After attending one of the performances of “Menopause the Musical” last week, it hit me. I have never been to a bad performance at the Lutcher Theater. They just keep delivering outstanding shows time and time again.

Speaking with Managing Director Jim Clark on the subject, he clued me in to what should be another great show coming up in April. 

In connection with the opening of Shangri La and Earth Week, Jungle Jack Hanna will appear at the Lutcher at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 27. Jack Hanna is Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and has gained fame from his visits to nationally-televised talk shows through the years. The theater is still working out the details, so there is no information on pricing yet. Be watching for it as they will release details once they have been finalized.

There are still some good shows left in what has been a stellar season. Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is scheduled for March 7, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” a musical, runs March 14, “Blast” is scheduled for March 25, and “Tapestry Dance” is April 25.

The theater has most of the next season’s shows locked in and in is already working on 2010, but the management also stays fluid in the scheduling. That fluidity is how “Menopause” came to the Lutcher. It was not on the schedule when the new season was announced last summer. 

"It was playing in Galveston at the 1894 Opera House," said Clark. His friend, Maureen Patton, who runs the Opera House, told the group that they should play Orange. She got them in contact with Clark, who brought them to the Lutcher. 

Menopause not only had patrons rolling with laughter, "it was the third largest attendence ever" in the theater’s 28 years, Clark said. It almost caught up the second all time attendence show, which was "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." 
"It probably will over take it when “Menopause” comes back next year," said Clark. Plans are already in the works for the show’s return. 

"The cast was really impressed with Orange," he said. They visited the museum and checked out the town. "They are looking forward to coming back."

Clark’s reply to my "never having been to a bad show," was, "you haven’t been to the theater enough."

He said occasionally there have been shows that didn’t meet their expectations, but those have been rare. He also said that a lot of the entertainment value depends on the audience’s frame of mind. "If people are looking to have a good time, then they will have a good time." The same goes if they do not expect to have a good time, then they will find something wrong with it.

I’m in the "expecting to have a good time" category. Some of the shows I have seen at the Lutcher through the years are: “Mame,” “David Copperfield,” “Grease,” “Footloose,” and “A Tuna Christmas,” amongst others. Of course there are a lot of shows I wish I could have attended, including “Annie” and last week’s offering, "Moving Out."

The Lutcher has had shows from all over the world since it opened in 1980. Clark is the theater’s third director, and is going on his 20th year of managing the facility. He is a hands-on director who can be seen many nights helping take tickets, checking to make sure everything is going smoothly, or greeting people. He credits the smoothness of operations on show nights to the Theater Service Guild volunteers. "There are about 75 members in the core group with about 50 that work just about every show," he said.

It takes around 20 volunteers for each performance. The guild is always looking for more volunteers and you can fill out an application on the theater’s website,

You can also check the website for upcoming shows and purchase tickets. 
Don’t forget the great children’s shows at the Lutcher, too. Plus, it has become a popular venue for local recitals and will be the site of the Service League of Orange’s Follies 2008 this weekend.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.