3535 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002
Phone: 713-520-0055 

The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director EILEEN J. MORRIS

The Ensemble Theatre Announces Celebration of Its 40th Anniversary

Dawn of a New Decade” 2016-2017 Season


The Ensemble Theatre's 2016 - 2017 Season Includes:



HOUSTON (2016) -- The Ensemble Theatre and Artistic Director, Eileen J. Morris, announce the 40th Anniversary season entitled: Dawn of a New Decade that will include one world premiere, three regional premieres, and an audience choice production selected by patrons in a variety of comedies, drama, and musical productions.


Dawn of a New Decade expresses the pride of The Ensemble Theatre’s history of achievement and sustainability while bringing forth a rejuvenated zeal for the future,” says Morris. “This season lineup is a prism of perspectives on life; the way we respond to the unanticipated, recover from the unfortunate, and navigate unusual or unfamiliar things that help us grow as people….We are also paying homage to two women who paved the way for how we share our music.”


Sassy Mamas, a regional premiere, romantic comedy by Houstonian Celeste Bedford Walker kicks off the season with a little attitude as three friends, women of substance take the reins on their love life and pursue younger men; next is The First Noel, another regional premiere and musical production that follows three generations of family finding restored Christmas joy through an unexpected visitor; following up is a musical commemorating Black History and Women’s History month, Mahalia, a celebration of the life and music of one of the world’s greatest gospel singers, Mahalia Jackson; following next is the  audience choice winner voted by The Ensemble Theatre patrons for a revival in the 40th anniversary line up, a romantic comedy, The Nacirema Society, where the family of an Alabama debutant tries desperately to avoid media mayhem as the appearance of an old flame and the stirring of a young romance unexpected emerge; world premiere comedy/ drama, Front Porch Society brings a whirlwind of emotions to four little old ladies,  ready to celebrate the victory of future President Barak Obama as news of a scandal at the local cemetery brings hope to one grieving the untimely loss of her son; and the season finale musical and regional premiere Simply Simone explores the complexities, activism, and talent of jazz virtuoso Nina Simone at pivotal moments of her life.



The theatre's 15th Annual Golf Tournament is Tuesday, October 17, 2016 at the Northgate Country Club golf course. The tournament raises funds to support the theatre’s youth and educational initiatives including its touring education, artist in residency, and young performers training program.


The Ensemble Theatre's variety of youth initiatives include: the Touring Education program, a mini season of children's theatre available to schools and families; and The Young Performers Program, a performing arts education program that includes week-long sessions during winter and spring breaks, and two month-long regular sessions during the summer.


The Ensemble Theatre Act One Young Professionals, an organization formed five years ago to cultivate the theatre’s next generation of supports, will host a series of networking mixers, including two events in collaboration with other Houston Area young professionals: a February Black History Month Mixer, and an April, National Poetry Month showcase entitled:  Drama-try[tree]: A Night of Dramatic Poetry.





The Ensemble Theatre's 2016-2017 Season Includes:


Sassy Mamas                                                                                                           

Regional Premiere

PG-13/ Romantic Comedy/ Some Adult Situations


By Celeste Bedford Walker

Directed by Eileen J. Morris


Previews: September 17, 18, and 21, 2016

Opening Night: September 22, 2016

Runs: September 22 – October 16, 2016


NAACP Image Award-winning playwright Celeste Bedford Walker brings a delicate touch to her depiction of women of a certain age in her romantic comedy, Sassy Mamas. A story about three women—yes, “cougars”—who confidently pursue younger men.  These three friends, women of substance and life achievement, each finding herself in a uniquely single situation and decidedly takes a proactive approach to love.  The younger men they’ve set their sights on come with their own unique situations that only add to the humor and antics!



The First Noel

Regional Premiere

G/ Musical


Book, Music, and Lyrics by Lelund Durond Thompson and Michael Webb
Director and Choreographer Patdro Harris
Musical Direction by Carlton Leake


Previews: November 12, 13, and 16
Opening Night: November 17, 2016
Runs: November 17 – December 30, 2016                                                                                                                                            

Audiences will have to bundle up as they enter this winter wonderland where beloved Christmas carols emerge as dynamic new songs, destined to become holiday favorites for a new generation. The First Noel is a heartwarming musical that follows three generations of a family affected by the tragic loss of a loved one, when an unexpected visit reveals some long-absent Christmas joy. It is a story about how a community is healed, one family at a time, as everyday people do extraordinary things to help one another receive the gift of love at Christmas time.






Regional Premiere

G/ Musical


By Tom Stolz

Directed by Shirley Marks Whitmore


Previews: January 21, 22, and 25
Opening Night: January 26, 2017
Runs: January 26 – February 26, 2017


A joyous celebration of the life and music of the world's greatest gospel singer: a humble, deeply religious woman whose expressive, full throated voice carried her from a three room shanty in New Orleans to international fame. The joy and inspiration of her heartfelt songs provide a counterpoint to the urgent messages delivered by her friend, Martin Luther King. Standing at his side, Mahalia Jackson became the musical voice of the civil rights movement. This harmonious tribute includes music by various gospel composers as well as hymns and spirituals made famous by Mahalia Jackson.




The Nacirema Society

Winner of The Ensemble Theatre Audience Choice Selection
PG/ Romantic Comedy/ Revival                                      


By Pearl Cleage

Directed by Eileen J. Morris


Previews: March 18, 19, 21

Opening Night: March 23, 2017

Runs: March 23 – April 16, 2017


Every year since Emancipation, the Nacirema Society of Montgomery, Alabama introduces six elegant African-American debutants to a world of wealth, privilege and social responsibility.  This year, at its 100th anniversary, with young love brewing, old flames simmering and national media attention on-hand. . . what would dare to go awry?  Pearl Cleage, award winning playwright of Blues for an Alabama Sky and Flyin’ West, and New York Times best-selling author of the Oprah book club selection, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, invites you into this glamorous world where folks still dress for dinner.  A sparkling romantic comedy!



Front Porch Society                                                                       

World Premiere

PG/ Comedy/ Drama


By Melda Beaty
Directed by Eileen J. Morris


Previews: May 6, 7, 10
Opening Night: May 11, 2017
Runs: May 11 – June 4, 2017


It’s November 4, 2008 in Marks, Mississippi, and America is on the eve of electing its first black president. But what does that mean to four elderly women in this rural town, especially Carrie Honey, the town’s “overseer,” as she grieves the anniversary of her son’s tragic death amidst the town’s excitement over Barack Obama. After years of failed attempts to seek justice, Carrie has grown bitter and no longer interested in life’s celebrations, until a scandal at the cemetery rocks this historic day, and a past secret is revealed that somehow restores her faded faith.


Simply Simone
Regional Premiere
PG/ Play with Music

Written by Robert Neblett and David Grapes
Musical Arrangement by Vince diMura
Director & Choreographer Patdro Harris
Musical Direction by Carlton Leake


Previews: June 24, 25, 28
Opening Night: June 29, 2017
Runs: June 29 – July 30, 2017


Nina Simone, from child prodigy; jazz superstar; civil rights activist; to political exile was one of the true divas of the 20th century and a genuine musical powerhouse; she defined a generation and defied classification.  Her silky, soulful, and untamed, voice will put a spell on you.  She’ll melt your heart; she’ll chill you to the bone.  Simply Simone crosses genres from gospel to blues to Broadway to rock and roll, and features such definitive Simone classics as “I Loves You Porgy,” “The Look of Love,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”




For information regarding subscriptions, tickets, group sales, and other theatre programing call The Ensemble Theatre Box Office:  713-520-0055 or visit www.EnsembleHouston.com.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. Thirty-eight years later, the theatre has evolved from a small touring company to one of Houston’s finest historical cultural institutions.


The Ensemble is one of a few professional theatres in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. The oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. The late Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble’s $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997. The Ensemble Theatre has fulfilled and surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad audiences.




Join us for the 2016 - 2017 Season!

For information regarding subscriber opportunities, tickets and group sales, call The Ensemble Theatre Box Office at ph.713-520-0055.  Ride the Metro Rail to your stop for culture -- The Ensemble!


3535 Main Street, Houston Texas 77002

Phone 713-520-0055     Fax 713-520-1269