The Rainbow Shines over Pine Bluff.
Denise Rose as Judy Garland is about to sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in “Liza and Judy, Together Again.” Liza Minelli is played by Suzanne Goulet (no kin to Robert). The show was presented in the Community Theatre in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, June 6 and 7, 2014.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Pine Buff, Arkansas
Making Room for a Big Show.
It’s not often that Las Vegas entertainers play to audiences in LA (lower Arkansas). The show dates of June 6 and 7 became the exception to the rule when Suzanne Goulet as Liza Minelli and Denise Roberts as Judy Garland lit up the stage with their energetic performances at the Community Theatre in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Goulet and Rose are not the only top-flight entertainers to play the Community. Opening in March with Ron MacClosky, a veteran Groucho impersonator, the Community has presented two live performances each month — and with two shows scheduled every month for the rest of the year, the Community playbill promises a great season for 2014.
How does a medium-size Delta city get a live theatre? It helps if you have Jack Stradley and his wife, Kathy Majewska as residents. In late 2012 they hatched up the idea to restore the Community, which had essentially been lying fallow for several years. They put action to their dream in mid-2013 with the idea of a January 1, 2014 opening. Unfortunately, the restore-it-from-scratch gremlins raised their ugly heads in domino sequence and the opening was postponed until mid-March of this year.
Fitting the Curtain
Here’s how the Community Theatre interior looked on December 20, 2013. From left: unidentified worker, Jack Stradley, and Kathy Majewska, who is 98 percent obscured by Milton Duke, a theatre expert extraordinaire who hails from Hot Springs, Arkansas. The trio is observing the first fitting of the curtains. The outer curtain is special damask imported from India which overlays opaque material. It was about this time that the group reached the decision to punt on the January 1, 2014 opening.
By mid-March, 2014, after a few more gut punches — by this time gut punches were part and parcel of the restoration — Stradley, Majewska and their crew, who now operate the theater, plus some dedicated contractors pulled it off. The theater opened with a performance by Ron MacClosky, a world-class Groucho impersonator.
View from Up Top
Here’s the restored theater interior from the front of the balcony. You can see the full complement of front lighting. The system has 164 dimmable circuits. You can also see state-of-the-art sound system speakers. If that system happens to fail, all is not lost. The acoustics in the 125-year-old building are nearly perfect.
View from a Good Seat
You are looking at the stage from about row H, if my memory serves me correctly. The lighted areas to either side of the stage are the entrance doors to the theater. You walk past the stage to find your seat. For those who thrive on spectacularly late, grand entrances, this is the ideal setup.
View from Center Stage Forward
Performer's Eye View: You are, so-to-speak, looking down the bore. The vantage point here is that of a 6’-3” photographer ensconced at center stage.
Let's Have a Chat.
Rose and Goulet have a Judy-Liza mother and daughter chat. Advance publicity for the show stated about the pair, “They look, sound and act like the legends they portray.” In this case, the advance billing was 100 percent true.
It is good when a plan comes together.
Because of dogged determination, Stradley and Majewska are making it happen. Forget about telling them, “It can’t be done.” They did it.
See pictures from the Liza and Judy show in these galleries:
L I Z A / J U D Y G A L L E R Y 1
L I Z A / J U D Y G A L L E R Y 2
L I Z A / J U D Y G A L L E R Y 3
Go to the Community web at at http://pbcommunitytheatre.org/ and click on pictures to see galleries from previous 2014 performances.
But wait, there’s more!
See a picture
of the theatre exterior,
plus three more pictures
of Suzanne Goulet and Denise Rose
in their Liza and Judy roles at
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.