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Houston City Scope March 2015


HSMT students perform at the Junior Theater Festival.

HSMT students perform at the Junior Theater Festival.

HOUSTON MUSICAL THEATRE STUDENTS PERFORM AT NATIONAL FESTIVAL IN ATLANTA

Students from Theatre Under The Stars’ (TUTS) Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) showcased their outstanding musical theatre abilities at the 10th nationwide Junior Theater Festival, Jan. 16–18 in Atlanta, Ga. A total of 4,800 students from 26 states, the District of Columbia and two countries participated in the celebration of musical theatre presented by iTheatrics at the Cobb Galleria.

“I had the great pleasure of witnessing the HSMT students’ superb artistic talent and an incredible standing ovation of 4,800 of their peers when their performance in the New Works Showcase was complete. I am proud that TUTS has the Humphreys School and am in awe of its accomplishments,” said Bob Lawson, TUTS’ Director of Education.

The students from HSMT were one of four educational musical theatre groups chosen by iTheatrics to perform selections from a soon-to-be-released musical for attendees in the festival’s New Works Showcase. They were specially selected by Disney to present The Lion King JR. and The Lion King KIDS at this event. With creative choreography recreating iconic numbers like the “Circle of Life” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”, the students took the audience on a memorable journey through the Pride Lands of Africa during their performance.

Appearing as young lion cub Simba was Scott Fonseka with Fernell Hogan taking on the role of Simba in his older years. Matthew Smith provided the voice of Simba’s father, Mufasa, while Chase Callahan acted as the wise lion. Rafiki – the one and only baboon, was played by Joi Pierre. The musical number also included Sarah Klein as young Nala, Gerra Gistand as Simba’s mother and Mufasa’s wife, Sarabi, and Sam Linda as the noble hornbill, Zazu.

“The students from Theatre Under The Stars in Houston were the perfect group to launch The Lion King Experience with their performance at the Junior Theater Festival,” said Lauren Chapman, Disney Theatrical Group’s Resident Teaching Artist. “Their performance was filled with infectious joy and energy, as well as incredible dance technique and show-stopping solos. These young professionals captivated the audience and proved what young artists are capable of when given the opportunity.”

In addition to the New Works Showcase, the HSMT students also participated in the festival’s Adjudication where they performed a 15-minute piece from Disney’s High School Musical 2 JR. for a panel of distinguished theater professionals. They received rave reviews, along with awards for Outstanding Student Direction (Dylan Lambert) and Outstanding Student Choreography (Matthew Smith).

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HOUSTON GRAND OPERA’S HISTORIC FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN RAISES $172.9M

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) has completed its fundraising campaign by raising an unprecedented $172.9 million, topping its goal of $165 million by December 31, 2014. Inspiring Performance-The Campaign for Houston Grand Opera was the company’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, and the most successful campaign in the history of Houston’s performing arts community.

Inspiring Performance was co-chaired by Houston businessmen and HGO board members J. Scott Arnoldy, Chairman, President, and CEO of Triten Corporation and Albert Chao, President and CEO of Westlake Chemical Corporation. “Thanks to the tremendous generosity of donors from across Houston, the great state of Texas, and beyond,” said Arnold, “Houston will have great opera for years to come, and a stronger future as a great American city.”

HGO Managing Director Perryn Leech added, “We are humbled by the outpouring of support for HGO’s mission and vision: to create the blueprint for a 21st century opera company, one that is world-class, affordable, and deeply connected to its community. We have already taken some thrilling steps to meet these goals and are extremely proud to be serving Houston at this new level.”

The total amount raised for operational activity was $124.2 million. Inspiring Performance also raised $17.1 million for HGO’s endowment, and $31.6 million in legacy funding. Of the 6,648 donors who contributed to the campaign, 4,558 were new donors.

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Flewellen Creek at Cross Creek Ranch.

Flewellen Creek at Cross Creek Ranch.

THREE HOUSTON-AREA COMMUNITIES ON LIST OF NATION’S TOP SELLERS

Three Houston-area communities by The Johnson Development Corp. rank among the nation’s top-20 best-sellers for 2014, according to a report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, an independent research provider and consulting firm. This marks the second consecutive year the Houston-based developer has landed more communities on the list than any other developer in the nation.

Riverstone (#4), the top seller among Houston-area communities with 719 new home sales in 2014, joins the Montgom­ery County master-planned community of Woodforest (#19 with 417 new home sales) and the Fort Bend master-planned community of Cross Creek Ranch (#20 with 411 new home sales) on the top-selling list.

“We have been blessed to be in a great real estate market and it was another strong year for our communities both in terms of relocations from across the country and local buyer interest,” notes Doug Goff, COO of The Johnson Development Corp. 2015 will present a number of new challenges and opportunities as the company embarks on the development of the newly named Grand Central Park in Montgomery County, Harvest Green on the Grand Parkway in Fort Bend County and The Village of Sawmill Lake in Sienna Plantation. Goff expects sales momentum to continue in Johnson Development’s other Houston-area master-planned communities of Imperial, Harmony, Fall Creek, Tuscan Lakes, Willow Creek Farms and Edgewater. The west Houston master-planned community of Cross Creek Ranch is one of two communities to rank among the nation’s 2014 top-20.

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View of the campus from the rooftop of the Glassell School of Art, designed by Steven Holl Architects.

View of the campus from the rooftop of the Glassell School of Art, designed by Steven Holl Architects.

MFAH UNVEILS DESIGNS FOR CAMPUS REDEVELOPMENT

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has revealed designs for a dramatic redevelopment of its 14-acre campus, including a unifying master plan; a 64,000-square-foot-building for 20th- and 21st-century art; and a new, 80,000-square-foot home for the Glassell School of Art, all by Steven Holl Architects, as well as the preliminary concepts for a state-of-the-art conservation center by Lake|Flato Architects. The project, beginning later this year and slated for completion in 2019, will transform not only the MFAH but also its surrounding neighborhood, by making a major
contribution to Houston’s overall efforts to improve the pedestrian experience
of the city.

The Museum also has announced that $330 million – more than 73 percent of its $450 million capital and endowment campaign goal – has been raised to date. The principal gifts have been provided by Fayez S. Sarofim ($70 million) and the Kinder Foundation ($50 million). Additional lead gifts of $10 million or more have been provided by the Glassell Family; Cornelia and Meredith Long; The Brown Foundation, Inc.; the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation; the Duncan Fund; The Cullen Foundation; The Wortham Foundation, Inc.; and Lynn and Oscar Wyatt. Leading corporate support has been provided by BBVA Compass in the amount of $5 million. The sponsorship is part of the bank’s longstanding commitment to the arts and its partnership with the MFAH.

For more information, visit mfah.org.

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Rebeca Salas (right) will attend Bryn Mawr College.

Rebeca Salas (right) will attend Bryn Mawr College.

CRISTO REY JESUIT STUDENT EARNS 4-YEAR SCHOLARSHIP

Cristo Rey Jesuit student Rebeca Salas has been awarded one of the highest honors a high school student can achieve. She has been named one of 61 national student scholars of the prestigious Posse Foundation. Rebeca and the 60 scholars from across the country were selected from an enormous pool of 1,200 nominees.

The honor comes with a four-year, fully paid scholarship to prestigious Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. It is a highly regarded women’s liberal arts college known for its excellence and successful graduates. Rebeca said she was absolutely blown away when she got the late night call that she had won the scholarship. “I was so excited. And scared. And overwhelmed. I feel so lucky to have been blessed with this honor. I know what a big deal it is to have (the financial) details for my college taken care of.”

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BLANKETS GIVE COMFORT TO KIDS IN CRISIS

Linda Henshaw, with the Houston Chapter of Project Linus, dropped off more than 150 blankets to Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital on Jan. 6. Project Linus is a nonprofit organization that makes and delivers handmade blankets to children facing crises. This can be anything from hospital stays to critical illnesses, situations of abuse or neglect, natural disasters affecting their families, or the death of loved ones.

“We hope to provide a bit of love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need,” said Hensaw. “Each of these new, handmade blankets and afghans is lovingly created by our volunteer ‘blanketeers.’”

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Staff at the corporate headquarters of McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc., (MHI) swapped heels and ties for hard hats recently during its Habitat for Humanity “build day.”

Staff at the corporate headquarters of McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc., (MHI) swapped heels and ties for hard hats recently during its Habitat for Humanity “build day.”

BUILD BEGINS ON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HOME

Twenty staffers from Coventry Homes’ corporate headquarters joined crews from KPRC Channel 2 and Houston Habitat for Humanity to work on a Habitat home that recently started construction. It is the builder’s second consecutive year to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity home. “We’ve built more than 50,000 homes for Texans — building homes is what we do,” said Gary Tesch, president of McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc., (MHI), parent company of Coventry Homes.

The four-bedroom house will be home to Sandra Barrera, a single mother who now lives with her two young children and grandmother in a small trailer. She said she has dreamed of living in a safer place to raise her children. “I want to give them a bigger space to grow, play around and have their own space,” she said.

On Jan. 15, the Coventry Homes crew labored on site in Harrel Park 2, a neighborhood being developed by Habitat for Humanity. The team worked on decking, joints, weather stripping, installing weather-proof insulation and more. “What we did will make the home very energy efficient, which is right in line with how we build our homes,” Tesch said.

Coventry Homes, Star Furniture, Noble Energy, Pappas and Shipley Donuts united to sponsor the home. Other sponsor teams will join Habitat personnel and Barrera, who is required to contribute 300 hours of sweat equity into the building of her home. Habitat benefactors also must complete training on home ownership and purchase their home through no-interest loans. Barrera’s home should be complete this spring.

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Sara Kellner

Sara Kellner

SARA KELLNER AT HELM OF HOUSTON ARTS ALLIANCE’S CIVIC ART + DESIGN

Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) announced that Sara Kellner will serve as the agency’s Director of Civic Art + Design. For the past 15 years, Ms. Kellner has worked to advance the visual arts in Houston – from managing the arts in transit for METRO’s Houston Light Rail Expansion to serving as Executive Director of DiverseWorks Artspace. Now she steps into the important role of managing the commission and acquisition of artworks for the City of Houston’s collection, as well as directing the agency’s Temporary Art Program.

“Sara’s extensive credentials include a deep understanding of public art. She has proven through her career a great sensitivity to the work of artists and the impact of art in community as well as in public space. Through her work in past commissions, Sara has demonstrated both a keen ability to manage complex projects as well as a great commitment to the integrity of an artwork,” commented Jonathon Glus, President + CEO of HAA. For more information, visit houstonartsalliance.com.

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Hotel celebrates 19th recognition in “Ultra-Luxury” category.

Hotel celebrates 19th recognition in “Ultra-Luxury” category.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL HOUSTON: TEXAS’ ONLY 2015 AAA FIVE-DIAMOND HOTEL

Four Seasons Hotel Houston has once again been awarded the Five Diamond Award, the American Automobile Association’s most prestigious hospitality rating. In 2015, Four Seasons Hotel Houston celebrates another unique accolade, as the sole hotel representing Texas on the ultra-competitive list.

General Manager Guilherme Costa remarks: “Being recognized as the only Five Diamond hotel in a state as vast as Texas is an incredible honor. It truly speaks to a level of service that requires an unrelenting focus on excellence and heartfelt personal attention to each guest. We are proud to represent both Four Seasons and the warm, personal hospitality of Texas on the Five Diamond list in 2015.”


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