling Bee

Other television programs, such as “The Simpsons,” “My Name is Earl,” “The Proud Family,” “Family Guy” and “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide have featured prominent characters and plotlines revolving around spelling bees as well.

Have you seen any of these movies or shows?

Don’t miss the highly acclaimed musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 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.

Spelling Bee Thursday: Bee Trivia

Photo of 1925 National Bee Finalists

The 1925 National Bee finalists

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

To get you in the spelling spirit, this week, we thought it would be fun share a few fun facts about spelling bees and the Tony Award-winning musical with a little help from our Dramaturg Robert Neblett.

Here we go:

Why is it called a “bee”?

(Source: SpellingBee.Com, the official website of the Scripps National Spelling Bee)

The word bee, as used in spelling bee, is one of those language puzzles that has never been satisfactorily accounted for. A fairly old and widely-used word, it refers to a community social gathering at which friends and neighbors join together in a single activity (sewing, quilting, barn raising, etc.) usually to help one person or family. The earliest known example in print is a spinning bee in 1769. Other early occurrences are husking bee (1816), apple bee (1827) and logging bee (1836). Spelling bee is apparently an American term. It first appeared in print in 1875, but it seems certain that the word was used orally for several years before that.

Those who used the word, including most early students of language, assumed that it was the same word as referred to the insect. They thought that this particular meaning had probably been inspired by the obvious similarity between these human gatherings and the industrious, social nature of a beehive. But in recent years scholars have rejected this explanation, suggesting instead that this bee is a completely different word.

One possibility is that it comes from the Middle English word bene, which means “a prayer” or “a favor” (and is related to the more familiar word boon). In England, a dialect form of this word, been or bean, referred to “voluntary help given by neighbors toward the accomplishment of a particular task.”

Bee may simply be a shortened form of been, but no one is entirely certain.

Short History of the Musical

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee began as a heavily-improvised performance piece titled C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E, originally conceived by Rebecca Feldman and the members of her company The Farm, in 2002. After its initial success, the play was adapted as a musical in 2004 by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn (the composer behind Falsettos and A New Brain). The musical originated at the Barrington Stage Company, then played off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in 2005, transferring to Broadway at Circle in the Square Theatre later that year. Spelling Bee won two Tony Awards in 2005, one for Best Book of a Musical by Rachel Sheinkin and Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler as William Barfée). Fogler is the only member of the original cast of C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E to remain with the show through the Broadway run.

40th Anniversary Season Connections

Did you know that Broadway’s original Olive Ostrovsky, played by Celia Keenan-Bolger, also played the female lead role of Molly in the original New York production of Peter and the Starcatcher?

2015 Spelling Bee Champs (2)Co-Winners

A tie can be declared if the national competition officials run out of words from the year’s approved list before one of the top two spellers are eliminated. In 2014 and 2015, the Scripps National Spelling Bee declared co-winners: Sriram Hathwar, an eighth-grader from New York, and Ansun Sujoe, a seventh-grader from Texas, in 2014; and Vanya Shivashankar (Kansas) and Gokul Venkatachalam (Missouri) in 2015. This has only happened five times in the history of the National Spelling Bee, and the last time co-winners were crowned prior to 2014 was 1962.

A-R-K-A-N-S-A-S

While the 1995 national champion was technically a resident of Arkansas at the time of his win, his official state affiliation was Tennessee. To date, no Arkansas resident has ever won the national spelling bee.

“Parent/Teacher Nights

Beginning with the original Broadway production, companies of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee often schedule adults-only performances of the musical, featuring risqué vocabulary words and blush-worthy definitions and sentence usage examples, provided by the character of Vice Principal Panch.

Sharpton Tony Awards (2)

Al Sharpton was one of the volunteer participants during a scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Tony Awards.

Audience Participation

More than 4,500 audience members joined the Broadway cast onstage as volunteer spellers during its original New York run. This aspect of the show adds an element of unpredictability to the evening’s festivities. One audience volunteer was a National Spelling Bee champion, and she lasted 14 rounds onstage before being eliminated. Another memorable audience moment involved a spectator who angrily accused the actor playing Barfée of misspelling words during the performance. A celebrity audience sighting saved one performance when an actor became ill onstage and Panch noticed TV star David Hasselhoff in the crowd and brought him onstage while the sick actor’s understudy was prepped to go on in her place.

The Cast is a Modern Family

The actor who originated the role of home-schooled speller Leaf Coneybear in the New York production is acclaimed stage and screen actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, best known as Mitchell on ABC’s popular comedy Modern Family.

Home-Schooled Champions

The winners of the 1997 and 2000 National Spelling Bees were home-schooled students like the musical’s Leaf Coneybear. It is unknown, however, if they were cape-wearing dinosaur enthusiasts.

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.

New This Season: Pay Your Age Night!

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The cast of The Rep’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by John David Pittman.

With our 40th MainStage Season in full swing, it’s only fitting that we have even more events and specials to offer our patrons.

We already have Pay What You Can Night that takes place the first Wednesday preview performance of every production. Now, we have another special performance for patrons: Pay Your Age Night, sponsored by Little Rock Soiree magazine, Colonial Wine and Spirits, and The Point/The Ride!

Are you 22-40 years young? You can pay your age for the first Sunday evening performance (7 p.m.) for every production this season! Check out the full season lineup here.

Our next special Pay Your Age Night is Sunday, Oct. 18!

Tickets are available by phone at (501) 378-0405 or in person at The Rep, 601 Main St., Little Rock. Tickets are limited to four per household. Proof of age for each member of the party is required at time of pickup before the performance.

See you here!