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The Ugly Duckling 

Let There Be Light!

Electroluminescence (ih·lek·troh·lo·muh·nes·ans) - the emission of light by phosphor when activated by an electric charge. Also, a word that’s a little tough to pronounce, especially for the 5-8 year old kiddos that we hung out with at the Fayetteville Public Library last week for a fun, engaging and educational science experiment!

Equipped with batteries, Christmas lights and multicolored electrical tape, we conducted a mini science lesson alongside a story-time session of The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare. Usually science experiments and Aesop’s fables don’t quite walk hand in hand, but that’s not the case with Lightwire Theater’s production of the two classic tales! Their twist on the stories includes puppetry, and their twist on puppetry is…you guessed it, electroluminescence!

We showed this video from Lightwire Theater's production of The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare to the little scientists as a preview of what we’d be creating and they were immediately interested. “Oohs” and “ahhs” floated about the room, eyes lit up and the excitement commenced.   

Ready to create their own light, the kids practically ran over to the activity station and were patiently awaiting instruction.

What you'll need:

  • Christmas lights, cut down to one lightbulb per scientist and stripped so that the copper wire (i.e. the conductor) is exposed. 
  • One double A battery per person.
  • Two strips of electical tape (i.e. the insulator), color of your choosing.    

Now for the fun part...

Simply connect the exposed copper wire to each end of the battery, secure with electrical tape, and ta-dah. Electroluminescence!

As the children watched their lightbulbs illuminate, the smiles and excited chittering absolutely could not be contained.

Try this easy yet crowd-pleasing experiment at home with your kids, and don’t forget to visit Walton Arts Center on March 1 for The Ugly Duckling and The Tortoise and the Hare presented by Lightwire Theater! You won’t want to miss these full-bodied electroluminescent puppets regaling the stories that teach us some of life’s most difficult but important lessons, that “slow and steady wins the race” and “beauty is only skin deep.”







Battle of the Bands

Walton Arts Center's

Battle of the Bands

Thursday, Feb. 26 - Saturday, Feb. 28

Next weekend at Walton Arts Center three musical groups will face off in a Battle of the Bands like you’ve never seen it before! Artists from different decades with significantly different styles will compete in hopes of becoming the best of the best at Walton Arts Center.

Introducing our competitors...

In the first corner, we have Rhonda Vincent and the Rage! One of the most awarded bands in bluegrass, this musical sensation is sure to be a tough competitor. Rhonda Vincent, who was dubbed “The New Queen of Bluegrass” by The Wall Street Journal, is known for having mastered the progressive chord structures and multi-range, fast-paced vocals typical of bluegrass music. With that kind of talent, this band is going to be hard to beat! On Thursday, Feb. 26, see why The Buffalo News says that “Rhonda Vincent is to bluegrass now what Aretha Franklin once was to soul music.” Even the queen of country music, Dolly Parton is a fan! When asked what she thought about the bluegrass superstar, Parton answered with praise:

“Rhonda Vincent. What a talent. What a beauty. What a special human being.”

Our second musical act battling for the crown is The Australian Bee Gees Show. If you like romance, nostalgia, dancing and disco, this is sure to be the group you'll root for! This band pays tribute to four decades of songs written by the Gibb brothers a.k.a. the Bee Gees, including well-known songs like “Staying Alive” and “You Should be Dancing.” On top of that, there's a flashy light show and LED screens that really make you to feel like you’re back in the good ole days... the 70s! Grab your bell-bottoms, get up and boogie down with The Australian Bee Gees Show on Friday, Feb. 27.

And last, but not least, is the most contemporary of our competitors. Prepare to get pitch-slapped on Saturday, Feb. 28 by a sing-along version of “Pitch Perfect,” which tells the story of a group of ladies well-versed in competing in vocal battles. Using their voices to emulate instruments and harmonize contemporary tunes, this a cappella group is full of sass and ready to bring it! By mashing up pop songs we all know and love into something original and cutting edge, these ladies will make you laugh and want to sing-along! Lucky for you, we have the lyrics for you to follow along with on-screen. Grab your BFF and practice your do-re-mi's…’cause it’s going to be a sing-off like no other!

Now that you’ve gotten to know the competitors, you’re going to have to help us choose a winner! It is going to be tough deciding between these talented artists, so get your tickets for next weekend’s shows and decide, once and for all... who will win the Battle of the Bands? 

Tickets to all of these shows are on sale now! Buy tickets here.

 *Please note that this is not truly a Battle of the Bands, but rather a collection of various musical performances that will be held at Walton Arts Center this month. No competition winner will be chosen.



   Broadway Dreams Come True for Three Local Boys

*Sword fights, gallant knights and damsels in distress* - combined, these are the ingredients for any child’s perfect action-packed and fun-filled playtime scenario. But for three young, local actors, these imaginary games are coming to life on stage. After auditioning among other actors, Preston Dulaney (14), Jack Duncan (8) and Jake Fennell (12) were selected by the casting agency to portray the role of “Tom of Warwick” in the internationally acclaimed, Tony Award-winning production of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot at Walton Arts Center.

Tom of Warwick appears, towards the end of the play, as a young boy destined to fulfill his dreams of becoming a knight, fighting for what is right and giving King Arthur hope for the future of Camelot.

“I was so happy when I heard I was doing a show at the Walton Arts Center! That’s really big,” Jake Fennell said, remembering how he felt since he’d been selected for the role.

Although rehearsals haven’t started yet, the seventh grader at Arkansas Arts Academy is eager to learn all that he can from the production company and older cast members. The opportunity to share the stage with actors who are *living their dream* of performing in a Broadway show gives these young thespians a unique experience not typically offered to actors their age.

“I’m excited to be up there on stage with people who are substantially older; I’ve never done a play with people over 20 years old. I love interacting with other people and learning from the adults and all the cooperation that’s involved.”

Preston Dulaney, who is a ninth grader at Bentonville High School, told us that he was “absolutely filled with joy” when he discovered he landed the part.

“I am so excited to meet all of the people in the show and be onstage alongside them. I love getting laughs and seeing the hundreds of people in the audience. I think that plays add more culture to the world,” he said.

The youngest cast member, Jack Duncan, a third grader at Fayetteville Montessori School was also overjoyed at the thought of performing with such a large production.

“I was so excited and happy when I found out. I couldn’t believe it. I think Camelot is a really cool story and I get to perform it on that huge stage in front of a huge audience. I’ve been to the Walton Arts Center a few times and it’s great.”

For all three boys, acting and performing has been a large part of their lives. “He told me when he was four years old that he wanted to be an actor. He would watch TV and mimic what they were doing. He’d say ‘I want to be one of those people,’” said Jennifer McClory, Preston’s mother.

Jake, on the other hand, found out that he had a knack for acting through Trike Theater, a professional youth theater based in Bentonville and a resident company of Walton Arts Center.

“In elementary school I played the lead role in the production of King Puck that I did with Trike Theater. I played a talking donkey! It was my first performance and it was good because I was among professionals and peers of the same age, so I felt very comfortable. It helped me realize that I love acting,” said Jake.

Acting isn’t Jake’s only passion. He also plays the violin and has hopes of become a roller coaster engineer when he grows up.

Jack decided that he loved to act after he portrayed the infamous Grinch in a school production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since then he has been studying theater arts and performance at Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville.

“I love getting to pretend to be someone else and getting to make new friends. It is the best part of acting for me.”

When preparing for the audition, the talented trio agreed that the key to success is complete memorization of their lines with a dash of *imagination and artistry*. They also said they benefit from rehearsing with the actors they play opposite of, watching their body language and facial expressions to gauge how the scene might unfold.

 “I read over the script and tried to memorize the lines as best as I could. I always try to get into the character’s shoes and understand what they’re going through. When I read the lines it helps me get into character, and for some reason it just clicks for me in my brain,” said Preston.

“I memorized my lines so that I didn’t mess up, and my dad helped me to rehearse and get ready for the audition. I also took lots of deep breaths,” said Jake. “My advice is to not procrastinate on learning your lines. Even when you have them memorized, just keep practicing and listen to your mentors. My parents are my mentors -- they always help me study my lines.”

The youngest of the group, Jack, had his own words of wisdom for other actors his age, and people in general:

“If you mess up, you just have to keep on trying and don’t give up.” 

These *bright young stars* obviously have a *stellar* future ahead of them! The local community will get to watch part of that future unfold at Camelot next week, as the boys take the stage for the time-honored story of chivalry, majesty and brotherhood. Don't miss these local boys' Broadway debut!

Camelot will be showing at Walton Arts Center February 17-22. Tickets range from $36 to $74 and may be purchased at our Box Office, by calling 479.443.5600 or online here.


The Hot Sardines

Reinventing Hot Jazz for the 21st Century

Don your best vintage rags and join us this Thursday for The Hot Sardines! Named one of the best jazz bands in New York by Forbes magazine, The Hot Sardines is born of a unique recipe: take hot jazz and sultry standards from the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, sprinkle in the rich Dixieland sounds of New Orleans, add a dash of wartime Paris flavor and stir in vibrant musical surprises that hold audiences captive. The band’s unforgettably wild live shows have a style and sound distinctly their own.

Did we mention there’s a tap dancer?

It’s hard to see photos of this band or hear their music without wanting to know more about what makes them tick. Luckily, our 10x10 Arts Series focuses on creating a space for audience/artist interaction, giving us the opportunity to ask the “Sardines” front-woman, “Miz Elizabeth” Bougero some questions to scratch that itch!

1.What’s the story behind the name of your band?

We needed a name to play at our first open mic. Jazz bands have been calling themselves "hot" forever -- think Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives, or Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France -- so we wanted to pay homage to that. And then I saw a tin of sardines in hot pepper sauce at a supermarket and thought, that might work. 

2. What are your favorite artists and/or soundtracks to jam to?

Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, Duke Ellington, James Brown... It's a long list.  

3. What’s it like to go from playing subway cards to clubs to large performance halls? 

Exhilarating! But ultimately we approach every venue like it's one of the underground soirees where we first started out: We're throwing a big, fat jazz party, and you're invited. 

 4. Pick 5 words that start with the letter ‘s’ to describe your music. 

  • Spirit (it's what the joy in this music is all about)
  • Soaring (how it feels when 8 people are making music together on stage)
  • Shared (we create each show in tandem with each different audience--that's part of the fun)
  • Sweaty (when you have a live tap dancer, sweaty is par for the course)
  • Spent (how we hope you feel after the show) 

5. What aspects of the Roaring Twenties inspire you most? 

We cull our musical references from the entire first half of the last century, but there's something about the '20s that really resonates today: The world was a troubled and uncertain place then as it is now, and people sought out experiences that lifted the spirit. And nothing we've found lifts the spirit like live jazz.  

 6. What has been your most exciting performance to date? 

In May were invited to play with the Boston Pops, who arranged our tunes for the entire symphony orchestra. We're still waiting to wake up from *that* dream. 

7. Do you have a preference for writing your own tunes, or reworking classic standards?

Each is scary and fulfilling in its own way. The standards have endured for a reason -- they're magical! So we love the challenge of tackling a classic song. We have two originals on the new album, Wake Up in Paris and Let's Go, and the mission there was to pen something that can hold its own alongside the classics. 

8. If you could play any other instrument(s), which would they be and why? 

Elizabeth would play the trumpet and piano--they're such versatile instruments. Evan [Evan “Bibs” Palazzo, piano] would play the piccolo for size, or the stock market.

 9. What is the best advice that you have been given?

The same advice we give: Play the music you love, not what you think people want to hear. If you're feeling it, the audience will feel it too. Also: Take the stairs.  

10. Whom do you define as a visionary? 

Every one of our influences had a specific musical vision that guided what they did. But to pick just one: Ray Charles, who knew that country tunes by the likes of Hank Williams could, with the right arrangements, swing hard. 


Click here for a little taste of The Hot Sardines' straight-up, foot-stomping sound!



Elvis Lives!


What Would Elvis Do?

Take a musical journey across the life of Elvis Presley this Friday with a concert extravaganza that pays homage to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Elvis Lives features four talented tribute artists who portray Elvis in one of four eras: the 1950s, the ‘60s, during his movie career and his final concert years.

 Elvis Lives is dedicated to the music that defines the King’s legacy, but what other legacies did Elvis Presley leave behind? In order to give everyone the full inside scoop into the life of Elvis Presley, we’ve put together a day full of Elvis-inspired activities. Be a part of this fun-filled day and join us on Friday night to hear some of the King’s greatest hits!

A Day in the Life of the King

Rumor has it that Elvis wouldn’t leave the house without a Pepsi in hand, so first things first, grab an ice-cold Pepsi to pack for the road.

While you’re at it, you’ll probably want to pack a lunch too. Good news -- you should already have all the ingredients you need to make the King’s favorite meal! All you need is two slices of white bread, a banana, a jar of peanut butter and, if you’re feeling daring, a couple slices of bacon. Elvis’ favorite meal was a grilled peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich.

Need some instructions for how to assemble it? We’ve got you covered:  

Once you have your lunch packed, you’re going to need somewhere to go! You’ll be excited to know that we have an activity planned for you that Elvis himself wouldn’t have been able to turn down.

 It’s a well-known fact that Elvis loved animals.  He even had a pet monkey named Scatter! Although there aren’t many monkeys hanging around (no pun intended!) Northwest Arkansas, we do know where you could find a few closeby.

The Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari in Gentry, Ark. is home to many exotic animals! It’s the perfect place for you and your family to monkey around (I did it again!) on your day in the life of Elvis.

To learn more about Elvis Lives at WAC this Friday or to purchase tickets, click here.