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Wednesday
Mar182015

The Midtown Men

 

#THROWBACKTHURSDAY 

 with The Midtown Men

With the original cast of the Tony® award-winning Broadway play Jersey Boys returning to the WAC stage tonight, we decided to do a #throwbackthursday edition of our blog dedicated to the oldies-lovin' Midtown Men!

In 2005, Tony® Award-winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony® Award-nominee J.R. Spencer performed for the first time in a documentary-style, biographical jukebox musical that dramatized the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n' roll group The Four Seasons. This show would later receive worldwide acclaim, winning four 2006 Tony® Awards including Best Musical and touring the nation, turning Jersey Boys into a household name.

Most of us didn't get the chance to experience the magic of this Jersey Boys cast in action...but lucky for you, there's still a chance for you to hear them live right here in NWA! These four talented artists have reunited and are back by popular demand for two nights only. You won’t be able to resist their swingin’ tunes, as they harmonize some of your favorite '60s hits from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Jackson Five, The Four Seasons and more!

They shared the Broadway stage for hundreds of performances of the Tony® Award-winning mega-hit Jersey Boys before reuniting as The Midtown Men to bring their magic to audiences everywhere, and now they are coming to Northwest Arkansas for a special performance just for you! Don’t miss the chance to see these Broadway legends right in your backyard.

Experience a little bit of The Midtown Men’s magic before the show! Listen to this playlist for a sneak-preview of songs you might expect to hear and don’t forget to buy tickets to see The Midtown Men live at Walton Arts Center. Their first show is tonight, so buy now before it’s too late! And if you can't make it tonight, be sure to get your tickets for Friday...it's a show you won't want to miss!

Tickets to see The Midtown Men can be purchased here.

 

Monday
Mar022015

Koresh Dance Company 

An Artistic Force
Creating Innovative & Emotional Dance Performances

This Friday, prepare to be amazed by the superb technique of the culturally-enriched dance company that keeps the artistic reputation of Philidelphia alive. Koresh Dance Company has been described as emotionally compelling and stunningly athletic, with 10 dancers that seamlessly shift from an explosive and passionate repertoire to moments of intimacy and restraint. Founded in 1991 by Israeli-born choreographer Ronen Koresh, this troupe has toured the world performing a fusion of choreographic styles including ballet, modern dance and jazz. Performing to a musical score of contrasts — Middle Eastern music juxtaposed with classical favorites — the dancers deliver an artistic experience that Northwest Arkansas won’t soon forget! If you like hard, fast, intense dancing, this is the show for you.

We love that these artists are committed to the creative economy of their hometown and really wanted to know more about the driving force behind that committment. Our 10x10 Arts Series focuses on creating a space for audience/artist interaction, giving us the opportunity to ask Koresh's artistic director and founder, Ronen Koresh a few questions to help us better understand what influences their artistry.

1)What are some of your favorite songs to jam to? 

No specific songs—I enjoy World music to jam to.  

2)What moves you to create a new dance number (e.g.: a musical piece, life experience or style of dance)?

What inspires me to create are the intricacies of life, the complexity of relationships, and the desire to add to the beauty of life.

3)Choose 5 words – that start with the letter D – to describe your company.

Daring, desirable, dynamic, dramatic, diverse 

4)What do you find most thrilling about exploring human emotions using just your body?

The body doesn’t lie. 

5)What types of the cultural spaces/places you draw inspiration from?

The street, the coffee shop, the bar—people-watching places.

6)Whom do you define as visionary?

My mom. She’s the one who made me follow my dream to dance, paid for it, sent me to America.

 7)How does your work connect to the larger world?

My work deals with humanity, human emotions and relationships, community, the individual vs. society—and most people connect to those themes. They can see themselves in it. My work is not commentary; it’s participation. A dance company doesn’t imitate life; it is life.

8)What is the best advice that you have been given?

Donald Byrd told me not to go searching for an audience—don’t try to satisfy them or be afraid that they won’t like your work. Let an audience find you. The people who like what you do will come.

9)What are some exciting things you see happening among dancers/studios today?

Dancers now are exposed to a much larger arena of dance, especially through YouTube—European, Asian, Israeli dance, etc., and as a result, their styles are becoming more diverse.

10) Why 10 dancers?

Because I can’t afford fifteen.

Still curious about this extraordinary and out-of-the-box dance company? Check out a few of their preformances here to better prepare youself for the artistic force coming to Walton Arts Center this Friday, March 6! Tickets are just $10, so buy yours today! To purchase tickets, click here.

Monday
Feb232015

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Feb182015

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.

Tuesday
Feb102015

Camelot

   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.