Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Arrive in Houston With an Updated Version

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars
Talk about bright!
It's the story of the trials of Joseph, the kid who was his father's favorite out of 12 brothers and had the special coat to prove it, and could see the future through dreams (although somehow he missed that his envious brothers would throw him in a pit and sell him to slavers carrying him on down to Egypt land).

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is on its way back to Houston thanks to Theatre Under the Stars and this rebuffed version stars the husband-wife duo of Diana DeGarmo (Narrator) and Ace Young (Joseph).

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Once Tells the Story of a Dublin Street Musician's Dreams and the Woman Who Inspires Him

Categories: Stage

Photo by Joan Marcus
They dance, sing and play at the same time in Once

Winner of eight 2012 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Once tells the story of a Dublin street musician, "Guy," who thanks to the help of a beautiful woman, "Girl," decides to continue pursuing his career in music.

John Steven Gardner, who plays Eamon, a sound engineer at a recording studio, in the touring production coming to the Hobby Center courtesy of Broadway Across America, also serves as the "Music Captain" for the show.

"It's to help keep what we did in rehearsal in August 2013 intact. Once gives all of the actors an unusual amount of creative freedom. A lot of the parts we came up with in rehearsals."

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A Midsummer Night's Dream: When the Fairies Come Out to Play

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of Stark Naked Theatre
During William Shakespeare's lifetime, there was a lot of belief among the populace that fairies and other magical beings could cast spells on you while you were sleeping, says Kim Tobin-Lehl who is co-directing A Midsummer Night's Dream with her husband Philip Lehl at Stark Naked Theatre.

Both are looking for that same willingness to imagine mystical possibilities from audience members ready to once more engage with Puck, Bottom, Titania, Oberon, and the lovers Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius.

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Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth Speaks of Humankind's Ability to Go On

Categories: Stage

Photo by Scott McWhirter
Wade Gonsoulin as Mr. Antrobus, trying to keep warm amid the coming Ice Age
The set-up:
How much poorer would the American theater be without the riches of Thornton Wilder? A world without Our Town or The Matchmaker is unthinkable. A place without The Skin of Our Teeth (1942) would be darker still.

What a unique, spectacular view this play presents. The flip side to his bleak masterpiece Our Town, Wilder called Skin a "fantastic comedy," and it's nothing less than the history of mankind done up as vaudeville, sketch comedy, theater of the absurd, and heartbreaking family drama.

Wonderfully goofy and beautifully enlightening, it switches mood within a sentence, turning dark and brooding, then comically silly, ultimately inspiring and uplifting. Skin catches you up with brilliant theatrical strokes as it breaks the fourth wall, never letting us forget we're watching something artificial, but then Wilder's somewhat one-dimensional characters suddenly become the voice of all of us struggling to make sense of the world, and tears well up in our eyes. It's a Wilderean tour de force, a magnificent, intimate epic. This play is everything a play should be.

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BOB: A Life in Five Acts Doesn't Entirely Disappoint at Rice University

Categories: Stage

Photo by Ian Mellor- Crummey
The cast of BOB: Vicky ComesaƱas, Daniel Zdeblick, Carmella DeSerto, Justin Bernard, and Paul Dingus

The set-up:

In the absurdist play BOB from Peter Sinn Nachtreib, we follow the life of Bob, from his humble beginnings as an abandoned newborn in a White Castle to a road trip that lasts for 12 years and finally to his success and disillusionment.  In the script, Bob is described as "Energy, optimism, open, active." We see that openness as Bob reacts in different ways to his changing circumstances.

Every other character is played by one of four "Chorus" members. The script notes on the Chorus call them "dispassionate but eloquent" and their roles are "vivid, bright, sharp, and distinct." The Chorus plays not only their characters, but also the Chorus member beneath each character.  

The play is divided into five acts, and each act sees Bob experiencing interactions and turning points that will drastically change him and his circumstances during the next act. Interludes occur between each act, with one intermission between acts 3 and 4.

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Sarah Leonard in Ruthless! The Musical Has the Pipes, the Stage Presence & Comic Timing to Boot

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of SRO Productions
She sings and can deliver a punch line! A pint-sized powerhouse performance!
The set-up:
If there's a soft spot in your jaded little heart for a skewed, off-centered, off-Broadway musical, this quirky little show at Standing Room Only will be catnip.

The execution:
A wacky combo of Gypsy, The Bad Seed, and Forbidden Broadway, with more than an elbow-poke of All About Eve around its wickedly tattered edges, this parody of a parody has a devilishly clever book and lyrics by Joel Paley and Jerry Herman-like hummable music by Marvin Laird. The show is
utterly delightful. Forget Kinky Boots, the gayest musical of the month is Ruthless! The Musical

Here's what happens: little Tina Denmark (tyke Sarah Leonard in wicked, scene-stealing mode with leather lungs like Merman) is one of those precocious showbiz brats who do five minutes when they open the refrigerator and the light goes on. She tap dances on the coffee table to show off, while Mom Judy (Lendsey Kersey, the other cast member with real lungs) follows up with can of Pledge. Tina's got talent, and she'll entertain you until one of you drops from exhaustion - I assure you, it won't be her! She wants the glamorous life of a star so bad she can taste it, even though mom with Donna Reed hair and pearls over hostess dress, worries where all that talent has come from. But Sylvia St. Croix (Jay Menchaca, in heavenly drag) knows. Crisply tailored, Miss St. Croix, a parade float of broad-shouldered chutzpah, becomes Tina's agent, mentor, Svengali. If Tina was born to entertain, then Sylvia's mission is to see that talent infect the world, like Ebola. Whatever it takes, Tina will be a star, even if it's over somebody's dead body. And all before you can say Shirley Temple.

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The Blackest Shore: A Muddled Plotline But Some Outstanding Acting

Categories: Stage

Photo by Anthony Rathbun
Gabriel Regojo in The Blackest Shore

The set up:

In a theater season stuffed with so many tried and true productions or imports boasting newness via their supposed regional premiere status, it's truly refreshing to see a work on stage performed for the very first time. It's even more intriguing when that work comes to us from a hitherto unknown and up and coming playwright. Catastrophic Theatre is bringing the work of New York based Mark Schulz to us twice this season. Closing out the year is Schultz's play Everything Will Be Different: A Brief History of Helen of Troy, a show about teen girl anguish. On offer now is The Blackest Shore, a play ostensibly about male teenage trauma and coping.

The teen in this case is Stuart and he's making a violent movie that's part zombie thriller, part gothic vampire tale and part Lord of the Rings with a healthy dash of porn thrown in for good measure. Stuart's dad has done something horrible and therefore isn't around and his mom is about to invite her boyfriend (Josh Morrison), who Stuart can't stand, into their home to live with them.

Cue the angst.

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Amaluna by Cirque du Soleil Soars Under the Big Top

Categories: Stage

The Setup:
A person could give a host of reasons to try and explain the appeal of Cirque du Soleil productions, but at the end of the day it really all comes down to this: The human body is a fascinating machine. We tend to forget this in our mundane, day-to-day existence unless we just happen to have someone really special in our Crossfit classes or are obsessed with Ninja Warrior.

Watching humans do impressive, borderline reckless things with their bodies is fun, and when you add some fancy costumes and makeup to the mix, it becomes the kind of spectacle that, at its best, can stir real emotion in you.

Amaluna arrives in Houston almost three years after it debuted, the final stop of its North American tour before the show travels to Europe. Under the big top you'll see bodies soar, the elements toyed with and some slapstick comedy. Cirque gonna Cirque.

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Kinky Boots: Predictable But With Loads of Charm and Showbiz Know-How

Categories: Stage

Photo by Matthew Murphy
Darius Harper as Lola

The set-up:
The rousing, boisterous Act I finale to the Tony award-winning Kinky Boots is a non-stop, perpetual mobile of high kicks and swirling stage action, set to Cyndi Lauper's triumphant feel-good disco anthem, "Everybody Say Yeah." It raises the roof. Set in a shoe factory and making the utmost out of the conveyor belt assembly line, the number is the ultimate in show-stopping stagecraft, as the entire cast romps, runs in place, or sweeps along the moving runway. A new pair of boots has made a star turn - lipstick red, patent leather, thigh-high, with stratospheric stiletto heels. The fetish wear shoes, the prototype designed by drag queen Lola, glisten and sparkle in the spot light. They shoot off sparks.

Against all odds, will they will save Charlie's failing shoe business, keep the old factory alive, and bond the old school to the new? Will the gruff, lower class male workers come to love flamboyant Lola? Will drag queens eventually rule the world? You bet your ass!

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Andreanne Nadeau, the Moon Goddess in Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna

Categories: Stage

Sneak Peak: Amaluna by Cirque Du Soleil from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.

The audience won't be the only ones in awe at performances of Cirque du Soleil Presents Amaluna. According to performer Andreanne Nadeau, when they aren't onstage, the other members of the circus acts stand in the wings in wonder. "I watch the show and say, 'Wow, that's so amazing!' There are so many things that I could never do." This coming from one of the show's aerialists, who spends her time in the show suspended high over the stage.

Nadeau appears as the Moon Goddess in Amaluna, one of several goddesses who are passing along their strength and knowledge to Miranda, the queen's daughter. (Shakespeare's The Tempest served as inspiration for Amaluna.)

This story continues on the next page.

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