Front of House:
Monday, December 26, 2011
Front of House:
Monday, December 26, 2011
The online home of the Box Office and Front of House
of The Clarence Brown Theatre at the University of Tennessee
Knoxville Weather Forecast
February 17, 2011

Wives Are Getting Merry

Filed under: Clarence Brown Theatre, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Theatre — rchoover @ 1:07 am

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Shakespeare’s Hilarious The Merry Wives of Windsor
to Play at the Clarence Brown Theatre

The Merry Wives of WindsorWitness the mayhem as Sir John Falstaff– Shakespeare’s saucy womanizer–gets his come-uppance at the hands of The Merry Wives of Windsor playing February 24 through March 13 on the Clarence Brown Mainstage. In this romp through the Bard’s bawdy and timeless comedy, the battle of the sexes has never been more fun! The production is sponsored by Schaad Companies.  Media sponsors are WUOT, WUTK, B97.5, 98.7, Comcast, WBIR, and the Knoxville News Sentinel.

“According to legend, Elizabeth I saw Henry IV, Part I and enjoyed the character of Falstaff so much that she commissioned Shakespeare to write a play showing Falstaff ‘in love.’  The Falstaff Queen Elizabeth saw at the first performance of this new play, was a thief down on his luck.  One who devises ways to swindle money from wives and their unsuspecting husbands.  You and I being privy to the sufferings of this Falstaff, as he attempts (with a staggering lack of success) to seduce two resourceful women bent on teaching him a lesson, is the basis for Shakespeare’s hilarious plot,” said Director Kate Buckley.

Photo caption:  (l-r)  Ashleigh Stochel, Suzanne Ankrum and Neil Friedman in “The Merry Wives of Windsor”

Over the centuries, The Merry Wives of Windsor has proven to be one of Shakespeare most popular plays and yet is uncharacteristic of his other comedies.  By locating his play in Windsor, summer home to the English Court and bustling center for business and travelers, and by focusing on the lives of the English middle class, he offers us an impression of life as it was lived in his own time and place.

“The show is an energetic comedy bursting with lust for life, eccentric characters and an exploration of the diversity of language.  The story contains a whirlwind of activity - true love, false love, revenges, jealousies, deceptions, even cruelty are found in this play.  Here no selfish act goes unpunished but as in all of Shakespeare’s comedies, we always find forgiveness and acceptance,” Buckley said.

In her fourth year as assistant professor of Theatre, Kate Buckley’s previous credits at the CBT include Charley’s Aunt, Copenhagen, and Antigone. She also has directed at numerous regional theaters across the country.  Her international work includes The National Theatre of Slovakia and the Colla Marionette Company in Milan, Italy. She has received four Best Director nominations from the Joseph Jefferson Committee; two After Dark Awards for Outstanding Direction, a Distinguished Alumni Award from Aurora University and a 2008 Creative Research Award from The University of Tennessee. Other credits include her work as one of the founding members of Chicago Shakespeare Theater and four seasons as the Artistic Director of The Next Theatre.

The cast includes CBT resident artists and staff, students, and professional actors residing in Knoxville.

Neil Friedman (Sir John Falstaff) is a resident artist at the CBT.  His credits here include: Man of La Mancha, Charley’s Aunt, Born Yesterday, A Christmas Carol, and The Triumph of Love. Chicago area credits include: The Court Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Goodman Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, and The Peninsula Players. He is a recipient of Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Awards.  He also has performed at regional theaters throughout the country.   David Brian Alley (Master Frank Ford) is in his 11th season as resident artist at the CBT.  He most recently appeared in It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and Amadeus. He has performed in regional theaters throughout the country.  Film & TV credits include: The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, Gina: An Actress Age 29, The Sleep Seeker, It’s A Miracle, and Unsolved Mysteries.

Professional actors from the community also will add to the cast. Damon Boggess (Master Page) a recent New York City transplant, is making is CBT debut in this production.  He has performed in regional theaters across the company and recently completed work on the short film, Imaginary Friend, with Australian director Paul Andersen. Seth Crowe (Fenton), is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee. Past CBT productions include: Man of La Mancha, A Streetcar Named Desire, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, and The Laramie Project. Donald Thorne (Sir Justice Robert Shallow) was a seventh grade science teacher for 30 years and now is a Quality Control Specialist for a medical diagnostic manufacturing company. CBT credits include: Amadeus, Oedipus The King, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Life of Galileo, A Christmas Carol 2007 & 2008, Arsenic and Old Lace, All the Way Home and To Kill A Mockingbird.

 Several second-year MFA Acting students will perform in this production. Suzanne Ankrum (Mistress Margaret Page) graduated from the College of William and Mary with degrees in Environmental Science and Theatre. She recently performed in the CBT’s A Christmas Carol. Ricardo Birnbaum (Dr. Caius) recently performed in the CBT’s Woyzeck and A Christmas Carol. H. Conrad Ricamora (Master Abraham Slender) comes to Knoxville from Philadelphia where he worked regionally at the Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, the Prince Music Theatre, the Media Theatre, and InterAct Theatre Company. He most recently was seen in A Christmas Carol at the CBT. Ashleigh Stochel (Mistress Alice Ford) hails from Crown Point, Indiana. She received a BA from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN and JD from Valparaiso University School of Law. She most recently appeared on the CBT stage in A Christmas Carol. Magan Wiles (Mistress Quickly) hails from St. Louis where she performed at the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Upstream Theatre Company, Echo Theatre Company, among other companies in St. Louis.  Her work there was honored with several Kevin Kline awards, as well as an “A-List” award from St. Louis Magazine and a Mastermind Award from the Riverfront Times.

The following undergraduate students also will perform in this production: Cody Beyer (John); Kevin Bohleber (Nym); Josh Garon (Simple); Kathryn E. Hale (1st Wench); Lindsey Jenné Hansom (Miss Anne Page); Maggie Hargett (2nd Wench); Patrick Kimberlin (Bardolph); Jonathon Phipps (Sir Hugh Evans); Billy Kyle Roach (Host of the Garter); Erik Schiller (Jack Rugby); Calvin Smith (Pistol); and, Christopher Wilson (Robert).

Two visiting guest artists will be designing the Lighting and the Sound for the production.  Noele Stollmack (Lighting Designer) has designed lighting for productions at The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sydney Opera House, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Ontario, Opera Pacific (Santa Ana), Portland Opera, Vancouver Opera, New Orleans Opera, Madison Opera, Nashville Opera, Milwaukee Rep, The Alley Theatre (Houston), American Players Theatre (Spring Green, WI) and the First Stage Children’s Theatre (Milwaukee). Her AIA award winning architectural lighting populates the northern Midwest. Joe Payne (Sound Designer/Composer) has designed sound and/or composed music for more than 100 productions in theaters throughout the country. Recent projects include composition of the rock musical, The Bakkhai, presented by The University of Utah’s Classical Greek Theatre Festival.  His sound design was most recently enjoyed in the CBT’s production of The Who’s Tommy.

Kerry Lee Chipman (Scenic Designer) is a third year Set Design MFA student. Past designs for the CBT include Little Shop of Horrors, Flyin’ West, Speech and Debate, and The Story of Opal. Her designs have been seen in New York’s West End Theater, Access Theater, Julie Miles Theater, the Connolley Theater and at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Recently she was selected as a finalist in a Dance Design competition for the Jose Limón Dance Company in New York.

Kyra Beanland (Costume Designer) is a third year international graduate student in Costume Design. Past costume designs for the CBT include Little Shop of Horrors, Flyin’ West and Speech and Debate.  She earned her undergraduate degree from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, UK. In the UK she worked as a costume assistant on the BBC drama, Waking The Dead, as well as some pilot TV shows. In addition to her CBT credits, her US credits include costume designs for the Monomoy Theatre. 

Terry Weber (Vocal & Text Coach) is an associate professor of Theatre at UT. In addition to serving a voice/dialect for numerous CBT productions, he also has worked in this capacity for regional theaters throughout the country.  Casey Sams (Choreographer) is a member of the UT Theatre faculty and teaches movement and acting.  She has directed and choreographed several CBT productions.  In addition she also has director and choreographed for regional theaters throughout the country.

Preview for The Merry Wives of Windsor  is Thursday, February 24.  Opening night is February 25.  The production runs through March 13. 

For more information, contact:  Robin Conklin, Marketing Director 974-2497.
Show dates and times:
Feb. 24, 25,26 – 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 27 – 2:00 p.m.
March 2,3,4,5,9,10,11,12 -7:30 p.m.
March 6,13 – 2:00 p.m.


February 16, 2011

100,000 Flickr Views

Filed under: Roger's Musings — rchoover @ 12:57 am

Back on May 1 of 2009 I noted in this blog that my flickr account had attained the milestone of 10,000 views.  Sounded like a pretty big deal to me at the time. 

Just a few minutes ago, flickr stats reported that the view count has now passed 100,000 views.  That is interesting, as I haven’t really “pushed” (promoted) my posted pictures in some time.  This blog was down for about a year, and my social networking has been way down — very few Twitter posts and, to the chagrin of my family and friends, I’m the last person in American not to have setup a Facebook page.  I’ve also learned that these counts don’t really include a count for each photo viewed — if a visitor uses a “slideshow” view, it counts as a single look, even if there are a couple of hundred photos in the set.

But I have posted some interesting photographs.

Woyzeck_0050I’m rather proud of some of my Clarence Brown Theatre show photos - I take them for the benefit of the creative people involved - the actors, directors, designers, craftsmen and technicians, and folks like me who toil behind the scene for the sake of the art.  My CBT-oriented photographs are cataloged here at  The sad truth is that I’m better at taking photographs than going through them and selecting the ones to post — there are still a couple of shows that I’ve photographed but not yet placed on line.  I’ve recently created some “Collections” on flickr — the CBT Collection is at

Manager Sandberg Encourages the Smokies

And there’s baseball — mainly, the huge number of Tennessee Smokies baseball photos I’ve been fortunate enough to take.  These I took not only because I enjoy doing it (which I do greatly), but to assist a rising star in the world of play-by-play announcing, my son, Roger (W.) Hoover.  He has been able to use a great number of them on the Smokies on Radio blog, and a number of them have also been picked up by other users — including The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Knox Focus, several Cubs-related blogs and websites, the Smokies’ website,, an independent pre-season Cubs magazine, and Vine Line, the official magazine of the Cubs, and others.  One special photo from the 2009 Season of then-Smokies manager (and Hall-of-Famer) Ryne Sandberg was published in the Focus along side a story written my my son.  My wife had Ryno autograph the page.  My Smokies collection is:

I plan to take more photographs! 

(See them all at


February 15, 2011

Come see our new lobby!

Filed under: Clarence Brown Theatre, Ticketing — rchoover @ 12:24 am

Since the day after our Christmas shows closed, the Clarence Brown Theatre Box Office has been in exile — in the lowest-level dungeon of the CBT (the computer lab), and partly in the booth of the Carousel Theatre.  OK, we weren’t sent away for punishment (I don’t think…), but for a good reason — the CBT Lobby has been undergoing renovation!

Yep, the CBT was pretty spiffy when it opened in 1970, but it’s seen little change since then.  It looked like 1970.  It was past due updating, and the powers that be finally got us the funds and the go-ahead to modernize things. 

CBT ticketing kioskWe started moving back in today — the new furniture for the Box Office back office hasn’t arrived yet, so we’re not totally in — hopefully tomorrow.  However, the new “kiosk” or “peninsula” part that replaces the old ticket windows is ready to go, so feel free to walk right up (noon to 5 p.m. on non-show weekdays).  The new design should help keep walk-up ticket sales and pickups neat and orderly, provide visibility for our House Managers, and provide some helpful separation between this front-office area and the Box Office back office.

CBT Concession StandThe renovation goes way beyond the Box Office, of course — across the lobby, the Concession Stand also has a spiffy new counter, with things reorganized to serve our patrons more efficiently.  We’ll continue to serve Coca-Cola products, coffee and hot cocoa, and more.  In addition, it will be easier for patrons to purchase Clarence Brown Theatre branded merchandise — shirts, coffee cups, travel mugs, and perhaps some new surprises!  Oh, and we still have Knoxville’s best crushed ice.

CBT Lobby floorAnd there are good things underfoot — the front lobby floor — beautiful hard wood.  We’ve also beefed up the lighting to beat away the former gloom.  We’re putting up new signage to help people find their seats, and added some new furniture and updated seating.

We’re also adding several new HD TV monitors to our lobby walls.  We’ll be able to display information about current and updated productions, showcase concessions and merchandise available, and recall past performances with show photographs.  Most of all, we’ll be able to display (with sound) what’s happening on stage through a television camera trained on the action.  We encourage all our patrons to arrive at the theatre on time, but we know that can’t always happen.  In order not to disturb our patrons in the theatre (and the actors), we must sometimes ask late-comers to wait and enter at appropriate moments in the show.  With the addition of this camera and monitors, they can keep up with things until it’s time to take their seats.

Some of the work is still ongoing, but we hope to have most of it completed by the opening of The Merry Wives of Windsor.  We’re excited about this refreshment of our house.  We think you will be too!  Come and see us soon.


February 14, 2011

Back again

Filed under: Blogging, Roger's Musings — rchoover @ 10:32 pm

After a long absence, this blog is back.

A while back, my web host provider changed our database server, and something happened that caused all the posts to disappear.  We had backups, but the stories still refused to re-appear.  Finally, we tried up update the version of Wordpress we use, and SOME of the blog posts returned.  We’re missing a year or so, and so far Restore doesn’t restore them.

Nevertheless, we’re resuming this — there are some intereting things going on, like the renovation of the Clarence Brown Theatre lobby (including the Box Office!).  We’re pretty busy these days, so I don’t know how much time we’ll have for writing, but here we go.

Thanks for your patience!



June 18, 2009

The Smokies’ Star Doesn’t Play

Filed under: Cubs, Knoxville, Roger's Musings — rchoover @ 8:45 pm

If you haven’t seen a baseball game at Smokies Park (Exit 407 off I-40), you’re missing a great time.

It’s a 9 Inning Vacation!

YMCAFor some, just being baseball is enough.  But it’s pretty good baseball - minor league level Double-A — and some of the guys you’ll see will make it as Major Leaguers.  Also, the ballpark is nice — nice setup, easy access, good sightlines, nice people, and pretty good food (although they need to cook their hotdogs a little hotter on “dollar hotdog night”).  And, since it’s minor league baseball, there are all sorts of promotions, contests, and the “Rally Crew”.

A big plus for us as of a year ago is the Smokies’ affiliation with the Chicago Cubs.  As some of you know, I love, live, and die with the Cubs, and it’s fascinating to see what the Cubs have in their pipeline.

The Smokies have a new major attraction this year — their manager.  Now, minor league managers are frequently people of whom you have some vague memory — often a former journeyman major leaguer (frequently catchers!).  It’s rare to see a big star coming through the system, learning the managerial ropes one rung at a time.

Manager Sandberg Encourages the SmokiesBut that’s just what the Smokies have this year — Baseball Hall of Fame member Ryne Sandberg, who had a stellar career at Second Base for the Chicago Cubs.  Fans have flocked to the ballpark to see the legend, who managed last year at the Cubs Single-A affiliate in Peoria, Illinois.

During the game, Ryno is all business, managing his team.  His focus remains fixed on the field and his players. 

But prior to the game, he takes time out to greet the throngs who line up to meet him and to gather those precious autographs, often spending 20 minutes or so with the fans, cutting it short only when it’s time for the game-beginning festivities. Sandberg shakes hands, gets his picture made with fans, and autographs all sorts of things — baseballs, bats, balls, photos, and more.

Cubs Fans Get Pictures Made with Ryno

Waiting for RynoFor a normal 7:15 p.m. scheduled start, he may begin seeing people at 6:45 p.m., but don’t wait until then to go down to the Smokies bullpen — there’s usually a long line).

Result — lasting memories for the fans, who keep coming back!

Here is my flickr set of photos from Smokies Park, featuring Manager Ryne Sandberg.

Or, even better (big and automatic), here’s the slideshow.



May 18, 2009

New UT Statue or Bust

Filed under: Clarence Brown Theatre, Roger's Musings, University of Tennessee — rchoover @ 10:23 pm

As I gaze out my office window I see, fittingly, lovely orange plastic temporary fencing separating a small construction area on the Joe Johnson and John Ward Pedestrian Mall on the campus of the University of Tennesssee.  (A portion of it is even nicely framed by the now empty show poster holder on the plaza outside the Clarence Brown Theatre…)

New Statue Preparation 1Rumor has it that a statue of some sort is to be erected there, at the center focal point of the Pedestrian Mall (or where the ”A&A” leg of the Mall joins the “Andy Holt Avenue” portion of the Mall to make a “Power T”).  A circle of paving stones has been removed to provide for the statuary base, possibly with a rumored circle of flowers, to break up the monotony of the straight Andy Holt Avenue leg and make it less convenient for walkers. 

Actually, in addition to the circle, there is a little rectangular “key” that juts out from the circle, oriented roughly to the East (to spark conspiracy theories), or perhaps aimed at the McClung Tower, Humanities Building, or, probably, toward Neyland Stadium.

As I understand the “metal” statue has been completed, and I did not sit for it, someone else must have been honored.  Not sure if it is Dr. Johnson or John Ward, or if it’s perhaps Dolly Parton, Layla Kiffin, Manny Ramirez, Oprah, or Nick Bonacker, or perhaps another?  Do you know???  I have heard that the statue was donated, so it’s All Good.

The place is buzzing with anticipation.

New Statue Preparation Work 2


May 12, 2009

Great Grads of the CBT Box Office

Filed under: CBT'ers, Clarence Brown Theatre, Roger's Musings, Students — rchoover @ 12:16 am

We’ve been very fortunate.

Over the years I’ve been in the Clarence Brown Box Office, we have employed a number of UT students as Box Office Associates.  Some of these have been Theatre students; some not.  With extremely few exceptions, they have been wonderful people who have provided wonderful service to our patrons.

As much as we would like to keep them all, most of them eventually find a way to graduate and move on with their careers.  Some have scattered around the country, some even working in theatre, and even a few in ticketing-related positions!

I personally feel blessed to have known them all.

Last Friday, The University of Tennessee College of Arts and Sciences held its Spring Commencement in Thompson-Boling Arena.  Many watched the ceremony via the Internet, perhaps because of the speaker, East Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton.  She was, of course, wonderful.  However, I was watching for another reason — since I couldn’t be there in person, I wanted to see two of our Associates, Amy and Jo Jo, receive their Bachelor of Arts degrees. 

Box Office Graduates JoJo and Amy Jo Jo Nanney Cruce has been with us all four years of her time at UT.  There’s no mistaking JoJo — her exuberance, friendliness, and curiosity set her apart.  Unfortunately for us, she is leaving Knoxville with her husband, who recently returned from Iraq and is leaving the Army to become a student at NC State.  We will miss you, Jo Jo!

Amy Loyd has been with us a long time, on and off.  We’ve seen Amy go through a lot of life’s adventures over the years, and were really excited to see her return to school and now receive her degree.  Amy doesn’t hide her feelings, so you know where you stand with her!  She is a keen observer of people, and is skilled at making observations with unmatched sense of humor.  She’s also a great mother and a good friend.  We’re not sure what her next step is, but value her greatly.

I’ve been neglectful in recognizing our graduates in the past.  We’ve been lucky to have a couple of recent ones still helping us out — the talented Rachel Winfrey, who received her degree last December, and the very organized Elizabeth Hendrich Margle, who graduated last year.

One update — the irrepressible Tracy Eileen Bowden, a UT graduate a couple of years ago, is now working at the Performing Arts Box Office at Duke University!

And of course, we haven’t forgotten those of years past, either.  We love you too!


May 5, 2009

Tommy Photos Online

Filed under: Clarence Brown Theatre, Theatre, Tommy — rchoover @ 7:07 pm

It took a while, but my show photographs from The Clarence Brown Theatre production of The Who’s Tommy  are now loaded onto my flickr account.

There are lots of photos there!

(There may still be a few photos out of order, and I’m still working on some of the descriptions.  If I’ve mislabled a photo or left your name out (or called you someone else!), please let me know!0

Click here to view the Tommy slideshow.

Click here if you’d rather view the set in raw form.

And of course you may access all my CBT show photographs from the Photos menu item on this intranet. 


May 3, 2009

Honoring 31s

Filed under: Chicago, Cubs, Roger's Musings — rchoover @ 4:00 pm

Today was a great day in Chicago Cubs history — the Cubs honored two of its greatest retired players but only had to retire one number!

Jersey Number 31 has been retired, and flags are now flying from both the left and right fair poles (what most of you call “foul” poles, but they’re part of fair territory) to honor two former pitchers — Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

Fergie, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was one of those pitchers who didn’t need relieving. He would pitch and pitch — and did it very, very well. We won a Cy Young Award, completed 154 games, and threw over 2000 strikeouts!

Greg Maddux just retired last year and will be a first-round Hall of Famer. I know, some of you Braves fans (if there are any left…) will claim him as yours, and of course he did have a great career there as well. But he came up with the Cubs, won his first game with the Cubs, won his first Cy Young Award with the Cubs, and won his 300th game with the Cubs. As far as I’m concerned, he will always be a Cub, and he seemed quite happy to be in Chicago for the ceremony today.

Fergie and Greg join Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and current Tennessee Smokies Manager Ryne Sandberg as Cubs whose numbers have been retired and fly over Wrigley Field.

Now let’s win today, Cubs! (Thanks for the Home Run, Mike Fontenot, as I was writing this!)

And thanks to technical difficulties, I can add “Thanks for the GRAND SLAM, D-Lee!”


Jack Kemp

Filed under: Roger's Musings — rchoover @ 3:22 pm

Jack Kemp, former Congressman, Housing Secretary, Vice-Presidential Nominee, and Pro Football Quarterback, died last night (May 2, 2009) at the age of 73.

Versatile enough to be both the American Football League MVP and the leading spokesman for what became the Reagan Tax Cuts, Kemp attracted attention from all kinds of Americans.  He maintained a consistent conservatism based on low taxes and using capitalism as a way of enriching Americans of all backgrounds.  He made some knee-jerk Republicans nervous.

I only met him once, in his Congressional Office on Capitol Hill.  I came with my boss at the time, Hon. John H. Buchanan, Jr. (R-Ala) as part of signing onto Kemp’s tax-cut bill.  Kemp impressed me as one of the nicest Members of Congress I ever met. 

And of course his office was the only one I can recall that featured a football…

He will be missed.


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