Bill’s Best Bets: ‘Annie,’ Neil Diamond & Eagles tribute, butterflies, dinosaurs and sports stuff

Television rarely is a Best Bet, but Texas Tech faces Michigan in the College World Series Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.

And looking ahead, Lubbock’s only professional company, Outpost Repertory Theatre, finally returns next weekend with the Lubbock debut of “Tigers Be Still,” starring Ashley Meyer. The play will run for two weekends, June 21-23 and 28-30, but ticket prices drop all the way down to $5 (plus service charge) only for a Preview Night performance on Thursday at the Firehouse Theatre at LHUCA, 511 Ave. K.

Lubbock Community Theatre will showcase the comedy “Red, White and Tuna,” which debuted in 1998 and was preceded by “Greater Tuna” and “A Tuna Christmas,” on June 20-23 and 27-30. The play will be on the LCT stage at 4232-B Boston Ave., with tickets already on sale.

Closer at hand, remember, too, that Sunday is Father’s Day. To commemorate the holiday, the Alamo Drafthouse invites you to take your dad to see the 1939 classic “Stagecoach” on the big screen. John Ford directed, and John Wayne’s performance as The Ringo Kid helped launch him as a movie star. Claire Trevor co-stars as Dallas. Tickets are $10 and remain available for now – but I doubt you will be able to buy them when Father’s Day arrives.

Here is a variety of Lubbock events that can be experienced in person.

“Annie”

More than a decade ago, Gerald Dolter found a piece of land at Mackenzie Park and envisioned an almost-natural amphitheater being constructed there. He was right and, after Moonlight Musicals debuted with Curly’s horse being ridden across a bare concrete stage in the musical “Oklahoma,” Dolter and his crew of supporters and mostly volunteers set to work, raising funds for a roof, dressing rooms, rehearsal space, concession stands and more, the result being a series of entertaining outdoor summer musicals that feared the rare thunderstorm far more than the possibility of poor reviews. Indeed, Moonlight Musicals have provided no shortage of memorable, standout performances over the years.

Dolter has retired his position as executive director, with music director Justin Duncan having added the title of executive director to his signature. And the 2019 series of Moonlight Musicals will open this weekend with the Tony Award-winning musical “Annie.” Having debuted on Broadway in 1977, and with its latest New York revival in 2012, “Annie” has made its presence known quite a few times in Lubbock. I would suspect fewer than half buying tickets will be seeing the hit play – music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Chapin, book by Thomas Meehan – for the first time.

“Annie” will be staged at the Moonlight Musicals Amphitheater at Mackenzie Park at 8 p.m. June 13-15, 20-22 and 27-29, with gates open at 7 p.m. Those attending are encouraged to bring comfortable lawn chairs and picnic dinners. (A concession stand also is open.) Seating is $19 in the general admission sections on the sides; reserved seats in the Premium section down the middle are $29. Opening night (June 13) offers a $4 discount.

Set in 1933, the play opens at the Municipal Girls’ Orphanage in New York City, where red-haired, 11-year-old Annie repeatedly tries to escape to search for her parents. She is repeatedly is caught and returned. Circumstances eventually find her opening the heart of billionaire Oliver Warbucks and meeting the president of the United States.

“For purposes of stamina,” said Duncan, the role of Annie and six other orphans have been double cast. The green cast includes Abi Mills as Annie, and performs on June 13, 15, 21, 27 and 29.

Abi began acting four years ago in Moonlight’s “Mary Poppins,” and has appeared in 15 Lubbock area shows. “Annie” marks her 11th appearance with Moonlight Musicals. Abi said, “I’m excited to play Annie because I have grown up watching all the movies, and I love the songs and the story. This role is something I have dreamed about since I was a little girl.”

The red cast includes Kyra Gerhart as Annie, and performs June 14, 20, 22 and 28.

Kyra, a fifth grader at Northridge Elementary School, also has performed in several Moonlight Musicals. She enjoys performing on stage with her family, and said, “I am so excited to do ‘Annie.’ When I was 6, ‘Tomorrow’ was the first song I sang in an audition for Moonlight Musicals.”

The green cast also features this supporting cast of orphans: Berkley Phares as Molly, youngest orphan; Avery Lucero as Kate, shyest orphan; Annabelle Needham as Tessie, crybaby (“Oh my goodness”) orphan; Katelyn Castle as Pepper, toughest orphan; Kyla Castle as July, quietist orphan; and Brennan Cooper as Duffy, oldest orphan.

Young actors in the red cast include Kate Phillips as Kate, Olivia Copeland as Tessie, Aubrey Giselle as Tessie, Marin Sanders as Pepper, Emma Johnston as July, and Brennan Cooper as Duffy.

Adult stars include Tamarah Smith as Miss Hannigan, Mallory Flores as Grace Farrell, Mike Morgan as Oliver Warbucks, David Lee Staggers as Rooster, Heidi Winkler as Lily St. Regis and Ian Klotzman as Bundles.

The musical’s memorable songs include “It’s The Hard Knock Life,” “Tomorrow,” “Little Girls,” “Easy Street” and Maybe.”

Mitchell Britton directs.

Tribute Concert: Neil Diamond and The Eagles

Hit songs recorded by Neil Diamond and The Eagles will fill the concert program at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave. Reserved seats are $20 both on the main floor and in the traditional balcony. However, the balcony also has the popular eight box seats in a section projected over the lower floor.

Tickets for the balcony box seats are $40 and each person seated there is allowed unlimited concessions at no extra charge. That’s in addition to the marvelous stage sight lines.

Tickets can be reserved by calling 762-3233, or at the box office on the night of the event. All sales are final. The Cactus Theater does not permit exchanges, refunds or credit for future shows in exchange for unused tickets.

Note, the theater’s box office is open each week: from 3-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The box office closes at 5:30 p.m. Friday if no show is booked that night. The Cactus box office also will not open on the weekend unless attractions are booked on Saturday and/or Sunday.

“We have had numerous requests to bring Neil Diamond’s music back to one of our productions. This show will feature Neil’s hits, with a mix-in of Eagles music for another cutting-edge West Texas tribute show. Harmonies and incredible solos by vocalists Sheena Fadeli,  Jason Fellers, Avery Guyear, Brandon Gwinn and Haley Simpson can’t be beat.” said producer Don Caldwell.

“West Texas renditions of these songs will take you to your knees and are bound to please,” he added.

The Eagles tribute includes Gwinn singing the chilling “Desperado,” and Fellers again singing lead on “Life in the Fast Lane.” A small fraction of the tribute to Neil Diamond will include Fadeyi’s rendition of “Red Red Wine,” Guyear singing “Yesterday’s Songs” and Simpson taking the solo on “Thank the Lord for the Night Time.”

Early reservations are advised.

Butterfly Release

The 10th-annual Butterfly Release will take place from 5-7 p.m. Saturday in the gardens behind the Lubbock Municipal Garden & Arts Center, 4215 University Ave. The free event also is sponsored by the Lubbock Municipal Arboretum.

Call 767-3724 for more information.

Activities include butterfly and ladybug-related crafts, games and entertainment.

The evening concludes with the release of butterflies and ladybugs in the arboretum’s wildflower garden.

Jurassic Adventure – Dinosaurs!

That’s right, dinosaurs – in fact, dozens of realistic dinosaur figures can be seen from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at the Panhandle-South Plains Fairgrounds, 1012 Ave. A. Tickets are $24 for children age 2 to 12, and $29 for age 13 and older.

“We have a massive display of the most realistic giant dinosaurs unlike any other. Come see the T-rex, Spinosaurus and 50 more. Your kids will have a chance to interact with our Dinosaur babies. Our trainers let kids pet these cute little guys while educating them,” said information about the event.

A peek at the Jurassic Adventure website shows the company also sets up everything from fossil digs to bounce houses. But it’s probable some items, such as the Virtual Reality games and other games involving dinosaurs, may require an additional charge, in addition to the price paid to view the exhibit at the fairgrounds.

Call the fair at 763-2833 to confirm times and ticket prices.

Sports Cards & Memorabilia

S&S Sports Cards will sponsor the “Sports Cards, Memorabilia & More” show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the MCM Elegante Hotel and Suites, 601 Ave. Q.

The show has a $1 admission charge.

“From memorabilia to modern and vintage sports themes, plus many other collectible items, many unique collectibles will be sold, purchased or traded at this show. Vendors from a large area have confirmed their Lubbock appearances,”  said information about the event.