Arts Update

Wortham Center closed until May but Theater District performing arts companies stay Houston Strong

Wortham Center closed until May but Houston performing arts play on

Wortham Theater Center being repaired after Hurricane Harvey
The Wortham Theater Center is beginning to undergo repairs but will not open until May, 2018, at the earliest. Courtesy of Houston First
Houston Ballet performs George Balanchine's Symphony in C
The Houston Ballet may take the Wortham stage soon but will celebrate Houston's resilience at a benefit performance on September 27. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Alley Theatre Harvey Recovery
The Alley Theatre hopes to have its Hubbard Stage operational in time for Christmas Carol in November.  Photo by Tarra Gaines
Jason Moran
Houston native Jason Moran will perform at Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes on September 27 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Photo by Clay Patrick McBride
Wortham Center Harvey Repair
Repairs continue on the Wortham Center. Photo by Tarra Gaines
Wortham Center Harvey Recovery view from Preston
Extensive water damage from Hurrican Harvey will keep the Wortham Center closed until May 2018.  Photo by Tarra Gaines
Wortham Theater Center being repaired after Hurricane Harvey
Houston Ballet performs George Balanchine's Symphony in C
Alley Theatre Harvey Recovery
Jason Moran
Wortham Center Harvey Repair
Wortham Center Harvey Recovery view from Preston

Harvey’s waters may have receded from downtown, but we now know the Theater District will need many more months to rebuild and bring Houston’s glorious performing arts back to all its stages. Houston First, the corporation that manages the Wortham Center, Jones Hall and the Theater District parking, announced late Monday that the Wortham Center will be closed for repairs at least until May 15, 2018 “in a best case scenario.”

Twelve feet of water flooded the basement of the Wortham on August 27, and while it does not appear that the building suffered structural damage, Houston First states “there has been extensive damage to at least one-third of the building’s 60 air handling units and to the elevators.”

Though Jones Hall suffered considerably less damage than the Wortham and the building has now been cleared for occupancy, accessible restrooms required by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) must be reconstructed before public performances can resume.

Houston Art Strong
While the Theater District continues the long process of recovery, its performing arts organizations have come together to offer Houston a celebration of our strength and resilience. On September 27 at Miller Outdoor Theatre, those organizations will present Houston Strong: A Theater District Benefit Honoring Local Heroes. The local star-studded free performance event and benefit brings together Theater District artists for one night of dance, music, drama and beauty in motion.

With performances from seven of the Theater District’s resident companies — Alley Theatre, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Society for the Performing Arts and Theatre Under The Stars — it will be a gathering of world-class Houston talent on one stage that the city has likely never seen.

A few already announced selections on the program include the Houston Ballet performing George Balanchine’s Symphony in C; a special appearance by jazz pianist and Houston native Jason Moran presented by Da Camera, and a Houston Grand Opera performance of “Make Our Garden Grow” from Candide.

Donations to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will be accepted on-site during the event, online at www.ghcf.org or by texting HARVEY2017 to 91999. Contributions are tax-deductible and will go toward relief for victims affected by the recent floods.

Moving On
Even while the companies plan this celebratory performance, many are also working to bring their fall productions to Houston audiences as soon as possible. Here’s the latest updates on cancelations, schedule changes and venue moves. 

Alley Theatre
The world premiere Rajiv Joseph play Describe the Night has debuted as scheduled with a venue change to the Quintero Theatre at University of Houston. Unfortunately, the Alley must reschedule the other world premiere, Cleo, from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright which was supposed to be the first play of the season in the Hubbard Theater. The Hubbard stage sustained no damage during the storm, but the building’s electrical system did. Cleo will still reign next year, April 6-29.

The Alley has managed to reshuffle the spring season so no production will need to be completely canceled with the exception of performances of the annual holiday Santaland Diaries. The Alley continues to work towards bringing all the Christmas Carol ghosts back to haunt the Hubbard by November 17. They also expect to debut the restored Neuhaus Theatre on February 9, 2018,  with the world premiere of Suzane Vega’s Lover, Beloved: An Evening with Carson McCullers.

Houston Symphony
Those ongoing repairs to Jones Hall have forced the Houston Symphony to also make venue changes. The originally scheduled program, Andrés Conducts Schumann, has been replaced with a new concert, Beethoven and Piazzola, taking place Friday, September 22, and Saturday, September 23, at Rice University’s Stude Hall.

The Garrison Keillor presentation remains as scheduled on Monday, September 24, but has moved to Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston. The Russian Masters performances will also take place at Rice University’s Stude Hall. The Thursday, September 28, and Saturday, September 30, performances will go on as scheduled but the Sunday, October 1, performance moves from the afternoon to 7:30 p.m.

Society for the Performing Arts
SPA generally presents artists from around the world in Jones Hall and the Wortham Center, and therefore many of its fall performances had to be canceled though they will work with the artists to try to reschedule. Those announced cancellations are MOMIX Opus Cactus (September 15) at Jones Hall, ODC/Dance The Velveteen Rabbit (September 21 – 23), and Yekwon Sunwoo: 2017 Cliburn Gold Medal Winner (September 28) at the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater, as well as the annual A Taste of SPA event, which was scheduled for October 11.

The Penn & Teller performance, originally scheduled for October 13 has also been cancelled but SPA is looking at rescheduling the duo for later in the 2017-2018 season.

Da Camera
The first performance of Da Camera’s 30th anniversary season, the Harlem Quartet and Cuban pianist and composer Aldo López- Gavilán performing From Harlem to Havana, will go on as planned on September 23 but with a move to Christ Church Cathedral, just a few blocks down Texas Ave from its original venue at the Wortham.

As part of its anniversary celebration, Da Camera’s presents Houston with a program of free Beethoven string quartet concerts. The first, Harlem Quartet’s performance of Beethoven: String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, “Hero” will take place as scheduled at the Menil Collection, September 24.