best june theater
7 best Houston plays and performances to catch in-person and online in June
For local theater-lovers who thought the day would never arrive, June brings the summer surprise of in-person, indoor shows. While most companies won’t make the big leap inside until fall, a few theaters are taking a vaccinated trial (mostly musical) run to bring audiences back inside this month.
Those not quite ready to take their seats in the same space as fellow audience members and performing artists needn’t worry: plenty of streaming options abound.
Hansel and Gretel from Houston Grand Opera (streaming now through June 28)
The classic Engelbert Humperdinck opera that has delighted young and old alike gets a decidedly new imagining that drops the operatic cast into a visually stunning animated world.
Conducted by HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers and directed by directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, this charming — and a bit trippy — version features original animated settings by award-winning visual artist Hannah Wasileski, as well as all the fairytale roles played by past and present members of the HGO Studio.
Pariah from Alley Theatre (streaming now through July 4)
The company completes their free digital season of contemporary and classic works ending as they began, with a one-act play by August Strindberg.
Directed and translated by Alley artistic director, Rob Melrose, the story depicts a thriller of an ethical cat-and-mouse game between two archeologist over gold artifacts they’ve discovered. Melrose notes Strindberg was greatly influenced by Edgar Allen Poe and especially the stories “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “Cask of Amontillado” when writing Pariah.
This performance might just give at-home audiences a thrilling treat for those missing the Alley’s Summer Chills show this year.
No One Owns Me from A.D. Players (streaming now through June 13)
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, and turned the festival into a collection of virtual readings for audiences at home.
The latest entry 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. The painful story also offers hope and the reality that there is a way out.
What Happened Here: An Audio Tour of Your Own Home as Isolation Ends from Strange Bird Immersive (remote and ongoing)
During the pandemic, the Strange Bird immersive theater creators offered a Zooming live immersive experience. Recently, they’ve brought back their in-person escapist, immersive show Man From Beyond.
Now, for those easing themselves into a hopefully post-pandemic world, the Strange Bird has devised an at-home audio experience to view your home from a new perspective, as well as a way to hear other stories of isolation and connection.
The audio show guides listeners through their homes to think about the interiors journeys we’ve made this past year. “We created What Happened Here to deliver the catharsis that we all need right now,” says the company’s co-artistic director Haley E. R. Cooper, “The pandemic has been traumatic, and we thought creating a show centered around personal stories — that you weren’t alone in this experience — would help a lot of people.”
10 Year Anniversary Show at Music Box Theater (live June 12-August 14)
Houston’s favorite long-running cabaret company brings audiences back inside their Music Box space and just in time for a 10 years-in-the-making best performances anniversary show.
From Frank Sinatra to Led Zeppelin the MBT singing, bantering crew promise to revisit some of their favorite songs and funny moments that took place within their “hallowed green-foamed walls” for audiences to relive and savor.
Johnny and the Devil’s Box from A.D. Players (streaming June 14-June 27)
For a second June Metzler New Works Festival show, A.D. Players sings a tale of a fiddle player named Johnny from Georgia. We’ll take a guess there might be a soul gambling challenge involved, but we also make a non-devilish bet they’ll be some surprises along the way in this new new Appalachian musical.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Stages (live, in-person and streaming June 18-July 18)
If you’re ready to head out to indoor theater again, Stages is ready to transport audiences back to 1959 and a run-down South Philadelphia bar, where the great Billie Holiday is about to give one of her last performances.
In this concert play, Holiday weaves stories of her life between her iconic standards, even as the audience knows the show portrays a moment in time before such a glorious light would soon end. Houston’s own — and current Broadway baby and television actor — DeQuina Moore stars as Holiday.
For those not ready for socially distant seating inside the Gordy, Stages will also offer streaming tickets for audiences to view performances live at home.