All the world is a stage, as they say, but Houstonians don’t need to travel the globe to see great musical theater. Houston is home to Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS), one of the most fabulous musical-theater gems in the region. And the company has saved a spot for LGBTQ friends and family, so dust off the spectacles and don the tux (or business casual, if that’s more your vibe), because [email protected] is the place to see and “be scene” on this fall’s theater circuit.
After the curtain goes down on each second Thursday of a TUTS mainstage show, the party continues with free bites, drink specials, and live music—all hosted by the Broadway Beauty of Texas, Regina Thorne-DuBois. Patrons who attend that Thursday show are invited to the Diana American Grill (located inside Hobby Center) to mingle with the cast and crew members, sing a few show tunes, and celebrate the show.
Thorne-DuBois says there is no better place for theater lovers to find their tribe.
“[email protected] brings together members of the community who have a love for musical theater. These are people who want to sit and talk about the show with others who have just experienced the show,” she says. “Plus, cast members join the event and will mingle. Sometimes they’ll get up and sing. It’s an after-party, it’s an unofficial meet-and-greet with the cast, and it’s an all-around good time.”
TUTS, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, has made history by introducing some of Broadway’s most memorable moments, including the original staging of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. TUTS also developed Jekyll & Hyde in partnership with the Alley Theatre.
This coming season promises even more conversation-starters and show-stopping moments. Audience-development manager Elizabeth England describes the season as “a rollercoaster of experiences. You’ve got rock and roll, gospel, shows that are perfect for the family, old-school classics that will please everyone, shows that will fill your heart, and we end with a rowdy time for the generation who grew up on Oldies music. This is the season that has something for everyone.”
Here’s the full breakdown:
Rock of Ages (Oct. 5–17)
Featuring the music of hit ’80s bands including REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Styx, and Journey, this musical comedy was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Set at the end of the 1980s in one of the Sunset Strip’s last legendary venues, this show packs action, comedy, drama, and romance into one “hair band”-filled night of unforgettable fun.
Sister Act (Nov. 2–14)
When disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder, she is placed in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found: a convent. Disguised as a nun, she finds herself at odds with both the rigid lifestyle and the uptight Mother Superior as she breathes new life into the church and the community. But in doing so, Deloris blows her cover. Can she find saving grace, or is it curtains for her career and her life?
Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Dec. 7–24)
Take a trip under the sea with Ariel and her collection of animal friends. As King Triton’s youngest daughter, Ariel wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above, bargaining with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems, and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends to find true love.
South Pacific (Feb. 8–20)
More timely than ever, this Rodgers and Hammerstein landmark musical proves that even the backdrop of a tropical paradise cannot shelter its residents from the prejudices of World War II. South Pacific is the winner of the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Come from Away (March 22–April 3)
This show takes audiences into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them during the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.
Jersey Boys (May 10–22)
They were just four guys from Jersey—until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard and radio audiences just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect onstage, offstage it was a very different story—a story that has made them an international sensation all over again.
“I would say that at its core, the next season (and the next round at [email protected]) is almost a ‘welcome back’ season and experience,” Thorne-DuBois says. “There are so many people who have come out of this year-and-a-half drought of tangible art, and how better to celebrate than in the post-show glow in a room full of theater lovers? That’s what I’m most excited about, and what I hope people bring to this season and to [email protected] If you haven’t attended before, this is the year to start doing it because the joy and levity you feel is something you won’t be able to get again for a long time. If 2020 was good for anything, it was to kickstart an artistic renaissance for all of us.”
[email protected] takes place after the second Thursday performance of each show at Diana American Grill, located inside the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby Street. Individual show tickets start at $40, packages of three or more shows start at $99, and packages of six shows start at $198.
Information: tuts.com or 713-558-8887.
This article appears in the September 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.