Professional theater has arrived in Lake Houston.
Texas Repertory Theatre is now the resident performing company of the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center in Humble.
“There is no reason to suffer the ordeal of traveling to downtown Houston to see top-flight professional theater,” said Steve Fenley, founder, and artistic director of The Texas Repertory Theatre Company. “People who live in Lake Houston will have it right in their own backyard.”
“Until now, The Bender was a venue of single night events,” recalled Fenley. “Jennifer Wooden recognized what we were doing was on a whole different level, a very professional level. When she saw ‘Tenderly,’ she asked us about becoming the resident company and doing multiple shows through the year.”
Wooden is the director of the Bender and the Humble Civic Center.
What can The Bender audience expect now that Texas Repertory Theatre has a permanent home?
“Our Lake Houston audience will see some of the most quality theater in Houston,” said Finley. “We are a professional theater, pulling talent from throughout the city. We do have an informal company of actors because, frankly, once you work with talented folks, you know their capabilities and you search for shows that make them shine and that the audience will love.
“I like to use actors I have a good time with,” he said. “It can get pretty miserable if you aren’t having fun and the audience can tell.”
The Texas Repertory Theatre is the creation of Steven Fenley, a multitalented theater artist who earned his bachelor’s degree in theater from Southern Methodist University and his master’s degree in theater from the University of South Carolina. He performed in numerous theater companies throughout the United States including Houston’s Alley Theatre, Main Street Theatre and Stages Repertory Company.
“We want The Texas Rep to be theater with meaning, offering entertainment that has real meaning for the audience,” said Fenley. “Since 2006, we have done everything including musicals, American classics, a hundred different shows and more than 2,400 performances.”
Fenley began touring The Texas Rep in 2017 and while he plans to continue to take his Texas Rep shows on the road “ … we have several things in the works where we will take our shows, but The Bender now is our home base and our regular location.”
Texas Rep has more than 600 season ticket holders who will get to see performances at Humble’s performing arts center but Fenley also expects to gain a new audience, too.
“We have quite a few followers,” he said, “and while we have an audience that will follow us, we are super excited to create a whole new Lake Houston audience as well.”
Fenley and his team are working with Wooden and her team to produce plays that the Lake Houston audience would enjoy.
In September, Fenley will reprise his role as noted Christian thinker C.S. Lewis in “God’s Megaphone: A visit with C.S. Lewis.”
“He was one of the 20th century’s most important and inspirational Christian thinkers. It was a sellout when we performed it at Kingwood Church of Christ and Kingwood Bible Church,” said Fenley. “In November, we’re presenting the beloved “Driving Miss Daisy.”
Fenley and his team also are working with Wooden and her team to perform plays tailored for Lake Houston audiences to enjoy.
“We want to give our new Lake Houston audience quality shows that they wouldn’t be afraid to take the family to,” Fenley said. “Going to the theater has been an inconvenience. That is not the case anymore. We are bringing professional theater to Lake Houston.”