Naughty, naughty: New underground theater brings ax murderers, hardbodies and S&M to Houston stages

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Theatre Under the Stars, the otherwise family friendly presenter of happy musicals at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, has officially lost its innocence with the spawning of the organization’s newest alter ego.

Think of the recently launched TUTS Underground performance series as not akin to the bipolar Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but rather as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz dressed up in dominatrix duds — leather whip included — and slithering about shadowy alleys in search for a secret, dirty romp with a cross-dressing coterie of fetish-loving mortals sporting silver ties. It’s more than wicked (musical pun intended), and there’s no clicking heels to whisk you back home.

TUTS administrators describe these new offerings as edgy, captivating, rockin’ and risque — a far departure from the virginal, mother-approved shows like The Little Mermaid, Xanadu and Evita that are scheduled as part of the regular TUTS 2013-14 season.

Instead, TUTS Underground will present a quartet of works that include Lizzie (Oct. 10-20), based on the true story of Lizzie Borden, a Massachusetts ax murderer who was controversially acquitted of butchering her father and stepmother; 50 Shades! (Dec 17-22), a spoof on the erotically explicit novel by E.L. James; and Hands on a Hardbody (June 12-22, 2014), a musical based on a 1997 documentary in which 10 Texans vie to win a Nissan truck by being the last one to keep at least one hand on the vehicle. The fourth selection has not yet been determined.

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