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CHARLESTON –- The Eastern Illinois University music and theater arts departments will present "Side by Side by Sondheim," a Tony Award-winning musical that pays tribute to composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and next Monday and Tuesday in the Doudna Fine Arts Center's Black Box Theatre.
With minimal sets and costumes, a small cast and two pianos, "Side by Side by Sondheim" introduces listeners to the work of Broadway's most innovative and influential artist. The show features some of Sondheim's best-known songs as well as classics by other musical-theater giants – Leonard Bernstein, Julie Styne and Richard Rodgers.
The founders of Tree Theatre of New York, both Eastern Illinois University alumni, will debut their latest show on Thursday at the Doudna Fine Arts Center on the EIU campus in Charleston.
"Road Trips," an original one-act play, will premiere at 7 p.m. in The Theatre. Due to language and subject matter, "Road Trips" is intended for adults only. Admission is $5.
The original is hitting the ice arena for an adaptation like no other.
"High School Musical: The Ice Tour" will make a pit stop at the Assembly Hall, and the title sounds exactly like what the show entails: a band of talented young entertainers recreating the familiar dance sequences on ice.
The Champaign Urbana Theatre Company will have auditions this weekend for its upcoming fundraising concert, The Who's "Tommy in Concert."
The auditions will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Busey Center, 208 W. Main St. U.
HOOPESTON – What started in Lafayette, Calif., has found its way to Hoopeston.
In 2000, Joshua Caudle started working at a theater just down the highway from the University of California campus in Berkeley. By October 2008, his love of small, independent theaters led him to buy Hoopeston's Lorraine Theatre and the Lorraine II.
Her long red hair in curlers, actress Carly Churchey studies her face in the women's dressing-room mirror at Krannert Center as she applies stage makeup for her latest role.
That's as va-va-va-voom Hedy LaRue in the musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying."
It's a character described as similar to Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield or Brigitte Bardot.
CHARLESTON – The Charleston Alley Theatre will open its 19th season at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest."
Wilde's witty comedy of manners pokes fun at the social mores of Victorian England and centers on the misplaced contents of a certain handbag. The play originally opened Feb. 14, 1895, at St. James Theater, London. Considered Wilde's best work, the play is filled with some of the most famous witticisms in literary history.
DANVILLE – Nancy Henderson can't remember when exactly she agreed to direct plays featuring Danville High School students, but she's certain about how much she enjoys the task.
"I don't teach at the high school, so it's nice to come here and talk to kids on a more adult level at the end of the work day," said Henderson with a laugh. Her days are spent teaching 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds at East Park Elementary School.
Kyle Martin never saw it coming.
One day, he's the music pastor at a church in California. The next day, he's Billy Joel.
"My voice teacher in Los Angeles had worked with the previous 'Piano Man' in 'Movin' Out.' He thought I would be really good in the role, so he asked me to send him a bio and demo, and he would send it off to a few people he knew," Martin says.
"So I sent it off, and I didn't hear anything or think about it for two years. Then all of a sudden, I got a call from a casting agency, telling me to hop on a plane and fly to New York. They said, 'We think you're a good fit for the role.' I was floored. It all happened so fast," Martin says.
That Martin has a voice, and piano style, remarkably like that of singer-songwriter Joel will be readily apparent when the "Movin' Out" tour makes a stop at 7:30 p.m. March 10 at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall.
URBANA – Flippers can't stop true love.
When the Little Mermaid sees a picture of cutie Prince Theodore, she falls head over tail. Never mind that he's got the wrong appendages, Theo's the guy for her – and she'll bargain her soul to the Sea Witch to prove it.
To catch the drama, dancing and the music of the classic "The Little Mermaid," head to Urbana High School, where the Champaign-Urbana Junior Woman's Club's Tom Thumb Theatre will hold its 55th annual production.