New Work in Progress: Queensbury Theatre & Unlock’d

Next, we checked in with Marley Singletary, the Producing Executive Director at new NAMT member Queensbury Theatre in Houston, TX about their new works program. We also chatted about Queensbury’s upcoming regional premiere of Unlock’d, by Derek Gregor and Sam Carner.
What is Queensbury Theatre’s mission, and how does new works development fit into that mission?

Queensbury Theatre exists to serve the diverse community and culture of West Houston by providing exceptional theatrical entertainment and education while creating an environment where Houston artists and teachers can do meaningful work.

With the desire to bring a new theatrical experience to Houston, Queensbury Theatre strives to provide a home for new works which represent diverse generations, voices and views.

Through the development of new works, we are able to create meaningful work while nurturing Houston’s artistic community and providing a safe (and affordable) space for producers and writers from other cities to come work on their pieces in Houston.

We hope to contribute to the art form by incubating and developing new works of the highest quality, by emphasizing the hiring of local theatre professionals, by staging cutting-edge musicals and plays in Houston, by cultivating a new audience, and by creating innovative, intimate and immersive theatrical experiences which directly and relevantly reflect our current cultural climate and set the scene for musical theatre of the future.

How did Unlock’d first find its way to Queensbury?
NAMT is the short answer! Producer and NAMT member, Judy Loseff, brought Unlock’d to my attention in 2015 when I was working at TUTS as Associate Artistic Director, and more specifically, looking for material for TUTS Underground, their new works series. Really liking the show and having met the writers (Sam Carner and Derek Gregor), I knew it was something that I wanted to see done. It didn’t fit into the upcoming seasons at the time because they were already planned, and I later left TUTS and was working as a freelance director.

Still wanting to produce the musical in Houston, Judy asked me to direct the piece, and, together, we worked to find the right theatre to collaborate with to co-produce the show.

In 2016, I met Queensbury Theatre’s Artistic Director, Luke Wrobel, and started working with the theatre in another capacity. (The theatre, by the way, had a new plays program.) I quickly realized that the theatre’s amazing team of people, location and state-of-the-art 250 seat proscenium theatre was the perfect fit for Judy and Unlock’d. The board and staff were supportive and excited about the co-pro, and we began planning for the regional premiere slated for February 2018. Preparations included everything from producing to marketing to creative work with the writers to local auditions.

In summer 2017, Queensbury’s Executive Director and Artistic Director, with whom I worked very closely in getting the show produced, both took other opportunities. The board brought me on as the Producing Executive Director, so I am now in a producing and directing role with the show which is currently in rehearsals.

Kristina Sullivan, the Director of Education, and I saw the great opportunity to focus on producing new works at Queensbury as a long term vision which leads me back to NAMT—Queensbury is now a member!

What is most exciting to you about bringing this story to your audiences, and what is a moment you’re excited to share with this? 
Unlock’d is a clever, witty musical comedy romance which I think will be favorably received by Houston audiences. I think this is a show unlike any other that our audiences have ever experienced—it is a hilarious modern-ish, period show which features a book influenced by Shakespeare, Wilde and Shaw and a brilliant score that blends a classical and contemporary sound. I’m most excited to bring a regional premiere to Houston as well as the new works experience of having the writers here working on it with us. Additionally, all of the creatives, designers, crew, and ten out of the eleven cast members are local, and it is very important to Queensbury to hire local professionals. I am most excited about creating a show in a way it’s not been done before in collaboration with Sam and Derek—the beauty of new work—in hopes that it will go forward successfully.

What is next for Queensbury’s new works program?
Right now we are just getting started, but our ideal seasons going forward will include four Mainstage shows with one or two being world/regional premieres and the other shows being newer musicals that haven’t been done in Houston before or smaller, alternative musicals.

This year, we are producing the world premiere of a new play, Fly In the Windshield, in our Black Box theatre. On the Mainstage, we are looking at doing the world premiere of a new musical in the summer, but we are still working out those details—stay tuned!

We hope to continue to build relationships with producers and writers who want to come to Queensbury and try out their work in Houston whether it be for a reading or a fully realized production.

Why should everyone plan a trip to Houston to see Unlock’d?
It is my hope that everyone will come see Unlock’d to experience the show, to support the new work and to find out if there is any personal interest in the piece going forward. I would also love for people to come see our space and discover what Queensbury Theatre has to offer in the development of new works, hopefully creating the opportunity for future collaborations.

I also want to invite people to visit Houston. Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, and it is home to a thriving artistic community including several theatre companies. The community of theatre professionals is as talented as it is diverse.

I would love for NAMT members to make the trip to Houston not only to see the show and the theatre but to also experience the caliber of professionalism, quality and talent that the Houston theatre scene has to offer.

Maybe most importantly, Houston is known for its amazing food and friendly locals. Located in CityCentre, restaurants and hotels are just steps away from the theatre.

For more information about Queensbury Theatre and Unlock’d, visit the the Queensbury Theatre website


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