The Ensemble Makes Money Funny with Season Comedy Livin Fat

HOUSTON, April 22, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre brings the seventies back with laughter in its season comedy, Livin' Fat, by award winning playwright Judi Ann Mason, opening April 30, 2009, 7:30pm.

"The dialogue you hear was intentionally peppered with the hip lexicon of my generation," says Judi Ann Mason, Livin' Fat playwright. "The title, Livin' Fat, came from the hot, spicy language of '70s black cool."

Livin Fat introduces audiences to the Cooper family, whose money may be tight, but their affection for each other is limitless. Everything changes, however, when son David Lee, a college graduate forced by the economy to work as a bank janitor, interrupts a robbery. In their haste to get away the thieves drop a bundle of money, which David Lee picks up-it's $15,000. When the family finds out where the money came from, their scruples are tested, but they finally agree that the Lord works in mysterious ways and this time he's working for them.

"Things are so tense with our nations' economic climate, I knew the situation in which the Cooper family finds themselves would not only make us laugh, but spur our imagination to wonder," says Eileen J. Morris, Ensemble Artistic Director and Director of Livin' Fat. "Throw in the fact that this story takes place in the 70s, complete with bellbottoms, platform shoes, and the language of the times and you got one far out show with some real psychedelic vibes, you dig?"

Playwright Judi Ann Mason was the first person awarded the Norman Lear Award for comedy writing from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for her play, Livin' Fat, while attending Grambling State University. She later won the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award for A Star Ain't Nothin' But A Hole In Heaven. A few of her television, film, and other stage credits include: Good Times, Sanford and Son, A Different World, Beverly Hills, 90210; Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Motherland and the Emmy Award/CableACE Award nominated Sophie And The Moonhanger; and The Cornbread Man and Indigo Blues. She continues to teach playwriting for a number of universities such as the University of Florida, Gainsville, University of Louisville, and others.

Preview Dates: Saturday, April 25: 8:00p.m; Sunday, April 26: 3:00p.m; Wednesday, April 29: 7:30p.m.

Show Run: April 30 - May 24, 2009

Performances: Thursdays: 7:30p.m.; Fridays: 8:00p.m.; Saturdays: 2:00p.m. and 8:00p.m.; and Sundays: 3:00p.m.

     ***Opening Night is Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 7:30p.m.;
                     Reception at 6:30p.m.***
      For subscription information, ticket sales or groups sales, 
                call the box office at (713) 520-0055

Featured Actors Include: Kendrick Brown, Estella Henderson, Byron Jacquet, Joyce Anastasia Murray, Joseph "Joe P." Palmore, and Bebe Wilson.

The Ensemble Theatre's 2008-2009 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Texas Commission on the Arts. Continental Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. This production was generously underwritten by Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts and CenterPoint Energy.

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 six 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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