Time to plan your fall season at the Long Center

A picture of Austin’s fall arts season is falling into place. The latest booking news is from the Long Center for the Performing Aarts. We rearranged, condensed and edited for style their fine descriptions of the following.

Notice that the fall season begins in July. Why not? We only wish the weather would comply.

Also, there’s a lot of other offerings, including Summer Stock Austin, at the center that aren’t part of this season package, so stay alert.

A character from Legend of Zelda. Contributed

“The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

Dell Hall, July 7

Coinciding with the newly released “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and Nintendo’s new Switch, this returns to the Long Center stage on July 7 for one performance only. Now in its fourth season and featuring new music and video, the concert comes to life with a 66-piece orchestra, 24-person choir.

“Fun Home”

Dell Hall, Aug. 11-13

The winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, this unusual show is based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 best-selling graphic memoir.

“An Evening with The Piano Guys

Dell Hall, Aug. 23

The Piano Guys have become an internet sensation by way of their immensely successful series of self-made music videos, leading to over 500 million YouTube views.

Carrie Rodriguez. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

“An Evening with Carrie Rodriguez

Rollins Studio Theatre, Aug. 30

Austin native Carrie Rodriguez is a fiddle playing singer songwriter who approaches her country-blues sound with an “Ameri-Chicana” attitude.  Her latest release, “Lola,” takes her back to her ranchera musical roots and was hailed as the “perfect bicultural album” by NPR’s Felix Contreras.

Manual Cinema: “Lula Del Ray”

Rollins Studio Theatre,  Sept. 13-14          

This troupe of theatrical artists are not just puppeteers, but creators of otherworldly landscapes through a striking combination of live actors, old-school projectors and silhouette magic.

“Kaki King: The Neck is a Bridge to the Body 

Rollins Studio Theatre, Sept. 16

Hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as “a genre unto herself,” composer, guitarist, and recording artist Kaki King performs her latest work — a simultaneous homage and deep exploration of her instrument of choice. In this bold new multi-media performance, Kaki deconstructs the guitar’s boundaries as projection mapping explores texture, nature, and creation.

Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”

Dell Hall, Sept. 30

Part coming-of-age story and part divine commentary, Terrence Malick’s star-studded and slow-burning art film, “The Tree of Life,” sparked a dialogue within the industry about memory, the meaning of life, and the role that film can play in representing those ideas. Screening with live score performed by Austin Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Austin.

“Star Wars: A New Hope”

Dell Hall, Oct. 11–12

John William’s legendary “Star Wars” score didn’t just enhance a great story, it gave life to an entire galaxy. From “Binary Sunset” to the “Imperial March,” the themes of “A New Hope” ushered in a renaissance of film music, the likes of which Hollywood had never seen before. A special screening with live score performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

“Shopkins Live!”

Dell Hall, Oct. 21

This lights up the stage in this premiere live production packed with show-stopping performances featuring the Shoppies and Shopkins characters taking the stage with an all-new storyline, music, and videos. Join Jessicake, Bubbleisha, Peppa-Mint, Rainbow Kate, Cocolette, and Polli Polish as they perform the coolest dance moves, sing the latest pop songs, and prepare for Shopville’s annual “Funtastic Food and Fashion Fair.”

Jeff Lofton. Contributed by Claire Newman.

“The Jeff Lofton Electric Thang

Rollins Studio Theatre, Oct. 25

Jazz artist Jeff Lofton – together with his groups The Jeff Lofton Trio and his Electric Thang – has quickly become a household name around Austin’s low-key bars and jazz lounges.

An evening with Maureen Dowd and Carl Hulse In Conversation

Dell Hall, Saturday Nov. 18

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, and award-winning author and the Times’ Chief Washington Correspondent, Carl Hulse, will examine the state of the nation one year following the most divisive presidential election in American history. Join us for an evening of incisive dialogue as Dowd and Hulse discuss how we got here and what lies ahead.

“Santa on the Terrace”

City Terrace, Nov. 24 

Bring the family and join us on the City Terrace and take some time out of the busiest holiday of the year to celebrate the season. Bring the kids for a free photo with Santa and enjoy holiday treats, activities and entertainment, all overlooking the best view in Austin!

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical”

Dell Hall, Nov. 24-25

The favorite TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage in this beloved adaptation. Come see all of your favorite characters from the special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, and of course, Rudolph brought to life.

Graham Reynolds. Jay Janner/American-Statesman

“Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays”

Rollins Studio Theatre, Dec. 20

Composer and bandleader, Graham Reynolds, along with some of Austin’s best musicians wreak musical havoc with an explosive set of holiday favorites. By playing most of them in a minor key, Reynolds and his band bring a new perspective to these season standards.

“A Christmas Story: The Musical”

Dell Hall, Dec. 29–31

After a smash-hit Broadway run garnering three Tony-Award nominations including Best Musical, this Christmas classic returns for another year. Based on the perennial holiday movie favorite, the story takes place in 1940s Indiana, where a bespectacled boy named Ralphie wants only one thing for Christmas: an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot range Model Air Rifle.


Arts ringleader Paul Beutel to retire from the Long Center

After more than four decades as an arts leader wearing countless hats, Paul Beutel has announced that he will retire from the Long Center for the Performing Arts on June 30.

A respected actor and singer, Beutel also reviewed movies and theater for the American-Statesman, worked as marketing director for what is now Texas Performing Arts, served as director, producer and presenter at the Paramount Theatre for almost two decades, ran Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston, and wound up his career as senior programming manager at the Long Center.

Head shot
Longtime arts leader Paul Beutel to retire. Contributed

“It’s hard for me to believe that I have been working in this wonderful and crazy business for 42 years, the last eight-plus years at the Long Center,” says Beutel. “It’s even harder for me to believe that at the end of the month, I will celebrate my 67th birthday. Thus, it seems like a good time to bring the curtain down on this phase of my life and retire.”

I first spotted Beutel onstage in “Carnival” at TUTS in Houston in the early 1970s. He was already a fixture in the Austin arts scene when I arrived in 1984. He was especially good at booking shows with undeniable entertainment value and populist appeal. Beutel also played a major role in the long tenure of the “Greater Tuna” plays, for instance, and Austin Musical Theatre at the Paramount. He also nurtured the theater’s still popular summer classic movie series.

RELATED: Jaston Williams cooks up another bit of ‘Greater Tuna.’ Jaston Williams cooks up another bit of ‘Greater Tuna.’

Helming the Paramount through stormy financial waters, Beutel was always known as a passionate advocate but also a straight shooter who didn’t dodge hard questions from the press.

He has held several positions at the Long Center, including interim executive director from 2010 to 2011. He was also instrumental in amplifying the center’s educational programs through events such as the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards.

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicals!

“I can’t thank Paul enough for his years of service to both the Long Center and the greater performing arts field,” says the center’s director and CEO Cory Baker. “He is truly a legend and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside him in Austin. The Long Center would not be the organization it is today without his dedication, passion and remarkable instinct. We expect to still see Paul around often as he will always be a member of our family.”

Beutel’s retirement plans include “catching up on approximately 125 DVDs and having a cocktail or two with the many friends I’ve made in this business over the years.”

UPDATED: In Houston, Beutel operated Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Plan now for the Paramount and Stateside fall season

It’s not too soon to flesh out your fall schedule with these acts from the paired Paramount and Stateside theaters on Congress Avenue. Season subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets will go on sale in late August.

Gladys Knight.jpg
Gladys Knight. Contributed


Sept. 22: The Flatlanders with Dan Penn at the Paramount Theatre

Sept. 23: Roger McGuinn at the Paramount Theatre

Sept. 28: Radney Foster at Stateside at the Paramount

Sept.r 30: AJ Croce at Stateside at the Paramount

Oct. 4: Lila Downs at the Paramount Theatre

Oct. 20: Del McCoury Band at the Paramount Theatre

Oct. 21: Selected Shorts at the Paramount Theatre

Oct. 21: Hal Ketchum at Stateside at the Paramount Theatre

Nov. 8: An Evening of Storytelling with Garrison Keillor at the Paramount Theatre

Nov. 9: Demetri Martin at Paramount Theatre presented by Moontower Comedy

Nov. 12: Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild Live at the Paramount Theatre

Nov. 17: Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Birthday Bash at the Paramount Theatre

Nov. 18: John Hodgman: Vacationland at the Paramount Theatre

Nov. 19: Gladys Knight at the Paramount Theatre

Dec. 1: A John Waters Christmas at the Paramount Theatre

Dec. 12: Tommy Emmanuel at the Paramount Theatre

Dec. 14: The Moth at the Paramount Theatre

Dec. 16: Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis at the Paramount Theatre

Jan. 31: Captain Scott Kelly at the Paramount Theatre

I want to see virtually every show in Texas Performing Arts’ next season

Nine years ago, I told Kathy Panoff, then incoming director of Texas Performing Arts, that she was a “firecracker.” Well, she’s still lighting up the sky.

Tonight on the Bass Concert Hall stage at the University of Texas, she sent up blazing bottle rockets for her group’s 2017-2018 season, and I want to see virtually ever show on the bill.


Start off, as almost everybody does, with its Broadway in Austin partnership. I’ll sign up right now for “Rent,” “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” “School of Rock,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder,” “The Book of Mormon” and “An American in Paris.”

Yes, even “Rent,” which I’ve grown to love over the past 20 years, mostly because of a Texas State University version with — thank you! — age-appropriate actors. Hello!

And guess what? If you don’t sign up for the 2017-2018 season, forget getting tickets to “Hamilton” the next season. The Broadway series already has added 3,000 new subscribers in anticipation.

RELATED: Broadway smash “Hamilton” coming to Austin in 2018-2019 season.

At the top of my list from the non-Broadway season are three cabaret shows: Storm Large & Le Bonheur, Ute Lemper’s “Last Tango in Berlin” and Seth Rudetsky‘s “Deconstructing Broadway.” It’s like Broadway, too, but refined to the nth degree.


I was also very much attracted to the dance groups: Che Malambo (“Machismo in a jar”), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Ezralow Dance’s “Open” and Abraham.In.Motion‘s “Live! The Realest MC.” Two I’ve seen before, the other two sizzled in projected videos.

Of the musical selections, I am jazzed to see the Philip Glass Ensemble play “Koyaanisqatsi” live — my first Glass back in 1982 — and Chanticleer doing “Soldier.”

Playing to my jazz affections are Kurt Elling with the SwinglesMonty Alexander Harlem-Kinston Express. 


Also on the bill are Spanish BrassDover Quartet, Sergei Babayan, Sergio & Odair, guitars and Avi Avital, mandolin, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Conrad Herwig — along some hybrid shows, such as Fifth House Ensemble performing music from the game “Journey” live as it is played and “Musical Thrones: A Parody.”

Straight theater has not been forgotten: “The Crucible” and “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance.”

How am I going to see all this? I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

Austin-linked ‘Anastasia’ opens on Broadway, while ‘Fun Home’ heads to Austin

If you haven’t been following the Facebook threads of Marc and Carolyn Seriff, you’re missing this Austin duo’s take on producing a Broadway musical. Marc, co-founder of America Online and for a short time, head of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, is, along with his wife Carolyn, a longtime backer of local arts groups. They are in New York for three months because they are co-producers of a lavish production of Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally‘s “Anastasia,” originally an animated movie, which opened last night on Broadway.

Ramin Karimloo and Christy Altomare. Contributed by Matthew Murphy

There are other Austin connections that we’ll flesh out later, including Texas-born McNally’s papers at the Ransom Center and previous versions of his works at Zach Theatre. We urged the Austin couple to keep a journal of their Broadway adventures. Here’s a snippet from Marc’s post today:

“Have to be really honest here and say that tonight was full of mixed emotions.

“First the good (and most important) — from where I sat, ‘Anastasia’ is one of the best musicals to come along in a while. It was Broadway with a capital ‘B’ with no attempt to be a ‘small’ show.

The sets and costumes were magnificent. The talent was stellar. Everybody seems to be deservedly nuts for Christy Altomare playing Anya, but I was mesmerized by all of them — especially John Bolton and Mary Beth Peil.

Loved the choreography and, while theater purists may disagree, the use of technology in the show — especially the huge HD screen — really enhanced the production without being the least gimmicky. As a co-producer, I’m proud to be associated with this show without reservation and I’m equally happy to recommend it to anybody also without reservation.

“Getting to know some of the other co-producers was a lot of fun. While they all hope to make a buck, they’re really using their checkbooks because they simply love the theater and want to be part of creating something beautiful.

“The not so good — for somebody with an ego like mine, there’s no question I was excited to meet some stars and completely struck out — we saw that Christian Borles and Tommy Tune were there but didn’t get to meet either. No harm — just disappointing.

“Second, the invitation called for everybody to come dressed in the Russian or Parisian fashions of the 20s. I was there in my really nice embroidered Cossack shirt and almost all the other men were in suits. Basically, the realization of a lifelong nightmare! At least my shirt was comfortable.

“The worrisome — the critics aren’t overwhelmed by the show and that’ll increase the marketing challenge. I was, frankly, stunned at the critical response. Hopefully, this is a show that audiences will make successful in spite of the critics.

“Bottom line: Would I co-produce again, especially assuming that Anastasia recoups? Absolutely. The journey so far has been tremendous fun. And having an excuse to spend three months in NYC — priceless!”


Meanwhile, the Long Center announced that the critically acclaimed musical, “Fun Home,” is headed to Austin in a touring version Aug. 11-13.

This show, which won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical, is based on Alison Bechdel‘s 2006 graphic memoir by the same name and portrays the artist’s strangely disfunctional family. It’s got some adult content in case you were worried about bringing the kids.

Just a taste of the reviews:

“A rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway” —  Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“An uplifting musical drama of rare intensity, honesty and beauty.’ Fun Home’ speak universally about big things that matter: life, love, family, surviving. It’s unconventional, to be sure, and musical theatre is better for it.” — New York Daily News

“Exquisite. An emotional powerhouse” — Chicago Tribune

See ‘La La Land’ set to live music in Austin

What could be better than watching — or re-watching — Oscar runner-up “La La Land” on the big screen? Watching the musical on the big screen set to live music performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.


The tuner won six Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Original Song. On June 30, composer Justin Horowitz‘s music will provide the fodder for the symphony’s grand screening.

RELATED: Oscars 2017: ‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture after ‘La La Land’ mistakenly announced.

Ticks go on sale March 10. They will be available online at TheLongCenter.org or by calling 512-474-5664.

For groups of 10 and more, call 512-457-5150 or email groupsales@thelongcenter.org.