First Friday in Downtown Bryan is always a special event, but this week's promises to be bigger than ever, one fit for a Queen.
That's right, after decades of neglect and eight years of restoration, the Queen Theatre on Main Street will have its formal dedication Friday. What a great day it will be in the renaissance of Downtown.
Activities get underway at 4 p.m. with the ribbon cutting with the Chamber of Commerce, followed at 5 p.m. with tours of the first floor. There also will be a viewing of a short documentary by Donny Hall of Studio 82tx. Free popcorn will be provided.
In a special salute to the Queen's rich history, the Aggieland Orchestra will perform in front of the grand old theater at 5 p.m., a nod to the 1939 re-opening of the Queen, when the "A and M College Orchestra" played for the event.
Two days later, on May 6, the venerable Downtown landmark will host the annual Red Wasp Film Festival.
Having spent many an enjoyable Saturday afternoon at the Queen when I was growing up, the most exciting aspect of the Queen's renewal is the return of regular movies to the theater, starting May 11.
The first movie will be Fifth Avenue Girl starring Ginger Rogers, another tip of the hat to the Queen's history. It was the first film to play at the Queen's reopening in 1939.
Plans are to show 10 films a week, with a mix of classics and new films that normally wouldn't play in Bryan and College Station. Admission will be $5 for everyone.
Among the films to be screened in May are The Last Picture Show, The Fellowship of the Ring, Camelot, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Superman.
There's too much going on at the Queen to list here, but The Eagle will run a special Queen tab on Thursday with everything you could want to know about the return of this grand theater.
Organic Star Wars
That's not all going on Friday. Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church will host a "Star Wars Pipe Extravaganza" at 7 p.m. Friday. Alan Strong, the amazingly talented organist at Saint Andrew's will present a selection of Star Wars music on the church's 45-rank American Classic organ.
No doubt you'll recognize John Williams' familiar music, including the Star Wars main theme, The Force and Princess Leia's themes, as well as the music of the Cantina Band from Episode IV of the film series and The Imperial March -- Darth Vader's theme -- from Episode V. The rousing finale will evoke memories of the closing moments and credits from Episode IV: A New Hope.
Imagine all that great music played on a classic pipe organ.
The concert is free and attendees are invited to wear Star Wars costumes. Saint Andre's Episcopal Church is located at 217 W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan.
Friday is the perfect day for the concert as May 4th has been proclaimed Star Wars Day, as in "May the 4th be with you."
Who doesn't have memories of Willie Wonka and his incredible chocolate factory? Surely every child (and probably more than a few adults) dreamed of making a visit.
Starting this Friday, area residents will have that opportunity when Brazos Valley TROUPE opens a six-show run of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka jr. Performances will be at 7:30 P.M. Friday, Saturday and May 11 and 12. Matinees at 3 p.m. will be May 6 and May 12. All performances will be at TROUPE's 29th Street Studio, 3702 E. 29th St. in Bryan's Town & Country Center.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for TROUPE members and $7 for ages 3-11. Premium seating at tables in front of the stage is $25 or four for $85. Bistro seating at tall tables in the rear of the theater is limited but will be available for $20. All table seating comes with concession tokens. TROUPE members may place reservations via email at email@example.com. Tickets are available on Eventbrite -- www.eventbrite.com -- for non-members.
Willy Wonka jr. is the story of Charlie Bucket, one of five children who win a tour of the Wonka chocolate factory in a contest. Charlie is a good guy, but the other winners are insufferable brats. All five children must learn to follow Willy Wonka's rules or suffer the consequences.
All the familiar songs from the 1971 movie are included, along with a selection of songs written for the stage musical.
Jacob Smith stars as Willy Wonka, the Candyman, with Josh Poirot as Charlie Bucket and Brit Holland as his Grandpa Joe. The rest of Charlie's family include Jesse Burdine as Mr. Bucket, Haille Goodman as Mrs. Bucket, Kit Rodriguez as Grandma Josephina, Tommy Rowan as Grandpa George and Pam Radwick as Grandma Georgina.
The other winners of the contest and their families are portrayed by Ron Toback-Wolf as August Gloop, Jeannie Goodman as Mrs. Gloop, Maddie Weeks as Violet Beauregarde, Laura Shahan as Mrs. Bearegarde, Emma West as Veruca Salt, Zane Veteto as Mr. Salt, Patrick Greenwood as Mike Teavee and Beverly Greenwood as Ms. Teavee.
Maren Burdine as Phineous Trout introduces several of the characters as the media representative of the show.
Two ensembles round out the casting of the show, including an ensemble of kids and Wonka employees played by Izzy Burlin, Chloe Burrescia, Tyler Burtin, Jadyn Case, Dean Crick, Sofia Crick, William Crick, Mya Hardin, Claire McAdams and Paige Perrone. Another ensemble includes the popular and well-known Wonka workers, The Oompa-Loompas: Larkin Burdine, Nicolas Burrescia, Carabelle Case, Parker Conley, Ramona Dworkin, Eleanor Garrison-Tate, Grace Greenwood, Evelyn Schmeichel, Ryder Shahan, Elizabeth Stanton and Ethan Weaver.
Crew for Willy Wonka jr. includes Shelby Rowan, costume designer; Ginny Garrison-Tate and Jennifer Weeks, costumers; Todd Moats, set and properties designer; Haille Goodman, scenic and properties designer; Laura Shahan, hair and makeup designer; Mollie Rush, hair designer and production design specialist; Calista Moats, technical designer and production design specialist; Michelle Moats, ambiance designer; Emma Lawson, vocal director; Ronica Case, vocal harmonies specialist; Jenna Dworkin, choreographer; M.A. Sterling, director, choreographer and director of musical staging; Crystal Engand, backstage coordinator; Henry England and Caroline Stanton, stage managers; and Kentaro Yamauchi, crew chief.
Set designer Todd Moats, who grew up in TROUPE and just returned from a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, said, "It has been great to reimerse myself with Brazos Valley TROUPE in the production of Willy Wonka. In the five years I was gone, some kids have grown, graduated, and many new kids have found an interest in theater, but TROUPE has remained constant by introducing the kids to the world of fine arts.
"As for Willy Wonka, I'm looking forward to kids pushing themselves to their own personal limit and learning that they have talents that, perhaps elsewhere, would not be been able to shine the way TROUPE allows them to."
Vocal director Emma Lawson, another TROUPE veteran, said, "This is my first time helping out with the music section of a show and I've been learning along with the kids I help teach. For a lot of them, this is their first time singing but you could not tell at a first glance.
"I'm proud of the effort and love what is going into this show and am excited to see what comes next!"
If you've got it, flute it
One of the great delights of living in the Brazos Valley is the chance to hear the always-wonderful Brazos Breeze Flute Choir.
The Flute Choir will perform its final concert of the season at 5 p.m. May 6 at First United Methodist Church in Bryan. The Brazos Breeze is an ensemble in residence at the church.
The church is located at 506 E. 28th St. near Downtown Bryan. The concert is free, but a freewill offering will be accepted to help pay expenses.
The Brazos Breeze will perform a wide variety of works, featuring selections from standard classical literature and original pieces written for flute choir. Composers featured on the program include Bedrich Smetana, Henry Filmore, Claude Debussy, Greg Lutz, Jacques Offenbach, Alexandra Molnar-Suhajda, Ricky Lombardo, and Lodewijk Mortelmans.
Piccolo, C flutes, alto flutes, bass flutes, contrabass flute, string bass, bassoon, and percussion comprise the Brazos Breeze. Members of the Brazos Breeze are professional musicians from cities around the area including Huntsville, Bellville, Brenham, Anderson, Austin, Waco, Greater Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Bryan-College Station. Rob Towell is the conductor.
Joining the Brazos Breeze once again will be the Corsicana High School Flute Choir under the direction of Bre Osbourn.
Admission to the concert is free but a free will offering will be accepted to help defray concert expenses.
For more information on the Brazos Breeze and the May 6 concert, contact Penny Zent at 979-268-1743 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Movin' on down
As previously announced StageCenter, the area's oldest community theater, has found a new home at 218 N. Bryan St., a couple blocks north of its location for the past decade. The best news is that it is on the ground floor -- no more steep, narrow stairways or freight elevator thrill ride.
The theater's board hopes to be into the new facility by this summer, but a lot of work must be done -- and with that works comes a significant cost. Here are some of the estimated costs:
• A wall to separate the lobby from the theatre area, moving and replacing water the heater, add doorway to restroom for cast access from dressing room area, etc. -- $14,361.
• Add two ADA compliant restrooms with toilet, sink, walls, water and sewage lines under floor to connect to existing plumbing at back of building -- $16,000.
• Build the stage, back stage wall, floor stage, skirt, etc. -- $3,500.
• Large and small racks (trusses) for stage lighting -- $3,000.
• Materials to build tech/sound booth -- $300.
• Paint walls -- $150.
• Building storage shelving and rods for props, costumes -- cost unknown at this time.
Board president Cindy Roberts said new chairs are on the wish list, but are less important now than the other items needed to open.
To help meet the opening expenses, StageCenter will have a raffle for a number of prizes, including a hand-painted child's table with four chairs, a Dooney and Burke purse, two rocking chairs, an hand-made Aggie wreath and a night at the historic La Salle Hotel with brunch at the Village Café and dinner at Ronin Cooking. There's much more, too.
Tickets are $5 each or five for $20, available from any StageCenter board member or drop by Burr's Unfinished Furniture at 314 N. Main St. in Downtown Bryan.
The move to the new theater is huge, not only for StageCenter, but for Downtown Bryan and for the entire Brazos Valley. If you want to be a part of making this happen, you may do so by calling the theater at 979-823-4297. Donations may be made by credit card at www.stagecenter.net, and checks may be mailed to the current location, 201-B W. 26th St., Bryan 77803-3215.
Please be as generous as you can.
• Today -- The Psychic, Navasota Theatre Alliance, 104 W. Washington Ave. in downtown Navasota, 2 p.m. $7 to $14, available at the door or online at navasotatheatre.org.
• Today through May 6 -- Big, the Musical, The Theatre Company, behind JoAnn Fabrics in Bryan's Tejas Center, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sundays. $7 to $20, available online at theatrecompany.com or at the box office one hour prior to curtain.
• Today -- The Undertaking, This Is Water Theatre, starting at Square One Downtown Bryan Event Center, 211 W. William J. Bryan Parkway and moving to four other Downtown locations, 2 p.m. $30 minimum ticket donation, must be ordered at thisiswatertheatre.com by noon before each performance.
• Through June 9 -- Hometown Teams, Brazos Valley African American Museum, 500 E. Pruitt St. in Bryan, Tuesdays through Fridays 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (www.bvaam.org)
• Saturday -- Brazos Civic Orchestra spring concert, Margaret Rudder Theater at Rudder High School in Bryan, 7 p.m.
• Through May 13 -- Joseph Henry Sharp: Visions of the Past, Forsyth Galleries in the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M, Tuesdays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. Free (uart.tamu.edu)
• Through June 2 -- Bits and Bytes: The Innovation of Home Computers, Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History, 3232 Briarcrest Drive in side the Brazos Center in Bryan, $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, students and children. (www.brazosvalleymuseum.org)
• Through June 22 -- Landscape Photographs of the Legendary and the Lost, an exhibition of works by Mark Sadoski of College Station at Degallery, 702 University Drive E., #102D in College Station.
• Every Sunday -- Open mics and poetry slams sponsored by Mic Check Poetry, 8:30 p.m. Revolution Café in Downtown Bryan, (miccheckpoetry.com)
Items for Arts Watch should be emailed to email@example.com. Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.