The time has come, Little Rock. The Rep is making its return.
After a tumultuous few years starting with the theater suspending operations in 2018, rebuilding, then going dark once again last spring, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre just announced a return to live performances with its new The Rep Outdoors series to be held at various locations around the city.
"If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much we all crave being out in the world, and sharing experiences with our families, friends and neighbors," says Will Trice, The Rep’s executive artistic director. "That’s exactly what live theater provides, and these immersive productions give us the chance to enjoy our city’s beautiful community spaces in a whole new way."
Here's what's on the lineup.
"Marie and Rosetta"
July 13 - Aug. 1 at The Rep Revival Tent at War Memorial Park
Opening the 2021 Rep Outdoors series is "Marie and Rosetta," an award-winning play featuring the music of Cotton Plant-native Sister Rosetta Tharpe. In a version specially written for this production, the play will be directed by Little Rock-native Steve H. Broadnax III, prior to his Broadway directing debut this fall.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, also known as "the Godmother of Rock and Roll," brings fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music. A huge influence on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix and Ray Charles, the legendary Arkansan is celebrated in this play which chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duos in musical history.
Aug. 10-30 in the Civitan Pavilion at the Little Rock Zoo
Second in the 2021 Rep Outdoors series is the world-premiere production of "Primating," a romantic comedy by award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter Jennifer Vanderbes.
Desmond and Eve, two of the world’s leading primatologists, reunite on a chimp reserve in Africa to study the mating habits of primates and wind up grappling with their animal instincts. The headstrong, brainy ex-lovers use what they know about primate behavior to justify their own past decisions, igniting a full-blown battle of the sexes – and wits – as they pit man against woman, and ape against man.
Oct. 3 at Murray Park
The third and final event of the 2021 Rep Outdoors series is a concert staging of the beloved, award-winning musical "The Fantasticks." This concert staging will be free to the public and held on the grounds of Murray Park on Sunday, Oct. 3.
Series tickets go on sale June 1, with tickets for individual productions going on sale July 1. If you had tickets to canceled 2020 shows, but donated the value of your tickets to The Rep, you have access to an advance presale period beginning May 24.
As for health protocols, along with performances being held in open air facilities, audiences will be limited to accommodate social distancing, with more policies to be announced closer to showtime.