At first glance, the Zach Theatre schedule for 2018-2019 that it released last week seemed curious. It’s theater for family show list only had two items on it, one in fall and one holiday classic.
In spring, there was nothing specific. Yet, Zach is getting smart about working with community partners, using the materials it already has created, adapting shows, and bringing them to more audiences where they are.
We talked with Zach Theatre representatives after expressing disappointment at the released schedule. They cleared up some of the confusion and let us in on some of the exciting new directions the education department, headed by Nat Miller, is headed.
First, let’s talk about the two productions on the Moody Foundation Theatre for Families schedule.
Allen Robertson, who will always be known as a “Biscuit Brother” in our minds, is revamping “Tortoise and Hare,” a musical he created for Summer Stock Austin in 2015. When he originally wrote it with Damon Brown, he wrote it for high school actors. For the Zach version, adults will do the roles. It’s recommended for ages 5 and up and puts modern music to the classic Aesop tale. Expect to see it Sept. 8-Feb. 27 at Zach’s Kleburg theater. Public shows are 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
“Holiday Heroes” returns in December, but this year, some of updates from last year are being taken out. If you didn’t like the character of Purple, you’ll be thrilled when holiday elves Ernest and Rupert return without him. New songs will be added to this holiday show that has become a classic. The show will be at the Topfer theater Nov. 29-Dec. 13, with public performances 11 a.m. Saturdays. It’s recommended for ages 3 and up.
Families also might enjoy “Matilda The Musical!,” which is part of the main slate of performances. It’s being directed by Miller and Abe Reybold, who both have a lot of experience with theater for families productions.
The musical takes the classic book about a little girl who stands up to her parents and authority and brings it to the stage in a full-length musical (translation: two and a half hours with an intermission, versus 55 minutes for typical theater for family shows). It’s recommended for ages 6 and up. See it April 3-May 12 in the Topfer theater.
“Matilda” will also come with an adult-sized ticket price versus the less than $20 a ticket of the theater for family shows. For the first time, Zach will open up one of its mainstage productions to school groups and allow them to see it for $4. As with all of its theater for family productions, “Matilda” will offer a sensory friendly show.
Last year, Zach offered a sensory friendly show for one of its mainstage productions for the first time. The plan is to increase the number of sensory friendly performances across genres.
What’s not on the official press release is some other ventures Zach is working on for next school year.
Zach will be working on bringing the bilingual “Adventures of Enoughie,” which opened in February this year and was a joint project of The Kindness Campaign, Zach Theatre, Teatro Vivo and Half Glass Full Theatre, to children in their schools. The play uses puppets to tell the story of two kids on a playground who come in conflict. They learn to work it out with the help of Enoughie, a magical creature.
Zach also will be doing a theater for the very young production, “Wake Up, Brother Bear!”, at the beginning of 2019 for children 6 and younger. It will be more hands-on and provide sensory experiences. This production will be at Zach North, 12129 RM 620 N., where Zach began offering classes in 2016.
And finally, Zach is working with the Thinkery to develop an in-museum show in 2019. “The Very Scared Caterpillar” will be for kids in grades prekindergarten through second. Budding scientists will follow Caterpillar through his journey from chrysalis to butterfly by meeting characters around the museum.
You can find more information and already buy tickets for some of these shows at zachtheatre.org.