Spring in Houston arts means new season announcements, and the latest anticipation-brewing lineup unveiling comes courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars.
“We have a fantastic collection of shows for our 2022-23 Season including a world premiere production that we know our audiences will love, a beloved Disney musical and one of the astounding new classics of the American theatre,” says Dan Knechtges, artistic director for Theatre Under The Stars in a recent statement about the ’22-’23 lineup. “This season is going to be so much fun, an incredible and amazing journey! I cannot wait to share it with all of Houston.”
TUTS has always held a unique place in U.S. regional theater companies, as they stage their own big versions of musical favorites, give us new visions of lesser-known shows, and also present select Broadway touring productions.
The upcoming TUTS season keeps to this tradition with four self-produced shows, including the already announced, world premiere of The Griswold’s Broadway Vacation, co-produced with Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Plus they’ll balance out the season by bringing in two touring shows.
So, let’s start planning our musical vacation itinerary for a year of musical theater under the stars.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ (September 20-October 2)
The season opens with the unexpected, this Tony-winning best musical from the late ’70s that takes audiences back to the Harlem Renaissance and jazz nightclubs filled with the music of Fats Waller.
With a show featuring songs like “Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do,” “Honeysuckle Rose” and “I Can't Give You Anything but Love,” we have no doubt TUTS associate artistic director, Monique Midgette, will have the Hobby Center joint jumping directing this five-performers revue. The actors/singers bring the music and performing genius of Fats Waller to 21st-century audiences.
The Griswold’s Broadway Vacation (October 25-November 6)
CultureMap recently brought you the news that TUTS will become the second company to stage this world premiere musical comedy before it heads to Broadway. Yes, the favorite family of the National Lampoon film creations, Clark, Ellen, Audrey, and Rusty Griswold head to out on another, and all-new, misadventure vacation.
From the pre-production hoopla, it looks like the characters will also head to New York, just as the musical does. Here’s hoping they’ll be at least one show-stopping number about trying to find a place to park the family truckster anywhere in a 20-mile radius of Times Square.
Mary Poppins (December 6-24)
The Disney and Cameron Mackintosh family-friendly new classic drops in by flying umbrella just in time for the holidays. TUTS will produce this one with Knechtges both directing and choreographing.
Look for a fun mix of Broadway veterans and local favorites actors and dancers on stage. Mary will make the holidays magical and tidy. Meanwhile, Santa can look forward to some mighty clean Houston chimneys once Bert and the gang have "Chim Chim Cher-eed" them. Poppins trivia note for the season: Downton Abbey/Gilded Age creator Julian Fellowes wrote the book for the musical.
9 to 5 (January 31-February 12, 2023)
Based on the original 9 to 5 film, this Tony-nominated musical from country queen and queen of our hearts — Dolly Parton — originally hit Broadway back in 2008.
Perhaps thanks to music and lyrics by Dolly herself and book by Patricia Resnick, who wrote the original screenplay, the show recently had a smash revival in the UK. Now headed to the U.S., TUTS presents its Houston stop early in 2023, where Violet, Judy, and Doralee will sing and dance their way into taking care of business and their heartless, chauvinistic boss once more.
Waitress (March 28-April 9, 2023)
The second touring show TUTS will present during the coming season, Waitress has become one of those breakout musicals that will likely keep getting invited back to Houston every few years.
The show boasts music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and book by screenwriter Jessie Nelson, and all based on the Adrienne Shelly film. The story about a woman taking life’s lemons and making delicious pie out of them, continues to charm audiences.
Rent (May 16-28, 2023)
With the Lin-Manuel Miranda-directed tick, tick...BOOM! spotlight back on Rent creator Jonathan Larson’s life and artistry, perhaps it’s no wonder TUTS decided there was “No day but today” for their new production of the Broadway phenomenon. The story loosely based on La Bohème resonates more than ever in its tale of friendship, love, mortality, art, and, of course, making rent during a pandemic.