When the folks at Arkansas Repertory were casting their hit, Always...Patsy Cline, they were inundated with cassettes of Cline impersonators. Imagine what they're going through now: the theatre has announced it will open the 1997-98 season with Idols Of The King, a campy but still reverent look at the one & only Elvis Presley. Penned by Allen Crowe and Ronnie Claire Edwards (who appeared on TV's "The Waltons"), Idols will feature such songs made famous by The King as "Shake, Rattle & Roll," "All Shook Up" and "Hunka, Hunka Burning Love." The three-actor show features an Elvis impersonator plus two other actors playing dozens of eccentric fans and acolytes. Rep producing artistic director Cliff Fannin Baker directs. According to theatre spokesperson Becki Moore, hopes are high the show will tour the U.S. In the same way Patsy Cline did.
Following Elvis (as if anyone could follow Elvis!) will be Sarah and Bessie Delany, the two sisters of Having Our Say, adapted from the memoir of the same name by Emily Mann. The two professional, African-American sisters spent over a hundred years together and now share their gentle lives and advice. The show runs Oct. 23-Nov. 16.
Smoke On The Mountain, Connie Ray and Alan Bailey's revue that played at the Lamb's Theatre Off-Broadway, features white gospel and folksy bluegrass. The show runs Nov. 20-Dec. 21 but will tour for two months before taking the mainstage.
Buckles will be swashed Jan. 29-Feb. 22, 1998 when Brad Mooy's adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers takes over. The adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D'Artagnan feature romance, swordplay and heroism.
Steven Dietz's recent play, Private Eyes, follows. Billed "a comedy of suspicion," Private Eyes has played at the Arizona Theatre Company and the 1997 Louisville Humana Festival. Dietz's other works include Lonely Planet and More Fun Than Bowling. The show runs March 12-March 29, 1998 (with a possible extension to April 5, 1998.) Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird will run April 23-May 17, 1998. This story of racial prejudice in a small southern town was made into a legendary 1962 film by adaptor Horton Foote and director Robert Mulligan.
Another, as yet unnanounced show (either a musical or a comedy) will finish the Arkansas Rep season, June 4-June 28.
Currently, the theatre is finishing its run of Cliff Baker's Fort Chaffee and gearing up for Best Little Whorehouse In Texas July 17-Aug. 17, whose design is said to be inspired by Lautrec and Rodin(!).
For tickets and information on shows at Arkansas Repertory call (501) 378-0445. or for more information about Arkansas Repertory Theatre, please refer to the regional listings on Playbill On-Line.
--By David Lefkowitz