HOUSTON - When the curtain came down last year on musical theatre, no one knew COVID would keep it from rising again for more than a year. In this Positively Houston, meet a couple of ladies who, even without an audience, have been working hard to ensure eventually the show will go on.
In musical theatre, a showstopper is usually a good thing but not this one. The pandemic, which no one is applauding, put the brakes on performing arts, but some who have a passion for it have pushed back in a big way. At Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), for instance, there haven’t been any shows and many are longing to pack theatre seats post-pandemic.
"You get something out of musical theatre besides just entertainment and education that you just can’t get from TV or movies," says Jennifer Lamb, who loves performing arts so much she’s a TUTS Leading Ladies Volunteer and virtually she's been a busy woman over the last year helping with everything from online events to fundraisers.
"Being the year that we had, it’s even more critical that we continue to support financially so we can get back into the theatre hopefully sooner rather than later."
"I never knew I would be teaching a dance class from my dining room," but Mikeitta Williams is. The TUTS Humphries School of Musical Theatre Manager of Education has been hitting the Theatre Under the Stars stage teaching under the bright lights for 15 years.
Now that the theatre is dark during the pandemic, her choreography is even more creative in an effort to keep connecting with Houston kids.
"I have a phone set up to show my waist up. I have a computer set up to show my waist down. I wear mix match socks so they can identify my right from my left," Williams laughs.
It was Lamb’s daughter’s involvement in theatre in high school that led her to become fond of the fine art as well.
"Just the teamwork and the confidence building that came with that. I watched her blossom."
"I think (theatre) helps create better human beings," adds Williams.
"I am just a big fan of theatre. I think it does wonderful things for all of society. It helps connect us in a way that other things can’t. When you’re in a theatre watching a live performance, you’re connecting with your fellow audience members. You’re connecting with those on stage," says Lamb.
It has certainly been a full-time job for those ladies and many others to keep things going as the theatre has been shut down. TUTS is expected to have its first show since closing due to COVID in August. The non-profit musical theatre company hasn't set a date yet to resume free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre and the company’s school, Humphrey’s School of Musical Theatre, is scheduled to have some in-person classes beginning next month in June.