Just A Brief Intermission

Just A Brief Intermission

APT ‘remixes’ Season 35 for eight shows in eight months


If ever anyone could put a positive spin on postponing a theater season, it’s Ed McClure.

“Eight shows in eight months,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s never been done at APT before. It will be exciting!”

Of course, no one thought it would be done at Arkansas Public Theatre during Season 34, which was midway through its slate of shows when the pandemic rolled into town. Neither was it something that could have been anticipated when Season 35 was announced on Jan. 17, says McClure, one of the company’s founders and its artistic director. At the beginning of March, the theater had just closed “Newsies” after three weekends of record attendance, rehearsals were nearly complete for Steve Martin’s comedy “Meteor Shower,” tickets were being sold, the set had been built, and costumes were hanging in the dressing rooms. Opening night should have been March 20.

When it became apparent covid-19 was going to hang around longer than expected, “Meteor Shower” was rescheduled to open June 5. Then, in May, APT canceled the summer musical, “Pippin,” moving “Meteor Shower” to the late-July/early August spot on the schedule. At the time, McClure called the sadness in the decision to cancel the summer musical for the first time in 34 years “unimaginable,” but he said even though he felt like the company could keep the audience safe, it couldn’t keep the musicians, actors, singers, dancers and technical crew appropriately distanced.

“APT has distinguished itself for its first class, impressive musicals that have delighted and thrilled our community,” McClure said at the time. “As one might imagine, this decision did not come easily for any of us at APT.”

And, he added, the situation was still constantly changing. “Everything is on the table right now.”

On July 7, the other proverbial shoe fell. APT canceled all of its stage shows for the rest of 2020.

“When Broadway announced it was closed until January 2021, it was the same time the [virus] numbers in Arkansas began going the wrong direction,” McClure says. “Those two facts were the perfect storm as far as the Executive Committee was concerned, and they agreed with my recommendation to close until next year.”

Corky (Stephanie Whitcomb, left) and Norm (Scott Kammerzell, second from left) aren’t sure what to make of the unusual gift of eggplant that’s appeared along with two unusual guests, Laura (Amy Eversole) and Gerald (Joseph Farmer) in the Arkansas Public Theatre production of Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower.” The show was ready to open in March, when the coronavirus forced its postponement — until 2021.
(Courtesy Photo/APT)

That decision made, McClure says, “I wanted to do as many of the shows as we could that had been promised from the time we closed mid-March. It was important that our patrons knew we were doing our very best to deliver what we had advertised.

“Musicals are hard to socially distance because of the size of the cast,” McClure goes on to explain. “That’s why we will be presenting seven non-musicals — all with modest sized casts that we will be able to manage should the need still be there next year.”

He’s calling it the Remixed Season 35, and like the remixes often done at the conclusion of musicals, it will be fast and furious, starting with the long-awaited “Meteor Shower.”

“The cast and crew are solid gold,” McClure says. “They have never complained or grumbled with what is now our third reschedule. They are just great.”

And McClure promises audiences will see exactly the level of professionalism — and magic — APT has up its sleeve.

“We never quite overlap [shows],” he says. “But it’s going to be nonstop on the APT stage.”



APT Remixed

Season 35

“Meteor Shower” — Jan. 14, 16-17 and 21-24: This Steve Martin comedy finds Corky and Norm excited to host Gerald and Laura at their home to watch a once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower. But it soon becomes clear that Gerald and Laura might not be all that they appear to be.

Season Leak! Season 36 Announcement Party — 6 p.m. Jan. 15.

“Buyer & Cellar” — Feb. 5-7 and 11-14: Billed as an “outrageous” comedy by Johnathan Tolins, it’s the story of a struggling actor in L.A. who takes a job working in the Malibu basement of a beloved megastar, Barbra Streisand. Auditions: Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.

“The Clean House” — Feb. 26-28 and March 4-7: Sarah Ruhl’s play takes place in what the author describes as “metaphysical Connecticut,” where a housekeeper named Matilde shakes up the married life of a couple who are both doctors. Auditions: Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.

“Straight White Men” — March 26-28, April 1-3: In Young Jean Lee’s “compassionate and stimulating play,” Ed and his three adult sons come together to celebrate Christmas and confront the identity and privilege of “straight white men.” Auditions: Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.

“The Waverly Gallery” — April 16-18, 22-25: Gladys, the elderly matriarch of the Green family, has run an art gallery in a small Greenwich Village hotel for many years. The management wants to replace her less-than-thriving gallery with a coffee shop in this poignant memory play by Kenneth Lonergan. Auditions: March 8 at 7 p.m.

“Hillary and Clinton” — May 7-8, 13-16: In an alternate universe is a planet called Earth. And living on this other Earth of Lucas Hnath’s creation is a woman named Hillary. It’s 2008 and Hillary is trying to become the president of a country called the United States of America — but she’s not doing very well in the polls. She needs more money to keep the campaign going, so she calls her husband for help. He offers her a deal in which she gets more than she bargained for. Auditions: March 29 at 7 p.m.

“The Lifespan of a Fact” — June 18-19, 24-27: Jim Fingal is a fresh-out-of-Harvard fact checker for a prominent but sinking New York magazine. John D’Agata is a talented writer with a transcendent essay about the suicide of a teenage boy — an essay that could save the magazine from collapse. When Jim is assigned to fact check D’Agata’s essay, the two meet head to head in a comedic yet gripping battle over facts versus truth. Auditions: May 10 at 7 p.m.

“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” — July 23-25, 29-Aug. 1 and 5-8, 2021: This happy-go-lucky view of small-town vice and statewide political side-stepping recounts the good times and the demise of the Chicken Ranch, known since the 1850s as one of the better pleasure palaces in all of Texas. Auditions: June 7, 2021, at 7 p.m.

To donate while the theater is dark, visit arkansaspublictheare.org.

Categories: Theater