Monthly Archives: May 2015

Eureka Springs’ Stunning Staircase Mural

Eureka Springs is turning its abundance of gray concrete steps into stunning murals.

You can see the project, created by artists and volunteers, on the staircase connecting North Main Street with Center Street in this historic downtown. At 5:30 p.m. this Friday, May 29, you can catch the The Up Project’s Official Cash & Boardman Mural Ribbon Cutting during Eureka Springs May Festival of the Arts.

It’s referred to as the Cash and Boardman Mural because two submissions from Kyla Boardman and Kennedy Cash from the Eureka Springs High School Art Club were selected as the artwork. Muralist Doug Myerscough designed the recent mural by combining the works of the two young artists.

I hope we see more murals such as this in Eureka Springs. You can follow The UP Project on Facebook.

Fayetteville New Play Festival

Fayetteville_T2_Play_Festival_logoOn the heels of the inaugural Bentonville Film Festival comes the premier celebration of new works for the American stage with the Arkansas New Play Festival set for June 18-28 at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville.

TheatreSquared (T2) Artistic Director Robert Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller recently revealed the festival lineup, which includes five plays that will be developed over three intensive weeks with playwrights in residence at TheatreSquared. The works are then performed for the public over two weekends in June.

“It’ll be a rich and exciting festival,” said Ford. “Every kind of comedy from low brow to high, plus some sharp social commentary. Scripts that are still in their infancy. Another that’s already slated for off-Broadway. And an amazing group of actors, directors and playwrights.”

Works selected for development include Uncle, the newest play by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing; The Quest for Don Quixote, a new adaptation by Mark Brown (Around the World in 80 Days); Dust, by Sundance Fellow and Arkansas native Qui Nguyen; Fault, by T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford; and The Dingdong: Or, How the French Kiss, Mark Shanahan’s new adaptation of the classic Feydeau farce, slated for its off-Broadway premiere in 2016.

“Every performance is followed by a talkback with the playwright and the team of artists staging the work,” said Miller. “This is our audience’s, and our region’s chance to help directly shape each of these high-profile plays before they take the world’s stage.”

Special performances at the 2015 festival include the Arkansas Young Playwrights Showcase, featuring 10-minute plays by Arkansas high school students (Saturday, 6/27, 5 p.m.). Also, the 9th annual 24 Hour Play-Off pits teams of artists against each other to come up with the best original 10-minute play with just 24 hours to write and rehearse (Sunday, 6/21, 6 p.m.). Applications for Play-Off teams are accepted at theatre2.org.

Additional performances will also be staged at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock on June 27, including Dust by Qui Nguyen (2 p.m.) and Uncle by Lee Blessing (7 p.m.). Tickets will be on sale via the Arkansas Repertory Theatre at 501-378-0405 or therep.org.

Passes, granting early access to all performances and events in Fayetteville, are on sale now for $40 via Tickets Northwest Arkansas at 479-443-5600 or online at theatre2.org. Single tickets for all events range from $7-$15 and go on sale soon. Passes grant access to all performances, including special events and an opening reception catered by Table on the Hill.

TheatreSquared is Northwest Arkansas’s only year-round professional theatre, offering a unique audience experience in its intimate 175-seat theatre at Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios. In 2011, TheatreSquared was recognized by the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards, as one of the nation’s 10 most promising emerging theatres.

Fayetteville_T2_Play

Festival Lineup:

Opening Reception- June 19 at 6:30 p.m.

FAULT by Robert Ford; directed by Amy Herzberg — In the aftermath of a severe quake along the New Madrid Fault, Gabriel Baptiste, star safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, defies a government quarantine and returns alone to his family farm in the Arkansas River Valley. Discovered by a scientist with secrets of her own, he’s drawn into a dangerous game of mutual recrimination. This new work by T2 Artistic Director Robert Ford will receive its world premiere production in TheatreSquared’s 2015/16 season. Staged Reading: June 19 at 7:30 p.m.

DUST by Qui Nguyen — Spanning Ho Chi Minh City to El Dorado, Arkansas, Dust is the story of Thuy, a girl who sets out to find her ex-G.I. father—who has kept her existence a secret from his wife for 16 years. Blending live hip-hop, raw emotion and wry wit, Dust recasts the American dream through the eyes of an Amer-Asian teenager in this redemptive, cross-cultural coming-of-age story. The newest work by Arkansas native Qui Nguyen (2014 Sundance Institute Fellow). Staged Readings: June 20 at 2 p.m. and June 28 at 7:30 p.m.

THE DINGDONG: OR, HOW THE FRENCH KISS by Georges Feydeau, adapted by Mark Shanahan; directed by Morgan Hicks — Vatelin is a faithful husband – mostly. Lucy is a faithful wife – kind of. But their “fidelity” is about to be put to the test when a series of importunate suitors and femmes fatales invade their cozy little world. Dive headfirst into the misadventures of one madcap night in a Parisian hotel in this new adaptation of Feydeau’s classic farce, and discover how opening the wrong door in the dark of night can lead to mayhem, laughter, and a few unlikely revelations about the secret to a happy marriage. Staged Readings: June 20 at 7:30 p.m. and June 26 at 5 p.m.

UNCLE by Lee Blessing; directed by Shana Gold — From Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award nominee Lee Blessing (A Walk in the Woods), comes a comedy about an academic sabbatical gone terribly awry. Dr. Paul Waymiller is facing a “publish or perish” deadline on his book about Chekov’s masterpiece, Uncle Vanya. With his career in the balance, he refuses to be distracted by anything—be it his imminent divorce, Vanya himself, or the interdimensional wormhole that’s opened up in his backyard. Staged Readings: June 21 at 2 p.m. and June 28 at 2 p.m.

THE QUEST FOR DON QUIXOTE adapted by Mark Brown from Miguel de Cervantes; directed by Mark Shanahan — Playwright Ben Eisenberg sits in a Starbucks, just one day before his epic adaptation of Don Quixote begins rehearsal. There’s just one problem — he hasn’t written it. His agent is apoplectic, the advance is long since spent, and adapting a 1000-page Renaissance adventure is beginning to feel a bit like, well, tilting at windmills. But then—whether from a stroke of genius or a near-lethal dosage of caffeine and Xanax—Starbucks itself begins to transform, and the errant knight arises in this delightfully theatrical, hilarious retelling of Cervantes’s classic tale. Playwright Mark Brown’s adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days (T2, 2014) was one of the nation’s top-produced titles in 2014. Workshop Production:  June 25 & 26 at 8:00pm, June 27 at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.

See the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs

The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs is now open for the 2015 Season. In addition to the play, you can take a behind the scenes tour, visit the Sacred Art Museum, eat at the Great Hall Buffet, stand at the feet of Christ of the Ozarks, and much more.

The play starts with the resurrection of Lazarus. You’ll see the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the day known as Palm Sunday, then witness significant events leading to and including Christ’s crucifixion, resurrections, and ascension into Heaven.

The drama is performed on a 550-foot-wide, multilevel stage in an outdoor amphitheater. You’ll experience the hustle and bustle of crowds in the colorful marketplace, and the live animals on the streets of Jerusalem as well as the angel rolling away the stone at the tomb and the dramatic ascension of Jesus into the sky.Eureka_Springs_Great_Passion_Play_camel

The outdoor theater has 4,100 individual, comfortable seats with backrests. Since its opening in July of 1968, more than seven million people have enjoyed this portrayal of The Greatest Story Ever Told.  Hundreds of actors and state-of-the-art sound and lighting create an unforgettable experience for you under the stars.

The Passion Play also offers many special events throughout the season. Artist Jack Dawson will be in the Sacred Art Museum this Saturday, May 23 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. You can meet him and see many of his original paintings. Also this weekend on Friday through Sunday will be a Memorial Day ceremony honoring those who have fought for this nation’s freedom. It will take place before the play in front of the box office.

During the day before the play, you can also take the Holy Land Tour, see the Museum of Religious Art, and peruse the Gift Shop. The all-you-can-eat buffet is open from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day before the play.

And did you know that you can request to light the Christ of the Ozarks statue in memory or in honor of someone for a donation of $10. You have to reserve the night of your choosing.

You can view the season schedule online here. For tickets or more information, call 800-882-7529, email info@greatpassionplay.com, or visit GreatPassionPlay.org.

 

 

Walmart Museum Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Walmart is a ubiquitous piece of our national landscape, yet it started from humble beginnings. The story of America’s largest retailer is chronicled on the small town square of Bentonville at The Walmart Museum, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Saturday, May 16.

Known as the Walmart Visitors Center until 2012, the museum is a multi-room gallery showcasing a collection of images, items, and information of the history of Walmart and the Walton family over the years. Additional features to the museum are The Walton’s 5&10 gift shop and the Spark Café Soda Fountain, giving visitors the experience of stepping back in time.

The museum is located at 105 N. Main St. in the same space of founder Sam Walton’s original 5&10 store. In May of 1990 the locale was opened as The Walmart Visitors Center. Family portraits and Walmart newspaper ads lined the walls around the freestanding display cases designed by Walmart carpenter Gene Lauer. In the lobby there was a large sepia mural depicting a typical ‘50s-era 5&10 with a cut-out figure of Sam Walton placed beside it. The original floor tiles from Walton’s 5&10 were discovered during the renovation and were intact. Rather than remove them, they were left in place as they’re a testament to Sam’s frugality.

walmart-visitor-center-spark-cafeThe center was renovated and enhanced in May of 2011 with new exhibits and elements like the Spark Cafe. Since the grand re-opening, annual visitor traffic has grown to six times what it was prior to the grand re-opening, and the 5&10 and Spark Café Soda Fountain have become popular locations for both tourists and the local community.

Over the years, however, the term “visitors center” became more widely adopted by state and local tourism offices rather than by corporate museums. With the City of Bentonville’s own visitors center right across the street from Walton’s 5&10, the move to change the museum’s name to “The Walmart Museum” came naturally. The name change made it crystal clear it was museum, clearing up a lot of confusion for out-of-town visitors.

the-walmart-museum-touch-tableToday, representing a dynamic company means the museum itself must remain dynamic. This is represented in museum’s mission “to engage, educate, and inspire our associates, customers, and suppliers about our heritage.”

As part of that mission and the desire to be a dynamic member of the community, the museum has increased its involvement, through sponsorships, events, and activities. From NWA Lemonade Day to Girls on the Run to family-friendly activities, and drop-in activities it hosts, the museum works to engage, educate, and inspire in many different ways.

Sam Walton said, “That’s one thing we never did much of while we were building Walmart, talk about ourselves or do a whole lot of bragging outside the Walmart family – except when we had to convince some banker or some Wall Street financier that we intended to amount to something someday, that we were worth taking a chance on. “

Walmart did end up amounting to something and though the museum isn’t there to brag, it continues to tell the story of a young couple that took a chance with a different approach to retail with their small 5&10 and grew it into the world’s largest retailer. As Walmart continues to evolve as a company, the museum will evolve alongside it, but always with a focus on the rich heritage of a company that was definitely worth taking a chance on.

Admission is free. The self-guided tour starts in the original 5&10 and ends up in an old-fashioned soda fountain. The Walmart Museum is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.

by Jill Rohrbach

Vegas-Style Show Opens in Eureka Springs

Singers, dancers, Cirque-style acrobatics, a live band and stunning technical effects — that’s what audiences have to look forward to when the curtain rises on Steve Kinworthy’s new show, Lovin’ Every Minute. This Vegas-like show opens Friday, May 15 and runs five days a week at the historic City Auditorium in Eureka Springs.

This new full-time production show with a large cast of talented singers and performers in beautiful costumes offers visitors to Eureka Springs a unique new experience.

“I am excited to join the Eureka Springs entertainment scene,” said Executive Producer Steve Kinworthy.  “My wife and I have fallen in love with the area and look forward to performing with this great cast each night.”

Kinworthy and cast show their passion for music and live theatre through performances of jazz, pop, Broadway, and classic rock numbers along with energetic dance moves and jaw dropping acrobatics.

The acrobatic portion of the show is performed by Anthony and Lindsay Soumiatin, who have more than 25 years of performing experience. They were trained by renowned ballerina and choreographer Marina Bolchakova from the world famous Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow.  Together they perform astounding acts of strength, balance and agility.  Anthony has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for his unique tricks on the Ultimate Wheel- a seatless unicycle.  Lindsay joins Anthony on stage bringing a beautiful grace and elegance to the show.

“Our production team of Bob Nichols, long time entertainer and show producer; Ricky Holmes, my musical director, and Technical Director Justin Chandler have developed a show with a high production value that audiences will appreciate,” Kinworthy added. “The show is named Lovin’ Every Minute because that’s our goal for you each time you see the show… to love every minute from the first musical downbeat to the final curtain call.”

For more information and tickets, go to at www.LovinEureka.com or call 866-547-6258.

Razorback Regional Greenway Grand Opening May 2

nwa_razorback_regional_greenwayExcitement for the grand opening on May 2 of the Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway is palpable, almost like a University of Arkansas football game day. Hundreds of people are expected to turn out and take part in the many activities planned on and along the route, which touches six cities and provides recreational and transportation opportunities for a half million residents of the area.

The Greenway is a 36-mile-long, shared-use trail that extends from the Bella Vista Trail in Bentonville to the Frisco Trail in Fayetteville. The paved trail contains impressive bridges, follows along several creeks, runs through farmland and wooded areas, and connects to other trails, lakes, and parks. While the greenway offers plenty of scenic beauty, it also links dozens of popular community destinations, including six downtown areas, arts and entertainment venues, restaurants, historic sites, playgrounds, and residential communities.

Whether you like to bike, walk, or run on the Greenway, there are numerous activities to take part in during the grand opening. Plus, the Ozark Regional Transit and the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad are offering free transportation along the Greenway throughout the day. Hop on the bus or the train for a ride to various activities. Bikes are even allowed on both modes of transportation.

The main festivities, consisting of the ribbon cutting and speeches, take place at noon at the Shiloh Square in Springdale. Downtown Springdale will also have bike demonstrations, family-friendly rides, a bike rodeo, food vendors, a taco competition, and hikes.

NWARazorbackGreenway_mapAt 7 a.m., the first official end-to-end Greenway ride takes place starting at Bella Vista Lake. Ride the whole 36 miles and you receive a commemorative t-shirt. Throughout the day, shorter rides also take place at central locations of each city located on the Greenway.

Fayetteville’s kick-off starts at 9:45 a.m. at Dickson Street Crossing, where you can also catch the train to downtown Springdale. Ozark Regional Transit offers bus rides to Springdale from Mercy Medical Center in Rogers, or bike the trail with a group beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Mercy Trailhead. Bentonville’s kick-off is at 9 a.m. at its downtown activity center, located at 215 SW A St.

Mountain bikers as well as road cyclists can enjoy various rides. The Ozark Off-Road Cyclists will lead a beginner-friendly mountain bike ride around Rogers’ Lake Atalanta at 9 a.m. and then ride up to the Rogers Depot before riding the train to the main festivities in Springdale.

History walks take place all along the route at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Join Master Gardeners for horticulture walks too. The walks are all about one mile in length, except for Fayetteville’s, which is about two miles. The Shiloh Museum in Springdale offers a concert from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Find event details for the grand opening at www.RazorbackGreenway.com. Visit www.NWATrails.org for an online map of the entire trail and more information about the grand opening event.

Photos available, courtesy of the Northwest Arkansas Council: www.ArkansasMediaRoom.com/press-releases/northwest-arkansas-razorback-regional-greenway-grand-opening-is-may-2

Looking for new attractions to cover in Arkansas? Check out updated story ideas, attraction lists, and “What’s New for 2015” at www.ArkansasMediaRoom.com.