Broadway in Houston: the 1998 - 1999 National Tours

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HOUSTON – The MasterCard Broadway Series has announced its 1998 - 1999 season for Houston and while Ragtime and Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk are being touted most, theater devotees might be drawn more to Sunset Boulevard. Instead of recreating the London/Broadway Boulevard directed by Trevor Nunn, the tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1950 classic film is being completely restaged by Tony-winner Susan H. Schulman. Apparently Schulman, (The Secret Garden), and her creative team will reconfigure everything, even the gilded sets, making the atmosphere less imposing and ornate. This is only one of a number of intriguing developments in a conspicuously late-starting season that also includes a pre-Broadway tryout and lots of high-stepping.

Sunset Boulevard opens December 22 - 27. Patula "Downtown" Clark will take on the Norma Desmond role that Gloria Swanson depicted on screen and Patti Lupone, Glenn Close, and Betty Buckley assumed on stage. In addition to a notable singing career, Clark has appeared in such films as Finian's Rainbow and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Yo, you wanna go to Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding? The RSVP for the second-longest off-Broadway show in history is January 5 - February 14, 1999. Director Larry Pelligrini invites Houstonians to attend an al dente Italian wedding in this interactive show to be at a venue yet to be determined.

George C. Wolfe returns to direct the first national tour of the current Broadway smash Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk, April 27 - May 2, 1999. The Tony Award-winner for Wolfe's direction and Savion Glover's choreography is, as the song says, all about "Hittin.'"

The fancy footwork continues May 11 - 16, 1999 with the Broadway-bound Footloose, based on director Herb Ross' hit 1984 film about a dancin' fool and teenage rebellion. "Let's Here it for the Boy" is one of the songs from the movie soundtrack to be used in the stage musical, which will also feature nine new numbers. "Let's Here it for the Boy" might also apply to the stage version's director, Walter Bobbie, Tony Award-winner for Chicago. Then again, it might also apply to the choreographer, A. C. Ciulla, a relative newcomer. The happy feet conclude June 17 - 27, 1999 with Riverdance, the smash celebration of Irish folk dance and music.

One type of emigration leads to another July 20 - August 1 when Ragtime spins its epic tale(s). Based on E. L. Doctrow's highly acclaimed novel, the musical features a book by Terence McNally, a multiple Tony Award-winner, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the songwriting team of Once on this Island and My Favorite Year. From director Frank Galati to set designer Eugene Lee to costume designer Santo Loquasto to lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, the original creative team are all Tony Award-winners.

And so is Cats, which returns to Houston, yet again, November 3 - 8, 1998 as a special offering for season subscribers, whether theater devotees would like it to or not.

For information and tickets about the MasterCard Broadway Series, most of which will take place at Jones Hall, call (713) 622-SHOW

By Peter Szatmary
Texas Correspondent


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