Stages Repertory Theatre Announces Its 2018-2019 Season; WHO'S HOLIDAY, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and More

Stages Repertory Theatre Announces Its 2018-2019 Season; WHO'S HOLIDAY, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, and More

Stages Repertory Theatre's 2018-2019 Season, the final full season to be performed at the theatre's current Allen Parkway facility, offers a dynamic mix of new work, fan favorites and stories reflecting Houston's diverse communities. With Stages' signature breadth of programming, the season runs the gamut from beloved musicals to daring new dramas, youth and family programs to adults-only hilarity, with a focus on nurturing emerging artists and welcoming a wide range of audiences. With support from Lead Presenting Sponsor The Humphreys Foundation, highlights include 9 regional premieres, the return of Stages' groundbreaking Sin Muros Latina/o Theatre Festival, free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre, and a three-show holiday repertory program including the world premiere of a brand new Panto.

Stages' 2018-2019 Season marks the end of an era as the theatre prepares to move into its new purpose-built home, The Gordy. Stages has raised $26.7 million to date as part of its ongoing capital campaign, Staging Our Future: A Transformational Campaign for Stages, supporting the creation of this $30.5 million new campus at 800 Rosine Street, one block south of the theatre's current building. The Gordy is expected to open to the public during the 2019-2020 Season.

SUMMER 2018

One of the most requested musicals in Stages' history, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, has been held over into the 41st Season, slated to open May 2, 2018, and already extended through July 22, 2018. With music and lyrics by David Nehls, and book by Betsy Kelso, the show was first produced at Stages in 2006, when the original production ran for more than 9 months and stands as one of the longest-running shows in Houston history.

Music remains the focus of the summer with the regional premiere of Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, welcoming back husband-and-wife duo Ben Hope and Katie Barton, whose performances in 2017's Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie were received with praise. Adapted from the original Broadway production, Ring of Fire will feature more than two dozen of Cash's chart-topping hits. In August, one of Stages' most popular series of all time returns with Denise Fennell starring in Sister's Summer School Catechism: God Never Take a Vacation.


FALL / HOLIDAY 2018

Kicking off the fall, Stages presents the 30th Anniversary production of its hit musical Always...Patsy Cline with two special performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre, featuring the incomparable Kelley Peters as Patsy and Susan Koozin as her devoted Houston fan. With support from Presenting Sponsor Phillips 66 and the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, this important investment in community engagement allows more than 10,000 Houstonians to experience Stages' work completely free of charge. Then in October, Stages will be one of the first professional theatres in the U.S. to produce Swimming While Drowning, a coming-of-age story about LGBTQ teens written by award-winning Latino playwright Emilio Rodriguez.

Stages' holiday season is sure to have something for everyone, with three productions including the regional premiere of the irreverent yet heartwarming The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), the world premiere of Panto Star Force, a new installment in the Stages tradition now over a decade in the making, and the regional premiere of Who's Holiday, an adult-themed How the Grinch Stole Christmas parody. The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) and Who's Holiday will be offered in true repertory style, playing in the same theatre at different performance times. Who's Holiday will include late-night performances at 9:30pm.

WINTER / SPRING 2019

Back for the second year, Stages explores Latina/o stories through Sin Muros (Without Walls), the Latina/o Theatre Festival that includes free public events such as workshops, play and poetry readings, and more. Sin Muros is produced by a community-led task force and presented in conjunction with Stages' production of The River Bride, by Marisela Treviño Orta, part of her cycle of fairy tales inspired by Latino folklore and mythology.

In February, Lucy Kirkwood's award-winning NSFW explores objectification, beauty standards and integrity in the world of fashion and media, followed closely by iconic musical theatre classic Little Shop of Horrors, slated for an 8-week run.

Rounding out the season are two critically-acclaimed regional premieres, Murder For Two and Sex With Strangers. Wildly different in style and subject, both shows focus on two actors. Murder for Two is a fast-paced comic murder mystery where one actor plays the detective, the other plays all 13 suspects, and both play the piano; meanwhile Sex With Strangers, written by Laura Eason (Netflix's House of Cards), is a story of love and lust in the digital age.


EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

A key focus for the 2018-2019 Season is the continued development and implementation of an institutional plan for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), with the goal of broadening Stages' reach in the community. With special support from Houston Endowment, Stages has engaged national thought leader artEquity to guide this process and has committed to these values as guiding principles for Stages' strategic plan across all programming, processes and organizational activity.

In conjunction with artEquity, Stages has assembled a Core Team of staff members representing a cross-section of roles, demographics, experiences and perspectives to help shape Stages' work in this area. Through the multi-year implementation of this plan, Stages expects the organization and all core constituencies (Board, staff, artists, donors, subscribers and patrons) to be more representative of and engaged with our larger community, allowing the theatre to more fully identify and leverage new opportunities for access and inclusion.

As part of its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, in the coming months Stages will announce revised casting protocols ensuring that audition opportunities are available to a full range of ages, genders, ethnicities and abilities.


EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Along with our annual performance series, Stages is committed to investing in students and nurturing talent through a variety of educational initiatives, with a focus on emerging artists, including middle, high school and university students as well as early-career professionals. One of these programs is the fully merit-based summer Young Artists Conservatory (YAC) for high school students, offered free of charge to all participants. Applications are open to all interested students, regardless of economic status or experience level, and selection is based on application, recommendations and audition. This four-week full-time intensive program immerses participants in all aspects of theatre production, preparing young theatre practitioners to excel in university-level theatre programs. In 2018, Stages will continue a multi-year expansion of the YAC program including a technical theatre track for students interested in focusing on theatrical production and design.

Now entering its 11th year, Stages' performance and production internship program with the Sam Houston State University Department of Theatre and Dance provides professional training and experience for college students planning a career in the arts. Many of Houston's recognized theatre artists made their professional debuts as part of this program. For the past 16 years, Stages also has participated in a production internship program with Lorain County Community College in Lorain, Ohio. LCCC interns work a full season in Stages' production department, gaining invaluable professional experience in all aspects of technical production.

Stages will again expand its student matinee program for the 2018-2019 Season, offering performances for both The River Bride and Panto Star Force, including a sensory-friendly student matinee for children with autism-spectrum disorders and other sensory challenges.


STRENGTHENING HOUSTON'S ARTS ECOSYTEM

With a budget for the 2018-2019 Season of just over $4 million, Stages is Houston's sixth-largest performing arts organization and the largest outside the downtown Theater District. Stages continues to increase the total number of work weeks for professional actors, directors, and stage managers, and increase minimum pay to work towards a livable wage that allows artists to build their careers and lives in Houston rather than leaving to seek more lucrative and fulfilling opportunities.

The 2018-2019 Season is presented with generous support from Lead Presenting Sponsor The Humphreys Foundation, along with The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston Endowment, The Wortham Foundation, Inc., The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, and Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts.

General performance times are Wednesdays & Thursdays 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 2:30pm and 8pm, and Sundays 2:30pm. Holiday performance times for 2018-2019 vary by show; please see individual show listings for details.

Season subscriptions are now on sale and range from $185 to $396. Subscribers save up to 50% on regular ticket prices and enjoy a host of other benefits. Subscriptions are available through the Stages Box Office (713.527.0123, boxoffice@stagestheatre.com) or online at www.stagestheatre.com.

Regular tickets will go on sale for the summer shows on June 1, 2018, and for the remaining season on August 1, 2018. Individual tickets start at $25 with savings for groups of 6 or more. To purchase, call the Stages Box Office at 713.527.0123 or reserve online at www.stagestheatre.com.

Stages Repertory Theatre's
2018-2019 Season


The Great American Trailer Park Musical
music and lyrics by David Nehls
book by Betsy Kelso

Extended through July 22, 2018

One of the most requested musicals in Stages history, The Great American Trailer Park Musical is back! There's a new tenant at Armadillo Acres, and she's wreaking havoc all over Florida's most exclusive trailer park. The double-wide divas of this fine housing establishment have survived everything from kidnapping to no-good men to bad perms! But when Pippi, a "stripper on the run," comes between agoraphobic housewife Jeannie and her tollbooth collector husband, a storm begins to brew that will shake these manufactured homes right down to their foundations!

The Great American Trailer Park Musical will be held over from Stages' 2017-2018 Season.

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash
created by Richard Maltby, Jr.
conceived by William Meade
adapted from the Broadway Production by Richard Maltby, Jr. and Jason Edwards

REGIONAL PREMIERE

July 11 - September 2, 2018

The iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes to life in this unique musical about struggle and success, love and faith, rowdiness and redemption, home and family. Featuring more than two dozen classic hits-including "I Walk The Line," "A Boy Named Sue," "Folsom Prison Blues," and "Ring of Fire", this remarkable hit musical brings actors Ben Hope and Katie Barton (Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams: Lost Highway) back to Houston for a foot-stompin', crowd-pleasin' musical portrait of The Man in Black.

Husband-and-wife duo Ben Hope and Katie Barton have both previously appeared at Stages in Hank Williams: Lost Highway and last season's Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie. Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash recently received a new re-conception featuring a cast of five actor/musicians.

Sister's Summer School Catechism: God Never Takes A Vacation
written by Maripat Donovan and Marc Silvia

REGIONAL PREMIERE
August 1 - September 9, 2018

Denise Fennell returns as Sister this summer! The diocese has decided to offer summer school for those who need additional classroom time. Sister leads hysterical discussions about whether Jesus had to go to summer school and appropriate summer vacations for practicing Catholics. Classroom participation is a must, but being Catholic is not! Beat the Houston heat with Sister's Summer School: God Never Takes A Vacation.

Denise Fennell is a Stages fan favorite previously seen in other installments of the Catechism series, Shear Madness and The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.

Always...Patsy Cline
created and originally directed by Ted Swindley
based on a true story

September 7 & 8, 2018
at Miller Outdoor Theatre

Join us at Miller Outdoor Theatre for a celebration of Always...Patsy Cline's 30th Anniversary! First premiered at Stages in 1988, this internationally acclaimed hit musical written by Stages Founding Artistic Director Ted Swindley is based on a true story of the surprising friendship between the beloved country singer and a devoted Houston fan. 27 of Cline's unforgettable hits make this an event that audiences clamor for year after year. Stages favorites Kelley Peters (The Honky Tonk Angels series and Marie Antoinette) and Susan Koozin (The Trailer Park series, Grey Gardens and Steel Magnolias) return for this boot-scootin' Houston tradition!

This important investment in community engagement allows more than 10,000 Houstonians to experience Stages' work completely free of charge.

Sponsors
Presenting Sponsor - Phillips 66
Sponsored in part by the City of Houston through the Miller Theatre Advisory Board

Swimming While Drowning
by Emilio Rodriguez

REGIONAL PREMIERE

October 3 - 21, 2018

Angelo and Mila are 15 and homeless. Angelo is a dreamer and Mila is a street-wise hustler, but when they become roommates at a shelter for LGBTQ teens, they build a fragile bond that inspires them to reach for understanding and self-acceptance. Emilio Rodriguez's poetic coming-of-age story celebrates the healing power of hope and the beautiful mystery of being a teenager.

Stages' production currently is slated to be just the second professional production in this play's history. It had its world premiere at Milagro Theatre in Portland, OR, in 2016.

Emilio Rodriguez and his work have been a part of various festivals including the inaugural 2015 Latino Theatre Common's Carnaval of New Works (Swimming While Drowning), the inaugural Activate Midwest Festival at Western Michigan University (Spin), and the Austin Latino New Play Festival (Mamacita and the Negrito).

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)
by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor

REGIONAL PREMIERE

November 7 - December 23, 2018

It's the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody's Non-Denominational Universalist Church-where all faiths are welcome because we'll believe anything! There's just one minor problem: none of the acts scheduled to perform have arrived. Now it's up to three quick-witted church members to perform the ENTIRE Variety Show and Christmas Pageant by themselves! An irreverent yet heartwarming romp through tradition, The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) bursts with festive, slapstick fun as these cheerfully ridiculous clowns celebrate all of our favorite holiday traditions-at once.

This production, the first to open of Stages' three holiday shows, will be performed in repertory with Who's Holiday, with the two shows sharing the same theatre with different sets and performance times. General performance times for The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) are Wednesdays-Fridays 7pm, Saturdays 2pm and 7pm, and Sundays 2pm.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) had its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in 2011, where it broke box-office records. Creators Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor are two of the writers behind the famous "abridged" series, including plays like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and The Complete History of America (abridged), which was produced at Stages in 2010.

Panto Star Force
by Ryan Schabach and Elizabeth A. M. Keel

WORLD PREMIERE
November 21 - December 30, 2018

Panto Star Force is an adventurous, cosmic blast of blockbuster hilarity! Jed, a farm boy from the planet Cypress, joins forces with a zany band of space rebels, robots, and furry bartenders (and Buttons, of course!) to stop the powerful Emperor Snorkelfish and Dark Tater from taking over the galaxy. Come ready to laugh, cheer and boo in true Panto style, with plenty of toe-tapping music and intergalactic fun for the whole family!

Co-author Ryan Schabach is no stranger to Panto at Stages, having appeared as the beloved character Buttons in most of the Pantos for the past 10 years, and having directed Panto Mother Goose in 2012. Local playwright Elizabeth Keel, whose work has been seen at several theatres around Houston, joins Schabach as part of the duo bringing Stages' latest Panto to life.

General performance times for Panto Star Force are Wednesdays-Fridays 7pm, Saturdays 2pm and 7pm, and Sundays 2pm.



Who's Holiday!
by Matthew Lombardo

REGIONAL PREMIERE

December 5 - 30, 2018

It's Christmas Eve and the now 40-year-old Cindy Lou Who lives in her shoddy trailer home on Mount Crumpit, former hideout of the infamous Grinch. While she awaits her Christmas party guests, she regales listeners with the bizarre journey her life has taken since that fateful night in Whoville when a certain Grinch tried to steal Christmas. This hysterical and wild parody is a must-see for mischievous ADULT theatre-goers this holiday season! Not suitable for those easily offended.

The third production in Stages' 2018 holiday season, Who's Holiday will play in repertory with The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged). General performance times for Who's Holiday are Wednesdays-Fridays 7pm, Saturdays 2pm and 7pm, and Sundays 2pm, with additional 9:30pm performances available on some weekend dates.

The play premiered off-Broadway in November 2017. Stages' incarnation will be one of the first productions outside New York.

This show is for adults only!

The River Bride
by Marisela Treviño Orta

REGIONAL PREMIERE

January 23 - February 10, 2019

Two sisters in a Brazilian fishing village struggle to find their own happily-ever-after while bound to family honor and tradition. Helena is in love with her sister Belmira's betrothed; meanwhile Belmira only wants to escape the Amazonian river life for an exciting adventure in the city. Days before the wedding, a mysterious stranger is pulled from the river, offering a tantalizing future that may change both their lives. Brazilian folklore and lyrical storytelling combine to weave a magical tale of love, fate and transformation.

The River Bride will be produced in conjunction with Stages' 2nd annual Sin Muros Latina/o Theatre Festival.

Premiered at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2016, The River Bride is part of a cycle of fairy tales author Marisela Treviño Orta is writing inspired by Latino folklore and mythology.

Sin Muros (Without Walls): A Latina/o Theatre Festival
January 31 - February 3, 2019

Stages Repertory Theatre will celebrate Latina/o voices and stories reflecting the diversity of local Texas communities during the second annual Sin Muros (Without Walls) Theatre Festival. The weekend will be filled with free public events for audiences and local theatre-makers, including workshops, play and poetry readings, and much more!

Performances and/or play readings will be:

  • Thursday, January 31 at 7:30pm
  • Friday, February 1 at 8pm
  • Saturday, February 2 at 2:30pm
  • Saturday, February 2 at 8pm
  • Sunday, February 3 at 2:30p

NSFW
by Lucy Kirkwood

REGIONAL PREMIERE
February 13 - March 3, 2019

Money, sex, and Photoshop! After Sam loses his job at Doghouse, a men's magazine where the men always behave badly, he interviews at Electra, a glossy women's magazine where the women objectify each other. NSFW is a satirical look at the cut-throat media world where jobs are scarce, beauty standards are savage and personal integrity is a luxury.

NSFW premiered at The Royal Court Theatre in London in 2012, and has rarely been produced in the U.S. Kirkwood is a multi-award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose play Chimerica won the Critics' Circle, Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best New Play and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for best play in the English language by a female writer.

Little Shop of Horrors
book and lyrics by Howard Ashman
music by Alan Menken

March 6 - April 28, 2019

This smash sci-fi musical has devoured the hearts of theatre-goers for over 30 years! A nerdy flower shop clerk named Seymour stumbles across a new breed of plant which he affectionately names after his secret crush, Audrey. The exotic bloom offers the promise of fame and fortune, but Seymour soon discovers that the mysterious "Audrey II" also has a taste for blood, ominous origins and an insatiable appetite for power!

The original off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors opened in 1982 and ran for five years before being adapted into a major motion picture starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin. Little Shop of Horrors was the second collaboration between Menken and Ashman, who later went on to write the scores to Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Stages previously produced Little Shop of Horrors in 1990.

Murder for Two
book and music by Joe Kinosian
book and lyrics by Kellen Blair

REGIONAL PREMIERE

April 24 - June 16, 2019

The hit show that is selling out across the country is now coming to Houston! Everyone is a suspect in Murder for Two, a hilarious murder mystery with a twist. One actor plays the investigator, the other plays all 13 suspects, and both play the piano throughout! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs.

Murder for Two was developed at The Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Sex With Strangers
by Laura Eason

REGIONAL PREMIERE

May 22 - June 9, 2019

A sly comedy about lust, love and personal identity in the tell-all internet age! Snowbound at a remote writer's retreat, Olivia struggles to find inspiration after her first novel was a flop. She receives an unexpected visit from Ethan, an admirer and online "sexcapade" blogger who offers to promote her book to his massive digital fan base. However, their instant attraction turns to uncertainty as Olivia begins to question whether Ethan is her true love or just a hot brand with a hotter body.

Laura Eason is a playwright and screenwriter best known for four seasons on the Netflix drama House of Cards. Eason has more than 20 produced plays and adaptations as a playwright, including the international hit Sex with Strangers, that saw its World Premiere in 2011 at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, Eason's hometown and went on to become one of the most produced plays in the U.S. in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 theatre seasons. Her work has been produced internationally in England, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and Finland.

ABOUT STAGES REPERTORY THEATRE

Founded in 1978, Stages is a professional Equity theatre that produces new work, presents established work in new ways, nurtures and develops talent, and cultivates and strengthens relationships with Houston audiences. Characterized by courage, generosity, ingenuity, intimacy and inclusion, Stages works to advance theatre and enliven community to make a more vibrant Houston.

Stages presents a broad scope of plays and musicals in an intimate setting, generating critical acclaim and creating powerful connections between plays and people. The third-largest theatre in Houston, Stages performs year-round, one of only a handful of Texas theatres that offers continual employment for creative professionals. On average, Stages produces 12 productions per year totaling more than 380 performances and reaching 65,000+ patrons. All of Stages' shows are rehearsed and constructed on-site in Houston, brought to life by an exceptional community of locally-based artists and craftspeople along with occasional guest directors, actors and designers from around the world.

For more than a decade Stages has made a strong investment in nurturing emerging artists and craftspeople who have now become field leaders and working professionals. Stages' learning opportunities include student matinees, performance and production internship programs for college students, and conservatory-style training for middle and high school students.

Through this robust scope of activities Stages encourages conversation about important ideas, provides insight into other cultures and viewpoints, and helps develop each new generation of artists, audiences and citizens. For more information visit www.stagestheatre.com and www.thegordy.com.




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