tuts turns 50

Feel-good favorites and classics return to Houston for TUTS 50th season

Feel-good favorites return to Houston for TUTS 50th season

TUTS 50th season Mamma Mia
TUTS' 50th season promises feel-good hits such as Mamma Mia! Courtesy photo

We should all have a midlife crisis as spectacular as Theatre Under the Stars, as the just-announced 50th season sounds like the ultimate year-long musical party. With a celebration that’s half a century in the making, TUTS will present a diverse lineup of musicals going back to the classics, back to audience favorites, and most of all, back to Houston.

In a distinct contrast with recent years, TUTS will self-produce all shows for the 2018-2019 season, with nary a touring production in sight. Can Houston out-Broadway the usual traveling hit musicals that make a stop in town? We’ll soon find out with this season of homegrown revivals.

“Our Fiftieth Anniversary Season is not only going to be a year-long salute to the best musical theatre in Houston and beyond, we will also be launching new works, community projects, and expanding our reach into classrooms across the greater Houston region. We are so excited to share this celebratory season with you,” says Dan Knechtges, TUTS artistic director, in a statement. 

Here's an early peek behind the curtain to see what onstage stories and songs await:

Oklahoma! (September 11-23, 2018)
TUTS gets that beautiful feeling everything is going its way as the 50th season begins with the Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic, which is itself celebrating its 75th anniversary. Cowboys, farmers, love, water rights, and a big surrey with a fringe on top (still not actually certain what a surrey is). What more could we want from a classic American musical?

The Wiz (October 23-November 4, 2018)
Keeping with that prairie and multiple Tony theme, we ease on down the fall with Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, and a flock of funky monkeys. That “no place like home” message should sing out true in this all-Houston-produced season.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (December 11-23, 2018)
Twenty-five years ago, the juggernaut musical tried out its tale as old as time right here before moving to Broadway, so this seems the perfect fit for the holiday as the creative team looks to the past while dancing into the future.

Mamma Mia! (February 19-March 3, 2019)
The second exclamation mark show of the season brings back one of the all-time crowd pleasers. If a season needs to include a jukebox musical that the whole audience can sing along to, this ABBA extravaganza — about a young woman who invites her three possible fathers to her Greek island set wedding — should be it.

Ragtime (April 16-28, 2019)
Based on the E.L. Doctorow novel and its huge cast of characters both fictional and historical, with a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the musical depicts the overlapping lives of African-Americans, Eastern European immigrants, the upper class, and celebrities in early 20th-century New York. This show seems ripe for timely 21st-century connections.

Finally, TUTS keeps some suspense in the season with the announcement that one show scheduled for May 28-June 9, 2019, will remain unannounced until later this year. TUTS does plan to drop hints through social media, and those who correctly guess the mysterious title will be entered into a drawing to win a season subscription.