Unlock'd at Queensbury Theatre Explores the People Behind Their Masks

Rehearsal for Unlock'd.  See anyone you recognize?  How about a couple of Houston Theater award-winning actors?
Rehearsal for Unlock'd. See anyone you recognize? How about a couple of Houston Theater award-winning actors? Photo by Christian Brown

Belinda is the little sister everybody didn’t want. That's how Shanae'a Moore who plays the role in the Queensbury Theatre upcoming production of Unlock'd describes her character.

"She's the one who wants all the attention and needs all the attention and finds ways to get it when people aren’t looking at her and puts a lot of stock into how she looks," says Moore. " But at the same time you find out later in the play she has such a beautiful heart and such beautiful longings for a deeper connection with somebody and desires that nobody knew."

And that's the basic premise of Unlock'd, a musical about people who are born into certain roles that perhaps they'd rather not be playing.  Set in "modern-ish times," its music combines baroque and classical music with modern pop musical theater sounds. The two-act is the brainchild of Sam Carner (lyricist and librettist) and Deerk Gregor (composer). Marley Singletary is directing with choreography by Dana Lewis and musical direction by Jonathan Craft.

Kathryn Porterfield plays sister Clarissa, the step sister Belinda who is completely overshadowed by her more beautiful sibling. Clarissa wants a little romance in her life and feels she can achieve that if she can just get Belinda married off and out of the dating pool.  Other cast members include Thomas Griffin Williams as The Baron, Patrick Massey as Edwin Shearing, and playing a multitude of characters: Holland Vavra, McKenna Marmolejo, Adrienne Shearer, Dylan Godwin (Houston Theater Award winner), Mark Ivy (Houston Theater Award winner) and Rodrick Randall. Oh and Phillip Brown is Zeus (in 18th Century England?)

"Characters are pretty well established at the beginning. They’re kind of stock characters. Some seem shallow. Some seem grumpy," Moore says. "As the show goes on you realize there’s so much more than what they present to each other and to the world.

"It really deepens the idea of what a musical theater character can be and more of what can be expected when they are singing and dancing at the same time," she says, laughing. 

This is the second production of the season for Queensbury under the oversight of Singletary, the producing executive director. Moore, who works for Queensbury auditioned along with everyone else and was thrilled when she found out she had the part.

"My mother is a drama teacher and my dad is a choir director and an orchestra leader and they said under no circumstances am I allowed to make theater my degree. I was going to be a dancer and I couldn’t do that," she says. So she auditioned for Sam Houston State University, well known for its musical theater program and was accepted. She credits the university with not only helping her be a better performer, but better able to handle the business of making acting a career. "I was working professionally by the end of my freshman year. "

Unlock'd works on two levels, Moore says. And while kids will enjoy it, it will also interest adults, who'll have something to think about on the drive home.

Performances are scheduled for February 7-25 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at Queensbury Theatre, 12777 Queensbury (CityCentre Houston). For information call 713-467-4497 or visit $22-$47.
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