With the grand opening of ZACH Scott’s new Topfer Theatre, Austin’s premiere regional theater celebrates its inauguration by launching the season with a musical built on the premise of the American dream, narrowly focused at a time of a cultural evolution and the struggle that comes with accepting change—“the people called it Ragtime!”
The sound of a distant, familiar tune and people “singing a dream” of a “nation in its prime” won’t feel so foreign in the Topfer Theatre as it did to those who experienced the new syncopation of the ragtime music movement in 1902. Written by Tony award-winning playwright and Texas native Terrance McNally, Ragtime introduces the challenges facing three families in America at the dizzying brink of a new century.
In the musical, based on the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow, the three families are represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class household in New Rochelle, NY; Coalhouse Walker Jr., a musician from Harlem who drives a Ford Model T; and Tateh, a Latvian Jewish immigrant who struggles to find a better life for his family. With intersecting storylines, the aspects of acceptance, progression and the struggle to embrace change are not only prevalent in the early 20th century, they are still seen in Americans today.
As ZACH embarks on its 79th season, Artistic Director Dave Steakley wants to focus the 2012-2013 season on plays and musicals that involve dreams. From chasing the American dream to places where dreams are realized, a season of aspiration goes hand-in-hand with the journey for the theater’s new facilities to finally grow into fruition. Originally designed to be a black-box community theater, ZACH’s current Kleberg Theatre has gained exponential attention and support since its original establishment in 1972—so much attention, in fact, that proposals for a new space to accommodate twice the number of patrons started in 2009.
Thirteen years and $20.1 million later, the new space will not only seat up to 450 people, it will also expand the opportunities presented at ZACH. With a larger performing area and high-tech amenities, the Topfer Theatre will expand ZACH as the premiere regional theater in Central Texas, in favorable comparison to the Dallas Theatre Center and the Alley Theatre in Houston. In addition to giving patrons the opportunity to watch first-rate shows, the new theater provides more space for education in the Binning-Dickinson Education Program and provides the opportunity for ZACH to be a launching pad for Broadway-bound plays and musicals.
The beauty of a show like Ragtime is that it really isn’t like any other commercial Broadway musical. Its nontraditional narrative and jolting musical score cause it to stand alone as an authentic retelling of the American story and challenges the ways we accept change into our own lives.
Austin Pride Festival
At its 21st anniversary, the festival provides awareness of the LGBT community in Austin; information on politics, lifestyle and romance; and the opportunity to celebrate through activities and the long-awaited Pride parade.
September 22, austinpride.org
Downtown Austin, 9 a.m.
Fiesta Gardens, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Downtown Austin, 8 p.m.
Old Pecan Street Festival
An Austinite favorite, this free bi-annual arts and crafts festival on 6th Street features artisans from all over the country. With local musicians performing on three stages, family-friendly activities are available as well.
6th Street Austin, oldpecanstreetfestival.com
In a glamorous evening filled with cocktails, savory hors d’oeuvres and good company, Out Youth presents their annual fundraising gala, where community members come together to support LGBT youth in Central Texas.
At the home of Cord and Anne Shiflet, outyouth.org/events/glitz/
Austin Film Festival
annual showcase of new and innovative work, the Austin Film Festival welcomes screenwriters, filmmakers and movie watchers old and new to celebrate another year of filmmaking.
Venues vary, austinfilmfestival.com
Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival
This four-day event is a one-of-a-kind culmination of films specific to the queer community showcasing the cream- of-the-crop LGBT international, national and regional films, all the while providing awareness and education.
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, agliff.org
Rock of Ages
Presented as part of the Broadway Across America season of Texas Performing Arts, Rock of Ages is a rock/ jukebox musical built around the glam metal rock bands of the 1980s.
The Long Center, texasperformingarts.org
Inspired by the work of Norman Rockwell and Jason Rhoads, this theatrical experience juxtaposes a 1950s Thanksgiving dinner with a present day blogosphere in hopes of defining the American experience.
September 27–October 7
St. Edward’s Mary Moody Northern Theatre, think.stedwards.edu/theatre
Written by Pulitzer Prize playwright and University of Texas alumna Lisa D’Amour, this play explores deep- rooted yearnings within intersectional relationships and the fight to keep unconventional desires unearthed.
October 19, 21, 24, 25–28
Oscar Brockett Theatre finearts.utexas.edu/tad/productions/index.cfm
Dining for Life
Various restaurants in Austin unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS in AIDS Services of Austin’s annually sponsored event by donating a percentage of their dining checks to ASA.
Participating restaurants, asaustin.org/dfl
Strut your Mutt Austin
Best Friends Animal Society sponsors this first annual event in Austin where dog owners can be a part of a leisurely group dog walk to raise funds on behalf of homeless pets. The day also includes a doggie themed festival with pet contests, pet refreshments and more.
The Triangle, strutyourmutt.org