Winter is all about huddling together amidst the warmth of human kindness to stave off the cold weather outside. And, you know, desperately looking forward to warmer weather. For the faculty, students and staff at Austin’s schools and universities, theater departments are already preparing for their big spring productions. Here’s four shows to look forward to seeing at local schools this spring to help you beat the winter bues!
McCallum Fine Arts Academy: West Side Story
Unlike the rest of the schools on this list, McCallum Fine Arts Academy is not a local university, but rather the Austin Independent School District fine arts academy. With a student body that includes talented young artists from all around the city, McCallum puts on big, daring theatrical productions, and this year’s West Side Story should be no different. Conceived and originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story is the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that updates Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet to the neighborhoods of 1950s New York City. Expect to see some stars in the making at McCallum’s new production.
McCallum Fine Arts Academy, Feb 1-11, Thu-Sat at 7pm & Sun at 2pm, $7-$16.
University of Texas at Austin: ENRON
The Houston-based energy corporation Enron had a remarkable rise and fall from the 1980s through the early aughts, when its widespread accounting fraud was publicly uncovered, leading to the company’s bankruptcy. British playwright Lucy Prebble’s dramatization of the company’s scandal casts it as a contemporary American myth. UT Austin’s Department of Theatre and Dance’s production will feature a cast of all women and non-binary actors in order to explore the toxic masculinity at the heart of much of the malfeasance in today’s business world.
The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance at the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre, Feb 22-Mar 3 at 7:30pm; Mar 4 at 2pm, $15-$26.
St. Edward’s University: Violet
These days, composer Jeanine Tesori is best known for her work on the Tony Award- winning musical Fun Home, but she has a storied career with five Broadway musicals and five Tony nominations to her name. Before all that, though, she composed the Off-Broadway musical Violet in 1997. Based on the short story The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts, and with a book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, Violet tells the story of a disfigured young woman on a cross-country bus trip to meet a faith healer who promises to restore her beauty. Tesori’s music combines the styles of country, gospel, blues and honky-tonk to create a uniquely American sound. Director Nick Mayo and the talented students of St. Edward's University should do the meditative, hopeful musical justice.
Mary Moody Northen Theatre, Apr 12-22, times and prices TBD.
Texas State University: Ragtime
Based on the historical novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime is a big, splashy musical that tells the story of a large cast of overlapping characters (some fictional, some real) in the early 20th century United States. The interactions between a white upper-class family, an Eastern European immigrant and his daughter, and a well-known black Harlem musician and his wife create a patchwork story of the dawn of the “American century.” The show features a book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Its epic scope is perfectly suited to the Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance, which puts plenty of care, attention and resources into its musicals in order to showcase the many talented student performers.
Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance at the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre, Apr 17-22, times and prices TBD.