Photo Release -- The Ensemble Theatre Commissions New Holiday Musical

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HOUSTON, Oct. 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre presents its commissioned new work and world premiere holiday musical, Djembe and the Forest of Christmas Forgotten by Playwright/ Composer Carlton Leake and Director/Choreographer Patdro Harris, with Opening Night Thursday, November 14, 2013.

Playwright/Composer Carlton Leake prepares for the first reading of his world premiere production "Djembe and the Forest of Christmas Forgotten," commissioned by The Ensemble Theatre - Houston.


First read through of world premiere holiday musical "Djembe and the Forest of Chirstmas Forgotten" at The Ensemble Theatre - Houston (L-R) Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris; Director/Choreographer Patdro Harris; Ensemble Theatre Board Member Castell Hibbert and wife Lorraine; Ensemble Theatre Executive Director Janette Cosley; and Playwright/Composer Carlton Leake.


Photos accompanying this release are available at

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=21630

http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=21631

"Every season The Ensemble Theatre staff, board of directors, and artists challenge ourselves in all levels of the theatre's operations, particularly our artistic programming, the core of our existence," says Eileen J. Morris, The Ensemble Theatre Artistic Director. "We are especially thankful for the opportunity to commission this fabulous new work and share it with the world."

Djembe and the Forest of Christmas Forgotten is an epic new musical fairytale that takes us to the imaginative and colorful kingdom of Abahu where it is time for the Royal Christmas Festival (a three hundred year old tradition). Every year the "Call of Christmas" is followed by the playing of the djembe (African drum) where everyone has gathered in the festival square. The djembe signifies balance and harmony between man and nature. Trouble ensues when a curse by the king's twin sister and keeper of the mistletoe has befallen the kingdom. The curse brings chaos and struggle to the kingdom and leaves the drum lost in the forest of Christmas forgotten. Fourteen years later, the king's daughter, Princess Binah and her friend, Nika head out on a journey to find the drum, save the kingdom, and restore the true Spirit of Christmas.

"This story took root inside of me long before it became such a lucid vision," says Leake. "I am humbled by the opportunity to bring it to life at The Ensemble Theatre and work on it with my cohort Director/Choreographer Patdro Harris."

Leake and Harris have worked together on several of The Ensemble Theatre's top attended musical presentations including: Five Guys Named Moe, featuring T.C. Carson; Thomas Meloncon's Christmas with Great Aunt; The Wiz; Leake's original production, The Twelve Ways of Christmas; and most recently, the three-season run of Cinderella.

"The pairing of Carlton and Patdro's talents have been priceless for The Ensemble Theatre, and they've shown us their commitment to help put forth high quality productions every season," says Morris.

Featured cast members include: Christina Alfred, Lauren Bogany, Roenia Thompson, Taylor Nelson, Timothy Eric, Detria Ward, Ron Johnson, Anthony Bogess-Glover, Tranice Shelton, Crystal Sharadin, Silvanus La'Toison, Larry Cooper, and Sara Gray.

Previews: November 9, 10 and 13 Show Runs: November 14 – December 22, 2013

Performance Days and Times: Thursdays: 7:30 p.m; Fridays: 8:00 p.m; Saturdays: 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m; and Sundays: 3:00 p.m.

Tickets Available Online: www.EnsembleHouston.com For Information Call: 713-520-0055

Ticket Prices: $28 - $55

Opening Night and Media Reception, Thursday, November 14, 2013, 6:30PM

The Ensemble Theatre's 2013-2014 Season is sponsored in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. United Airlines is the exclusive airline sponsor for The Ensemble Theatre. Djembe and the Forest of Christmas Forgotten is generously sponsored by Shell Oil Company.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and to enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. Thirty-seven years later, the theatre has evolved from a small touring company to one of Houston's finest historical cultural institutions.

The Ensemble is one of a few professional theatres in the region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African American experience. The oldest and largest professional African American theatre in the Southwest, it holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African American theatres owning and operating its facility and producing in-house. Board President Emeritus Audrey Lawson led the capital campaign for The Ensemble's $4.5 million building renovations that concluded in 1997. The Ensemble Theatre has fulfilled and surpassed the vision of its founder and continues to expand and create innovative programs to bring African American theatre to myriad audiences.

The photos are also available via AP PhotoExpress.

CONTACT: Robert Ross (713) 807-4306 rross@ensemblehouston.com

Source:The Ensemble Theatre