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Houston Lawyers Honor The City’s Resilience After Harvey Through Song And Dance

“Clash of the Counselors” is the newest iteration of a long-standing Houston tradition of lawyers entertaining for charity through a program called Night Court

Actors gather backstage for a dress rehearsal of this year’s Night Court musical.

Despite the unprecedented devastation, Hurricane Harvey proved that Houston stands strong and stands together in times of need. One year later, a group of lawyers is honoring that resilient spirit in song and dance, in a Harvey-themed original production called “Clash of the Counselors”.


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The musical is the newest iteration of a long-standing Houston tradition of lawyers entertaining for charity through a program called Night Court.

Each year a group of Houston-based lawyers join forces to put on an original musical production at the Hobby Center.

The show started more than 25 years ago as a series of skits. Over the years, it's grown into a massive production that earns some $100,000 for legal charities.

“People liked lawyer jokes, people love to make fun of lawyers. It's a topic with lots of jokes,” said Debra Baker, who writes the show each year and has involved for decades.

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Debra Baker wrote “Clash of the Counselors” and has raised funds for legal charities through Night Court for over 25 years.

“It's the closest you can come to playing like a kid as an adult, because you put on costumes, you say silly things, you run around we've had men dressed up as women, women dressed up as men,” Baker said.

Michael Cunningham or ‘Boris’ gets into character backstage at “Clash of the Counselors”.

Baker said attorneys of all talent levels are involved.

“It's their chance to get up and do something,” she said. “A lot of them have never been on a stage, they don't know upstage from downstage.”

And, yet, the group manages to pull off a fully choreographed, original production with live music, multimedia, costumes and a set.

The show often tackles topical issues, which is why Baker said the obvious theme for this year was Harvey and how Houston came together after the flood.

“The world watched us in this amazing time. Every news channel, everybody in the world knew what was happening,” Baker said, “We wanted to really do a testament back and say this is a challenging year but what a great city we live in and everybody stepped up and helped each other.”

Even the cast helped each other after Harvey. The actor playing Zeus saw his mother's house flood during the storm. Cast member Angela Wood says she came to their aid.

“Several of us, after the storm, got together and helped him remediate his mother's house, so being together helps us remember those memories, but it also helps us think about where we were a year ago,” Wood said.


In the show, songs like “I've Lost My Home”, which is based on the song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, is paired with news footage of Harvey.

Afterwards, “Houston Strong”, based on the song “Thunder”, shows the city's resilience. Mattress Mack even makes a cameo.

But “Clash of the Counselors” has a lot of levity, too. The show features Greek gods and goddesses, Russian spies and Wonder Woman. It also touches on political issues like the #MeToo movement and global warming.

“Clash of the Counselors” runs Friday and Saturday evening at the Hobby Center with proceeds go to legal charities like Lone Star Legal Aid and Tahirih Justice Center.

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