'Tis The Season


On Stage In Northwest Arkansas



Free Weekly Staff

Arkansas is rich in theater. Venues include the state’s largest performing arts center, the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, three community theaters—the Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale, Rogers Little Theater in Rogers and the University of Arkansas-affiliated University Theater—and the equity theater, TheatreSquared in Fayetteville.

Additionally, two children’s theater companies, the 25-year-old Arts Live Theatre in Fayetteville and the new Trike Theatre in Bentonville, offer classes and performance opportunities for young actors. The Village Players in Benton County mount productions at area venues and the Boar’s Head Players in Fayetteville have produced a summer season for many years.

These theaters will kickoff their fall and winter season next month. Season ticketholders have already snared some of the seats, so now is a good time to buy tickets, since some shows do sellout. Here are the highlights of the 2009-10 season.


The Walton Arts Center stages Broadway touring company performances, nationally recognized dance companies, speakers and musical groups. Baum Walker Hall has a seating capacity of 1,200, and the two black box rooms, the Starr Theater and the ancillary Nadine Baum Studios, have 130-seats. Discounts are offered to those who purchase the “Broadway Series” for all of the Broadway shows or a “Flex Subscription,” available for any four productions at the center.


5: Charlie Hunter Duo. The inventive jazz guitarist who pushes into many genres (check out Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” on “Songs from the Analog Playground”) will perform with drummer and percussionist Leon Parker. Highly recommended. (Starr Theater).

18: Little Big Town and The Lost Trailers. Up-and-coming country bands that are ranking on the country charts.

28-29: “The Wedding Singer.” A new production of the Broadway hit.October

13: David Sedaris. One of America’s best known satirists will do a one-hour reading followed by a Q&A and booksigning. For mature audiences.

16-17: Luna Negra Dance Theatre. Latino and Afro-Caribbean dance.

20-25: “Riverdance.” Irish music and dance.

27: Chanticleer. San Francisco’s all-male chorus.

30: Edward Simon and Afinidad. South American jazz and classical music. (Starr Theater).


6: Kayhan Kahlor and Brooklyn Rider. Contemporary string quartet.

8: Jason and the Argonauts. Family comedy.

12: Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem. Traditional and contemporary American music. (Starr Theater).

14: Strega Nona. Based on the children’s books, a musical tale of a magical Italian witch.

14: American Revival: Celebrating the New Stars of American Roots Music with The Dixie Bee-Liners, Sierra Hull and Uncle Earl.

21: “Peter and the Wolf.” The classic tale presented by Childsplay of Tempe, Ariz.

27-29: “The Nutcracker” presented by the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.


5-6: Handel’s “Messiah”

8-13: “The Rat Pack is Back.” A tribute to the “Rat Pack,” Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop.

16: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas


5-10: “Little House on the Prairie,” the musical with Melissa Gilbert.

16: “A Year with Frog & Toad.” Children’s musical.

20-21: “Thank You Gregory.” A tribute to Gregory Hines and other contemporary dancers with eight dancers, three jazz musicians, multi-media projections and narrative about the history of tap.

22: Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Quartet. A tribute to the music of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. (Starr Theater).


Ladysmith Black Mambazo


2-4: “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Tony Award winning musical comedy.

6: “Goodnight Moon” and “The Runaway Bunny.” Children’s shows.

6: Cyro Baptista’s “Banquet of the Spirits.” Jazz and experimental music inspired by ancient rhythms and performed by the Brazilian percussionist and friends. (Starr Theater).

12: Band of the Irish Guards and Pipes of the Royal Regiment of Scotland

19: “One Night of Queen.” Gary Mullen revives the music of Freddie Mercury and the legendary rock band, Queen.

19: Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The South African vocal group, made famous by their contribution to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album.

20: “The Hobbit.” The Tolkien story comes to life with giant puppets.

27: Hiromi. Pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara deftly weaves straight-ahead jazz, R&B, rock and avant-garde. (Starr Theater).


4-5: ZUM. The UK’s gypsy tango band. (Starr Theater).

6: Mike Rayburn. Dubbed as “the world’s funniest guitar virtuoso.”

11: Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Mar 30-Apr. 4: “South Pacific.” The musical with parallel love stories set in the South Pacific in the 1940s.


8-9: Bearfoot. Alaska’s acoustic progressive bluegrass band. (Starr Theater).

9: Interpreti Veneziani. Italian string group performs Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”

13: Frederica Von Stade and Samuel Ramey. Internationally acclaimed opera duo.

15-16: Spaghetti Western Orchestra. Music from the movies that made Clint Eastwood a star. These comic maestros are armed with more than 100 instruments.

Apr. 23-May 2: “Runt of the Litter.” A semi-autobiographical comedy written and performed by former Houston Oiler Bo Eason.


4-9: “Grease.” “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks takes the stage as Teen Angel in this popular ’50s musical.

14-15: Momix “Botanica.” The Momix dancers perform to music ranging from birdsongs to Vivaldi.

21-22: “The Man Who Planted.” Comedy and puppetry that tells an ecologically oriented tale by Puppet State Theatre of Scotland. (Starr Theater).

26-30: Children’s theater: “Compagnia TPO Farfalle.” The Italian theater company combines dance, digital graphics and music in an interactive production to present the life of butterflies. (Starr Theater).

Arts Center Of The Ozarks

The Arts Center of the Ozarks in Springdale has been home to community theater in Northwest Arkansas for more than 40 years. The ACO features a 419-seat performance space.

Sept. 11-13 and 18-19: “The Glass Menagerie.” Tennessee William’s autobiographical tale of a family’s search for happiness during the Great Depression.

Oct. 3-4: American Girl Fashion Show. An historical fashion show for girls of all ages.

Oct. 23-25 and 30-31: “Smoke on the Mountain: Homecoming.” Set in 1945 in a small Baptist church with singing, homespun gospel stories and witnessing.

Nov. 15: Ozark Mountains British Brass Band Americana Concert. Patriotic and military tunes and compositions by American composer Aaron Copland.

Dec. 4-6: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” A holiday tradition at ACO. Fifty actors of all ages create fun and mayhem as they offer their take on the reason for the season.

Dec. 5: Breakfast With Santa and Mrs. Claus. A yummy breakfast, a personal visit with Santa, a keepsake photo and helping Mrs. Claus decorate gingerbread cookies and make ornaments.

Dec. 12: Arkansas Winds Holiday Concert. ACO’s gift to NWA. A free holiday concert.

Dec. 13: ACO Youth Choir and the ACO Chorale

Feb. 5-7 and 12-13: “Laura.” Based on the 1940’s novel and movie, the mystery wraps love and murder into a deadly combination.

March 13: Arkansas Winds From Opera to Broadway. With vocalist Carmen Sanders.

April 16-18 and 23-24: “Fools.” The Neil Simon comedy about trying to break the curse of stupidity.

May 2: ACO Youth Choirs

May 15: ACO Chorale

May 22: “Play It Again, Sam.” The music of Hollywood’s Golden Age performed by award-winning jazz duo Davis and Dow. The show includes trivia and facts about the stars, movies and music, set in front of illustrations.

Rogers Little Theater

The 750-seat theater opened in 1927 in downtown Rogers as a motion picture theater and has been restored to house community theater productions.

Sept. 18-20, 24-27: “Over the River and Through the Woods.” Comedy about a family that tries to keep their son close by scheming and conniving.

Oct. 2-3: “Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show.” We know they can write, but they also sing and dance. Northwest Arkansas journalists come together in this annual production to ruthlessly poke fun at area newsmakers with their clever skits.

Nov. 6-8, 12-15: “Broadway Bound.” Neil Simon’s autobiographical tale about breakup of his family.

Jan. 8-10: “Love Letters.” Drama that follows a childhood romance through adulthood.

Dec. 4-6, 10-13: “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The holiday classic.

Feb. 12-14, 18-21, 15-28: “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

April 9-11, 15-18: “The Miracle Worker.” The story of Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan.

April 30-May 2, 6-9: “The Secret Garden.” A young orphan discovers a magic garden.

June 4-6, 10-13: “It Runs in The Family.” British comedy set in a hospital with an assortment of farcical nuts.

July 30-Aug. 1, 5-8, 12-15: “South Pacific.” The musical surrounding two love stories set during WWII in the South Pacific.

Aug. 14-16: “Art of Murder.” At a remote country estate an eccentric painter, plots to kill his art dealer.

University Theater

The 315-seat University Theater in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts building is the oldest operating theater in Northwest Arkansas.

Oct. 2-3, 7-11: “Death of a Salesman.” Arthur Miller’s classic about a man’s self exploration.

Dec. 13-15, 21-22: “The Crucible.” Arthur Miller’s play based on the Salem Witch Trials that gives reference to McCarthyism.

Feb. 19 & 20, 24-28: “Learned Ladies.” The 1762 comedy by Moliere about pretention and the educating of females. Written in verse.

April 16-18, 21-25: “The Cradle Will Rock.” Musical about the union and corporate corruption.


TheatreSquared was founded in 2005. Productions are staged in the 130-seat Nadine Baum Studios.

Sept. 4-20: “Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shakespeare (abridged).” All 37 Shakespeare plays performed in 90 minutes. Three actors play 63 roles in this zany and irreverent joyride.

Dec. 9-20: “Twas the Night.” Fayetteville playwright Robert Ford will premiere his new work, which explores the behind-the-scenes drama of a 1950s radio station on Christmas Eve.

Feb. 26-March 7: “Underneath the Lintel.” A small town library receives a returned book, 113 years overdue. The funny and moving story of one man’s stubborn search for answers.

March 26-April 1: “Mauritius.” In this comedy-drama, estranged half-sisters inherit a book of rare stamps that may include the “crown jewel” of the stamp-collecting world.

Categories: Features