“Angel of Arkansas,” a new show from Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, creators of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Bandstand,” will receive a concert-style premiere on Sunday at Notoriety Live in the Renkus-Heinz Theater. of 175 places. , Jan. 30, 2 p.m. Featuring a cast of Broadway and Vegas stars and a six-piece band of Sin City’s leading country rock musicians, ticket sales will benefit the local grassroots nonprofit , The Composers Showcase, which provides a platform for original musical works, scholarships and financial assistance to the Las Vegas entertainment community. The concert will be followed by a gala evening with performers and creatives. Tickets cost between $25 and $100, plus fees, to purchase at notorietylive.com. Convenient parking under Neonopolis at 4th Street and Fremont is free with validation.
Inspired by the remarkable real-life experiences of Ruth Coker Burks, “Angel of Arkansas” is the story of a young single mother in 1986 rural Arkansas who suddenly turns into a one-woman hospice, advocate healthcare worker, political activist, pharmaceutical distributor, and undertaker to thousands of young men at the height of the AIDS crisis. “It kind of became a thing,” says Oberacker, “to be able to bring Las Vegas the first exclusive look at our new work, an insider preview before anyone else in the country.”
The stellar cast includes the lead role of Ruth played by Ruby Lewis of “Paramour”, “Baz” and “Marilyn” of Cirque. With Lewis in the only female role, the extraordinary ensemble of men will play multiple characters each to create the vast community of lives touched by Ruth. This set includes Broadway powerhouse Brent Barrett from ‘Chicago’, ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, ‘Grand Hotel’, ‘Candide’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular’ and it received a Olivier nomination for her performance in the London company of “Kiss Me, Kate”. Additional cast will be Noah Rivera (“Wicked,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights,” and the original White Rabbit in “Shrek the Musical.”) Todd Dubail (“Jersey Boys,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” , “Grease” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”.) Australian Daz Weller (artistic director of the Vegas Theater Company, “Stainless Steel Rat”, “Beauty Queen of Leenane” and “The Sandman”). Devin L. Roberts (Disney’s “The Lion King,” “Cabin in the Sky,” “Venice” and appeared on “America’s Got Talent.”) Phillip Officer (“Side Show” and a renowned, award-winning cabaret performer who has performed in legendary venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel.) Luke Striffler (“Hairspray” and “Avenue Q”, film and TV credits “East-Enders”, “The Morning After” and as a semi-finalist on “Britain’s Got Talent”.) Christopher Lash (“Million Dollar Quartet” as Jerry Lee Lewis, and first Las Vegas musical director of “Jersey Boys” and “Baz”.) Paul Johnson (“The Atomic Saloon Show”, “Raiding the Rock Vault”, “Rock of Ages”, “Peepshow” and “Baz.”). Steffan Scrogan (“The Sandman”, “American Idiot” and Toby in “Sweeney Todd .”) Paul Bradley (“Ragtime”, “Children of Eden”, “Big River” and singer of the group “for Balter”.) JeShaun Jackson (national tour of “Church Girls”, “Ritchie and Blanche”, “Working ” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe é”.) In addition, the crucial role of the Doctor, who is voiced from behind the scenes, will be performed by Annette Houlihan Verdolino (who originated the role of Fraulein Kaeseschweiss in the American premiere of “The Sandman” at the Majestic Repertory Theater, Ms. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” and on the Las Vegas Strip and touring nationally in “Menopause the Musical.” She is also an alumnus of some of the most legendary avant-garde scenes in the fringe, cabaret and experimental scene. from New York as performing in London and abroad as a renowned burlesque entertainer.
Six high-level musicians will be brought together to form the group that will accompany the cast for the event. Oberacker will conduct his own piano score. Jake Langley will play acoustic and electric guitar. He is a Grammy-nominated musician who has toured and recorded with artists such as The Dixie Chicks, Sheena Easton, Willie Nelson and the Righteous Brothers, as well as with the orchestras of Broadway musicals “The Color Purple”, ” Hair”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Mamma Mia”. Paul Molloy will play acoustic and electric guitar as well as mandolin and banjo. He played in orchestras for countless Broadway shows, including “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Assassins”, “Big River”, “Man of La Mancha”. The co-lyricist and co-librettist (Disney’s “The Lion King,” “Finding Neverland” and “Sponge Bob The Musical,” and with the Eagles, Marc Anthony and Lady Gaga) will play violin and viola. Tyler Williams (“Le Reve”, “Avenue Q” and “Spamalot”) will play bass. Jakubu Griffin (the “Zarkana” of Cirque, performed and recorded with Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson and Melissa Manchester, and current drummer for Clint Holmes) will play drums.
“Bandstand” received its first concert presentation in Las Vegas before hitting the Tony Award-winning Broadway, being filmed for Fathom Events and launching a national tour. So will Oberacker and Taylor’s musical “Bruce,” which, with commercial producers attached, will open at Seattle Rep this spring with its sights on Broadway next season.