Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other relevant information.
Stage Notes Calendar
Opening this week:
Circle Theatre: Artemisia, today-Feb. 24, pictured.
The Daisha Gallery previews TITAS show with Santos Salon
On Thursday evening, TITAS director Charles Santos will have his Salon Series in a new venue. In his salons, he often speaks with the choreographers and creatives about their processes before performance nights. This salon will preview Rome & Jewels by Rennie Harris Puremovement.
From Daisha Gallery:
Join us for a conversation with Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, founder Rennie Harris Puremovement and creator of Rome & Jewels, the award-winning masterwork of street dance theater. Charles Santos, TITAS Executive/Artistic Director and Daisha Board, owner of Daisha Board Gallery will moderate this multifaceted and dynamic conversation.
Founded in 1992, Puremovement has become a prominent international ambassador for hip-hop and street dance. Hailed as an Elizabethan masterpiece, Rome & Jewels is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but reimagined in the streets of Philadelphia with Juliet never seen onstage. Rome & Jewels won three Bessie Awards, a Shakespeare Theater Award, and was nominated for a Lawrence Olivier award.
Rome & Jewels by Rennie Harris Puremovement performs Friday and Saturday at Moody Performance Hall. For tickets, click here.
The Santos Salon Series will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at Daisha Board Gallery. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Core Theatre launches fundraising campaign
This Richardson-based company announced Wednedsay that it has started an online fundraising campaign. Proceeds will go toward its 2024 season. Donations are tiered to help know where money is going to. Amounts are broken down and described as going toward costumes, paint, script rentals, etc. The Core will also give special recognition to contributors for donations and purchases in the show programs. The company is working to raise $15,000 by the end of May.
To contribute, click here.
Theatre Wesleyan adds understudy performance of Exit
Theatre Wesleyan has added an additional performance to its run of Lauren Gunderson’s revenge comedy, Exit, Pursued By A Bear. Directed by Circle Theatre Artistic Director, Ashley H. White, the understudy cast will give a star turn on the Feb. 22 evening performance. White serves as a guest director for Texas Wesleyan University’s theatre department.
In Exit, Pursued By A Bear, Nan has decided to teach her abusive husband Kyle a lesson. With the help of her friend Simon (acting as her emotional – and actual – cheerleader) and a dancer named Sweetheart, she tapes Kyle to a chair and forces him to watch as they reenact scenes from their painful past. In the pièce de résistance, they plan to cover the room in meat and honey so Kyle will be mauled by a bear. This dark revenge comedy is a night of emotional trials and ridiculous theatrics.
Exit, Pursued By A Bear runs Feb. 15-Feb. 25 at the Thad Smotherman Theatre at Texas Wesleyan University. Tickets are now on sale here.
Echo Theater opens new season with a regional premiere by Shyama Nithiananda
Echo Theater will kick off its 2024 Season of Unease with the first of two winners of its Texas Shout Out New Play Contest. The company will premiere Shyama Nithiananda’s Feeding the Cat, Incorrectly, Several Times Over on Feb. 8-24 at the Bath House Cultural Center. The show is directed by Katie Ibrahim.
This will be a remarkable weekend for Nithiananda who will also be acting in the opening of Kitchen Dog Theatre’s Shape the same weekend.
Director Katie Ibrahim said in a press release, “I have had the pleasure of working with Shyama and the Feeding the Cat… script for over a year now, and I am thrilled it is getting a full production at Echo Theatre. It’s a story full of poetry and magic, routines and procedures, and it ultimately asks us to examine the realities of the choices we make and how we justify them.”
About the show:
Dive into this season’s opening production to experience the private lives of two young women, the secrets they keep and the realities they are forced to face.
Jo and Jen live parallel lives: They study medicine. They pay the rent. They fight with their partners. And they keep big secrets. When Jo’s decision to keep a patient’s secret backfires, she must reckon with her responsibility to partners, strangers, and enemies alike. A familiar, then visceral and surreal experience.
Content warnings for language, blood, adult themes, depictions of medical procedures, and discussions of domestic violence. Viewer discretion advised.
Also, did you know about the Echo On free ticket program?
Up to 10 free tickets are set aside at every performance, first come first served. These are open to all military (active or retired), first responders, teachers, nurses, and anyone who otherwise could not afford the price of admission at this time. To reserve seats, patrons should email the Box Office directly at email@example.com and request one or two free tickets.
Echo only asks that when checking in at the Box Office for guests to share their zip code and demographic information only that helps provide date for its granting organizations. Plus, they ask ticket recipients of “Echo On” to spread the word about the show and theater experience.
WaterTower Theatre announces Spring Gala date
This year, WTT is pivoting its focus for its annual event. WTT describes this year’s Spring Gala “more like an un-gala – all fun, no fluff.” This year, the company will show what they mean on March 9 with its Shaken Not Stirred Spring Gala 2024 at the Addison Theatre Centre. And yes, the theme is what you think.
We’re still giving, still celebrating, but without all of the stuffy parts you might normally get at a traditional gala.
The mood is all things James Bond – international man of mystery. And we’re bringing that big Bond energy with great entertainment, delicious food, Bond-inspired beverages and even a few tricks.
The event will feature a silent auction and cocktail reception. That will be followed by entertainment and dinner and then the after-party for music, dancing and karaoke. Seating is limited so WTT suggests purchasing tickets now for the fundraising affair.
Review: Aladdin is exactly the colorful spectacle you’re hoping for
Fans of the animated movie (and maybe the live action) won’t find the same charm of Disney’s theatrical production of Aladdin. There’s no monkey sidekick Abu or Jasmine’s protective tiger Rajah. Iago is totally human. But Aladdin does not hold back on sentiment and spectacle and in pure Disney fashion, the production goes big with colors, special effects and new songs.
Aladdin opened Wednesday night for a one-week engagement at Bass Hall. When the Genie (Nichalas L. Parker) appeared solo at the curtain, the crowd exploded into applause clearly ready for the experience. That appreciation never faltered through the night’s musical numbers amid gorgeous sets.
Of course, the talent delivered all that with enthusiasm and energy.
Adi Roy played a delightful Aladdin. He played the character with a certain brashness but still kept a likeability to him. He was heartfelt in ballads like “Proud of Your Boy” and then ebullient in bigger numbers. Nicole Lamb gave Jasmine a modern vibe with her inflections but also gave a steadfast performance as a young empowered woman. Anand Nagraj played Jafar with a delicious menace. With a penchant for flared gestures and evil laughs, Jafar oozed the most fabulosity despite his dark intentions.
Aaron Choi’s Iago was a bit too cartoonish in comparison to his counterparts. Aladdin’s gang of Babkak (J. Andrew Speas), Omar (Nathan Levy) and Kassim (Colt Prattes) were a fine stand-in for Abu, Aladdin’s original monkey sidekick. They seemed more to serve the song and dance numbers of the songs that were added to the stage production. But their physical humor and dance moves were always top notch.
Parker’s Genie was boisterous fun to watch. He camped up the character with an abundance of energy that kept all eyes on him.
The sets were colorful and lush with the special effects showing off some cool tricks that ranged from digital displays to how-did-they-do-thats. The moment everyone perhaps waited for didn’t disappoint. In “A Whole New World,” Jasmine and Aladdin fly across the stage on the magical carpet that was truly breathtaking. Other effects were lacking such as the first appearance of the Genie after Aladdin rubs it. The guy just literally jumped from behind a column. Jafar has some stunning costume change tricks onstage during a final confrontation, but that exciting moment was soon lost when the resolution felt a bit abrupt and anticlimactic.
The joy though in Aladdin was its visual appeal and the talent that delivered a marvelous experience all around.