Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Little Theatre That Could--and Did

There is pretty strong characters down there in Arkansas. You can't redeem 'em, you just join 'em. ~Will Rogers

The finale of "The Legend of Georgia McBride"
Hello again, from Fayetteville, AR where we are halfway through the third week of our five week run with "The Legend of Georgia McBride."  When I booked this gig, the common reaction from friends up north was: "A drag play? IN ARKANSAS?" 

This incredulity is understandable given what most of us know about Arkansas.  But most of us don't know Fayetteville.  Like Austin, TX or Asheville, NC, Fayetteville is an oasis of liberalism and culture in a rabidly "red" state.  Home to the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!), this town is the hub of all things NWA (Northwest Arkansas).  Here, folks are proud to be inclusive, broad minded... different.  People are friendly, welcoming, easy to get to know, and the town virtually hums with contentment.

In this environment, the arts thrive... and for the past 14 years, TheatreSquared has brought challenging, vibrant theatre to its black box home at Nadine Baum Studios, part of Walton Arts Center.  And the audience has embraced it with incredible enthusiasm and support--you feel it from the stage.  It's an audience that's vocal, excited and genuinely proud to be there.  For an actor, what could be better?

Design of the new T2--it looks just like this!! AMAZING
Given the support Fayetteville has given TheatreSquared, it's probably not surprising that they are almost near completion of their 50,000 square foot state of the art home, with two performance spaces, rehearsal studios, offices and a beautiful gathering space in its airy, modern, ground floor lobby.  Additionally, they've built eight gorgeous apartments for visiting artists (and lucky us--we are the first actors to occupy the new housing).  I wish you could see what they've created and feel the excitement building here toward the grand opening. Check out all the gorgeous images and ambitious plans at the T2 website. The theatre industry should take note of the work TheatreSquared is doing--and it WILL.  I for one would be thrilled to return here.

Meanwhile, my love affair with Fayetteville continues, as we bring the sequins and the joy to TheatreSquared's founding venue.  This town is rich with whimsical and interesting local businesses, fantastic food and drink, live music and culture, the best used bookstore EVER (Dickson Street Books) and my favorite farmer's market of all time every week.  Not to mention the stunning art museum Crystal Bridges just a stone's throw from Fayetteville. But one doesn't fall in love with a town without falling for its people.  I walk around this place with no eyebrows and lavender nail polish in my off-hours and I am accepted and welcomed.  I've made friends with local business owners and staff members at T2 and their loved ones... and man, what a team at the theatre--led by the generous and openhearted Artistic Director, Bob Ford, and Executive Director Martin Miller.  

The girls of Cleo's! Tracy, Georgia, Rexy.
And to top it all off... I am in love with my fellow actors on this show.  It is a rare thing for a group to come together as strangers and a month later be close and affectionate friends. We relish our time on stage so much; but more, we spend our free time together too-- just enjoying the hell out of each other.  I am so grateful for this experience and I know the joy we all feel being here at TheatreSquared, in this life affirming play, as the theatre moves on to its exciting next chapter--is felt by each and every person who comes to see "The Legend of Georgia McBride." 

Don't miss out!  Be one of those lucky people--and join us before we close on June 2.