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ENTERTAINMENT NOTES: 'Designing Women' debuts on Fayetteville stage

by Eric E. Harrison | September 19, 2021 at 2:10 a.m.
The “Designing Women” cast at Fayetteville’s TheatreSquared: Carmen Cusack (foreground) as Julia Sugarbaker, with (from left) Kim Matula as Haley McPhee, Carla Renata as Cleo Bouvier, Sarah Colonna as Mary Jo Shively, Amy Pietz as Suzanne Sugarbaker and Elaine Hendrix as Charlene Frazier. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

TheatreSquared, 477 W. Spring St., Fayetteville, opens its world-premiere production of "Designing Women" by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, co-creator of the television series of the same name, on Wednesday. High-definition streaming begins Oct. 15.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 24. After it closes in Fayetteville, the production moves to the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock for performances Jan. 18-Feb. 6.

The cast includes Tony Award-nominee Carmen Cusack (Broadway's "Wicked," "Bright Star" and "South Pacific") as Julia Sugarbaker, through Oct. 11; Katherine LaNasa takes over the role starting Oct. 13. Amy Pietz (TV's "Caroline in the City" and "The Office") plays Suzanne Sugarbaker; actor, comedian and University of Arkansas alumna Sarah Colonna ("Shameless," "Chelsea Lately") plays Mary Jo Shively; and Elaine Hendrix ("Dynasty," "Parent Trap") is Charlene Frazier.

Joining the Sugarbaker design firm for this show: Carla Renata as Cleo Bouvier, who has taken over the stake of her cousin Anthony in the business, and Kim Matula as Haley McPhee, the new receptionist. Elizabeth Ofodile plays Cleo's daughter, Alfie.

Bloodworth-Thomason brings her characters forward to 2020 with "plenty to say about our current times" as covid-19 rages, a consequential election is just days away, and Atlanta is at the center of it all.

"'Designing Women' has a special magic," she says, "and a ubiquitous appeal. It would seem to be the perfect theatrical venue for sharing an evening of humor while sitting next to people you can't stand."

Harry Thomason, director and executive producer of the "Designing Women" television show, native Arkansan and husband of Bloodworth-Thomason, directs with TheatreSquared associate artistic director Amy Herzberg.

Tickets are $18-$58. Streaming windows open once every 24 hours starting Oct. 1; access is $25-$35. Call (479) 777-7477 or visit theatre2.org.

Arkansas State art

Artwork by Gustav Carlson, Sean Fitzgibbon and Mythic Times are part of “Legends: An Exploration of Contemporary Storytelling from Frame to Experience,” on display through Dec. 8 in the Bradbury Art Museum, Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Artwork by Gustav Carlson, Sean Fitzgibbon and Mythic Times are part of “Legends: An Exploration of Contemporary Storytelling from Frame to Experience,” on display through Dec. 8 in the Bradbury Art Museum, Arkansas State University at Jonesboro. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

"Legends: An Exploration of Contemporary Storytelling from Frame to Experience," which uses comics as a jumping off point for a dialogue about storytelling through contemporary art-making processes, is on display through Dec. 8 in the Bradbury Art Museum, in Arkansas State University's Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro.

The exhibit includes work by Sarah Anderson, Gustav Carlson, JooYoung Choi, Michelle Czajkowski, Neil Emmanuel, Sean Fitzgibbon, Peter Kuper, Chad Maupin, Mythic Times, Josh Neufeld, Trina Robbins, Eric Shanower and Kevin Snipes. It's in collaboration with Randy Duncan, director of the Center for Comics Studies at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia and author of "The Power of Comics."

Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Due to the pandemic, the museum limits capacity to 60 visitors; walk-in groups cannot exceed 10 people and groups larger than 10 should call ahead for a reservation. Guests and staff are required to wear face coverings and maintain a six-foot distance from others. Call (870) 972-3687 or visit BradburyArtMuseum.org.

El Dorado homes

Four El Dorado homes are the focus of Preserve Arkansas' next virtual Mid Mod Arkansas tour, 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday on the nonprofit's Facebook page (facebook.com/PreserveAR) and YouTube channel (youtube.com/channel/UC-N_aGiEaksTp724-nGzbhw).

Tuesday's presentation features the Dr. Paul Henley and James Riley houses, designed in 1960 by architect E. Fay Jones, who spent most of his childhood in El Dorado. Thursday's video highlights the Gillham-Wilson and Dr. Carey Clark houses, designed in 1957 and 1960, respectively, by Charles Ripley.

Presenting sponsor is Murphy USA. "Admission" is free. Visit preservearkansas.org/what-we-do/education/mid-mod.

Ballet auditions

Western Arkansas Ballet will hold auditions for its productions of Peter Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" and Stephan Warbeck's "Peter Pan" on Saturday at its studios, 4701 Grand Ave., Fort Smith.

Candidates should be at least 6 years old with at least two years' experience in dance and/or gymnastics, but parts are available for adults and boys with little or no dance experience.

The schedule: children ages 6-7, 9 a.m.-10:15 a.m. or 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m.; children ages 8-9, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. or noon-1:15 p.m.; children ages 10-12, 1-2:15 p.m.; all dancers 13 and older, 2-3:15 p.m.

Register by 5 p.m. Tuesday by calling (479) 785-0152. Candidates will receive an audition time Thursday. Wear appropriate dance clothing. There is a $55 fee to audition for both ballets ($25 of which is refundable if you are not cast). To audition for "The Nutcracker" only is $40 ($25 refundable).

Performances of "The Nutcracker" are Dec. 18-19; of "Peter Pan," April 29-30. Call (479) 785-0152 or visit waballet.org.

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