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Ensemble Theatre

The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director, Eileen J. Morris, announces the theatre’s 2017-2018 Season that will include three regional premieres, and a variety of comedies, drama, and musical productions.
“I believe the most beautiful thing about the human condition is our ability to face a challenge and adapt to overcome it,” says Morris. “All of these stories show characters at a crossroad who are in the process of reflecting, evaluating, or making a decision that will ultimately affect the trajectory of their life and those around them.”
The season kicks off with the return of Sassy Mamas, a romantic comedy by Houston playwright Celeste Bedford Walker about three women of substance – yes, – cougars– who confidently pursue younger men; next is Soulful Sounds of Christmas, a musical by Greg Williams Jr., the story of a Christmas miracle adventure connecting two unlikely families celebrated through soulful holiday music that gets the entire community into the spirit. Third in the lineup is Fetch Clay, Make Man a regional premiere by Will Power, and based on the historical friendship of actor Stepin Fetchit and Cassius Clay –soon to become Muhammad Ali and how these two Black men face the challenges of their era to live in the public eye.  Eighth Day of the Week, is a regional premiere by Prester Picket that explores the struggles and triumphs of a close-knit family learning to deal with their mother’s memory loss. The revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson tells the story of Ma Rainey and her band of players who convene to record an album and hash out their own blues with race, and exploitation of Black recording artists. The season finale is Sistas: The Musical, a regional premiere musical by Dorothy Marcic. Five friends find solace in their sisterly bond and take a musical and historical journey through the songs that were anthems marking social change, and that resonated with the thoughts and emotions of women all over the world.
General Auditions for the 2017-2018 Season will be held Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June, 25, 2017 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, corporate and community supporters for their commitment to advancing the arts, during its Annual Black Tie Gala, Saturday, August 19, 2017, at the Hilton Americas -Houston. The gala is the largest fundraising event dedicated to the annual support of the theatre.
The theatre’s 16th Annual Golf Tournament is Monday, October 9, 2017 at the Northgate Country Club golf course. The tournament raises funds to support the Theatre’s youth and educational initiatives including its touring education, artist in residency, and young performers training program.
The Ensemble Theatre’s Touring Education program is a mini season of youth 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 networking mixers, including two events in collaboration with other Houston Area young professionals: a  February Black History Month Mixer, and an 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 2017-2018 Season Includes:
Sassy Mamas

Back By Popular Demand!!!

PG-13/ Romantic Comedy/ Contains Adult Situations

by Celeste Bedford Walker

Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: September 16, 17, and 20

Opening Night: September 21, 2017

Runs: September 21 – October 15, 2017

What happens when three sophisticated and sassy women – yes- cougars- venture to pursue younger men? NAACP Image Award-winning playwright Celeste Bedford Walker brings a delicate touch to her depiction of women of a certain age in her romantic comedy, Sassy Mamas. These three friends, women of substance and life achievement, each finding herself in a uniquely single situation and decidedly take a proactive approach to love. The younger men they have set their sights on, come with their own unique situations that add to the humor and antics!
Soulful Sounds of Christmas

G/ Musical

by Greg Williams Jr.

Directed & Choreographed by Patdro Harris

Musical Direction by Chika Kaba Ma’atunde

Previews: November 11, 12, and 15

Opening Night: November 16, 2017

Runs: November 16 – December 30, 2017

A Christmas miracle adventure connecting two unlikely families is celebrated through soulful holiday music and gets the entire community into the spirit. This story is centered on two sisters, Ella Mae and Mattie, who win a trip to Disney World during a Christmas Eve game of bingo.  On their way to the airport, they see a family getting kicked out of their house and Ella Mae, known as the do-gooder, cancels her Christmas vacation with her sister to save a family in need. These two sisters and their sly brother, Gilbert, save the day and show the greatness of friendship and family.
Fetch Clay, Make Man

Regional Premiere

PG-13/Drama

by Will Power

Directed by Mirron Willis

Previews: January 20, 21, and 24

Opening Night: January 25, 2018

Runs: January 25 – February 25, 2018

Historical icons – Muhammad Ali & Stepin’ Fetchit explore friendship at the heart of race relations in 1960s America. The play is set on the eve of the Cassius Clay―Sonny Liston rematch, and based on the friendship between the actor Stepin Fetchit and Cassius Clay―soon to become Muhammad Ali. Fetch Clay, Make Man explores how each handled a life in the public eye as black men in their respective eras―Hollywood in the 20s, where a black actor’s career depended on playing caricatures, and the mid-60s, after the assassination of Malcolm X…” with incisive characterizations, crackling dialogue and generous doses of dark humor” (Hollywood Reporter).
Eighth Day of the Week

Regional Premiere

PG/ Drama/ Comedy

by Prester Pickett

Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: March 17, 18, 21

Opening Night: March 22, 2018

Runs: March 22 – April 15, 2018

Love is the center of family and all that it involves. The Cartwright family struggles to hold the line as their aging matriarch’s memory begins to fade. Eighth Day of the Week is a story infused with humor bringing awareness to a condition that affects so many families around the world. This story will give a glimpse into the lives of family discovering, accepting, and learning how to cope with Alzheimer’s.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Revival

PG-13/ Drama/ Contains Adult Language

by August Wilson

Directed by Eileen J. Morris

Previews: May 5, 6, 9

Opening Night: May 10, 2018

Runs: May 10 – June 3, 2018

Legendary Blues singer Ma Rainey and her band convene to record an album and hash out their own blues about race, and exploitation of Black recording artists. Ma Rainey and her band players convene in a Chicago studio to record a new album.  As their conversation unfolds, their bantering, and storytelling raise questions of race, art and the historic exploitation of Black recording artists by white producers.
Sistas: The Musical

Regional Premiere

PG/ Musical

by Dorothy Marcic

Musical Arrangements by Germono Toussaint

Directed & Choreographed by Patdro Harris

Musical Direction by Chika Kaba Ma’atunde

Previews: June 23, 24, 27

Opening Night: June 28, 2018

Runs: June 28 – July 29, 2018

Five friends find solace in their sisterly bond and take a musical and historical journey through the songs that were anthems marking social change, and that resonated with the thoughts and emotions of women all over the world. These five women: (four Black, one white) come together after Grandma dies, to go over all her things. They must choose one song to sing at the Memorial that night. While sifting through memories and comforting one another, songs are introduced going back to the time of the Black Blues singers to modern hip-hop. The music’s trajectory includes songs like “Naming the Pain” (A Good Man is Hard to Find) to “Framing the Problem” (I am Not My Hair), to “Proclaiming the Joy” (Just Fine and Golden). This play parallels the story of African-American women and their emerging sense of empowerment.
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.

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