Stage

The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: LMNOP and More

Start your weekend off right and catch LMNOP -- A New Muzical on Friday. Letters are falling from the sky. Well, actually, from a monument in town, and the local leaders in an island community take this as a sign that they should no longer be using the ones that hit the ground and ban them one by one. Based on the novel Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, LMNOP -- A New Muzical, with music by Paul Loesel and book and lyrics by Scott Burkell (Ho Ho Humbug at Stark Naked Theatre Company) is the latest production at TUTS Underground. Jason Gotay (last seen at TUTS in Bring It On: The Musical) plays Nate Warren, the just-returned boyfriend of our heroine, young Ella (Madeline Trumble, Broadway Newsies), who spearheads the fight against government extremism.

Gotay (Broadway Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) says he'd heard about the show, which has been performed in only a couple of other places, and wanted in. "It's always a dream to be part of the development process. And it's really fun to collaborate with the writers." At the same time, there's a high degree of difficulty factor because the actors cannot stray from the script, he says. Once a letter is banned, the writers and actors can no longer use it in the show. "Just today we were staging a scene, writers still making little cuts, little edits so we make certain we don't use letters that have already been banned, and one of the difficult things about this show for the actors, if we don't remember our lines word for word, we're in big trouble. Because we can't kind of create things in the moment because we might be using an illegal letter. That's what's so brilliant, that the characters are so frustrated because they can't use the words they want."

Audiences should find the show thought-provoking, Gotay says. "It really makes you ask some big questions about what would happen if you lose that freedom of speech."

7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 3 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 19. Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $25 to $49.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez