Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
If you've ever complained about the lack of contemporary drama at The Rep, this is your ticket. Particularly since it's free. "Voices at the River," the theater's biennial playwright's residency program, brings together Latino- and African-American playwrights to exchange ideas and, on Friday and Saturday, stage public readings of their new work. Audiences will have the opportunity to offer feedback following each play. Tearrence Chisholm's "Liddy's Sammiches, Potions, and Baths" (6 p.m. Friday) is about "the daughter of a sorceress who seeks to realize her identity through her deceased mother's spell book." "Wetback" (8:30 p.m. Friday), by Elaine Romero, tracks the fates of a Latina high school principal and the undocumented Mexican worker she fires to protect her position. The Young Playwright Selection, Michael Chavez's "Waking Up To You" (2 p.m. Saturday), is about a fleeting romance. Augusto Federico Amador's "Solterona" (6 p.m. Saturday) centers on Maria as she cares for her "repressive" mother. "Roses in the Water" (8:30 p.m. Saturday), by La'Chris Jordan, follows a young woman who enlists in the U.S. Navy to escape the perilous New Orleans housing projects. Reservations, via The Rep box office, are encouraged. LM.
"LBJ took the IRT/Down to Fourth Street/USA/When he got there/what did he see?/The youth of America on LSD." Taking "Hair" for granted as a simple, cheesy holdover from the '60s might be a mistake. Yeah, chunks of the 1967 production have a hokey, dank air about them, but, without it, theater — particularly musical theater — as we now know it simply wouldn't be the same. We all know about the infamous on-stage nudity. We know the show as the genesis of rock operas. Heck, we know the songs by heart. But the play's ascent from the 99-person capacity Joseph Papp Public Theater to Tony Awards to worldwide omnipresence and historical significance may be — other than the nude finale — the most memorable part of its legacy. The Weekend Theater's production of "Hair" runs through August 8. JT.
Last year, we wrote critically about the inaugural Little Rock Fashion Week. Organizer/founder Brandon Campbell seemed to be practicing the inverse of the Mike Beebe doctrine: He over-promised (celebrities, crowds, atmosphere) and under-delivered (on all those counts). But, to his credit, he's back for year two with a full slate of events. Maybe there's slow-build potential here. The "week" kicked off last weekend, but the fashion part doesn't really kick into gear until Friday, with the "Young & Fabulous" show at Robinson (8 p.m., $14). Saturday is the main show, "Posh Expression." Also at Robinson, it's at 8 p.m., with tickets ranging from $15 (students) to $25 (adults) to $35 for VIPs. And Lulav hosts the after-party, 10 p.m. LM.
Last year, Forbes listed ventriloquist Jeff Dunham as the third highest-earning comedian in the U.S., behind Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. His 2008 Christmas special on Comedy Central owns the record as the most watched program in network history. One of his YouTube videos, the introduction of a puppet called "Achmed the Dead Terrorist," a skeleton with a turban whose main gag is saying "I keel you," is currently the 10th most watched video on the website. "Growing up doing those Kiwanis Clubs, doing those Cub Scout banquets, doing those church shows, I learned to find that sensibility that most people could laugh at — that all ages and demographics could laugh at," the Dallas-born comedian told The New York Times last year. Which is another way of saying he — like perhaps his closest comedy analogue Tyler Perry — is the master of toothless, lowest common denominator comedy; he's a fart joke, a soft peddler of anti-political correctness. If that's not your comedy sweet spot, he's profoundly unfunny. Either way, one thing's for sure: Dunham's laughing all the way to the bank. LM.
It's been a weird decade for professional wrestling. The WWF bought its long-time competitor, WCW, and bisected the combined brands into two distinct, separate entities with a "draft." Former world champion Chris Benoit killed his family and himself the weekend he was supposed to reclaim his former belt. And the WWF added an extra typographical crossbar to become the WWE after the panda-huggers at the World Wide Fund for Nature sued in a British court. But all's well that ends well and today it looks like the world of professional wrestling is still greased up and ready for action. When the show rolls through Little Rock, even the guys who tuned out years ago will have some familiar faces to look forward to: scary-ass Kane, Big Show (remember The Giant?), Chavo Guerrero and something called a Dolph Ziggler. The active wrestling fans are in for a treat, as well, with Jack Swagger returning to the ring to powerbomb his way back to the World Heavyweight Championship belt he lost to luchador Rey Mysterio. JT.
"I'm gonna depress you the best I can," James McMurtry says before a song. "Because I'm thoroughly tied into the Prozac industry." One-liners like that exemplify why the Texas singer/songwriter enjoys a reputation as one of the most literate songwriters of his generation. It's in his bones. The son of a college English professor and the brilliant Texas novelist Larry McMurtry is pedigreed, growing up on his father's deft prose in song, often eyeing down the same Southern mythos with wry cynicism and an everyman's shrug. For the last decade, he's turned his amps towards politics and corporate greed in musical snapshots. Take "Cheney's Toy," in which McMurtry's disaffected voice jumps from Iraq to Washington, D.C., to Guantanamo Bay with a dry, sardonic snarl juxtaposing a figure in the midst of battle with the aping, puppet president that stuck him there. It's witty, it's affecting and it's as brazen as songwriting gets. On Tuesday, he's joined by a fellow Austin-based singer/songwriter Jonny Burke. JT.
When Malcolm Holcombe gets in his mesmerizing, stomping groove, a cavalcade of idiosyncrasies blasts out of him in full effect. Never still, he jostles in his chair, shaking his head like a dazed drunkard with water in his ear, a sensation surely familiar to the legendarily rough and tumble Appalachian whom Steve Earle once called "the best singer-songwriter I ever threw out of my studio." He's a clever-hearted John Prine in the body of a hardscrabble, boondock Keith Richards who earned the affections of both after releasing his proper debut, "A Hundred Lies," at the age of 43. It's an unbelievable premiere, full of wandering and poetic mood pieces about his trail to a long-avoided sobriety, but even amidst the heavy themes, it's his trademark voice that ensnares. It neighs. It's a gnarled, primordial rumble, and it provides a perfect accompaniment to his hypnotic, finger-picked brand of blues-folk guitar. White Water's website says "don't screw up and miss this show" and, well, we're going to have to agree. JT.