If you loved ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ the movie, you’ll probably like ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on stage

A famous movie about a famous historical playwright co-written by a famous contemporary playwright is now a play adapted from that screenplay by a playwright best known for a screenplay. Which is perhaps only fitting for a play about a woman pretending to be a man so that she can act in a play written by the man she loves.

Contributed by Austin Playhouse

“Shakespeare in Love” is a 1998 film (the year’s Oscar winner for best picture) about the imaginary Viola de Lesseps’ love affair with the very real William Shakespeare. Perhaps best described as a historical romantic dramedy, the movie was directed by John Madden and co-written by screenwriter Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. It became both a box office success and a critical darling, so perhaps it’s no surprise that in today’s world of cross-media pollination it was ripe for a stage adaptation.

Written by Lee Hall, a playwright best known for writing the screenplay to “Billy Elliott,” the stage adaptation of “Shakespeare in Love” premiered in London in 2014. Now that adaptation graces the stage at Austin Playhouse in a new production playing through April 22.

Hall’s play is remarkably faithful to the original screenplay, and it contains most of the film’s memorable scenes and lines. The script is so faithful, in fact, that it begs the question why there was a need to turn the film into a play in the first place.

Some of the film’s strongest aspects — the comparison of contemporary film acting with traditional Shakespearean acting, the faithful re-creation of Shakespeare’s London, the revelation of the seamier side of Elizabethan morals and mores, etc. — are unique to the filmic medium, and don’t make the leap onto the stage. Normally, when a popular film is adapted for a stage production, it is turned into a musical, rather than left as a straight drama, and Hall’s script sadly shows why this is the case.

Austin Playhouse’s production, though, helmed by director Don Toner and assistant director Lara Toner Haddock, is stylish and charming. Performed in the manner of a Shakespearean work — with actors taking on multiple roles, moving the set pieces themselves and singing a transitional chorus or two — it seamlessly melds poetic textual homage with the story’s more farcical, humorous side. The epic-sized cast of 20 performers does a good job walking this line between the classic and the contemporary, ably led by Stephen Mercantel as a lovesick, longing Shakespeare and Claire Grasso as an adventurous, vivacious Viola.

“Shakespeare in Love” is certainly not a play that redefines the ways in which theater and film can influence one another, but it is a perfectly lovely and faithful adaptation of the movie that die-hard fans should enjoy.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday through April 22
Where: 6001 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $20-$42
Information: austinplayhouse.com

Conspiracy and paranoia take center stage in 9/11-themed ‘Yankee Tavern’

For better or worse, we live in a time filled with conspiracy theories. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there are outlandish stories dominating social media to suit your darkest beliefs about the secret masters pulling the strings behind our fraught, tenacious moment.


But ours is not the first period in which conspiracy theories have ruled the roost. Think of the JFK assassination. TWA Flight 800. Or the mother of all 21st century conspiracy theories, 9/11.

This is the context behind Steven Dietz’s play “Yankee Tavern,” now receiving a new Austin production courtesy of Different Stages. The story is entirely set in a New York City bar, the titular Yankee Tavern, a down-on-its-luck dive that has seen better days. The bar and the abandoned hotel above it are owned by Adam, a young man who inherited the establishment from his father. He is helped by his fiancé, Janet, and his father’s best friend, Ray, though the entire building is scheduled to be demolished soon.

Ray dominates the first act of the play, staggering across the stage, opining about a variety of conspiracy theories both new and familiar, particularly those relating to 9/11. In their discussion of these conspiracies, all three characters reveal their own hidden doubts, insecurities and inabilities to leave certain mysteries unsolved. It is very much a character-driven drama that revolves around these conspiratorial debates.

The second act, though, takes a drastic narrative turn and becomes a straight-out thriller, as Adam and Janet find themselves wrapped up in a 9/11 conspiracy themselves, embodied by a threatening stranger who sat at the bar, mostly silent, throughout the first act. This sudden shift is a bit jarring and might work better if the intermission didn’t interrupt the dramatic buildup between acts, but both halves are interesting in their own right.

Director Norman Blumensaadt takes a very spare, realistic approach to the text, allowing the oddities of the conspiracies to create a weird atmosphere without any bells or whistles added. This works well, as it allows the cast to shine. Bill Karnovsky is particularly strong as Ray, embodying an old-school type of New Yorker who is equally as charming as he is off-putting, while Kelsey Mazak, as Janet, embodies the play’s dramatic arc with her slow unraveling and descent into paranoia. Will Douglas’ tightly wound Adam and Greg Ginther’s imposing Palmer (the stranger at the bar) both add to the tension, though the text gives them a bit less to work with.

Despite being uneven in its dramatic tonal shift, “Yankee Tavern” is a thoroughly engaging thriller that, in addition to telling a good story, also raises important questions about the things we question, why we question them and whether it’s more dangerous to ourselves (and to society) to get answers or not.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday through April 14, with no performance on April 1 and added performance April 11
Where: Santa Cruz Theater, 1805 E. Seventh St.
Cost: $15-$30
Information: differentstagestheatre.org.

Strong all-female cast delivers timely and clever satire about gun control debate

Gun control is, understandably, a hot-button issue in America at the moment. There are a lot of ways to approach the topic, and you can see pretty much all of them on display at any given moment on a number of news channels. Anger. Vitriol. Sympathy.


Contributed by Errich Petersen

That’s the approach taken by “The Secretary,” a new play by Kyle John Schmidt that’s getting its world premiere this month courtesy of Theatre en Bloc.

“The Secretary” tells the story of a gun manufacturer somewhere in small-town America that decides to name its newest weapon after a secretary at a local school who used her own gun to stop a school shooter. As the play progresses, we learn more about the details of that encounter, as well as the tendency of the new gun to “go off by itself,” in a high-energy satire that takes aim at all sides of the gun control issue.

The strength of the social commentary in “The Secretary” lies in the script. It pokes fun at both gun enthusiasts and gun control activists in equal measure. In the process of making the excesses of both sides look ridiculous, the play makes strong arguments for both sides, with a middle ground implied as the only solution. Because all of this is couched in satire (with, to be sure, a very dark edge), the commentary never comes off as preachy.

Schmidt creates razor-sharp characters, from the motherly owner of the company, to the “heroic” secretary with a dark secret, to the prospective employee who almost graduated from college with a degree in social justice. The characters all tread a very thin line between realistic depth and cartoony bluster.

It is the extremely strong cast, under the precise and controlled direction of Jenny Lavery, that keeps the play from ever teetering too far over that line in either direction. This all-female cast is one of most talented assemblages of performers ever gathered on the Austin stage, with one knockout performance after another.

Austin mainstays Babs George, Amber Quick and Liz Beckham are joined by relative newcomers Regan Goins and Susan Myburgh, as well as the venerable actress Elise Ogden. Each of the women is given her time to shine by the script, showing us both the darker nuances of their characters as well as their more sympathetic sides, thus creating a true ensemble piece that rightfully puts its faith in the strengths of these actresses’ performances (each of which is embodied in pitch-perfect costume choices by designer Jenna Hanna-Chambers).

The issue of gun control is, without a doubt, deadly serious. In “The Secretary,” though, we remember that amid the cacophony of yelling, sometimes laughter and sympathy can be extremely powerful tools in any reasonable argument.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through April 8
Where: The Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive
Cost: $15-$34
Information: 512-474-5664, thelongcenter.org

City Theatre’s ‘Bad Jews’ questions tradition and incites debate

In her director’s notes to City Theatre’s new production of Joshua Harmon’s play “Bad Jews,” Stacey Glazer explains, “What does it mean to be Jewish? Ask 12 Jews, you’ll get 45 answers. We are a people who question and debate everything.” It is this kind of debate, particularly within families, that is at the heart of “Bad Jews,” making it at times uproariously funny and existentially sorrowful.

“Bad Jews” from City Theatre Austin. Contributed by Aleks Ortynski

Both a comedic tragedy and a tragic comedy, “Bad Jews” presents one evening in the lives of three cousins — brothers Liam and Jonah and their cousin Daphna — whose beloved grandfather has recently passed away. While Daphna is a fervent believer in upholding Jewish religious and cultural traditions, Liam is the epitome of a modern agnostic Jew who eschews such things, and Jonah vacillates between the two while mostly trying to avoid getting caught in the middle. Thrown into the midst of all this is Liam’s girlfriend, Melody, a shiksa from Delaware with a naïve optimism born of privilege.

Glazer, both the director and designer of the show, has created a naturalistic stage picture for the ensuing drama, all taking place in real time in a studio apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The room is cramped and crowded, with the characters constantly on top of one another, a visual representation of the ways in which their arguments compile as the story unfolds.

At the core of “Bad Jews” is, indeed, a series of arguments between Daphna and Liam, each representing two extremely different takes on modern Judaism. Though they are sometimes taken to extremes, both characters as crafted by Harmon are believably opinionated and empathetically flawed. Neither Harmon nor this production sides with one of the other in their debates about the meaning of Judaism in their lives, leaving that conclusion up to the audience, and it is to the credit of the talented cast that both characters have moments of great strength and devastating weakness.

Jem Goulding, as Daphna, perfectly portrays a certain kind of overbearing woman whose entire identity is wrapped up in her faith. David Barrera’s Liam, meanwhile, is the perfect foil to this, disdainful of much of his own culture but who nonetheless embodies it in his own mannerisms and neuroses. Both are initially quite unlikable — particularly in contrast to Brooks Laney’s sweet-natured, conflict-averse Jonah and Keaton Patterson’s bubbly-if-oblivious Melody — but as we learn more about the two cousins, we come to sympathize with each of them more and more.

Their conflict is an expression of the types of long-simmering feuds that develop among all families. One need not be Jewish to appreciate “Bad Jews” (though it doesn’t hurt), or to be moved by the deeply felt conflict between holding firm to tradition and assimilating into the modern world.

In that sense, “Bad Jews” is the timeless story of the American family, in the tradition of O’Neill, Williams and Miller. City Theatre’s production is a nuanced, layered exploration of these family dynamics, one that ultimately doesn’t come to any easy conclusions. If you ask 12 audience members which character was in the right and which one was in the wrong, you’ll get 45 answers. “Bad Jews” is a play that questions and debates everything.

“Bad Jews”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday through April 8
Where: 3823 Airport Blvd.
Cost: $15-$25
Information: citytheatreaustin.org

In this comic musical, the bad guys always win

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If Edward Gorey and Stephen Sondheim ever teamed up to write a Broadway musical, it would look a lot like “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”

From left, Briana Gantsweg as Miss Barley, Blake Price as Monty Navarro and James Taylor Odom as Asquith D’Ysquith Jr. in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Contributed by Jeremy Daniel

Based on Roy Horniman’s 1907 novel “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal” (which was also turned into the 1949 black comedy “Kind Hearts and Coronets”), “A Gentleman’s Guide” won the 2014 Tony Award for best musical. The show’s national tour will be playing at Bass Concert Hall through March 25, courtesy of Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts.

The overriding sensibility of “A Gentleman’s Guide” is a macabre type of satire, poking fun at the comedy of manners tradition while also casting askance glances at the wealth inequality of today’s world. The witty, whimsical book by Robert L. Freedman doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming sentimental or attempting to wrap up the story with some heavy-handed moralizing. Rather, the satire carries throughout the entire play, in both the dialogue and the songs, co-written by Freedman and composer Steven Lutvak.

To pull off this kind of satire, though, requires two things — inventive direction/design and a sterling cast. Fortunately, “A Gentleman’s Guide” has both.

RELATED: One actor tackles multiple roles in ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

With a stage-within-the-stage format complimented by footlights, voice-overs, projections and exquisite costuming, this production is heavily stylized, to an almost Brechtian degree. The scenery is often reminiscent of the kind of intricate, morbidly tongue-in-cheek design work found in Disney’s Haunted Mansion, creating a playground for the actors to deliberately chew the scenery.

Blake Price plays protagonist Monty Navarro, a young British man of the lower classes who learns that he is ninth in line to inherit an earldom from his mother’s family, the D’Ysquiths. Price is pitch-perfect in the role, which subverts the musical theater trope of the plucky, go-getting young protagonist, as Monty decides the best way to inherit his family’s money is to kill the eight people ahead of him in the line of succession. Despite his ghastly deeds, Monty remains likable, thanks to Price’s energetic performance. As his romantic foils, Colleen McLaughlin and Erin McIntyre also delight, with sly takes on the tropes of the bad girlfriend and the naïve ingénue, respectively.

The most demanding, enchanting and delightful performance, though, comes from James Taylor Odom as the entire D’Ysquith family. Remarkably, each family member has his or her own unique physicality and vocality, showcasing Odom’s range and his ability to create richly comedic characters in just a few scenes (and sometimes less than that). He provides a master class in comedy acting that keeps up the momentum of the show even during some of the relative lulls in the narrative.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” has all the bells and whistles of splashy Broadway musicals, but they are used to tell a wicked story where the bad guys win (because there are no good guys). In this, it is a dark, funny satire that truly speaks to our contemporary world.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
When: 8 p.m. March 21-24, 2 p.m. March 24, 1 and 7 p.m. March 25
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Cost: $30-$125
Information: texasperformingarts.org

Ground Floor Theatre’s ‘White Rabbit Red Rabbit’ weds script, spontaneity and sassiness

Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is a unique theatrical experiment, requiring that a different actor perform it every night and that the actor must not see the script prior to reading and performing it on stage. As such, the play serves in some ways as a three-way dialogue between Soleimanpour, the actor and the audience, featuring a serious of metatextual games that grow increasingly serious, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Zell Miller III, left, performs the lead role in “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” on March 16. Contributed by Lisa Scheps

At its core, “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is a kind of theatrical version of the infamous Milgram Experiment: It asks both actor and audience how much they’re willing to obey words on a page created years in the past by a writer half a world away. Because of this focus, though, it is equally about spontaneity; each production will be different from the last, as will each individual performance. Depending upon how it is staged, formatted, advertised and so forth, different producers can create entirely unique atmospheres surrounding a production of the play, ranging from the darkly serious to the ebulliently comedic.

Ground Floor Theatre’s new production of the text veers more towards the latter, with a who’s who of Austin performing arts talent taking on the main role (see the group’s website for details on who is performing each night). By presenting a 10-minute stand-up comedy act as an opener for the play, the Ground Floor Theatre producers create an atmosphere that undercuts some of the darker suspense of the performance, which has the effect of allowing the focus to fall instead on the issues of identity hiding behind the questions of obedience.

MORE ARTS IN AUSTIN: Exhibit at Contemporary explores architecture and politics of race

“White Rabbit Red Rabbit” constantly questions the very meaning of the words “me” and “I,” as the actor performing the role is giving direct voice to Soleimanpour, who sometimes speaks directly to the actor. This took on special resonance during the wonderful opening night performance by Paul Soileau, in his persona of Rebecca Havemeyer. The question of gender identity — presented as a binary in the text — was met with a shrug and a laugh before a winking acceptance of “girl” as acceptable. Every time the text discussed the unnamed actor performing in a role there was added nuance, likely unintended by the playwright.

This is the great strength of “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” — each performance will be unique. It brings together the poetry of scripted theater with the immediacy of improv comedy and asks as much from the audience as it does from the performer. While one evening’s performance may be lacking in suspense and focused more on metatextual, philosophical and linguistic play, another evening might take a much more serious and darker tone, depending upon the particular actor and particular audience.

Because of this, it is difficult to easily sum up “White Rabbit Red Rabbit.” Ground Floor Theatre’s production of the work taps into its inherent instability and spontaneity, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind theatrical experience that lives and dies each time a new actor opens to the first page of the script.

“White Rabbit Red Rabbit”
When: Various times Thursday-Sunday through March 31
Where: 979 Springdale Road, Suite 122
Cost: $25 suggested price
Information: groundfloortheatre.org


Rude Mechs modernizes another Shakespeare play, with dynamic results

It’s easy to see why “Troilus and Cressida” is considered one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays.” Tonally, it shifts wildly between witty comedy, brooding violence and sensual bawdiness, while its characters’ personalities are often enigmatically difficult to understand.

Though these issues might be a problem for a classical repertory theater that wants to stage the tragedy, they serve as nothing but an opportunity for Austin’s experimental theater collective the Rude Mechs. “Fixing Troilus & Cressida,” their latest work, takes “Troilus and Cressida” and turns it into a high-energy, accessible production for modern audiences.

This is the third production in the Rude Mechs’ Fixing Shakespeare Series, following “King John” and “Timon of Athens.” The idea behind the series, as the program explains, is to “take Shakespeare’s least produced plays, translate them line by line into contemporary English, including the cursing and vulgarity, cutting the number of characters down to about 10, gender screwing them towards parity, and editing the whole thing for joy with no fidelity to the original text.”

So does “Fixing Troilus & Cressida” actually “fix” Shakespeare? If the goal is to create a nuanced, exciting, darkly hilarious play that showcases the modern complexities of these characters, then it absolutely does.

To begin with, Kirk Lynn’s writing is sharply on point, updating Shakespeare’s language, especially the extended metaphors and smutty jokes, with a crackling vitality that is at turns downright hilarious and poignantly heartbreaking. Director Alexandra Bassiakuou Shaw — aided by the work of costume/properties designer Aaron Flynn, lighting designer Stephen Pruitt, composer/sound designer Peter Stopschinski, scenic designer Amanda Perry and stage manager Madison Scott — has taken that complex text and turned it into an immersive experience, where the line between actors and audience is frequently erased. The intimate staging, for example, gives new energy to Shakespeare’s frequent asides; it’s hard not to see these in a new light when an actor is giving this speech while looking directly into your eyes.

The cast, for their part, seem to revel in the opportunities provided by playing such linguistically nimble and athletically energetic parts in a uniquely interactive setting. By conflating Shakespeare’s large cast down to only ten parts, the text gives each character a variety of different levels to explore, ranging from snarky comedy to jealous rage.

The sharp divide between the more broadly humorous first act and the bloodily tragic second act starkly turns characters that had been comic relief in the first half into downright frightening figures in the second. Lauren Lane, for example, plays Agamomenem, a gender-switched version of Greek general Agamemnon, and effortlessly switches from a character whose every line elicits uproarious laughter to a vengeful leader in the midst of bloody warfare.

After the production, I overheard Jeff Mills, who plays Ulysses, say to a friend, “Everybody loves the villain.” To Mills’ credit (as well as Lynn and Shaw’s credit), not once during the production did I actually view Ulysses as a villain. Rather, he was a complex, if at times buffoonish, warrior with motivations that put him at odds with some of the other characters.

This is emblematic of what “Fixing Troilus & Cressida” does so well. It takes what is seen as a “problem” in the original Shakespearean text — the contradictions of characters from a playwright who is known for white-hatted heroes and black-capped villains — and turns it into a complicated exploration of decidedly modern characters.

You needn’t be a Shakespeare fan to enjoy “Fixing Troilus & Cressida”; you need only be a fan of interesting, dynamic theater.

“Fixing Troilus & Cressida”
When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday through March 31
Where: Nowlin Rehearsal Hall, Zach Theatre, 1426 Toomey Road
Cost: $5-$100
Information: rudemechs.com

Austin Symphony posts decisive new season

As Austin Symphony reveals its new season, Music Director Peter Bay talks about a decisive change in direction.

Peter Bay reveals decisive new season for Austin Symphony

“We are just going to play the pieces we ought to play,” Bay said over soup at Zax restaurant. “We got pigeon-holed into season-long themes. Now we will tie each individual concert together by a theme with variations.”

At times in past, Symphony seasons have seemed a bit tentative while trying to please key backers. Not this time out. Among the themed concerts in 2018-2019 season is an evening devoted to rarely performed works by women composers.

“They all would have had great careers,” Bay says of Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger and Fanny Mendelsson,” if being a composer was considered a career for women back then.”

Also on that program are two pieces by Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon.

The Symphony will salute the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, perhaps America’s greatest composer, with music from three of his Broadway shows as well as Divertimento for Orchestra.

It will also bring back nonagenarian pianist Leon Fleisher, who for a time lost the use of his right hand, and served as a mentor for Bay as a conductor.

“I owe him a lot,” Bays says. “He helped get my career started.”

The 2017 Texas Young Composers winner by Paul Novak, “On Buoyancy,” will advance to the Masterworks series.

“This is a first,” Bay says. “It deserved to be on the subscription program.”

Given all the tragedies in the news, the Symphony will return to another somber Requiem, this one by Johannes Brahms. Also, protean Robert Faires will reprise part of his one-actor “Henry V” for a Shakespearean program.

A dozen or so of the Masterworks selections are new to the Symphony, which has been keeping records since 1911, although spottily during a couple of decades.

ALSO READ: Archive of programs shine light on Symphony — and city’s — history.

The Austin Symphony’s 2018-2019 season contains some surprises.

And now for the complete 2018-2019 season:


“The Mighty Russians Part III” Season Opener

Lise de la Salle, piano

Glazunov: Carnaval Overture, op. 45

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1in F-sharp minor, Op. 1

Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony, Op. 58


“Happy Birthday, Lenny!”

Bernstein/Harmon: Suite from Candide

Bernstein: Divertimento for Orchestra

Bernstein: Selections from On the Town

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story


“Tale of Two Titans”

Orli Shaham, piano

Paul Novak: On Buoyancy (2017 Texas Young Composers winner)

Schumann: Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120

Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83


“Variation Voyage”

Leon Fleisher, piano

Ives/Schuman: Variations on “America”

Dvořák: Symphonic Variations on the Theme “I am a fiddler” for orchestra, Op. 78

Franck: Symphonic Variations, FWV 46

Britten: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell, Op. 34


“Brahms’ Requiem”

Conspirare Symphonic Choir

Craig Hella Johnson, conductor

Heather Phillips, soprano

Paul Tipton, baritone

Brahms: Variations on the St. Antoni Chorale, Op. 56a

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45


“Creative Expressions” Celebrating Women Composers

Time for Three (Nicolas Kendall, violin; Charles Yang, violin; Ranaan Meyer, double bass)

Michelle Schumann, piano

F. Mendelssohn: Overture in C Major

Boulanger: D’un matin de printemps

C.W. Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7

Kaprálová: Suita rustica, Op. 19

Higdon: Concerto 4-3


“Champions of Austria”

William Hagen, violin

Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 2 in D Major, K. 218

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D minor


“A Shakespearean Evening”

Robert Faires, actor

Chorus Austin

Berlioz: Excerpts from Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17

Walton: Henry V: A Shakespeare Scenario


POPS I: OCTOBER 27, 2018; Dell Hall

“Wizard of Oz” – Film with Orchestra

POPS II: DECEMBER 29/30, 2018; Palmer Events Center

Ella & Louis

With Byron Stripling & Carmen Bradford

POPS III: FEBRUARY 9, 2019; Dell Hall

“Singin’ in the Rain” – Film with Orchestra

POPS IV: MAY 31/JUNE 1, 2019; Palmer Events Center

The Broadway Soprano

Lisa Vroman


OCTOBER 28, 2018; AISD Performing Arts Center

Halloween Children’s Concert

DECEMBER 4, 2018; Hyde Baptist Church

Handel’s Messiah



DECEMBER 2019; Austin area

Christmas in the Community

JUNE – AUGUST 2019; Hartman Concert Park

Hartman Concerts in the Park

JULY 4, 2019; Vic Mathias Shores

H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks


Your input needed for Texas Medal of Arts Awards

Since 2001, the Texas Cultural Trust, an advocacy group, has been honoring our state’s luminaries through the Texas Medal of Arts. The laurels are bestowed every other year at one of the most glamorous galas in Texas. The most recent one in 2017 at Bass Concert Hall was a blow-out.

John Paul and Eloise DeJoria win a 2017 Texas Medal of Arts Award for their corporate philanthropy with Patron and Paul Mitchell. Contributed.

RELATED: What the arts mean to great Texas artists and patrons.

Now the Trust wants your input.

Send your nominations in by April 5, 2018 for the February 2019 edition of the honors. Categories include architecture, arts education, arts patron (corporate, foundation or individual), dance, design, film, lifetime achievement, literary arts, media/multimedia, music, television, theater and visual arts.

RELATED: Soaking up the glamour of Texas Medal of Arts.

For a complete list of past honorees, go here. The 2017 winners included Eloise and John Paul DeJoria with Paul Mitchell/Patron, Kris Kristofferson, Lynn Wyatt, Lauren Anderson, Yolanda Adams, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Tobin Endowmen, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Leo Villareal, Frank Welch, John Phillip Santos, Scott Pelley and Kenny Rogers.

A record 38 Austin area high school musicals up for awards

A record 38 area schools won nominations for the 2018 Greater Austin High School Musical Theatre Awards, which return to the Long Center for the Performing Arts on April 18.

If you haven’t already heard, this is one of the most entertaining — if overlong — evenings of the season. Not only are songs from nominated shows performed, the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress sing medleys, and the Long Center Select Ensemble adds its polished skills to still more show tunes. Can there be to many?

RELATED: All rise for Austin high school musicals!

The celebrity emcee this year will be Tyler Mount, who created Playbill’s “The Tyler Mount Vlog.” A graduate of St. Edward’s University and alumnus of Summer Stock Austin at the Long Center, Mount also has performed and produced on Broadway.

RELATED: Look who won the 2017 Austin high school musical awards.

More than 4,000 students participated in the 38 nominated shows.


Best Production

Akins High School—Hairspray

Cedar Ridge High School—Grease

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

Jack C. Hays High School—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

Round Rock High School—Guys and Dolls

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School—Chicago

Best Direction

Akins High School—Hairspray

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

Jack C. Hays High School—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

Round Rock High School—Guys and Dolls

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School—Chicago

Vista Ridge High School—Monty Python’s Spamalot

Best Ensemble

Cedar Ridge High School—Grease

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

East View High School—Damn Yankees

Jack C. Hays High School—The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Leander High School—The Addams Family

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School—Catch Me If You Can

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School—Chicago

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Jacob Hensey—Austin High School

Hunter Anderson—Bastrop High School

Evan Vines—Cedar Park High School

Justin Florie—Elgin High School

Brough Cosgrove & Ben Miller—Jack C. Hays High School

Keaton Brandt—McNeil High School

Keaton Pugh—Rouse High School

Nicholas Topfer—St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

Stone Mountain—St. Andrew’s Episcopal School

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Sydney LePage—Austin High School

Abigail Holtfort—Cedar Park High School

Katie Haberman—Dripping Springs High School

Erin Swearingen—Jack C. Hays High School

Maddy Sparkes—James Bowie High School

Helena Laing—McCallum Fine Arts Academy

Heidi Wilding—Round Rock High School

Brooke Silverstein—St. Stephen’s Episcopal School

Brittany Young—Vandegrift High School

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Jack White—Cedar Ridge High School

Preston Willis—Dripping Springs High School

Anthony Collins—Lanier High School

Jordan Williams—Leander High School

Zane Sanchez—Liberty Hill High School

Cooper Ward—Round Rock High School

Elliot Esquivel—Rouse High School

Andrew Yow—St. Stephen’s Episcopal School

Ryan Mills—Vista Ridge High School

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Quinn Skarnulis—Anderson High School

Jessica Marcano—Cedar Ridge High School

Emily Warkentin—Dripping Springs High School

Taylor Cooper—Jack C. Hays High School

Riley Sugrue—James Bowie High School

Zoe Gonzalez—Lake Travis High School

Caroline Holmes—Leander High School

Christine Ashbaugh—Marble Falls High School

Lexi Wood—Round Rock High School

Best Featured Performer

Sadie Seddon-Stettler—Anderson High School

Shawn Patterson—Cedar Creek High School

Emily Pesina—Del Valle High School

Cassie Martin—Dripping Springs High School

Noah Wood—East View High School

Krista Hollins—Lanier High School

Sean Hall—LBJ/LASA High School

Jared Brown—Lehman High School

Lucas Boyles—Rouse High School

Catherine Hipolito—Stony Point High School

Darrin Redford—Tom Glenn High School

William Sheriff—Vista Ridge High School

Best Orchestra

Akins High School—Hairspray

James Bowie High School—Mary Poppins

LBJ/LASA High School­—9 to 5 The Musical

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

McNeil High School—The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Round Rock High School—Guys and Dolls

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

Vista Ridge High School—Monty Python’s Spamalot

Best Scenic Design

Akins High School—Hairspray

Austin High School—Avenue Q School Edition

Del Valle High School—The Addams Family

Elgin High School—Seussical

Lanier High School—Avenue Q School Edition

Leander High School—The Addams Family

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School—Catch Me If You Can

Best Musical Direction

Cedar Ridge High School—Grease

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

James Bowie High School—Mary Poppins

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

Round Rock High School—Guys and Dolls

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School—Catch Me If You Can

Vista Ridge High School—Monty Python’s Spamalot

Best Costume Design

Akins High School—Hairspray

David Crockett High School—Heathers (High School Edition)

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

Lehman High School—Pippin

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School—Catch Me If You Can

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School—Chicago

Vista Ridge High School—Monty Python’s Spamalot

Best Lighting Design

Akins High School—Hairspray

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

Hendrickson High School—Heathers (High School Edition)

Lake Travis High School—The Wedding Singer

Lanier High School—Avenue Q School Edition

Marble Falls High School—Guys and Dolls

McCallum Fine Arts Academy—West Side Story

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

Best Technical Execution

Bastrop High School—Little Shop of Horrors

Dripping Springs High School—The Addams Family

East View High School—Damn Yankees

James Bowie High School—Mary Poppins

Round Rock High School—Guys and Dolls

Rouse High School—Shrek the Musical

St. Andrew’s Episcopal School—Catch Me If You Can

St. Stephen’s Episcopal School—Chicago