updated 12/8/2010 1:46:36 PM ET 2010-12-08T18:46:36

HOUSTON, Dec. 8, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ensemble Theatre will host its 10th Annual Santa at The Ensemble community service event benefiting underserved youth Sunday, December 19, 2010, 1:30p.m.- 4p.m.

Santa at The Ensemble is a day of entertainment, gifts, and activities provided to children from a variety of school programs and organizations offering social support services. The program has benefited nearly 3,000 children since it began nine years ago.

"Our goal is to touch the lives of our youth who are dealing with situations that require a little extra care during the holiday season," said Ensemble Board Member and event chair Renee Logans. "We look forward to creating an uplifting holiday experience for each child."

The children will see excerpts from The Ensemble Theatre's 2010-2011 Season holiday musical: The African American Shakespeare Company's Cinderella. Each child will also have pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Other activities include: an ornament making workshop, face painting, a lesson on healthy choices for food and go-green initiatives, a behind-the-scenes actor's rehearsal experience, and a special performance by The Ensemble Theatre's Young Performers.

The program was created by The Ensemble Theatre board as a way to give back to the community. Volunteers help run the event each year with The Ensemble Theatre Guild soliciting donations for toys and books. This year, Santa's helpers for the day of the event are from Alpha Kappa Omega Chapter of the A.K.A's, BP America, ExxonMobil, Houston Chapter of the Links, Schlumberger, Spectra Energy, and Act One, The Ensemble Theatre's new young professional's organization. All volunteers are welcome to participate in the theatre's endeavors to provide a memorable holiday season to youth in the community. This event is sponsored in part by H-E-B.

The Ensemble Theatre was founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins to preserve African American artistic expression and enlighten, entertain, and enrich a diverse community. The theatre is known as the only professional theatre in its region dedicated to the production of works portraying the African-American experience. In addition to being the oldest and largest professional African-American theatre in the Southwest, it also holds the distinction of being one of the nation's largest African-American theatres that owns and operates its facility with an in-house production team. 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 produces a main stage season of six contemporary and classic works devoted to the portrayal of the African American experience by local and national playwrights and artists. The theatre's Performing Arts Education program provides educational workshops, Artist-in-Residence experiences and live performances for students both off-site and at the theatre; and the Young Performers Program offers intensive summer training for youth ages seven to 17, encompassing instruction in all disciplines of the theatre arts. Through its varied programs, The Ensemble Theatre benefits an audience and artistic constituency of approximately 65,000 people annually.

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

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