Though it doesn't look a day over 98, the biennial musical spoof "Gridiron" will mark its 102nd year July 31 - Aug. 4.
Returning to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, this production features local attorneys and legal professionals taking a comedic swing at Arkansas and national politics. Beginning in 1916 when a few lawyers got together to write and perform a vaudevillian-style dinner show, "Gridiron" came out of retirement in 1963.
We caught up with "Gridiron" producer Judge Mary Spencer McGowan to learn about this year's show.
What does this biennial production mean to the community?
Mary Spencer McGowan: People always ask, “Is this a 'Gridiron' year?” They are eager to see the show and we are so grateful to the central Arkansas community for always being supportive and helping us keep the tradition going for over a hundred years. This year, it is particularly meaningful that our show can help The Rep and its Next Act campaign. People can come see a great show, laugh a lot and also know they are helping a local institution stay alive — an all around win-win.
It's been a particularly tumultuous few years. Can you speak to the importance of poking fun at it all?
MSM: For 102 years, "Gridiron" has poked fun at politicians, the legal profession and current events. Over the years, there has never been a dearth of material, but the last few have provided more than we could have ever imagined. It’s important to be able to laugh at the particular happenings of the day and at ourselves.
Why was the decision made to host "Gridiron" at The Rep?
MSM: "Gridiron" has been performed at The Rep for 22 years. We are lucky to partner with them; without the expertise of their professionals, we could not look and sound as good. So the decision to remain at The Rep was an easy one for us, and we are thrilled to help them offer a show this summer while their normal operations are suspended. Gridiron Productions Inc. is a 501(c)(3) and the proceeds from our show this year will be donated to The Rep.
Audiences have five chances to catch the show. Opening night is Tuesday, July 31, complete with drinks and hors d’oeuvres before the curtain at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday showtime is 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday is at 8 p.m.