At summer’s end, Houston theaters begin to harvest a colorful selection of the finest live stage shows. And while the temperature may still swelter, September rings in the new performing arts season for most area theaters companies, so expect the best in high drama, cool comedies, and even some experimental stagings for those wanting to live on the theatrical edge.
Here’s our CultureMap guide to the best of September theater:
Sister’s Back to School Catechism: The Holy Ghost and Other Terrifying Tales at Stages Theatre (now until October 13)
Ruler-wielding Sister is back to rule over Stages. She’ll usher her students into a Catholic educational mood while preparing us to resist the dark and delicious forces of Halloween. Each performance is always different from the next, thanks to class participation and the stern but deft audience-wrangling from the always fun, Houston and Stages favorite Denise Fennell, who plays Sister. Word of warning: if you chew gum, best bring enough for the whole class.
Override from The Landing Theatre Company in various locations (now until September 29)
Landing’s continues their innovative experiment in bringing theater up close and intimate throughout the city. This micro-theater project sets a new one-act play inside a real Houston home for an audience of 20 people. The latest, Override, by local playwright, Elizabeth A. M. Keel, even delves into a unique genre, the romanic comedy science fiction play, as two rival scientists try to create a machine that mimics human touch. The show will be performed in three different homes across the city throughout September.
A Chorus Line from Theatre Under the Stars at the Hobby Center (September 10-22)
The 1970s Tony-winning classic that first spotlighted the women and men of the line and made them the stars of the show gets revived as TUTS first production of their 51st season. This story that also explores the power dynamics between dancers, director and choreographer on stage might have get a 21st century perspective with TUTS bringing in acclaimed women to direct (Julie Kramer) and choreograph (Jessica Hartman).
The Hiding Place at A.D. Players (September 13-October 13)
This world premiere stage adaptation of the 1975 film holds dramatic onstage and offstage history. The Hiding Place depicts the true story of a Dutch family who hid Jewish families during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. A.D. Players founder Jeannette Clift George starred in the film, playing Corrie ten Boom. Along with being a tribute to the woman who contributed so much to theater in Houston, The Hiding Place marks the first work of a new initiative to develop plays and musicals for the company.
The Winter’s Tale at The Alley Theatre (September 13-October 13)
For his second directorial feat at the Alley since becoming artistic director, Rob Melrose brings one of Shakespeare’s most chaotic comedies to the Hubbard Stage with a lot of help from the acting company. Feuding kings, mistaken identities, star-crossed lovers, royals slumming it in nature, a lost baby, one magical statue, funny shepherds, and a pursuing bear make for a production of high and lowbrow mayhem. Melrose pays homage to his new home by moving the action from Bohemia to Texas.
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play at Ensemble Theatre (September 14-October 13)
Teen girl social wars are apparently a global phenomena, if this comedy set in a Ghanan boarding school is any indication. The reigning queen of the school has her sights set beyond the classroom to the Miss Universe Pageant, that is until a new smart and pretty face transfers into the school and threatens her social empire. Let’s see if the Ghanan version of fetch happens in this bitting social satire by Ghanaian-American playwright Jocelyn Bioh.
The Hard Problem at Main Street Theater (September 14-October 6)
Playwright Tom Stoppard is the contemporary master of bringing big science, politics, and cultural ideas down to a human level in all its messiness and beauty. In this latest play, the brain, human consciousness, and individuality become the mystery to be solved, or perhaps left unknown. Main Street has been a Stoppard champion for much of its history, so who better to produce this regional premiere.
Every Brilliant Thing at Main Street Theater (September 18-October 6)
The last show of the Houston Equity Festival, finds a home and a director at Main Street, with MST artistic director Rebecca Greene Udden helming and actor Shannon Emerick producing and starring in this one-actor show about growing up with a suicidal parent. But don’t expect an evening of solemn sadness. Word from productions across the pond is that this charming, Brilliant Thing brings laughter to the occasional tear.
Tragedy, a Tragedy from Catastrophic Theatre at the MATCH (September 27-October 20)
One of Catastrophic’s fave playwrights, Will Eno, turns a possible Earth-ending tragedy into an absurdest comedy about television news and how it filters the world for us. The play is almost two decades old, but we imagine director Tamarie Cooper, Catastrophic’s co-founder, will find renewed relevance for this production.