Your ‘Book of Mormon’ $25 ticket prayers have been answered

“The Book of Mormon,” the hit Broadway musical about latter-day missionaries in Africa, returns to Austin and Bass Concert Hall April 17-22. The folks at Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts don’t want you to to miss a beat, so they have instituted a lottery for a limited number of $25 tickets.

‘The Book of Mormon’ returns to Bass Concert Hall as a season option. Contributed by Joan Marcus.

Here’s how it works: Two and a half hours before each performance on the University of Texas campus, box office staff will start to accept entry cards with each person’s name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) that they wish to purchase. One person; one entry. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show a valid ID.

Again: Limit of one entry per person and two $25 tickets per winner. In New York, this kind of lottery, which was also used for them musical “Rent,” has attracted as many as 800 entries for some performances.

By now, any Broadway buff knows this 2011 show created by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, known variously for their creative work behind “South Park” and “Avenue Q.” Although it mocks the Mormon religion, it does so with just enough good will to attract LDS fans.

Trinity Adams wows as Annie Oakley for Summer Stock Austin

Only two Austin theatrical performances this year have sent me into the streets singing, nay, shouting the praises of a performer. Both are relative newcomers to the scene, but if there’s any justice, they won’t ever become strangers.

The first was Chanel‘s profoundly inspired take on Billie Holiday in Zach Theatre‘s “Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill.” How many times I’ve turned over in my memory her point-on patter, unvarnished vulnerability, ravishing voice and total embrace of the audience.

The second was Trinity Adams as Annie Oakley in Summer Stuck Austin‘s “Annie Get Your Gun,” currently running at the Long Center. Just 17, Adams is an award-winning actor who recently graduated from Dripping Springs High School.

Hey, Dripping, do you know what ya got in this gal?

The minute Adams bounded onto the stage at the Rollins Studio Theatre, the room just expanded exponentially to take in her radiance. Not that everything she did in the Irving Berlin classic was big and grand, no, she electrified the audience with slightest grin or aside.

As my theater companion, Suzie Harriman, pointed out, she’s like Broadway star Sutton Foster. No matter where she is in director Scott Thompson‘s stage-filling production — you won’t believe how well these kids dance! — your eyes are drawn to Adams.

She was capably complemented by Max Corney and a host of other troupers. Almost all of them also appear in “Spamalot,” a wonderfully cute Summer Stock musical directed by Ginger Morris. In that show, I was particularly taken with Lydia Kam, Ben Roberts, Michael Morran, Coy Branscum and Matthew Kennedy.

But why kid? All the the Summer Stock players are talented. Adams, however, at this precious theatrical moment, shines like the brightest stars in the heavens.

Why one Austinite is rooting for ‘Come From Away’ on Tony Awards night

You might have already caught this story on another American-Statesman page.


But since this blog is called Arts in Austin, we thought we share a bit from this compelling 9/11 story that led to a book, a musical and an initiative that encourages random acts of kindness.

The Broadway cast of “Come From Away.” Contributed by Matthew Murphy
Austinite Kevin Tuerff will be watching the Tony Awards ceremony very closely on June 11: He is a character in “Come From Away.”

That’s right. He is portrayed as Kevin T in the hit musical about Gander, a Canadian town that showed great kindness to thousands of airline passengers — including Tuerff — stranded there on 9/11.

The show has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, including best musical.

“Having a doppelganger on Broadway is crazy and surreal,” says Tuerff, who has retired from EnviroMedia, a green-themed Austin marketing company that he co-founded. “I never thought that my experience being one of 7,000 stranded passengers in Gander would end up on the Broadway stage, or that I would walk out on that stage to receive a standing ovation during a Broadway opening.”

WATCH: The Tony Awards will air at 7 p.m. June 11 on CBS.

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.

Zach Theatre actor joins the Brotherhood of Barbra Streisand in NYC

What do you get as a gift for playwright Jonathan Tolins, who wrote the comic solo turn, “Buyer and Cellar,” to toast his honors at the Drama Desk Awards earlier this week?

Zach Theatre sent the star of its staging, J. Robert Moore, to New York to help surprise Tolins with as many actors as could be found who have played Alex, the show’s pivotal character, around the country.

At the Drama Desk Awards, actors from around the country who have played Alex in ‘Buyer and Cellar’ surprised its playwright Jonathan Tolins. Among them was Zach Theatre performer J. Robert Moore, fourth from the left, who stands next to the playwright, third from left. Contributed

The character staffs a shopping mall that Barbra Streisand has created in her basement to store her collections of antiques, dolls, clothing and so forth. It’s more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

REVIEW: Zach Theatre’s “Buyer and Cellar” gabs about Babs.

Among the familiar actors who have played Alex is Michael Urie, best known for his portrayal of Marc St. James on “Ugly Betty.” Social tidbit from the awards show: Moore says Urie is amazingly warm.

“How funny to perform in a show completely alone, and then to suddenly become a part of a family of actors who have all done the same show across the country,” Moore writes. “It was thrilling for a musical theater kid like me to see some of Broadway’s legends at the awards, and to actually speak with them at the after party! We are calling our group: ‘The Brotherhood of Barbra.’ I hope she approves!”

J. Robert Moore with Michael Urie at the Drama Desk Awards. Contributed

UPDATE: The last name of Jonathan Tolins has been updated.

Giving City toasts Austin Critics Table Awards

If you missed the short history of the Austin Critics Table Awards written by Monica Maldonado Williams of Giving City and published in Sunday’s American-Statesman, below find a snippet. The free awards ceremony returns 7 p.m. June 5 at Cap City Comedy Club.

The Austin Critics Table in in 1995. L-R: John Bustin, Barry Pineo, Michael Barnes, Jamie Smith Cantara, Belinda Acosta, David Mark Cohen, Jerry Conn and Robert Faires. (Bustin and Cohen are deceased.) Mark Fort/American-Statesman

FULL STORY:  At 25 years old, an arts awards event learns to adapt.

“While almost all Austin arts organizations operate as nonprofits, the caliber of the art has become more professional and innovative, said co-founder Robert Faires. To reflect the range of art, this year’s Critics Table judges have adjusted the categories to make them less theater-heavy.

“There’s more diversity among the artists and the art forms in Austin, but this is not just a participation award,” said David Wyatt, a long-time volunteer for the event and the owner of a public relations agency that specializes in the art organizations. “Artists have to wait years to the point where they’ve developed their craft and matured as an artists to get recognized. It’s very meaningful.”

RELATED: See this year’s nominees for the Austin Critics Table Awards.

“In addition to adjusting the categories, Faires has had to adjust the roster of judges. As the last of the founders participating, he realized that the awards should include the new breed of art writers, especially those who publish primarily online. This year’s judges include writers from websites and blogs like Broadway World Austin, Austin Entertainment Weekly, Arts & Culture Texas, and Conflict of Interest TX.”

Monica Maldonado Williams. Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman

BACKGROUND: Monica Maldonado Williams cracks the charity code.

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

Look who won the Austin high school musical awards

The Long Center was packed and loud. The show was long and cool. If anyone kept track of the shows tunes performed during the Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards last night, they surely got dizzy by 11 p.m.

Select Ensemble performs at the Greater Austin High School Musical Awards. Contributed by Monica Peraza

Among the most charming elements of the ceremony was a video tribute from the Broadway cast of “Hamilton.” We’ll see if we can post it here.

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicalsAll rise for Austin high school musicals!

Without further ado, here are the winners. We might have missed one in the Twitter crush, but we’ll update.

RELATED: Here’s why Austin theater teens love the stage and their awards show.

(Note: The adult participants are not listed in the program or announced. Their students pick up the awards.)

Best Production: “In the Heights” – Hendrickson High School.

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Matthew Kennedy for “Pippin” – Leander High School.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Sophie Niles for “Barnum” – McNeil High School.

Best Ensemble: “Oliver” – Vandegrift High School.

Best Direction: “Curtains” – Anderson High School.

Best Featured Performer: Halle Hill for “Oliver!” Vandergrift High School

Best Lighting Design: “In the Heights” – Hendrickson High School

Best Orchestration: “Cinderella” – Marble Falls High School

Best Technical Execution: “Me and My Girl” – McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Kiara Thomas for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – Cedar Park High School

Best Actor in Supporting Role: Logan Caraway – Vista Ridge High School

Best Choreography: “Cats” – Cedar Ridge High School

Best Scenic Design: “In the Heights” – Rouse High School

Best Orchestra:  “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” – LBJ/LASA

Best Costume Design: “Cats” – Cedar Ridge High School

Best Student Design: Niko Bermea for choreography of “In the Heights” at Rouse High School,

A star is born: Chanel is Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre

We understand that Chanel, who plays Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre, comes from a singing, not an acting background. You wouldn’t believe that after you’ve seen her tear up the stage as the jazz legend.

ZachLadyDayDress -apr2017-307469
Chanel as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre. Contributed by Kirk Tuck

Here’s a snippet from my preview:

FULL STORY: Billie Holiday is back in town, this time at Zach Theatre.

“Holiday had an intuitive sense of timing and phrasing,” says the show’s music director, Allen Robertson. “Chanel has captured the spirit of that phrasing. We’re not trying to do a museum piece. She doesn’t imitate her voice. Instead, we are exploring the nature of Holiday’s musicality.”

Here’s a snippet from Andrew J. Friedenthal’s review:

FULL STORY: Actress commands stage as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre.

Chanel is a dynamic performer, both as an impressionist channeling Holiday’s voice and as a spectacular vocalist in her own right, but she gives “Lady Day” its power most forcefully in the deft way she displays Holiday’s struggle to shine through the adversity she had faced all her life. There is a simplicity to her performance that allows the depth of Holiday’s pain to shine through in moving and powerful ways.