Bill’s Best Bets: ‘Mary Poppins’ for free, couple of plays, three varied concerts

If it’s the weekend’s Best Bets in Lubbock Lights, you know we’ll at least mention the Texas Tech baseball team is still alive in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Tech has been involved in one exciting game after another and has made it to the series’ Final Four.

The Red Raiders face Michigan again, this time at 1 p.m. Friday on ESPN. Michigan  handed Tech its only College World Series loss last Saturday..

In the double-elimination format, Tech must win Friday or catch the next jet home to Lubbock. Either way, the Red Raiders already have made 2019 an impressive and exciting season.

Nevertheless, there also is no shortage whatsoever of promising live entertainment in Lubbock this weekend. Just check out the following choices.

‘Mary Poppins Returns’

More than a half century after Julie Andrews excelled in her introduction of nanny Mary Poppins on the big screen, Oscar winning (“Chicago”) director Rob Marshall cast Emily Blunt in the same iconic role in “Mary Poppins Returns” – and hit another one out of the park in the 2018 sequel.

Critic Richard Roeper called the sequel in the Chicago Sun Times “a wall-to-wall smile of a movie: big of heart and large in scale, lavishly staged, beautifully photographed and brimming with show-stopping musical numbers.”

Sounds like great family fun, and those in Lubbock have a rare opportunity to watch the film as an outdoor screening at dusk, or approximately 9 p.m., on Friday.

“Mary Poppins Returns” will be the first of five free Movie in the Park events this summer at the Mae Simmons Community Center, 2004 Oak Ave.

Amerigroup is the sponsor of all five PG-rated movies under the stars, which also include: July 2, “How to Train Your Dragon” at Rawlings Community Center; July 26, “Incredibles 2” at Safety City; Aug. 6, “The Lego Movie 2” at Maggie Trejo Supercenter and Aug. 9, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” at Maxey Community Center.

Families are encouraged to bring blankets or low-backed lawn chairs, snacks and mosquito spray. Amerigroup will provide water, popcorn and pre-screening games.

‘Tigers Be Still’

In photo: Joseph (Randall Rapstine) has his first session with art therapist Sherry (Ashley Meyer). Photo credit: Katie Hahn.

Outpost Repertory Theatre Company, Lubbock’s first and only professional company, returns to the Firehouse Theatre at LHUCA, 511 Ave. K, this weekend to open a two-week run of “Tigers Be Still,” an applauded play written by Kim Rosenstock.

The play will be staged at 8 p.m. Friday,  2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 27-28; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 29 and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 30.

Reserved seats are $25 for the general public, $15 for seniors, military veterans and active military and $5 for all students with valid IDs.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at either www.outpostrep.org or at ORTTigers.brownpapertickets.com.

Some may recall Outpost made its debut in January with the Lubbock debut of “Gloria,” directed by Outpost artistic director Dean Nolen. He already knew he would not be directing the follow-up, as Nolen has been in New York rehearsing a role in off-Broadway play “Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson,” which opened this week.

“Tigers Be Still,” however, appears to be the perfect production to be directed by Jesse Jou, associate artistic director for the company.

“’Tigers Be Still’ is a wonderful comedy for mature audiences. When Kim Rosenstock and I met as graduate students at the Yale School of Drama, I just loved her and her writing. She’s one of the best people I know, and such a gifted writer. She understands how to create stories that are really funny, really awkward, and really tender at the same time,” said Jou.

“I think ‘Tigers Be Still’ is a very relatable play. I describe it as a comedy about a young woman who comes home with her graduate degree, and who has to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Pretty much everyone I speak to says, ‘That’s my story!’ Or they know someone who is living through that same quandary. The comedy touches on millennial angst – which feels very current – but anyone who ever has felt a little lost in life is going to meet a character or hear a story that will inspire some empathy and, I hope, a lot of laughs,” Jou said.

“The cast has incredible chemistry. We have two founding Outpost Rep company members, Rachel Hirshorn and Randall Rapstine, working with two actors, Ashley Meyer and Mathew Cubillos, who are making their Outpost Rep debuts in (this play). We all met through Texas Tech’s School of Theatre and Dance and having that shared background really helps with the sense of camaraderie in the rehearsal room. They are hilarious; every rehearsal, they find some new way to make me laugh. Audiences are going to love what these actors bring to the stage,” Jou said.

Meyer and Rapstine, both Tech Ph.D students, portray Sherry and Joe, respectively. Cubillos, playing Zack, is a Tech acting graduate, while Hirshorn, as Grace, is a member of the Tech theater faculty.

Jou’s creative team includes Annie Jenkins as stage manager, Jared A. Roberts as scenic designer, Cassandra Trautman as costume designer, Joshua Whitt as lighting designer and April Langehennig as sound designer.

In a sense, Rosenstock’s comedy is a play fueled by desperation as the audience meets Sherry Wickman, a 24-year-old woman who recently completed her masters degree in art therapy – at which point she moves back home with her family, sends out countless resumes and settles back to wait for a job offer that never comes.

‘Red, White and Tuna’

Photo above: Sean Allen Jones as Didi Snavely, is surround by hippies, Alyssa Steward as Star Birdfeather and Katie Stackhouse as Amber Windchime.

Those Tuna productions include: 1981, “Greater Tuna;” 1989. “A Tuna Christmas;” 1998, “Red, White and Tuna;” and 2010, “Tuna Does Vegas.” The plays have been described as an affectionate look at small town life and attitudes and, simultaneously, a satire of the same attitudes.The four “Tuna” stage comedies were co-written by friends Ed Howard, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams. For years, Sears and Williams portrayed all of the more than 20 roles (both genders, all ages) in each touring production, with Howard directing.

One co-creator of the Tuna community, Jaston Williams, agreed to observe a reading of “Red, White and Tuna” – with multiple cast members – for a potential Lubbock Community Theatre production. He loved the result and the hilarious casting has become a special presentation that’s not part of the LCT regular season.

Thus, “Red, White and Tuna” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and Saturday with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. Sunday – with more presentations at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30 – at Lubbock Community Theatre, 4232 Boston Ave.

Reserved seats are $20 for the general public and $15 for seniors and students. Call 749-2416 for reservations and more ticket information.

Direction is by Jay C. Brown.

Cast members include:

  • Pam Brown as Bertha Bumiller, housewife and mother to Jody, Stanley and Charlene, now in a relationship with Arles Struvie.
  • Michael McKinin as Arles Struvie, disc jockey at radio station OKKK-AM.
  • Kim Ansolabehere as Vera Carp, town snob and leader of the Prayer Posse.
  • Keren Weaver as Pearl Burras, aunt to to Bertha, whose potato salad recipe is prize-winning.
  • Sean Allen Jones as Didi Snavely, owner of Didi’s Used Weapons (“If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal”).
  • Katie Stackhouse as Charlene Bumiller, daughter of Bertha and sister to Stanley, now a military bride.
  • Katie Stackhouse as Amber Windchime, flower child and former Tuna resident.
  • Cindy Callaham as Helen Bedd, co-owner of Helen and Inita’s Hot to Trot Catering.
  • Richard Privitt as Joe Bob Lipsey, the “not the marrying kind” director of Tuna Little Theatre.
  • Trace Warner as Elmer Watkins, spokesman for Free White Texas.
  • Trace Warner as Garland Poteet, soda dispenser and one of Helen’s many boyfriends.
  • Collin Evans as Stanley Bumiller, a taxidermist now living in Albuquerque.
  • Randy Cook as Thurston Wheelis, disc jockey at radio station OKKK-AM.
  • Randy Cook as R.R., believer in UFOs and husband to Didi, now returned to Tuna.
  • Alyssa Steward as Star Birdfeather, flower child and former Tuna resident.
  • Clay Kennedy as Rev. Spikes, who is now out of prison.
  • Clay Kennedy as Leonard Childers, entrepreneur and radio personality on OKKK-AM.
  • Lindsey Schroeder as Inita Goodwin, co-owner of Helen and Inita’s Hot to Trot Catering.
  • David Weaver as Petey Fisk, dedicated Greater Tuna Humane Society employee.

The play’s crew also includes Patti Shipp Campbell and Diane Bancroft as costumers, Ginger Angstadt and Huey Lee as lighting designers, Keith Bell handling set design and James Beekman Bush the sound designer.

Weekend at Cactus Theater

You cannot go wrong with two shows this weekend at the Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave.

A tribute show titled “Willie, Waylon & The Boys” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Cactus – while singer-songwriters Radney Foster and Darden Smith will make a personal appearance with their concert called “The Songs, Books, Jokes & Tears Tour” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Cactus regulars on Friday will sing an array of hits made famous by Willie Nelson and the late Waylon Jennings. Reserved seats are $20 for the main floor and traditional balcony seating, with the extended balcony box seats priced at $40 and including all concessions.

Sunday finds the spotlight shared by Foster and Smith, who, between them both, have released more than two-dozen albums, written hundreds of songs and played thousands of shows. They met and became friends in the late 1980s and, since then, have maintained a shared love for two things: songs and stories. Well, and also love for family, good food jokes and an occasional glass of top-shelf bourbon.

Each also became a published author. Foster wrote “For You to See the Stars,” and Smith wrote “The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living).” Both reflect their heritage as Texas storytellers and a shared ability to connect via a deeper meaning behind everyday life.

This evening finds the two entertainers sharing songs on stage, reading selections from their books, telling individual stories and doing their best to help the audience smile, sing along, laugh or cry.

Reserved seats are $25 for the main floor and traditional balcony seating, with the extended balcony box seats priced at $40 and including all concessions.

The Cactus Theater does not permit exchanges, refunds or credit for future shows in exchange for unused tickets. Call 762-3233 for advance ticket purchases.

Jimmy Wayne and Cindy Hughlett

Every summer Cindy Hughlett’s Music Ministry brings a well-known country music headliner to Lubbock and then donates 100 percent of ticket sales – down to the last penny – to the Texas Boys Ranch.

This year’s show takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre, 1501 Mac Davis Lane and will feature country music artist and best-selling author Jimmy Wayne. General admission tickets are $10 in advance at all Select-A-Seat outlets, and also $10 at the door.

Hughlett will open the show.

Wayne will entertain with his music and also share an inspirational story about being abandoned and brought up in the foster care system before becoming an award-winning country recording artist.

Hughlett’s hits include “Stay Gone,” “Paper Angels,” “I Love You This Much” and “Sara Smile,” the latter with legendary Daryl Hall & John Oates. She has toured with Brad Paisley, performed 221 times on the Grand Ole Opry and earned BMI’s Million-Air-Award with the song “Do You Believe Me Now?”

Wayne became a best-selling author three times with his books “Walk to Beautiful,” “Ruby the Foster Dog” and “Paper Angels.” In 2016, Wayne received the prestigious Presidential Gold Medal “Point Of Light” award, given for his volunteer service.

In January 2010, Wayne set out on a solo hike of 1,660 miles from Nashville to Phoenix to raise awareness about homeless youths, specifically children aging out of the foster system. Called the “Meet Me Halfway” campaign, he walked 25 miles per day, only coming off the walk for scheduled concerts and to go to the California State Capitol to speak in favor of a bill that would increase the age kids age out of the foster system from 18 to 21.

He arrived in Phoenix on Aug. 1 after suffering a broken foot four days prior to that.