This post originally published on the Downtown Houston Center Stage Blog
Writer’s Note: Riverdance and RAIN were added to the season after this interview had taken place.
I had the fortunate pleasure to sit down via the phone with the president of the Hobby Center Foundation, Fran Macfarren, to discuss the 2011-2012 Gexa Energy Broadway Series season. This is Macfarren’s sixth season at the Hobby Center. I opened the interview asking him about what kind of through goes into a Gexa Energy Broadway Series season.
He told me that their audiences like to see the hottest new shows on Broadway with a good classic or two. This season fits that mold pretty well with five Houston premieres, and one lion of Broadway classic.
I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to talk to many of the performers that have toured through Houston. I got the sense they really enjoyed performing in the Hobby Center. I asked Macfarren about this. Hobby Center was built at a time when the Broadway touring market had matured. The building was built with megatours (i.e. Phantom the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, etc.) in mind. Hobby Center was built for all kinds of performances.
This has allowed the Hobby Center the freedom to continually offering a little bit of something for everyone each season. While we joked that presidents and executive directors of every performing arts group in the country say the same thing every year, it’s really true about this year’s Broadway Across America season.
Memphis – October 25-30, 2011
Memphis is the 2010 Tony winner for Best Musical. Inspired by real events, Memphis follows the story of a white DJ and a black club singer looking for her big break. Memphis is going to be one of a big hits of this Theater District season. Great music, great dancing, and Houston is the second stop as the national tour sets out across the country. Be one of the first to see this Broadway hit here in Houston!
Addams Family – January 10-15, 2012
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, Mysterious and spooky, They’re all together ooky, The Addams Family.
Macfarren commented that Addams Family was a perfect fit for a post-holiday family performance. The musical is everything we’ve come to expect from the Addams Family. The story centers around Wednesday Addams’ new boyfriend, a perfectly sweet, normal young man. Mayhem and laughs ensue! Expect great sets, and a very wonderful cast led by Douglas Stills as Gomez Addams.
Million Dollar Quartet – February 28 – March 4, 2012
With Million Dollar Quartet, The Gexa Energy Broadway Series returns to Memphis with another story that finds it roots in real events. On December 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and and Carl Perkins met in Sun Records in Memphis for is hailed as the greatest jam sessions of all time. This musical is clearly intended for fans of these great artists’ music.
Come Fly Away – April 10-15, 2012
This is one of two shows from this season that I cannot wait to see. Come Fly Away brings together the music of Frank Sinatra and the choreography of Twyla Tharp. If you have seen Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, then you know exactly what to expect from this musical. What makes this performance different is the lack of dialogue. This is very much a dance-centric performance, and Macfarren assures me we will be blown away by the the choreography and athleticism of the dancers. Definitely a must see performance!
Wishful Drinking – May 15-20, 2012
Ever since I first read about Carrie Fisher’s book, Wishful Drinking, in Entertainment Weekly, I was hoping for a stage version. The play is the true life story behind Carrie Fisher, the actress who played Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies. She was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Wishful Drinking has performed in front of packed houses across the country, most notable New York’s Studio 54. It is a decidedly adult themed addition to the Gexa Energy Broadway Series, and one of my most anticipated performances in the Theater District this season.
Lion King – July 10 – August 12, 2012
This video says more about Lion King than I can ever hope to capture. It is the classic of the season, it is larger than life, it is one of the classic modern day Broadway musicals. And Houston is going to get an whole month of it next summer. Hakuna Matata!
As indicated at the top of this post, Riverdance and RAIN were added after I had the chance to speak with Fran Macfarren. I will see what I can do to bring you more information on these musicals. However, like Lion King, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot you need to know about Riverdance. RAIN, on the other hand, looks to be a must see for any Beatles fan.
I hope to see you out at the Hobby Center for this exciting season!