Wildwood Park for the Arts plans ambitious year

The ambition is there as the Wildwood Park for the Arts in west Little Rock plots out the coming year.

There’s a previously announced collaboration between the Argenta Community Theatre for one but after a year of so much uncertainty, Wildwood has plotted out big things for the back half of this year and the first half of 2022.

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“We're very, very excited to re-open our Festival and Mainstage schedule after over a year of being not-quite-dark,” said Bevan Keating, the park’s executive director. “Wildwood and other local arts organizations have been truly blessed by the outpouring of support from community members since the pandemic caused so many cancellations and closures.”

Wildwood, at 20919 Denny Road in west Little Rock, tried to maintain a sense of normalcy for the past year.

“Wildwood has been able to provide our community with a place to enjoy nature and live music safely throughout the pandemic, and we cannot wait to welcome folks back into the Cabe Theatre and to Festivals,” Keating added. 

The park, in one of Pulaski County’s more scenic spots, also stayed open and allowed people to walk the trails and grounds around Swan Lake.

Wildwood’s collaboration with the Argenta Community Theatre for a production of the Sound of Music is the highlight of this year, while the Lanterns Festival, perhaps Wildwood’s best-known event, will be in April of 2022. In between will be the Music in the Wild series, Westoberfest and a production of Sister Act, in partnership with Praeclara, another local arts organization.

“Festivals are outdoors, as are most of the performances that are part of our Music in the Wild concert series,” Keating said. “The exception for Music in the Wild will be the Dec. 3 performance with Rodney Block — it will be held in the Cabe Theatre.”

Sound of Music and Sister Act will both be in the Cabe Theatre, and seating, Keating said, is approximately 640 there.

“Music in the Wild performances at the Butler Gazebo, where guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets,” Keating said. “We can seat 100 to 200 depending on social distancing requirements.”

Keating added that,”actual seating availability will be determined closer to event dates so that we can do our best to keep audiences, staff, and performing artists safe and healthy.”

Ticket price depends on the event with Westoberfest and Lanterns at $10 for adults and $5 for children, while food and drinks can be purchased with Keating called Wildbucks, a park currency that keeps vendors from handling cash. One Wildbuck equals $1.

Music in the Wild tickets would be $25 and productions would be $35.

“There's a lot that goes into putting on even a ‘simple’ performance like a Music in the Wild concert, much less a multi-day festival like Lanterns or a Mainstage Performance,” Keating said. “One factor is, of course, what we think the community will enjoy and will bring people to the park. We're always working to provide our community with exciting and enriching programming, as well as provide working local artists with paid opportunities to perform. Just as we know we serve diverse audiences, we serve diverse artists - it's important to us that we reflect our community in that way. Another factor is an honest evaluation of our resources. We're committed to providing excellent quality in our programming, which means using our funding and manpower as effectively as possible. We choose programs that we know we can deliver to audiences with pride, because that's the kind of experience people deserve when they walk into a show or concert. We're also a big fan of partnering with other organizations, so we keep an eye out for things that would make for good partnerships, like The Sound of Music, which we're producing in partnership with the Argenta Community Theatre.”

Keating said despite Wildwood’s location in rural, west Little Rock, residents of Maumelle and North Little Rock have been well-represented in years past.

Tickets for festivals, concerts and theater productions  will be available for purchase at www.wildwoodpark.org. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Wildwood will be following CDC and city guidelines for performances. Some performances may be rescheduled or cancelled as the pandemic continues.

Season schedule

  • Westoberfest, Sept. 24-25: Wildwood’s take on a classic fall celebration features two days of Bavarian themed food, beverages, fun, and musical performances. 

  • Music in the Wild with Merlon Devine; Oct 8: Music in the Wild is an outdoor concert series held at the Butler Gazebo, and in the event of rain, performances are moved to the Wildwood Pavilion.

  • The Sound of Music, Nov. 3-21: The final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein was destined to become the world’s most beloved musical. A collaboration between Wildwood Park for the Arts and the Argenta Community Theatre. For wheelchair accessible seating in Wildwood’s theatre or information about student shows, please email info@wildwoodpark.org. Shows at Wildwood will run from Nov. 3 to Nov. 13 before moving to North Little Rock with shows on Nov. 18 through Nov. 21.

  • Music in the Wild with A Rodney Block & Friends Christmas; Dec. 3: Unlike other Music in Wild Concerts, this concert will be held in the Cabe Theatre.

  • Sister Act,  April 1-10, 2022:  Sister Act hits the Cabe Theatre stage in partnership with Praeclara.

  • Lanterns Festival, April 22-24, 2022: Wildwood Park for the Arts will once again light up the night with its largest and most popular annual festival, Lanterns. 

  • Music in the Wild with Wild Women; May 6, 2022: Music in the Wild is an outdoor concert series held at the Butler Gazebo, and in the event of rain, performances are moved to the Wildwood Pavilion.

  • Music in the Wild, June 3, 2022: Music in the Wild is an outdoor concert series held at the Butler Gazebo, and in the event of rain, performances are moved to the Wildwood Pavilion.