The Society for the Performing Arts has recently announced its 2019-2020 season, and it is certainly a high-calibre list of who’s-who performers. It’s quite the power lineup from Houston's leading, multidisciplinary, performing-arts presenter, which has been around for over 50 years.
“Throughout the season, we celebrate extraordinary artistic collaborations and inspirational artists,” says Meg Booth, SPA’s new CEO. “We’re proud to present many Houston debuts as we continue to introduce the next generation of virtuosic artists.”
Here is a rundown of who and what will be performing at either Jones Hall, Cullen Theater, Zilkha Hall, and Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Drama, drums, and high-flying spectacle
Of course, SPA will offer up some serious Broadway fare. The Tony-winning musical version of Alice Walker's The Color Purple (January 3-4) will come to Houston in an all-new revitalized production, and STOMP (January 23-25) will celebrate 25 years of being in NYC with an inventive and invigorating stage show.
Internationally acclaimed percussion crew Drum TAO (March 27) returns to SPA with a new modern, high-energy show that showcases the ancient art of Japanese drumming, while The Peking Acrobats (February 22), a troupe of China’s most gifted tumblers, contortionists, jugglers, cyclists, and gymnasts, will mesmerize folks with their death-defying antics.
SPA will also have Chicago-based Manual Cinema performing, for the first time in Houston, with its multimedia production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (October 30). Handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music will be used to create an immersive visual retelling of the monster story for the stage and screen.
A host of shows will wow audiences with the art of dance this season. MacArthur “genius” Kyle Abraham and A.I.M (Abraham in Motion), his phenomenal contemporary dance company in their Houston debut, will perform the world premiere of An Untitled Love (June 4-5), SPA’s first commission in five years.
Bon Iver & TU Dance will come through with Come Through (February 20-21), a fusion of contemporary dance and brand-new music, performed live by Bon Iver. Martha Graham Dance Company (October 18) returns to Houston for the first time in 15 years, performing Chronicle and other works from The EVE Project, which celebrates the hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
And Mark Morris Dance Group will present Pepperland (January 30-31), a unique tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
This season's Music Series has a diverse collection of heavy hitters. The whole season kicks off with legendary, eccentric actor Jeff Goldblum performing jazz standards with his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra (September 20).
Latin Grammy winner Lila Downs (March 6) will be singing songs in Spanish, English, and the languages of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Mahuati cultures. Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will give us French Enchantment (January 16), a program that begins and ends with early works by Saint-Saëns and Fauré.
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet (May 16) will honor the centennial of their iconic father, Dave Brubeck, and Black Violin (April 7) will come with an electrifying mix of hip hop and classical music. And let's not forget that Broadway legend Bernadette Peters (November 2) will show up and woo the crowd for an evening.
SPA will also bring in some funny people. Former Tonight Show host and recent John Oliver target Jay Leno (December 6) will be in town for a show. TV vets Jane Lynch (Glee) and Kate Flannery (The Office) will team up for Two Lost Souls (November 8), their comedy/cabaret show. Longtime Carol Burnett cohort Vicki Lawrence will do Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show (May 8) for Mother's Day weekend.
And for all y'all who love straight-up witty folk, famed author and essayist David Sedaris (November 1) will be discussing his latest book, Calypso.
There will be several, elaborate shows in store for the kiddies. Wild Kratts LIVE 2.0 - Activate Creature Power! (January 26), the theatrical production based on the Emmy-nominated PBS Kids series, will bring audiences along on a wild ride with a mix of live-action and animation.
After the whole fam has celebrated Christmas, y'all can check out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (December 26-27). And fresh off of Broadway, the award-winning The SpongeBob Musical (June 23-28) will make its Houston debut for eight shows, ending the season on a very fun note.
For more information, tickets, and showtimes, visit the Society for the Performing Arts.