News Column

The American Theatre and actor Freddy Arsenault part of upcoming documentary

August 4, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 04--The Acting Company and its 2008-2009 national tour, which included a stop at The American Theatre in Hampton, has been captured in a documentary airing on PBS later this month.

The documentary features actor Freddy Arsenault, who grew up in Hampton and studied music and theater at Christopher Newport University. He has since played on Broadway and is appearing this summer in "The Taming of the Shrew" at Shakespeare Santa Cruz in California.

Arsenault appeared in The Acting Company's production of "Henry V" that played The American Theatre in February 2009. He returned to Hampton Roads in 2010 to play the lead in "Billy Bishop Goes to War" at the Virginia Stage Company.

The documentary, "Still on the Road," was directed and produced by Sara Wolkowitz. It follows 12 actors as they bring classical theater to 29 cities across the country. Air times are 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Aug. 12; 2 a.m. Aug. 13; and 5 a.m. Aug. 17 on the PBS "World Channel." Viewers should check local listings for confirmation.

"I knew how tough it is to be an actor and how much it takes to perform night after night," writes Wolkowitz. "Until I traveled with the company, I had no idea just how challenging, exciting and other-worldly it can be to be on the road with the same small group of people 24/7, month after month after month. I have an entirely new appreciation for what they do and how they can impact even the smallest communities".

The documentary looks at the challenges of touring as the actors play 71 roles and teach high school and college students a new way to look at Shakespeare. It includes conversations with Acting Company alums Kevin Kline, Rainn Wilson and Harriet Harris.

Wolkowitz is an independent filmmaker and theater director whose work has appeared at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, the Los Angeles Women's Film Festival and the Hawaii International Film Festival.

The Acting Company was founded 40 years ago by John Houseman, Margot Harley, Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, David Ogden Stiers and a dozen other young actors. The goal was to bring a touring repertory of classic plays to colleges and communities, many which have little or no access to live theater.

Glenn Close honored

Actress Glenn Close and her husband, David Shaw, a biotech entrepreneur, will receive the College of William and Mary's 2013 Cheek Medal Award for their contributions to the arts. They will be on campus Sept. 26-29.

Close, a 1974 W&M grad, will meet with students and faculty, teach a theater master class, and discuss translating a liberal arts degree into a film career. Shaw will be serving as executive-in-residence at the Mason School of Business. He will meet with students and faculty to discuss social entrepreneurship, creativity in business and other topics.

Named for Leslie Cheek Jr., who founded W&M's Department of Fine Arts, the medal is awarded to people who have made significant contributions to the performing and visual arts. Past alumni recipients include Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long, W&M theater faculty member Howard Scammon and film art director David Crank.

Fundraising for Kaitlin

Friends and colleagues of Kaitlin Gallagher of Williamsburg, an award-winning singer who is blind, are seeking donations for her treatment.

Gallagher studies voice with Mary Matthews Garrett in Newport News and doesn't have the financial resources to cover special medical treatment available at The Carroll Center for the Blind in Boston. Center fees will cost her $5,000 for an evaluation and $30,000 for a 20-week residential training session.

A fundraising account has been started through http://www.GiveForward.com/littlejazzbird. For more information, contact Dayle or Kelli Gallagher at 757-903-7480.

Lorna Luft in December

Looking for an early Christmas gift?

ShowStoppers Productions will present actress-singer Lorna Luft in two shows, 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21, at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg.

Luft is the daughter of legendary entertainer Judy Garland and producer Sid Luft, and the sister of Liza Minnelli. She has worked on Broadway, in television and concerts, and is an Emmy-nominated producer. She most recently starred in the British production of "Irving Berlin's White Christmas." She'll be singing Christmas songs and other material from her 2007 recording, "Songs My Mother Taught Me."

Tickets are $40 available by calling 1-800-HISTORY (1-800-447-8679). Information on ShowStoppers Productions can be found online at http://www.showstoppersproductions.org.

Musical theater auditions

Virginia Musical Theatre will hold auditions for its four shows coming up in the 2013-2014 season.

Auditions will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Governor's School for the Arts, 344 W. 21st St., Norfolk. The company performs at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach.

In the coming year, the theater will present "Nunsense," "Little Women, the Musical," "Children of Eden" and "Happy Days: The New Musical."

The directors for all four productions will be on hand, and all roles are currently open. For additional information and to set up an audition, call 757-340-5446. Information on specific shows also is available online at http://www.broadwayatthecenter.com.

Hurrah Players 30th Season

The Hurrah Players will open its 2013-2014 season with "Shrek The Musical" in October.

The family theater company's lineup of eight shows also includes "Hurrah for the Holidays" and "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in December, "The Path to Freedom" in February, "Disney's The Little Mermaid" in March, "13 -- The Musical" in May, "The Magic and Music of Michael" about Michael Jackson in July, and "Disney's The Jungle Book" in August 2014.

Tickets and information are available by calling 757-624-5437 or going online to http://www.hurrahplayers.com.

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(c)2013 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

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