BROADWAY’S BRIAN STOKES MITCHELL HEADLINES THE FIRST VIRTUAL TUTS GALA
FUNDRAISING EVENT COMES AT A TIME OF GREAT NEED FOR HOUSTON’S PERFORMING ARTS ORGANIZATIONS
The Theatre Under The Stars gala is going virtual!
TUTS announced that its upcoming gala, “Lights Up Houston,” will be held online on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. The evening will be emceed by Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse and will feature an exclusive performance by Broadway’s Brian Stokes Mitchell.
“We’re thrilled Brian is able to join us for this spectacular virtual event,” said Dan Knechtges, TUTS Artistic Director. “Brian is affectionately known as ‘The Mayor Of Broadway’ because of his tireless advocacy and his leadership as the President of The Actor’s Fund. He has also kept spirits up in New York during the pandemic by serenading neighbors from his apartment window. He is one of Broadway’s biggest stars, and we’re honored he wanted to help support Theatre Under The Stars.”
Dubbed “the last leading man” by The New York Times, the Tony Award-winner has enjoyed a career that spans Broadway, television, film, and concert appearances with the country’s finest conductors and orchestras. Mitchell will join the event from New York City in this first-ever TUTS virtual gala.
“As with everyone else in 2020, we’re getting creative,” said Hillary Hart, TUTS Executive Director. “We delayed our gala last March due to the coronavirus crisis in hopes of coming together this fall. Unfortunately, that’s not yet viable, so we are utilizing technology to deliver a really dynamic and unique evening in celebration of the future of musical theatre in Houston.”
Guests will be able to watch the streaming program and simultaneously use an app to participate in live and silent auctions, with all proceeds going to the non-profit theatre company. Additionally, participants can choose from a variety of unique experiences during the event – from having a professional chef prepare dinner in their homes to the delivery of a wine and dessert package from the Post Oak Hotel.
The gala comes at a time when all performing arts organizations are facing unprecedented challenges in an age when audiences are not able to gather. TUTS recently announced a postponement of its season until May. To date, the non-profit theatre company has incurred close to $6 million in revenue loss due to the cancellation of performances and major fundraising events. Hart anticipates another $11 million in losses over the next 12 months. For the 52 year-old regional theatre, the losses are unprecedented, leading to layoffs of 10 percent of its staff, significant programmatic cuts, salary reductions and reduced benefits for all employees.
“Our hope is that Houstonians who love musical theatre will join us for this unique evening,” said Hart. “It’s no secret that we need the support of the community right now, so this is an opportunity to invest in Houston’s performing arts future and experience some Broadway magic at home.”
The Lights Up Houston gala chairs are Elaine Balagia Croucher, Megan Hotze, Amy Pierce, Helen Shaffer and Hector Villareal.
Tickets for the event start at $250 and are available at TUTS.com/LightsUp.
Photos courtesy of TUTS