2017-2018 TUTS Season Announced

We now know almost all the shows that will play The Hobby Center during the 2017-2018 season. Earlier today, Theatre Under the Stars announced their new season, or at least most of it.

While the full season won’t be announced until February 17th, TUTS did reveal five of the six shows they will be presenting.

secretI must admit that “The Secret Garden” came completely out of left field. There have been some rumblings about a possible Broadway revival but I really didn’t expect Houston to be a tryout city. Happy to be wrong.

I remember seeing the Original Broadway production and loving it. The music is wonderful and the original staging and casting (which featured Mandy Patinkin, among others) was incredible. This is a pre-Broadway production from The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Mary Lennox will tend to “The Secret Garden” October 10 – October 22, 2017.

Screen Shot 2017-01-23 at 3.59.48 PM.pngIf I’m going to say that “The Secret Garden” came out of left field, then “Sleeping Beauty & Her Winter Knight” is from another planet. If you’d given me a million guesses, this would have still not come up.

Here’s the word directly from the season press release: “The familiar story of Sleeping Beauty gets mixed up with contemporary pop culture creating a holiday treat. SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT is a modern twist on the classic fairy tale, set to a contemporary score featuring the music of Aloe Blacc, Blondie, Bruno Mars, Jessie J, John Legend, Katy Perry, Mariah Carey, LMFAO, Pharrell Williams and Survivor. Director Linda Goodrich is returning to TUTS after directing the production of MARY POPPINS here in 2016.

Audiences can expect many different interactive elements from this one-of-a-kind production including boo’ing the evil villain, cheering for the heroes and partying down to the pop songs everyone knows and loves! Families will be singing along and dancing in the aisles with this fun and uplifting soundtrack of hits.

Presented in collaboration with Lythgoe Family Panto, SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT is visually beautiful, great fun, irreverent and will be tailored to incorporate local celebrities, Houston landmarks and Brand Integration.

Beyond the performance itself, TUTS promises a truly immersive holiday destination for the whole family. In addition to theatre tickets a wide variety of enhanced experiences will be offered ranging from complimentary to VIP add-on packages.

SLEEPING BEAUTY AND HER WINTER KNIGHT is based on the European fairy tale where a Princess named Aurora has a curse put on her by an evil fairy Carabosse. By her 18th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for 100 years. The Royal Family live under protection from Silly Billy and Nanny Tickle, but Aurora does prick her finger and falls asleep for 100 years. A handsome Prince saves the day by defeating the wicked fairy and giving Aurora a true love kiss. Broadway and TV stars perform in this interactive musical fairy tale with comedy, magic and pop music sure to delight children of all ages!”

“Sleeping Beauty & Her Winter Knight” will awaken December 6 – December 24, 2017.

memphis_musical_posterAnother show I wasn’t expecting to see on the list but will proudly welcome back to Houston is “Memphis.” Inspired by actual events, the show is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, “Memphis” features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro and a Tony-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan.

I saw the original Broadway production a few years back and absolutely loved it. This is a wonderful show with great music and a message that is as timely today as ever.

“Memphis” lives in Houston February 20 – March 4, 2018.

14296-3Earlier today,  Tony nominees Steve Martin and Edie Brickell officially announced that “Bright Star” would be touring and just a few hours later, Houston was the first city to be announced.

I’m thrilled that we are getting this show. While it did not find an audience on Broadway, I think it will on the road. Here’s the story direct from the press release: “With direction by Tony Award® winner Walter Bobbie and choreography by Josh Rhodes, BRIGHT STAR won the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music. It also received five 2016 Tony Award® nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Lead Actress in a Musical, and Best Orchestrations.

Inspired by a real event, BRIGHT STAR tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ‘40s. When literary editor Alice Murphy meets a young soldier just home from World War II, he awakens her longing for the child she once lost. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past — and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives An uplifting theatrical journey that holds you tight in its grasp,BRIGHT STAR is as refreshingly genuine as it is daringly hopeful.”

“Bright Star” will have its Houston premiere March 13 – March 25, 2018.

51iny7udqjlThis year’s classic is the crowd-pleasing “Guys and Dolls,” which will be a re-imagined version from the same director (Nick DeGruccio) who helmed this season’s “In the Heights.”

From the press notes: “Travel back to a time when gangsters and gamblers ruled the underworld of New York City. This classic musical with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, based on some of the short stories by Damon Runyon premiered on Broadway in 1950, and the following year won five Tony Awards® in every category in which it was nominated, including Best Musical. The show has had several Broadway and London revivals, as well as a 1955 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

Always entertaining, GUYS + DOLLS will keep you laughing with its cast of colorful characters.”

Nathan Detroit’s craps game rolls into town June 12 – June 24, 2018.

If you’re counting, that’s five shows. They usually do six. So what’s missing?

The only hint in the press release is this: “The final show in the 2017-18 Season line-up is a Special Engagement that will be announced mid-February.”

Here’s what I can tell you: When I look at my renewal invoice, they’re charging me roughly $80 dollars a ticket for the first five shows. The “mystery” show is $235 per ticket. PER TICKET. That’s Broadway prices, friends, and double anything I’ve ever paid at The Hobby Center. I have a few thoughts as to what this could be.

635881346565320230637380631_a784e09a-dfa4-b999-ef2d0b8d009e4b98First, it could be “Hamilton.” Yes, that’s already coming as part of the Broadway in Houston season that was announced recently. But these two presenters have co-produced shows before and “Hamilton” is arguably the biggest to ever hit the facility. It could be that part of the already-announced series of dates belongs to TUTS and its subscribers. That  would also explain the ticket prices.

13792-3I’m also shocked to not see “Aladdin” as one of the shows. It is definitely touring next season and for Houston to not get it at all seems odd. However, even at Disney prices, those ticket prices seem very, very high.

I suppose it could be a mistake as well but I doubt that.

I’ll keep an eagle eye out and let you know if I find out anything about this final presentation.



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