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‘Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes’

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In an effort to bring joy to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, Houston’s top performing arts organizations came together to host “Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes.”

The event, which took place at the Miller Outdoor Theater Sept. 27, included performances from the Alley Theatre, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts and Theatre Under The Stars.

Performance of George Balanchine’s “Symphony in C” by the Houston Ballet.

In a matter of just two weeks, artists, artistic directors, managers and all other staff members put together the event. Their hope was to bring life back to the city and show the community members how the arts can help ease the pain.

Kathryn McNiel, CEO of Theater District Houston, said the idea behind the concert was to give back and to honor those community members “who found themselves in unexpected circumstances and did extraordinary works of courage.”

She continued everyone in the Theater District was touched by the flooding, and it is important to be resilient and to find a ray of light during hard times.

Deborah Duncan, host of KHOU 11 News’ Great Day Houston, and Khambrel Marshall, meteorologist at KPRC Channel 2 and host of Houston Newsmakers.

Khambal Marshall, meteorologist at KPRC Channel 2 and show presenter hosted the event.

“The storm may have crushed our homes, but it didn’t crush our spirits,” Marshall said.

Hundreds of attendees gathered at the theater to enjoy three hours full of music, dance and entertainment while supporting the local talent.

The night kicked off with a performance of “La Pantenera” (from Torroba’s La Marchenera) featuring soloist Ana Maria Martinez. The act was followed by a George Balanchine’s Symphony in C by the Houston Ballet.

Other performances include “Hero,” featuring Vonzell Salomon with students from the Humphrey School of Musical Theatre by Theatre Under The Stars, and an honoring segment presented by Dean Gladden and Hillary Hart. See a full list of performances below:

  • Pertformance: “Hero,” featuring Vonzell Salomon with students from the Humphrey School of Musical Theatre by Theatre Under The Stars.

    “Brindisi” from Verdi’s La traviata(Houston Grand Opera)

  • Schumann’s Piano Quintet in Eflat Major,performed by Sarah Rothenberg, piano with the Harlem Quartet (Da Camera)
  • Stanton Welch’s Powder(Houston Ballet)
  • Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait, featuring Josie de Guzman (Houston Symphony)
  • Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (Houston Symphony with the Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera)
  • Takedame, I Wanna Be Ready and Wade in the Water, performed by Ailey II (Society for the Performing Arts)
  • “Hold On” from The Secret Garden, featuring Charlotte Maltby and students from the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (Theatre Under the Stars)
  • Monologue from August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, featuring Michelle Elaine (Alley Theatre)
  • Honoring segment presented by Stanton Welch (Houston Ballet) and June Christensen (Society for the Performing Arts) 
  • Jazz with Jason Moran (Da Camera)
  • Selection from Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons (Houston Symphony)
  • “Make Our Garden Grow” from Bernstein’s Candide(Houston Grand Opera)

The organizations themselves, part of Theater District Houston, were all affected by flooding in some way. McNeil said The Alley Theater, located in downtown Houston, suffered severe damage. The venue lost the new house theater located downstairs, electricity and its prop storage. Their hope is to have electricity back up and running by Thanksgiving.

The Wortham Center, which houses the Houston Grand Opera and Jones Hall, home to the Houston Symphony, also experienced flooding. Concerts had to be canceled or relocated to venues such as Hamman Hall at Rice University.

The funds collected at the show will go to the Harvey Relief Fund by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. The Theater District set up its own relief fund to help resident companies affected by the storm. Tax-deductible donations are accepted online or by phone at 713-658-8938.

Schumann’s Piano Quintet in Eflat Major, performed by Sarah Rothenberg, piano with the Harlem Quartet (Da Camera)
Honoring segment by Dean Gladden and Hillary Hart