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The Last 5 Years Small Professional Tour

TEXAS LIGHT OPERA & ARIA CREATIVE PRODUCTIONS TO PRESENT FIRST SMALL TOUR WITH “THE LAST 5 YEARS” BY JASON ROBERT BROWN, FEB 16 – MAR 3, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, December 8, 2017 – Since their inception, Texas Light Opera (TLO) has endeavored to bring bigger and better productions to the South/Central Texas region. Their mission has been to provide a foundation for artists to perform in both classical operas and contemporary musicals, hoping to attract performers and audiences from San Antonio and the surrounding areas. It was this vision that inspired Executive Director Nicole Erwin to pursue a very new, and risky, idea: a small tour.

Ms. Erwin has been the spearhead of TLO since the beginning and has longed to see it expand and grow into the various communities outside of San Antonio. This process began with a partnership between TLO and Hill Country Opera with their yearly New Year’s Eve event, featuring a performance of Die Fledermaus by Johann Straus. This production has always been performed in New Braunfels and continues to be a roaring success. This, however, proved to Erwin that TLO did not have to only reside in San Antonio but could expand outwards.

“In San Antonio, to my knowledge anyway,” Erwin states, “there are only three professional companies that have ever taken their production on the road: The Magik Children’s Theatre, the Company Theatre, and now TLO.” The Magik Children’s Theatre has been featuring professional tours of its Theatre for Young Audiences for many years now, at both the regional and national level, with stunning success. The Company Theatre has also found commercial success with their regional endeavors, with productions being featured throughout Texas, including Dallas/Fort Worth and many others. Their productions are smaller, focusing more on the chemistry between actors, or even one-man productions of A Christmas Carol or The Complete History of Texas.

Erwin took inspiration from these production companies in selecting Last 5 Years for this tour. “Producing a tour is a great expense,” Erwin notes, “but, with the right team, and drive, it can be done splendidly. Last 5 Years is a small show, with a very intimate story, but popular enough to attract a discerning crowd. I believe it is the perfect choice, and we have assembled the absolute best team for the challenge.”

The production team on this show is being led by Jason Kruger, a director and theatre teacher out of Austin. Jason has been a theatre educator for over 20 years and has also directed professionally in both DFW and Austin areas. Nicole Erwin will also be serving as Music Director and Vocal Coach. Ms. Erwin received Excellence in Direction of a Play at the 2017 Alamo Theater Arts Council (ATAC) Awards and has performed with the San Antonio Mastersinger as well as area stages including The Playhouse San Antonio and The Woodlawn Theatre. The cast includes Ginger Martel as Cathy. Ginger is a 20 year veteran of the stage, performing in theaters across the country, from Alabama to San Francisco. Ginger has lived and worked in San Antonio Theatre for the past 5 years, at venues such as The Playhouse San Antonio in productions such as Hairspray (Velma Von Tussle) and Urinetown. When she isn’t at rehearsal, Ginger works as the Managing Director of San Antonio chapter of Christian Youth Theatre in New Braunfels, and teaches private voice as well. Rounding out the cast is Joseph Urick, TLO Board Member and Artist-in-Residence with Aria Creative. Joseph is a classically trained actor who recently starred as Edgar in the Texas Premier of Edgar Allan Poe’s NEVERMORE, for which he received an Alamo Theatre Arts Council (ATAC) Award for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical. Rounding out the production team is Chuck Drew, the Sound Designer who returns to TLO and Aria Creative after designing sound for NEVERMORE.

“The team is a powerhouse,” said Urick, “we have some very heavy hitters on board, and all of us are bringing some incredible visions to this production. Our team features people who come from all over Texas with artists representing New Braunfels, San Antonio, and Austin. It’s really incredible to be part of, and I think the theatres, and the audience, are in for a hell of a treat!”

The tour will begin in Seguin, at the Stephen and Mary Birch Texas Theatre. This 350 seat performance space has been named a historic venue for the city, and has seen stunning productions on its boards, including most recently, Moon Over Buffalo and Fences. The tour will then proceed to San Antonio, where Jonathan Pennington’s Roxie Theatre will host. Pennington is no stranger to partnering with TLO and Aria, as he hosted NEVERMORE. The last leg of the journey will take the production up to Wimberley, where The EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens will host the show on their intimate black-box space.

“The really incredible thing about this tour,” says director Jason Kruger, “is that the show is being presented on every kind of stage imaginable for a theatre. We begin at the Texas Theatre on a traditional proscenium, then follow it up with a more intimate thrust space at the Roxie, where the audience will be on three sides of the action, then culminate at The EmilyAnn where we will be presenting the show in-the-round. It’s an incredible challenge as a director since we will have to be not only flexible with our staging, but also be aware that the integrity of the story is not lost in the process.”

The show made its Off-Broadway debut in 2001, and earned Jason Robert Brown a Drama Desk Award for Best New Musical. It also won the hearts of its many fans, spawning a revival in 2013, as well as being made into a feature film in 2014, which starred Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick. The show is an emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The show’s unconventional structure consists of Cathy telling her story backwards, while Jamie tells his story chronologically; the two characters are only on stage together once, at their wedding in the middle of the show.

“The show, in essence, is seven solos and one duet,” said Kruger. “Since we will not be featuring the actors on stage together very much, it is vitally important for the audience that the story be very clear, and the relationship between the characters be at the forefront of their minds.” Kruger continued, stating the show is not going to be presented as a sappy melodrama of men vs women, nor is the production going to ask the audience to pick a side. “We want everyone who watches the piece to try and do what the characters will not, which is hear both sides. This is a universal story featuring some very flawed characters. It is thru their flaws that we see the beauty, and tragedy, of the relationship.”

Musically, Erwin stated that the actors have their work cut out for them. “Jason Robert Brown’s score is the driving force of the piece, and honoring the music while telling such a compelling story is going to be very difficult, but I believe we have the right people for the job.”

The production will mark the first of the 2018 season for TLO and Aria, and there are more on the horizon. “With any luck,” Erwin concluded, “this will be the start of a wonderful partnership with these theatres, and we will continue to be able to bring our work, and share our stories with this broader community. This is a stepping stone for us and we cannot wait to see the results of this endeavor.”

Texas Light Opera and Aria Creative Production’s Tour of The Last 5 Years can be seen this February and March in Seguin at the Texas Theatre, in San Antonio at the Roxie Theatre, and finally in Wimberley at The EmilyAnn Theatre. The production runs one hour and thirty minutes with no intermission. Tickets are available at the individual theatre’s respective Box Offices/Websites.  Critics are invited to all performances.

Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm; No Sunday Matinees

$20 Adult Tickets; $15 Students/Seniors

Theaters:

The Texas Theatre, (830) 372-6168, http://www.thetexas.org/The_Texas/Home.html

The Roxie Theatre, (210) 360-9180, http://roxietheatrecompany.com

The EmilyAnn Theatre, (512) 847-6969, http://www.emilyann.org

Run-time: One Hour, Thirty Minutes. No Intermission.

Reviewers are invited on or after February 16.

Photos Courtesy of Mary Rath.

 

New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball

A Night in Old Vienna New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball

Texas Light Opera is proud to announce their artistic collaboration with Texas Hill Country Opera & Arts once again for their production of “A Night in Old Vienna Masquerade Ball” This family friendly co-production will be held Dec 31, 2017 at the Civic Center in New Braunfels, TX at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Matthew Lovelace, the night will be highlighted by a special performance of Act II from the operetta Die Fledermaus, performed by the Texas Hill Country Opera & Arts Orchestra and Chorus.  This hilarious comedy, traditionally done in Vienna, was composed by Johann Straus in 1817 and has been a holiday tradition around the world ever since.  The party scene of Act II will additionally feature talent acts by Hill Country talent ranging from Concertina and classical guitar players to street magicians and professional dancers.

The night will begin with a cocktail reception from 7:30-8:30 p.m. followed by a four-course dinner. There will be ballroom dancing on an illuminated dance floor throughout the evening. The audience will be surrounded with stunning light and sound throughout the evening’s production. The festivities will conclude with the “Champagne Song” and a toast just before midnight.

Arden Dorn, who lives in San Antonio and founded Texas Hill Country Opera & Arts, is excited to team up with Nicole Erwin, Executive Director of Texas Light Opera. Nicole recently performed in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame at The Playhouse San Antonio and looks forward to singing in the chorus again alongside several fellow San Antonio Symphony Mastersingers and talented chorus voices from throughout the Hill Country Area.

Some of the area’s finest operatic singers have been cast in the lead roles for Die Fledermaus: Elizabeth Herlitz Cortes (Rosalinda), Mark Covey (Eisenstein), Jennifer Quintero (Count Orlofsky), Keeley Hooker (Adele), and Ron Ulen (Dr. Falke).

Discounted rooms are available at The Faust Hotel, The Holiday Inn Express and The Hilton Garden Inn for those wishing to stay the night in New Braunfels.  Reservation for overnight housing can be found at http://texashillcountryhopera.com.

Performance Date: 7:30 p.m on Dec 31, 2017
‎Location: New Braunfels Civic Center, 3755 Castell Ave, New Braunfels, Texas
Tickets:  $85 per person. Limited seating. All inclusive tickets at:  Eventbrite

 

“Nevermore”

Take a dark and mysterious journey into the life of Edgar Allan Poe. This imaginative musical uses Poe’s poetry and short stories as its base and his shifting obsession with the women in his life as its catalyst. With hauntingly beautiful melodies, “Nevermore” breathes new life into Poe’s work and explores a twisted true-life tale that is as bizarre as his classic stories of the macabre.

 

Aria Creative Productions and Texas Light Opera in association with the Roxie Theatre, will present “Edgar Allan Poe’s NEVERMORE,” a bio-drama on the master of macabre himself. This musical is a dark and romantic portrayal of Poe’s life, told thru a series of dream-like vignettes that take the audience on a whirlwind thru his life, as well as presents ten of his most brilliant poems as musical numbers, including “Evening Star,” “Annabelle Lee,” and “The Raven.” This production will be the Texas premiere of this musical. The cast includes Catie Carlisle, Morgan Clyde, Nicole Erwin, Erin Polewski, and Sharon Newhardt. Joseph Urick plays Edgar, as well as directs.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an early Romantic American writer best known for his dark poetry and chilling short stories. He is one of America’s literary pioneers, as he popularized the short story, and is often credited to pioneering the detective genre, which even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle drew inspiration from for his iconic Sherlock Holmes tales. Most importantly, Poe was the first established American writer who tried to earn his livelihood through his writing alone, which resulted in crippling financial difficulties, and a tumultuous career as an editor and critic.

The production is featured at the Roxie Theatre, which offers a unique 360<sup>o</sup> experience for its audience. “We want the audience to experience something very new,” says TLO Executive Director, Nicole Erwin, “and having this kind of non-traditional musical told on a traditional proscenium stage simply would not have worked for us. The beauty of the Roxie is in its malleability, giving us opportunities for new and exciting staging. This means you’ll be seeing actors not only in front of the audience, but up in the rafters, intermingling in the aisles – really inviting the audience into this weird, twisted world of Edgar Poe.”

“The musical is not a biography,” Urick said, “it is a romantic memory, so it’s incredibly biased, as we only see the story thru Edgar’s eyes; but it is the women who haunt him that remind him and us that his life is not quite as we would like to see it. And that, to me, is what is most important about this piece. It allows us to humanize this literary icon and us understand why he wrote the way he did.”

While the play is about Edgar’s life, it is the women who are the most prominent feature. The ladies of this cast include Catie Carlisle as Virginia. Catie has been seen most recently in productions around San Antonio including “Locolobo” at the Overtime, and “Born Yesterday” at the Classic. The Whore is played by Morgan Clyde, who has won ATAC Awards for her performance of Katherine in “Taming of the Shrew” (Classic Theatre), and her fight choreography for “Born Yesterday.”  As Edgar’s young sweetheart Elmira, Erin Polewski joins the cast after having played Rose in “The Secret Garden” at the Emily Ann Theatre in Wimberley, TX and Rachel Brown in “Inherit the Wind” at the Circle Arts Theatre in New Braunfels. TLO Executive Director, Nicole Erwin portrays Elizabeth Poe, Edgar’s Mother.  Nicole has been featured on many San Antonio stages, and most recently portrayed Claire Holmes in “The Secret Garden” and The Wardrobe in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” at The Playhouse San Antonio. The role of Muddy (Maria Clemm) will be played by Sharon Newhardt whose recent credits include “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Mary Poppins” at The Woodlawn Theatre. Lastly, Rebecca Trinidad returns to the theater scene as the show’s Co-Director after overcoming her battle with cancer. Rebecca is the creator and driving force behind “Broadway Nights” at The Woodlawn Theater. Notable performances include “Funny Girl” at The Playhouse San Antonio and Jack’s Mother in “Into the Woods” at The Woodlawn Theater. She also recently directed the highly acclaimed “Memphis” at The Woodlawn Theatre.

An important note: This musical shares a name with another, also called Nevermore, also about the life of Edgar Allan Poe. This production is not “Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.”

This production is not recommended young children, and contains mature situations. The running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes with intermission. Music Direction is by Darrin Newhardt, Set Design by Jonathan Pennington, Lighting Design by Tim Kelleher, Costume design by Rose Kennedy and Sound Design is by Charles Drew.

Performances are April 6-15, 2017 at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays

The Roxie Theatre
7460 Callaghan Rd., Suite 333
San Antonio, TX 78229

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We offer training in all areas of theatrical performance including voice, acting, movement and stage combat.  Our program name name stems from “The Mozart Effect” – the impact that classical music can have on improving brain function. Masterclasses are available for serious student student intent on improving their craft.

To read more about the benefits of youth theater see Educational Theatre Association.