Charles S. Dutton: “Rocs” Houston to Support the Ensemble Theatre

JGoode | 1/24/2008, 4:22 p.m.
The human heart is an amazing organ. It continuously pumps blood throughout the body to give life-giving sustenance to the ...

The human heart is an amazing organ. It continuously pumps blood throughout the body to give life-giving sustenance to the tissues of the body. Without the heart, there can be no human life. Just as the heart is essential to the body, subscriptions are essential to the function of the Ensemble Theatre.  On Sunday, January 27, 2008, the Ensemble Theatre will host its 8th annual Heart of the Theatre Subscription Drive at the Wortham Theater with a one-man show starring Emmy Award winner Charles “’Roc” Dutton.

After being named “Director of the Year” and being bitten by the charm of the Ensemble Theatre, actor Charles Dutton was thoroughly impressed by the entire organization. He vowed to help the aging theatre with its annual subscription drive.  “His first love for theatre is the result of him being on stage. And he knows the story of the African American theatre, the struggle for African American theatres to survive. His compassion in that way really is the root of the reason he wanted to help us out,” said Janette Cosley, Executive Director of The Ensemble Theatre,  “and seeing what we are doing here in Houston in terms of the Ensemble location. The fact that we owned our theater really impressed him.” In fact, Dutton was so impressed that he accepted the position of honorary chair of the subscription drive. As chair, Dutton will present two special performances on one special night in support of the continued growth of the theatre.

“We’re thrilled to have an actor of Dutton’s caliber so dedicated to helping The Ensemble Theatre reach our subscription goal. His presence is a tremendous bonus to our subscribers. This will be a milestone in Ensemble history. We encourage Houston area residents to purchase a subscription and experience African American visual and theatre arts at its finest,” said Eileen J. Morris, Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre.

Performing excerpts of his own life story “From Jail to Yale,” works written by August Wilson, Douglas Turner Ward, John Steinbeck, Eugene O’Neil, and Richard Wright, and an excerpt from the Lifetime television network original movie “Racing for Time,” Dutton hopes to increase the subscriptions to the theatre by more than half.  “Racing for Time” is directed by and stars Dutton and features The Ensemble Theatre’s Young Performers Program graduate and Broadway actress, DeQuina Moore. “As the Theatre continues its 31st season, Ignite the Passion: Experience The Ensemble Theatre, I encourage Houstonians to join me in helping to reach the 2007-2008 Ensemble subscription goal of 3,000 subscriptions,” said Dutton. The theatre is well on its way to meeting and maybe even surpassing that goal by already having over 2,000 subscribers. Dutton’s one man show will no doubt increase those numbers since one way to see the show is by buying a subscription to The Ensemble Theatre. Once a subscription package ranging in price from $75 to $250 is purchased, subscribers are given an invitation to the exclusive event also chaired by Ensemble Theatre board member Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Others may purchase single tickets to the 8:15 PM performance at a cost of $37.50 each.

Proceeds from the drive will benefit long-standing theatre programs like the Young Performers and Tour Education. According to Cosley, Ensemble staffers spark the next generation’s love of the arts by training them in the various aspects of the theatre in the Young Performers program and expose them to visual arts by taking plays to the schools or having the students come to the theatre. In addition, funds will help defray the estimated $20,000 to $50,000 to produce just one play in their six play season as well as oversee other expenses.

The Ensemble’s current season has four remaining plays for the year, “Gem of the Ocean,” “The Sty of the Blind Pig,” “Ashes to Africa,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin – The Fats Waller Musical Show.” Dutton said, “The Ensemble Theatre promises to Ignite the Passion with each production.”

The first show, already at full capacity, will begin at 5:30pm. The second show, which is filling up fast, will be for current subscribers and those purchasing new subscriptions from now to the event.  Subscriptions may be purchased online at www.ensemblehouston.com/support/events_hearttheatre.html or by calling The Ensemble Box Office at (713) 520-0055. Seats are limited and are on a first-come-first-serve basis.