AVENUE Q, DEATH OF A SALESMAN & More Set for Arkansas Repertory Theatre in 2012-2013
Arkansas Repertory Theatre (The Rep), the state's largest nonprofit professional theatre, has announced its 37th MainStage Season. The new season will include dramatic contrasts, classic productions and a world premiere production to form a season that exemplifies The Rep's mission of producing diverse work of the highest artistic standards for its Arkansas audience.
"We welcome you to set sail with us through a season of exciting contrasts; plays and musicals that demand to live on a stage and that reflect theatrical storytelling at its most dynamic and creative," says Bob Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
"We'll celebrate the triumph of the human spirit and reveal incredible art in the ordinary, while also exploring the dark side of the American Dream. We'll experience epic tales as one young leader strives for redemption and power while another becomes caught up in a dangerous world not of his making. And we'll laugh and sing along with the warm nostalgia of holidays gone by and a hysterical adult comedy in two completely different but utterly charming musical productions," says Hupp. "Every season is a journey, but this season is truly an adventure."
THE 2012-2013 MAINSTAGE SEASON
"From this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers." William Shakespeare's Henry V will open The Rep's season and run September 7 – September 23, 2012.
Directed by Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Henry V is at once an indictment of war and a testament to valor in the face of overwhelming odds as an adventurous young king must grapple with absolute power.
In this famous story, King Henry IV has died, and his son, young King Henry V assumes the throne. As bitter civil wars have broken the people of England, Henry V must put aside his wild adolescent past, gain the respect of his people and rebuild his country.
In this context, Henry rashly decides to invade France to lay claim to his birthright. As he learns of a conspiracy on his life, he must also fight against incredible odds to win the famous Battle of Agincourt, where the English are vastly outnumbered by the French and defeat is an utmost certainty.
Everything is at stake, including a marriage with the power to unite the two kingdoms, unless young King Henry V can successfully conquer his friends, his enemies and himself in one of Shakespeare's most epic tales.
"Henry V is such a compelling character," says Hupp. "A young king, untested, driven by ambition, who strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process."
Up next is The Rep's Young Artists' Production, an annual performance by The Rep's SMTI (Summer Musical Theatre Intensive) theatre training program October 24 – November 3, 2012. The most talented young artists in the state always deliver some of the most feel good shows of the season.
Conceived and directed by The Rep's Resident Director and Director of Education, Nicole Capri, this year's show is all about the actor's journey from stardust to stardom and is titled "Singin' on a Star." These young artists will celebrate a rite of passage to the Broadway stage – waiting tables! With song selections from the pop charts and the Great White Way, The Rep's starving young artists sing about big dreams in the big apple this fall.
"The Rep's Young Artists have established themselves as a defining characteristic of this theatre. Their enthusiasm and spirit leaps across the footlights and combines with their amazing talent to create unforgettable experiences each season," says Hupp.
Just in time for Christmas, Rep audiences are invited to see wha happens when a couple of song-and-dance men with romance on their minds follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters on their way to a Christmas show in Vermont in Irving Berlin's nostalgic classic White Christmas.
Sparks fly and snow falls as a dazzling score features some of the most famous songs ever written, including "Blue Skies," "I Love a Piano," "Happy Holidays," "It's Cold Outside" and the unforgettable classic "White Christmas."
Based on the popular Paramount Pictures film, written for the screen by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a book by David Ives and Paul Blake, White Christmas runs November 30 – December 30, 2012 and will be directed by Nicole Capri.
"White Christmas is the perfect holiday musical," says Hupp. "It's a trip down memory lane for those who remember the music and the movie, and it's sure to inspire new appreciation for the timeless music of Irving Berlin – one of America's greatest composers."
The new year brings another new production to The Rep stage with Gee's Bend, written by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and directed by Gilbert McCauley, January 25 – February 10, 2013.
Confronting segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and family turmoil, Gee's Bend follows the life of Sadie Pettway and the women in her sewing circle, who turn to quilting to provide comfort and creative expression to their lives.
What begins as a labor of love and necessity soon turns into a spiritual and artistic awakening. Pieced from discarded clothes and seasoned with laughter and tears, the women sew a patchwork of inventive abstract designs in rich, blazing colors. Stitch by stitch, the stories of these strong women are revealed as their experiences unravel and inspire them to create what the New York Times would call "miraculous works of modern art."
"Gee's Bend celebrates the triumph of the human spirit and reveals art in the ordinary," says Hupp. "The unique story of the quilts of Gee's Bend is an inspiration and we are proud to tell this uplifting story on The Rep stage."
The true story of the women of Gee's Bend has already touched millions who viewed their stunning work through a national exhibition tour and features in Newsweek and Oprah Winfrey's O Magazine. "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" have been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
Just in time for spring, The Rep will set sail on the adventure of a lifetime: the world premiere of Treasure Island, A New Musical, March 8 – March 31, 2013.
Directed and choreographed by Brett Smock, with book by Brett Smock and Carla Vitale and music and lyrics by Corinne Aquilina, this is not a children's story – this brand new production is set to a thrilling musical score and is full of daring action and adventure. Through the eyes of its young hero, Treasure Island, A New Musical reexamines the essence of heroism, the journey to manhood and the strength of the human spirit.
Bored by his mundane life at the Admiral Benbow Inn, and entranced by the mysterious Captain Billy Bones and his wild seafaring tales, young Jim Hawkins yearns for a life of adventure. His wish is soon granted as members of the infamous Captain Flint crew pursue Bones and his hidden treasure map.
When Bones dies in a struggle for the map, Jim narrowly escapes with his life and Bones' prize possession. With a sturdy crew in place led by Long John Silver, and with Jim under the protection of a doctor, a nobleman and a stoic ship's captain, they set sail in search of their fortunes.
As greed escalates, mutiny threatens and loyalties are forever broken. Armed and hungry for the treasure, the camps arrive where "X" marks the spot. Will they find the treasure? And if so, at what cost?
"This thrilling tale introduces us to a young boy caught up in a world not of his making, a world of greed and betrayal," says Hupp. "With a fresh new take on the famous story that defined the idea of adventure, this production shines anew as we all embark on the journey."
Never has the pursuit of the American dream been more relevant than it is today. Up next in the season is the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning production, Death of a Salesman, directed by Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, and running April 26 – May 12, 2013.
"Attention must be paid," wrote the legendary Arthur Miller, the playwright who brought us The Crucible, All My Sons and A View from the Bridge, in this classic tragedy first published in 1949. Death of a Salesman went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Tony Award for Best Play and the New York Critics' Circle Best Play award.
Traveling salesman Willy Loman is at the end of his career and the end of his rope. He is forced to confront his failures in both his career and his family and struggle to keep his hopes and dreams alive as he falls short of the impossible standards of the American dream. As his wife and sons wage a desperate struggle to engage him in the present, Willy ignores what he has in favor of pursuing what he doesn't, serving up a compelling and opportune lesson in the process.
"Miller's language transports us into a world where we are all reflected, and where we ignore his desperate warning at our own peril," says Hupp. "Death of a Salesman gives Rep audiences the opportunity to witness American playwriting at its zenith."
Closing out The Rep's season is Avenue Q, one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history and Winner of the Tony "Triple Crown" for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. On stage June 7 – June 30, 2013, with a director yet to be determined, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart.
More South Park than Sesame Street and not appropriate for children, Avenue Q is a raunchy, laugh-out-loud puppet musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the girl next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the Internet sexpert), Lucy The Slut (need we say more?) and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life.
Avenue Q was co-created by Robert Lopez, who also co-created the recent Broadway hit The Book of Mormon with Comedy Central's "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and received Tony Awards for both works. Named "Best on Broadway" in 2003, critics universally called Avenue Q "the most fun onstage this year!"
"We've had so many requests for this musical and finally, after years of trying, we have the rights to produce Avenue Q on our stage," says Hupp. "It's truly one of the funniest musicals I've ever seen."
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 and season subscriptions, visit www.therep.org.