Manship Theatre reaches into past for 10th anniversary

The Manship Theatre is mixing new with nostalgic in celebration of its 10th anniversary season.

“We wanted to bring back some of our past acts, which will include nostalgic acts like Roger McGuinn and Kathy Mattea,” Executive Director Renee Chatelain says. “But at the same time, we’re always introducing something new to the community.”

The Manship Theatre released its season lineup in early July, highlighting such acts as Ziggy Marley on Oct. 22 and Loverboy on March 5. But Chatelain delves deeper into the schedule, not only to highlight upcoming events but to explain how some events coincide with the theater’s community outreach.

“When I came to the theater, I wanted to make it a community space,” she says.

So, the theater opened its main and Hartley/Vey Studio stages to classes, seminars and even a past hip-hop conference. That effort continues this year as all dance performances come together for a social cause.

“If you’ve ever attended a show on Broadway, you know how they talk about Broadway Cares at the end of each performance and how the organization raises money for HIV/AIDS research,” Chatelain says. “They pass buckets around the audience, and we’ll be doing the same thing here for Dance Speaks at the end of our dance performances.”

Dance Speaks is an organization that raises money to transport children with HIV and AIDS to Camp Hope, which is run by the HIV/AIDS Foundation in Houston, where children with HIV or AIDS can attend summer camp.

Participating national dance tours include Pascal Rioult on Nov. 13, Jacome Flamenco on Feb. 11, Sidra Bell on April 18, and regular season performances by local professional companies Of Moving Colors and the Cangelosi Dance Project.

“This is the first time we’ve taken a season to speak for a cause,” Chatelain says. “We can use the arts to improve our community and for a social cause.”

The Family Series, which includes the Manship Theatre Kids Club. Membership is for children in pre-kindergarten through the fifth grade. Club members receive $10 admission to all events in this series, a Kids Club T-shirt, a membership card and party favor packs.

The Family Serieis open to all ages. Featured performances in this series include an encore performance of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” on Oct. 12, by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia; the Curious George musical, “All–You-Can-Eat Meatball Day,” on Nov. 2; the musical, “School House Rock” on Nov. 20; and New York’s Vital Theatre production of “Pinkalicious” on March 1.

“‘Pinkalicious’ is always a favorite among the little girls,” Chatelain says. “We’re planning a Peek-a-Boo Cupcake party for that show.”

And the theater will have a section set aside especially for grown-ups at the “School House Rock” performance.

“This is part of the nostalgia, too,” Chatelain says. “There are so many people who grew up watching ‘School House Rock’ on Saturday mornings. They know all the words to the songs like, ‘Conjunction Junction’ and ‘I’m Only a Bill.’ We know this will be something they will remember and enjoy, and we’re considering having a special reception for the adults after the show.”

Holiday season will see the Family Series production of Theatre IV’s performance of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Dec. 7, and the Preservation Hall Creole Christmas on Dec. 8.

The Music Series opens with Allen Toussaint on Sept. 19, Roger McGuinn on Feb. 23, Kathy Mattea on March 29 and the Southern Troubadours on April 9. Loverboy will be the featured performer at the Manship’s Red Carpet Gala.

The theater also will host two morning school performances, the first being the production “Through the Eyes of a Friend, The World of Anne Frank,” on Jan. 12, followed by the musical performance, “Chubby Carrier Zydeco A-Z,” on Feb. 3.

“We’re doing some fun stuff along the way,” Chatelain says. “We’re now the home for New Venture Theatre, and we’ll once again be the home to the Jewish and Irish film series.”

There’s also Improv Night, when the Manship Theatre invites an improvisation comedy troupe in to spoof selected films. Among the most popular have been “Dirty Dancing” and “Urban Cowboy.”

“This has been a popular feature with our audiences,” Chatelain says. “We’re continuing it in the new season, and we’re planning a Seinfeld 25th anniversary celebration, where we’ll be pulling a few episodes based on votes from our audiences and screening four or five.”

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