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15 can't-miss Houston stage shows to kick off 2019, including a host of world premieres

15 can't-miss Houston stage shows to kick off 2019

2017-2018 national tour of The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon opens at the Hobby Center January 15. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Sfereco meatball
Mistaken identities bring wedding hijinks in the world premiere The Carpenter at the Alley Theatre. Wade McCollum (Gene) and Ken Wulf Clark (Dan). Photo courtesy of Sfereco
Catastrophic Theatre-Wakey, Wakey: Ken Webster
Catastrophic Theatre, Austin's Hyde Park Theatre and the University of Houston partner to bring acclaimed playwright Will Eno's latest Wakey, Wakey to Houston.  Photo by Bret Brookshire
Main Street Theater, The Secretary: Elizabeth Marshall Black, Alice Gatling, Bree Welch
Elizabeth Marshall Black, Alice Gatling and Bree Welch star in the comedy The Secretary at Main Street Theater.  Photo by RicOrnelProductions
Landing Theatre, Between Two Caves: Anna Maria Morris and Camron Alexander
Landing Theatre Company brings back this micro-play and critics' favorite Between Two Caves to a home near you. Anna Maria Morris and Camron Alexander in the original 2018 production.  Landing Theatre courtesy photo
Rogue Productions: Two Mile Hollow cast
The cast of Rogue Productions' Two Mile Hollow celebrate the holidays.  Rogue Productions courtesy photo
2017-2018 national tour of The Book of Mormon
Sfereco meatball
Catastrophic Theatre-Wakey, Wakey: Ken Webster
Main Street Theater, The Secretary: Elizabeth Marshall Black, Alice Gatling, Bree Welch
Landing Theatre, Between Two Caves: Anna Maria Morris and Camron Alexander
Rogue Productions: Two Mile Hollow cast

Houston theaters have only just packed up their holiday blazers and put away the Dickensian costumes, but they’re already raring to deliver some sizzling drama, comedy, and musicals for the dark winter months. From Latino fairytales to wedding hijinks to seniors on the lam to the wisdom of dying eccentrics, January and February bring a flurry of staged stories for all our imaginations.

Here’s a guide to all the live theater we can’t wait to experience this winter.

The Book of Mormon presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center, January 15-20
The outrageous show that converted Broadway and later the world by offending absolutely everyone makes another Houston stop on this latest U.S tour. Elder Price, Elder Cunningham and the whole missionary gang sing the Tony award winning good (though somewhat blasphemous) word about the redemptive power of storytelling.

Between Two Caves from Landing Theatre, January 17 – January 27
This two player comedy about modern conspiracy theory culture got major critical acclaim when they world premiered this play back in the fall. This “micro” show with an under hour run time is performed in the living room of local homes. Then February 7-17 Landing presents another commissioned work by the same local playwright, Brendan Bourque-Sheil. The world premiere Uncharted depicts the relationship between two half-sisters who recently found each other.

The Carpenter at Alley Theatre January 18-February 10
This Texas-set world premiere farce from Cypress, Texas-born playwright Robert Askins takes a wedding party, long lost relatives, angry strippers, a DYI gazebo building, and mistaken identity to the ultimate comic extremes. The Carpenter had an early workshop production in 2017 as part of the Alley All New play reading festival and helps launch this year’s fest, which also begins January 18.

Lionshare from Dinolion January 22-February 3
In 2017 the innovative video and production company Dinolion presented the beautifully creepy and provocative site-specific immersive theater experience Red House. That ambitious production resembled the kind of immersive theater like Sleep No More and Then She Fell, usually only found in New York or London.

Now, they’re back with a new production involving the creative work of 40 artist collaborators and inspired by and using the music of local composers Merel van Dijk and Anthony Barilla who wrote the songs for Catastrophic Theatre’s world premiere Small Ball last year. This project is so mysterious we only know that it will occur at a secret Midtown location, but we do know we’ll be there.

The Secretary at Main Street Theater January 19 – February 10
Only the second production of this new offbeat comedy by Austin playwright Kyle John Schmidt tells the story of Ruby who runs a small-town gun company, manufacturing products like “The Bridesmaid,” “The Babysitter,” and “The Mallwalker.”  But what happens when guns start going off all over town — and no one’s pulling the trigger?

Breaking Out of Sunset Place at Queensbury Theatre, January 24-February 10
This world premiere from Texas playwright Patricia Barry Rumble is billed as a a geriatric "Thelma and Louise plus One" comedy about two best friend who break out of their retirement home in Texas heading for Florida and their freedom. Queensbury executive director Marley Singletary directs with an all-female producing team.

Wakey, Wakey from Catastrophic Theatre, January 24-February 3
An unusual partnership between Austin’s Hyde Park Theatre, Catastrophic, and the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance brings this acclaimed production of Will Eno’s latest work to the UH José Quintero Theatre. A sometimes bewildered but always charming dying man takes the audience on a meandering journey through his past, present and quirky perspective on the world.

Too Heavy for Your Pocket at Ensemble Theatre, January 24 – February 24
Playwright Jiréh Breon Holder, a writer on the NBC show New Amsterdam, sets this drama in rural Tennessee at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Two young couples struggle to understand justice, love, and their own responsibilities. As a young man becomes a Freedom Rider and joins the fight against racism in the Deep South, he might need to leave his obligations as a husband and friend behind.

The River Bride at Stages Theatre January 25 – February 10
Part of playwright Marisela Treviño Ortaat’s cycle of fairy tales inspired by Latino folklore and mythology, two sisters in a Brazilian fishing village struggle to find their own happily-ever-after while bound to family honor and tradition. This production is the anchor show for Stages’ second annual Sin Muros (Without Walls): A Latinx Theatre Festival running January 31 – February 3. Several of the other play readings and events of the festival are free to the public, but tickets should be reserved in advance.

Tuesdays With Morrie at A.D. Players January 25-February 10
The stage play based on the bestselling nonfiction book tells the story of sports journalist Mitch Albom (played by Broadway veteran and A.D. Players executive director, Jake Speck) making a visit to his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz who is dying of ALS. That obligatory meeting becomes a life changing series of lessons on the art of living, dying and the human ties of friendship.

Two Mile Hollow from Rogue Productions, February 1-9
This comedy from Japanese-American playwright Leah Nanako Winkler gives the family grievance genre a casting twist, as an upper class white family gathers together to divide an estate while drinking and airing grievances. However, the actors in the show are people of color, and societal concepts are comically challenged.

Quack at the Alley Theatre February 8-March 10
Eliza Clark’s comedy exposes the shaky foundations of the wellness industry, the fleeting nature of 21st century fame, and the relationship between the powerful men who dole out advice and the women who are supposed to receive it with a smile. The Alley brings in Tony Award-winning stage and television actress, and Texas native, Judith Ivey to direct.

The Fair Maid of the West from Classical Theatre February 6-24
This rarely produced Renaissance drama from Shakespeare contemporary Thomas Heywood tells a swashbuckling tale on the high seas about lady pirate Bess Bridges. With the closing of their theater at Chelsea Market, Classical Theatre will move outside the Loop to Queensbury for the rest of their season.

NSFW at Stages Theatre February 13 – March 3
While the subject matter might be for mature audiences and not be safe for work, we’re betting this satirical look at the cut-throat media world where jobs are scarce, beauty standards are savage, and personal integrity is a luxury will be in safe hands at Stages.

Mamma Mia! from Theatre Under the Stars February 19-March 3
TUTS artistic director Dan Knechtges revives this audience fav for the 50th anniversary season. No doubt they’ll be some audiences members singing along to this simple story of a mother, daughter, three possible long lost dads, a big, fat Greek island wedding, and enough ABBA music to satisfy all the dancing queens in the Hobby Center house.