Unwrap Your Candies Now

Houston Public Media

As you take your seats in the theatre, the lights dim and a voice says “Please locate the nearest exits, turn off all cellular devices, and if you should wish to partake of hard candy during the performance, please Unwrap Your Candies Now…” and then the show begins! Ernie Manouse and Catherine Lu invite you into the world of the performing and v

All Episodes

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews Nick and Diane Marson, a Houston couple who met on 9/11 and whose real-life story inspired central characters in the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away. Then, Catherine Lu chats with Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Houston Poet Laureate Emeritus and World Champion Slam Poet, about writing the libretto for Houston Grand Opera’s Marian’s Song, a World Premiere based on the life of legendary... Read More

Mar 6

35 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu heads to Lawndale Art Center to interview Houston artist Virginia Lee Montgomery about her solo exhibition Sky Loop. Incorporating video, sound, sculpture and Houston-centric symbols, the immersive installation is inspired by the artist’s personal experience and memories of Hurricane Harvey, on view through March 29. Then, Ernie Manouse talks with former American Idol finalist-turned Broadway star Tamyra Gray, who is performing in the... Read More

Feb 21

31 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with singer-actor Paul Hope about legendary songwriter Harold Arlen – in particular about the music he wrote in the decade after his famous “Over the Rainbow.” The Paul Hope Cabaret presents That Old Black Magic – Harold Arlen in the 40s on February 17, February 24 and March 2 at Ovations Night Club. Then, Catherine Lu talks with percussionist Craig Hauschild and... Read More

Feb 14

32 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu interviews Houston Chamber Choir founder and artistic director Robert Simpson and tenor Jack Byrom on what it was like to attend the 2020 Grammys and accept the award for Best Choral Performance for their album Duruflé: Complete Choral Works. From the red carpet to the moment the envelope was opened, we go behind-the-scenes of their win. The choir’s next concert is Circlesong on February... Read More

Feb 8

37 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews Sasson Gabay and Janet Dacal, who star in The Band’s Visit, winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Broadway Across America presents the North American-touring production January 28 – February 2 at The Hobby Center. Then, Catherine Lu finds out about the city’s newest dance troupe, Houston Contemporary Dance Company, from Marlana Doyle, founder and artistic director. Doyle talks about forming... Read More

Feb 1

32 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Dan Knechtges, Artistic Director of Theatre Under The Stars, about the company’s recently-announced 2020 – 2021 season. Knechtges, a Tony-nominated director and choreographer, talks about the eclectic mix of national productions with major buzz and homegrown TUTS productions that celebrate Houston talent – and why it’s like a meal of tapas. Then, Ernie Manouse interviews Emilio Delgado, who played “Luis” on... Read More

Jan 24

32 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with award-winning director and veteran actor, Shirley Jo Finney. Finney talks about the art of directing and her latest project as director of The Ensemble Theatre’s production of The Green Book. Inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book, this play by Calvin Alexander Ramsey runs January 23–February 23. Then, Catherine Lu interviews Natalie Lin, artistic director and founder of Kinetic. Lin talks... Read More

Jan 17

29 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Madison Petaway, Houston’s fifth Youth Poet Laureate. Appointed in November 2019 by Mayor Sylvester Turner through a joint program of Writers in the Schools and Houston Public Library, Petaway is a junior at Westbury High School and a member of the Meta-Four Houston youth slam team. She talks about how poetry changed her life and how she hopes to serve the city’s... Read More

Jan 10

32 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Mariah Lyttle, who stars as “Celie” in the North American-touring production of The Color Purple. Society for the Performing Arts presents the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from January 3 – 4 at The Hobby Center. Then, Catherine Lu features a sound portrait of Houston poet Francis T. Goodbeer. Produced originally for HPM’s Voices and Verses series, the segment explores Goodbeer’s love... Read More

Jan 3

29 min

In this special episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews Oscar-winning actor, singer and author, Julie Andrews, along with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. The mother-daughter pair have co-written 32 books, including Andrews’ latest memoir Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years. This on-stage interview was recorded live at the Fourth Annual Power of Literacy Luncheon hosted by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation at The Post Oak Hotel on... Read More

Dec 2019

30 min

In this special episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu and Ernie Manouse unwrap and share audio gifts of holiday performances by beloved singers and actors from Houston and beyond. Set list: Martha Davis – I’ll Be Home for Christmas Lyle Lovett – A Visit from St. Nicholas Deborah Hope and Steven Jones – Santa Baby Julia Krohn and Walt Zipprian – The Gift of the Magi Martha Davis – Silent Night... Read More

Dec 2019

29 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Connor Walsh. They talk about his lead role as “The Prince,” which he originated for Stanton Welch’s The Nutcracker, as well as his childhood Nutcracker memories and finding time for holiday traditions amidst a busy performance schedule. Performances of The Nutcracker run through December 29 at the Wortham Center. Then, Ernie Manouse talks to actor Julia Krohn,... Read More

Dec 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with longtime “Tonight Show” host, stand-up comedian, voiceover artist, author and speaker Jay Leno, known to many as “the hardest working man in show business.” Society for the Performing Arts presents An Evening with Jay Leno on December 6 at Jones Hall. Then, Catherine Lu interviews mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte and bass Daniel Noyola, two of the stars of Houston Grand Opera’s World... Read More

Dec 2019

32 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with hip hop pioneer and legendary rapper Kurtis Blow, who is the MC of The Hip Hop Nutcracker. The national-touring holiday production comes to the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land on December 4. Then, Ernie Manouse sits down with Dixie Longate of "Dixie's Tupperware Party" to talk about her latest show, Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull... Read More

Nov 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews Jeff Miller (director) and Tamarie Cooper (cast member and co-artistic director) about Baby Screams Miracle by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Clare Barron. Described as a funny, moving tale of faith and survival, the show is being produced by The Catastrophic Theatre from November 22 – December 15 at MATCH. Then, Catherine Lu chats with Houston Symphony Composer-in-Residence Jimmy López Bellido about his World... Read More

Nov 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Houston arts writer Pete Gershon about Lawndale Art Center’s 40th Anniversary. They discuss the center's history and impact, from its DIY beginnings in 1979 as an annex for University of Houston art students and its role as an incubator for experimental art to current exhibits and plans for the future. Gershon is Chair of Lawndale’s Advisory Board and author of Collision:... Read More

Nov 2019

35 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews actor and attorney John Raley, who stars in Inherit the Wind. Cone Man Running Productions will present the classic play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, inspired by the Scopes Monkey Trial, November 14 – 23 at Spring Street Studios. Raley talks about his career in law, his love of acting and how the two intersect. Then, Catherine Lu features a... Read More

Nov 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse interviews Broadway superstar and stage legend Bernadette Peters, who performs in Houston on November 2 at Jones Hall presented by Society for the Performing Arts. Then, Catherine Lu previews the 7th Annual Houston Early Music Festival, November 7 – 17.  She finds out about the city’s early music scene, uniqueness of historical instruments and upcoming festival concerts from Houston Early Music Executive Director Deborah... Read More

Nov 2019

33 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with MECA’s Resident Curator Theresa Escobedo and Program Director Liz Salinas about the traditions associated with Día de los Muertos and the organization’s free community festival in celebration of the holiday, from November 2–3. Then, Ernie Manouse interviews Timothy Gulan and Brandon Michael Nase, who star in Broadway’s Cats, October 22 – 27 at the Hobby Center. Share your comments, questions and... Read More

Oct 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Desdemona Chiang, director of Vietgone at the Alley Theatre, from Oct. 4 – Nov. 3. A mix of rom-com, road trip, hip-hop and 70s pop culture, the play by Qui Nguyen is inspired by the story of how his own parents met and fell in love in 1975 in an Arkansas camp for Vietnamese refugees. Then, Catherine Lu learns more about... Read More

Oct 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with soprano Anna Diemer, Co-Managing Diva of Opera on Tap - Houston. One of the newest chapters of the international opera non-profit, the group of local singers brings affordable, interactive opera performances to bars, coffeehouses, breweries and other alternative venues. Then, Ernie Manouse interviews actor, singer and dancer Juliette Redden, who stars in Theatre Under The Stars' new production of the Tony... Read More

Oct 2019

30 min

In this episode of the podcast “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Philip Lehl, Co-Artistic Director of 4th Wall Theatre Company.  Now entering its ninth season, the company’s 2019 – 2020 line-up opens with a reimagining of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, starring Kim Tobin-Lehl and Joseph “Joe P” Palmore. Then, Catherine Lu interviews Marian Luntz, curator of film and video at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. They talk about the MFAH’s... Read More

Oct 2019

29 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu interviews Yoonshin Song, the Houston Symphony’s new concertmaster, who begins her appointment this 2019-2020 season. Selected from the orchestra's extensive three-year search to fill the position, she previously served as concertmaster of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2011-2019. Then, Ernie Manouse chats with Rebekah Dahl, singer, actor, co-founder and co-owner of The Music Box Theater, named “The Best Cabaret Theater in Houston” by the Houston... Read More

Sep 2019

30 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Jake Speck, Executive Director of A.D. Players. The Christian-based theater company opens its 2019-20 Season of Hope with The Hiding Place. A World Premiere adaptation by A.S. Peterson, the play is based on the true story of Corrie ten Boom, who was active in the Dutch underground, hiding Jews during World War II. Then, Catherine Lu interviews Alecia Lawyer, Founder, Artistic Director and... Read More

Sep 2019

32 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu and Ernie Manouse preview the 2019-2020 seasons of eight of the major performing arts groups of Houston’s Theater District, and they chat with Mayor Sylvester Turner about the significant impact of the arts in the city. Recorded live at Jones Hall at the 26th Annual Theater District Open House on August 25, this episode also marks the radio debut of the podcast, which can now be... Read More

Sep 2019

29 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu learns about the Houston Chamber Choir's season-opening concert, featuring Annelies, the first major choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank, composed by James Whitbourn with libretto compiled and translated by Melanie Challenger. The Choir presents the work’s Houston Premiere at the newly-reopened and expanded Holocaust Museum Houston, September 21 and 22. Catherine chats with the Choir’s Founder and Artistic Director, Robert Simpson, and the Museum’s... Read More

Sep 2019

34 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse gets an inside look at A Chorus Line and what it’s like to cast and stage this Broadway classic with Megan Larche Dominick, Theatre Under The Stars’ Associate Artistic Director / Director of New Works. TUTS presents the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical that portrays the life of a Broadway dancer, September 10 – 22 at The Hobby Center. Then, Catherine Lu chats with... Read More

Aug 2019

31 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Brandon Bell, Director of Education and Artistic Administrator, about Da Camera’s 2019 – 2020 season, which opens with Bon Appetit! – a concert with a musical take on Julia Child. Bell also describes the free activities that Da Camera has planned for the 2019 Theater District Open House, including musical caricatures composed on-the-spot by a Da Camera Young Artist-Composer. Then, Ernie Manouse interviews... Read More

Aug 2019

35 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Martha Davis, lead singer of the ’80s new wave band The Motels, known for hits like “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer.” The Motels will perform in Houston’s Arena Theater on Thursday, August 22 as part of the Lost 80s Live tour. Then, Catherine Lu previews the 2019 Houston Theater District Open House with Kathryn McNiel, CEO of Theater District Houston. McNiel... Read More

Aug 2019

40 min

In this episode of "Uwrap Your Candies Now," Catherine Lu chats with two local musicians of the World Doctors Orchestra - Drs. Charles and Grace Lee. A married couple who met while playing in the Texas Medical Center Orchestra, The Lees spearheaded the effort to bring the global orchestra of doctors to Houston, where they will present a series of events culminating in a concert on August 17. Proceeds will benefit A Children's House For... Read More

Aug 2019

36 min

In this episode of Unwrap Your Candies Now, Ernie Manouse introduces us to two of the performers taking to the Miller Outdoor Theatre stage as part of the 2019 Houston Shakespeare Festival. Shannon Uphold (Audrey/Ensemble) is a 2nd-year graduate student in the UH Professional Actor Training Program enjoying her second year with the festival; and Laura Frye is making her HSF debut after graduating from the University of Houston 12 years ago. Debuting in 1975,... Read More

Aug 2019

33 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu finds out what it took for ROCO to bring together their new CD Visions Take Flight.  Alecia Lawyer, ROCO Founder and Artistic Director, explains how Harvey complicated the making of this album.  And, Ernie Manouse chats with Chelsea Ryan McCurdy, one of the stars of Stages Repertory Theatre's The Doyle and Debbie Show. Chelsea shares tales of a life on the stage and beyond.  Share your comments,... Read More

Jul 2019

37 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Viswa Subbaraman, Music Director, and Steven McCary, Board President, about A Topsy Turvy Mikado, this summer’s production by The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston. Created by Artistic Director Alistair Donkin, this new version of The Mikado was inspired by Mike Leigh’s Academy Award-winning film and updates the original comic opera’s approach to the depiction of Japanese culture. And, recently it was announced... Read More

Jul 2019

42 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu finds out about Theatre Under The Stars’ new community engagement program, Public Works Houston, and its first collaboration with the company’s annual summer production at Miller Outdoor Theatre. TUTS’ Seussical will feature a mega cast of community members and professional actors of all ages and is the culmination of a nine-month program that seeks to serve, learn from and empower Houston's diverse communities. Catherine chats... Read More

Jul 2019

28 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with two stars from Disney’s Aladdin The Musical: Major Attaway (Genie) and Jonathan Weir (Jafar). The actors share stories and insights about the production, which features favorite songs from the film, as well as new music by Tony and Academy Award winner Alan Menken, with lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and book writer Chad Beguelin. And, Catherine Lu finds out what local high... Read More

Jul 2019

42 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with the Apollo Chamber Players' Artistic Director, founder and violinist Matthew Detrick and composer Erberk Eryilmaz about their July 6th concert at NASA in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. The centerpiece of the program will be a movement from Erylimaz’s Was Her Face the Moon or Sunlight? – a piece that will be sent to the moon in 2021 as part of... Read More

Jun 2019

38 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse talks with Jason Nodler and Tamarie Cooper, Co-Artistic Directors of Catastrophic Theatre, about Speeding Motocycle. First produced in 2006 to rave reviews, this original rock opera is based on the songs of legendary outsider artist-musician Daniel Johnston. Catherine Lu chats with violist Brian Bires, First Place Winner of the 30th Annual Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition at the Immanuel & Helan Olshan Texas Music... Read More

Jun 2019

41 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Mollie Haven Miller, executive director of Dance Source Houston, about the 5th Annual Barnstorm Dance Fest. The festival is curated by members of the local dance community (this year’s panel: Elijah Alhadji Gibson, Sue Schroeder and Janie Yao), who selected works that reflect the diverse identities and dance forms in Houston and beyond. Ernie Manouse talks to Seth Andrew Bridges, one of the musketeers... Read More

Jun 2019

37 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with Cissy Segall Davis, managing director of Miller Outdoor Theatre, about the historic Houston venue. Opened in 1923 and named after Jesse Wright Miller, the Miller Outdoor Theatre offers the largest “always free” program of its kind in the country, with eight months of professional entertainment free of charge to the public, making it an especially popular summer destination. Catherine Lu talks to artist... Read More

Jun 2019

38 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Leslie Contreras Schwartz as she kicks off her two-year term as Houston Poet Laureate. The native Houstonian describes her plan to tackle mental health through poetry, and she reads “Roots” – a poem inspired by gardening and the urge to grow even under the harshest circumstances. Ernie Manouse talks with Dan Knechtges, artistic director of Theatre Under The Stars, about the rarely-staged 1989... Read More

May 2019

38 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse talks with Eddie George about his transition from football to theater. The Heisman Trophy winner and former Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan/Dallas Cowboy stars as “Billy Flynn” in the hit musical Chicago, which Society for the Performing Arts presents from June 4 – 9 at Jones Hall. Catherine Lu chats with violinist Zoë Miller, concertmaster of the touring Broadway production of Miss Saigon. A graduate of Rice University’s... Read More

May 2019

42 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu talks with Houston Ballet Principal Dancer, Jessica Collado, about her life as a dancer and her lead role in The Merry Widow, from May 31 – June 9 at the Wortham Center.  Ernie Manouse chats with Society for the Performing Arts CEO, Meg Booth, about joining the organization this past December and about SPA’s 2019 – 2020 season. Booth previously served for over a decade... Read More

May 2019

38 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Ernie Manouse chats with prolific actor Brett Cullen, who can be seen in Joker this fall with Robert DeNiro and Joaquin Phoenix. A University of Houston alum, Cullen is directing the World Premiere of Contradiction of the Southern Soul written by and starring Sally Mayes, at the UH Quintero Theatre from May 9-12. Catherine Lu samples the Houston Chamber Choir’s new CD with conductor, Robert Simpson, who... Read More

May 2019

41 min

In this episode of “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” Catherine Lu chats with Carleen Graham, director of HGOco, about Houston Grand Opera’s web opera series, Star-Cross’d. And Ernie Manouse explores the Alley Theatre’s upcoming 2019-2020 season with the company’s new Artistic Director, Rob Melrose. Share your comments, questions and ideas at UYCN@houstonpublicmedia.org.

May 2019

35 min

Join Ernie Manouse and Catherine Lu as they welcome their first guests to the podcast, “Unwrap Your Candies Now.” Ernie chats with director Marcia Milgrom Dodge about her new staging of the musical Ragtime, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, and brought lovingly to life by playwright Terrence McNally, lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty. Dodge was nominated for the 2009 Tony for her Kennedy Center production of this same show.  Catherine shares... Read More

May 2019

27 min

Hosts Ernie Manouse and Catherine Lu chat about what to look forward to on “Unwrap Your Candies Now,” including how they came up with the title, their passions and what they love about Houston’s arts scene. Share your comments, questions and ideas at UYCN@houstonpublicmedia.org.

Apr 2019

11 min

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