Timely play about Trump Era makes it to UT

A 90-minute drama about America after an envisioned President Donald Trump impeachment opens at the University of Texas on Wednesday. A public conversation follows on Sept. 7.

SEE FULL STORY HERE.

David Sitler plays Rick and Franchelle Stewart Dorn plays Gloria in “Building the Wall.” Contributed by Lawrence Peart

Here’s a peek at my story about Robert Schenkkan‘s “Building the Wall.” —

As timely as the latest political scandal, “Building the Wall” issued like a blaze of lighting from the mind of Robert Schenkkan, the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who grew up in Austin.

The 90-minute, two-person drama about America after an envisioned impeachment of President Donald Trump has its regional premiere at the University of Texas on Thursday and runs through Sept. 10. A public conversation will take place on Sept. 7 at the Brockett Theatre.

Not that long ago, “Building the Wall” was barely a sketch of an idea in Schenkkan’s mental notebook. Yet possessed by the play’s force, he wrote it expeditiously in October, just before the presidential election.

Multiple theaters picked it up immediately, and it reached New York on May 24, which in theatrical terms is like an overnight turnaround. That run was short-lived, but a Los Angeles version was extended several times, and other productions have opened or are in rehearsals around the world.

“I felt the moment was urgent,” Schenkkan says. “It was good to see that as an artist I could respond quickly and that my community would join me. I met so many different artists at different theaters all over the country, institutions I didn’t know, or only knew by reputation, and everybody who participated in this did so with tremendous enthusiasm and excitement because they, too, felt the urgency of the moment and the need to do something, to respond to this extraordinary political crisis.”

Forget story — TexArts’ ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ is all about musical fun

The 1970s were a high-water mark for “porno chic” in the United States, and the Broadway stage, like the rest of popular culture, was far from immune from its influence (alongside the ongoing impact of the broader sexual revolution). This was perhaps most evident in the 1978 musical “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” a breezy, titillating comedy inspired by the real-life Texas story of La Grange’s own Chicken Ranch brothel.

TexArts presents “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Contributed by KARLA ENT

Though the play itself is a relic of its time, with a revelry in its own naughtiness that takes the place of a narrative through line, TexArts’ new production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” pushes to the forefront all of the show’s best elements, creating a fun romp that never ceases to entertain.

Larry L. King and Peter Masterson’s book of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” (based on a story by King) is something of a mess, with no coherent sense of structure and a first and second act that are incredibly tonally mismatched. Fortunately, the fun, flirty, infectious songs, written by Carol Hall, pick up the slack. Each of the numbers is fully realized and pushes its conceit to the limit, whether its emphasis is on bombast, bawdiness or brooding.

Director Sarah Gay wisely plays into these numbers, pushing each song to either absurdist or emotional extremes. In this sense, “The Best Little Whorehouse” plays out almost as a revue, with a loosely connected storyline. Each song is pushed to the limit by the committed cast, and it is quite enjoyable.

RELATED: Get a jump on the Austin arts season

Gay’s direction is also incredibly smart in the way that it de-emphasizes the overt sexuality of the whorehouse setting and either plays it for laughs or turns it into something whimsically flirtatious (a decision that owes its success, as well, to Kimberly Schafer’s charming-yet-sensual choreography and Colleen McCool-Pierce’s playfully revealing costumes).

TexArts’ “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” focuses on each individual scene and moment as its own unique entity, which requires a talented cast that is able to shift from comedy to pathos without much help from the script.

The somewhat large chorus, each playing multiple roles, get most of the show-stopping, toe-tapping moments, while leads Jarret Mallon (as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd) and Christina Stroup (as Ms. Mona Stangley) have to do some of the hardest work of changing tonality from scene to scene. Corinna Browning (as Doatsy Mae), Joe Falocco (as Melvin P. Thorpe), and especially Roderick Sanford (as Jewel, a part usually played by a woman) each have show-stealing moments of their own, as well.

As far as story structure goes, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” may leave you wanting more, but TexArts’ bouncy, energetic, fully committed production most certainly satisfies.

 

“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 3
Where: 2300 Lohman’s Spur, Suite 160
Cost: $40-$50
Information: 512-852-9079, tex-arts.org.

Science fiction tale deliver powerful real-life messages about race

In the wake of the Charlottesville, Va., white supremacist rally and the subsequent attack on peaceful counterprotesters, the firm belief that black lives matter is perhaps more important than it has ever been. As such, the long-term work being done at the Vortex Theatre to bring diversity to the Austin stage, and to provide a voice and a venue to artists of color, is more important than ever.

Contributed by by Errich Petersen.

The latest show at the Vortex, produced by Gale Theatre Co., is Tyler English-Beckwith’s new play “Twentyeight.” Though ostensibly an Afrofuturist science fiction story about six black people forced to build the very spaceship that will take them to their promised utopia of the Liberian Space Station, “Twentyeight” is also a trenchant commentary about contemporary state and racial violence against the black community.

Set in either a dystopian near-future or an alternate present, “Twentyeight” embodies the struggle for survival and freedom faced by black Americans in the form of forced labor to build a new starship. In exchange for this labor — which is overseen by mysterious “Enforcers” who make themselves known in the form of loud klaxon alarms — the individuals building the starship will be allowed to board it when it launches for the space station.

The bulk of the play portrays the struggles faced by the six characters as they work on the spaceship, arguing among themselves about the roles of freedom, yearning and expectation. The talented ensemble — consisting of Kenah Benefield, Jeremy Rashad Brown, Mae Rose Hill, Delanté Keys, Taji Senior-Gipson and Oktavea Williams — embody the various sides of debates about whether it is necessary for minorities to crouch before they are allowed to fly, and the well-realized desires and beliefs of each character keep that from ever becoming simply intellectual.

Though the ideas (and ideology) of “Twentyeight” are part of the show’s great strength, some of the science fiction concepts are a bit muddled and confusing, perhaps intentionally so. Nevertheless, the staging of the action by co-directors English-Beckwith and Matrix Kilgore (aided by the work of lighting designer Rachel Atkinson, sound designer Alyssa Dillard and scenic designer Ann Marie Gordon) grounds each scene in a physical reality that expresses the emotional truth of the characters, even if the precise location of the action is unclear.

“Twentyeight,” like much of the work at the Vortex, is a necessary show for our contemporary moment, giving voice to ideas that need to be heard by more people if our society is ever to find its way to the stars.

“Twentyeight”
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 16-19
Where: The Vortex, 2307 Manor Road
Cost: $15-$35
Information: 512-478-5282, vortexrep.org.

Elvis, Johnny Cash and more come to life in Zach’s ‘Million Dollar Quartet’

On Dec. 4, 1956, the tiny Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, was the site of a seminal moment in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the recording of a jam session between rockabilly superstars Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. This recording session became known as the “Million Dollar Quartet,” catching all four artists at a crucial time when rock music was just starting to take America by storm.

Zach Theatre has taken on the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet,” about famous faces Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. Contributed by Charles Quinn

In 2006, a fictionalized version of that remarkable moment was turned into a jukebox musical by writer/director Floyd Mutrux, along with co-writer Colin Escott. Combining the music of the four artists, along with covers of a few other rock hits and some of the gospel music that was actually recorded that day, “Million Dollar Quartet” is as much a musical revue as it is a play.

The show’s music is almost entirely diegetic, coming from the performers on stage re-creating the recording session, and thus all four actors portraying the famous musicians need to be able to embody the roles sonically as well as physically. Fortunately, Zach Theatre’s new production features four leading men who are more than up to the task.

Rockabilly songwriter and recording artist Cole (who goes by just one name) is spot-on as a young, suave, top-of-his-career Elvis, whose bombastic physicality while performing is nicely offset by Cole’s subtle evocation of the King’s nervous stutter in conversation. Gavin Rohrer is a ball of manic energy as Lewis, riding the line between “bad boy” and “snot-nosed punk” while remaining just on the right side of likable. Corbin Mayer’s deep bass voice and quiet brooding, paired with a razor-sharp performing style, evoke the darker tones of Cash. Finally, the young Billy Cohen takes on Perkins’ cool stability and mean rhythm and blues guitar licks with a soulful energy that pairs well with the extravagant, impressive bass-playing of Adam Egizi as Brother Jay, Perkins’ brother and musical partner.

The cast is rounded out by Zachary Yanez as drummer Fluke, Emily Farr as Elvis’ girlfriend Dyanne (replacing his real-life girlfriend of the time, Marilyn Evans), and Jeff Jeffers as Sam Phillips, Sun Records’ owner and the producer of early recordings by all four men. Farr is buoyant and sexy in the few numbers given to her to sing, though she is somewhat hobbled by a text that mostly seems to have use for her as a plot contrivance for the sake of exposition.

Jeffers, however, has far more to work with, as Phillips is arguably the protagonist of the show’s sparse storyline. Given several moments to shine, he quietly serves as the play’s backbone, with a reserved performance that brings some heart to what would otherwise be a disconnected collection of songs. Director Dave Steakley wisely keeps him at the center of the action in order to hold the story together, even though his role is far less showy than that of the four rock superstars.

As a text, “Million Dollar Quartet” is very flawed. It has sparse narrative momentum and even less structure, and in its celebration of these four particular musicians it pays extremely short shrift to the role of African-American musicians in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. However, Zach’s production of the show uses Jeffers’ willfully modest performance to tie together a series of knockout impersonations, high-energy performances and dynamite rockabilly songs to create a fun evening of toe-tapping, hand-clapping entertainment.

“Million Dollar Quartet”
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday through Sept. 3
Where: Zach Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd.
Cost: $29-$81
Information: 512-476-0541, zachtheatre.org

RELATED:
Get a jump on the Austin arts season with our guide to upcoming shows

Summer Stock Austin’s ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ brings young stars to stage

Every year, Summer Stock Austin presents repertory productions of several musicals, classic and new, starring and crewed by the best and brightest of Texas’ young performers from throughout the state’s high schools and colleges. This summer, the series includes “Annie Get Your Gun,” a charming production that introduces a bright new star to the Austin stage, running through Aug. 12 at the Long Center.

“Annie Get Your Gun” is loosely based on the true story of sharpshooter Annie Oakley, a member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show in the late 1800s alongside her husband, fellow sharpshooter Frank Butler. Oakley and Butler first met when she defeated him in a traveling-show shooting match, and this meeting becomes the inciting incident in the musical, as created in the 1940s by Dorothy and Herbert Fields, who wrote the book, and songwriting legend Irving Berlin, who wrote the music and lyrics.

The Summer Stock Austin production of “Annie Get Your Gun” wisely uses some of the revisions created by Peter Stone for the 1999 Broadway revival of the show, which eliminates some of the most insensitive and racist caricatures of American Indians that were originally part of the show (though a few wince-worthy moments do remain).

As with most of Summer Stock Austin’s fair, the production most potently serves as a performance vehicle for Texas’ rising musical theater stars, and director/choreographer Scott Thompson puts his vibrant, talented cast center stage with few frills to get in the way of their direct, energetic engagement with the audience. The entire ensemble helps to create a dynamic performance that moves at a rapid pace, with some notable standouts.

Ben Roberts, as Charlie Davenport, is pitch-perfect and hilarious in a thankless role that switches hastily between exposition and sarcasm. David Peña treats the role of Chief Sitting Bull with enough respect, dignity and good-heartedness that he manages to overcome some of the outdated humor. Brian Corkum and Kate Brimmer, meanwhile, as the young lovers Tommy Keeler and Winnie Tate, shine with innocence, charm and great chemistry as both scene and dance partners.

The standout of the show, though, is its leading lady, Trinity Adams, as Annie Oakley. With a vocal acuity that covers both the comedic and romantic sides of the Berlin score and a remarkably expressive face that is able to simultaneously connote comedy and elegance, Adams is a dynamo of musical theater talent, and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of her in Austin. She is aided and abetted in her talent by her leading man, Max Carney, as Frank Butler, whose smooth charm keeps the character likable despite the play’s skewed and sometimes troubling gender dynamics.

RELATED: Trinity Adams wows as Annie Oakley for Summer Stock Austin

Though a classic of the American musical theater, aspects of “Annie Get Your Gun” may not have aged very well. Fortunately, the prodigious strength of its young cast helps Summer Stock Austin’s production overcome this hurdle and create a fun, quick-moving, family-friendly show with a leading lady whose name we should expect to someday see in lights.

‘Annie, Get Your Gun’
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive
Cost: $20-$47
Information: 512-474-5664, thelongcenter.org

 

The best possible list so far for the Austin arts season

We are assembling the best possible preview list for the coming Austin arts season. This is what we have been able to gather so far.

Austin Chamber Music Center

Various locations, 512-454-0026, austinchambermusic.org

Sept. 22-23: Dvorak, Gershwin, Amy Beach

Nov. 17-18: Bizet, Mendelssohn, Borodin

Jan. 19-20, 2018: Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn

March 2-3, 2018: Ravel, Chopin, Piazzolla

April 6-7, 2018: Bach, Haydn, Rachmaninov

Austin History Center

810 Guadalupe St., 512-974-7480, library.austintexas.gov

Aug. 29, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018: “Austin at Midcentury: Photographs of Dewey Mears”

Aug. 15-Nov. 17: “Fehr & Granger, Architects: Austin Modernists” (Austin Center for Architecture)

Austin Opera

Long Center, 512-472-5992, austinopera.org

Nov. 11-19: “Carmen”

Jan. 27-Feb. 4, 2018: “Ariadne auf Naxos”

April 28-May 6, 2018: “La Traviata”

Austin Playhouse

6001 Airport Blvd., 512-476-0084, austinplayhouse.com

Sept. 1-24: “This Random World”

Dec. 1-23: “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley”

Jan. 5-28, 2018: “The Immigrant”

March 23-April 22, 2018: “Shakespeare in Love”

May 25-June 24: “Curtains”

Austin Shakespeare

Long Center, 512-474-5664, thelcongcenter.org

Sept. 21-24: “The Crucible”

Nov. 16-Dec. 3: “Much Ado About Nothing”

Feb. 1-Feb. 25, 2018: “The Seagull”

May 3-27, 2018: “Merry Wives of Windsor” (Zilker)

The Austin Symphony will play along with Disney’s ‘Fantasia.’ Contributed

Austin Symphony

Long Center, 512-476-6064, austinsymphony.org

Sept. 8-9: Mozart, Poulenc

Oct. 6-7: Vaughan Williams, Beethoven, Mahler-Britten, Bruckner

Oct 20: Disney’s “Fantasia” in concert

Oct. 29: Halloween Children’s Concert

Dec. 1-2: Prokofiev, “Beyond the Score”

Dec. 12: Handel’s “Messiah”

Dec. 29-30: “I Heart the ’80s”

Jan. 12-13, 2018: Stravinsky, Rossini, Bach, Hovhaness, Haydn

Feb. 9, 2018: “Jurassic Park” in concert

Feb. 23-24, 2018: Schumann, MacDowell

March 23-24, 2018: Saint-Saëns, Jongen

April 12-14, 2018: Bernstein, Torke, Beethoven

May 18-19, 2018: Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff

Jun 1-2, 2018: “The Rat Pack: 100 Years of Frank”

June 16, 2018: Butler Texas Young Composers Concert

Austin Symphonic Band

Various locations. austinsymphonicband.org

Sept. 17: Fall Concert in the Park

Nov. 12: Indoor Concert No. 1

Feb. 11, 2018: Indoor Concert No. 2

April 8, 2018: Indoor Concert No. 3

May 13, 2018: Mother’s Day Concert

June 17, 2018: Father’s Day Concert

June 30, 2108: Bastrop Patriotic Festival

July 4, 2018: July Fourth Frontier Days Celebration

Ballet Austin

Long Center, 512-476-9151, balletaustin.org

Sept. 15-17: “Romeo and Juliet”

Oct. 21-29: “Not Afraid of the Dark” (Studio Theater)

Dec. 8-23: “The Nutcraker”

Feb. 16-18, 2018: “Masters of the Dance”

April 6-8, 2018: “Exit Wounds”

May 11-13, 2018: “Peter Pan”

Blanton Museum of Art

200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., blantonmuseum.org

Through Oct. 1: “Epic Tales from Ancient India”

Through Oct. 1: “Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler: Giant”

Nov. 25-Jan. 7, 2018: “The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip”

Spring 2018: “Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin”

Big Medium

916 Springdale Road, 512-939-6665, bigmedium.org

Sept. 23-Dec. 2: Texas Biennial

Oct. 27-Nov. 19: Tito’s Prize Exhibit

Nov. 11-19: East Austin Studio Tour

Briscoe Center for American History

2300 Red River St., 512-495-4515

Through Sept. 17: “Exploring the American South”

Nov. 11, 2017-May 31, 2018: “Civil Rights Photography”

Broadway in Austin lands ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.’ Contributed

Broadway in Austin

Bass Concert Hall, 800-731-7469, BroadwayInAustin.com

Oct. 13-15: “Rent” (season option)

Dec. 12-17: “The King and I”

Jan. 16-21, 2018: “Finding Neverland”

Feb. 13-18, 2018: “School of Rock”

March 20-25, 2018: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”

April 17-22, 2018: “The Book of Mormon” (season option)

May 30-June 3, 2018: “An American in Paris”

Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave., 512-936-8746, thestoryoftexas.com

Through Feb. 4, 2018: “The Nau Civil War Collection”

Through March 18, 2018: Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic”

Sept. 2, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018: “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition”

Feb. 17, 2018-Jan. 15, 2019: “Texas Rodeo”

Chorus Austin

Various locations, 512-719-3300, chorusaustin.org

Nov. 4-5: “Art of the Prophets”

Dec. 2: “On a Winter’s Eve”

Dec. 16: “Sing-It-Yourself Messiah”

City Theatre

3823 Airport Blvd., 512-524-2870, citytheatreaustin.orgtk

July 21-Aug. 13 “August: Osage County”

Aug. 18-Sept 10: “Chicago”

Co-Lab Projects’ Demo Gallery

721 Congress Ave., co-labprojects.org

Through July 23: “Unrealpolitick”

Aug. 5-26: “Expedition Batikback”

September: Claude van Lingen Retrospective

October: “Good Mourning Tis of Thee”

The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center

700 Congress Ave., 512-453-5312, thecontemporaryaustin.org

Sept. 23, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018: “Wangechi Mutu”

Sept. 23, 2017 – Jan. 14, 2018: John Bock: “Dead + Juicy”

The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria

3809 W. 35th At., 512-458-8191, thecontemporaryaustin.org

Sept. 23 – Ongoing: Ryan Gander: “The day to day accumulation of hope, failure and ecstasy”

Nov. 18 – Ongoing: “Carol Bove”

Conspirare

Various locations.

Oct. 10: Symphonic Choir Sings

Dec. 2-1: Conspirare Youth Choirs: Breath of Heaven

Dec. 9-14: Conspirare Christmas with Carrie Rodriguez

June 28-29, 2018: Bernstein Mass

Gilbert & Sullivan Austin

Various locations. gilbertsullivan.org.

Sept. 10: “The Daughter of the D’Oyly Carte”

Oct. 29: “Fall Gilbert & Sullivan Musicale”

Jan. 7: “Gilbert & Sullivan Revue and Sing-Along”

March 4-5: “Trail by Jury”

June 14-24: “Rudigore”

Georgetown Palace Theatre

810 S. Austin Ave., 512-869-7469, georgetownpalace.com

Sept. 1-Oct. 1: “You Can’t Do That Dan Moody” (Courthouse)

Sept. 29-Oct. 22: “Drinking Habits”

Oct. 20-Nov. 26: “Annie”

Oct. 27-Nov. 5: “Tony Harrison: Ballads & Bobbie Socks”

Nov. 17-Dec. 30: “Santaland Diaries”

Dec. 8-30: “A Christmas Carol”

Jan. 19-28, 2018: “Buddy Patsy”

Feb. 16-March 11, 2018: “Barefoot in the Park”

Feb. 23-March 25, 2018: “Mame”

March 30-April 22, 2018: “Dearly Departed”

April 20-May 20, 2018: “My Fair Lady”

June 1-24, 2018: “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

July 13-Aug. 12, 2018: “Mary Poppins”

Aug. 31-Sept. 30, 2018: “Million Dollar Quartet”

Hyde Park Theatre

511 W. 43rd St., 512-479-7529, hydeparktheatre.org

Through Aug. 5: “The Moors”

Sept. 21-Oct. 21: “The Wolves”

Jan. 16-Feb. 17. 2018: FronteraFest

March 1-31, 2018: “Wakey Wakey”

jwj-graham-reynolds-0026b
Graham Reynolds lands at the Long Center. Contributed

Long Center for the Performing Arts

Aug. 11-13: “Fun Home”

Aug. 23: “An Evening with the Piano Guys”

Aug. 30: “An Evening with Carrie Rodriguez”

Sept. 13-14: Manual Cinema: “Lula Del Rey”

Sept. 16: “Kaki King: The Neck is a Bridge to the Body”

Sept. 30: Terrence Malick’s: “The Tree of Life”

Oct. 11-12: “Star Wars: A New Hope”

Oct. 21: “Shopkins Live!”

Oct. 25: “The Jeff Lofton Thang”

Nov. 13: Photographer Annie Liebovitz

Nov. 18: “An Evening with Maureen Dowd and Carl Hulse in Conversation”

Nov. 24: “Santa on the Terrace”

NOv. 24-25: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer: The Musical”

Dec. 20: “Graham Reynolds Ruins the Holidays”

Dec. 29: “A Christmas Story: The Musical”

LBJ Presidential Library

2313 Red River St., lbjlibrary.org

Through Sept 6: “Deep in the Vaults of Texas”

Through Nov. 12: “On the Air: 50 Years of Public Broadcasting”

Oct. 28, 2017-Jan. 21, 2018: “Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection”

April 21, 2018-Jan. 13, 2019: “Get in the Game: Gender, Race and Sports in America”

Mary Moody Northen Theatre

St. Edward’s University campus, 512-448-8484, stedwards.edu/theatre

Sept. 28-Oct. 8: “Rhinoceros”

Nov. 9-19: “Anon(ymous)”

Feb. 15-25,2018: “Romeo and Juliet”

April 12-22, 2018: “Violet”

Mexic-Arte Museum

419 Congress Ave., 512-480-9373, mexic-artemuseum.org

Sept. 16–Nov. 26: “Diego y Frida: A Smile in the Middle of the Way”

Sept. 16–Nov. 26: “Community Altars”

October 2017–September 2018: “Changarrito Project”

 Oct. 17-September 2018: #ElMeroMuro”

Oct. 22: “The Catrina Ball: Viva Frida”

Dec. 9, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018: “Mix ‘n’ Mash 2017”

Dec. 9, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018: “Nacimientos y Retablos”

Jan. 26–March 1, 2018 and March 31–May 27, 2018: “Fotografia y Nuevos Medios from the Permanent Collection”

Jan 26–Feb. 14, 2018 and March 31–May 27, 2018: “Desert Triangle Print Portfolio”

June 15–Aug. 26, 2018: “YLA 23: Beyond Walls, Between Gates, Under Bridges”

June 15–Aug. 26, 2018: “Museum Studies Exhibition Library”

One World Theatre

7701 Bee Caves Road, 512-330-9500.

Aug. 10: Livingston Taylor

Aug. 11: Pieces of a Dream

Aug. 12: Edwin McCain

Aug. 20: Pure Prairie League

Sept. 2: Hillbenders – The Who’sTommy: A Bluegrass Opry

Sept. 3: The Everly Brothers Experience featuring the Zmed Bros

Sept. 8: Spyro Gyra

Sept. 9: David Cook

Sept. 10: Dailey & Vincent

Oct. 19: Joan Osborne

Oct. 22: Ricky Skaggs

Oct. 26: Jimmy Webb

Oct. 27: Lisa Fischer

Oct.  29: Jonathan Butler

Nov. 3: Guess Who

Nov. 9: Stanley Jordan

Nov. 12: Herman’s Hermits

Nov. 17: Ottmar Liebert

Nov. 19: Eddie Palmieri

Nov. 26: Riders In The Sky

Nov. 30: Kim Waters

Dec. 3: Petula Clark

Dec. 8: Norman Brown’s Joyous Christmas with Bobby Caldwell & Marion Meadows

Dec. 13: Annie Moses Band

Dec. 15: Tidings of Jazz & Joy with Keiko Matsui, Euge Groove featuring Lindsey Webster & Adam Hawley

Jan. 2018: Pete The Cat

Jan. 26, 2018: The Lettermen

Feb. 7-8, 2018: George Winston

Feb. 25, 2018: BJ Thomas

March 3, 2018: Judy Collins

March 10, 2018: Nugget & Gang

March 25, 2018: Take Six

March 30, 2018: 1964 The Tribute

April 29, 2018: Music of Abba

Gladys Knight.jpg
Gladys Knight. Contributed

Paramount and Stateside

713 Congress Ave., austintheatre.org

Sept. 22: The Flatlanders with Dan Penn

Sept. 23: Roger McGuinn

Sept. 28: Radney Foster

Sept.r 30: AJ Croce

Oct. 4: Lila Downs

Oct. 20: Del McCoury Band

Oct. 21: Selected Shorts

Oct. 21: Hal Ketchum

Nov. 8: An Evening of Storytelling with Garrison Keillor

Nov. 9: Demetri Martin presented by Moontower Comedy

Nov. 12: Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild Live

Nov. 17: Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Birthday Bash

Nov. 18: John Hodgman: Vacationland

Nov. 19: Gladys Knight

Dec. 1: A John Waters Christmas

Dec. 12: Tommy Emmanuel

Dec. 14: The Moth

Dec. 16: Bruce Robison & Kelly WillisTheatre

Jan. 31: Captain Scott Kelly

Penfold Theatre Company
Various locations, 512-850-4849, penfoldtheatre.org
Oct. 13-30: “Woman in Black”
Nov. 30-Dec. 23: “A Miracle on 34th Street Classic Radiocast”
Apr. 29, 2018: “A Marvelous Party”
May 31-Jun. 23, 2018: “Much Ado About Nothing”

Pollyana Theatre

Long Center, pollyanna.org

Sept. 30-Oct. 8: “A Moon of My Own’

Nov. 9-Dec. 18: “Chicken Story Time”

Jan. 18-Jan. 27, 2018: “Dog’s Job”

Feb. 14-Feb. 17, 2018: “Liberty, Equality and Fireworks!”

March 22-May 20, 2018: “Hurry Up and Wait”

May 12-May 20, 2018: “The Secret of Soap and Spin”

June 23-July 1, 2018: “If Wishes were Fishes”

July 12-July 21, 2018: “All Aboard!”

Ransom Center

300 We. 21st St., 512-471-8944, hrc.utexas.edu

Sept. 11, 2017-Jan. 1, 2018: “Mexico Modern: Art, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920-1945”

Jan. 29-July 15, 2018: “Vaudeville”

Rude Mechs

Various locations, rudemechs.com

Aug. 27: “Gragelart”

Sept. 24: Stand-up Comedy Workshop

Oct. 21: “The Eye Ball”

November: “Gin & Tonix”

December: “Christmas Karaoke”

January, 2018: “Salon in a Salon”

February, 2018:  Off Center On Screen

March, 2018: “Fixing Troilus & Cressida”

April, 2018: “Perverse Results”

May, 2018: “Gragerlart”

Salvage Vanguard Theater

Various locations, salvagevanguard.org.

Oct. 26-Nov. 11: “Blu”

March 15-31, 2018: “Con Flama”

Tapestry Dance

Long Center, 512-474-9846, thelongcenter.org

Oct. 12-22: “Just Tap!”

Dec. 7-17: “Of Mice & Music: A Tap Jazz Nutcracker”

April 26-May 6, 2018: “April Fools”

June 14-16, 2018: “Soul 2 Sole Fest”

Texas Performing Arts presents the Philip Glass Ensemble playing with ‘Koyannisqatsi.’ Contributed

Texas Performing Arts

Various locations on UT Campus, 512-477-6060, texasperformingarts.org

Sept. 18: Dover Quartet

Sept. 21: Storm Large & Le Bonheur

Sept. 24: Spanish Brass

Sept. 29: Abraham.In.Motion

Oct. 5: Sergei Babayan

Nov. 8: Fifth House Ensemble’s Journey Live

Nov. 16: Seth Rudetsky’s Deconstructing Broadway

Nov. 18: Monty Alexander Harlem-Kingston Express

Dec. 1-2: Kurt Elling with the Swingles

Jan. 20, 2018: Chanticleer

Jan. 25-26, 2018: “Sancho: An Act of Remembrance”

Feb. 1, 2018: Ezralow Dance

Feb. 2, 2018: Ute Lemper

Feb. 16, 2018: Sergio & Odair Assad and Avi Avital

Feb. 23, 2018: Philip Glass Ensemble’s Koyaanisqatsi

March 8, 2018: “Musical Thrones: A Parody”

March 27, 2018: Che Malambo

April 3, 2018: University of Texas Symphony Orchestra

April 11, 2018: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

April 14, 2018: University of Texas Jazz Orchestra with Conrad Herwig

Texas State University Theatre and Dance

Various locations on the Texas State campus. theatreanddance.txstate.edu

Sept. 26-Oct. 1: “A Chorus Line”

Oct. 12-15: “A Doll’s House”

Oct. 31-Nov. 5: “Perfect Pie”

Nov. 9-12: “We Are Proud to Present …”

Nov. 14-19: “Hamlet”

Feb. 1-4, 2018: “Speech and Debate”

Feb. 13-18, 2018: “The Rivals”

Feb. 22-25, 2018: “Instructions for Dancing”

April 10-15, 2018: “A Wrinkle in Time”

April 17-22: “Ragtime”

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

605 Robert E. Lee Road, 512-445-5582, umlaufsculpture.org

Aug. 8: “Umlauf After Dark”

Sept 5-Nov. 26: “Umlauf Prize Exhibition featuring Bucky Miller”

Oct. 29: “Last Straw Fest”

Nov. 12: Classical Garden

Feb. 14, 2018: Classical Garden

April 26, 201: Umlauf Garden Party

UT Butler School of Music (highlights)

Various locations on the UT campus. 512-477-6060, texasperformingarts.org

Sept. 7: Miró Quartet

Sept. 22: Thee Phantom & The Illharmonic Orchestra

Oct. 8: Anton Nel on the Fortepiano

Oct 27-Nov. 5: “Cosi Fan Tutte”

Nov. 16: Miró Quartet

Dec. 9: Holiday Choral Concert

Jan. 26, 2018: Miró Quartet

March 3, 2018: UT Symphony Orchestra

March 20-29, 2018: “Falstaff”

UT Theatre & Dance

Various locations on UT campus, 512-477-6060, texasperformingarts.org

Aug. 30-Sept 10: “Building the Wall”

Oct. 4-15: “Anon(ymous)”

Nov. 7-12: “Fall for Dance”

Nov. 8-19: “The Crucible”

Dec. 6-10: “The Drowsy Chaperone”

Feb. 21-March 4, 2018: “Enron”

March 28-April 8, 2018: “Transcendence”

April 12-22, 2018: “UT New Theatre”

UT Visual Arts Center

2300 Trinity St., 512-232-2348, utvac.org

Sept. 22-Dec. 9: Larry Bamburg

Sept: 22-Dec. 9: “Artists’ Books in Mexico”

Sept. 22-Oct. 20: Marta Lee and Anika Steepe

Sept. 22-Oct. 20: “New Barbizon Collective”

Sept. 22-Oct. 6: Fieldwork: “Mille Otto”

Rob Nash returns with ‘Holy Cross Sucks.’ Contributed by OUTmedia

The Vortex

2307 Manor Road, 512-478-5282, vortexrep.org

Sept. 8-24: “Storm Still”

Sept. 8-9: “Linda Mary Montano’s Birth/Death”

Sept. 22-Oct. 21: “Vampyress”

Oct. 4: “Icons: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol 1”

Nov. 2-5: “P3M5 Plays”

Nov. 9-11: “Somewhere Between”

Nov. 16-Dec. 9: “Wild Horses”

Nov. 17-Dec. 9: “The Member of the Wedding”

Dec. 14-17: “Rob Nash’s Holy Cross Sucks”

Dec. 21-Jan. 7, 2018: “The Muttcracker (Sweet!)”

Jan. 11-20, 2018: “The Way She Spoke”

Jan. 26-Feb. 10, 2018: “893/Ya-ku-za”

Feb. 14-18, 2018: Outsider Fest

Feb 22-25, 2018: “Reveal All Feature Nothing”

March 2, 2018: Cinema Dada

March 3, 2018: Congo Square

March 23-May 12, 2018: Performance Park

May 17-19, 2018: Toni Bravo’s “Home”

May 25-June 9, 2018: “Polly Mermaid”

June 15-30, 2018: “The Claire Play”

July 6-21, 2018: “The Last Witch”

July 27-Aug. 4, 2018: Summer Youth Theatre

Zach Theatre

202 S. Lamar Blvd., 512-476-0541

Through Sept. 3: “Million Dollar Quartet”

Sept. 27-Oct. 29: “Singin’ in the Rain”

Nov. 1-Dec. 31: “A Tuna Christmas”

Nov. 22-Dec. 31: “A Christmas Carol”

May 30-June 24, 2018: “Sunday in the Park with George”

June 20-July 22, 2018: “Heisenberg”

July 11-Sept. 2, 2018: “Beauty and the Beast”

 

 

Activism and the AIDS epidemic: ‘The Normal Heart’ still resonates

When it first debuted in 1985, Larry Kramer’s play “The Normal Heart,” about the beginnings of the AIDS crisis in New York, was described by New York Times reviewer Frank Rich as “the most outspoken play around,” with “a subject that justifies its author’s unflagging, at times even hysterical, sense of urgency.”

The City Theatre is producing “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s searing drama about the world’s initial indifference to the AIDS plague. Contributed by Andy Berkovsky

 

Over two decades later, “The Normal Heart” has lost none of its fierceness, its power, nor, sadly, its urgency, as the City Theatre’s current production shows. Though we now live in an age where an HIV diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence, as it was in the early 1980s, the play is less about the virus itself than it is about the political action it spurred in New York’s LGBTQ+ community. As such, City Theatre’s production feels as timely as ever, given that we live in an era of renewed interest in political activism.

Directors Carl Gonzales and Lacey Cannon Gonzales certainly don’t shy away from the text’s anger. The story follows the lives of several AIDS activists, and as they go ignored by the government and see the epidemic only grow worse, their righteous fury grows from scene to scene. The ensemble cast does not pull back from these outbursts, most notably McArthur Moore as Mickey Marcus (whose slow-burn joviality early in the play lends true ferocity to his later anger), and Laura Ray as Emma Brookner, who is given the show’s most overtly political monologue.

What lends “The Normal Heart” much of its power, 20 years on, is that it isn’t merely an easy narrative of us-against-them activism. Rather, it explores the different shades of response to the AIDS crisis by different members of New York’s gay male community. In the debates between sex positivity and absolute abstinence (to prevent transmission), between compromising with government officials and excoriating them in the public, and between being in or out of the closet, each of Kramer’s characters is right, even when they are diametrically opposed. Activism is no easy feat, even in the face of biological annihilation, and today’s crop of young activists could learn much from the story told in “The Normal Heart.”

City Theatre’s production of the play is both timely (coming on the heels of Pride celebrations across the world and in terms of our current national political climate) and simple, with an elegant, multi-purpose set that keeps the focus on the characters and the politics rather than the specific setting of each scene. By the end of the play, the detritus of props from previous scenes bleeds into the following ones, creating a literal representation of the way the ghosts of the departed haunt those who remain alive.

With a powerful message that still sadly resonates today, “The Normal Heart” remains a crucial piece of American drama, and the City Theatre is to be applauded for bringing it back to the stage.

“The Normal Heart”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday through July 16
Where: 3823 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $10-$25
Information: 512-524-2870, citytheatreaustin.org

MORE ARTS NEWS:
Artists and audiences prepare now for the coming Austin arts season
How you can get tickets to see “Hamilton” in Austin

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.

 

Salute the late Boyd Vance at city hall

I recall a downtown Austin leadership luncheon near the turn of the century that was populated chiefly by men and women in business suits. Out pops performer Boyd Vance — lithe, fearless, radiant, scampy — to sing an adapted version of “Hello, Dolly,” as if he were positioned at the top of a staircase dressed in red sequins and flanked by a dozen men in show tuxedos. At various points, he sat in the laps of men and women to sing directly to them.

MRZ_vance03
Boyd Vance in 2004. Matt Rourke/American-Statesman

Nobody else could have done that.

Austinites remember Vance, a graduate of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and the University of Texas, for many things. His undeniable charisma. His unforgettable performances. His leadership of the African-American arts community. And more.

AANkwanza1jpg.jpg
Boyd Vance, then artistic director of ProArts, introduces members of the David Chenu Trio in 2004. Amber Novak for the American-Statesman

No wonder when the new Carver Museum and Cultural Center opened in East Austin, its lively little theater was named after Vance. He died in 2005 at age 47.

Around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, the Austin City Council will salute Vance’s memory with a proclamation. Now you know that the timing of these honors is never exact — I recently accepted one in the name of the Austin Critics Table and heard first some thoroughly fascinating speeches on plumbing regulations and flood abatement — but I imagine the scene will be something like Old Home Week in chambers. All are welcome.

New to Gilbert & Sullivan? ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ is the show for you

Gilbert & Sullivan Austin are taking on Gilbert & Sullivan’s classic “The Pirates of Penzance.” Contributed

I have a confession to make. One that is somewhat shameful for a theater critic to admit.

I’d never seen a Gilbert & Sullivan production.

My interest in live theater has always skewed towards the performative, experimental and experiential, with a love for actors, poetry and subtle emotions. Gilbert & Sullivan, with their deliberately over-the-top comic operas, never appealed to me, and their production today seems to appeal to fans of classical music and opera more than followers of musical theater.

It was consequently an eye-opener to see Gilbert & Sullivan Austin’s new production of “The Pirates of Penzance,” playing through June 25 in the Worley Barton Theater at Brentwood Christian School. Overcoming my prejudices and experiencing the work of librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan first-hand showed me which aspects of my suppositions were right and which were wrong.

The focus of Gilbert & Sullivan Austin’s “The Pirates of Penzance” is, to be sure, the music. Most of the performers are classically trained musicians, rather than trained actors and actresses, and the entire cast, from the impressive soprano of Suzanne Lis as Mabel to the rich baritone of Russell Gregory as the Sergeant of Police, sounds wonderful, even if they falter a bit during the dialogue sequences (though the richly baroque comedy of Sam Johnson as the Pirate King is a strong exception to this). The impressive Gillman Light Opera Orchestra, under the baton of music director Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, is also to be praised.

However, within that musical emphasis, there is an extraordinary amount of poetry to be found, from Sullivan’s rich score, to Gilbert’s complicated rhymes and still-punchy comedic patter, to the vocal nuances of the talented singers.

Director/choreographer Ralph MacPhail Jr. puts the full emphasis of the production on those singers, whose mellifluous tones capture the satirical whimsy of a plot full of deliberately silly twists and turns, focusing on a group of not-so-terrible pirates, virginal young women and cowardly policemen.

If you’re a Gilbert & Sullivan virgin yourself, you’ll find that Gilbert & Sullivan Austin’s “Pirates of Penzance” is an excellent primer for their work. If you’re already a fan, this production is right up your alley.

“The Pirates of Penzance”
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through June 25, with additional matinee 2 p.m. June 24
Where: Worley Barton Theater at Brentwood Christian School, 11908 N. Lamar Blvd.
Cost: $8-$27
Information: gilbertsullivan.org/SummerProduction

 

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