Retail has nothing on the Houston theater community, as we’ve just entered November and already our favorite companies are decking their stage halls with Santa, Scrooge, family holiday reunions, and fairy tales with a Texas twist. But even those saying "Bah Humbug!" to this holiday lineup can find some thought and heart-provoking contemporary works, including the Tony darling Dear Evan Hansen.
So check out the best of Houston theater in November and maybe take some garlic instead of holly with you — as you watch out for vampires (read on for that).
Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play at Stages Theatre (November 6-December 16)
In this remix of the classic holiday story of a Macy’s Santa — who just might be the real thing warming the most cynical New Yorkers hearts — stage actors play old time radio actors bringing the show to life, live on-air. While a stage musical pretending to be a radio show depicting a post-war Christmas film classic might get a bit confusing, this Miracle could become one of the more charming holiday theatrical highlights of the season.
The Children at Rec Room (November 9-December 7)
In one of those plays where it's best to not know too much about the plot before seeing, a retired married couple who receives an unexpected guest seems to signal a domestic drama — but then becomes so much more. Three consistently great Houston actors (John Felch, Susan Koozin, and Sally Burtenshaw) take on this award-winning work by playwright Lucy Kirkwood, which wrestles with psychology, mortality, and what older and younger generations owe to each other and the world.
Dear Evan Hansen presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center (November 12-24)
While still burning up Broadway, this very contemporary story of a high school Evan and his series of bad decisions dances (awkwardly in Evan’s case) into Texas this month with Houston as its first stop. The Tony-winning musical poses timeless questions about love, connection, and acceptance, but tackles them in a social media age.
Pulsate: A Vampire Musical at Prohibition Theatre (November 13-21)
If Christmas cheer comes too early for you this year, at least one stage will continue to celebrate the spirit of Halloween this month with this world premiere musical from Houston-based playwright Faith Fossett. Billed as an electronic pop musical about vampires, witches, werewolves, and humans, the show will have an immersive staging at Prohibition Theatre with some of the action — including aerial wizardry, vampiric fighting and dancing — happening amid the audience.
More Than Christmas at Ensemble Theatre (November 14-December 29)
This world premiere musical from local playwright Celeste Bedford Walker might give audiences a familiar warm feeling, as the fictional Mercy family reunites for the holidays. For a Christmas family reunion “where there’s more than merriment behind each smile, and presents aren’t the only things that get unwrapped,” we’re guessing music, comedy, and familial mercy will be found under the tree.
A Christmas Carol at The Alley Theatre (November 15-December 29)
Though he’s still helming this Houston theatric tradition as director, this year James Black hands over the humbug mantle to long-time fellow company member David Rainey to play Scrooge. Expect friendly and frightening specters, time traveling ghosts, cute kids, a bizarre Ebenezer, Mrs. Dilber, Marley, and half the Houston theater community to play a carol-rousing role in this production.
Panto Hansel & Gretel at Stages Theatre (November 20-December 15)
For 10 years, Stages has made a world premiere British-styled panto with a Texas twist a holiday tradition. This time a trip into the woods gets both a Houston and meta-theatrical spin as would-be stage star parents lose their social media-obsessed kids in the forest. Stages panto character favorite Buttons has only two hours with one intermission to save the day, likely using his super hero powers of wild musical numbers. Audiences can expect to contribute to the mayhem with lots of cheers, boos, and character-saving shouts of “look behind you!”
Baby Screams Miracle from Catastrophic Theatre at the MATCH (November 22-December 15)
As November leads into December, if you’re still looking for theater with not a jiggle, elf, or flying caribou in sight, Catastrophic Theatre has a present for you. A family weathers quite the physical, emotional, and metaphoric storm that keeps coming back to haunt them. Look for themes of faith, family, and resilience, but likely without any heartwarming holiday goose giving.
The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley at Main Street Theater (November 23-December 22)
The hit sequel to Pride and Prejudice, Christmas at Pemberley, written by contemporary playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, gave Bennet middle sister, Mary, time to shine. Now, this sequel to the sequel takes the comedy downstairs on the same Christmas to see how the Darcy servants handle the crisis when the conniving Wickham shows up to see his estranged wife, Lydia. Expect ensuing comic chaos likely seasoned with Christmas renewal and romance.
Fully Committed at The Alley (November 26-December 29)
In probably the most unconventional of the holiday shows (while still technically keeping its Christmas status), this one-person comedy depicts the haggard life of Sam, a part-time actor and full-time reservations manager at one of New York’s trendiest restaurants. The Alley’s Dylan Godwin plays Sam as well 39 other characters, including his tormenting bosses and equally aggressive customers desperate to get a coveted table during the holidays.