Theatre Under the Stars

Upcoming Dates


2021 Inclusive ARTS Showcase

2021 Summer Camps and Community Engagement

2021 Leading ladies Luncheon

Get into the Shows

Explore the music eras of our upcoming shows with these custom playlists.

Rock of Ages

Sister Act

Welcome to the Observatory

Hi and welcome to our first ever issue of The Observatory, TUTS new donor publication, designed with you in mind!

It’s been more than 500 days since we last welcomed an audience to share in the magic of musical theatre with us, and we’ve spent this time apart creating new and exciting ways for you to have a deeper TUTS experience all year ‘round, including this publication. 

Four times a year, The Observatory will be delivered to your inbox, full of behind-the-scenes insights, details of upcoming events and productions, and pictures of you and your friends at TUTS events. To kick off this first issue, we’re thrilled to share: 

  • Insider details about the Homecoming Season from associate artistic director Monique Midgette 

  • Photos from what we’ve been up to during the pandemic, including our first in-person event and education Summer Camps 

  • An introduction to our new annual memberships and donor benefits 

  • Profiles of our Lights Up 2021 chairs and honorees 

  • And more! 

I hope you enjoy this new benefit, exclusively available to you as a donor to Theatre Under The Stars, and that you’re looking forward to even more TUTS fun in the coming months. We can’t wait to see you soon! 

Your friend under the stars, 

Christine Ann Stevens 
Development Director 

P.S. We’d love to hear your feedback or ideas for upcoming issues – please send them to Emily Manck White, Manager of Donor Stewardship, at 


Greetings theatre lovers! I am so honored to be included in the inaugural edition of the Observatory! I’m Monique Midgette, TUTS new Associate Artistic Director. Before I dive in to sharing more about our Homecoming season, a little bit about me: 

I first visited Houston in 2012 as a performer in  The Lion King’s national tour and producer-creator of a musical at The Ensemble Theatre. After being blown away by the creativity, generosity, and support of this town, I knew Houston would always hold a special place in my heart.

Nine years later, while navigating theatre during a pandemic, I started chatting with TUTS Artistic Director Dan Knechtges. We agreed arts organizations need to help move our world forward by allowing diverse casts and creative teams to portray the American musical theatre canon in new, exciting, and dynamic ways. We both also believed in great theatre education and its ability to create a world of thoughtful empathetic humans and theatre goers. This summer, it was my humble pleasure to join this award-winning team and continue the great work TUTS is known for.

I look forward to seeing all of you this season and welcome your thoughts and feedback on how to make TUTS more inclusive, more entertaining, and a place you can call home!  

Now, on to the season! 

  • Rock of Ages  is set in the 1980s – the Big Hair Band era – and tells the story of a young woman who left her midwestern town to chase fame and fortune on the Sunset Strip (could have been me, except she doesn’t have my jherri curl…) This show brings back crowd-favorite choreographer Jessica Hartman (TUTS Mamma Mia!) as director-choreographer, so you know this show is going to be a party! Grab some Aqua-Net and a Journey t-shirt, and I’ll see you there! 

  • Sister Act  brings us to the era of disco! This show is set Philadelphia where we meet Deloris Van Cartier (made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie) – another woman who feels destined for stardom but is instead forced to hide out in a convent after witnessing a crime. Sister Act is a feel-good musical about friendship, believing in yourself, and not judging a book by its cover. You won’t want to miss Simone Gundy (NBC’s “The Voice”; TUTS Memphis 2017, The Wiz 2018,  Elf 2019) as Deloris, directed and choreographed by TUTS own Dan Knechtges. 

  • Disney’s The Little Mermaid  is a great show about love, friendship, and family, just in time for the holidays! With the songs and characters you know and love, every performance will be a sing-along with Ariel, Flounder, and Ursula (and between you and me, if you hear anyone singing Poor Unfortunate Souls in the lobby, it might be me…) It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for kids and adults alike! 

  • South Pacific , from Broadway legends Rodgers and Hammerstein, was the Hamilton of the 1950s. This show is chock-full of classic tunes like “Some Enchanted Evening”, “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”, and “Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”. We’re bringing in the glitz for this Tony- and Pulitzer-prize-winning musical, including a 25-piece live orchestra! 

  • Then, join us for the national tours of Come From Away and Jersey Boys this Spring! These Tony-award winning shows are sure to touch your heart while you laugh, cry, and sing.

Donor Profile: Marsha & David Taylor and Martha & Guy Benham

TUTS: How did you first get involved with TUTS?

Marsha Taylor: Our first date was to see Singin’ in the Rain on stage, so musical theatre has been a big part of our relationship! Before we married, David purchased season tickets to TUTS shows, and we have been attending for over 30 years. David has served on the Board of Directors for 20 years, and I’ve volunteered in many capacities, co-founding the Leading Ladies and serving on the scholarship committee and adjudicator for the Tommy Tune Awards.

Martha Benham: I moved to Houston from a small town in Louisiana to provide my daughter, Jessie opportunities only a big city could offer a child with disabilities. In 2010, I was invited to the TUTS Gala with no idea part of the entertainment was going to be this group of kids with special needs who were performing in wheelchairs with “typical” kids. I sat there dumbfounded, trying to hide my tears. I never dared to dream a child with a disability could perform on a stage in front of a large audience, especially not in the Hobby Center! The rest is history: Jessie was signed up for Saturday classes and eventually made it to the Performance Troupe.

Guy Benham: Having never really be involved with a special needs community, I remember being dumbfounded and amazed at the fantastic performances put on by these kids with intellectual & developmental disabilities from The River when Martha and Jessie introduced me to the group. They were mesmerizing to watch even if only at a small school festival or farmer’s market.

TUTS: How do you enjoy TUTS as a family?

David Taylor: Our two girls have attended shows with us regularly. They’re adults now, but when our girls were young, we purchased walk-on roles to be in Beauty and the Beast, and our younger daughter joined HSMT and was in several mainstage shows, including being cast as “Louisa” in The Sound of Music.

MB: We typically buy season tickets to the Saturday afternoon matinees which allows us family time to enjoy the shows. We love the whole experience and make a real event of it: playing the soundtrack in the days leading up to the show, getting dressed up, going out for a nice meal, watching the excitement on Jessie’s face when she buys a keepsake from the kiosk, and of course trying to eat M&Ms quietly during the performance. (Music & M&Ms are just the best thing ever!)

TUTS: What have been some of your favorite TUTS experiences?

GB: Our favorite family experience has been Public Works Houston – Seussical the Musical at Miller Outdoor Theatre! We went to every show. This production did such a fabulous job of bringing a community together out on a show with kids from HSMT and The River working alongside professional actors and community members. My only gripe was that it took 7 weeks to get those tunes out of my head!

MT: We love the Tommy Tune Awards in how the thrill of competition and support for high school musical theatre programs has encouraged area schools to work toward excelling in musical theatre education. In a community where football seems to be “king,” we have loved seeing schools not only support their sports programs, but also grow to support the arts.

TUTS: You’ve been very generous donors to TUTS and our programming; what motivates you to support TUTS?

DT: We believe that any financial support that we give toward any non-profit or charitable organization must make a direct impact on the lives of people. We see that in the TUTS programs, especially in benefitting the lives of children – children in HSMT find valuable training, children in the Tommy Tune schools find validity and community, and children through The River find an avenue to express their voices freely whether on their own or through the assistance of a buddy.

MB: We look forward to the mainstage shows every year, but what motivates us to be involved with TUTS is their education programming. We have now seen Jessie, that little girl that her mom was told might not ever walk or talk, on-stage in Sarofim as a member of the ensemble in two mainstage productions. Just WOW! We are involved and we are here because we want to ensure that continues into the future for other children with disabilities.

GB: TUTS has really developed to make inclusivity normal – no questions, just the way it should be done. Helping TUTS continue to do that and become a shining light of how inclusivity should be done is something we’ll never stop supporting!

TUTS: We’re so grateful you are leading Lights Up 2021 as our co-chairs; why was it important for you to be involved with this event?

Taylors: For us, the most important aspect of the Gala is education. For many in our community, they know TUTS as a provider of world-class musical theater. And while that is true, what sets TUTS apart from other theater companies is their commitment to education and outreach in the community. This event is a way for others to truly know the deep impact that TUTS is making in education and inclusion.

Benhams: When we were asked to co-chair with Marsha and David during the 25th anniversary of The River, we just couldn’t say no! Our biggest hope is that we can help TUTS on the journey of inclusivity and we are honored to be asked to help on that journey through this event.

TUTS: What can guests look forward to at Lights Up?

Benhams: We believe the guests can look forward to a delightful evening of TUTS patrons being together again to celebrate our past and look forward to our very bright future! We can promise experiences you’ll take away and want to share with your family, friends & work colleagues!

Taylors: Lights Up will have fabulous entertainment, heart-warming performances from our students, exceptional food and drink, and one of the best bands around to dance the night away! The TUTS Gala is always full of music, festivity and fun as we join with friends in our community to support a wonderful organization.

Freeport LNG

Theatre Under The Stars extends its deepest appreciation to Freeport LNG for their upcoming production sponsorship of Sister Act. This season marks the fifth consecutive season that Freeport LNG has been a production sponsor!

“With over 400 employees and contractors in Houston and Brazoria County and growing, Freeport LNG has a nearly two decade long tradition of working with and contributing to local civic, community and humanitarian organizations through volunteering and charitable giving. Our long-standing partnership with Theatre Under The Stars is a continuation of our mission to strengthen the communities in which we work and live. Freeport LNG is proud to partner with TUTS to bring world-class musical theatre and educational initiatives to the Houston area community.”

John Tobola,
Senior Vice-President,
Freeport LNG and TUTS Board member

The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts

The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts was created in 1979 for the benefit of performing arts institutions in the State of Texas, primarily in the greater metropolitan Houston area. The Trust has been a major funder of TUTS for more than 20 years, supporting our education initiatives through the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre.

Recognizing the challenges TUTS has faced and the value of having a home for musical theatre in Houston, they have now issued a matching challenge grant of $100,000! This means gifts to COVID relief funding between now and May 2022 will be doubled thanks to their generosity, if we reach that $100,000 donation goal.

Our tremendous thanks to The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts for this generous challenge grant – and thank you to our donors for helping us reach $100,000 in donations by May 2022! Learn more and give at

Corporate & Foundation Giving


  • ABC 13 KTRK-TV
  • The Brown Foundation, Inc.
  • Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital
  • City of Houston
  • Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts
  • Freeport LNG Development, L.P.
  • Hampton Inn/ Homewood Suites Downtown*
  • Houston Arts Alliance
  • The Humphreys Foundation
  • The Wortham Foundation, Inc.


  • Apache Corporation
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Shell Oil Company


  • The Alkek and Williams Foundation
  • Accenture
  • Enbridge U.S., Inc.
  • H-E-B
  • Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo™
  • Texas Commission on the Arts
  • United Airlines*


  • AIG
  • Carruth Foundation, Inc.
  • Ernst & Young
  • William Stamps Farish Funds
  • Interlinc Family Foundation
  • KNOWAutism Foundation
  • M.D. Anderson Foundation
  • The Medallion Foundation, Inc.
  • Phoenicia Specialty Foods Inc.*
  • Pierpont Communications
  • Vivian L. Smith Foundation


  • CFP Foundation
  • Schlumberger


  • Greenburg Traurig, LLP
  • Grant Thornton LLP
  • Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation
  • Latham & Watkins, LLP
  • MacDonald-Peterson Foundation
  • John P. McGovern Foundation
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Phillips 66
  • The Powell Foundation
  • PwC
  • Texas Capital Bank – Houston
  • Vinson & Elkins, LLP
  • Wells Fargo
  • Winston & Strawn LLP


  • Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation
  • Berg & Androphy
  • Blue Mountain Midstream, LLC
  • Gordon A. Cain Foundation
  • Chevron
  • David Peck*
  • EOG Resources Inc.
  • George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation
  • Kinder Morgan Foundation
  • Marathon Oil Company
  • Norfolk Southern Foundation Matching Gifts Program
  • Edward and Helen Oppenheimer Foundation


  • Amegy Bank of Texas
  • CRC Family Charitable Foundation
  • Marathon Oil Corporation
  • Marsh Wortham
  • Matagator Foundation
  • Sterling Family Foundation
  • Target

* In-Kind Donor
Gifts processed September 1, 2020 – July 31, 2021

Individual Giving

PEGASUS $25,000

  • Margaret Alkek Williams
  • Patricia & Sig Cornelius
  • Amy & Robert Pierce
  • Cheryl & Louis Raspino
  • Tricia & Alan Ratliff
  • Mr. & Mrs. Stephen M. Trauber


  • Rebecca & Thomas Brandt
  • Heather & John Christmann
  • Mrs. Marcela E. Donadio & Mr. Lawrence R. Dickerson
  • Mr. Brandon L. Sear
  • Sandy & Randy Stilley
  • Dolores & John Tobola
  • Mr. & Mrs. Ronald W. Woliver

ORION $10,000-$14,999

  • Mr. John Nau
  • Mr. and Mrs. Franklin D. R. Jones, Jr.
  • Roxann & Timothy Neumann
  • Elaine & Johnny Pickle
  • Helen & James A. Shaffer / HydroTex Dynamics, Inc.
  • Mrs. Lynda Underwood
  • Mr. & Mrs. Larry E. Whaley

NOVA $5,000-$9,999

  • Ms. Melinda Armstrong
  • Patrice Baumann McKinney
  • Martha & Guy Benham
  • Mr. Iris Berthelot
  • Mr. Brad Blume
  • Mr. & Mrs. John Burgess
  • Mr. Steven L. Burkett & Ms. Margaret C. Lombardo
  • Margaret & John Burns
  • Ms. Suzette D. Carrillo
  • Kiki & Jeffrey Carroll
  • Sandy & Tom Cattarin
  • Mr. Damon J. Chargois
  • Susan & Ralph Cherrillo
  • Don & Mary Condon
  • Judy & Mark Cook
  • Dr. & Mrs. Cal Dalton
  • Ms. June Deadrick
  • Mr. Joe Davis
  • Mr. Myron Diftler
  • The Ensell Family
  • Dr. Constance Faro
  • JoEllen & Bill Goetz
  • Sharon & Jim Hickey
  • Ms. Cynthia Higgins
  • Mr. & Mrs. David R. Klein
  • Mr. Jay Landa & Mr. Daniel Turner
  • Jaime & Cristina Lara
  • Mr. & Mrs. G.M. Byrd Larberg
  • Shaun & Janet Leone
  • Mrs. Jana Lohse
  • Penny & Paul Loyd Jr.
  • Ms. Angela Lutz & Mrs. Posey Saenz
  • David & Wanda Marcell
  • Nancy & Thomas Marian
  • Ms. Marlene Marker
  • Mr. & Mrs. Robert R. Martin
  • Paige & Ron May
  • The McCord Family
  • Ms. Trini Mendenhall
  • Michelle and Jack Matzer
  • Phil & Joan Morabito
  • Daryl & Ellen Morey
  • Shelly, Jerome & Allie Mulanax
  • Dawn Neal
  • Beverly & Staman Ogilvie
  • Gail & Gerald O’Neill
  • Kay M. Onstead
  • Mr. Robert Pilegge
  • Dr. and Mrs. Rao Polavarapu
  • Julie & Tom Pradel
  • Jim & Sue Robertson
  • Mr. and Mrs. Tom Ryan
  • Mr. and Mrs. Michael Scheurich
  • Dr. Deborah Shelley & Mr. Adrian Shelley
  • Mr. & Mrs. Yogesh Sheth
  • Ms. Heather Sirdashney
  • Ms. Bridget Snooks
  • Mr. Joemaine Spears
  • Lauren & Patrick Sullivan
  • Emily & John Sunew
  • Mr. Fiore Talarico, Jr.
  • Gladys & Jim Taylor
  • Wilson Van Tine
  • Barbara & Andrew Veres
  • Julia & Bruce Vincent
  • Jeri & Dennis Willen
  • Mr. and Mrs. Charles Williams

MORNING STAR $2,500-$4,999

  • Ms. Ann Bayless & Mr. Al Brende
  • Kelly & Scott Biar
  • Julie & Chris Black
  • Ms. Pamela B. Boyd
  • Mr. Richard Bush
  • Brady & Zane Carruth
  • Mr. Christopher Cragg
  • Mrs. Jo Ann Dittert
  • Julie & Michael P. Donaldson
  • Mr. James Dykas
  • Ms. Pam Gallagher
  • Mr. & Mrs. Steven Gyeszly
  • Casey & Ryan Hackney
  • Mr. Rick Hebel & Ms. Michelle Schmidt
  • Mr. Marquel Jordan
  • Lu Ann & Morton Katz
  • Gwen & Dan Kellogg
  • Mr. Harry N. Pefanis
  • Mr. Douglas Perley
  • Lisa & Bo Pierce
  • Ms. Jeanine Piskurich
  • Ms. Gay A. Roane
  • Dennis & Nataliya Scheib
  • Patricia & Jeffrey Sheets
  • Linda & Joe Sheppard
  • Kristina & Paul Somerville
  • Cliff & Julie Thompson
  • Mr. and Mrs. Tom Tomlinson
  • Ms. Kelly Von Gonten
  • Kim & John Watson
  • Sara & Rick Watts
  • Mrs. Stacey White

SOL $1,250-$2,499

  • Mr. and Mrs. John Arnold
  • Dr. David E. Auer, M.D.
  • Mr. Duane Bennett
  • Ms. Tina Bentsen
  • Collier & Richard Blades
  • Toni Blankman & Bob Weiner
  • Mrs. Aimee Bornstein
  • Mary Bourne-Marth & Jeff Marth
  • Mr. & Mrs. Michael L. Brem
  • Mr. Christopher Brown
  • Dr. Catherine Cahill & Mr. Rick Brown
  • Ms. Judy Campbell
  • Ms. Kenedia Chalmers
  • Mr. & Mrs. Jesse Chaluh & Family
  • Mr. Rick Chern
  • Mark & Kay Clavenna
  • Sam & Jenni Clayton
  • Ms. Vivian M. Cline
  • Ms. Rhonda Cobb
  • Judy & Art Coen
  • Ms. Eileen Crues
  • Arienne & George Devassal
  • Ms. Julie Doshi
  • Mrs. Jan Duncan
  • Mrs. Jenny Elkins
  • Christina & Craig Epperson
  • Mr. Richard Espinosa
  • Ms. Cherrill Farnsworth
  • Ms. Carolyn L. Faulk
  • Mr. Paul Ferraresi
  • Adrienne & David Franklin
  • Mrs. Monica Fulton
  • Gilbert & Veanna Garcia
  • Ms. Leslie Gassner
  • Mr. James Kent Gilliam
  • Peggy & Michael Goodman
  • Ms. Mary J. Goodreau
  • Lisa & Marvin Gray
  • Lisa & Don Guedry
  • Mr. Charles W. Hall
  • Mr. & Mrs. Scott Hawkins
  • Robin Hesketh
  • Glenda & Edward Hoerner
  • Ms. Marcela Horovitz
  • Mr. Kirk Jordan
  • Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Jungels
  • Mr. John Kauffman
  • Rebecca & Sid Kaul
  • Bryan & Anna Kelley
  • Becky & Bart McAndrews
  • Mr. John T. McMahan
  • Mr. & Mrs. Norman B. Mensing
  • Ms. Amber Mostyn
  • Dr. Edward C. Murphy
  • Karen & Paige Nicolaou
  • Ms. Gracie Oberti
  • Ms. Robbie Pape
  • Mr. Robert Parke
  • Ms. Dena Rafte & Mr. Robert Brown
  • Ms. Kristi Reigle
  • Vicky & Michael Richker
  • Mrs. Sybil Roos
  • Mr. Joshua Samuels
  • Mr. Miles Sasser & Mr. Zachary Taylor
  • Mr. Andrew Schumacher
  • Mr. Ron Smith
  • Jessika & Jeff Smith
  • Wayne & Becky Sneed
  • Mr. Aldo Sordelli
  • Ms. Sarah Springer
  • Mr. William O. Strange
  • Meredith & Raffi Tcholakian
  • Andrea & Trent Tellepsen
  • Mr. and Mrs. Brad Tucker
  • Mr. & Mrs. Richard Vance
  • Cynthia & Bill White
  • Ms. Shirley Whitmore
  • Mr. Walt Zerkow