Season Of Surprises

Season Of Surprises

ACO adds black box options to 2020-21 offerings


“ACO just needed a chance to transform a little bit,” says Erin West, the Springdale arts center’s assistant executive director. “Our heart has always been in our theatrical roots; we just adjusted our mission and focus a little bit.

“My goal since I’ve been back has been to re-engage in children’s theater, re-engage with the schools, announce a high-energy season and expand on what we can do in the black box theater,” she adds.

All of that would be going perfectly for the soon-to-be 54-year-old Arts Center of the Ozarks, had there not been a couple of glitches. West — who was ACO director of events and operations from 2009 to 2015 and returned in March 2019 after being mostly a mom for a few years — was excited about announcing the 2020-21 season at the Arts Rising Gala Feb. 29. Unfortunately, she was not able to secure the rights for one show, and some revamping was required. And now, when the arts center would ordinarily be seeking season sponsors and members, covid-19 has put everything on hold.

But West is still delighted with the season, which was created with the help of a group called the ACO Players — West, Executive Director Bryan Gott, veteran directors and others “who have been invested in the ACO for a long time.” Together, they read scripts, discussed plays, met with potential directors and listened to a “pitch night,” where aspiring directors suggested shows. All of those efforts resulted in a full season that includes three productions in the black box, “a smaller, more intimate environment where you can try new things.”

The season begins, as always, with the summer musical in July, which this year will be “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Coming off the heels of last summer’s ‘Mamma Mia,’ which was the highest-grossing show with the most seats sold in ACO history, we wanted something that would have that same high energy,” West says.

The rest of the season includes shows for children, a winter musical — “we tested out a winter musical with ‘Into the Woods,’ and it had a great turnout,” West says — and the world premiere of “The Sin Eater,” a script by Springdale playwright Dan Borengasser.

Tickets for “Beauty and the Beast” will be offered beginning May 1, with the rest of the season available this summer.


ACO Announces

2020-21 Season

“Beauty and the Beast” — Step into the enchanted world of Broadway’s modern classic adaptation of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” in this production based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, July 10-12, 17-19, 24-26. Directed by Julie Gabel.

“The Frog Prince” — Through the trials of dueling suitors, spells gone awry and broken promises, a frog and a scientific princess learn that while magic can bring you together, only true loyalty can bring you love, Sept. 12-13 & 18-19. Directed by Danny Hobson.

“Spaghetti on a Hot Dog Bun” — A touring production based on the award-winning book by Maria Dismondy and empowers children, when faced with bullying, to always do the right thing and to be proud of themselves, for schools Oct. 9, for the public Oct. 10. Presented by Stars Within Reach of New York.

“The Sin Eater” — When Kate’s enigmatic and eccentric Aunt Moffet dies, Kate and her love Derrek seek to send her off according to her arcane custom of sin-eating in this new script by Springdale playwright Dan Borengasser, Oct. 8-11 in the black box theater. Directed by Charles Riedmueller II.

“Elf the Musical” — Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole where he is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth, Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-20. Directed by Kimberly DeJarnatt.

“The Addams Family” — Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family, Jan. 29-31, Feb. 5-7, 12-14, 2021. Directed by Julie Gabel.

“Trouble At The Tropicabana” — Join in for some Latin music and dancing when Ricky gets ready to sign a contract with movie mogul heiress Celia B. DeMilo and Lucy and Ethel get ready to ruin his chance at stardom, Feb. 18-21, 2021, in the black box theater. Directed by Pamela Marks.

“The Rainbow Fish Musical” — Based on the award-winning book, Rainbow Fish learns that it’s far better to be admired for being kind than for being beautiful, March 5-7 & 12-14, 2021. Directed by NWA newcomer Amy Bauer.

“Enchanted April” — Four British women who are unhappy with their lives decide to take a break from their respective spouses for a quiet holiday at a castle in Italy, April 23-25 & April 30-May 2, 2o21. Directed by Evan Crawford.

“Rabbit Hole” — Becca and Howie Corbett have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident takes the life of their 4-year old son and turns their world upside down, June 4-6 & 11-13, 2021, in the black box theater. Directed by Rachel Bland.

INFO — Email Erin West at

Categories: Theater