BWW Interview: HFAC to Announce Name Change at DAMN YANKEES
There are exciting things happening at HFAC this weekend. In addition to DAMN YANKEES opening at the long-running community theatre on the northwest outskirts of Houston, the theatre is getting a name change as well. I got the opportunity to get some insight from President of the Board of Directors Julie Montgomery and Artistic Director Michael Montgomery on the changes coming to HFAC and on DAMN YANKEES.
The changing of the name of HFAC is very exciting. Will there be other changes in terms of the types of plays that will be performed?
Julie Montgomery: We have been known for providing "family-friendly" fare. The term is confusing -each word of it. What does "family" mean? Sadly, a lot of the community takes that as excluding people. Secondly, what one person thinks is family friendly, another disagrees.
Therefore, we will continue to provide as much programming as possible that all ages can enjoy together.
However, every show may not be for every person. Some would argue that our recent presentations of LES MIS or EVITA were not necessarily family friendly. We will continue to do shows in that vein with a heavy mix of traditional shows for families.
To get to your question, however, we are examining our calendar to add, not replace, to our programming. We are considering after-hours or off-weekend events that may be material that wouldn't be part of our main stage season. While I don't think we will ever be the edgiest theatre in town, we definitely want to put up shows that would attract diversity.
What do you see happening to HFAC's audience base in terms of their likes and dislikes? How does this affect future programming and the name change?
Julie: We have a solid base of people that like the conservative programming. What many don't realize is that it is downright illegal to knowingly change one word of any licensed script. We cannot simply select to do 1776 and legally remove Thomas Jefferson's swear words. We will remain true to our licensing agreements.
However, for every person that likes the conservative fare, we hear from several others that they'd love to see other material from us.
We believe we can do both.
Change is hard for people sometimes. For audiences who have come to love HFAC'S shows, what can they expect from these changes?
Julie: They can expect that we will provide descriptions of our shows with enough details that they can decide whether a show is for them. The goal is to expand our audiences, not change or replace it.
For audiences who don't know the musical or have never seen it, tell us briefly what DAMN YANKEES is about.
Michael Montgomery: DAMN YANKEES presents a 20th century, baseball-inspired variation of the Faust Legend. Joe Boyd, a middle-aged frustrated baseball fanatic, makes a pact with the devil and exchanges his soul for a shot to help his perennially losing Washington Senators get back to winning.
It's two of my favorite things combined together....baseball and theatre.
Greed, love, and redemption play roles in this show. What is it about "selling one's soul" in storytelling that continues to resonate with people today?
Michael: The amazing thing about the Faust Legend (would you "sell your soul" to get what you want?) is that it's timeless. Yes, we have mobile phones, FaceTime, drones delivering packages and self-driven cars, but regardless, there is still an opportunity to do something that may be seen as "selling out."
Consider our name change. Changing our name during the run of the show is serendipitous to me, as some may argue that we're "selling out" and not standing for what the theatre has been about. However, we challenge that. We believe that inclusiveness and diversity in theatre is what is important, and that our name needs to reflect that.
Regardless, it's always a jovial debate, isn't it?
Aside from the big announcement, what else can audiences expect at DAMN YANKEES?
Michael: The actual presentation of DAMN YANKEES is the most exciting thing I've seen on our stage.
"Golden Age" musical revivals are still the hottest ticket on Broadway, national tours, and in community theatre. Audiences flock to SOUTH PACIFIC, OKLAHOMA and GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. These successes and many others were built using a formula developed during the early 1950s: tell an intelligent, witty story with recognizable characters, utilize bold costuming, sets, and choreography to actively tell the story, not simply to enhance it, and assemble passionate artists that have the "guts" to design differently than audiences have ever seen.
We're remaining true to this formula. This period was about movie stars and lipstick. It's fun. Mix in some Bob Fosse-inspired choreography, baseball and some fun tunes, and you can expect a lot of fun. Honestly, I haven't seen choreography like this in Houston. On any stage. It's athletic and sexy.
Additionally, we'll be announcing our 2016-2017 season, themed "A Little Help From My Friends." You'll see it has a little something for everybody. You'll be a fly on the wall for the debate between the first frenemies, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, as they discuss the existence of the divine in FREUD'S LAST SESSION. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is a toe-tapping comedy starring an introverted flower-shop keeper and his friend, a foul-mouthed, man-eating plant. THE WIZARD OF OZ, for which we'll return to The Berry Center, is a family classic; Dorothy is swept away to the dangerous Land of Oz, but with the help of her new found friends, she safely returns home again. Forget the fact that Dorthy is also a perpetrator of a double homicide.
Houston Family Arts Center Garza Mainstage, 10760 Grant Road, Houston, TX 77070
Friday, April 22nd at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 23rd at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 24th at 3:00 p.m.
Friday, April 29th at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 6th at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 1st at 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 7th at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 8th at 3:00 p.m.
Friday, May 13th at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 14th at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 15th at 3:00 p.m.
Ticket Prices: Adults: $26; Seniors (65+): $22; Students (3-18): $15