Classic drama, contemporary comedies, a world premiere...and even a western. The University of Houston's School of Theatre & Dance 2010-2011 performance season has something for everyone.
The season kicks off with Bridget Carpenter's dark comedy "Up" (no relation to the 2009 Pixar film) in October. In February, guest director Gus Kaikkonen, artistic director of the Peterborough Players in New Hampshire, takes the reins of James McLure's western comedy "Wild Oats." The season closes with the world premiere of Scott Kaiser's "Purple Mountain" in April.
Season subscriptions go on sale June 21, and tickets for individual plays will be available in September. For additional details, call 713-743-2929 or visit www.theatredance.uh.edu/contactus_boxoffice.asp.
Performances are either in the Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre or Jose Quintero Lab Theatre. Both are in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard).
Oct. 8 - 17
"Up" by Bridget Carpenter; Directed by Steven W.Wallace; Quintero Theatre
It's been years since Walter's lawn chair voyage into the sky with 35 weather balloons. Every day, he struggles to recapture the excitement and notoriety he once had. As Walter lives in the past, his wife Helen, and son Mikey suffer in the present. Helen loves Walter but wishes he would set aside his dream and support the family. When Mikey angrily sets fire to the infamous lawn chair, he destroys more than just the chair. Has the damage been too great for this family and their dreams to be saved?
Oct. 29 - Nov. 7
"Richard III" by William Shakespeare; Directed by Jack Young; Wortham Theatre
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, bitter over his physical deformity and disenchanted with the current atmosphere of peace, plots to become the King of England. Using manipulation, deceit and even murder, he ascends to power. In a dream, ghosts of Richard's victims tell him he will die in battle. Even Richard, powerful and hated, can't stop the inevitable restoration of peace.
Nov. 19 - 21, Dec. 3 - 4
Theatre for Young Audiences presents "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson; Directed by Jon L. Egging; Wortham Theatre
It's time for the church's annual Christmas pageant and the Herdman kids ("the worst kids in the whole history of the world") are about to discover the true meaning of the holiday. When they hear about free desserts in Sunday school, the Herdmans decide to take their share. What they don't count on is being a part of the church's nativity play.
Dec. 3 - 5
Emerging Choreographers Showcase; Quintero Theatre
The creative energies of up-and-coming choreographers are showcased in this annual concert that has become a favorite among dance enthusiasts.
Feb. 25 - March 6
"Wild Oats" by James McLure; Directed by Gus Kaikkonen; Wortham Theatre
Welcome to The Last Chance Saloon in the old west town of Muleshoe, where Loftus Thunder has died in a cactus patch with a woman of easy virtue and a bottle of Jim Beam. As word spreads of his demise, long-lost family members are reunited, Pastor Ephraim's scheming plans are derailed, two lusty traveling actors constantly quote Shakespeare, a whip-toting heroine finds love and the audience gets more than belly-shaking laughs.
April 15 - 24
"Now This" (WORLD PREMIERE) by Scott Kaiser; Directed by Sara Phillips; Quintero Theatre
Meet the citizens of Purple Mountain: pregnant teenager Amy Clearblue, hyper high schooler Joey Aderal, pill-popping Lily Eli, filmmaker Randy Lenscrafter and clean freak Purelle Swiffer. It's "Our Town" for our consumerist culture - one part Dylan Thomas, one part Tom Waits.
April 29 - May 1
"Spring Dance Concert"; Wortham Theatre
Dance aficionados look forward to this annual show featuring contemporary works by faculty and guest artists that is set on the pre-professional dance company, the UH Dance Ensemble.
In spring 2011, the school also will host the New Plays Festival, which offers Houstonians a chance to hear the city's freshest theater. Tomorrow's star scribes develop scripts under the supervision of Tony winner Mark Medoff and present them during intimate readings.
The UH School of Theatre & Dance offers bachelor's and master's degrees in theater, and a bachelor's degree in dance. Each fall and spring, the school produces four plays performed in the Lyndall Finely Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Lab Theatre, two dance concerts, four studio productions and two Theatre for Young Audiences plays. The Houston Shakespeare Festival is produced each summer. Its faculty includes Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee, Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow, Tony nominated designer Kevin Rigdon and veteran dramaturg Mark Bly. Among the greats who have taught at the school in previous years are Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit www.theatredance.uh.edu.