“Angel of Arkansas” premieres at Notoriety Live Las Vegas Jan. 30 Benefits The Composers Showcase

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Angel of Arkansas, a new show by Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, creators of Broadway’s Tony Award-winning musical Bandstand,” will receive a premiere concert-style presentation at Notoriety Live at Neonopolis in the 175-seat Renkus-Heinz Theatre on Sunday, January 30 at  2 p.m.  

Rob Taylor Courtesy Rob Taylor
Richard Oberacker Courtesy of Richard Oberacker

Featuring a stellar cast of Broadway and Las Vegas talent and a live six-piece band of Sin City’s leading country rock musicians, ticket sales will benefit local popular nonprofit, The Composers Showcase which provides a platform for original musical works, scholarship, and financial assistance to the Las Vegas Entertainment Community.

The concert will be followed by a gala reception with the performers and creatives. Tickets are $50-$100, plus fees, at Notoriety Live.  Convenient parking underneath 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 was suddenly transformed into a one-woman hospice, health advocate, political activist, pharmaceutical distributor, and undertaker to thousands of young men at the height of the AIDS crisis.  “It’s sort of become a thing”, says Oberacker, “to be able to offer Las Vegas the exclusive first look at our new work, an insider sneak peek before anyone else in the country.” 

The stellar cast lineup includes the leading role of Ruth performed by Ruby Lewis of Cirque’s “Paramour,” “Baz” and “Marilyn.”   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.

Ruby Lewis plays the title role Photo by Bing Putney
Brett Barrett photo by Levi Walker

This ensemble includes Broadway powerhouse Brent Barrett of “Chicago,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Grand Hotel,” “Candide,” “West Side Story,” “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” and he received an Olivier nomination for his performance in the London company of “Kiss Me, Kate.” 

Noah Riviera Photo courtesy Noah Riviera

 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 Theatre Company, “Stainless Steel Rat,” “Beauty Queen of Leenane” and “The Sandman.”). 

Phillip Officer Photo by Dianne Davis

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 an award-winning, renowned cabaret artist who has performed in legendary venues including Carnegie Hall and the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel.) 

  Luke Striffler (“Hairspray”and “Avenue Q,” film and television credits “East-Enders,” “The Morning After,” and as a semifinalist on “Britain’s Got Talent.”)  Christopher Lash (“Million Dollar Quartet” as Jerry Lee Lewis, and premiere musical director in Las Vegas at “Jersey Boys” and “Baz.”)  Paul Johnson (“The Atomic Saloon Show,” “Raiding the Rock Vault,” “Rock of Ages,” “Peepshow” and “Baz.”). 

Christopher Lash

Steffan Scrogan (“The Sandman,” “American Idiot” and Toby in “Sweeney Todd.”). Paul Bradley (“Ragtime,” “Children of Eden,” “Big River,” and lead singer of the band “for Balter”.) JeShaun Jackson (national tour of “Church Girls,” “Ritchie and Blanche,” “Working” and “Smokey Joe’s Café.”) 

Additionally, the crucial role of The Doctor, which is voiced from offstage, will be performed by Annette Houlihan Verdolino (originated the role of Fraulein Kaeseschweiss in the American premiere of “The Sandman” at the Majestic Repertory Theatre, Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” and on the Las Vegas Strip and national tour in “Menopause the Musical.” She is an alum of some of the most legendary avant garde stages of New York’s fringe, cabaret and experimental scene as well as performing in London and internationally as a renown burlesque emcee.

Six high profile musicians will be come together to form the band that will accompany the cast for the event.  Oberacker will conduct his own score from the piano. Jake Langley will play acoustic and electric guitar. He’s a Grammy-nominated musician who has toured and recorded with such artists as The Dixie Chicks, Sheena Easton, Willie Nelson and the Righteous Brothers, as well as in the orchestras of the 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 has played in orchestras for countless Broadway shows including “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Assassins,” “Big River,” “Man of La Mancha.”  

Co-lyricist and co-librettist Robert Taylor (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 (Cirque’s “Zarkana,” performed and recorded with Chaka Khan, Peabo Bryson and Melissa Manchester, and current drummer for Clint Holmes) will play drums.

The Composers Showcase LV LTD 

 A Nevada nonprofit 501(c)(3) since 2017, the organization’s mission is to provide a platform for original music, scholarship, and financial assistance to the Las Vegas entertainment community.  

TCS serves as a forum that allows local and visiting composers, lyricists, and songwriters the opportunity to present original musical material to a supportive audience in an informal cabaret-style setting. TCS also encourages and nurtures young, developing creative talent by offering a scholarship to the Music Composition and Jazz Composition departments at the University of Nevada Las Vegas aka UNLV.  

Keith Thompson photo courtesy Keith Thompson

Co-founded in 2006 by longtime Broadway and Las Vegas entertainment industry composer Keith Thompson, who produces and hosts the concerts. TCS encourages the development of new works and new collaborations between writers who meet at the Showcase and often begin writing together.  Currently performed monthly at Myron’s at The Smith Center.  Visit The Composers Showcase to donate or for more information.


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