The rest of the country may be thinking about the coming winter, but Houston's Theater Under the Stars has already planned out the summer. The musical theatre company will not only be the first U.S. company to secure the rights to stage Miss Saigon after its Broadway closing, but they’ll also debut the new Lee Pockriss-Hal Hackady musical, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, based on the 1962 Bette Davis-Joan Crawford film.
Baby Jane comes second in the TUTS season, running from July 10-22 at the Wortham Center. In this twisted psychological profile of show business gone mad, former child vaudevillian Baby Jane Hudson becomes caretaker for her movie star sister Blanche when the latter has a mysterious crippling accident. Encased in hideous pancake make-up and in a precarious mental condition, Jane torments and tortures her sister, while Blanche tries desperately to escape.
Pockriss composed such hits as "Catch a Falling Star," "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" and "Johnny Angel." Hackady provided lyrics for Little By Little, Goodtime Charley and Snoopy! all with composer Larry Grossman. Henry Farrell will write the book.
When Miss Saigon closes on Broadway Dec. 31, 2000 after a 10 year run, regional and amateur companies across the country will be able to stage the Claude Michel Schoenberg-Alain Boublil-Richard Maltby, Jr. resetting of the Madame Butterfly story in war torn Vietnam. Theater Under the Stars will be one of the first groups to have at the Tony Award winner (and its famous helicopter special effect) when the musical kicks off the 2001 season March 20-April 1 at the Arena Theatre.
Also planned in the TUTS season will be the return of Gladys Knight to Smokey Joe's Cafe, playing Aug. 7-19 at the Wortham Center, Cirque du Soleil's Dralion with dates to be announced and a December, 2001 staging of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. Subscriptions ($304-$81) are available. To order, call (713) 558-TUTS. Theater Under the Stars is on the web at http://www.tuts.com.
-- By Christine Ehren