Happy Thanksgiving: Art Attack Writers & Their Shout Outs to the Houston Art Scene
|Photo courtesy Alley Theatre|
|James Black as Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee at the Alley|
I am grateful that actor/director James Black, who for health reasons was unable to continue in the lead role of Death of a Salesman at the Alley Theatre, has gone on to direct the Alley's A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas. He has always been a gracious and articulate interview subject -- in addition to his acting and directing talent -- which is always appreciated.
I am grateful for the length and breadth of the Houston theater scene, from the Alley and Theatre Under the Stars and Gexa Broadway Energy to newer ventures such as Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin's Stark Naked Theatre (with its wonderful T-shirt). I love its intimacy over at Spring Street Studios, just as there's no bad seat in the house at Stages Repertory Theatre or Main Street Theater. Just since the season started in August there have been amazing performances all over town.
I am grateful that the theater people here are willing to take chances, to bring back work we might not otherwise see, to present this with actors who for the most part are amazing. I thank them for the ticket discounts and the outreach they do to students who might otherwise never get to see a play or a musical or an opera (thanks again to Houston Grand Opera's HGOco).
And I am grateful to and amazed by scenic designers like Jodi Bobrovsky who can make something out of nearly nothing and tranform it into that just-right effect.
Thanks to the theater departments at UH and Rice, which attract and develop talented students to our city, and the UH Theatre Department's plan to expand aid to promising theater students (thanks too to Brett Cullen on this!). This summer's performance at Miller Outdoor Theatre of Hamlet by UH students (aided by a couple pros) remains one of the highlights of the year -- and it was free.
This year, I have to say a special thank you to Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director at the Houston Grand Opera. Usually you get chills at an opera when the soprano hits her high notes or the singers make it through a bel canto rapid fire exchange without a bobble. In a pre-season address, Summers achieved the same thing with his passion and vision for what the HGO will be doing in the years ahead. Whether it's adding challenging operas by Wagner or great American musicals like Show Boat, if it is great music, he wants HGO to be doing it. How could you ask for more than that?
What am I thankful for in the Houston arts scene this year?
Comp tickets. And the opportunity to spout my opinions about the cornucopia that is Houston theater. It's a feast on the bayou. There are creamy, tasty entrees from the big kitchens at the Alley, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, always beautifully prepared and presented; but there are equally savory courses from Main Street, Stages, Country Playhouse, Theatre Southwest, Catastrophic, Ensemble, Texas Rep, A.D. Players...the menu is endless. To end the meal, could there be anything sweeter than Music Box, Mildred's Umbrella, Classical Theatre Co., Stark Naked, Bit of a Stretch, Theater LaB, among others? And let's not forget the touring chefs from TUTS, Broadway Across America, and Society for the Performing Arts. I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry. The best thing to be thankful for in all this good eating? -- it's FDA approved, nourishment for the soul and 100 percent fat free. See you at dinner.
I am thankful for the dancers who dash from their other jobs, dance clothes stuffed in a backpack, to make it to rehearsal on time. I am thankful for the choreographers who first decide that they want stilts in their show and only later figure out how to walk on them. I am thankful for the company directors who dream up collaborations among baroque orchestras, boys' choirs and dance artists and still manage to take care of the administrative duties necessary for their studios to operate. I am thankful for the donors and board members who lend their time, support and insightful feedback to countless board meetings and fund-raising campaigns. I am thankful for the audience members who take the risk of seeing a dance performance over a safer Saturday night of watching How I Met Your Mother. I am thankful for the volunteers who paint, sell concessions, make costumes, hand out flyers and build sets like it's their job. And I am thankful for the dance journalists who write, blog, tweet and post in hopes of bolstering the connections between the dance community and the general public.
It's because of you that dance lives on and strongly in Houston. It's because of you that many of us consider this city a home. It's because of you that so many of us can and do love what we do. From the bottom of my heart -- thank you, thank you, thank you.