best january theater

9 best Houston plays and performances to catch in-person this January

9 best Houston plays and performances to catch in-person this January

Hadestown tour
Hadestown rings in the new year of Houston theater.  Photo by T Charles Erickson

The new year brings new in-person live theater, including several world premieres. From competitive theater and dance kids to SciFi from the past, to a musical journey into the underworld, Houston theater (and opera) offers strange and wondrous new worlds for us to explore.

Here's where to ring in the new year celebrating with the best drama, comedy, and music. 

Hadestown from Broadway at the Hobby Center (January 4-9)
It’s been a long journey to Houston, but one of the biggest shows in the Broadway at Hobby season finally arrives to town toting its weight in Tony Awards. Hell is full of the best music in this show that twines the epic loves stories of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice together.

Don’t expect a happily ever after with these tales, but ado lookout for a decidedly untamed rocking and bluesy versions of Greek myths you learned in junior high.

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) from Classical Theatre (January 12-30)
The Houston theater company that specializes in classics older than a century continues its season spotlighting tales of horror and science fiction. Look for a show by influential Czech playwright Karel Čapek credited for coining the word “robot.”

The story follows the human characters and their relationship with the fabricated servants they created to perform their labor for them. That relationship changes over time, and the play explores how we define life and what it means to be human.

The Lifespan of a Fact from 4th Wall Theatre (January 13-February 5)
What’s the difference between fact and truth? This age old questions gets comically explored in this contemporary take on writing and the publishing industry, all inspired by the nontraditional book of the same name by John D'Agata and Jim Fingal.

In the play, the writer (D’Agata), fact checker (Fingal) and their editor slug it out, sometime literally, over the nature of fact, truth, and art.

Dialogues of the Carmelites from Houston Grand Opera (January 14-22)
At HGO, the very different question being posed is: Who gets to be a martyr? In Poulenc’s two-part opera, faith, friendship, and revolution make for complex and tragic answers. Here, a young aristocrat Blanche finds refuge from the French Revolution in a Carmelite convent.

Promising to embrace her new life, Blanche befriends Constance, another young nun, who’s had a nightmare that they’ll soon die together. What began as a fresh start quickly turns to tragedy as the revolutionaries come for the nuns.

High School Play: A Nostalgia Fest at Alley Theatre (January 21-February 13)
This world premiere comedy by Dallas native playwright Vichet Chum fictionalizes a very real and authentically Lone Star State subculture.

Let’s just say you haven’t known true cutthroat competition until you’ve experienced Texan high school theater competition. Wrap it all up in teenage self-discovery, some adolescent angst and mix in some small town politics and that’s a story as comically dramatic as the state.

Dance Nation at Rec Room (January 20-February 5)
One of Houston’s most innovative and surprising companies comes roaring back to its downtown space and live performances with this dancing-girl-power award-winning play by Clare Barron.

Revisit those awkward adolescent years that occasionally delivered real moments of grace through friendships, rivalry, and competitive dance. Dance party down with this army of 13-year-olds attempting to leap and jeté their way to the top at the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit from Garden Theatre (January 21-30)
The newest theater company in town tackles what’s become a theater sensational secret on an international scale.

This one-actor show by playwright Nassim Soleimanpour uses no director, set, or costumes and requires actors to never see the script before they receive it upon walking onto a stage to perform it.

And once acted, they’re never supposed to perform it again. Meanwhile in a kind of global honor system, audiences are asked to never reveal the plot of the story. Garden will give us 10 opportunities to get in on this secret theatrical club.

The Lawsons at Ensemble Theatre (January 22-February 27)
The world premiere musical by Melda Beaty depicts the real life courtship of Houston’s Bill and Audrey Lawson that began as love letters, led to the establishment of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, and bonded them in their leadership though the Civil Rights Movement.

The Lawsons is a visual history and musical journey of a time in African American history of love transcending, faith superseding, and the fight for equality meant putting your life on the line for the greater good of humanity. Experience this unique and inspirational Houston story.

No One Owns Me at A.D. Players (January 26-February 20)
The A.D Players’ Metzler New Works Festival, its initiative to develop of new plays and musicals that explore the intersection of faith and storytelling, was originally scheduled to launch in 2020. But like so many Houston companies, they decided to adapt instead of cancel.

First, they turned the festival into a collection of virtual readings for audiences at home. Now, they’re back for full productions of the plays.

This latest tells the story of Macy who dreams of becoming a singer-songwriter and explores the horrors of the human trafficking industry right here in Houston. But the show offers hope and the reality that there is a way out, continuing the company’s 20221-22 season theme celebrating the triumph of the human spirit.