Musical Youth! Summer Stock Austin Previews Its 2022 Shows
New music, In the Heights, and a love letter to MGM
By Richard Whittaker,
2:48PM, Tue. Jul. 19, 2022
Everyone in Austin's theatre land knows it's not summer without Summer Stock Austin. And last night, after two years of COVID-related hiatus, the celebration of musical theatre returned as the young performers gave a sneak peek at the three shows coming to the stage in July and August.
Presented by Summer Stock alum (and currently appearing as Prince in Purple Reign: The Prince Tribute Show at the Tropicana in Las Vegas) Donelvan Thigpen, the evening at UT's McCullough Theatre was in no small part about explaining the value of Impact Arts. Co-founded this year by Thigpen, Victor Villalobos, and Summer Stock creator Ginger Morris, the nonprofit has become an umbrella organization of several longstanding initiatives, including Summer Stock, aimed at giving kids access to all the skills of musical theatre – front-of-house, on- and backstage – through educational initiatives like the Texas Arts Project and celebrating their successes via the Heller Awards for Young Artists. However, the hook was the upcoming shows for Summer Stock, the annual performances that give those kids and young performers and techs a chance to show 'em what they've got.
In the Heights
July 22-Aug. 6, McCullough Theatre, tickets here
It's hard to think of musical theatre now without thinking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, this time with an energetic version of his breakout work co-directed by Michael Ávila and Ginger Morris, with J. Quinton Johnson as musical director and choreography by Leonela Hernandez and Matt Kennedy. This Tony-winning story of three hot days in the Little Dominican Republic community of Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan looks set to be a musical theatre mainstay, and its plethora of parts big and small makes it exactly the kind of production that benefits everyone involved in Summer Stock. With the set dressed for this show the performers could really show off the choreography with a charming version of "When You're Home" by Amber Arevalo as Nina and Noah Wood as Benny, and a romper stomper whole-ensemble take on "96,000."
July 28-Aug. 8, McCullough Theatre, tickets here
Directed and music-directed by Johnson (who also wrote the book, music, and lyrics with Julia Riew), the star of Richard Linklater's Everybody Wants Some!! and Flags of Our Fathers parlays his experience as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison in the Broadway production of Hamilton into his own hip-hop musical, if with a much more contemporary vibe. The show reimagines Lewis Carroll's young dreamer as a gamer who falls into her own digital experience in the video game she has developed, called, suitably, Wonderland. Alice's Wonderland sets Alice (Maleyah Nowell) against a Queen of Hearts (Morgan Lewis) obsessed with power and acclaim, and last night's preview gave both characters their own number, including the Gospel-tinged "Get Ready," which may turn out to be the show's spirit-raising crowd-pleaser. Plus, look out for classic video game references in the set design.
How to Musical Theatre
Aug. 14, Pease Park, RSVP here
Imagine falling into a classic MGM musical and not knowing a hoofer from a soft-shoe shuffle. That's what happens to Marvin, who luckily is found by three musical veterans: Kelly, O'Connor, and Reynolds (Gene, Donald, and Debbie, natch). Fittingly for the golden age of the silver-screen musical, and in a new development for Summer Stock, this won't be on the stage. After breaking those COVID blues last year with the company's first-ever movie musical, Scout, now they've gone in front of the camera again with How to Musical Theatre. Created by the Emmy and Best of Austin award-winning duo of Allen Robertson and Damon Brown, it's comedically about Marvin's adventures with Terpsichore. Plus, rather than an in-theatre debut, the first screening will be an outdoor fundraiser at Pease Park, where much of the filming was done, before heading out to the film festival circuit later this year.
Find out more about Summer Stock and Impact Arts at impactarts.org.