The Absolute Theater
813 Richmond Avenue, East of Montrose
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 726-8633

Producing Director: Steve Spurgat

The Absolute Theater comes back from its recent hiatus with two new plays, Any Old Passion and All Wrapped Up, by a local playwright, Douglas Mitchell. The plays run from June 13 through 28, 1997. The Absolute Theater is a new 90-seat theater located adjacent to Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant on lower Richmond Avenue between Montrose Blvd. and South Main Street. This evening of short plays continues The Absolute Theater’s mission to feature a varied program of new and unpublished works and other challenging pieces.

All Wrapped Up

In All Wrapped Up, a middle aged couple experience the discomfort and finally the terror of anything new coming into their lives. The playwright uses the delivery of a package as a metaphor for this change in their routine. The cast of two in All Wrapped Up are two Houston legends, William Hardy and Tanya Lunstroth.

Any Old Passion

Thad and Miriam have been married for 5 years. They have an open relationship, which means that they date other people. They decide to have a get-together and they invite all their “other” partners to a dinner party. Thad invites 17 women, and.....well, Miriam invites 2 men and a woman. See if you can guess the topic of conversation.

Could this possibly be America’s answer for an alternative to Divorce? Married, but sometimes Dating?

Imagine and explore the possibilities of this unconventional relationship. Written and produced by Douglas Mitchell, this romantic and witty play experiments with the funny and awkward situations one can encounter when a married couple sees other people.

And like Thad and Miriam, YOU must keep an OPEN mind. Not only intellectually, sexually and emotionally, but visually as well. Because the 17 women that Thad has slept with is represented by Pink Balloons. It’s symbolic. To represent the meaningless, air-filled relationships he’s had. As for Miriam’s affairs, well.....Dare to Compare? There is a lesson to be learned in Any Old Passion, and Thad learns it.



Veteran actors William Hardy’s and Tanya Lunstroth’s powerful voices fill the stage in All Wrapped Up

by Theresa Hyde

William Hardy claims he has sex probably no more than four or five times a day. Maybe he uses all this energy and stamina when he performs onstage. As a native Houstonian, born in Houston, and grew up in the Heights, he was the only one in his family that ever took up acting. As one of the original cast members of the old Alley Theater, he started acting in High School at the age of 15, and was a theater major at the University of Houston.

Having a flair for languages, he majored both in Theater and French. While still at the University of Houston, he started acting at the Alley Theater. He went into the Army for two years, and did some shows while in the Army. After the military, he started working at the Alley Theater, and after a few years he also started directing. He acted and directed at the Alley over a 20 year period.

Being in the profession that he loved, and having a loving family with 3 daughters, he had the best of both worlds. He also worked as a stock broker for 6 years, and continued to do plays during this period. After 6 years, he came back to the Theater and played the part of the sheriff in The Best Little Whorehouse of Texas at the Tower Theater, and then went on tour with this play for 3 years.

He moved to New York for 10 years, and did a lot of soap operas, and worked in theaters all around the country and performed Off-Broadway. He moved back to Houston five years ago to try to start a new theater, which did two shows. He has also done radio voice-overs locally, as well as in New York.

“Do people like us ever learn anything from experience?” is one of the lines in the play All Wrapped Up. We can definitely learn a lot from the most experienced actors onstage, William Hardy and Tanya Lunstroth.

Ms. Lunstroth, who plays Pearl in this play, is a veteran actress of stage and theater. Backstage during rehearsals, she looked like a mother of one of the cast. The next minute, she was onstage, shining brightly under the theater lights. Of German descent, she started in Stages Theater 15 years ago.

Originally from Brooklyn, she has lived in Houston for 30 years. Aside from her theatrical experience, she has done a little bit of commercials, industrial films, and poems.

“We did this same play at the Alley Workshop. Douglas Mitchell wrote this play when he was a student of Edward Albee in his play writing class,” says Ms. Lunstroth. “I have forgotten about it, and then recently met up with Steve (Spurgat) and he asked if I would do it again.

When asked about what she thinks about working with Absolute Theater, she says with the sweetest, most charming voice, “Well, this is how Stages started, this is how theater gets started. They either stick around or they fall apart. If they stick around, they get very big like Stages did. Otherwise, there’s a great deterioration.”

Do people like us ever learn anything from experience? From these two experienced veterans of stage, we learn that to be able to get the best in quality entertainment, we must support our local Arts and Theater.



Darin Paul Garrett directs the original Masterpiece Any Old Passion.

by Theresa Hyde

Never mind the fact that he’s the hottest young new director in Houston, and never mind the fact that he just graduated with a Master’s Degree in Theater from the University of Houston, but 31-year old Darin Paul Garrett is setting his sights towards the future. Not that his past background is pretty shabby, he has directed a dozen plays in the last seven years, and has acted in several theater workshops.

He has written and directed the film, For Cindy, a UH production. He has done local commercials and was featured in the Paramount Pictures film production, Necessary Roughness. He has directed plays for Stages Theater, Absolute Theater, Country Playhouse, University of Houston, and at Midwestern State University.

When asked about the play he’s currently directing now, Any Old Passion written by Douglas Mitchell, he says, “Douglas Mitchell is an excellent language writer. This is a language play. Douglas has a keen sense of words, and way words come out, the way things are said...” He chose to direct this play because of the writing.

“First of all, I like Douglas’s writing. I do like Douglas’s writing. I’ve known Douglas for four years. He wrote a show that was picked to be done with the Albee Workshop. After it was all done and said, he and I talked about it. And I told him what I would have done differently as a director, and he told me what he did like and what he didn’t like about the directing. But we discussed it, and I saw the process.”

THYDE: What is your opinion of the subject of Any Old Passion, Open Marriages?

DGARRETT: To each his own. But if I wanted an open marriage, I personally, wouldn’t get married.

THYDE: After the play has made its full run, what happens next? Do you plan to continue running the play?

DGARRETT: If it is successful, we’ll probably extend the run. As far as running it again, there’s a possibility, later with a bigger budget, and a larger stage.

THYDE: What do you want the audience to gain from this play?

DGARRETT: I want the audience to gain a sense of Right Here Right Now. It’s very romantic, like that song, “Of love hungry people, and right in their hands is a dying romance, and they’re trying to keep it alive.” Look at what you have before you move on to something else.

Edward Albee’s comments about what he would like to have happen after an audience watches one of his plays, the creative reaction he would like from the audience. And I agree with this, he says, I would like the audience to walk out on the street, and get hit by a car. That way, I would know that when they left the theater, they were thinking of the play, they weren’t thinking about where they were going.

THYDE: It is clear that Darin Garrett definitely knows what he wants and knows where he wants to go. Watch Any Old Passion at the Absolute Theater, which runs from June 13th through June 28th.



The Absolute Theater
813 Richmond Ave.
one block east of Montrose
adjacent to Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant


Two plays by Douglas Mitchell

Any Old Passion, directed by Darin Garrett

All Wrapped Up, directed by Steve Spurgat


Any Old Passion

Jennifer Black..................Molly
Dana Furtado...................Ruth
Mike Rice.........................Phil
Steve Spurgat...................Thad
Carol Streatfield...............Miriam

All Wrapped Up

Bill Hardy.........................Ray
Tanya Lunstroth...............Pearl


June 13 through 28, 1997