ZACH Officially Opens Topfer Theatre

By: Oct. 03, 2012
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The Zach Scott Theatre has shown Austin for 79 years that it knows how to put on a show.  On Saturday, September 27th with their Deep in the Heart of ZACH celebration of the new Topfer Theater, Zach proved they know how to throw a party as well.

In case you missed the event, here’s how my evening at the Zach turned out…

6pm – 7pm: Dinner and Entertainment in the People’s Plaza

Despite the rain on Saturday night, the Zach complex glistened with beauty.  In the People’s Plaza, a newly constructed area sitting between the new Topfer Theatre and the existing Kleberg Theatre, a huge white tent welcomed guests.  Inside, we dined on short rib sliders from 34th Street Café, dim sum from Chinatown, chicken and waffles from Lucky J’s, and decadent cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, all as DJ Manny spun some great lounge music.  The relaxing, chic vibe was the perfect start to a great evening.

7pm -8pm: Matthew E Wilson Band at the Kleberg Theatre

Matthew E Wilson is a phenomenal Austin performer.  I actually had the pleasure of seeing Matt perform years ago in the national tour of MOVING OUT where he performed a non-stop litany of Billy Joel hits, and while that show showcased Matt’s enormous vocal talents, it didn’t allow him to show off his personality.  In the intimate Kleberg Theatre, though, Matt was able to interact with the audience, crack jokes, and pose for pictures, and all of the antics enhanced his incredible performance of original tunes and hits like Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets,” and of course Billy Joel’s “Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Big Shot,” and “The Stranger.”  A mix of Ben Folds and the piano man himself but with a dash of soul and funk, Matt cranked out tune after tune in a high-octane set.  The Matthew E. Wilson Band is certainly worth seeing live.

8:15pm – 9:15pm: Rick Trevino at the Kleberg Theatre

Being born and raised in Southern California, I’ve never been a huge country music fan.  Hell, we don’t even have a country music station in Los Angeles anymore.  However, despite my very limited knowledge of the genre, Rick Trevino won me over.  A country music veteran with a 20 year career, Rick’s performance style may be a bit more subtle and subdued than the previously mentioned Matt Wilson but is still very pleasant nonetheless.  He has a smooth, melodic country crooner voice and was a bit of a palette cleanser between Matthew E. Wilson and what was to come.

9:30pm – 11:00pm: Brian Stokes Mitchell at the Topfer Theatre

What can be said about Brian Stokes Mitchell that hasn’t already been said.  This man is a gift to the theater community.  He certainly is the best male vocalist currently (or even perhaps ever) on the Broadway stage, and he also is an incredibly versatile and skilled actor.  As he sang Broadway standards such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Where Is the Life That Late I Led,” “Stars” from LES MISERABLES, and “The Impossible Dream,” Brian excels at performing every moment of discovery and beat change in the lyric.  He doesn’t just sing a song.  He acts it.  One extraordinary highlight, which got a rousing standing ovation Saturday night, was Brian’s un-miked rendition of “This Nearly Was Mine” from SOUTH PACIFIC, which showcased his heartbreaking acting ability, his gorgeous voice, and the amazing acoustics of the Topfer Theatre. 

Bookending the performance were numbers featuring Zach’s cast of RAGTIME, which featured Kyle Scatliffe as Coalhouse Walker, Jr, Kia Dawn Fulton as Sarah, and a cast of over 30 performers.  If their performance (which was praised by Brian Stokes Mitchell himself) is any indication, RAGTIME will be another rousing success for the Zach Theatre.

All in all, Deep in the Heart of ZACH was a remarkably enjoyable evening proving once again that ZACH is a force of nature in Austin’s thriving theater community.  The best is yet to come.

For tickets and information regarding the Zach Theatre, go to

For information regarding Matthew E. Wilson, go to

For information regarding Brian Stokes Mitchell, go to