Close to four hundred packed into the Freeport LNG Theater at The Center for the Arts and Sciences last night to see Brazosport Center Stages’ production of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.” Director Wes Copeland tried his hand at a summer musical for the first time and did himself proud.
There were the usual outstanding music and acting performances that you can always expect from Brazosport Center Stages’ productions. What pushed this one over the top was dance. Melodie Steiner took a few trained dancers and a lot of other people who seldom even try a two step on a Saturday night and brought the stage to life with the art that doesn’t get much mention in community theater productions. Of course, there were a few really good ones, dance majors who are off from college for the summer. But most of the folks on stage learned their steps during the last few weeks from Melodie, a local dancer and dance teacher. Now you should call her choreographer, too.
Of course, there was the music man himself, Tony Stewart, an Angleton ISD choir director. And would I ever be able to convince you that Angleton ISD librarian, Rachael Welsh, played the role of Marian, the librarian? They were exceptional.
And no report on this show would be complete without noting the comic talent of the Pick-a-Little Ladies and their own dance instructor, Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, played by the inimitable Judi James. She was suitably imperious for her role as the First Lady of River City and plenty funny for the folks who came to see The Music Man do his magic with the children of River City.
Judi is second from left in the above photo. You won’t want to miss her performance.
There are five more shows: tonight at 7:30, a Sunday matinee (July 15), and another round of three performances next weekend.
The summer musical is always the big event for Brazosport Center Stages. This year it is Meredith Willson’s The Music Man and tickets are now available to members and the general public for the July 13 opening in the Freeport LNG venue in Clute.
Brazosport Center Stages last presented The Music Man in 1990. Director Wes Copeland thought it was time to do it again and proposed it to the Center Stages season committee and they agreed. It is now in rehearsal.
The Music Man is one of America’s favorite musicals with lots of kids, marching bands, patriotic tableaus and colorful costumes. Six performances are scheduled in the Freeport LNG large theater venue:
Friday, July 13, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 15, 2:30 p.m. (matinee)
Friday, July 20, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 21, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 22, 2:30 p.m. (matinee)
I suggest getting your reservations as soon as you can. Summer shows at BCS typically sell out and this show has a lot of kids on stage which means lots of grandparents in the audience. ACT NOW.
If you come from Houston, head south on Highway 288 and take the Oyster Creek exit in Lake Jackson. Turn left (east) and proceed three miles on Oyster Creek (which becomes College Drive) and The Center will be on the left in front of the Brazosport College campus.
My son played Tommy Djilas in 1990. He is now 46 with three kids of his own. His oldest son could play Tommy Djilas now. Cheryl costumed the show for director Maureen Denver and is assisting Tina Gray in costuming the current edition. Those costumes have been carefully stored and preserved from 1990 and are ready to use again – if anyone will fit them.
Growing up in Jacinto City, Texas, I was well within the urban lasso of Houston, yet I was insulated from its cultural amenities by barriers of transportation and income. Downtown Houston was a 30 to 45 minute bus ride from Jacinto City with lots of stops along the way for pickup and dropoff. We could do a few of the things that were free such as the zoo, the public parks, the art museum, and the free concerts at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park. But those were rare occasions and I grew up without an ear for good music, with the barest exposure to the visual arts, and no experience with drama beyond the plays I saw on our high school stage.
My participation in the arts did not improve much as an adult after moving into the city proper and having a better income of my own. This reduced the impact of the barriers of distance and income but did not eliminate them completely.
Then, in 1982, we moved to an exurban area of Brazoria County – south of town, Lake Jackson. We were far enough removed from Houston that its urban amenities were virtually out of reach. For the kids in the poorer homes in our area, they were distant dreams if they were dreams at all.
But not long after arriving here, we learned that the performing and visual arts were available, affordable and a quick three mile drive down Oyster Creek Drive to the Brazosport Center for the Arts and Sciences.
My posts have tended to dwell on the things we have done wrong politically, socially and economically and continue doing wrong. Those things form the basis of the pieces carrying the title Our Bitter Legacy. But, of course, there are some things we are doing right. The Brazosport Center for Arts and Sciences is one of them. It argues for recognition that we are also at work on our legacy of hope.
Brazosport Center Stages opens The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet tonight in the Dow Arena Theater. The play will run two weekends. Reservations at The Center for Arts and Sciences.
I have seen several rehearsals. The only big disappointment is that Sharon Barnes starts singing “How Great Thou Art” as she works alone in Hattie’s Restaurant but stops when the New York director, Lauren McTeer played by Laura Woodson, enters.
Somebody may slip Laura some money to get her to miss her entrance so Sharon will have to finish the song.
My personal archive of theater shots is on Flickr. Please feel free to go there and have a preview of the The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet. It opens tomorrow night, April 27. I am still “in the darkroom” with the photos I took at the Monday rehearsal, so check back occasionally to see if I have posted more of them.
As a preview for your preview, here is Laura Woodson, playing a New York director gone to West Virginia to take Shakespeare to the boonies. Please, Will, tell me why we are doing this to ourselves?
Tonight I will take some rehearsal photographs of “The Little Theater’s Production of Hamlet” directed by Jean Warren, one of our Brazosport Center Stages Superstars. You can make your reservations here. I hope to post some shots of the rehearsal here later in the week. The show opens Friday night, April 27.
Superstar is a recognition of lifetime achievement for theater arts volunteers who have made outstanding contributions in acting, directing, producing, and technical theater at Brazosport Center Stages. Jean is a BCS Superstar and was officially recognized by the Board of Directors at the 2017 annual meeting.
I had the pleasure of working with Jean in 2013 in her production of “Camping with Henry and Tom”. The play is a fictionalized dramatization of a real 1921 camping trip involving Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and President Warren G. Harding. As Thomas Edison I had a good many lines to learn and, at the age of 70, that was not easy. At the annual meeting the next summer, Jean gave me one of her show awards. It was a small cast so not too many people were denied the honor by her act of kindness. I still kid her about giving me an Oscar for remembering my lines. Actually, for almost remembering my lines, most of the time.