Houston theater never takes a vacation, so with three months of hot and humid days ahead, why not light up the nights with the coolest of comedies, musicals, drama, and a few experimental, cutting-edge shows.
In fact there’s so much live theater debuting June through August, it’s almost as if an arts genie appeared to grant us our every show wish. Oh wait, he has.
So with that in mind, we’ve rounded up 13 must-see shows to check out our summer.
The Three Musketeers at The Alley Theatre (now through June 30)
All for one (action packed theatrical summer) and one for all (of the family) as the Alley assembles a swashbuckling cast in lots of silly hats for Alexandre Dumas’ crowd pleaser. But sword wielding isn’t just for the boys, and in this Ken Ludwig adaptation, young hero d’Artagnan brings along his sister Sabine, who’s just as ready for some high-jumping dueling of her own.
Josephine Tonight at Ensemble Theatre (June 22-July 28)
The legendary Josephine Baker gets her own and much deserved musical bio in this show by Sherman Yellen with music by Wally Harper. With a focus on Baker’s early life and relationship with her mother, the production will likely reveal hidden facets for those who are familiar with the music icon, while introducing the actress/singer to a new generation of soon to be fans.
Disney’s Aladdin at the Hobby Center (June 26-July 14)
Sure you can see it at the cineplex, but wouldn’t you rather meet Aladdin, Jasmine, and especially everyone’s favorite wise cracking Genie live on stage? Broadway at the Hobby Center brings the musical blockbuster to town as to show Houston "A Whole New World” of fun.
West Side Story at A.D Players (June 28-July 28)
Last year was the 100th birthday of two artistic geniuses, composer Leonard Bernstein and director/choreographer Jerome Robbins. A.D. Players keeps the celebration going as they present one of the greatest works of both men, the Romeo and Juliet-inspired West Side Story. Get ready to rumble as the Sharks and Jets dance/fight while love blooms between star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria.
Broken Bone Bathtub presented by Dinolion, June 27-July 7
One of Houston’s primary creators of new immersive theater projects, Dinolion, is getting into the presenting (show) biz, as they bring in this internationally acclaimed theatrical work. The one-woman show will play in a real bathroom at a Houston home. After a serious bike accident, a young woman is forced to ask friends for help in everyday activities. The audience of only about 12 play the friends role but in such close bath quarters will likely become real life friends pretty quickly. Dinolion will divulge the location of bathroom/theater space with ticket purchase.
Speeding Motorcycle from Catastrophic Theatre at the MATCH (June 28-Aug 4)
Houston’s own theatrical dynamo Tamarie Cooper takes a break from creating her annual musical review this summer, but she’ll still be hard at work directing this rock opera that originally won national exposure for writer and Catastrophic co-founder Jason Nodler. Based on the music of influential Texas songwriter Daniel Johnston, Motorcycle tells the story of Joe the Boxer, who loses his mind when his true love marries an undertaker. With cameos from characters of Johnston’s mythology, including Jeremiah the Frog, Captain America, and Casper the Friendly Ghost, we expect nothing less than brilliant madness from this Cat offering.
The Doyle and Debbie Show at Stages Theatre (July 12-September 8)
Stages 2019-2020 season officially begins this summer with a musical comedy that sounds a bit like A Star Is Born meets a Christopher Guest film. When a several-times divorced, fading country music star needs a new partner he picks a talented unknown, his third Debbie, but will she soon eclipse him? With songs like “When You’re Screwin’ Other Women (Think of Me)” and “Barefoot and Pregnant,” the show looks to play fond parody tribute to classic country western duos.
Private Lives at Main Street Theater (July 14-Aug 11)
If you’re in the mood for some high sparkling comedy, well no one did it better than Sir Noël Coward. A volatile divorced couple end up in adjacent rooms at the same hotel while each is on their honeymoon with a new spouse. What could go wrong as old and new love create three acts of sparks and the wittiest of repartee? For Main Street patrons wanting to immerse themselves in the high society hijinks, the company is hosting a special gala performance July 20th benefitting the theater.
Seussical from Theatre Under the Stars at Miller Outdoor Theatre (July 16-21)
A most famous cat in a stylish top hat tells quite a tale filled with elephants, green eggs, a judging turtle, and many fine citizens of Who-ville in this musical wonderland based on Dr. Seuss books. As part of a new TUTS initiative, as many as 100 community members from TUTS Public Works Houston join a cast of professional actors for the production. With students from the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and The River Performing and Visual Arts Center also participating, Seussical will have the largest cast ever on stage in a TUTS production.
Woyzeck at Rec Room (July 17-August 3)
The 19th century German playwright Georg Büchner died before he could complete this unfinished masterpiece, so writers from all over the world have been playing with it ever since. This world premiere new version by Maurielle McGarvey takes this tale of love, jealousy, and murder, and puts it in suburban America in homes filled with adolescent anxiety. Rec Room is giving the production a “for mature audiences” warning, so we’ll be there opening night.
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express at The Alley (July 19-August 25)
Move over Christmas Carol. That other favorite seasonal theatrical tradition, Summer Chills, is back at the Alley, and they’re bringing in OG detective Hercule Poirot, once again played by Houston acting treasure James Black. Get your ticket to ride the ultimate murder train, and if you already know whodunit in Christie’s most famous tale, well it’s all about the thrill of the killing journey.
Shakespeare Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre (August 2-11)
It wouldn’t be a theatrical summer without Shakespearean drama and comedy in Hermann Park. This year brings Julius Caesar, filled with political intrigue and in performance much better than what you remember from 10th grade English. For those looking for romance, head into the woods for As You Like It. The title says it all.
Rent at the Hobby Center (August 6-11)
Summer becomes the season of love as the 20th anniversary touring production of the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical phenomenon dances into Houston, and the artists and outcasts of NY’s East Village, struggling to pay the rent, remind us to measure life in love.