A Brief History of Upstage
Founded in 2000 by Arnold Richie and Ann Richie, UpStage Theatre kicked off its inaugural 2000-2001 season with “The Sunshine Boys”, followed by the Agatha Christie favorite “Ten Little Indians” and the zany Larry Shue comedy “The Nerd”. All performances were held in both the Kaplan Theater and the Frank Theater of The Jewish Community Center of Houston, Texas. Audience reactions were more than could have been hoped for and UpStage was off to running start!The 2001-2002 season saw great success as once again, classics graced the stage. Kicking off with the ever-popular “Arsenic and Old Lace”, and “Harvey”, the hilarious “I Hate Hamlet” soon followed with great audience appreciation.
In our third season, 2002-2003, we introduced our Young Audience Series with Ann Richie as Co-Artistic Director. The first two productions were “Hansel and Gretel”, produced just in time for Halloween, and in the spring the timeless classic “Alice in Wonderland”. Announced for the Evening Series were Neil Simon’s female version of his ever-popular “The Odd Couple”, Ernest Thompson’s touching and funny “On Golden Pond”, and “Dracula”, written by Steven Dietz. However, what was truly special was the underwriting for the production of Neil Simon’s charming and hilarious contemporary telling of the Biblical story of Job, “God’s Favorite” by Congregation Beth El located in Missouri City, Texas with the production then added to our regular season at the JCC.
The vision for UpStage to bring the best entertainment value to Houston took on a new direction in Season 4 as UpStage, in cooperation with The Ramada Plaza Inn produced its first dinner theater production of the Noel Coward classic “Blithe Spirit”. It was a rousing success and UpStage looks forward to bringing more dinner theater to the public. We also presented our first musical production, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.
In 2012, co-founders Ann and Arnold Richie retired and new Artistic Director Sean K. Thompson was appointed. As audiences have grown, the theatre has carved a niche for itself with its combo Young/Audience Evening Series productions, its season-opening Shakespeare productions, and its annual Summer Musicals.
As we continue to move forward, we are pleased and excited to call Lambert Hall and The Heights our home and look forward to many years of bringing Houston classic and fun family entertainment for audiences of all ages. We thank everyone for their continued support and generosity and look forward to seeing you.