This is one of the most exciting times of the year for area theaters, when new seasons are announced and people start buying season tickets.
Already MSC OPAS and StageCenter have announced their new seasons. The Theatre Company in Bryan will unveil its 2018-2019 season on July 22. Brazos Valley TROUPE will release its upcoming season late this summer, while Navasota Theatre Alliance is in the middle of its January-December season.
Today, we take a look at the upcoming season for Unity Theatre in Brenham. Unity closes out its regular season with a final performance of Noises Off! at 4 p.m. today.
The new season kicks off September 27 with The Savannah Sipping Society, a comedy by Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones and Nicholas Hope.
Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Oct. 14.
In the comedy, four Southern woman gather for happy hour and decide they need to revive the enthusiasm they once had for life. Randa suffers a career jolt, Dot is recovering from the death of her husband, Marlafaye has lost her husband to a 23-year-old dental hygienist, and Jinx serves as an experience life coach for the others. Over the course of six months -- and many happy hours -- the women bond and, together, restart their lives.
Kate Revnell-Smith, artistic director for Unity, said, "I wanted to kick off the season with a fun comedy, which Savannah Sipping Society is, something that we could all sit back and enjoy and have a good time."
Other shows on Unity's Main Stage season -- all at Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. -- are:
• Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the Tennessee Williams classic, Jan. 31 through Feb. 17, 2019.
A family in the Mississippi Delta gather to celebrate patriarch Big Daddy's birthday, His favorite son Brick stays in an alcoholic stupor, while his wife Maggie -- the Cat -- longs to become pregnant with Brick's child. It is Southern gothic at its best.
Revnell-Smith said, "In early 2019 we are producing Cat on Hot Tin Roof, very definitely a drama but with timeless themes,
"I do strongly feel it is important to continue to produce great American playwrights, particularly those that reach across the decades and still touch us as Tennessee Williams does."
• And Then There Were None, one of Dame Agatha Christe's best mystery thrillers, March 28 through April 14, 2019.
Eight total strangers gather at house on a remote English island, cut off from the outside world by, of course, a storm. One-by-one, the guests die. Who is to blame? Just when you think you know the answer, things change.
Revnell-Smith said, "Next on the Main Stage we are doing And Then There Were None, which I am very excited about, a real fun period piece -- a classic thriller/mystery from one of the best of that genre, Agatha Christie."
• Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon, June 13 through June 30.
This is perhaps the best known of Simon's Eugene Trilogy -- the others are Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound -- Brighton Beach Memoirs is an autobiographical look at a young Jewish boy living with his family in a lower-middle class Brooklyn apartment in the years just before World War II. It is a bittersweet slice of life that resonates long after the lights go down.
Revnell-Smith said, "Closing out the Main Stage is Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon, another mainstay of the American theater who I think sometimes gets a bad rap. It's a wonderful piece with lots of humor mixed in with teenage angst and drama."
Revnell-Smith said, "I aim to choose a variety of plays so we have a little bit of everything in our Main Stage Season, some comedy, some drama, sometimes a musical, family shows.
"In our studio space, [where] we do two shows a year, I choose more contemporary material that is perhaps more socially conscious and a reflection of our world today.
"I try to balance everything out so appeal to a broad range of audiences -- if you don't like this drama then you'll love this comedy!"
Unity is a professional theater, using many actors who are members of Actors Equity. Many of the directors and actors come to Brenham from Houston or Austin, bringing with them a wealth of theater experience.
"I choose the season, usually in late fall, present it to my board in January at our annual retreat and, with their approval, proceed with obtaining the rights, hiring directors, etc. Sometimes they are familiar with the plays, sometimes not, and I give a description of each piece along with any warnings/relevant information they need to know to make an informed decision."
The Studio Series, presented in the smaller, more intimate Unity studio, include:
• Amelia, a drama by Alex Webb, Nov. 1 through Nov. 11.
Set during the Civil War, Amelia is the story of a Pennsylvania farmer's daughter who marries a store clerk who soon heads off to fight for the Union. When he stops writing, Amelia disguises herself as a man and sets out across the battlefields of the war in search of her missing husband.
• Breadcrumbs, a drama by Jennifer Haley, May 9 through May 19, 2019.
Alida is a fiction writer encountering the initial stages of Alzheimer's. Beth, some 40 years her junior, who tries to worm her way into Alida's life with disturbing results.
There's more! Unity will present family shows, including:
• The always hilarious The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, Nov. 28 through Dec. 2. People look forward to this show somewhere in the Brazos Valley almost as much as they eagerly await Santa's visit. You know the story: the Herdman children -- the worst kids in the history of the world -- suddenly show up at Sunday school -- perhaps it is the free refreshments that draw them -- and get cast in the church's annual Christmas pageant. It is all great fun, with a marvelous holiday message.
• A Pocketful of Rhymes, a Prince St. Players Musical for children, July 25 through July 28, 2019.
This musical revue features some of Mother Goose's favorite characters. Great fun for the entire family.
While the last show of the current regular season is today, Unity Theatre still has one more production to go this summer: Alice in Wonderland, a Prince St. Player's Ltd. Children's Musical by Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy.
Revnell-Smith steps into the director's position in the retelling of this delightful story.
Performances are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. July 26 and 27, and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. July 28 and 29. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 18 and younger. Group rates for parties of 10 or more are $12 for adults and $8 for children, with one free adult admission for every 10 children. They are available at the box office in the theater lobby at 300 Church St. in Brenham. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to each performance. Tickets also may be purchased with a credit card by calling 979-830-8358.
Season tickets for the 2018-2019 season are available through the box office for $92 for the Main Stage series -- a saving of $4 from individual show tickets -- and $40 for the Studio Series -- a %5 discount per ticket. Season ticket holders may purchase additional tickets at their season-ticket price.
Unity Theatre is a marvelous facility in a restored grocery warehouse in downtown Brenham, which is a short drive from College Station and Bryan. It is well-worth the trip.
MSC OPAS has changed the dates for its April two-night presentation of Finding Neverland due to a change in the company's touring route.
Finding Neverland now will be presented April 10 and 11. People who ordered tickets for the original first night automatically will be moved to the April 11 performance, while those who selected the second night will be moved to April 11.
OPAS season tickets have not yet been mailed out.
Blinn College in Brenham will bring two classic tales to the stage at the Dr. W.W. O'Donnell Performing Arts Center on the Blinn-Brenham campus this summer.
Jack London's Call of the Wild will be presented at 6 p.m. on July 10.
The Blinn news release says, "This multi-media adventure mixes classic storytelling with projected illustrations to tell the story of Buck, the magnificent cross-bred offspring of a St. Bernard and a Scottish Collie. Kidnapped from his lavish life on a California estate and sent to work as a sled dog during the great Klondike Gold Rush,
"Buck fights to survive and becomes the most famous dog in the history of the northland."
"The show uses a 180-degree projection screen that surrounds the performer and features a unique mix of classical illustrations from the book with new drawings and animations created by artist Michael Rae. The performance includes a live score from award-winning singer/songwriter Graham Weber.
"'This show is as popular with adults as it is with children, and truly brings this novel to life for audiences of all ages,' said Deborah Vavra, assistant dean of visual/performing arts and kinesiology at Blinn College.
"'We look forward to welcoming families and schools for a performance that truly provides an illustrated edition of this classic novel,' Vavra said."
Sleeping Beauty will be at 10 a.m. on Aug. 9. The news release says, "Sleeping Beauty brings the classic fairy tale to life with a rhymed-verse storytelling spin. The performance includes live music such as Bach's Goldberg Variation, and image projections that create a magical multimedia world in which the beautiful (and funky) princess is awakened by true love's kiss … or not.
"Pulsing with majestic language and high art, this production is scaled to perfection for young audiences and creates a spell of imaginative wonder that brings cheers to the theatre.
"The New York Times has praised performer David Gonzalez for his performance, noting that 'with speech, sound, mime, dance and above all, inspired imagination, Mr. Gonzalez has the gift of creating magical worlds and drawing his audience into them. A palpable delight.'"
Tickets are $5 for children and $20 for adults, with a $5 adult ticket discount for season subscribers. Tickets are available for general admission purchase at www.blinn.edu/boxoffice, and seating will begin 30 minutes prior to each performance.
The Texas A&M MSC Visual Arts Committee in partnership with the College of Architecture are presenting Response: Paired works by TAMU College of Architecture artists and their professors through Sept. 8 in the Reynolds Galley in the MSC on the A&M campus. The exhibit focuses on the reciprocal relationship between a professor and student through their respective works presented side by side, showing how the teacher and the student inspire each other.
A media release from the Visual Arts Committee says, "By pairing the works side by side, we can not only see the influence between the two but also how they differ artistically. Although the student-professor relationship is primarily grounded in learning, this exhibition recognizes the lifelong impact both artists can have on each other.
"The MSC Visual Arts Committee seeks to show how artists and their professors continuously have a lasting relationship that is always at work--influencing, inspiring and most importantly growing."
The Reynolds Gallery is located on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center. It is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
Admission is free.
Parking is available in the Koldus and the new Cain parking garages.
Lone Star Music Series
KEOS community radio will celebrate Friday the 13th next week with a continuation of its popular Lone Star Music Series.
The John Evans Band will headline the concert, with special guests Magic Girl and Emily Herring & The Farm to Market Band.
The concert will be at the restored Ice House on Main at 800 N. Main St. in Downtown Bryan. Doors will open at 7 p.m., with the concert starting at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for reserved seating and $15 for general admission. Tables for four also are available for $125. They are on sale at www.icehouseonmain.com/event/keos-welcomes-john-evans-band/.
More information about the concert may be found at www.insitebrazosvalley.com/brazos-valley-events/keos-lone-star-music-concert/.
This is the fourth annual summer concert hosted by KEOS independent, all-volunteer community radio for the Brazos Valley.
• Today and Monday -- Open auditions for Rock of Ages, The Theatre Company, behind JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Bryan's Tejas Center, 7 p.m. Performances will be Aug. 3 though Aug. 19. (theatrecompany.com)
• Wednesday -- Symbols of Liberty, featuring tales from Betsy Ross and Sir Liberty, First Baptist Church in Bryan, 3100 Cambridge Drive, 5:30 p.m., followed by "Junk Food Jamboree" on the eastern lawn, featuring everything from snow cones to barbecue, tamales to nachos, and sausage on a stick to hot dogs. Free. (FBCBryan.org)
• Wednesday -- Patriotic Concert, Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, presented by H-E-B, Wells Fargo and Union Pacific, part of the College Station Noon Lions Club "I Love America" event, lawn of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the West Campus of Texas A&M University, concert at 8:35 p.m. followed by fireworks. Free. (bvso.org)
• July 23 and 24 -- Open auditions for A Southern Fried Murder, Navasota Theatre Alliance, 104 W. Washington Ave. in downtown Navasota, 6:45 p.m. Performances will be Sept. 28 through Oct. 14. (navasotatheatre.org)
• Aug. 9 through 25 -- Ben Hecht's and Charles MacArthur's Twentieth Century, StageCenter, located at 201-B W. 26th St. in Downtown Bryan, above Mr. G's Pizza. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. This will be the last show in the hard-to-get-to current location! Tickets $10 to $15 at www.stagecenter.net or at the door.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is noon Tuesday before the weekend you want it to run.