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Arkansas Repertory Theatre Announces 2021 Outdoor Series


Productions include Marie & Rosetta, Primating, and more.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre Announces 2021 Outdoor Series

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has announced a return to producing live theatrical performances with its 2021 "The Rep Outdoors" Series. In partnership with the City of Little Rock, the Arkansas Rep will present two full productions -

Marie & Rosetta, a celebration of the life and music of Arkansas-native Sister Rosetta Tharpe, performed July 13 - August 1 on the grounds of War Memorial Park. Written by George Brant, the production will be directed by Arkansas-native Steve H. Broadnax III. Sponsored by Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield and Southwest Power Pool.

Primating, a world-premiere romantic comedy set in an African safari camp, performed August 10-29 at the Little Rock Zoo. Written by award-winning novelist, journalist, and screenwriter Jennifer Vanderbes, the production will be directed by Ari Edelson.

The Rep will also present a free-to-the-public concert performance of The Fantasticks, the classic musical written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, on Sunday, October 3 on the grounds of Murray Park.

"If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's how much we all crave being out in the world, and sharing experiences with our families, friends, and neighbors," said The Rep's Executive Artistic Director, Will Trice. "That's exactly what live theatre provides, and these immersive productions give us the chance to enjoy our city's beautiful community spaces in a whole new way."

"The city of Little Rock is thrilled to partner with The Rep to bring people together in a safe fashion and enjoy theatre while showcasing our city's amazing parks and Zoo," Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. said. "Innovative approaches to parks usage such as this bring excitement to our community and provide additional opportunities for intentional interactions with our fellow residents and visitors to Little Rock."

Series tickets for both summer productions will go on sale June 1, with tickets for individual productions going on sale July 1. Rep patrons who donated the value of their tickets to cancelled 2020 productions will be offered an advance pre-sale period beginning May 24.

The Rep is closely following the latest recommended public health protocols to ensure that each audience member will have an enjoyable, comfortable, and safe experience. All performances will be held in open air facilities, and capacities will be limited to accommodate social distancing. Other specific policies will be released at a later date.


Marie and Rosetta

Written by George Brant

Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III

Opening the 2021 "Rep Outdoors" Series is Marie and Rosetta, an award-winning play featuring the music of Cotton Plant-native Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In a version specially written for this production, the play will be directed by Little Rock-native Steve H. Broadnax III, prior to his Broadway directing debut this fall.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, also known as "the Godmother of Rock and Roll," brings fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music. A huge influence on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, and Ray Charles, the legendary Arkansan is celebrated in this play which chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duos in musical history.

The production, sponsored by Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Southwest Power Pool, will run July 13-August 1, 2021 at "The Rep Revival Tent" on the grounds of War Memorial Park.


Written by Jennifer Vanderbes

Directed by Ari Edelson

Second in the 2021 "Rep Outdoors" Series is the world-premiere production of Primating, a romantic comedy by award-winning novelist, journalist, and screenwriter Jennifer Vanderbes.

Desmond and Eve, two of the world's leading primatologists, re-unite on a chimp reserve in Africa to study the mating habits of primates, and wind up grappling with their animal instincts. The headstrong, brainy ex-lovers use what they know about primate behavior to justify their own past decisions, igniting a full-blown battle of the sexes - and wits - as they pit man against woman, and ape against man.

The production will run August 10-30, 2021 at the Civitan Pavilion in the Little Rock Zoo.

The Fantasticks

Book & Lyrics by Tom Jones

Music by Harvey Schmidt

The third and final event of the 2021 "Rep Outdoors" Series is a concert staging of the beloved, award-winning musical The Fantasticks. This concert staging will be free to the public and held on the grounds of Murray Park on Sunday, October 3.

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