Friday, July 29, 2011

Might for Right: Camelot proceeds benefit the Emergency Needs for Theatre Artists Community Fund

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Of course you know the story of Camelot: Boy meets girl; boy makes girl a queen; queen fools around with boy's best friend; the world ends. As musicals go, Lerner & Lowe's Kennedy-era epic about King Arthur, his knights and their ladies is one of the biggies, looming especially large in Boomer mythos. And, in the spirit of everything Camelot stood for, 100% of the proceeds from an upcoming production at The Evergreen Theatre will go to benefit The Emergency Needs for Theatre Artists Community Fund, which was established last season when actor Jo Lynn Palmer suffered a stroke on opening night of The Fantasticks at Germantown Community Theatre.

From the press release:

This was a wake-up call to the Memphis Theatre community. Brent Davis of GCT joined forces with Theatre Memphis in setting up a fund to help her in the time of crisis for her and her family. Since then the Theatres have decided to continue this noble effort thus creating a community fund to continue to aid and assist volunteers and staff of the Memphis Theatre Community who are in medical or specific social financial distress or need. The account is called the EMERGENCY NEEDS FOR THE THEATRE ARTISTS COMMUNITY FUND . The process to receive funds is monitored and applied by a committee of Theatre representatives and is open to the entire Memphis theatre community. Each award of cash is reviewed on an individual basis with the priority going to medical needs and assistance.

Evergreen's not a large playhouse so, unless you're one of those "Fie on Goodness" types, now would be the time to reserve.

Camelot, a musical adapted from the T. H. White novel The Once and Future King is at the Evergreen Theatre AUGUST 19, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28 - 8:00 FRIDAY AND SATURDAY; 2:00 SUNDAY
Adults: $20; Children: $10 — group rates of 10 or more $15/person.
Additional donations will be accepted at the door.
Cash and Check accepted.
901-417-4782 or email

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Memphis" is now streaming on Netflix

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 12:52 PM

As I type this, The cast of the Tony-award winning musical Memphis is in my house singing "Everybody Wants to be Black on Saturday Night." Thank you Netflix. This sort of thing would have looked awful on my old TV set and it would have sounded worse. But 50-inches of HD with surround sound helps to make it an experience that is, at least, nicer than I might have expected. It's still not comparable to actually seeing the show in person, but I'm not paying to park either.

As readers of this blog probably know the first tour of Memphis launches from The Orpheum in October and advance ticket sales started last week. The theater's staff had mixed emotions about limited screenings of Memphis at Malco's Cinema Paradiso earlier this Spring. Now, three months before opening, the show is available at home on demand to all Netflix customers. To my knowledge, this kind of pre-tour availability is unprecedented.

My general sense is that opening a recently celebrated show in its namesake city is a foolproof undertaking. In a conversation last week Orpheum CEO Pat Halloran agreed, saying he was sure the show would sell out. But I do wonder if, in this shaky economy, the streaming video might not impact the rest of the tour? And if things don't get better, will the practice of streaming Broadway shows eventually cost Memphis, and other magnet cities, some regional tourism?

A friend pointed out that the popular film version of The Sound of Music has done nothing to diminish the live show's popularity. But that was an academy-award winning film made with top-shelf actors three years after the original production closed on Broadway. That was 50-years ago. This could a great advertising opportunity for the tour. But could it also be Memphis's undoing?

I'm wondering what other people think about this. Personally, I'm happy that Broadway productions are being shot for the big screen. But what about this latest development?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Eugart Yerian Honoree Announced: Ron Gephart

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Ron Gephart in Death of a Salesman
  • Ron Gephart in Death of a Salesman
Ron Gephart, one of the hardest working thespians in the tri-state area, has been selected to receive the Eugart Yerian award for lifetime achievement in Memphis theater. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this, and here's why: He's so deserving. Now, I'm not saying that past winners weren't deserving because they most certainly were. But for being so visible, a regular Ostrander nominee and occasional winner, Ron's work often seems to go underappreciated. I don't mean his work as an educator at Southwest Tennessee Community College, or his work as an actor on virtually every stage in Shelby County, where he has been seen in roles ranging from three line cameos to Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Some of his most important work, however, has taken place just outside the spotlight. Ron has been a great friend to experimental artists, small theater companies, and indie producers. In the 80's he spearheaded a professional summer repertory company called Beale Street Ensemble Theater, that produced popular favorites like Pippin and Harvey alongside soulful music reviews like the regional premiere of Blues in the Night. He's the kind of person who took the old slogan "start something great in Memphis" at face value. And anybody else who wanted to start something great, and work hard on it, could count on Ron to roll up his sleeves and pitch in. Salud!

Ron appeared alongside Irene Crist and DJ Hill in Wendy Wasserstein's Third.

Ron Gephart is an artist's artist with a big heart and a blue-collar work ethic. I'll be writing more about him before he's honored on August 28 at the annual Ostrander Awards. In the meantime, three questions.

Intermission Impossible: Why are you so awesome?

Ron Gephart: [My wife] Karen is awesome, not me. She married a roofer, encouraged me to find the thing I excelled at and was passionate about, supported me through college and moved to Memphis with me while still meticulously building her own career. She’s amazing.

Intermission Impossible: You really do seem to be working constantly. What drives you?

Ron Gephart: The fear of ending up on a roofing crew in Memphis summers. I just thought I was tough in Ohio; I wouldn’t mess with these Memphis cats.

Intermission Impossible: So now what? Do you intend to keep up the pace or do you intend to retire and show people your medal?

Ron Gephart: It is a new era at Southwest. As my late friend Rufus Thomas, jr. was fond of saying, “just because I’m leaving that don’t mean I’m gone.” Although I’ll only be working part time, I plan to work closely with Patsy Fancher (our new department head) who is already a dynamo in cultivating more community involvement within our theatre.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eleemosynary opens at TheatreWorks

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Here's what the cast of Eleemosynary had to say about Lee Blessing's play about three generations of ferociously intelligent women and spelling.

Friday, July 8, 2011

People just can't get enough Footloose: Playhouse adds performances

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Ren & the Bomonts

And the press release said...

In response to the success of the musical Footloose, Playhouse on the Square has decided to add a performance to the schedule. The additional performance will be on Wednesday, July 20th at 8 pm.
“Our advance sales have been as strong or stronger than Hairspray and we absolutely want to accommodate our single-ticket buyers as well as our subscribers,” said Executive Director Jackie Nichols.

I like it when theaters sell out. Even when I don't get it.

Teatro: Spanish language and bilingual plays for adults and children to open in Germantown

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 9:43 AM

The cast of RAMON
  • The cast of RAMON

For the last couple of years Germantown Community Theatre has been using the interregnum between theater seasons to build partnerships with other community organizations. This weekend GCT teams with Caza Teatro to produce Ramon, an adult themed Spanish language play and Two Fairy Tales with Latin Flavor, a bi-lingual take on Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.

Ramon, a comedy about one man's relationship with four distinct aspects of his wife's personality, is on stage at GCT tonight, Friday, July 8, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $10

The curtain goes up on Two Fairy Tales with Latin Flavor Sunday, July 10 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for kids under 18.

Caza Teatro isn't exactly a household name among Memphis theatergoers, although the group has been working in the region since 2006. Without a space to call home they have rehearsed in living rooms and performed wherever they could. This set of shows will give folks who aren't as attuned to the Memphis underground a chance to see what's bubbling just beneath the surface.

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