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Your Summer Guide

Houston's hottest summer theater: Full frontal nudity, rich boobs behaving badly and a Falstaff party titillate

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Fallen Angels at Main Street Theater with Crystal O'Brien and Lisa Villegas
Noel Coward's Fallen Angels at Main Street Theater with Crystal O'Brien and Lisa Villegas. Photo courtesy of © RicOrnelProductions.com
Starring Susan Koozin and David Wald, Pete ‘n’ Keely at Stages Repertory Theatre
Pete ‘n’ Keely at Stages Repertory Theatre starring Susan Koozin and David Wald. Photo by © Bruce Bennett
Houston Shakespeare Festival July 2014 Two Gents Amelia Fischer as Julia, Kyle Curry as Proteus, Kiara Feliciano as Silvia and Crash Buist as Valentine.
Houston Shakespeare Festival's Two Gents with Amelia Fischer as Julia, Kyle Curry as Proteus, Kiara Feliciano as Silvia and Crash Buist as Valentine. Photo courtesy of University of Houston
Pollywog from Mildred's Umbrella poster
Promotional poster for Pollywog at Mildred's Umbrella. MildredsUmbrella.com
Fallen Angels at Main Street Theater with Crystal O'Brien and Lisa Villegas
Matthew C. Logan presents Equus
Starring Susan Koozin and David Wald, Pete ‘n’ Keely at Stages Repertory Theatre
Houston Shakespeare Festival July 2014 Two Gents Amelia Fischer as Julia, Kyle Curry as Proteus, Kiara Feliciano as Silvia and Crash Buist as Valentine.
Pollywog from Mildred's Umbrella poster
News_Tarra Gaines_head shot_column mug

If Houston theater lovers are finding this summer particularly hot, it might be because beloved Alley Theatre staple the Summer Chills series has been put on ice this year as the Alley make its temporarily move to the University of Houston for the 2014-2015 season. A great alternative to all the explosion fests going on at the multiplex in past years, Summer Chills was a favorite of both the mass seasons subscription holder and the downtown-phobic suburbanite who only ventured into the theater district for a good mystery.

But perhaps a Chill-less summer might be a chance for us to take a dive into some other cool summer theater we might have overlooked in the past in a rush to see our old friend Agatha Christie. Let’s all try to be a little theatrically adventurous this year, because there’s something for almost every type of theater-goer, even the ones more comfortable in front of the television.

From light summer fun to three world premieres and a 40th anniversary visit from the Bard, here’s my show guide for when you’re ready to take some timeout for a summer theater chillout.

Fallen Angels at Main Street Theater
(runs through Aug. 3)

With their husbands away playing golf (or are they?), The Real Housewives of London, 1920s season, are on their own for a weekend of drunken truth-telling, man-swapping, French lover humping and quite possibly some much deserved wig snatching. Luckily, one sassy maid is there to keep it real, and provide musical accompaniment.

 This lightest of summer champagne might just remind you that the joy of watching rich boobs behave badly is timeless. 

Sure the dialogue is pure, sparkling Noël Coward, but the Main Street production of this lightest of summer champagne might just remind you that the joy of watching rich boobs behave badly is timeless.

Pete ‘n’ Keely at Stages
(runs through Aug. 31)

Here’s the premise: it’s 1968 and American’s former singing sweethearts Keely and Pete are back together, in living color, for a post-divorce live reunion special on NBC. They’re ready to croon all their past hits to each other while waiting for commercial breaks to reveal the true story behind the music. And you, the audience, get to play the swinging 1960s NBC studio audience, so think about your character’s motivation and practice your cued clapping before heading down to Stages.

For bonus points, YouTube some Sonny and Cher videos for what-to-wear inspiration and see if you can out fab the glorious retro costumes Houston favorites Susan Koozin and David Wald quick change in and out of throughout the show.

Equus at Frenetic Theater
(runs through Aug. 2)

Houston director Matthew C. Logan was so passionate about mounting (apologies to the pun allergic) this new production of the Peter Shaffer’s contemporary classic psychological twist on a boy and his horse tale, Logan even Kickstarted it. The production is also his MFA thesis.

For the serious theater connoisseurs out there, this revival will be a chance to revisit the Tony award-winning play that shocked audiences in the 1970s with its exploration of sexual awakenings, spirituality and violence. Logan has stated his production will also be influenced by Native American and tribal forms of worship. For the shallow there’s always the warning of equal opportunity full fontal nudity to get butts in the seats.

World Premieres from Horse Head Theatre, Catastrophic Theatre and Mildred’s Umbrella

The ladies are doing it for themselves around town. It, of course, being writing stunning new plays.

Houston playwright Abby Koenig turns infertility into a dark comedy in Spaghetti Code. Tamarie Cooper and what seems like half the Houston theater acting community sing a biting yet joyful ode to our national capitalization and corruption of holidays in A Very Tamarie Christmas. (You’ll never take Arbor Day for granted again.)

 Yes, a good red wedding can get the blood pumping, but there’s still no party like a Falstaff party. 

Meanwhile, Mildred’s Umbrella debuts Pollywog, a new play by Keian McKee. I sometimes feel like my brain has crashed and needs a reboot after catching a production from the always innovative Mildred’s Umbrella, so I’m curious to see how director Matt Huff will stage this story of a woman’s ocean swim with her dead mother’s ashes accompanied by her imaginary swim idols Esther and Johnny (Williams and Weissmuller, I presume).

The play runs July 31 through Aug. 16 at Spring Street Studios.

Henry IV, Part 1 at Miller Outdoor Theatre
(runs alternating with Two Gentlemen of Verona Aug 1 through the 10th)

Any Game of Thrones fans already having withdraw symptoms should head to Miller for Houston Shakespeare Festival’s 40th anniversary season as they present, for the first time in the festival's 40-year history, this chapter in the original recipe fictionalization of the Wars of the Roses. There likely won’t be any dragons, but no one writes drinking, whoring, palace intrigue, civil wars and princely daddy issues — all in iambic pentameter — like the Bard.

Yes, a good red wedding can get the blood pumping, but there’s still no party like a Falstaff party.

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