Holiday Happenings Houston 2018
The Best Houston Holiday Shows

15 cutting-edge, classic, and comical stage shows heat up Houston's holiday season

15 cutting-edge, classic, and comical stage shows heat up Houston

Houston Ballet: Nutcracker, Allison Miller
The Nutcracker Ballet makes it triumphant return to the Wortham Center. (Allison Miller) Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Rec Room: Hansel and Gretel (2017)
Rec Room brings back its intimate Hansel and Gretel Photo by Natasha Gorel
Stages Theatre, The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged): Ronnie Blaine, Joseph "Joe P." Palmer, Gabriel Regojo
Stages Theatre puts on The Ultimate Christmas Show, starring Ronnie Blaine, Joseph "Joe P." Palmore and Gabriel Regojo. Photo by Amitava Sarkar
Alley Theatre, Christmas Carol: David Rainey, James Black
James Black is Scrooge once more in the Alley Theatre's Christmas Carol. (David Rainey and James Black). Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Main Street Theater:  Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Skyler Sinclair and Brock Hatton
The Pride and Prejudice story continues at Main Street with Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley Photo by Pin Lim
Catastrophic Theatre presents First Suburb
Catastrophic Theatre does counterprogramming with the world premiere comedy First Suburb Photo courtesy of Full Media Jacket
A.D Players: It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play!
It's a Wonderful Life becomes a radio play, play at A.D. Players.  Photo by Bohemian Photography
Houston Ballet: Nutcracker, Allison Miller
Rec Room: Hansel and Gretel (2017)
Stages Theatre, The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged): Ronnie Blaine, Joseph "Joe P." Palmer, Gabriel Regojo
Alley Theatre, Christmas Carol: David Rainey, James Black
Main Street Theater:  Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, Skyler Sinclair and Brock Hatton
Catastrophic Theatre presents First Suburb
A.D Players: It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play!

With the holidays upon us, it’s time to ask that eternal question once more. Sure we’ve loved spending quality time with all our visiting family and friends, but what do we do with them now? Have no fear, the Houston theater community has the answer with enough evenings and afternoon matinees shows to keep everyone entertained for two months.

Whether you’re looking for a traditional holiday story, a comedy for the whole family or a bit of adult me-time, there’s the perfect show for everyone. We’ve made a list you can check twice for the best winter theater.

Family fun

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas at Alley Theatre 
(runs through December 30)
James Black gives Santa a run for hardest working man of the season. After 11 years behind the scenes directing a Christmas Carol, James Black returns to the spotlight and Bah Humbugs once more. Black, who also maintains his role as interim artistic director will direct the entire Alley company in this year’s Carol while also playing everyone’s favorite grouchy miser. Expect a rousing, hilarious, intimate, must-see holiday classic. 

Panto Star Force at Stages Theatre
(runs through December 30)
A long, time ago in a country far far away (England), the holiday tradition Panto was born, balancing both the adult and kid theatrical forces, while giving fairytales a contemporary irreverent spin. For ten years, Stages has taken that tradition and Texas-ified it for silly fun for the whole family. This year watch the a heroic rebel band try to save the galaxy from the powerful Emperor Snorkelfish and Dark Tater.

It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play from A.D. Players
(November 28-December 23)
Houston actors play 1940s radio actors playing the cast of It’s a Wonderful Life broadcast on the radio. This new take on the beloved, feel good holiday story of a life remembered and renewed gets a fun comic twist as we see how the radio magic happens or doesn’t when what can go wrong probably will while the show must go on over the airwaves.

Elf the Musical at Queensbury Theatre
(December 6-23)
For those wanting some theatrical joy without a trip inside the Loop, Queensbury has you covered as they bring that singing human raised by Santa’s elves named Buddy to the CityCenter. Join Buddy’s musical journey south to find his bio dad and spread North Pole, Elfish earnestness to a jaded New York.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast from Theatre Under the Stars
(December 8-23)
As TUTS celebrates their 50th season they bring back a beastly (but beautiful) blast from the past. The Disney mega musical had its first tryout in Houston as a TUTS presentation before it hit Broadway and the rest is theatrical history. With new direction and choreography from Broadway choreographer, Chris Bailey, look for an old favorite to get at fairytale, magical transformation.

The Nutcracker Ballet from Houston Ballet
(runs through December 29)
Not technically theater, but our anticipation for Stanton Welch’s Nutcracker Ballet returning to the Wortham Center resembles a five-year-old waiting for Santa. We’ll join Clara and our favorite Prince (sorry Harry) as they battle a (frankly adorable) rat army and then journey to the Kingdom of Sweets for all the international dancing fun. 

Traditional twists

The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) at Stages Theatre
(runs through December 23)
What to do when all the acts scheduled for the the Annual Holiday Variety Show and Christmas Pageant at St. Everybody's Non-Denominational Universalist Church can’t get to the theater due to Houston’s cold (almost 50 degrees) weather? Three hapless but enthusiastic emcees are forced to frantically improvise a show that embraces every winter holiday ever. With mixes of satire and slapstick Christmas Show proves our three hosts, Ronnie Blaine, Joseph Palmore and Gabriel Regojo are some of Houston’s ultimate performers.

Christmas is Comin’ Uptown at Ensemble Theater
(runs through December 30)
Scrooge has a thousand faces every year and in this jazzy musical version, he’s a Harlem slumlord bent on foreclosing on a tenement house and church on Christmas. Will a gaggle of groovy ghosts change his mind and ways before dawn breaks? We’re betting there will be a bright Christmas for everyone in this tale.

Pride and Prejudice at 4th Wall Theatre
(November 29 – December 22)
With an exuberant, unconventional adaptation by Kate Hamill, and a cast of only eight (there’s five Bennet sisters alone in P&P) we’re looking for something of a contemporary sensibility in this classic, though we expect love will prevail no matter what.

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley at Main Street Theater
(runs through December 23)
Meanwhile in Rice Village, Main Street brings back their holiday hit from last year, the Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon penned sequel to Pride and Prejudice that gives the bookish sister Mary her own love story and flighty sister Lydia who cause all the commotion in Austen’s original gets a nice bit of redemption. A sweet, funny holiday treat with some nutritional value of sisterly love, we can see why Main Street brought it back for 2018.

Hansel and Gretel at Rec Room
(December 6-23)
Last year the sold out show for the season was this innovative adaptation of the classic Englebert Humperdinck fairytale opera. With a stark and scary forest set surrounding an audience of about 20 and a witch throwing baking ingredients in everyone’s hair, the show became intimate, in-your-face opera at its liveliest. The show expands this year to allow more people into each performance, but we’re betting the intensity will remain on high.

Naughty nights

A Drag Christmas Carol at Obsidian Theater
(November 29-December 15)
The ghosts of Christmas go glam instead of ghoulish as a compassionless politician gets, well, dragged into a new outlook by a group of working-it queenly ghosts in this original jukebox Christmas musical from Rhett Martinez and the gang at Obsidian Theater. Probably not your grandpa’s Dickens.

Who’s Holiday! at Stages Theatre
(December 5-30)
In this decidedly adult show, Cindy Lou Who, the adorable tike who saved Christmas from the Grinch, has reached 40, lives in a trailer on Mount Crumpit and boy has she seen some Seussicial shit in her time. Houston fav Bree Welch plays the bawdy, outrageous Cindy Lou, who has quite the story for you.

Edgy, alternative shows

First Suburb from Catastrophic Theatre
(runs through December 9)
There’s not a Claus or Scrooge in sight in this world premiere from Catastrophic Theatre by their playwright in residence, Chana Porter. Billed as comedy, though knowing Catastrophic probably an absurdist one, the play explores the suburban world of five preteens living in a new planned community in the early '90s, so before they would be classified as tweens. The Catastrophic regulars playing the adolescents should make for quite a story.

The Flick from Horse Head Theatre at Houston Warehouse Studios
(November 30-December 15)
Annie Baker's Pulitzer Prize-winning dark comedy explores the lives of three 20-something co-workers turned friends, who keep the movies going in a run-down movie palace. Horse Head has a history of creating unusual, immersive sets for many of their shows, so we’re looking forward to seeing them turn the 100-year-old studio space on the east side into a the interior of a movie house.