Following its rousing revival on Broadway, TUTS and the new national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's acclaimed classic EVITA brings Michael Grandage's brilliant, beautiful, and sparkling staging to Houston audiences from May 6 - 18, 2014. It tells the familiar story of Eva Peron's fast and spectacular rise from poor, country girl to Argentina's celebrated First Lady. Love her or hate her, Eva Peron uses her charms and wiles to ruthlessly climb the ladder of success, becoming one of the most powerful women in the world. Her personal greed and ambition marred her name, while her medical frailty made her a tragic hero of the people. The show includes such classics from the Broadway songbook as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," "High Flying, Adored," and "The Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)."
Closing the season, TUTS is locally producing the Houston premiere of Disney's bubbly, undersea musical THE LITTLE MERMAID from June 13 - 26, 2014. Artistic Director, Bruce Lumpkin informed me that this a brand new interpretation of the material where TUTS is "sharing the physical production with other theatres." The first production of this THE LITTLE MERMAID opens at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey this summer. Some of the original Broadway design elements will be changed while others will be improved. The stage musical is adapted from the 1989 film, and recounts the tale of 16-year old Ariel who longs to live on land. She makes a dangerous deal with Ursula, the malevolent sea witch, giving up her singing voice to obtain legs and walk on land. The ebullient and beautiful Alan Menken (Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Disney's Aladdin, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS) score features the memorable hits "Part of Your World," "Kiss the Girl," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," and the Academy Award winning "Under the Sea."
In addition to this exceptional season of new and old favorites, TUTS will continue to provide fresh and electrifying theatre experiences. With each show comes a number of associated events and opportunities, such as OUT@TUTS and Exclusive VIP events. OUT@TUTS is a GLBT-friendly group which hosts a cabaret-style evening in the Artista restaurant the first Thursday of each show. Visit www.TUTS.com/OUT for more information. The Exclusive VIP events include intimate cast talk-backs, exclusive events with show partners, backstage tours, and more! Special event information will be available throughout the season at www.TUTS.com/Events.
And as if all this illustrious and grand news wasn't enough, Bruce Lumpkin confirmed the rumor that TUTS will start utilizing the Zilka Hall at The Hobby Center for Performing Arts more in the near future, and will produce a Zilka Season!
He told me, "This is my dream. Zilka is something that, when I first came to work here, I saw and I thought, 'We need to start talking about the future, and the future means bringing people to the theatre that either can't afford to or don't want to come and see the kinds of shows we're doing on the main stage. So, we need an alternate space with alternate ideas and to do the kind of stuff to build another and new audience.' So, things like BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, SPRING AWAKENING, NEXT TO NORMAL, and all these shows.
"I have a 19-year-old son. He loves theatre, but he doesn't really want to come and see some things like CAMELOT. But, he wants to own things like SPRING AWAKENING, BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON, and own theatre like I owned theatre when I was young. That's one of the hopes there. But, it's also there to help develop new works. Which is one of the things we want to do in the future.
'I'd love for us to be the center of new works in America. There is no reason we shouldn't be the number one musical theatre place to want to work in America. We're wonderful. The shows we do are wonderful. We have a wonderful plan. We have a wonderful staff. Wouldn't it be great to attract the people who wrote HAIRSPRAY to come to us and say, 'Hey, we're working on a new show. We'd love to try it out in Houston.' We used to do that in the old days."
And we certainly have. Houston still has proud ownership of Frank Wildhorn's JEKYLL & HYDE and Disney's BEAUTY OF THE BEAST.
Bruce Lumpkin further explained, "There's no reason we shouldn't be jumping right back into that again, and be able to start off new works here. The one thing I have come to realize, since being back here, is that Houston audiences want to own theatre too. They still talk about JEKYLL & HYDE, and they're proud of that. That's my dream. I want to be able to do that. I'm very excited about the Zilka Season. We hope to be able to do four shows there in our first season."
The show titles being considered aren't ready to be published yet; however, Bruce Lumpkin had a nice stack of envelopes containing scripts and scores that will hopefully grow. He did tell me that they hope the Zilka Season will start in June 2013.
To renew or purchase a season subscription to TUTS' 2013-2014 season, visit www.TUTS.com or call (713) 558 - 8887.
Photos Courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars.