We’re going on quite the theatrical odyssey this month, from psychological horror to a wedding comedy, to the hunt for the ultimate sandwich.
Houston stage fans can expect many world premieres, including new Texas stories, many award-winning playwrights and great performances from some of our favorite local actors.
Misery from Dirt Dogs Theater Company (now through March 18)
This different horror story, originally from Stephen King, takes fandom love to a thriller level, as a successful romance author, Paul Sheldon, is rescued from an isolated car accident by his “number one fan”, Annie Wilkes.
Taking a look at a copy of Paul’s latest, still unpublished novel, Annie has some notes and powerful incentives for Paul to change the ending. The play by Oscar-winning screenwriter and novelist in his own right, William Goldman – who also wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film – explores how fictional worlds have the power to turn comfort into obsession.
Adding to the twisted fun is the cast of Dirt Dog’s artistic director Malinda L. Beckham as superfan and occasional hostage-taker Annie and company CEO Trevor B. Cone as writer Paul.
Cowboy Bob at the Alley Theater (now through March 26)
This world premiere musical is inspired by the true Texas story of Peggy Jo Tallas, bank robber extraordinaire whose series of unarmed robberies made her Texas infamous. Disguising himself as a man with a signature fake mustache and cowboy hat, Tallas set off a string of successful robberies in the 1990s.
After being caught and serving time in prison, she took up her trade again in the early 2000s when she was in her 60s. With a book by Galveston’s own Molly Beach Murphy, the new musical tells the story through the eyes of a restaurant waitress desperate to try her bland life and wake up to all that is possible.
Composer Jeanna Phillips sets the music for the heist with a multi-genre score that shifts from country to punk to folk and indie rock.
Another city from Houston Grand Opera (March 9-11)
The latest world premiere opera from HGO, a commission from their Song of Houston series, gives voice to Houstonians experiencing homelessness.
To set these stories to music, composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann conducted first-hand research and listening sessions with members of the homeless community and the entities that have led the charge to help them. The opera is located at the Beacon, the real downtown organization that provides services to those experiencing homelessness, and asks the question: how can we bridge the gap between the city we can see and the one we can’t – a city that is around us but invisible, hiding himself in plain sight?
The site-specific performance at Ecclesia Houston will utilize Ecclesia’s space, allowing artists to move in and around a central platform for an immersive audience experience.
Summer and smoke from Houston Ballet (March 9-19)
For this year’s first production of mixed lines, HB presents a touch of classic, modern and very new with this lineup and a mirrored talent showcase for the men and women of the company. Featuring seven men and one woman, and set to music by Bach, artistic director Stanton Welch’s Clear reveals the power of openness in movement.
In contrast, George Balanchine’s neoclassical ballet, Concerto Barocco, also set to Bach, has a cast of 10 women and one man. Next, HB goes theatrical with the world premiere of the internationally renowned choreographer Cathy Marston’s Summer and Smoke.
Based on the Tennessee Williams play, the early 20th century narrative ballet tells the love story of the minister’s daughter Alma, and aspiring doctor John, as they try to find the balance between the pulls of faith and science that keep them apart.
Denise Fennell’s the Bride, or: This dress makes me look married on the stages (March 10-May 14)
Our favorite holiday nun wears a completely different veil in this partially true comedy written by Denise Fennell herself with actor/writing partner and spouse Rick Pasqualone.
As the famous veteran nun in a number of Stages productions by LNCTU (Late Nite Catechism theatrical Universe), it looks like Fennell will world premiere this bridal comedy in Houston with Stage’s artistic director Kenn McLaughlin directing.
With less than two hours until her wedding, a bride of a certain age begins to question the meaning of love, life and the rituals of marriage. Fennell certainly knows a thing or two about wedding dramatic glamor as the real-life Fennell/Pasqualone wedding made New York Times-style headlines in 2021.
The Book of Mary (It costs a lot to be real) on MATCH (March 23-April 9)
Photo courtesy of Stages
Stages presents Denise Fennell’s The Bride, or: Does this dress make me look married?
An icon of local theater, Mary Hooper gives us a behind-the-scenes look at not only life as a performer, but Houston’s arts scene over the decades.
This one-woman show written by Hooper tells it like it really is: from her Beaumont beginnings as a shy child of deaf parents and her timely escape to the gayborhood of Montrose in the 70s and 80s, to her adventures in the stage in Houston’s many states away off Broadway theater scene.
In keeping with its deep Houston roots, the show is directed by Ted Swindley, founder of Houston’s Stages theater and writer of the local favorite musical, Always … Patsy Cline.
Sanctuary City from 4th Wall Theater (March 23–April 15)
In keeping with this season’s selection of the hottest contemporary plays, 4th Wall teams up with another Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Martyna Majok, for this story of two DREAMers trying to find a place for themselves in the only home they’ve ever known , United States
Friendship is their true refuge as they grow up, but time may lead them to a different future. The production is directed by 4th Wall co-founder Philip Lehl and stars two up-and-coming Houston favorites Raven Justine Troup and Luis Quintero as G and B.
Clyde’s at the Ensemble Theater (March 23-April 16)
Can we find meaning in the perfect sandwich? (Editor’s Note: Yes.) What if it is creation—the sandwich, that is—itself that brings us redemption?
Such questions are comically explored in this Broadway romance from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. Clyde’s is one of the most produced contemporary plays in the country right now, so we’re excited to have Ensemble try Houston in this story chronicling the lives of a group of formerly incarcerated kitchen staff at a truck stop sandwich shop.
Even as the shop’s callous owner, Clyde, tries to keep them under her thumb, these sandwich chefs find purpose and permission to dream in their shared quest to make the perfect sandwich.
The Odyssey at the Alley Theater (March 24–April 23)
For this modern twist on the ancient story, Nobel Prize-winning author Derek Walcott takes inspiration from his native Trinidad, giving Odysseus’ epic journey home after the war a Caribbean soundtrack.
Homer even becomes a character in the story as the blind singer Billy Blue, providing commentary on Odysseus and the crew’s adventures at sea. Houston-raised, now NY stage and film actor, Gabriel Lawrence plays Odysseus in a cast of Alley company members, Houston favorites and New York actors.
“This amalgamation of worlds, ancient Greece and the mid-century Caribbean, is creative, clever and epic. In the grandeur of it all, Walcott demonstrates how the search for home, honor and connection feels universal, says director Christopher Windom.