I love Hamilton. You likely love Hamilton. It seems all of Houston has fallen for our touring revolutionary founding father. But this Ham-adoration has become a bit of a problem since we all can’t fit into the Hobby Center, even if we visit him in shifts for a month.
Yet one of the many things Hamilton has reminded us is the power of theater to enlighten, intrigue, and entertain. So, if you haven’t been able to snag that red-hot Hamilton ticket — or maybe you just went into anaphylactic sticker shock when discovering the price of some of those remaining tickets — we have a suggestion: Do continue to try the $10 ticket Hamilton lottery, but why not also take this unofficial Hamilton month to explore Houston’s homegrown theater scene. There’s a lot of powerful live drama, musicals, and comedies out there to experience from local theater companies and artists, so let’s take our seats for some extraordinary Houston performances.
The introduction of TodayTix to Houston means that it's even easier now to get theater tickets at a discount — you don't even have to leave your phone.
Last chance to see
West Side Story from Houston Grand Opera (now through May 6)
As with science, the arts sometimes reach great heights by standing on the shoulders of giants, and many contemporary musicals, including Hamilton, probably wouldn’t exist without Leonard Bernstein’s classic. With book by Arthur Laurents and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the star-crossed love tale of Tony and Maria still haunts us. HGO celebrates Bernstein’s 100-year birthday with an epic staging of one of his most celebrated creations.
Cabaret at Obsidian Theatre (now through May 5)
Edgy, dark, and in no way suitable for the whole family, Cabaret has beguiled audiences for more than 50 years. Obsidian’s intimate staging of the classic makes this beautiful and tragic journey into the artistic underworld of 1930s Berlin all the more relevant in the 21st century. Watch the performers of the Kit Kat Club continue to dance and sing showstoppers like “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Cabaret” — while the world outside catches fire.
(Obsidian reports the remaining performances are sold out, but they do offer a waitlist.)
Small Ball from Catastrophic Theatre (now through May 13)
Even if there existed a plethora of basketball musicals (there doesn’t), Mickle Maher’s Small Ball, with music by Merel van Dijk and Tony Barilla and produced by Rocket’s general manager Daryl Morey, would certainly stand tall above the rest. Absurd, fun, and poignant, this world premiere’s weird premise about a Lilliputian basketball team has garnered national attention. Give some love to the home dream team before its season ends.
Lilies of the Field from A.D. Players (now through May 13)
Looking for a little hope from a night at the theater? Perhaps turn to the A.D. Players and their simple tale of an army vet, a group of immigrant nuns, a small Latino community, and some chapel building. Based on the novel and Oscar winning film, Lilies bloom a very much timeless and timely inspirational story.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Stages Theatre (May 2-July 22)
Last year, when I spoke to Stages’ Kenn McLaughlin about programming their big 40th anniversary season, the artistic director revealed that he just had to bring back two of the most requested audience favorites, Always...Patsy Cline and Trailer Park. Patsy sang to sold-out crowds last summer and kept everyone’s spirits up as we recovered from Harvey. So as the season begins to wind down, it’s fitting that another musical of female bonding and friendship — albeit dressed in trailer park chic — takes the stage. If you like lots of comedy in your high melodrama, pull up a lawn chair and settle in for a spell at the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park. Get $30 tickets through TodayTix here.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at Ensemble Theatre (May 10-June 3)
No one does Pulitzer Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson’s work in Houston like Ensemble Theatre, and Ma Rainey is one of the greats of Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburg Cycle, the only one not actually set in Pittsburg. Sit in on this dramatization of a recording session of the legendary Blues singer Ma Rainey and find yourself falling into a sharp drama about art, race, power, and money.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile at the Alley Theatre (May 11-June 3)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a painter and a physicist walk into a Parisian bar in 1904, later to be joined by a Special Theory of Relativity-defying (or is it defining) troubadour. To hear the rest of the Steve-Martin-penned, reality-bending joke, you’ll have to join Einstein, Picasso, and the rest of the gang for a drink at the Lapin Agile.