The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Film star and Lexington resident Steve Zahn will perform live on stage next month at the Lyric Theatre in a production by The Rep, the local theater company he runs with his wife, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, and local dance legend Diana Evans Pulliam.
It will be Zahn’s first performance on a Lexington stage.
Zahn will play the One-Man-Show-Christmas-Show-Man in the second annual production of Smackdown for the Christmas Crown, an original show by Peterman-Zahn that debuted last year at the Lyric. The role was played last year by Lexington actor Spencer Christensen, who Peterman-Zahn says has gone on to graduate school. Zahn, a member of Actors Equity, will perform under a guest-artist contract with the stage actors union.
Zahn has starred in the movies SubUrbia (1996), Daddy Day Care (2003), Sahara (2005), Rescue Dawn (2006) and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, and he has been a voice in several animated movies and TV series, including Chicken Little (2005) and the Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb. He currently stars as Davis McAlary in the HBO series Treme. He’s squeezing preparation for Smackdown between shooting dates in New Orleans for Treme and the feature film Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner.
He and Lexington native Peterman-Zahn met when they were both in the 1991 national tour of Bye Bye Birdie, which starred Tommy Tune and Ann Reinking. They married in Lexington in 1994 and moved here 10 years later. Peterman-Zahn became the stage director of Paragon Music Theatre in 2009. She, Pulliam and Zahn formed The Rep last year after the dissolution of Paragon, when founder Ryan Shirar departed for graduate school at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
The Rep musical theater, which made its debut in December with the original show Smackdown for the Christmas Crown at the Lyric Theatre, has announced its second production: Bye Bye Birdie Aug. 3-5 at the Lexington Opera House.
The show has special significance to co-artistic director Robyn Peterman-Zahn and executive producer Steve Zahn, who met on a national tour of Bye Bye Birdie in the early 1990s and married in 1994. The musical is based on the time when Elvis Presley received his draft notice into the Army in 1957.
The Rep was formed after the dissolution of Paragon Music Theatre, following the departure of music and executive director Ryan Shirar to accept a prestigious scholarship at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Paragon stage director Peterman-Zahn and choreographer Diana Evans Pulliam formed the core of the company with Zahn, a versatile film actor, coming on board. Pulliam is co-artistic director of The Rep.
Paragon’s most successful show was a summer 2010 production of The Sound of Music at the Opera House, so The Rep directors were excited to get back there for a summer musical. Auditions are at 8 p.m. March 19-21 at Diana Evans School of Dance.
With the departure of founder and music director Ryan Shirar, Paragon Music Theatre closed following its performance of Gypsy in May. But stage director Robyn Peterman Zahn and choreographer Diana Evans Pulliam wasted little time in collaborating on a new effort.
This weekend they announced on Facebook that The Rep will have its first production in December with Smackdown for the Christmas Crown at the Lyric Theatre.
Pulliam and Zahn will serve as co-artistic directors with Brock Terry serving as music director.
Auditions for Smackdown will be at 5 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25 at the Diana Evans School of Dance, 153 Burt Road. The show is set in the 1950s with two vocal groups vying for the coveted Christmas Crown at an annual holiday variety show. The Facebook page describes it as, “think Lawrence Welk after 6 beers.”
In all, they are seeking to cast one strong male, comic actor, make and female ensembles of four to eight and a chorus of 15 to 30.
May9Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, New York, Paragon Music Theatre; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Berea College, Diana Evans Pulliam, Eastern Kentucky University, Gypsy, Katie Owen, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Paragon Music Theatre, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Ryan Shirar, She Loves Me, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Tracey Bonner, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Coming Thursday on LexGo: Mama Rose came at the right time for Katie Owen, though at first it did not seem that way.
For years, Lexington musical theater artists have wondered how long Central Kentucky could keep Ryan Shirar.
A multitalented musician, Shirar played in a wide variety of formats and locations, wrote orchestrations that enhanced productions of some of the great musicals of the American stage, and showed songs in new lights. He ultimately brought Lexington something it had not had for years: a theater company dedicated to presenting traditional Broadway-style musicals.
But with Paragon Music Theatre‘s presentation of Gypsy next weekend, the question has been answered. Shirar, 29, will leave his posts as executive and music director of the theater to pursue a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, specializing in theater, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
The prestigious music school scouted out Shirar and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It’s a free degree,” Shirar said Monday over lunch. “It’s a full-tuition scholarship, plus stipend. So it’s very hard to turn down an offer to a conservatory for that.
“Ultimately, I love what I do now in Lexington, but even if I stay here and do what I’m doing, I need a graduate degree in order to have a little more stable job. It was the perfect time and perfect opportunity. Things had lined up, and it was almost like … ‘I put it all together for you. You’ve just got to go.’”
Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Paragon’s stage director, says, “Ever since I came here to work with Ryan — and I came because I am so blown away by his talent — I’ve been telling him he needs to leave.”
Peterman-Zahn, who has national stage and film work on her résumé, says Shirar’s talent rivals that of musicians she has worked with across the nation, including New York and Los Angeles.
“Ryan has a musicality you just can’t learn,” she says. “It’s a really special gift.”
Along with choreographer Diana Evans Pulliam, Peterman-Zahn and Shirar formed a trio that helped drive Paragon to some great heights, including a spring 2009 production of The King and I and last summer’s presentation of The Sound of Music.
The company started in 2004 with a production of State Fair, with Tracey Bonner as stage director. Read the rest of this entry »
Mar16Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Downtown Arts Center, Lexington Opera House, Music, Musicals, Paragon Music Theatre, Theater; Tagged as: Berea College, Diana Evans Pulliam, Downtown Arts Center, Gypsy, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Michael Friedman, Paragon Music Theatre, Rent, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Ryan Shirar, She Loves Me, Sound of Music, Tracey Bonner, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of Kentucky
Paragon Music Theatre has announced that founder Ryan Shirar will step down as the company’s music director and executive director after its May production of Gypsy to accept a full scholarship for graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Shirar founded Paragon in 2004 with stage director Tracey Bonner, who departed after the inaugural production of State Fair at the Lexington Opera House (She returned to Lexington last year to direct SummerFest’s production of Rent). He then led the company, for a few years with stage director Michael Friedman until 2009 when current dramatic chief Robyn Peterman-Zahn joined the leadership team that includes choregorapher Diana Evans Pulliam. Under Shirar’s direction, the company has presented musicals big, like last summer’s Sound of Music at the Lexington Opera House, and small, like a charming 2007 production of She Loves Me at the Downtown Arts Center.
The theater filled a huge void in the Lexington arts scene, which had not had a group dedicated to musical theater since Lexington Musical Theatre closed in 1996.
Shirar has worked extensively outside of Paragon as a pianist, conductor and arranger with groups including the Lexington Philharmonic and teaching at Berea College and the University of Kentucky.
Though he has seemed very comfortable in his multiple local roles, Shirar did allow in a 2005 interview that, “I don’t want to wake up someday and regret not having tried something bigger.”
Gypsy will be presented May 13 to 15 at the Lexington Opera House. The Paragon press releases states that after Gypsy, “future plans for Paragon are uncertain.”
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich