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Miller: CSO to open season with celebrated pianist

July 29, 2017 GMT

With all the local entertainment entities having finished their seasons, it might be a good time to get your tickets secured for upcoming shows.

Most of them begin their new seasons in September, but the Conroe Symphony Orchestra is saving its blockbuster opening for October 30, a Monday eve, according to fervent supporter Gayle Laminack who toils in the trenches with the best of them.

“We’re excited to have such a ‘dream team’ of officers for Friends of the Symphony,” Gayle said. “They will make it a successful 201-18 season, but just wait until you hear who our guest artists will be!

“Internationally renowned concert pianist James Dick is going to open for us on Oct. 30! He is founder of Festival Hill in Roundtop, Tex. He’ll be performing Beethoven with the CSO in an evening not to be missed.”

Before a general news announcement was made, she disclosed a bit of advance information of what CSO aficionados can expect, although nothing is set in stone.

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CSO season opener is the night before Halloween, so enthusiasts will be especially thrilled with the treat that Director/Conductor Dr. Don Hutson and his accomplished musicians are preparing.

The Christmas season finds audience favorite Sal Viviano coming to Conroe to appear with CSO on Saturday, Dec. 9. The singer has performed multiple times here, and crowds can hardly get enough of the easygoing style that accompanies his vocals. Pianist Hubert “Tex” Arnold, son of legendary CSO supporters Dr. Aline Arnold and the late Gene Arnold, is expected to again accompany the New York star who frequently channels Sinatra faves.

“How are we doing so far?” Gayle queried with a twinkle. “We’ll talk about spring later. It truly is going to be a ‘very good year’ as ‘old blue eyes’ used to say.”

A complete, official news release will be forthcoming from CSO office assistant Nancy Johnson who can be reached at (936) 760-2144 or www.conroesymphonyorchestra.org. The Conroe office at 1500 N. Frazier is open 9 to 3 Mondays through Thursdays.

Although no advance notice has yet been dispatched, fans of Ann Lee’s Montgomery County Choral Society know that that season traditionally begins in late September with a huge community reunion and zesty barbecue dinner topped off with an out-of-this-world concert from dozens of magnificent voices.

Two performing groups, Stage Right at Conroe’s Crighton Theatre, and The Players Theatre Company at the Owen Theatre, announce their seasons very early, usually before the end of their current seasons. That’s mostly because they have to plan ahead for availability and affordability of shows they want to present.

Yet, some subscribers fail to take advantage of the reduced ticket price deadlines. So, if you procrastinated, it’s not too late, and even at full price, ticket costs are ridiculously inexpensive.

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Loads of theatre buffs like to buy tickets as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and whatever occasions present themselves. Single tickets are ideal and they can be purchased early just like season tickets, while choice seats are available. Just as a reminder, here are the season offerings from Conroe’s outstanding thespian troupes.

The Players open with “Beauty and the Beast,” an absolute must-see for every kid out there, no matter the age. Carole Lamont again displays the expertise for which she is noted as director. It runs Sept. 1-23, with evening shows at 8 and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Following that comes “Dial M for Murder” with Terry Lynn Hale in director mode. It’s the classic story of a man planning his wife’s murder. When his scheme goes awry, he attempts to frame her instead for killing the murderer he hired to do away with her. It’s a real masterpiece that has stood the test of time, and Hale has a long-standing reputation for excellence in all things theatrical.

December finds “Little Women, The Musical” with the unflappable Michael Hayes telling the actors what to do. It’s the familiar Louisa May Alcott Civil War epic set in Massachusetts where the four March sisters and their “Marmee” await the return of family patriarch who is serving the Union Army as a chaplain. Only in this one, there are music and lovely songs to be experienced December 1-17.

Legendary Joe Viser again directs “Steel Magnolias” in his expert way. It’s Robert Harling’s award-winning comedy-drama about bonding among Southern women in Louisiana, “delicate as magnolia blossoms but tough as steel,“at the Owen January 26-February 11.

One many theatre goers have longed to see is “The Annual Putman County Spelling Bee” coming to the Owen March 9-31. It’s a musical-comedy that Marieda Kilgore directs, her debut in that role although she is recognized in theatrical circles for costuming, vocalizing, and general hard work offstage.

It’s March 9-31. In this musical comedy, there are nine “quirky characters:” some adult, some adolescent, involved in a middle school spelling bee.

After that, it’s Cole Porter musical “Kiss Me Kate” with overtones of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Jeff Baldwin, who is known for no theatrical missteps and many triumphs, guides this one May 4-26 at the Owen.

O.A. Melvin directs season finale “Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” at the Owen June 29-July 15. Comic mayhem follows show business failure and subsequent auditions in an estate where secret passages and sliding panels abound, and a peculiar German maid is part of the mix.

Go to www.theowentheatre.com or call (936) 539-4050 to purchase single or season tickets.

Stage Right at the Crighton Theatre begins its new season Sept. 8 through 24 with comedy “Noises Off” about a second-rate theatrical company whose cast members can hardly walk a straight line under any circumstance, probably rated PG-13 or so. Capable Travis Bryant directs this funny.

Just in time for Halloween is Mel Brooks” “Young Frankenstein” at the Crighton Oct. 20-Nov. 5.

Charlie Brown brings his pitiful little Christmas stick to the Crighton Dec. 1-17. A true holiday classic, it’s a traditional favorite that universally draws huge crowds of all ages.

Musical “Hello Dolly!” rocks the Crighton Feb. 9-25, with all the comedic scheming of a matchmaker who’s main interest is getting a well-heeled gentleman for-not her clients, but herself. This one contains everybody’s favorite music, with extravagant choreography that likely will not disappoint local crowds that have highly rated SR dancing during past Crighton shows. Runaway success is predicted.

Then there’s “The Elephant Man,” about an unfortunate soul who, rather than allow his affliction with a rare disease to devastate his life, carves an enviable niche for himself in society by drawing upon his other admirable traits. It comes to the Owen April 13-29.

Season finale is “Willy Wonka,” a prime choice for children and the adults who love them. Its history probably will be akin to this season’s closer “Mary Poppins” that sold out all performances, added an extra, and yet had disappointed fans who would have bought wisely, but acted too slowly. It’s at the Crighton July 6-22.

Purchase single or season tickets at www.stage-right.org, or call the box office at (936) 441-7469 between 3 and 6 p.m. weekdays.

Contact Peggie Miller at (936) 448-6455 or pegmiller01@gmail.com