by Robert Bell
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre unveiled its 2013-2014 season yesterday afternoon at a champagne reception in its lobby.
A re-concieved version of the Rodgers & Hart classic "Pal Joey" kicks off the season (Sept. 6-29). The new incarnation "explodes with song and dance while exploring morality, race, class and the timeless relationship between power and sex," according to a Rep press release.
Up next is "Red" (Oct. 25-Nov. 10), a bio-drama about a tense period in the life of painter Mark Rothko. The play is produced in partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center, which has an upcoming Rothko exhibit called "Mark Rothko in the 1940's: The Decisive Decade."
Next is a world premiere musical, "Because of Winn Dixie" (Dec. 6-29), based on the Kate DeCamillo novel and created by a Tony-winning team, including Grammy-winning songwriter Duncan Sheik. The show will be "the first pre-Broadway musical starring a live dog as the central character," according to The Rep.
"Clybourne Park" (Jan. 24-Feb. 9) is a "bitingly funny and fiercely provocative new play about the volatile combination of race and real estate."
"Les Miserables", that unstoppable juggernaut of musical theater, returns (March 7-30, 2014) and with it, actor Douglas Webster in the role of Jean Valjean. You can get your yucks on with The Second City (April 21-May 4, 2014). The laughs continue with the season closer, "The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)" (June 6-22, 2014). The widely loved truncation is "a parody of the 37 plays written by William Shakespeare, with all of them being performed in shortened, and side-splitting, form."
After the jump, check out The Rep's complete press release about the 2013-2014 season.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2012
ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE ANNOUNCES 2013-2014 SEASON
Season includes vibrant new artistic experiences, including two world premieres
(Little Rock) — Arkansas Repertory Theatre (The Rep), the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre, is proud to announce its 38th MainStage Season. The new season will include vibrant new artistic experiences that exemplify The Rep’s mission of producing diverse work of the highest artistic standards for its Arkansas audience.
“We welcome you to experience a variety of bold plays, new artistic experiences and vivid stories that will engage and entertain in our most vibrant season yet,” says Bob Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
THE 2013-2014 MAINSTAGE SEASON
Sept. 6 — Sept. 29, 2013
Taking the stage Sept. 6 — Sept. 29, 2013 is a re-conceived version of the Rodgers & Hart 1940 classic Pal Joey. After an enthusiastically received concert reading at Pasadena’s prestigious Boston Court Theatre last year, Director Peter Schneider was encouraged by the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization to move forward with a fully realized production.
With direction by Peter Schneider, a book by Patrick Pacheco based on the short stories and "Pal Joey" libretto by John O'Hara, and musical supervision and arrangements by Michael Reno, this new incarnation explodes with song and dance while exploring morality, race, class and the timeless relationship between power and sex. The new score has been enhanced with other memorable songs from the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart catalogue.
Such classics as “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Sing for Your Supper,” and “Glad To Be Unhappy” are now intermingled with gems from the original 1940 show like “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and “I Could Write a Book.” Also included is the song “What is a Man?” This Pal Joey answers that question in the most provocative and unexpected ways.
Peter Schneider is the Tony-Award-winning producer of the internationally acclaimed Broadway musical, The Lion King, the director of Sister Act, The Musical in London and My Life with Men...and Other Animals, starring Maria Cassi. He produced the award-winning documentary, “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” about Disney Animation from 1984 — 1994, and served as President of Animation and Chairman of the Studio for the Walt Disney Company for 17 years.
“Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the perfect environment for the artistic collaborative process required to reinvent a musical," says Schneider. “I am thrilled to partner with Arkansas Rep and Bob to present the world premiere of this exciting new version of Pal Joey."
Joey has the voice of an angel and a devilish charisma. When the ambitious young black singer lands at a white Chicago nightclub in 1948, he intrigues the sassy chorus girls, the jazz-loving pianist and, most dangerously, a rich beautiful socialite. Hungry to headline at his own glittering club, Joey is willing to do whatever he can to get there.
“It’s exciting to introduce this classic American musical to our audience,” says Hupp. “Edgy for its time, Pal Joey is perhaps best known for the film version starring Frank Sinatra. Peter Schneider’s production breathes new life into this classic tale and brings new relevance to the story that unfolds amidst this powerful score.”
Oct. 25 — Nov. 10, 2013
In partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center’s upcoming exhibit “Mark Rothko in the 1940’s: The Decisive Decade,” we are thrilled to announce the production of the revealing Rothko bio-drama Red, on stage Oct. 25 — Nov. 10, 2013.
Directed by Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp, Red will star Rep favorite Joe Graves (Othello, The Tempest, Of Mice and Men, Moonlight and Magnolias) as the abstract artist Mark Rothko. The production will open in Fayetteville in September before moving to Little Rock in October.
Written by John Logan and set in Rothko’s studio on the Bowery, Red drops you squarely inside the world of the painter and sets your heart pounding, chronicling the tormented artist's two-year struggle to complete a lucrative set of murals for Manhattan's exclusive Four Seasons restaurant. This production provides a rare glimpse of an artist through the lens of his relationship with his naïve young assistant, who must choose between appeasing his mentor—and changing the course of art history.
Amid the swiftly changing cultural tide of the late 1950s, Red is a startling snapshot of a brilliant artist at the height of his fame. When his new assistant challenges his artistic integrity, Rothko must confront his own demons or be crushed by the ever-changing art world he helped create.
“The Rep’s first-time partnership with the Arkansas Arts Center offers a depth of artistic exploration never before offered to Little Rock audiences,” says Hupp.
BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE
Dec. 6 — Dec. 29, 2013
A world premiere musical brings a Tony Award-winning creative team to Little Rock this holiday season. On stage Dec. 6 — Dec. 29, 2013, Because of Winn Dixie, with book and lyrics by Nell Benjamin and music by Duncan Sheik, is a new musical based on the popular 2000 novel by Kate DeCamillo.
Taran, an Irish Wolfhound, has been cast in the title role of “Winn-Dixie,” trained by Broadway’s foremost animal trainer, Bill Berloni. This will be the first pre-Broadway musical starring a live dog as the central character.
This unique production will include music by Duncan Sheik (Tony and Grammy Award Winner for Spring Awakening), lyrics and book by Nell Benjamin (Tony Nominee for Legally Blonde), direction by John Tartaglia (Tony Nominee for Avenue Q) and animal direction by Bill Berloni (a 2011 Tony Honor recipient).
“It has always amazed me the reaction animals have on an audience,” says Berloni, “My theory is we all know anything onstage is an extension of reality. We love when actors go up on lines and become real. We love seeing two partners in real life play characters onstage. So when a dog or cat comes onstage, our collective reality is ‘Wait a minute, you can't get an animal to act, what is it going to do?’ And it brings the audience closer into the piece. While you can create animals as main characters in film, it has never been tried onstage.”
Because of Winn Dixie tells the story of lonely young girl who moves to Florida with her father. She goes into the Winn-Dixie supermarket and comes out with a large stray dog who helps her rekindle an almost lost relationship with her father.
“We were honored that the creative team of Winn Dixie approached us for this world premiere. I think this project has tremendous potential to introduce a significant new work into the American musical theatre canon,” says Hupp. “Duncan Sheik is my favorite contemporary Broadway composer and this story will melt your heart. It’s a departure from what we’ve been doing for the holidays these past few years, but the themes and family friendly nature of this new musical will be a cause of celebration for the theatre and our patrons.”
Jan. 24 — Feb. 9, 2014
Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize and 2011 Tony Award for Best Play, Clybourne Park is a bitingly funny and fiercely provocative new play about the volatile combination of race and real estate.
On stage in the new year from Jan. 24 — Feb. 9, 2014, written by Bruce Norris and directed by Rep founder Cliff Baker, this ferociously sharp play is inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's popular classic A Raisin in the Sun.
Clybourne Park portrays fictional events set before and after the Hansberry play and is loosely based on historical events. In 1959, a white couple sells their home to a black family (the Younger family from A Raisin in the Sun), causing an uproar in their middle-class neighborhood.
Fifty years later in 2009, the same house is changing hands again, but the stakes have changed. As neighbors wage a hilarious and pitched battle over territory and legacy, Clybourne Park reveals just how far our ideas about race and gentrification have evolved.
When our houses become our homes, and our neighborhoods become our identities, what will we do to protect them? As hidden agendas unfold, an unforgettable story is revealed without good guys or bad guys, just real people with real concerns about the future of their community.
“The impact of this play is immediately relevant to our lives in Little Rock. This is a play about neighborhoods and identity. I never thought real estate could be the subject of life changing drama, but after seeing Clybourne Park a few years ago, I knew it belonged on The Rep stage,” says Hupp. “Its searing wit, intriguing plot twists and hard hitting social commentary make Clybourne Park a theatrical tour de force not to be missed.”
March 7 — March 30, 2014
A co-production with Arizona's Phoenix Theatre, Les Miserables returns to The Rep stage March 7 — March 30, 2014, directed by Rep Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp and featuring an all new set design.
The Rep is pleased to announce the return of Douglas Webster to The Rep stage as Jean Valjean in the world’s longest-running musical, Les Miserables, seen by over 60 million people in 42 countries and now an Academy Award-winning major motion picture.
Les Miserables features music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, original French lyrics by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, an English-language libretto by Herbert Kretzmer and is based on the novel of the same name by French poet and playwright Victor Hugo.
Discover a nation in the grip of revolution, where convict Jean Valjean is on the run. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert for breaking his parole, he must leave his past behind and keep his vow to raise the young orphaned Cosette. But with revolution in the air and Javert closing in, Jean Valjean has no choice but to fight for his life and sacrifice everything to protect the people he loves.
This legendary production of Boublil and Schönberg’s classic sweeps its audience through an epic tale of passion and destruction in 19th century France. “The recent film illustrates that star power is no substitute for vocal power, or the emotional connection of experiencing the epic Les Miserables on The Rep’s intimate stage,” says Hupp.
THE SECOND CITY
April 21 — May 4, 2014
The Second City Touring Company loads up the tour bus and heads to Little Rock April 21 — May 4, 2014. Hilarious, fast-paced and always topical, and highly interactive with priceless audience interactions, The Second City has audiences rolling in the aisles all across the country. No institution escapes the satiric eye of The Second City — from the blowhards of the Beltway to the Hollywood elite.
“From John Belushi to Tina Fey to Stephen Colbert, The Second City alumni define comedy in America,” says Hupp. “You’ll want to be the first to check out the rising new stars on their all-new tour.”
THE COMPLEAT WORKS OF WLM SHKSPR ABRIDGED
June 6 — June 22, 2014
Life is short. The complete works of Shakespeare are long. Now all of the bard’s most familiar pieces are condensed into one hilarious roller-coaster spoof. Ending The Rep’s season is an entertaining romp on stage June 6 — June 22, 2014, as audiences will see all of Shakespeare 37 plays in only 97 minutes.
Directed by Rep Director of Education and Resident Director Nicole Capri, The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) is a parody of the 37 plays written by William Shakespeare, with all of them being performed in shortened, and side-splitting, form.
The play was written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield, former founding members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and first performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1987 and later played at the Criterion Theatre in London, where it ran for nine record-breaking years.
It has become one of the world’s most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages. The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) is most notable for holding the (self-proclaimed) world record for the shortest-ever performance of Hamlet, clocking in at just 43 seconds.
EDUCATIONAL WORK AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
In addition to The Rep’s MainStage productions, educational work and community partnerships fill The Rep’s calendar.
The extremely popular Summer Musical Theatre Intensive (SMTI) workshops for young artists will be held July 7 — July 20, 2013. SMTI, 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.
From equity-card carrying actors living and working in New York, to LA where graduates are pursuing film careers as actors, writers and film-makers, to Nashville where they are recording artists and video stars, to national and international tours, teachers, choreographers, directors and even a third SMTI finalist on American Idol, the most talented young artists in the state have made The Rep's Young Artists Program a success.
"SMTI has experienced tremendous growth and success over the past eight years," says Capri. "Our fan-base has grown by leaps and bounds and our alumni graduates have gone on to pursue successful careers as working professionals in the performing, visual and creative arts."
Now Capri is taking the program in another direction, and plans to create a brand new, all-original musical with a life potential beyond Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s stage. The goal for the original musical is to produce a diverse and “culture-current” musical score and soundtrack that could be heard on any radio station across the country, to introduce new songs from almost every genre of music (contemporary-alternative, acoustic-folk, urban-rock, indie-pop, jazz-fusion, Nashville-sound, progressive-Broadway and sunshine-pop) and to develop a relevant and relatable original project.
Young artists ages 16 — 23 selected for the program will workshop the original production from July 7 — July 20 and perform their show on July 20. Ages 10 — 15 will workshop from July 21 — August 3 and take the stage on August 3.
"This does mean no fall SMTI Mainstage production," says Capri. "The creative team, comprised of myself, Bobby Banister, Conly Basham, Mark Binns, Sam Clark, Robert Frost, Jimmy Landfair and Charity Vance, will continue to work for an additional eight to ten months to revise and refine our product."
Ballet Arkansas will return to The Rep stage in April 14 — April 20, 2014, and the Little Rock Film Festival will return to 601 Main Street in May 13 — May 18, 2014, with spring dates for the Arkansas New Play Fest at the Oxford American Magazine's Main Street venue to be announced at a later date.
Advance Season Subscriptions are on sale now and will range from $180 - $260 through March 31, making subscribing to The Rep the best way to get the best seats at the best price ahead of sellout shows. Subscription pricing will go up in April. Single ticket sales open to the public in August.
Call The Rep’s Box Office at (501) 378-0405 for more information on Season Subscriptions or visit www.therep.org.
About the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
Founded in 1976, Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state’s largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT D), The Rep has produced more than 280 productions, including 40 world premieres, in its historic building in downtown Little Rock. Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp leads a resident staff of designers, technicians and administrators in the creation of seven or more productions for an annual audience in excess of 70,000 for MainStage and SecondStage productions, educational programming and touring. The Rep produces works that range from contemporary comedies and dramas to world premieres and the classics of dramatic literature. For more information, visit www.therep.org.