Austin’s hot summer theatre

Amanda Weston

     There are numerous things to do around Austin to stay occupied over the summer, including visits to the active theatre scene. Several major musicals and plays are being performed around the Austin area, providing inexpensive summer entertainment to Cedar Park students and Austin citizens alike.

     The Baron’s Men Elizabethan theatre troupe worked with the CPHS One-Act Play class production of A Comedy of Errors this fall, but they are known for performing their own spring and fall productions. Currently the troupe is performing William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which, similar to A Comedy of Errors, tells the story of identical twins Viola and Sebastian who cause confusion and hilarity when they are mistaken for one another by their enemies and loved ones on the island of Illyria. Twelfth Night is being shown at the Baron’s Men’s Globe-replica theatre, the Curtain, located on Lake Austin. The show opened May 6 and performs Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM until May 28. Tickets can be purchased online at www.thebaronsmen.org/tickets or at the door with cash.

     Those looking for a more modern show this summer would be better suited for Zach Scott Theatre, or simply ZACH Theatre. Ever since it was founded in 1933 by distinguished actor Zachary Scott, the company has produced many different shows year round. This summer the company will be performing the Broadway musical Hairspray, based on the popular 1988 John Waters film and its 2007 remake. Hairspray takes place in 1962 Baltimore and follows high school student Tracy Turnblad as she endeavors to star in her local TV dance show and win the affection of teen heartthrob Link Larkin. However, she faces considerable oppression due to her weight and later attempts to racially integrate the show. The musical features an original score with many Broadway hits including “Welcome to the 60s,” “I Can Hear the Bells,” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” ZACH will be hosting Hairspray June 23 through August 28 at their historic theatre near Lady Bird Lake.

     Summer Stock Austin is an intensive theatre program held by St. Edwards University for high school and college performers in which cast members put together three full-scale musicals in less than three weeks. This year Summer Stock will be performing The Producers, Urinetown, and A Year with Frog and Toad. The Producers shows washed-up Broadway producer Max Bialystock and nervous accountant Leo Bloom as they attempt to exploit an accounting loophole and make millions by staging the worst show in Broadway history. Written by Mel Brooks, the musical features many hit numbers such as “I Wanna Be a Producer” and “When You’ve Got It, Flaunt It.” Urinetown takes a more serious note as it satires capitalism, corporate conspiracies and the American legal system as it chronicles the resulting rebellion of a drought-affected town forced to pay to use the restroom. Summer Stock is also producing a children’s musical, A Year with Frog and Toad, based on the Frog and Toad children’s stories by Arnold Lobel. The show portrays the title characters living out a year in the forest with their friends and is credited as being the first production to target children as a Broadway audience. The three productions will be performed July 21 through August 7 at the Long Center.

     True to Austin’s unique nature, outdoor theatres operate during the summer alongside traditional venues. Zilker Hillside Theatre has been providing free outdoor professional performances to Austinites for 53 years at downtown Zilker Park. Their current production, Footloose, is scheduled to open July 8 and run through August 15. The musical is based off of the classic 1984 film and tells the story of talented dancer Ren as he moves from Chicago to rural Beaumont and discovers that dancing has been banned by the town preacher. Falling in love with the preacher’s daughter Ariel along the way, he decides to fight the ban and hold a town dance, facing conflict with the preacher and Ariel’s bully boyfriend. The musical was nominated for several Tony awards including Best Score, known for popular songs such as “Holding Out for a Hero” and the classic “Footloose.”

     With so many performances around the Austin area taking place this summer, there is a show to fit any audience, seasoned theatre-goers and newcomers alike. Comedies, satires, drama and feel-good musicals are sure to provide a summer full of entertainment.