Texas Nonprofit Theatres honors Lee for hosting youth conference

Dr. Dennis brown accepts the plaque on behalf of Lee.
Lee College received an award plaque this month from Texas Nonprofit Theatres for hosting the organization’s 22nd annual Youth Conference, which brought 400 young people from across the state to campus for a week of performances and workshops. Pictured, from left: Walter Stricklin, Performing Arts Center director; Dr. Veronique Tran, Vice President of Instruction; Dr. Onimi Wilcox, Dean of Academic Studies; Ryan Martin, production specialist; Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown; Kim Martin, technical theater instructor; and Mark Hall, vice chairman of the Board of Regents.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College earned recognition this month from Texas Nonprofit Theatres (TNT) for hosting its 22nd annual Youth Conference. The gathering brought 400 young thespians and their directors and chaperones from across the state to campus for a summer camp-style week of performances and workshops.

Kim Martin, technical theater instructor and an officer on the TNT Board of Governors, presented the honorary plaque from the organization at the June meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents. The 2017 TNT Youth Conference, held from June 6-11 at the Performing Arts Center and various buildings around campus, marked the second consecutive year that Lee College has been selected to host the event.

“The TNT executive committee and officers wanted to give deep gratitude to Lee College for the wonderful job of providing amazing facilities, extraordinary service and unwavering support as hosts,” Martin said. “They can’t stop telling me how wonderful this place is. I’m proud of that and proud to be with Lee College, and I want you to know people from around the state recognize that, too.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Glenn Miller Orchestra swinging into PAC in March

The Glenn Miller orchestra performs on stage. A band leader stands before brass, woodwinds, and a piano player.BAYTOWN, TX — The world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra – known for the legendary dance bandleader who founded the beloved group and dominated the Swing Era of the 1930s and 1940s with a matchless string of hit records – will bring the classic sounds of big-band music to the Lee College Performing Arts Center (PAC) next month.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform on the PAC main stage at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, March 5. Tickets are $20-40 and available for purchase online at http://www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

First launched by Miller in March 1938, the orchestra is now an 18-member ensemble that continues to play many of his original arrangements. The group’s repertoire also includes modern selections arranged and performed in the iconic Miller style and sound, and music from the famed Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band that entertained servicemen in live concerts and radio shows during World War II. Fan favorites like “In the Mood,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” are all part of the regular program, along with lesser-known tunes like “The White Cliffs of Dover,” “Rainbow Rhapsody” and “Everybody Loves My Baby.”

In true big-band fashion, the Glenn Miller Orchestra is on the road longer and more continuously than any other in the world – covering more than 100,000 miles per year and working nearly every night for 48 weeks out of the year. The orchestra performs for more than 500,000 people annually, entertaining crowds throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and South and Central America. “Moonlight Serenade,” the beautiful theme of the orchestra in the 1940s that was composed by Miller himself, remains their signature tune today.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Kosins to be special guest at free ‘Jazz Night @ Lee College’

Kathy Kosins
Kathy Kosins

BAYTOWN, TX — Award-winning jazz singer and songwriter Kathy Kosins will bring her internationally acclaimed vocals and eclectic musical palette to Lee College as the special guest star at the free “Jazz Night @ Lee College” concert set for Friday, Nov. 11, at the Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Jazz Night @ Lee College will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the PAC Main Performance Hall. The show is open the public, and tickets are not required.

Born and bred during the Motown era of Detroit, Kosins was a sought-after session singer throughout the 1980s, known for singing and arranging background vocals for producer Don Was. After finding and falling in love with the freedom and artistry of jazz music, she completed stints with the JC Heard and Nelson Riddle orchestras and released “All In A Dream’s Work” in 1996. The debut album featured original songs and a cover of “Four” by Miles Davis, earning Kosins play on 250 jazz stations across the country.

Kosins recorded multiple albums throughout the 2000s, including “Mood Swings” in 2002 and “To The Ladies Of Cool” in 2012. For “The Space Between,” released in 2013, she worked in the studio with some of the best musicians in Los Angeles to bring new life to little-known records by Shirley Horn and Nat King Cole, among others. Her newest album — the sultry and intimate “Uncovered Soul” — will also feature rarely heard records by legendary and contemporary soul performers like Curtis Mayfield, Eugene McDaniels, Aaron Neville, and Amos Lee.

Described by critics as “one of the most alluring voices in jazz” and “a joy to listen to,” Kosins has toured and performed at events and venues throughout the U.S. and Europe — from jazz festivals in France and Switzerland to clubs and concert halls in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Wanted: Singers, songwriters & musicians for Lee College Coffeehouse

BAYTOWN, TX — Singers, songwriters and musicians who have been looking for a way to showcase their original work are invited to audition for the Lee College Coffeehouse, an annual concert that shines a light on talented artists in the local community.

The Coffeehouse, hosted by the Lee College Music Club, is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 23, at the Black Box Theater inside the Lee College Performing Arts Center. The concert gives artists and musicians the opportunity to share their craft with a broad audience, within the warm and creative atmosphere that has long been part of the traditional coffeehouse scene where many performers have gotten their start.

The special guest for this year’s Coffeehouse will be the Baytown-based Hound, an experimental western rock and metal fusion band. The college will provide all performers with clear, high-quality, professional sound that highlights their best qualities — and the Audio Department will offer a free recording session in the state-of-the-art studio on campus.

Singers, songwriters and musicians who want to participate in this year’s Coffeehouse should contact Dr. Ken Booker, director of Instrumental Music, at kbooker@lee.edu to schedule an audition time. All auditions will be held by appointment only.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Open auditions set Dec. 8 & 10 for ‘Addams Family’ musical

BAYTOWN, TX — The Lee College Division of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) will hold open auditions next week for its first play of the spring semester — “The Addams Family, A New Musical Comedy” — and members of the community are invited to try out for a role.

Auditions will begin at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 8, and 6 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, inside the main hall of the Performing Arts Center on campus.

Acting, singing, and dancing roles are available for 10 principal characters and up to 12 chorus members. No specific preparations or special acting scenes will be required, but those who audition will be taught songs from the play and will read scenes from the script as needed with others trying out for a part. Volunteers are also welcome to sign up for technical support on sets, props, lights, sound and other areas.

“The Addams Family” is a new Broadway musical written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. It features characters originally created by cartoonist Charles Addams and made famous in the popular 1960s television comedy series starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones. The Addams characters were also nostalgically revived in two movies: “The Addams Family” in 1991 and “Addams Family Values” in 1993.

The musical tells the wildly hilarious story of daughter Wednesday, who has grown up and found love. Her prospective groom, Lucas, does not come from a family with quite the same macabre and ghoulish values as the Addams – much to the consternation of her doting parents, Gomez and Morticia. Other members of the morbid household include brother Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandma, and Lurch, the butler. They are watched over by a chorus of dead ancestors, who temporarily escape from their crypts to celebrate what it means to be an Addams.

The Lee College production of “The Addams Family” is under the direction of VPA faculty Kim Martin, John Weinel and Ken Booker. Performances are set for March 3-6, and rehearsals will begin in January. For more information about the upcoming auditions, contact Martin at hmartin@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Former City Councilman in ‘Treasure Island’

Scott Sheley as Dr. Livesey in Treasure IslandWhen former Baytown City Councilman Scott Sheley retired from a 35-year career in education, he headed right back to school — only this time, as a student at Lee College.

Most days, you can spot the longtime public servant around campus in his best Runnin’ Rebel red, stopping between classes to greet his fellow students and instructors with a warm smile and a listening ear. Starting Thursday, Oct. 29, you can also find him on the main stage at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) for a four-show run as fair-minded scientist Dr. Livesey in the Lee College Players’ production of “Treasure Island.”

“Lee College in itself is a great Broadway show,” said Sheley, who first attended the college from 1972-1974 as an athlete on the now-defunct Rebel Swim team under Coach Ron Ummel, an instrumental figure in his life. Like many of the students he encounters today, he juggled his nightly studies in the aviation program with grueling morning practices and three different jobs.

“Community colleges are filled with interesting stories,” Sheley said. “When I walk down the sidewalk, I say hello to everyone I see. I like to purposefully wander the halls of different buildings to meet new people. You have many characters, and the production doesn’t go on without them. Everyone has a ‘what can I do for you’ attitude.”

In need of a fine arts elective to fulfill requirements for his associate’s degree in General Studies, Sheley enrolled this semester in a theater class taught by Kim Martin — an old and favorite friend with whom he participated in the drama program at Ross S. Sterling High School. With Martin serving as director for “Treasure Island,” he felt more comfortable and confident in auditioning for the show.

“(Martin) is extremely talented, and he passes on that talent through his teaching,” Sheley said. “I admire and wish I had his patience and openness to creative thought. He’s not just a director, he’s an inspiration, and he has attracted some very talented young people to Lee College theatre.”

To prepare for his debut as Dr. Livesey, Sheley watched at least 25 movies in hopes of polishing his delivery of the character’s British accent. Plans for cannon fire and musket fights live on stage also pushed his physical limits during rehearsals for the play, which is based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson tale of pirates and buried treasure.

In fact, “Treasure Island” was one of the first stories that Sheley, who struggled with reading as a child, successfully completed on his own. It’s one of many ways that his post-retirement return to Lee College — as a student, president of the Former-Lee alumni association and member of the Monica Boyd Foundation Board of Directors — has helped bring his life experience full circle.

“I was very proud to be a Rebel,” Sheley said. “They gave me my foundation in collegiate education and now I want that Lee College degree on my wall. Every day, I’m rediscovering my abilities and stimulating my mind. I’ve learned that when you stop thinking and start doing, someone will come along and tap you on the shoulder and things will keep progressing. Lee College makes you a better person. It brings you back to center.”

“Treasure Island” will be at the PAC from Oct. 29-Nov. 1, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and a 2:30 p.m. Sunday matinee. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lee.edu/pac, or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite center in nearby Liberty, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 13 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.