The Little Rock 2014 version of Carmina Burana is a unique interpretation of Carl Orff’s masterwork developed entirely by three local artists: Bevan Keating, associate professor of music at UALR; Bruce Rentz, musical theater producer for Second Presbyterian Church of Little Rock; and Rebecca Stalcup, artistic director for Arkansas Festival Ballet. Keating and Rentz have collaborated to produce a new unifying storyline for Carmina Burana, and Stalcup brings this story to life through choreography developed exclusively for the Little Rock production.
The story begins with three young men and three young women poised at the beginning of life’s adventure. The characters come from varying stations and circumstances, but all have full and exciting futures ahead of them as the performance begins. They soon find, however, that their lives are subject to the whims of fortune — personified in the goddess Fortuna — and that the happy endings they may have envisioned for themselves are not so easily attained. As the wheel of fortune spins, the couples embark on journeys of hope and love, only to find themselves confronted with obstacles and temptations they had not anticipated. All the characters are tested: some do not survive, and none remain unscathed. The production’s finale offers no respite, for even when one couple believes they have conquered Fortuna’s trials, the concluding number reminds the audience that the wheel continues to spin for generation after generation.