Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Frog Prince, Scottish Rite Children's Theatre, June 27 - August 2

Concerning children's theatre, let me come clean in the first lines. By the time I was 18 I had performed as a pasha, a pirate and a king for a children's theatre in north Alabama. I was star-struck for life. That particular community children's theatre is entering its 49th season.

The Scottish Rite Children's Theatre (SRCT) is much younger than that but it is much more richly endowed. Established in 2004 through the efforts of the Kelso family, this non-profit institution received from Texas Masons the deed to the historic Turnhalle at 18th and Lavaca. The building was constructed in 1869 for use as a German community center and gymnasium. It served as the site for music events, theatre and opera. The gorgeous scenic backdrops regularly used in today's productions were painted in 1882. An article in the spring, 2007 issue of the magazine of the League of Historic Theatres profiled The SRCT, the history of the Turnhalle, and the Kelsos' approach to children's theatre.

The Frog Prince as adapted by SRCT follows the Kelsos' guidelines. The excited children gather in the wide carpeted space just before the low stage. Andrea Smith as the exuberant Penelope the Party Pooper (a stock character for the SRCT) and Jose Villareal as the King exuberantly greet the audience and tell them what to expect.

"Get up! Get up! Now wave your hands behind you! They're covered with 'bottom glue.," Pat your bottom! Now when you sit down on the floor, you won't be able to move!"

Penelope then instructs parents and other adults to stand, put one hand on the head and the other on the tummy and repeat a pledge. Among other things, we promised to turn off cell phones and not to use flash photography.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Monday, June 29, 2009

Upcoming: Tartuffe, City Theatre, July 23 - August 16

UPDATE: Click for ALT review, July 27

PDATE: Sean Fuentes interviews director Charles P. Stites at Austin Theatre Review.com

Received directly:

Hypocrisy. Seduction. Greed. Betrayal.

The best of Moliere’s comedy with


at City Theatre this summer
July 23 – August 16

If it's hypocrisy, greed, and seduction you’re looking for this summer, look no further than
Molière’s most famous farce, Tartuffe.

Under the cloak of
religious piety, the lecherous, menacing, arch-hypocrite title character schemes to marry his benefactor’s daughter, seduce his wife, then defraud him of all he possesses. Does the scoundrel succeed? Take your seat and find out in this new and exciting adaptation of one of the world’s greatest comedies.

The production runs July 23 – August 16 at The City Theatre. It is directed by Charles P. Stites and features City Theatre company members Wray Crawford, Fiona Rene, D. Heath Thompson, and MacArthur Moore.

Molière’s masterpiece was written over three hundred years ago, but the classic has found a fresh reinvention at City Theatre with a modern staging that is even more immediate, identifiable, and hilarious. Rather than a classic that can be translated to a modern setting, Molière's play seems more of a contemporary play that just happens to have been written a few centuries ago.

Tartuffe and Texas were made for each other.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rooms, Secondhand Theatre at Uptown Modern, June 7 - 21

was an unexpected opportunity to inhabit Chekhov's The Three Sisters for a short time on Sunday evenings in June. The announcement -- more of an invitation, really -- was to visit the Prozorov family at their estate, between Acts II and III of The Three Sisters.

This piece may have originated as exercises for the MFA program at the University of Texas. We have seen each of these six vibrant actors elsewhere in town, both in UT productions and elsewhere, including at the Zach Scott and Hyde Park theatres.

You may have had the advantage of seeing St. Ed's production last fall at the Mary Moody Northern Theatre or you may know the play directly. The three sisters of the title are stranded at their provincial estate, yearning to return to Moscow, where they were raised. That hope is diminishing, for their father the General died a year earlier. Their only entertainment is socializing with the gallant men of the artillery regiment stationed for some indefinite time in the town.

Much happens in Chekhov's play, but Rooms takes only the first half as a given.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

The Comedy of Errors, Young Shakespeare at the Curtain Theatre, June 25 - 28

Playing Shakespeare is art but it is also craft, and there's no better way to learn both aspects than by studying and rehearsing under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. Austin Shakespeare's
The Comedy of Errors illustrates that dictum and provides fine summer evening delights at the Curtain Theatre.

The lively young company has been forced by the unusually brutal heat to cancel two afternoon matinees -- both Saturday and Sunday. But don't hesitate to drive the very short distance to the Curtain, located lakeside just west of the 360 bridge, for the evening performances that remain. Last Thursday was equally hot during the day, but as promised by Alex Alford to KEYE-TV, the 8 p.m. performance was cooled by breezes from the water.

This is sprightly Shakespeare, an early work that trades on confusions of identity, separated families, married love and budding romance. There's lots of jesting and farce. The production moves quickly, arriving at its happy ending in just about 2 hours, including the intermission. The young players take visible delight in the action, and we in the audience share fully that pleasure.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Friday, June 26, 2009

Andrew Taylor: Creative Ecology and CreateAustin

The City of Austin funded the visit the past week of arts thinker and consultant Andrew Taylor, in connection with its 94-page Create Austin report and its 20-page executive summary. Taylor opened a public meeting and discussion on Wednesday, June 24, with slides and thoughts about creative eco-systems.

As he understands it, CreateAustin and the creative community are focusing on "connecting, advancing and celebrating Austin's creative life."

Taylor uses the metaphor of a garden to make points about all complex systems, including that of Austin's creative life, and he offers observations for four necessary questions, which are

- - Doesn't collaborating threaten our individual impact and ideals?

- - How can we find common ground, when we're all so different in our creative work?

- - I'm already overclocked. How can I take time to connect beyond my immediate needs?


- - Seems huge. Where can we begin?

Click here or on the image above to link Taylor's 43-minute slide show with audio track at SlideShare.com.

Andrew Taylor is the director of the Bolz Center of Arts Administration at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His arts blog The Artful Manager is published by artsjournal.com.

Summary at SlideShare.com: A speech by Andrew Taylor in Austin, Texas, on June 24, 2009, on 'creative ecology' and approaches to advancing Austin's creative life. The speech was invited and hosted by the Austin Circle of Theaters, the Create Austin committee, and the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Upcoming: Department of Angels, Schave & Reilley at the Blue Theatre, June 26 - 28

UPDATE: Review by Jonelle Seitz in the Austin Chronicle, July 2: "Schave & Reilly, who are husband and wife and who met in clown college, are just about as charming onstage as can be. They are well-paired artists of physical comedy as well as of concept – we're not talking Ronald McDonald here. Though their work is clean enough for kids, it's timeless and layered."

Tracked down on-line:

Department of Angels

by Schave & Reilley
Blue Theatre, 916 Springdale Road
Friday, June 26, 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 27, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 28, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

In Department of Angels, heaven is a bureaucracy. Yep, that's right, being an Angel is an office job. Two bungling Angels clock in, sign out their equipment (halos & clouds!), and immediately fill their bureaucratic jobs with slapstick comedy antics. From their cloud cubicle, they pull pranks on each other, trip and slip and knock and fall down, and sneak samples of the peace, joy, and love they are supposed to dole out. Ultimately, they go too far. Purely ridiculous, Department of Angels is smart and uproarious vaudeville style clowning complete with whoopee cushion and red telephone.

Department of Angels is the latest offering from the slapstick geniuses, SCHAVE & REILLY in Austin, TX. Heralded as the sweet retro surprise of the fringe by the St. Paul Pioneer Press as part of the 2008 Minnesota Fringe Festival, Department of Angels received the Frontera Fringe Festival wild card Best of the Fest award in 2007.

KUT-FM audio feature on Department of Angels, Michael Lee interviewing Ben Schave and Caitlin Reilly (2 min.)

Tickets from Brown Paper Tickets

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . .

Arts, Gender & Economics: American Theatre Bias Against Women -- Is By Women?

Published June 23 in

Rethinking Gender Bias in Theater

Published: June 23, 2009

When more than 160 playwrights and producers, most of them female, filed into a Midtown Manhattan theater Monday night, they expected to hear some concrete evidence that women who are authors have a tougher time getting their work staged than men.

And they did. But they also heard that women who are artistic directors and literary managers are the ones to blame.

That conclusion was just one surprising piece of a yearlong research project that both confirms and upends assumptions about bias in the playwriting business.

“There is discrimination against female playwrights in the theater community,” said Emily Glassberg Sands, who conducted the research. Still, she said, that isn’t the whole story; there is also a shortage of good scripts by women.

Read more at The New York Times . . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Odd Couple, Georgetown Palace Theatre, June 12 - July 5

Touchstone themes for the Georgetown Palace Theatre are "fun" and "familiar." Probably the most affectionately remembered piece of Neil Simon's 40-year career, The Odd Couple fits both themes exactly.

Slobby Oscar Madison and meticulous Felix Ungar are seated firmly in the American consciousness. Simon's play opened on Broadway in 1965 and appeared as a film in 1968. It ran for five years as a television show, 1970-1975. ABC cancelled it at the end of every season but then brought it back because of the high Nielsen ratings for the summer reruns. Simon rewrote the play for a female cast in 1985 and in 2004 he produced an updated version,
Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple.

The Georgetown version is the original script, set in the mid-60s. You can tell that immediately when the guys talk about prices. A New York cab ride is $1.30. A pack of cigarettes is 38 cents. The butcher's bill for London broil for four persons is $9.64. And Felix's half of the monthly rent for the eight-room apartment in metropolitan New York City is $120 (rent-controlled, for sure, but still!).

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Puppetry Classes: Merlin Works and Geppetto Dreams, July - August

These opportunities popped up in the in-box:

Saturday, July 5 and following
Geppetto Dreams Puppet Company Offers Families Inexpensive Summer Puppet-Making Workshops (other courses for adults listed in "Read More" continuation below)

With summer now in full swing, Geppetto Dreams Puppet Theatre offers an inexpensive, twice-monthly family entertainment option to get the kids out of the house and into using their creative skills. On the first and third Sunday of each month, the puppet experts of Geppetto Dreams will host puppet-making workshops for Austin-area children and their families.

Beginning July 5th, Central Texas children will have an opportunity to learn puppetry and entertainment skills. The workshops are designed for different ages, with an emphasis on imagination and creativity.

Workshops include:
- Paper Puppets: ages 4 and up - price: $4 to $8
- Sock Puppets: ages 8 and up - price $6 to $10
- Trash Puppets: ages 8 and up - price $4 to $8
- Glove Puppets ages 6 and up - price $4 to $8
- Deco-Puppets ages 12 and up - price $9 to $18
- Trash Toys ages 5 and up - price $4 to $8

Prices are suggested donations, and parents or guardians must accompany their children. The workshops will be conducted from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with expert workshop leaders who are leading professional puppet makers.

And in order to “give back to their community” of East Austin, workshops are free-of-charge to families living in the 78702 ZIP Code. However, space is limited, and reservations are suggested.
In addition, special workshops are also available - free-of-charge - to non-profit organizations serving children. Geppetto Dreams is located at 1715 East 7th Street, at the corner of E. 7th and Chicon. For more information and reservations - and to confirm age-specific workshop dates - call (512) 358-4632 or visit www.GeppettoDreams.com.

= = = =

Saturday July 11th 12pm - 3pm

Puppets mania is sweeping the nation and improvisers are catching the bug, too! In this 3 hour workshop we'll play with the basics of puppet manipulation (eye contact, breath, emotion, etc.), before we get into some improv games & scenes to explore how improvising with puppets can get you closer to PLAY and out of your head. A fun class to take, whether you're looking to expand your improv tool-belt with puppets, or just looking for a fun afternoon with puppets. $25

About the Teacher: Sara Farr is currently the sound improviser for Get Up, and has been performing with them for over 2 years. In addition to creating improved scorse for Get Up shows, she has scored "Cochise," "Ka-Baam," "Improvised Shakespeare," "Start Trekkin" and "Cops & Lawyers". She has improvised on stage with other improv troupes including "Haunted," "The Pom-Pom Sisterhood," "The Flying Theater Machine," "The Leading Brands" and "Wooden Nickel". Sara occasionally performs in "Maestro" - a short-form, elimination style improv show at The Hideout Theatre. In January 2009, she created the Puppet Improv Project and dedicated the year to focusing her improv around puppets.

Click for more information about Merlin Works.

Read more at AustinLivetheatre.com . . . .

Upcoming: Once Upon A Mattress, Hill Country Community Theatre, Marble Falls, July 16 - August 2

From the HCCT website:

Once Upon a Mattress

Music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer
book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer

Hill Country Community Theatre

July 16 - August 2, 2009

If you thought you knew the story of The Princess and the Pea you may be in for a walloping surprise! Did you know, for instance, that Princess Winnifred actually swam the moat to reach Prince Dauntless the Drab? Or that Lady Larkin’s love for Sir Harry provided a rather compelling reason that she reach the bridal alter “post haste”? Or, in fact, it wasn’t the pea at all that caused the princess a sleepless night?

Carried on a wave of wonderful songs, by turns hilarious and raucous, romantic and melodic, this rollicking spin on the familiar classic of royal courtship and comeuppance provides for some side-splitting shenanigans. Chances are you’ll never look at fairy tales quite the same way again.

Tickets: Adults $20.00, Under 12 $9.00
Box Office 830.798.8944 • Director 830.693.2474

Upcoming: Don't Stop Me Now by Maggie Gallant, City Theatre, July 11 - 19

Received directly:


premieres at Summer Acts! Festival

New comedy explores one fan’s obsession with Queen front man Freddie Mercury.

Summer Acts! at The City Theatre, 3823 Airport Blvd.
Don’t Stop Me Now runs 60 minutes.

Performance Dates:
Saturday July 11 at 10pm

Sunday July 12 at 6pm

Tuesday July 14 at 7pm

Friday July 17 at 7pm

Saturday July 18 at 4pm

Sunday July 19 at 12pm

ickets $10.
For reservations, call 512 585-5698 or go to www.maggiegallant.com/wwfd

What’s the soundtrack to your life? That’s the question posed by Don’t Stop Me Now, premiering at the Summer Acts! theatre festival in Austin (July 9-19). For super-fan Sonya Moore, the answer has always been Queen.
When faced with dilemmas in fashion, work, or relationships, Sonya seeks advice from the man she is sure has all the answers: Freddie Mercury. WWFD (What Would Freddie Do)? The answers steer Sonya in new directions with unexpected and funny results.

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Upcoming: Rabbit Hole, Dancing Cat Circle at City Theatre, July 9 - 19

Click for ALT review, July 14

Received directly:

The City Theatre and Dancing Cat Circle present
Pulitzer Prize-Winner

Rabbit Hole

Critically acclaimed play makes its Austin Premier

In cooperation with Dancing Cat Circle Theatre Group, City Theatre joins the 2009 Austin Summer Acts! Festival with the premier of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Rabbit Hole. In this powerful drama, Broadway’s most heralded play of 2006, a couple struggles to pick up the pieces after a life-shattering accident leaves them drifting perilously apart. Rabbit Hole charts their bittersweet search for comfort and to a path back into the light of day.

The Associated Press called Rabbit Hole “A startling, heartfelt new play”. The New York Times said, “A beautifully observed new play blessed with David Lindsay-Abaire’s customary wit and grace.”

It’s about what you find along the way.
– Rabbit Hole

Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .

Upcoming: Summer Acts! Festival, City Theatre, July 9 - 19

From the City Theatre website:

Summer Acts! festival

at the City Theatre

3823 Airport Road

2009 Participating Shows

The Odyssey – A Rock Musical
Freddy Carnes Productions
TH9@9, SA11@12, SA11@8, SU12@4, MO13@9, SA18@6
A retelling of the classic story by Homer of Odysseus’ journey home to his family. His son Telemachus and wife Penelope have their own journey and they fend off evil suitors hell-bent on killing the son and marrying the wife.
The new musical has a rock score and ancient story.

Home(less) Economics
Austin New Music Workshop
FR10@7, SA11@2, SU12@12, TU14@9, SA18@8, SU19@2
Three marketing students. One homeless man. Two worlds collide in this musical comedic drama.

All’s Well That Ends Well
The Polish Thespian Workshop
TH9@7, SA11@6, SU12@8, TH16@9, SA18@12, SU19@4
This Shakespearean comedy that reveals no matter how pitch black the darkness, love always triumphs and conquers all.

Don’t Stop Me Now
Maggie Gallant
SA11@10, SU12@6, TU14@7, FR17@7, SA18@4, SU19@12
WWFD (What Would Freddie Do)? Sonya’s choices in fashion, jobs, and boyfriends revolve around her obsession with Queen lead singer, Freddie Mercury. Sonya is in for some surprises.

A Different Kind of Sketch Show
Laugh Pack Productions
MO13@7, WE15@9, TH16@7, FR17@9, SA18@10, SU19@8
Original sketch comedy show featuring the internet sensation “3 Guys Watching TV”.

Rabbit Hole
Dancing Cat Circle
FR10@9, SA11@4, SU12@2, WE15@7, SA18@2, SU19@6
Austin premier and winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for drama, David Lindsay-Abaire’s critically acclaimed play about loss, heartbreak and forgiveness. Becca and Howie have everything a family could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down. This masterpiece is an honest look at domestic tragedy and the healing power of love, laughter, and life affirming testament to the endurance of the human spirit.