Houston theaters get serious — and seriously funny — this April with quite the range of onstage dramas, comedies, and musicals.
Stellar works from award-winning contemporary playwrights are all the rage across Houston theaters, but also look for as one world premiere from an up-and-coming Houston writer at Stages.
Meanwhile, Houston Grand Opera continues to go bold in the grandest of finales of its 2021-2022 season.
The Book of Grace from Catastrophic Theatre (now through April 24)
After a COVID cancellation, Catastrophic Theatre is finally back at the MATCH to begin their spring season with some sharp drama from the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.
The company founders have a long creative history and friendship with Parks, and say there are “thrilled” to bring her work back to town. Co-directed by two Houston favorite actors, Jeff Miller and Luis Galindo (Galindo also stars), the play tells a Texas border tale of a family torn by history and clashing beliefs.
Grace is a waitress who lives in a small border town in south Texas with her husband Vet, a border patrol agent. She encourages Vet’s estranged son Buddy to return home and reunite with his father in time for a celebration honoring Vet’s service. What ensues is a battle for power and revenge.
Single Black Female at Ensemble Theatre (April 9-May 8)
This adult-focused show about finding love in urban America explores the lives of thirty-something, Black, middle-class women in urban America as they search for love, clothes, and dignity — often in a world that fails to recognize them among a parade of stereotypical images.
But, after reviewing their escapades in past relationships and confessing mounting anxieties about future commitments will they realize their best chance at love may be found closer than they ever imagined?
John, His Story by A. D. Players on Tour (April 13 and 15)
For those who observe, John, His Story offers a fun way to celebrate the Easter Holy Week season. Created by the legendary Jeannette Clift George, founder of A.D. Players, the story retells the miracles of Jesus recounted in the Bible’s Gospel of John.
More than a historical drama, this John centers on a perspective by John the disciple and common people, with moments of tense drama and light-hearted comedy. The intimate show runs at Bethany Christian Church (3223 Westheimer Rd.). The limited tickets are pay-what-you can (suggested minimum is $10) and can only be purchased via phone (713-526-2721).
You Are Cordially Invited to Sit In at Stages (now through May 22)
The Gordy really gets rocking in April when the world premiere of this jukebox musical from local playwright ShaWanna Renee Rivon opens the Rochelle and Max Levit Stage.
This show will finally put all three Gordy stages in use, something that only happened before for one week before the pandemic shut down stages across the city. Rivon bases the musical on a real piece of Houston civil rights history, when in 1960, 13 students from Texas Southern University demonstrated with the first local sit-in, at Weingarten lunch counter in the Third Ward.
Weaving in ’60s hits like “Heat Wave,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and “Say a Little Prayer for You” — plus a show-stopping rendition of the gospel standard “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” — the musical tells the story of four college friends whose most dangerous and courageous act to fight the power is to sit down.
Dead Man’s Cell Phone at Alley Theatre (April 15-May 8)
Acclaimed contemporary playwright, Sarah Ruhl, brings a unique perspective to any subject and genre. Her work has become a favorite with Houston theater companies for many years.
Now, the Alley sets out to break some comedy rules with Ruhl in this show that begins with a call on a dead man’s cell phone that changes an innocent, by-standing woman to confront her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.
The Alley resident company once again spin into comedy with Alley associate producer Brandon Weinbrenner directing. This was another COVID-cut production scheduled for 2020 that the Alley loved so much, they had to bring it to Houston audiences.
Turandot from Houston Grand Opera (April 22-May 8)
In another visually stunning production from HGO this season, Texas director Robert Wilson gives new vision to Puccini’s masterpiece, the fantastic tale of a princess who goes to great heights and tricks to avoid matrimony.
Internationally acclaimed soprano and HGO Studio alumna Tamara Wilson stars as Turandot, with celebrated tenor Kristian Benedikt making his HGO debut as Calaf.
Principal guest conductor Eun Sun Kim, who made her U.S. debut in 2017 with HGO’s La Traviata, takes the podium. The production will surely prove to be opera on a global scale, as a co-production with Teatro Real of Madrid, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre Vilnius, Canadian Opera Company of Toronto, and Opéra National de Paris.
Black Super Hero Magic Mama from Stages (April 22-May 8)
Magic Mama is yet another show originally scheduled during our lost pandemic years, this one from acclaimed playwright Inda Craig-Galvà. In this comic (as in superhero) take on national tragedies, a mother loses her son to a police shooting and retreats inward to a powerful technicolor universe.
Sabrina creates a heroic alter ego named Maasai Angel. Compared to the pain of the real world, this battle is one Sabrina can handle. But will Sabrina stay in this dream world or return to reality and mourn her son?
Fiddler on the Roof from Broadway at the Hobby Center (April 26-May 1)
Another acclaimed revival of a Broadway classic that took a pandemic detour on its way to the Hobby finally arrives in Houston 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.
Romeo and Juliet from Houston Grand Opera (April 29-May 11)
HGO’s new production of Charles Gounod’s opera, based on Shakespeare’s most famous and tragic young lovers, will transport audiences back in time to an evening at the London Globe.
With a large chorus, big, rich harmonies, intricate dance numbers, and sumptuous costumes, this promises to be the grandest evening of French opera. Artistic and music director Patrick Summers conducts and soprano Adriana Gonzalez, the first-prize Operalia winner in 2019, makes her HGO debut as Juliet — with phenomenal tenor Michael Spyres as her Romeo.
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play from Garden Theatre (April 29-May 8)
Houston’s newest theater company tackles this biting satire from Ghanaian-American playwright Jocelyn Bioh that proves teen girls hierarchy games are an international and timeless phenomenon.
In this comedy set in a Ghanan boarding school in the ’80s, the reigning queen of the school has her sights set beyond her the classroom to the Miss Universe Pageant. That is, until an American, smart, and pretty face transfers into the school and threatens her social empire. Which queen will reign supreme?