THE SWEET POTATO QUEENS Musical Begins Tonight at TUTS
TUTS Underground presents the world premiere of THE SWEET POTATO QUEENS, beginning tonight, March 17, in Houston.
This new musical is brought to the stage in partnership with writer Rupert Holmes (Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Music and Lyrics for The Mysteries of Edwin Drood), Grammy Award-winning composer Melissa Manchester, and Oscar-nominated lyricist Sharon Vaughn.
Based on The New York Times best-selling series (with a cult following) THE SWEET POTATO QUEENS by author Jill Connor Browne, the musical version is loosely based on Browne's life -- showcasing the juxtaposition between her life before creating the larger-than-life character of a Sweet Potato Queen, and after. An uplifting, empowering tale of perseverance and following dreams, THE SWEET POTATO QUEENS reminds audiences that everyone deserves to be special.
Susan Koozin stars as Queen Jill with Kathryn Porterfield in the role of Jackson Jill. Her friends -- all named Tammy -- are Christina Stroup as Floozie Tammy, Julia Krohn as Flower Tammy and, new to the TUTS Underground stage, Kerissa Arrington as Too Much Tammy. The rest of the cast includes Dylan Godwin as George, Adam Gibbs as Tyler, Theresa Nelson as Mama and Kevin Cooney as Daddy.
Also on the creative team are: Co-Directors Bruce Lumpkin and Marley Wisnoski, musical director Thom Culcasi, choreographer Dana Lewis, scenic designer Ryan McGettigan, lighting designer Christina R. Giannelli, costume designer Colleen Grady, hair and makeup designer Jeff Knaggs and sound designer Andrew Harper. Casting by Binder Casting/Jason Styres, CSA.
For tickets, go online at TUTSUnderground.com, call (713) 558-TUTS (8887), or visit in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office, (800 Bagby), Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday - Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Special offers are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (713) 558-8888 or via email at email@example.com.
TUTS Underground not only brings a wider musical theatre experience to Houston, but also serves as a launchpad -- giving the TUTS Underground audience first view of new, emerging works. TUTS Underground explores new horizons in musical theatre by staging unconventional off-Broadway scaled productions with innovative concepts and creating unique theatrical experiences.
ABOUT THE CAST:
Susan Koozin (Queen Jill) TUTS: A Christmas Story, Bonnie and Clyde, Hands on a Hard Body (Underground), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Hairspray, The Sound of Music. Stages: Pete 'n' Keely, Sexy Laundry, The Great American Trailer Park Musicals, Always Patsy Cline, Steel Magnolias, The Blonde, the Brunette, and the Vengeful Redhead, Grey Gardens, Black Pearl Sings, Nickel and Dimed, Bright Ideas, Dirty Blonde, Company. CTC: Ubu Roi. Unity Theatre: Shooting Star.
Kathryn Porterfield (Jackson Jill): is happy to be back at TUTS! Bonnie & Clyde (Bonnie), First Date (Woman #2), A Christmas Story (Ensemble),The Music Man (Ensemble), James.. Peach (Lady Bug) with TUTS! Panto: Rapunzel (Rapunzel) and Xanadu (Euterpe): Stages Rep. Into the Woods (Lucinda): Main Street Theater. Parade (Lucille) and Les Miserables (Fantine): Casa Mañana.
Kerisssa Arrington (Too Much Tammy) is proud to be making her TUTS debut! After starring in the National Tour of Sister Act the Musical as Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence, she is thrilled to be shining her light in her home town! Favorite credits:The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy Gale) and RENT (Mimi Marquez).
Julia Krohn (Flower Tammy) Original Las Vegas company of Jersey Boys (Lorraine). NYC credits: ABBA's Kristina (pre-Broadway workshop), Joy (Off-Broadway); Regional: Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Mack and Mabel. TUTS: Anything Goes, Cats, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Camelot, Man of La Mancha, Spamalot, A Chorus Line, Elf, Hands on a Hardbody; Alley Theatre: Sherlock Holmes, Christmas Carol, Toward Zero; Stages Repertory Theatre: Betty's Summer Vacation (Betty). First Place both as a "Presidential Scholar in the Arts" and in the NFAA ARTS. Studied in the BFA musical theatre program at Boston Conservatory.
Christina Stroup (Floozie Tammy) Music Man, A Wonderful Life!, Hello Dolly, Putting It Together, Into The Woods, It's Only Life, A Catered Affair, The Light in the Piazza, The Marvelous Wonderettes series, Panto Snow Queen: Unfrozen, Panto Sleeping Beauty, The World Goes Round, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Boeing Boeing, Company, Beehive, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, Man Of La Mancha. SHSU: BFA Musical Theater.
Dylan Godwin (George) returns to TUTS having previously appeared in Bonnie and Clyde, First Date, The Music Man, Reefer Madness, James and the Giant Peach, Sweet Potato Queens(workshop), Beauty and the Beast, 110 in the Shade. National Tour: Fiddler on the Roof. Regional: Miller Mississippi, Good People, A Christmas Carol, Ether Dome, Amadeus, Peter Pan, Our Town, (Alley Theatre) Life Could Be A Dream, AltarBoyz, The Tempest, Ubu Roi.Adam Gibbs (Tyler) is happy to return to TUTS where he was last seen in A Christmas Story, Bonnie and Clyde, First Date, and Hello, Dolly. Recent credits: HGO's Sweeney Todd. Title roles in Classical Theatre Company's Dr. Faustus and Theatre Lab's My Name is Asher Lev. Alley Theatre: Ether Dome, Our Town, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Christmas Carol. Stages Repertory: Life Could Be A Dream, Yankee Tavern, and Amy's View. Voiceovers: Parasyte, Grave of the Fireflies among others.
Kevin Cooney (Daddy) recent TUTS: Narrator in A Christmas Story, Preacher in Bonnie and Clyde, Mayor in The Music Man, Sheriff in The Best Little Whorehouse. He has appeared on Broadway, in national tours and in regional theatre all over the country, and worked extensively in LA. Films include Charlie Wilson's War, Austin Powers II/III, Legally Blonde, Bring It On Again, Primary Colors, Bulworth, Independence Day, Trip to Bountiful. TV: Mad Men, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Will and Grace, King of Queens.
Theresa Nelson (Mama) TUTS: Oliver, Company, Can Can, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, Li'l Abner, Wonderful Town, Guys and Dolls, Music Man, King and I, Wonderful Life, Hands on a Hard Body, many more. National Tour: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Theresa's latest book for young readers is The Year We Sailed the Sun.
A non-profit based in Houston, Texas, TUTS offers a world-class musical theatre experience that ranges from full-scale Broadway productions to educational initiatives that extend beyond the stage and into the community -- for actors and aficionados of all ages and abilities. TUTS performs annually in Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center and at Miller Outdoor Theatre. TUTS began performing at Miller Outdoor Theatre in 1968, and is the only arts organization to perform at Miller every year since then. Founded by Frank M. Young and currently under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge and Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world premieres. Through its membership in the Independent Presenters Network, TUTS regularly helps mount shows on Broadway which eventually show locally to Houston audiences.
Illustration by Matthew Laznicka