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‘Grease: The Musical’ Takes the ACT Stage This Week

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The hit electric musical “Grease” is set to take over the Argenta Contemporary Theatre stage with its iconic 1950s style this week.

Set in Chicago, the classic story follows a small group of Rydell High’s senior class of 1959, where head “greaser” Danny Zuko and the sweet new girl in school Sandy Dumbrowski are reacquainted after a summer romance. As one of the highest-grossing movie musicals of all time, the rebellious and flashy show includes familiar songs such as “We Go Together,” “Hopelessly Devoted” and “Summer Nights.” 

“Half the cast of ‘Grease’ is part of our Pre-Professional Company,” ACT Producing Artistic Director Vincent Insalaco says. “In partnership with the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, these young artists take part in intense training throughout the year. We are thrilled to have actual teenagers playing the roles of high school students. They genuinely embody the raw energy, angst and exuberance of youth. I think this authenticity enhances the nostalgic charm of ‘Grease’ and will help transport audiences back to their own high school days.”

Adding to the summer fun, ACT will also host a special closing performance “Burger Bash” complete with dinner from Brood & Barley, milkshakes and an open bar, as well as vintage cars, auction items and a big announcement about ACT’s education program expansion.

“Grease: The Musical” runs July 24 – Aug. 4 with general admission and VIP tickets ranging. Tables of 10 are available for purchase for the Burger Bash closing performance.

For tickets and more information, visit Argenta Contemporary Theatre’s newly revamped website, and follow along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest. You can also call the ACT box office at 501.353.1443.

Read on: Learn more about ACT’s new era, the 2024-2025 season and how Vincent Insalaco built the Argenta Contemporary Theatre.

Acansa Arts Festival of the South Releases 2024 Lineup

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This fall, the Acansa Arts Festival of the South is marking a milestone and is doing it with loads of great acts. 

This year marks 10 years since the first festival, though it will be the ninth event, having skipped a year in the pandemic. Set for Sept. 5-21, the fest features a broad range of events in venues across the metro, including family-friendly shows, award-winning performers and cultural celebrations.

The lineup also includes a solo exhibition by Sergio Valdivia in the Acansa Gallery, as well as this year’s signature artwork created by Virmarie DePoyster.

Without further ado, here’s what to expect at the 2024 festival.

 

The Big Dam Horns

Sept. 5, The Rail Yard

Acansa is celebrating big with a birthday party featuring The Big Dam Horns al fresco at The Rail Yard. With hits from the 1960s through today, The Big Dam Horns deliver a horn infused, one-two punch of jazz, blues, soul, R&B and a knockout blow of rock and roll. Beverages and the area’s finest food truck fare will be available for purchase.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

The Heart Collectors

Sept. 6, The Studio Theatre

Traveling from Australia to Arkansas, The Heart Collectors are known internationally for blending inspiration from 1960s and 1970s folk and roots music with tight vocal harmonies and enchanting melodies. Performing with cello, guitar, mandolin, banjo and bodhran, their music spans harmony-led ballads to Bowie-esque soundscapes. 

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

Family Arts Day featuring Buckets N Boards

In partnership with UA-PTC

Sept. 7, Argenta Plaza

In partnership with UA-PTC, ACANSA welcomes all ages to a fun-filled arts exploration featuring creative, hands-on activities for the young and young at heart. Buckets N Boards — a hilarious and high-energy show chock-full of amazing percussion, ridiculous songs, spectacular tap dancing, inventive instrumentation and an incredible variety of musical talents — takes the stage at noon.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

“Cello Stories: A Life Under Broadway” 

In partnership with Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts 

Sept. 7, AMFA

Acclaimed cellist Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf has performed in 21 Broadway shows. In “Cello Stories: A Life Under Broadway” she graces the AMFA Glass Box with exquisite arrangements for cello and piano, coupled with captivating stories about her life as a musician.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

John Hébert 

In partnership with Jazz at the Joint

Sept. 9, The Joint

Bassist John Hébert, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, and leader of Byzantine Monkey, is known for his unique playing style and lush compositions. His Blue Note Records release “Time Lines” was awarded Record of the Year by Downbeat’s Jazz Critics Poll. Performing around the globe with world famous artists, Hébert now calls New York home, where he has performed at such venues as Village Vanguard, Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Birdland and The Iridium.

 

Credit: Argenta Contemporary Theatre

“The Sunshine Boys”

In partnership with Argenta Contemporary Theatre

Sept. 11-21, ACT II

Al and Willie as “Lewis and Clark” were top-billed vaudevillians for over forty years. Now they aren’t even speaking. When CBS requests them for a “History of Comedy” retrospective, a grudging reunion brings the two back together, along with a flood of memories, miseries and laughs. Directed by Vincent Insalaco.

 

Credit: Ali Hasbach

Tripliciti 

In partnership with Potluck & Poison Ivy

Sept. 12, The Joint

From the collective minds of virtuoso musicians Andy McKee, Calum Graham and Trevor Gordon Hall, Tripliciti is a bold, new musical experience showcasing three of the foremost acoustic guitar composers in the world today.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

“The Other Mozart”

Sept. 13, CALS Ron Robinson Theater

Sylvia Milo’s stunning and award-winning play “The Other Mozart” tells the true, forgotten story of Nannerl, Amadeus Mozart’s sister. Nannerl was a prodigy, keyboard virtuoso and composer who performed throughout Europe with her brother to equal acclaim, but her work faded away, lost to history.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

Gangstagrass 

In partnership with Argenta Arts District

Sept. 14, Argenta Plaza

Gangstagrass is the Emmy-nominated, Billboard-charting band known for its dynamism and spontaneity and the theme song for “Justified,” the FX television show. Led by Rench, these MCs and pickers are the pioneers of an authentic, paradigm-shifting bluegrass and hip-hop genre. Gangstagrass. It’s not what you think.

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

“Tennessee Rising: The Dawn of Tennessee Williams”

Sept. 19, The Joint

Written and performed by Jacob Storms, and originally directed for the stage by Alan Cumming. “Tennessee Rising” sheds light on the unexplored, formative years (1939-1945) of Tom Williams. He metamorphoses into his most iconic character — America’s acclaimed playwright Tennessee Williams — while grappling with first love, professional triumph and torment, heartbreak and ultimately “the catastrophe of success.” 

 

Credit: Sergio Valdivia

Third Friday Art Walk

Sept. 20, Argenta Arts District

Curated by Will Hogg, a new exhibit by Arkansas artist Sergio Valdivia opens in Acansa Gallery at 413A Main Street. Grab an Argenta Arts District Passport and visit up to a dozen venues to see new works and public murals throughout Argenta’s arts and entertainment district. 

 

Credit: Andrew Saliga

Ryan & Ryan: Kickin’ the Clouds Away

Sept. 20, CALS Ron Robinson Theater

Ryan & Ryan, a dynamic father-son duo, are Kickin’ the Clouds Away with classic and contemporary music played by four hands on two grand pianos. Barron and his dad Donald perform jazz, ragtime, classical and even gospel song arrangements. Barron’s solo performance was a 2017 festival favorite, and this concert, too, is sure to strike a chord with audiences. 

 

Credit: Courtesy of Acansa

Hispanic Heritage Festival

Sept. 21, Argenta Plaza

Presented by Seis Puentes, the Hispanic Heritage Festival celebrates our local Hispanic community, artists, music and culinary scene. Join Acansa as we explore authentic food vendors, arts and crafts, kids activities and live entertainment.

 

Credit: Brian Guilliaux

Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s “DBDT: Encore!”

Sept. 21, UA-PTC CHARTS 

The Acansa 2024 festival comes to a close with a diverse mix of modern dance exuding the grace, strength and cultural flair of DBDT: Encore!, previously known as Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, as they perform contemporary and lyrical works including world premieres and revivals of the theater’s repertoire. 

Descriptions provided by Acansa.

 

Tickets for the ninth annual Acansa Arts Festival of the South are available now, including individual shows and festival passes. Select events are free, and students 18 and younger are free of charge.

To learn more about the arts festival, visit the Acansa website and follow along on Facebook and Instagram for the latest.

July Party Pics Now Online

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The July issue of Little Rock Soirée is on newsstands, and you know what that means: There’s a fresh batch of event photos to peruse. As always, each edition’s Party Pics are posted right here on littlerocksoiree.com, and the latest photos from the new issue are now online.

Here are this month’s featured events:

Now, go ahead and share the links on socials, text your friends and spread the good times around.

Empty Bowls

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Dr. Charles and Brenda Glasier

The Arkansas Foodbank’s signature event was hosted at The Venue at Oakdale. Guests were transported to the Golden Age of Hollywood with specialty cocktails, jazz music and delectable dishes at a sit-down dinner by Petit & Keet and Cypress Social. Longtime supporter Philip Tappan was honored at the 22nd annual event for his dedication to the Foodbank’s mission. Roughly $284,360 was raised at the event, the equivalent of 1.4 million meals for hungry Arkansans.

JA Hall of Fame Gala

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Jenny and Andrew Faulkner

Volunteers, supporters and business leaders gathered for the inaugural Junior Achievement of Arkansas Hall of Fame Gala. Jenny and Andrew Faulkner co-chaired the event held at the Statehouse Convention Center. Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart and Arvest Bank, was honored with the Nelson Summit Award. The Student of the Year Award was presented to Fatima Majid of Pulaski Academy. Funds from the event will pay for nearly 20% of the students JA will reach during the school year.

Red Jacket Luncheon

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Alexis Freeman, LaShonda Norris, Jeremy Hill

This annual City Year Little Rock event was held at the Robinson Center where education-focused leaders gathered to celebrate the nonprofit’s mission in a panel discussion with AmeriCorps members serving in local schools. The Susan Purvis Excellence in Teaching Award was presented to Melinda Modica, principal at J.A. Fair K-8 Preparatory School. Proceeds from the luncheon went toward supporting students in Little Rock and Jacksonville to help them reach their full potential through learning, exploration and growth.

Ovation!

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Dr. Rhys and Leslie Branman

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre once again held its black-tie Ovation! Gala at The Rep. Leslie and Dr. Rhys Branman and Stephanie and Myron Jackson chaired the event, which kicked off the theater’s 2024 SummerStage season with the theme “Defying Gravity.” Guests enjoyed an evening of cocktails, a multi-course dinner by Heritage Catering, a luxury auction and live performances. Steve H. Broadnax III was honored for his Broadway debut as director of “Thoughts of a Colored Man” and for representing Arkansas artists. Jana L. Beard was also honored for her outstanding contributions to the creative community as the owner and director of Shuffles & Ballet II.

Cupcakes for Goodness Sake

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Njeri Smith, Braylin Ousley

An afternoon of sweets, fun and fundraising awaited guests at Argenta Plaza for the ninth annual Cupcakes for Goodness Sake. The CareLink baking event showcased cupcakes from a variety of local amateur and professional bakers for crowds to enjoy. Njeri’s Pastries took home the professional trophy for her vegan and tree nut-free carrot cookie butter cupcakes while Rob Hammon took home the amateur trophy for his kiwi-topped, strawberry-frosted butter Jolene cupcake. Attendees raised nearly $82,000 for senior services in central Arkansas.

CARTI Salute!

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Adam and Courtney Head

The second annual CARTI Salute! event took place in the beautiful gardens of the CARTI Cancer Center in Little Rock. Guests enjoyed an evening of progressive wine and food pairings with wines from different regions of the world and authentic small plates prepared by local celebrity chefs. Proceeds raised from the evening went to CARTI’s Patient Care Program, which provides services such as housing, transportation, counseling and retreats.

Revival: An Evening of Art & Fashion

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Sarah Oden, Cat Sims, Kimberly Cyr

A particularly stylish evening took place at Jill White Designs on May 6 to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Revival brought together young philanthropists and creatives for a stylish Met Gala-themed evening with delectable nibbles, desserts, refreshing beverages and melodic tunes by DJ Jellybean. All proceeds from the inaugural event went to the Arkansas Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to further the nonprofit’s research, advocacy and support programs.