It’s getting hot out there, Houston. Perfect timing for cool new theater and dance to chill out to this June.
From tragic swans to wicked witches, devilish deals, a new take on a comic classic, and two new-play festivals, we’ve got a lot on our must-see list this month. Plus, it wouldn’t be a Houston theater summer without a new musical dancing mayhem revue from Tamarie Cooper and the Catastrophic Theatre crew.
Here are the hottest stage productions this June in Houston.
Wicked from Broadway at the Hobby Center (through July 2)
The show that defied gravity — and Broadway conventions and expectations — when it first took to broomstick in 2003 is back for a nice long stay at the Hobby Center.
Wicked still flies high, with Houston – and world-wide – audiences never getting enough of this story that redefines who’s good and who’s wicked in the land of Oz. Before Dorothy landed via tornado, two witchy legends went on a whole other adventure of sisterhood, love, family, heroism and the occasional flying monkey.
"Thank Goodness" Elphaba and Galinda have returned to bring some magic to our summer.
Swan Lake from Houston Ballet (June 8-18)
The exquisite tragedy makes a soaring return as the Houston Ballet performs one of the most beloved ballets of all time. This production has quite the history, as the Tchaikovsky-set Swan Lake was the first full-length story ballet that Stanton Welch created as Houston Ballet artistic director in 2006.
With costumes and set design inspired by John William Waterhouse’s painting The Lady of Shalott by the late Kristian Fredrikson, this Swan Lake has become a favorite of Houston dance lovers. It has also earned international praise after tour to the famed Tokyo Bunka Kaikan theater in Tokyo in October 2022.
Oh, and a 150-year-old spoiler alert: there’s no happy ending for this fairytale story of a maiden-turned--swan who falls in love with a prince, but what heights she flies along the way.
The Servant of Two Masters at Alley Theatre (June 9-July 2)
Alley Theatre artistic director Rob Melrose has translated and also adapted this Carlo Goldoni classic work of Commedia dell’arte that's both a world premiere — and a 200-year-old play.
Theater lovers might be a little more familiar with the modern adaptation, One Man, Two Guvnors, which the Alley also staged several years ago. But we hear Melrose, who also directs, will take his adaptation back to its original Italian roots with actors wearing the traditional costumes and masks of the traditional comedy style.
With the entire Alley resident acting company and additional Alley regulars in on the mayhem, expect lots of mistaken identities, outrageous disguises, star-crossed lovers with wacky, not tragic, destinies — and one hungry Harlequin.
Alley All New Festival at Alley Theatre (June 16-25)
The annual new play reading fest gives us the (free) chance to discover what may be the big theatrical thing.
This year brings the freshest new work from several up and coming and award winning women playwrights. Expect tales surrounding a love letter, rural girls and their horses, a DIY séance, a May/December romance, a medical thriller, and even a modern take on The Odyssey from Penelope’s POV.
This festival brings a multitude of voices and stories to the stage for a week of theatrical discoveries.
Thunder Knocking on the Door at Stages (June 16-August 6)
Stages closes out the ’22-’23 season with a bluesy deal with the devil that heats up into a unique love story across generations.
Weaving the music three-time Grammy Award winner Keb’ Mo’ into this family story, Thunder Knocking tells the story of a mysterious blues guitar-playing stranger who arrives in a small Alabama town with a musical challenge for the offspring of his late rival.
"Thunder Knocking on the Door is one of those magical experiences in the theatre where a simple family story transforms into an epic fairy tale,” says Stages artistic director Kenn McLaughlin. "There are so many theatrical surprises and so much joy, I still hold the first time I saw this show in 1998 as one of my favorite evenings in the theatre ever.”
Fade to Black Festival at MATCH (June 22-24)
Houston’s only national short play festival to spotlight the new works of African-American playwrights returns for its 11th year.
The guiding formula for the festival is 10-10, as it features 10 plays of 10-minute length that are all new works from a dynamic selection of playwrights.
Every year, the scripts go through an impressive selection process before the shows make it to full, 10-minute productions. Quite a few of the winning plays come from Houston playwrights, but also look for new works from exciting new voices from across the country.
Tamarie’s Totally True Revue (plus lies too!) from Catastrophic Theatre (June 23-August 5)
Tamarie’s back and daring us to discover the whole truth about her weird, wonderful world. As always, Tamarie brings a cool new musical theater revue to our sweltering summers.
Somehow, she also manages to get her crew of Catastrophic regulars into some of the most outrageous costumes, and dance routines of the year. We hear rumors that everyone from Tinkerbell, Pinocchio, Ben Franklin, Kenny Rogers, and Tamarie's psychic high school attendance clerk (!) will make an appearance to tackle the nature of truth, lies, and dental hygiene.
Smoke on the Mountain at A.D. Players (June 28-July 23)
Another feel-good summer show that brings a bit of music to our nights, this production transports audiences back to a 1938 Saturday night sing-a-long in a small community in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains.
Smoke features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling family music group making its return to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church after a five-year hiatus.
As each family member takes a turn sharing an important life event, one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true — and hilariously imperfect — natures, endearing themselves to us and allowing us to share in their triumphs.
Phenomenal Woman at Ensemble Theatre (June 29-July 30)
Ensemble partners with North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre for a “rolling world premiere” of this biographical depiction of the life of acclaimed American poet and icon, Maya Angelou.
This Phenomenal Woman takes us on an epic journey through her astonishing life story. From the trauma that thrust her into mutism, to the awakening that inspired her to write “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” audiences will experience this monumental, poetic spirit and discover how she developed one of the most celebrated voices of all time.