Theatre Under the Stars

TUTS College Apprentices & Volunteers With Summer Camp Students

Franklin D.R. Jones, Jr.
Chair of the Board

Dear Donors and Beloved Community Members, 

It is with great pleasure and deep gratitude that I address you today as the Board Chair of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS). As I reflect on the past year’s accomplishments, and we chart an exciting course for the future, I am humbled by the unwavering support you have shown to our nonprofit theater. 

At TUTS, our mission has always been to deliver outstanding musical theater experiences, opening our doors wide for the community to delight in the magic and joy of the stage. The 2022/23 season delivered world-class shows ranging from a spectacular regional premier of The Secret Of My Success to the holiday blockbuster Mary Poppins, crowd-pleasing tours of Chicago and Legally Blonde, and the return of the musical icon RENT!   

As a nonprofit organization deeply rooted in our community, we continue to unify and grow our Education and Community Engagement programming and invest in Houston’s diverse local talent. TUTS provides world-class arts education with peer-to-professional training by casting TUTS Academy and River students in our mainstage productions and through masterclasses. We reach deep into our community to give back; we provide tickets and instruction to students and teachers and access to tickets for community partners and veterans. We are committed to fostering opportunities and accessibility to individuals who might not otherwise have access to the arts or arts education. 

Through diverse casting choices, local hiring practices, and apprenticeship initiatives, our programming exemplifies our commitment to inclusion and equitability, as well as our vision to build skills and provide employment and educational opportunities locally. 

This year’s Tommy Tune Awards program involved 48 participating schools and provided high school seniors with $38,000 in scholarships. Two senior thespians, Makenzie Woolridge from Cypress Ranch High School and Nic Rhew from Stratford High School, advanced to represent Houston at the the National Musical Theatre Awards in New York City, where Makenzie Woolridge was a semifinalist. Thanks to a generous donation from The Sheth Foundation, eight Tommy Tunes participating students were provided scholarships to be in our summer Academy production, Head Over Heels.  

Meanwhile, our fundraising events continue to delight and impress while providing vital funding for TUTS. The 2022 Lights Up Gala, chaired by Patricia & Sig Cornelius and Dolores Cavatore & John Tobola, celebrated 50 years of the Humphreys School of Musical Theater with performances from our very own pre-professional company and performance troupe, alongside recent Tony Award winner Alex Newell. This spring the Leading Ladies Luncheon, chaired by June Deadrick and honoring Paula Harris, exceeded revenue goals for the third year in a row. 

This summer, our free Miller Outdoor Theatre production showcased community stories and nostalgic musical numbers in celebration of TUTS’ long history at Miller as part of Miller’s 100th anniversary season. Our summer Academy productions included student performances of The SpongeBob Musical (featuring students of all abilities), Head Over Heels, and the Inclusive Arts Showcase. It has indeed been a very full year! 

As we embark on our 55th season, I invite you to join us for an extraordinary journey. Your continued partnership as donors, parents, audience members, volunteers, and community members are vital to our success. 

With deepest gratitude, 

Franklin D.R. Jones, Jr. 

Chair of the Board  

Theatre Under The Stars 

Upcoming Dates

AUG 29 – SEP 10: Jagged Little Pill

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AUG 31 at 7PM (SHESPACE): 

Leading Ladies 2023/24 Season Kickoff Event: Wine Tasting*


SEP 7 at 7PM: The Company New Membership Soiree

Email for more information!

SEP 19 at 10AM: Cast Meet &Greet: Sweeney Todd*

OCT 14: More Than Song and Dance*

OCT 15: Tech Talk: Sweeney Todd*

OCT 15: Open Rehearsal: Sweeney Todd*

OCT 17 – 29: Sweeney Todd

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NOV 11: Lights Up Gala – See article

Get Tickets and Donate

*invitations will be distributed digitally, based on donor level:

Comet – Open Rehearsal, Tech Talk

Vega – Open Rehearsal, Tech Talk, one More Than Song and Dance

Sol and Above – Open Rehearsal, Tech Talk, all More Than Song and Dance

Leading Ladies, Lyra and Above – Cast Meet & Greet

Leading Ladies – Leading Ladies Kickoff Event


 TUTS Travels made its debut in June 2022, bringing together Artistic Director Dan Knechtges and donors to seek out musical theatre and artistic experiences in the wider world. TUTS Travels 2023 was a resounding success, with a trip to Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich to see musicals such as Romeo und Julia: Das Musical and Der König der Löwen. Dan Knechtges guided travelers to his favorite German haunts and introduced them to industry professionals. If you would like to find out how you can be included in future trips, contact

2023 TUTS Travelers: Artistic Director, Dan Knechtges; Actor, Eric Minsk; Johnny and Elaine Pickle;
Alan and Tricia Ratliff; Joemaine, Elizabeth and Makayla Spears; and Travel Agent Jeffrey Berlat


Nova Level donors have access to drinks and light bites in the Stargazers Salon 90 minutes before mainstage shows and during intermission

During the pandemic pause, our leadership seized the opportunity to regroup and revamp our benefits programs. To increase donor access to our behind-the-scenes and year-round programming, and to increase direct impact of your generous gifts to supporting what you love, benefits were separated from subscriber perks.

Our premier in-show donor experience, Stargazers Salon, is available pre-show and intermission for every mainstage performance. Exciting new events like Tech Talks and More Than Song and Dance offer donors the chance to delve into the artform of musical theatre and its rich history. Additionally, we celebrate the Season Announcement with an exclusive performance, prior to its public announcement. We’ve also brought back some donor favorite benefits – drink tickets for TUTS productions are now available at the Sol and Morning Star levels!

Our affinity groups have also seen expansion and upgrades! In addition to the Leading Ladies, our core group of volunteers supporting TUTS Education and Community Engagement, two new groups are now available. The Inclusive Arts Society is a no-barrier donor group focused on supporting arts for all through Theatre Under The Stars. And The Company offers networking, social, and theatrical experiences for emerging philanthropists.

We value donor feedback and are constantly working to improve and enhance your Theatre Under The Stars experience.

To make a difference before our fiscal year ends on August 31, go to


Jimmy Awards® nominees Makenzie Woolridge and Nic Rhew at the 2023 Tommy Tune Awards

Back in-person for the first time since 2019, the 2023 Tommy Tunes Awards Ceremony celebrated high school theatres throughout Houston on May 4th! There were over 1300 attendees, with over 600 tickets provided free to students participating in the ceremony. G.W. Carver High School and Stratford High School won Outstanding Musical awards, and Nic Rhew from Stratford High School and Makenzie Woolridge from Cypress Ranch High School advanced to represent Houston in the Jimmy Awards in New York City, where Makenzie Woolridge was a semifinalist. $38,000 in scholarships were awarded to 16 talented thespians for college education in the theatre arts. Thanks to the Terri and Yogi Sheth Foundation, eight students participating in the Tommy Tune Awards program were awarded scholarships to participate in TUTS Academy summer production of Head Over Heels. Want to support next year’s scholarships? Contact

“Students having the opportunity to perform on the Hobby Center stage is a once in a lifetime experience and gives them a glimpse of the professional world.  The Tommy Tune Awards as well as the other community engagement programs are vital to the Houston community.”

– Tony-Award® Winning Educator Roshunda Jones-Koumba

Roshunda Jones-Koumba and Student Accepting the Tommy Tune Outstanding Musical Award for George Washington Carver High School


Raven Troup Performing At TUTS: A Celebration of Houston Stories and Songs

Fifty-five years ago, Frank Young staged a magical production of Bells Are Ringing under the starry sky at Miller Outdoor Theatre—and thus, Theatre Under The Stars was born. Since then, TUTS has produced over 70 free public musicals at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, opening doors to musical theatre for the Houston community. To commemorate the centenary of Miller Outdoor Theatre, TUTS staged a free concert production titled “TUTS: A Celebration Of Houston Stories And Songs” June 11-15, 2023. Directed by Mitchell Greco (Seussical), this production presented highlights from the many musicals TUTS has produced over the years. Hits from shows like A Chorus Line, Mamma Mia!, and Beauty and The Beast soared across Hermann Park, interspersed with original footage of past TUTS performances, interviews with cast members, students, and community members, and memories of Frank Young.

To support programming such as our Miller Outdoor Theatre performances, go to

Mark Ivy, Courtney Markowitz, Raven Troup, John Ryan Del Bosque, And HSMT Students Performing At TUTS: A Celebration of Houston Stories and Songs


Performers Rehearsing For Inclusive Arts Showcase

TUTS hosted the Inclusive Arts Showcase on August 3rd at Kinder HSPVA, featuring student performers from The River, Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and our community. This unique event is student-led and student-driven; the ensemble brainstormed all the performance concepts and worked together collaboratively to bring them to life. This year’s theme was Hope & Harmony, celebrating the many ways fostering a more hopeful and harmonious world leads to positive and collective well-being for all. The performance was free and open to the public.

You can join us in supporting inclusivity as a core value of musical theatre by becoming a member of the Inclusive Arts Society! As a member, you not only support TUTS, but you also become an advocate for a more equitable world. And financial limitations should never hinder anyone from experiencing the magic of musical theatre, so we’ve made joining the IAS accessible to all. Every gift, no matter the size, will make you an integral part of this dynamic giving circle. Make your donation to the Inclusive Arts Society here!

The Inclusive Arts Showcase Company


The Lights Up Gala 2023 will feature a live performance by Broadway Legend André De Shields
Lights Up 2023 Honorees Amy and Rob Pierce

On Saturday Evening, November 11, 2023, TUTS will present the annual Lights Up Gala at The Post Oak in Uptown Houston, chaired by Zane Carson Carruth and Brady Carruth. This black-tie evening will bring together philanthropists and art lovers for joy and merriment as we honor Amy and Rob Pierce as special members of our community and for their outstanding, dedicated support of Theatre Under The Stars. This magical affair will feature a reception, a silent auction chaired by Mario Gudmundsson, an After Party chaired by Brittany Clark & Cynthia Wolff, and a live performance by Tony Award®-Winning Broadway Legend André De Shields. Together, the TUTS community will explore the transformative impact of the arts by answering the question, “Do you believe in the magic of musical theatre?”. You can support Lights Up by hosting a table, donating to the auction, purchasing a ticket to the After-Party, sponsoring part of the event, or making a tax-deductible donation. To learn more, purchase tickets, and donate, go to or email

Lights Up 2023 Chairs Zane Carson Carruth and Brady Carruth

Thank you to these donors for helping us end the 2022/23 season strong with a donation to our end-of-fiscal-year campaign!

*Giving as of August 2, 2023

Thank you to all of our donors whose gifts arrived after this data was exported

Thank You to our Year-End Donors! (A–F)

Pamela & Richard Ahlers

Mr. & Mrs. D. Kent Anderson

Mr. Tom Anderson


Ms. Virginia Araiza

The Bern Family

Gianni Brooks

Ms. Lena A. Brown

Mrs. Marci Brown

John & Marilyn Burger

Llewellyn Canio

Ms. Kim Cole

Nora E. Coulter

Anne O. Courtright

Ms. Elaine Danelutti

Anna L. Deans

Johanna DeYoung &

John Vindekilde

Ms. Patricia Dolan

Ramsay M. Elder

Christine Envall

Mr. John Eyster

Ms. Alicia Flarity

Mrs. Neala Fogarty

Thank You to our Year-End Donors! (G–O)

Rosemarie Greenip

Mr. Jeff Greer

Mr. & Mrs. Robert L. Hargrave

Anna Hernandez

Kirsten & RB Herrscher

Stephen Hudson

Mr. Ivan Berling Jr. &
Mr. Roger Huffaker

Kendrick James

Mr. Chris Job

Catherine Johnson

Mr. Jamie Johnson

Dr. David Kessler

Mr. Perry King Jr

Mr. Steven Kovach

Julie Kramer

Ms. Patti Kramer

Ms. Michelle Leavitt

Ms. Megan Lembcke

Mr. & Mrs. Rowdy Lemoine

Ms. Ivy Loyd

Ayana Mack

Dr. Daniel Maxwell &

Mr. Steven Bretthauer

Ms. Lachardra McBride

Dr. Deryl W. Mckenzie

Mr. & Mrs. Karim Momin

Quianta Moore

Ms. Mary W. Murrin

Dawn Neal & Michael Corripio

Mr. Brandon Ned

Matt Nelson

Ms. Judy Newman

Lisa Oakes

Thank You to our Year-End Donors! (P–Z)

Richard Pancioli

Mr. Wayde Prejean

Ms. Jennifer Rayburn

Mr. John Redmon

Ms. Tamara Reeder

Janice & Alan Rendl

Naima Robin

Ms. Buffi Robinson

Ms. Susan Rosenbaum &
Mr. Eric Schoen

Ms. Sherri Russell

Ms. Erin Salmatanis

Ms. Sallie Schwall

Ms. Cissy Segall Davis


Deborah K. Slaughter

ServiceMaster Cleaning Pros

Mr. Ronald Stein

Ms. Christine Stevens

Mr. Carl Stutts

Keisha & Chelsea Tanner

Ms. Morgan M. Tate

Elizabeth Tuva

Aracely G. Villalpando

Sherri & Jon Volger

Ms. Sandra Warren

Mr. Alan Watson

Mr. Jack Wehman

Ms. Kellie White

Sharon Whitman

Brook and Kate Wiggins

Mr. Jonathan Williams

Rose Williams

Jeanne & John Willis

Ms. Melissa Winwood