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Theatre Under the Stars

December, 2013

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) today announces the cast for the new holiday classic, Elf The Musical, running Dec. 6 - 22 at Hobby Center’s Sarofim Hall.


Making his TUTS debut as the loveable “elf” Buddy is Tommy J. Dose.  He played Alfred Doolittle in the national tour of My Fair Lady and has circulated the regional theatre scene with companies including the Fulton Theatre, the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, and the Cumberland County Playhouse.


Playing Buddy’s parents Walter and Emily Hobbs are Mark Jacoby and Cynthia Ferrer.  Jacoby originated this role for the Broadway production of Elf The Musical, and he counts Show BoatThe Phantom of the Opera,Sweeney Todd and Ragtime among his other Broadway credits.  Jacoby appeared most recently at TUTS inJekyll & Hyde.  Ferrer’s credits range from the first national tour of Singin’ In The Rain to several appearances in film and television.  TUTS audiences will remember her from TUTS’ presentation of Happy Days - A New Musical and Yankee Doodle Dandy.


Mallory Bechtel and McKenna Marmolejo, two teenage students at TUTS’ Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, will split the role of Buddy’s kid sister Michelle.  Both girls boast several credits with TUTS.  Bechtel has appeared in White ChristmasLes MiserablesLittle Shop of Horrors and The Sound of Music. Marmolejo has played in Disney's When You Wish and Whistle Down The Wind.

Texas native Jessica Rush will play Jovie, Buddy’s love interest.  She has performed on Broadway in Jersey BoysGuys and Dolls and Gypsy.  Her national tour credits include playing the leads in Cinderella and Mamma Mia.  Rush most recently graced the TUTS stage in Miss Saigon


Julia Krohn will portray Deb, Mr. Hobbs’ secretary.  Julia’s recent work at TUTS includes A Chorus Line,SpamalotMan of La ManchaCamelot and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  She appeared in the original Las Vegas company of Jersey Boys, and she lists Joy and ABBA’s Kristina among her New York City credits. Michael Tapley will appear as the Macy’s Manager. Tapley has previous worked in Broadway’s The Who's Tommy as well as the national tours of Evita42nd StreetMameThe Who's Tommy, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  TUTS’ audience members will remember him from shows such as A Wonderful LifeWhite Christmas,Annie and Man of La Mancha.


Adam Heller will play Mr. Greenway, a role that he also performed in Elf The Musical on Broadway.  His other Broadway credits include Baby It’s You!Victor/Victoria and Les Misérables.  Of course, no performance of Elf The Musical would be complete without an appearance from Santa!  William Hartery, who works year-round as a professional Santa Claus, will portray the festive seasonal character.  He has also toured nationally with Cats.

A special holiday treat, Houstonians will experience the best of Houston’s young talent as part of the show.  The cast of elves will be played by students from TUTS’ Humphreys School of Musical Theatre.  The elves includeNatalie DavidsonLauren DoddsPromise FacciponteAlexa Magro, Savannah May and Garret Morris.


Ensemble members include Caitlin CannonVenny CarranzaLogan KeslarMegan McGuffAlaina Mills,Dennis O’BannionElizabeth RacanelliMark C. ReisShay RodgersAdrienne StorrsMichael Anthony SylvesterPaxton TannerMarrell West and Karley Willocks.


Creative team includes director Bruce Lumpkin and choreographer Michelle Gaudette.  A husband-and-wife team, Lumpkin and Gaudette have collaborated at TUTS for Man of La Mancha and Miss Saigon.  Lumpkin previously worked on several Broadway titles including Grand HotelMy One and OnlyNineStepping Out, andThe Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Additionally, Lumpkin co-directed Grand Hotel on London’s West End and served on the creative team for the national tours of Dr. Doolittle and Nine.  He received the Barrymore Award for Best Director and Best Musical for his revisionist look at Cabaret.  Gaudette has performed internationally throughout her career, and she toured nationally in Will Rogers Follies.  She also performed for 9 years as a member of the Radio City Rockettes in New York City.


Jeff Rizzo will serve as the musical director and conductor.  Rizzo’s previous shows at TUTS include Spamalot,Yankee Doodle Dandy, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, and The Sound of Music. Rizzo has toured nationally with AnnieThe Wizard of Oz and 42nd Street.  Also joining the creative team are sound designer Kit Bond and lighting designer Richard Winkler.

Elf The Musical is originally based on the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum starring Will Ferrell.  The musical features a book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin.  Meehan is the Tony Award winning librettist who wrote Hairspray and Annie and co-wrote The Producers, and Martin is the librettist for The Drowsy Chaperone.  Music is by Matthew Sklar and lyrics are by Chad Beguelin, who both earned Tony Award nominations for their work in Broadway’s The Wedding Singer.

Tickets (starting at only $24) are available on-line at, by phone at (713) 558-TUTS (8887), outside the Houston area at (888) 558-3882, or in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office, located at 800 Bagby at Walker, Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., and Saturday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.  An audio described performance is available Sunday, December 15 at 2 p.m.; open captioning is available Sunday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. The Hobby Center is wheelchair accessible.  Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.  Group tickets may be purchased by calling (713) 558-8888 or via email at

TUTS’ production of Elf The Musical is brought to Houstonians by the generosity of Locke Lord LLP.
Theatre Under The Stars’ 2013-2014 season is generously sponsored by St. Luke’s. For all of TUTS’ shows, air transportation is provided by United Airlines, the official airline of Theatre Under The Stars. Media sponsors include ABC-13 and Houston Chronicle.  Season support is funded in part by grants from the City of Houstonthrough the Theater District Associationthe National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is Houston’s acclaimed nonprofit musical theatre company whose mission is to enrich life through the experience of quality musical theatre and to positively impact lives beyond the stage through innovative education and community engagement programs.  TUTS performs annually in Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center and at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  TUTS was the first theatrical organization in Houston to perform free to the public when it was founded in 1968 at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park and is the only Houston arts organization that has performed there free to the public every year since the theatre opened.  Founded by Frank M. Young and currently under the direction of President and CEO John C. Breckenridge and Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin, TUTS has produced more than 300 musicals including many local, national and world. Through its membership in the Independent Presenters Network, TUTS regularly helps mount shows on Broadway which eventually show locally to Houston audiences.

In support of TUTS’ mission, TUTS’ Education & Community Engagement programs provide year-round instruction and stage experience.  The Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) offers technique-driven classes for all ability levels and ages.  Through The River Performing and Visual Arts Center (The River), TUTS provides an accessible and inclusive arts education for individuals of all abilities.  TUTS Education & Community Engagement provides extended on-site programming as well as off-site programming for children in schools, hospitals and other community-based sites.  TUTS also annually presents the Tommy Tune Awards, honoring the best and brightest in Houston's high school musical theatre programs.

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