“This mix of shows embodies everything that makes musical theatre great,” said Theatre Under the Stars president John Breckenridge in a press release on Saturday, on the occasion of the announcement of TUTS’s 47th season. And while we might quibble as to how well the 2014–2015 line-up actually accomplishes those aims (we’re talking to you, Victor/Victoria), Houston’s foremost purveyor of musical theater continues its something-for-everyone ethos.
For fans of the old-fashioned musical, there’s Meredith Willson’s The Music Man (May 5-17, 2015), still one of the finest scores ever composed for the stage, a show with a period setting, outdated sexual politics, and cloying apple pie Americana—yet none of it matters when you’ve got songs like “Till There Was You” and “My White Knight.”
Another gem from the 1950s, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (May 26-June 7, 2015) was the non-Broadway show that became a blockbuster nonetheless. Written for television and the highest rated program of its time, Cinderella, with Julie Andrews in the title role, was seen by 100 million people on one night in 1957. Unbelievably, the first Broadway mounting was just last year, and presumably it’s this critically acclaimed updating of the show that inspired TUTS’s version.
Another darling of last year’s Broadway season, Kinky Boots (February 10-22, 2015), proves that TUTS’s commitment to new American musicals isn’t confined to its adventurous and exciting Underground series. With a score by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots tells the story of a rather uptight Brit who partners with a drag queen to save his struggling shoe factory. From that rather unpromising premise, Lauper and Fierstein somehow managed to craft a show that caught on with audiences and Tony voters, who surprised everyone when they named the show Best Musical over the blockbuster Matilda.
Here’s the rest of the TUTS 2014–2015 season:
Victor/Victoria (September 16-28): Another Julie Andrews vehicle and a somewhat less happy one, this gender-bending 1995 musical boasts a score by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular (December 5-28): New York’s celebrated Rockettes visit the Hobby Center in a production that promises to be jam-packed with long-legged chorines, a 50-foot LED screen and a life-size double-decker tour bus on stage.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (March 17-29, 2015): Andrew Lloyd Webber’s enduringly popular Biblical epic that’s not Jesus Christ Superstar.