Local theatre inspires artists to reach for the stars

By Donna Hill
For The Bend Star

(Submitted Photo) The Fort Bend Theatre is performing “Treasure Island” this weekend.

(Submitted Photo)
The Fort Bend Theatre is performing “Treasure Island” this weekend.

When talking to Tarra McCain, Executive Artistic Director of the Fort Bend Theatre, one gets the feeling she loves her job.

Apparently the community thought so too, by recently presenting her group with the Best of 2016 Fort Bend Readers Choice award for Best Community Theatre.

And its no wonder. McCain not only loves the art of performance but the business of running a theatre. Now in its 28th season, FBT performs 12 shows a year (a show a month) inside the 100-seat locale, and performs roughly 10 performances per show, plus additional shows at the Stafford Centre and Miller Outdoor Theatre. The troupe also does shows at schools and other educational programs and retirement centers.

This summer, FBT will perform Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate adventure of a lifetime, “Treasure Island,” for their last two shows: Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31st at 2815 N Main Street in Stafford. Tickets are $13 at the door or $12 online. Tickets for “Annie” (in August) are also available.

For those with the acting bug, auditions are coming up for “The Big Bad Musical,” a howling courtroom comedy about a big bad wolf who gets slapped with a class action suit by – you guessed it – his story book friends Little Red Riding Hood, her grandmother and the three little pigs (among others). The jury (played by the audience) decides the outcome of the fairy tale trial. Bring a headshot and a song to sing on Aug. 15-16 from 6-9 p.m. Casting is open to people ages 10-80.

If the youngsters are not quite ready for auditions yet, check out the musical theatre camps and classes for children ages 4-18. They learn voice, diction, character development and improvisation. Two camps are left before the school year starts. Classes are Monday through Friday.

On the first day, students go to auditions, followed by learning their lines, dances and songs and wrapping up with a performance on Friday. Check the website for dates and times.

In addition to musicals and performances for youngsters, there are shows for the adults to audition and perform in as well. Some of the productions include “The Nerd” (written by the late award winning playwright Larry Shue), along with “Wedding Belles” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

McCain is proud of not only the theater, but also her graduates.

“It’s wonderful watching young people flourish and achieve their goals in film, television, Disney contracts, and professional theatre. Over these 28 seasons it is remarkable how many people have gone on to professional careers after starting with us,” beamed McCain.

“Sterling Knight, who started here when he was 4 years old, stars in Disney’s ‘Sonny With A Chance’ and the movie ‘17 Again.’ Sarah Austin starred as our Cosette in ‘Les Mis’ and is now Matilda on the Broadway Tour; Allison Tolman, Star of ‘Fargo’ and ‘MadDogs’ and Aaron Howles of ‘True Blood,’ ‘Swingtime’ and ‘United States of Tara’ all trained and performed here.”

McCain, a Houston native, graduated from the High School for Performing and Visual Arts and received her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts from the University of Houston. McCain is also a playwright, having written the ‘Princess Christmas’. A portion of the play was performed on Broadway as part of a Broadway musical competition.

“Twenty minutes of it,” McCain said proudly.

As an actress, McCain received her earliest training at the Alley Theatre of Houston.

As if running a theatre and training up and coming actors isn’t enough, McCain is also up to any production challenge. Coming up Aug. 13-14, the Fort Bend Theatre will work on breaking the The Guinness Book of Records for “performing the fastest theatre production.”

“We plan on picking a show, holding auditions, rehearsing, costumes and do it in 19 1/2 hours up until the performance!” McCain said enthusiastically.

The record is currently held by a theatre in the United Kingdom. McCain wants to be the first American theatre to beat the record.

Given her track record for grooming students for Broadway and Disney, McCain, her staff and her students might get into that famed record book.

For more information, go to www.fortbendtheatre.com or call 281-208-3333.

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