Serving the community for nearly two decades, Inviting Arkansas continues to recognize philanthropic + civic leadership in Central Arkansas. As we begin this new decade, we have some buried treasures to share from the archives. These are just a few illustrious covers that reflect the continued mission fulfillment work in our community. Enjoy the memories, read about a few of the Capital City’s beloved foundations and remember to vote for your favorite cover – one of these nonprofit organizations will win a complimentary ad in the magazine. The contest will close on May 31st… #MakingPhilanthropyFUN
Vincent Insalaco for Argenta Community Theater – July 2013 Issue
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Blancett | Shot on location at Argenta Community Theater
Argenta Community Theater brings Jesus Christ Superstar to Central Arkansas under the direction of Vincent Insalaco.
Community theater refers to performances made to, by and for the community. It’s the essence of local performing arts. Comprised of more than 30 volunteers, from actors to ushers, Argenta Community Theater brings an iconic Broadway musical to its stage in downtown North Little Rock on July 23. Under the direction of Vincent Insalaco, a visionary for the establishment of Argenta Community Theater, Jesus Christ Superstar promises to be bigger and bolder than ever.
The theater is named after Vince’s late wife, Sally Riggs Insalaco, who starred in the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar in London and played the leading role of Mary Magdalene. “She worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber and we often discussed this, so doing this show has a professional and personal meaning for me,” Vince says.
Congruent with ACT’s mission, this production continues to provide quality community theater to Central Arkansas. “Community theater can mean different things to different communities,” says Vince. “For ACT, it is bringing together the best professional and amateur talent in the state for a production that helps to educate and engage our community.” ACT assembles performances that haven’t been presented often, if ever, in this community. “We want to challenge ACT and the community.”
Any production the company chooses will be challenging, Vince notes. Lessons learned from ACT’s first production Cabaret apply to Jesus Christ Superstar. He touts, “we had to solve problems as we went along,” those skills are imperative to successful theater. Jesus Christ Superstar is a larger, more extensive production, Vince adds. “For one, it is all music. Secondly, when it debuted in the 1960s, it was controversial and there is some misinformation about the show that still lingers. Our production will be true to the original show and also true to the New Testament on which it is based.”
For this production, the cast list brings many new faces to ACT. “That fulfills our mission. Just by having a larger and new cast means we will have a larger and partly newer audience,” Vince says. “But it is important to note that in community theater, we will combine both experienced actors with the less experienced. It also becomes an educational experience for everyone.”
At 18, Vince took on his first director role at the Old West Dinner Theater (now Murray’s Dinner Theater Playhouse). From there, he directed shows at the Arkansas Arts Center and Robinson Auditorium. “I’ve been blessed to have worked in many places around the U.S. and Europe. I even directed the Dr. Pepper Pageants. There are many wonderful memories from The Sound of Music to Funny Girl to A Man for All Seasons, one of my favorites and perhaps the most difficult show I’ve ever directed.”
The most meaningful shows for Vince are smaller and more intimate, including Curtain Call for a Cause, which recently hosted its third dinner show to benefit the Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled. “Along professionals like Stephanie Smittle and Branden Higdem was the developmentally disabled adult troupe called Acts in the Rock. It doesn’t get any more special than that.”
Vince’s diverse business experience provides insight and skills for this role as director. “The other half of my life has been business and political campaign management. I haven’t directed a major musical in many years, but I have had life experiences now that I didn’t have when I was younger. I’m hopeful they will serve me well on this project.”
Every director adds a special touch, and the audience can expect some surprises in this production of Jesus Christ Superstar, Vince says. While the show stays true to the original, “We are doing things with the show that are different that we hope the audience will enjoy. I can tell you that we’re not ending the show the way it traditionally ends.”
All ACT productions benefit the public – true to all community theater, Vince notes. “The actors learn from each other, the musicians help the actors, the technical staff help each other and the production, the audience enjoys and is hopefully entertained and the money benefits ACT and the community. Our mission is accomplished.”