August 1, 2019 | Katherine Adams
The Bayou Theater at University of Houston-Clear Lake has undergone a series a significant renovations in the last two years, including new seats and a brand new entrance. Now, through a $70,000 donation from the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, which counts one of its top priorities to be promoting the arts, the Bayou Theater can begin a complete overhaul of one of its dressing rooms.
The donation is the single largest gift the Bayou Theater has ever received.
“Although a lot of work had been done to modernize the theater, not much had been done for the dressing rooms,” said Charles Milby, treasurer of the Hamman Foundation. “I had seen the chairs redone and the work on the front of the theater, but this was the last leg needed to make this one of the best theaters around.”
“Having usable and versatile dressing spaces opens up the theater to so many more opportunities,” said UH-Clear Lake Director of Theater and Cultural Arts Alex Malone. “Larger shows with bigger stars and more vibrant productions are much easier to mount. While it is not one of the most noticeable upgrades from the patron side, audiences will definitely see the benefit of having a fully renovated and upgraded backstage and artist experience.”
Milby said he had performed on stage for the first time in his life in last season’s production of “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.” That is when, he said, he saw the necessity of renovating the men’s dressing room. “We had to go down the hall and dress in a classroom, so there was definitely a need,” he said. “It’s my hope that this gift will lead others to follow with additional gifts. We’d like to add a shower so that when actors finish their performance and go to the next theater, they can shower and get back on the road. That’s a big expense.”
He added that the theater had excellent acoustics and was the perfect size for the community. “This theater has 500 seats — that’s just right,” he said. “Every seat in the house is great with a perfect view. This is a wonderful, underutilized resource and it’s a vital part of our community. I think there’s more energy here than elsewhere because it’s a university theater.”
“The university is grateful for the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation’s investment in the Bayou Theater,” said UHCL Vice President for University Advancement Joe Staley. “It is sure to inspire others to support the completion of this and other projects. With continued support and engagement, we look forward to enhancing the role of the theater in promoting the arts for our university and the communities we serve.”