BWW Exclusive Details on TUTS' 2013-14 Season - PRISCILLA, WE WILL ROCK YOU, WIZARD OF OZ, EVITA, ELF and THE LITTLE MERMAID!
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by David Clarke
Houston's Theatre fans always anticipate season announcements with bated breath like children awaiting Birthday presents or clamoring to see what Santa Claus has placed under their trees. Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) has a fantastic gift for fans of musical theatre to unwrap today. Their 2013-2014 season is an enthralling and exciting season with "a little something for everyone, with shows ranging from the classical and the family favorites to Broadway's freshest and edgier productions," says CEO John C. Breckenridge. Artistic Director, Bruce Lumpkin says, regarding the lesser-known shows in the season, "don't count yourself out, come and see them." He elaborated that "this season is a great season, and it's mixed with all sorts of different kinds of shows."
The first national tour of PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL pulls into town on September 29 - October 12, 2013 for its Houston premiere. This delightfully fun and funky show exposes audiences to an uplifting story about a trio of friends (two drag queens, one transsexual) who journey across the Australian Outback in a battered old bus. Along the way they find love, friendship, and family. The internationally acclaimed production features over 500 spectacular and Tony Award-winning costumes and a joyous hit parade of dance-floor favorites, including "It's Raining Men," "Finally," "I Will Survive," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "Material Girl," and "Like A Prayer."
For the holidays, running from December 6 - 19, 2013, TUTS is locally producing the Houston premiere of the musical adaptation of the film Elf. ELF - THE MUSICAL originally opened on Broadway in 2010 and was revived on Broadway in 2012. USA Today called ELF "endearingly goofy," Variety said, "ELF is happy enough for families, saavy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults," and audiences simply loved seeing Buddy's hilarious tale brought to life on stage. In the story, an infant mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag and winds up at the North Pole. Raised as an elf, despite his enormous size and inabilities in toy making, Buddy is unaware that his is human. He embarks on a journey to New York City with Santa's permission and searches for his birth father, his true identity, and a way to help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. The polished score includes the fantastic songs like "A Christmas Song" and the sardonic "Nobody Cares About Santa."
Bringing high octane energy into 2014, TUTS will be producing the Houston premiere of Queen and Ben Elton's worldwide smash hit musical phenomenon WE WILL ROCK YOU from January 22 - February 2, 2014. Complete with an astounding score composed of Queen favorites, such as "Another One Bites the Dust," "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," "We Are the Champions," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "We Will Rock You," the record-breaking musical has been seen by over 15 million people. It takes place 300 years in the future. Earth has been renamed iPlanet, and a young boy, named Galelio, has dreams he does not understand. In an effort to keep an ancient prophecy from coming true, Globalsoft Corporation, the rulers of iPlanet, have him arrested. The Bohemians come to the aid of Galelio and fight against the evil and repressive corporation owned and operated government.
TUTS will be bringing Dorothy Gale and her familiar friends and foes to the Houston stage in a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE WIZARD OF OZ from March 4 - 16, 2014. The musical has been adapted from the classic 1939 MGM film, and features new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Dorothy and her companions, the loveable Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and Toto, journey through Oz to retrieve the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard has promised a handsome reward to each member of the party for their service. This sweet family friendly treat is sure to captivate the hearts of young and old alike, sending them sailing over the rainbow.
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.
And we certainly have. Houston still has proud ownership of Frank Wildhorn's JEKYLL & HYDE and Disney's BEAUTY OF THE BEAST.
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.