March springs forth an exciting lineup on contemporary stories for Houston live theater. We also get a bit political, as local companies wrestle with some of the most theatrical and real issues of our times. From elections to stay-at-home moms to college campus sensitivity, Houston theater brings in all the topical drama and comedy this month. Even a world premiere musical about a 17th-century saint looks especially timely for 2020.
So check out these highlights of Houston theater in bloom.
Come From Away presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center (March 3-8, 2020)
A time of immense fear and uncertainty leads to acts of kindness and generosity in this critically acclaimed musical that still soars on Broadway. Based on the true story of what happened to some of the planes forced to land in Canada’s eastern-most province on 9/11. The stranded passengers find hospitality and songs from small town Newfoundlanders. All of the characters are based on real individuals, including Dallas-based Beverley Bass, the first female American Airlines captain.
Honky Tonk Laundry at Stages (March 6-May 24)
The inaugural show for the Gordy’s Rochelle and Max Levit Stage already looks like a hit. This musical is created Roger Bean, who also brought the world The Marvelous Wonderettes. The title says it all, as a woman tries to turn an inherited washeteria into a honky tonk club.
1984 at Alley Theatre (March 6-March 29)
George Orwell’s dystopian vision seems to be having a popular resurgence these past few years, becoming a best-seller again and popping up on stages across the country. As conductor for Murder on the Orient Express and Winter’s Tale, Alley artistic director Rob Melrose has shown he can breathe new energy into the classics. He directs this Michael Gene Sullivan adaptation with likely intentionally horrific results.
Between Riverside and Crazy from 4th Wall Theatre at Studio 101 (March 12-April 4)
Houston theater companies, including 4th Wall, have given us some excellent productions of acclaimed playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis work, so we’re mad with anticipation for this Pulitzer Prize-winner. A look inside one retired NYC cop’s rent-controlled apartment on Riverside Drive in New York reveals a whole world of crazy ties, battles and relationships between family, friends, and enemies.
Autumn at Ensemble Theatre (March 19-April 12)
Just in time for primary season, this Richard Wesley play tells the story of two candidates in a race to be the first black governor of a state. Loyalties get tested as one candidate, a big city mayor, finds himself running against his young, dynamic protégé. We imagine the generational divide gets explored in this very timely drama.
Sensitive Guys at Stages (March 20-April 5)
In MJ Kaufman’s gender-defying satire, women take on all the roles in this story about two student-led support groups, the Men’s Peer Education group and The Women’s Survivor Support, at a small liberal arts college. When allegations of sexual assault rock the campus how sensitive will things get?
Lady of Agreda, A Mystical Journey at Queensbury Theatre (March 20-April 5)
While their Tribble School is going strong, we haven’t heard much from Queensbury in some time. Yet, with this world premiere musical with book by Houston director Marley Singletary and music and lyrics by Cynthia Jordan, they might be about to come roaring back on a high note. The show will tell the story of the 17th-century mystic, Maria of Jesus of Agreda, Spain, known in Europe and the New World as the mystical Lady in Blue. Expect the Spanish Inquisition, as one of the most influential women of her time faces spiritual and political trials.
Fiddler on the Roof presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center (March 24-29, 2020)
Another acclaimed revival of a Broadway classic heads to Hobby, with its wealth of immortal songs like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher brings a new vision to this story of family and faith. Look for Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter’s new dance and movement contributions, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins.
Cry It Out at Main Street Theater (March 28-April 19)
Playwright and screenwriter Molly Smith Metzler’s (Orange Is the New Black, Shameless) edgy comedy tackles the wonders and horrors of staying home with a baby. Throw in questions of class and who can afford to stay home, along with a story about parenting support and friendships and this production might have it all.
Appropriate at Rec Room (March 28-April 18)
Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s Obie winner for best new American play depicts a dramatic chestnut: families returning to an ancestral home to feud over stuff. But with the finding of an old photo album, things careen off the well worn rails pretty quickly with a gruesome twist. The complications of family and history make for a provocative and perhaps funny take on this dramatic genre.