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The Royal Players and Middlebrooks Electric present “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer the Broadway Musical”

Tom Sawyer Poster Small

The Royal Players and Middlebrooks Electric are excited to announce the upcoming production of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer the Broadway Musical, based on the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written by Mark Twain. The Royal Players will present this classic story on April 20th-23rd and April 27th-30th at The Royal Theatre at 111 S. Market St. in Benton.

Show times are 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older and military, and $5 for ages 3 years old to college students with a school ID. Tickets can be purchased online at For phone reservations, call (501) 315-5483 beginning March 19th, and pay at the box office. Tickets also can be purchased at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tony Clay of Sheridan directs the two-act play written by Ken Ludwig with music and lyrics by Don Schlitz and based on the novel by Mark Twain.

The musical comedy presents the tale of a fourteen-year old boy, Tom Sawyer, growing up in 1840’s St. Petersburg, Missouri, a busy town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Clever Tom matches wits with various characters in the story, including his strict Aunt Polly, and falls in love with Becky Thatcher, the spirited, beautiful “girl next door.” He experiences the adventure of a lifetime with Becky and his friend Huckleberry Finn and meets Injun Joe, a villain to frighten the stoutest of heart. He interacts with his own half-brother, Sid, and all the other boys and girls and townspeople in the village during this superb romp of a story. Filled with foot-stomping, toe-tapping songs played by a live orchestra, this musical adventure is a tale of thrilling escapes, comedy and inspiration for the whole family.

Luke Ferguson of Benton plays Tom Sawyer and the role of Huckleberry Finn will be performed by Will Porter of Little Rock. Becky Thatcher will be played by Annslee Clay of Sheridan and Aunt Polly by Robin Eiler of Little Rock.

The cast also includes Eric McCallister as Judge Josiah Thatcher, Greg Blacklaw as the Reverend Joshua Sprague, Carl McBride as Sheriff Gideon, Josh Brown as Hartley Wood, Zachary Glover as Joe Harper, Katie McCallister as Susie Rogers, Melissa Glover as Sereny Harper, Jamie Partain as Jessica Rogers, and Debbie Wright as Sally Bellamy, Sarah Clayton as the Widow Douglas, all from Benton. Zac Hickman of Mayflower will be portraying Injun Joe, Johnny Jackson has a dual role as School Master Lemuel Dobbins and Defense Attorney Wain, Tim Huddleston is Muff Potter, William Alverio is Ben Rogers, Gretchen Bush is Lucy Harper, all from Bryant. Carson Clay is George Bellamy, Jack Clay is Lyle Peters, Carrie Clay is Naomi Hollis, all from Sheridan. Noah Lee of Haskell is Jim Hollis. David Porter is taking on a dual role as Doc Robinson and the Mayor Lanyard Bellamy, Darren Winkler is Alfred Temple, Kelton Ramsey is Samuel Clemons, Madison Stolzer is Amy Lawrence, Adelyn Eiler is Sabina Temple, all from Little Rock. Maverick Burlison of Malvern is Sidney Sawyer.

Rounding out the cast as ensemble members are JuliAnne Flora of Little Rock, Hannah-Grace Fitz, Kyra Griffin, and Daisy Medders all of Benton, with Amber Thompson and Alexandra Lanier of Bryant.

Melissa Glover and Laura Ferguson are co-producing the show, with Musical Direction by D. Brent Miller and Choreography by Moriah Patterson. Stage Manager is Phoebe Earles.

Light Design is provided by Tony Clay and Sher Speer, while Light Engineer is Sher Speer. Sound Design is provided jointly by Tim Huddleston and Johnny Jackson while Sound Engineer is Charles Johnson. Props Design and Supervision is provided by Misty Jezierski.

Also, on the Orchestral front we are pleased to have Jo Murry on Keyboard, Lynn Hoggard on Bass, and Caleb Clay on Guitar.

The show includes set design by Tony Clay and set construction by Tony Clay, Greg Blacklaw, Carl McBride, Tim Huddleston, and Hillary Bell. Costumes were designed by Tony Clay and Jeana Hutson, who is also Head Costumer, with costume coordination by LeeAnn Clay and assistance with Costuming provided by Michelle Alverio and Sharilyn McCallister. Additional publicity will be provided by Carissa Lumpkins and Phoebe Earles.

Play is produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International, 421 W. 54th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10019

The 2016 Ben-Tony Awards


Here are the nominees for the coveted Ben-Tony Awards for the 2015-2016 season Royal Players. Of course, they are all very worthy (and so are many of their fellow actors who did not get nominated this time around). First, all directors and shows are nominated. The next list starts with non-musicals (leads, then supporting). If a name is repeated, that person was nominated in two categories. Musicals have the extra category of vocal performance. Special volunteer awards are not listed; neither are the ensemble nominations, choreographers or set and tech divisions (or Young Players). If you see a misspelled name, let me know quickly please.

Everyone is invited to the Ceremony October 15, 7 p.m., at the Royal. Admission is free, concession is open, and there will be entertainment.
Shows and directors: “Love from a Stranger”—Frank O. Butler; “White Christmas”-S. Christopher Boggs; “Cheaper by the Dozen” – Lisa Goodrich; “Shrek” – Mark A. Burbank; “Camelot” – D. Brent Miller; “You Can’t Take It with You” – Frank O. Butler.

Our sponsors for the season were Middlebrooks Electric, The Jeff Mattingly Foundation/First Security Bank, Roberson and Associates Insurance, Everett Buick GMC, W.W. and Anne Jones Charitable Trust, and Regions Bank. (They don’t get a trophy, but please remember them.)

Drew Ellis, Jeremy Clay, Brian Roberson, Tim Sopel, Harold Dean; Hillary Bell, Destiny Marchese, Hannah Hill; Duane Jackson, Tim Sopel, Mason Newberry, Jim Troillett, Hunter Strom, Keith Harper, Randall Earnest; Emily Kincaid, Tracy Courage, Donna Johnston, Meredith Medford, Hillary Bell, Jaketa McClure; Jeremy Clay, Tony Clay, D. Brent Miller, Shawn O’Brien, Harold Dean; Jordan Burnett Mays, Moriah Patterson, Hannah M. Sawyer, Ashley Couch; Randall Earnest, Payton Justice, Josh Strickland, Kevin Crumpler; Ersella Hughes, Cheryl Troillett, Megan Bowers; Jeremy Clay, D. Brent Miller, Josh Strickland, Kevin Crumpler, Harold Dean; Jordan Burnett Mays, Moriah Patterson, Rachael Brown, Hannah M. Sawyer, Ashley Couch.

This year we are going to have “Outstanding Performance by a Youth in a Royal Players Production.” I have no idea how much of that will fit on a little gold label or what we will do about it. Nominees are Jack Clay, Isabella Nguyen, Brooklyn Courtney-Moore.

Nominees from the Young Players are:
Annslee Clay
Isabella Hammonds
Jack Clay
Erin Johnston
Melody Small
Carson Clay
Annie Harris
Luke Ferguson
Gretchen Bush
Will Porter
Olivia Hicks
Caleb Burnett
Morgan Jones
Koty Mansfield
Georgeann Burbank
Makayla McNeil
Anthony McBride
Brooke Melton
Bodee Starr
Matthew Gonzalez
Carlee Hutchins

The Young Players present “13”


October 21-30, 2016


Opening night:
Friday October 21, 2016 – 7pm

Additional Performances:
Saturday October 22, 2016 – 7pm
Sunday October 23, 2016 – 2pm
Friday October 28, 2016 – 7pm
Saturday October 29, 2016 – 7pm
Sunday October 30, 2016 – 2pm


General Admission – $13.00

Tickets available for purchase at

Reservations made by calling 501-315-LIVE (5483)

Geek. Poser. Jock. Beauty Queen. Wannabe. These are the labels that can last a lifetime. With an unforgettable rock score from Tony-Award-winning composer, Jason Robert Brown, (Parade, The Last Five Years, Bridges of Madison County) 13 is a musical about fitting in – and standing out!

Evan Goldman is plucked from his fast-paced, preteen New York City life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents’ divorce. Surrounded by an array of simpleminded middle school students, he needs to establish his place in the popularity pecking order. Can he situation himself on a comfortable link of the food chain … or will he dangle at the end with the outcasts?!?


Young Players Second Stage (YP2S) is a branch of the Young Players program at the Royal Theatre. It exists to provide advanced theatrical opportunities to likeminded, creative young people in the greater central Arkansas area. YP2S stresses dedication, positivity, preparedness, community, and focus as a means to success. This program provides a unique youth theatre experience in that it combines the talents of young theatre enthusiasts with the talents of experienced adult mentors. YP2S was conceived in 2013 by Justin A. Pike and Daphne Shoppach and produced its first production in January 2014. Ages 13 to 23 are eligible to audition and participate.









CAST of 13

Evan Goldman-Will Porter

Archie-Jack Clay

Patrice-Gretchen Bush

Brett-Will Gordey

Lucy-Morgan Jones

Kendra-Makayla Shipe

Eddie-William Alverio

Malcolm-Zachary Glover

Charlotte-Annslee Clay

Cassie-Isabella Hammonds

Molly-Madison Stolzer

Richie-Noah Lee

Simon-Carson Clay

Hannah-Grace Fitz
JuliAnne Flora
Alex Lanier
Katie McCallister
Mia Simone Parker
Savannah Rye
MaKaylei Taylor
MaKenzie Taylor
Rylee Woodard
John Michael Murphy


Cast Announcement for “Boy Hero: The Story of David O. Dodd”


Mother Lydia Dodd: Amber Threlkeld
David O. Dodd: Jacan Earnest
Frank Tomlinson: Dakota Leslie
Minerva Cogburn: Delaney Leslie
Gen. Fredrick Steele: Doug Morris
Senhora Dodd: Lily Matney
Mary Dodge: Abby Windsor
Prv. Olderburg: Mason Newberry
Cpl Clausen: Tim Sopel

Loren Newberry = Older Lydia Dodd
Paul Johnson
Isabelle Marchese
Christian Marchese

Written by: Nancy Hendricks
Directed by Randall Earnest
Student Director: Tierney Earnest
Produced by: Tim Sopel and Cindy Grisham

The Royal Players Present “One Night Only”


The Royal Theatre will host a night of vocal performances One Night Only by the Young Players and other local vocal students from the Central Arkansas area, as a fundraiser for the Young Players. Proceeds will fund Young Players Destination NYC in the summer of 2017, celebrating the 15th Birthday of the Young Players!
Musical direction by Jo Murry.

Tickets are on sale now at through TicketLeap and reservations will be available by calling 501-315-5483 beginning Saturday, September 10th. If you have any questions about this performance, or about the trip to NYC please feel free to call before then and leave a message for us. Your call will be returned.

Hope to see you there! As always, thank you for supporting local theater and expecially the fabulously talented kids that make up the Young Players!

“Murder at Cafe Noir” Auditions

14088430_1200264823327406_612936672667014888_nThe Royal Players will hold auditions for Murder at Café Noir by David Landau on Friday, September 9 (7-9 p.m.) and Saturday, September 10 (10 am-noon) at the Royal Theatre, 111 S. Market in downtown Benton.
Directed by Frank O. Butler, this production is for the one-night Civitan Services Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre to be held October 27 at the Benton Events Center.
Described as a “fast and funny satire,” Murder at Café Noir is a comic tribute to the Bogart movies of the 1940’s with musical interludes, and uses a cast of four men and three women ages 18-65 (details below).
Please prepare 16-32 bars of music to sing (please provide sheets), and there will be cold readings from the script. If you are interested in auditioning, but cannot make these dates, please inform Susan Dill at, and we will try to make other arrangenments. Theater phone is 501-315-5483 and the website is

List of Characters –

RICK ARCHER – a private eye who’s always wanted to be Bogart or Mitchum in one of those 40s film noir movies, and has not gotten his chance.
MADAM TOREAU – a lady who’s seen it all while managing the Cafe Noir – where everything is for sale.
SHEILA WONDERLY – her real name is Sheilda Schickelmeier. Once a spoiled rich girl, she took a job at Cafe Noir and learned about life the hardest way of all, becoming hardened in the process.
ANTHONY CAIRO – a dealer in the black market working Cafe Noir to avoid the St. Vincent police. He has two scars, one on either side of his face.
MARIE LARUE – the Creole illegitimate daughter of a Voodoo priestess and a St. Vincent’s political figure. She sells spells and fortunes at Cafe Noir.
SIMON GUTTERMAN – a British barrister who lost his standing when he became implicated in a scandal of having affairs with wealthy female clients. He now caters to the clientele of Cafe Noir. Simon is always looking for a quick way to make it to the top.

THURSBY – a two bit gun runner.
VANGILDER – a Dutch blackmailer.
RIGFIELD – a British cop from St. Vincent.

THURSBY, VANGILDER and RIGFIELD are all played by the same actor.

The Royal Players Present “You Can’t Take it With You”


The Royal Players end their 2015-16 season with its production of the classic Moss Hart-George S. Kaufman comedy “You Can’t Take It with You” August 11-14 and 18-21, at the Royal Theater in Benton. The production is sponsored by Regions Bank of Benton. Thursday through Saturday shows start at 7 p.m. and the Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 adult, $8 seniors and general military, and $5 students. Tickets will be available on the website –

Directed by Frank O. Butler, the play presents the Sycamore family during the Great Depression, in all its eccentric glory – Mother Penny (Amanda Gilmore) aspires to become a writer; Father Paul (Chris Counts) makes fireworks in the basement with the help of Mr. Da Pinna (Randall Earnest); Older daughter Essie (Destiny Marchese) wants to be a dancer, with the support of her husband Ed (Mason Newberry) and dance teacher Mr. Kolenkhov (Harold Dean); and ‘Grandpa’ (Tim Sopel) wants them all to be happy. When younger daughter Alice (Hannah Hill) falls for the boss’s son Tony (Brian Christopher Roberson), matters of love escalate to impending catastrophe when Tony brings his parents, Mr. Kirby (Paul Johnston) and Mrs. Kirby (Karen Ray), on the wrong night for dinner. In a world of fact-checkers versus dream-catchers, can true love really win out?

Rounding out the cast are Jaketa McClure as Rheba, Keith Harper as Donald, Pam Vidt as Olga, Tom Wilkerson as Henderson, Hillary Bell as Gay Wellington, and Hunter Strom as an agent, with his assistant played by various “special guest stars” – having local “celebrity” actors has become a Royal tradition in Frank O. Butler plays.

“You Can’t Take it with You” originally premiered on Broadway in 1936, and played for 838 performances. The play won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and was adapted for the screen as You Can’t Take It with You, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director (Frank Capra). There have been numerous Broadway revivals of the show, including the most recent in 2015, with James Earl Jones as ‘Grandpa’.

The Royal Theatre is in historic Downtown Benton at 111 S. Market Street. Phone is 501-315-5483(LIVE).

“Goodbye Until Tomorrow”: A College Kid Cabaret

13715971_10209603615148470_4884676833301138311_nCome out and join us as we sing some stuff from Broadway shows and maybe a pop song or two as we say “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” to some of our friends.

Tickets will be $5 and the money raised will be going towards the New York Young Players trip next summer.

Accompanist for the night:
Jo Murry

Matthew Burns
Izzy Hammonds
Morgan Potter
Tanner Oglesby
Ben Mills
Reagan Hammonds
Matt Cerino
Brooke Melton
Anthony McBride

The Young Players Present Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.


The Young Players will present Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr., July 7-10, at the Royal Theatre in historic Downtown Benton. The show is directed by D. Brent Miller with music direction by Jo Murry and choreography by Jenny Johnston. Filled with fun flappers, dashing leading men and a villainess audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR., is a clever adaptation of the six-time-Tony-Award-winning Best Musical and the Academy Award-winning film.
Thoroughly Modern Millie JR., is the high-spirited musical romp that has all of New York dancing the Charleston! It’s 1922 in New York City, and a young Millie Dillmount has just moved to the Big Apple in search of a new life. Her grand plan is to find a job as a secretary for a wealthy man and then marry him. However, her plan goes completely awry. Millie’s wealthy boss is slow in proposing marriage, and the man she actually falls in love with doesn’t have a dime to his name – or so he tells her. What’s a small town girl to do?
The Young Players’ production will feature a double cast. The Red Cast will perform on Thursday, July 7, and Saturday, July 9, at 7 p.m., and again on Sunday, July 10, at 2 p.m. Members of the White Cast will perform on Friday, July 8, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 9, at 2 p.m. Principals of the Red Cast include Annslee Clay as Millie, Luke Ferguson as Jimmy, Annie Harris as Dorothy, Will Porter as Trevor, Caroline Moore as Mrs. Meers, Zachary Glover as Bun Foo, Elijah Harris as Ching Ho, and JuliAnne Flora as Miss Flannery. Principals of the White Cast include Isabella Hammonds as Millie, Luke Ferguson as Jimmy, Olivia Hicks as Dorothy, Jack Clay as Trevor, Gretchen Bush as Mrs. Meers, Kaylei Taylor as Bun Foo, Kenzie Taylor as Ching Ho, and Madison Stolzer as Miss Flannery. Performing with both casts in supporting roles are Hannah Grace Fritz, Ryleigh Young, Alexandra Lanier, Morgan Jones, Roxie Meyer, Brooklyn Courtney-Moore, Melody Small, Reagan McCartney, Addison Lumpkins, Cadence Earles, Madalyn Anderson, Berkeley Courtney-Moore, Katie McCallister, Erin Johnston, Olivia Ward, Gretchen Bush, Annslee Clay, Isabella Hammonds, Caroline Moore, Sam Duncan, Carson Clay and Caleb Burnett.
This production is sponsored by Everett Buick GMC, Arkansas Prosthetics and Pedorthics, Paul Johnston, Broadway Bound Young Performers of America, Melissa Glover, Daphne Shoppach, and Susan Dill. Tickets are $12 adult, $10 senior, $5 student and may be purchased at Reservations may be made at 501-315-5483.

Audition Date Change for You Can’t Take it With You!

Royal Players will hold auditions June 13 and 14 at 6:30 for You Can’t Take It with You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. There will be cold readings from the script. Auditions are at the Royal Theatre, 111 S. Market, Downtown Benton on Monday. The Tuesday auditions will be in the choir room of First United Methodist Church, 200 N. Market, Benton. The production, directed by Frank O. Butler, is Aug. 11-14;18-21. Theater phone is 501-315-5483