Image: Courtesy TUTS

Updated 10:23 a.m. Sept 16 

Get ready to light up Houston, musical theater-lovers. Theatre Under the Stars announced the headliner of its first-ever virtual gala this morning, and it's a Broadway biggie. The Great White Way's modern leading man himself, Brian Stokes Mitchell, will join the online event, set for November 7, for a special performance from New York City.

Known affectionally as the unofficial "Mayor of Broadway," Mitchell's numerous stage and screen credits include his Tony Award-winning turn in Ragtime, Shuffle Along, Man of La Mancha, and Kiss Me, Kate (which earned him another Tony). Stokes lifted spirits during the quarantine earlier this year, serenading frontline workers (and his stuck-at-home neighbors) from his Upper West Side apartment window. 

“We’re thrilled Brian is able to join us for this spectacular virtual event,” TUTS Artistic Director Dan Knechtges said in a statement. “He is one of Broadway’s biggest stars, and we’re honored he wanted to help support Theatre Under The Stars.”

During the Gala, themed Lights Up Houston, guests will be able to stream the program while simultaneously participate in live and silent auctions, the proceeds of which benefit the non-profit theater company, according to the press release. Guests in the mood for that classic up-scale affair, can also choose from a variety of unique event experiences, "from having a professional chef prepare dinner in their homes to the delivery of a wine and dessert package from the Post Oak Hotel." And of course, there's the traditional meet-and-greet options (albeit virtually) with the night's star.

“We are utilizing technology to deliver a really dynamic and unique evening in celebration of the future of musical theater in Houston," Hillary Hart, TUTS executive director, said in the statement. "... This is an opportunity to invest in Houston’s performing arts future and experience some Broadway magic at home.”

Nov 7 (RSVP by Oct 9). From $250. Online. More info and tickets at www.tuts.com.

Published 10 a.m. Sept 9

Covid really is ruining everything. In its second major adjustment to its schedule, Theatre Under the Stars has announced it's postponing the start of its upcoming season until May 2021. The season was originally set to kick off in September with the Broadway-bound revival of 1776. After the initial round of changes this summer, the season opener was supposed to be Disney’s The Little Mermaid​ in December.

But don’t panic, theater fans. TUTS still plans to stage all of its previously announced shows in what the company is now calling its Homecoming Season. And that season, which now begins with the national touring company production of Come From Away, will run through February 2022.

While we're getting the bad news out of the way, the company, which expects to lose an estimated $11 million in revenue over the next year, will not produce its traditional show at Miller Outdoor Theatre in the summer of 2021, Executive Director Hillary Hart said in an email to Houstonia. But the company still has big plans. TUTS is already in the process of re-envisioning its Tommy Tune Awards for next spring, and it is reallocating resources to continue to serve its audience in this brave, new Covid world, says Hart. "In a way, the silver lining is that we’ve been able to do a few things that we’ve wanted to for quite some time."

Though we’ll have to slog through until TUTS returns to the Hobby Center stage in the spring, there is a bright spot you can mark on your calendar: The company's annual Gala, which was postponed back in March, will now be a virtual event on November 7. So, get your party filer ready. 

See the new schedule, including dates, below and purchase tickets at tuts.com:

Theatre Under The Stars (Re-Rescheduled) 2021 Season

Come From Away: May 18–30, 2021

Rock of Ages: Aug 10–22, 2021

1776: Sept 28–Oct 10, 2021

Sister Act: Nov 2–14, 2021

Disney’s The Little Mermaid: Dec 7–24, 2021

South Pacific: Feb 8–20, 2022