The Ensemble Theatre Announces Exciting New 2018-19 Season

The Ensemble Theatre has announced the theatre’s 2018-2019 Season, that will include five regional premieres and a variety of comedy, drama, and musical productions.

“This season highlights characters going through a process of self-reflection,” said Eileen J. Morris, Artistic Director for The Ensemble Theatre. “Each story introduces us to people in situations that enlighten, guide, and even force their evolution towards a higher consciousness of identity.”

The Ensemble will lead into the new season with ‘da Kink in My Hair, a regional premiere comedy with music by Trey Anthony that delves into the tresses of contemporary Black women and the stories uncovered by their West Indian hair stylist.

Next is a revival of the holiday musical Christmas is Comin Uptown by Phillip Rose and Peter Udell who place the traditional story of Scrooge and his visitors in a Harlem tenement infused with a repertoire of colorful jazz.

The third play of the season will be Too Heavy for Your Pockets, a regional premiere drama by Jiréh Breon Holder that explores the personal cost of private struggles behind public events as one man is led to join the Freedom Riders of the civil rights movement leaving his responsibilities as a husband and a friend behind.

Fourth in the lineup is Freeda Peoples, a regional premiere drama/comedy that peeks behind the pulpit of a church to deal with the relationships between the deacons, trustees, and the new pastor and how no one is who they really seem to be. Pipeline, a regional premiere drama by Dominique Morisseau explores the plight of public schools and the efforts of a mother who happens to be a teacher to save her own son. The sixth and final show of the season is the regional premiere musical Josephine Tonight, Book & Lyrics by Sherman Yellen and Music by Wally Harper. It is a musical biography of the internationally known singer, Josephine Baker, and the relationship she had with her mother that led her to stardom yet kept her grounded.

General Auditions for the 2018-2019 Season will be held Saturday, June 30, 2018 at The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002. Additional information and to schedule an audition appointment contact Kedrick Brown, Artistic Assistant: theensemblecasting@gmail.com.  

The Ensemble Theatre will honor celebrity guests, a rising star, and corporate and community supporters for their commitment to advancing the arts, during its Annual Black-Tie Gala, Saturday, August 18, 2018, at the Hilton Americas-Houston. The gala is the largest fundraising event dedicated to the annual support of the theatre. Honorees and Awards will include: Crystal Fox, Actress of the Year (Tyler Perry’s “The Have and the Have Nots); an Actor of the Year, Rising Star, Community Partner, and Corporate Partner of the Year.

The Ensemble Theatre’s Touring Education program is a mini season of children’s theatre available to families and schools. The Young Performers Program includes week-long sessions during spring and winter breaks, and two month-long regular sessions during the summer.

Act One, the theatre’s community of young professionals, will host a series of pre-show networking mixers that include collaborations with other Houston Area young professionals’ groups, and hosting its 8th annual April National Poetry Month showcase entitled:  Drama-try[tree]: A Night of Dramatic Poetry at The Ensemble. 

Founder’s Circle, the theatre’s distinguished leadership group, will host a series of informative receptions, including a Behind the Scenes and an Artistic Director’s Dinner.  Founder’s Circle raises money to support the Theatre’s exhibitions, youth programs and reserve fund to ensure The Ensemble’s future.

The Ensemble Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season Includes: 

‘da Kink In My Hair

Comedy/Play with music/ Regional Premiere

By Trey Anthony 

Previews: September 15, 16, and 19

OPENING NIGHT: September 20, 2018

Runs: September 20 – October 14, 2018 

Set in a Caribbean hair salon of a West Indian stylist in Toronto, ‘da Kink in my Hair gives voice to eight Black women who tell their unforgettable stories in a kaleidoscope of drumming, singing and dance. It is a testament to the challenges and triumphs in the lives of contemporary Black women, many of whom are immigrants to North America from the Caribbean. Mixing laughter and tears, revelation and inspiration, the unapologetically intense stories of each woman are woven together in this powerful piece.

Christmas is Comin’ Uptown

Musical written by Phillip Rose & Peter Udell    

Previews: November 10, 11, and 14

OPENING NIGHT: November 15, 2018

Runs: November 15 – December 30, 2018                    

Who doesn’t love a classic with a twist! The traditional story of “A Christmas Carol” gets a jazzy and colorful makeover! In this version, Scrooge is a Harlem slumlord who is just about to foreclose on a tenement house and a church when a surprise visit from an “old friend” and some groovy ghosts make him reconsider.                                                                                                                           

Too Heavy for Your Pocket

 Drama/Regional Premiere             

Written by Jiréh Breon Holder

Previews: January 19, 20, 23

OPENING NIGHT: January 25, 2019

Runs: January 25 – February 24, 2019    

In rural Tennessee at the height of the Civil Rights Movement two young couples struggle to understand justice, love, and their own responsibilities. When Bowzie gets a scholarship to attend Fisk University, he has the opportunity to improve his family’s life. His education goes beyond the classroom, as he becomes a Freedom Rider and joins the fight against racism in the Deep South, leaving his obligations as a husband and friend behind. A beautifully written look at the personal cost and private struggles behind public events, Too Heavy for Your Pocket speaks powerfully about the bonds of friendship and what defines true family. 

Freeda Peoples

Comedy/Drama/Regional Premiere

 Written by Joyce Sylvester (Playwright of Women In the Pit)

Previews: March 16, 17, and 20

OPENING NIGHT: March 21, 2019

Runs: March 21 – April 14, 2019

The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, there is none righteous not even one (Romans 3:32). Therefore, the church is the perfect place for spiritual growth. Freeda Peoples deals with the relationships between the deacons, trustees, and the new pastor and how no one is who they really seem to be. This comedy/drama will have you rolling in the aisles. 

Pipeline

Drama/Regional Premiere

Written by Dominique Morisseau 

(Playwright of Detroit ’67)

Previews: May 4, 5, and 8

OPENING NIGHT: May 9, 2019

Runs: May 9 – June 2, 2019

Nya, an inner-city public high school teacher, is committed to her students but desperate to give her only son Omari opportunities they’ll never have. When a controversial incident at his upstate private school threatens to get him expelled, Nya must confront his rage and her own choices as a parent. But will she be able to reach him before a world beyond her control pulls him away?    

Josephine Tonight

Musical/Regional Premiere

Book & lyrics by Sherman Yellen

Music by Wally Harper

Previews: June 22, 23, 26

OPENING NIGHT: June 27, 2019

Runs: June 27 – July 28, 2019

A musical biography of showbiz legend Josephine Baker. Josephine Tonight draws on the early life of the internationally known singer, actress and nightclub sensation who wowed audiences in America and Europe in the first quarter of the 20th century and reveals the relationship of the young Josephine and her laundress mother who steers her toward success and then guides her to remember her roots.

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

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. Forty years later, the theatre has evolved from a small touring company to one of Houston’s finest historical cultural institutions.

The Ensemble is one of a few professional theatres in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. The oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. The late 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 has fulfilled and surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad audiences.