The Ensemble Theatre Announces Its 2013-2014 Season

Houston, Texas, UNITED STATES

HOUSTON, May 1, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director, Eileen J. Morris, announces the theatre's 2013-2014 season that includes a variety of comedies, dramas, and musical productions.

"I am excited about this year's season," says Morris. "Every story that is told on stage transports us to a different space and time where one magical moment can bring us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world."

Magical moments of the season begin with the regional premiere comedy, Immediate Family, by Paul Oakley Stovall that reveals the dynamics of a modern family; The Ensemble Theatre has commissioned a new work and world premiere holiday musical fairytale by playwright/ composer Carlton Leake; The Meeting, by Jeff Stetson highlights an engaging encounter between civil rights icons Malcolm X and Martin Luther King; in the regional premiere comedy By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, we take a look at racial stereotypes against the glamorous 1930's golden age of Hollywood; next, an older woman and younger gentleman try to escape the realities of World War II Harlem, New York by taking refuge in each other's hearts in The Ensemble Theatre's revival of The Old Settler, by John Henry Redwood; and the season finale musical and regional premiere I Wish You Love by Dominic Taylor gives an intimate portrait of the life and music of Nat "King" Cole.

This year's Annual Celebrity Black Tie Gala will be held Saturday, August 17, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Houston – Downtown. The gala serves as the theatre's largest fundraising endeavor while honoring celebrity guests, rising artists, and corporate sponsors for their commitment to advancing the arts.

The theatre's 12th Annual Golf Tournament is Monday, October 21, 2013 at the Northgate Country Club golf course. The tournament was established as fundraising support for all of the theatre's youth programs.

The Ensemble Theatre's Touring Education program will be expanded into a mini season of children's theatre available to families and schools. The Young Performers Program has added week long sessions during spring and winter breaks along with a pre-k/ kindergarten session to supplement the two month-long regular sessions during the summer.

Young Performers Program Sessions:

Winter Break:
Dec. 26-27/ Dec. 30-31, 2013; and Jan. 2-3, 2014
Spring Break: March 17-21, 2014
Pre-K/ Kindergarten: May 27-30, 2014
Summer Session I: June 2-28, 2014
Summer Session II: July 7-August 12, 2014

Act One, the theatre's community of young professionals will host a series of networking mixers, including two events in collaboration with other Houston Area young professionals: a February Black History Month Mixer, and an April, National Poetry Month showcase entitled: Drama-try[tree]: A Night of Dramatic Poetry at The Ensemble.

The Ensemble Theatre's 2013-2014 Season Includes:

Immediate Family
R/ Comedy/ Regional Premiere
Adult themes and strong language
By Paul Oakley Stovall
Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: Sept. 21, 22, 25
Opening Night and Media Reception: Sept. 26, 2013
Runs: Sept. 26 - Oct. 20, 2013

In the Bryant family's Hyde Park home, things run amok when prodigal son Jesse shows up for a family wedding with his Swedish "friend," who is actually his boyfriend. Evy can't understand why her younger brothers are so mysterious and distant; Jesse is afraid to be true to himself and honest with his family; and no one can understand why Tony is so eager to get married. This family reunion turns into a family showdown when the realities of race, religion, and sexuality collide. Modern Family meets Soul Food as these siblings try to bridge their differences with a little help from God, a few card games and their Immediate Family.

Holiday Production - TBD
G/ Musical/ World Premiere
Book, Original Music, and Lyrics by Carlton Leake
Directed and Choreographed by Patdro Harris

Previews: Nov. 9, 10, 13
Opening Night and Media Reception: Nov. 14, 2013
Runs: Nov. 14 – Dec. 22, 2013

Aga, king of Abahu, gives the call of Christmas at the Royal Christmas Festival (a three hundred year old tradition), by playing the Christmas Djembe (African drum) on Christmas day in the festival square. It is also the wedding day of King Aga and the entire kingdom is celebrating except for Kalisha, the twin sister of Aga. Kalisha is jealous of Aga's happiness and power plots against him. Later, the king was filled with joy because of the birth of his first child, an adorable baby girl, Nika. During this time, the Christmas Djembe was hidden and could not be found. As time goes on and Nika grows up, she befriends Binah and they journey to find the Djembe. Side by side, they save the kingdom, restore the Christmas call and most of all the true spirit of Christmas.  

The Meeting
PG, Drama
By Jeff Stetson
Directed by Shirley Marks Whitmore

Previews: Jan. 25, 26, 29
Opening Night and Media Reception: Jan. 30, 2014
Runs: Jan. 30 - Feb. 23, 2014

Fascinating and dramatically compelling, this eloquent play depicts the supposed meeting of two of the most important men of modern times; Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Differing in their philosophies, but alike in their mutual respect, the two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems, both prepared to die for their beliefs but neither aware of how soon their assassins' bullets would await them. 

By The Way, Meet Vera Stark
PG-13/ Comedy/ Regional Premiere
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: Mar. 15, 16, 19
Opening Night and Media Reception: Mar. 20, 2014
Runs: Mar. 20 - Apr. 14, 2014

In a new comedy from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Ruined, Lynn Nottage draws upon the screwball films of the 1930's to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK is a seventy year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold on to her career. When circumstances collide and both women land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a surprising and controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come.         

The Old Settler
PG-13/ Drama / Revival
By John Henry Redwood
Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: May 3, 4, 7
Opening Night and Media Reception: May 8, 2014
Runs: May 8 - June 1, 2014   

In World War II Harlem, New York, a fifty-five-year-old spinster (or as they were called in those days—an Old Settler), Elizabeth Borny, takes in a young male roomer, Husband Witherspoon, to help her with the rent. Husband has come to Harlem from South Carolina to search for his girlfriend, Lou Bessie Preston. Also living with Elizabeth is her sister, Quilly McGrath, fifty-three. There is an ominous cloud of tension that hangs over Elizabeth and Quilly's relationship. This tension is further exacerbated when Elizabeth and Husband take to liking each other. Quilly, who doesn't like Husband living with them in the first place, surely doesn't approve of their "carrying on," especially since Elizabeth is old enough to be Husband's mother. It is this "carrying on" that exposes a thirty-year-old wound which, until now, only had a bandage—now the wound can heal for the sisters.

I Wish You Love
PG-13/ Musical/ Regional Premiere
By Dominic Taylor
Directed by Lou Bellamy

Previews: June 21, 22, 25
Opening Night and Media Reception: June 26, 2014
Runs: June 26 - July 27, 2014

In 1957, Americans were falling in love to the sweet sounds of Nat "King" Cole. His carefully manicured image distracted an entire generation of white viewers from the reality of racial violence raging in the streets. Still, Cole believed that with enough talent and persistence he would be judged on the content of his character as opposed to the color of his skin. Join us for an intimate portrait of one man, his music, and the dreams of a nation.

For information regarding subscriptions, tickets, group sales, and other theatre programing call The Ensemble Theatre Box Office: 713-520-0055 or visit

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African-American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African-American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997.

The Ensemble Theatre produces a main stage season of contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.


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