100 Creatives: Paul Hope
What he does: Paul Hope is a prolific actor, director and educator who's been in the Houston arts and theater scene virtually his whole life. As a teenager, he was accepted to both the dance and the theater departments at the then-new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He opted for the theater program, but wasn't satisfied with just performing in high school productions: "I didn't want to just work two weekends, and that was it," he says.
By the end of high school, he was performing in community productions, and went on to become one of the most entrenched actors around town, spending 15 seasons as an Alley resident artist and performing in more than 40 productions for Theatre Under The Stars. He's also appeared on the stages of Main Street Theater, Stages Repertory Theatre, Houston Ballet and the Houston Shakespeare Festival.
As a director, Hope has directed several productions at University of Houston, and he stays busy teaching theater at several area colleges and universities, including Houston Community College and Rice University. Hope is also the founder and artistic director of Bayou City Concert Musicals, where he is in the middle of directing his eleventh production.
Why he likes it: "You're not doing the same thing every single day," Hope says.
As a director, "You have to develop a whole other set of nerves." Once the curtain rises, "you can't go up to the actors and correct them. You can only sit there and hope you've rehearsed them enough."
His work as a director and educator gives him the chance to study theater history, something he's been interested in since he was a kid listening to the cast albums of Stephen Sondheim's Company and A Little Night Music. "That was really what got my trivia mind started, where I started connecting who was in which show, and what they went on to do," he says.
Paul Hope, Left, and Tracie Thomason in The Taming of the Shrew at Houston Shakespeare Festival earlier this year
Michelle Robinson Courtesy of Houston Shakespeare Festival
Bayou City Concert Musicals allows him to share that love for theater history with the larger populace. For the company's 2006 production of Fiorello! a successful but rarely produced work, "people were coming out of the woodwork," he says. Since then, Hope has sought to produce unforgotten but largely unproduced musicals of the 1940s and '50s, including Pal Joey, On the Town and, this season, Finian's Rainbow.
If not here, then where? Hope has come close to leaving Houston for greater theater capitals such as New York -- so close, once, that he even had a going-away party.
"Houston is home," he says. "I don't have a lot of family here anymore, but I have a lot of chosen family here. I'd have to think long and hard about leaving."
What's next? Hope continues teaching classes as an adjunct faculty member at UH, Houston Community College and Rice University. He's directing Zombie Prom at UH later this year and is preparing for Bayou City Concert Musicals' production of Finian's Rainbow, which runs in September.
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