As the days heat up, we’re ready for nights of the coolest live theater. From Shakespeare to beloved musicals to comic twisty mysteries, Houston theater companies offer some of their breeziest shows of the year.
Plus, a new company’s debut, a couple of world premieres, and one mean Broadway touring smash all make this a summer theater season to remember.
Tamarie Cooper's Live In-Person Sticky Sweet Summer Show! from Catastrophic Theatre (now through August 6)
Happy 25th anniversary to a decidedly Houston summer tradition, an original musical, comedy extravaganza from Catastrophic co-founder Tamarie Cooper. The local star known as Tamarie teams with writing partner Patrick Reynolds for the laughs and weaves in original music composed by Miriam Daly, Erin Rodgers, and Alli Villines.
Starring Tamarie herself and her crew of Catastrophic regulars and favs, her latest she will tackle the joys and paradoxes of just making it whole into 2022. Highlights include feral actors, dancing egg rolls, Tamarie’s sixth grade disco dance-off nemesis Charlotte Lloyd, a sassy chair, and racist step-uncle Roy.
Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them from Thunderclap Productions (now through July 10)
Though not a new to Houston, this theater company has flown under the radar for the past few years to now unleash a one, two dramatic punch at MATCH in July.
In this first show, 12-year-old Edith makes an unfortunate, spur-of-the-moment decision with her air rifle, changing her own life as well as the lives of her older brother Kenny and his boyfriend Benji when they all find themselves suddenly at odds with the adult world around them.
The show, penned by playwright A. Rey Pamatmat, is part of Thunderclap’s John Steven Kellett Memorial Series, an annual production of a play, musical, or film dealing with equality and pushing back against LGBTQ+ discrimination.
The Sound of Music at A.D. Players (July 6-August 14)
The George Theater comes alive with the sound of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Culminating its return to live, in-person theater, A.D. Players highlights the indelible human spirit with that most beloved of love stories, as a never-to-be-nun novice brings music and love back to into the Von Trapp home and battles Nazis along the way.
Longtime A.D. Players fans should note Sound of Music will also becomes something of a “So Long, Farewell” swan song for its director and regular company actor and creative artist, Emily Tello Speck. She’s be leaving Houston with her husband, outgoing A.D. Players executive director Jake Speck, as the family moves back to Nashville — as CultureMap reported.
Simprov from Thunderclap Productions (July 15-24)
The second July production from Thunderclap, also at the MATCH, this world premiere futuristic comedy from Obie-winning playwright Laurence Klavan tells the story of two couples on contrasting journeys.
Middle-aged Barbara and Alan are pulled apart by her ever-increasing involvement in video and internet experiences. Meanwhile, the nameless young 20somethings Actor and Actress — suddenly fired from their TV series — find themselves thrown into a world of new technologies and plastic surgery.
The two couples paths cross in “Simprov,” a live version of Sims-like video games that use real and discardable people. They will meet again when they are unrecognizable even to themselves, before returning to completely altered.
Is God Is at Rec Room (July 14-August 6)
In this modern myth from award-winning playwright Aleshea Harris, twin sisters set off upon a vengeance journey for their own brand of justice. The show is said to merge Spaghetti Western and Afropunk genres into a dark comedy.
This intriguing mix should be in good hands with director Candice D’Meza, as the local actor, director, writer, and filmmaker’s most recent short films have delved into sci-fi and AfroFuturism. Rec Room has a habit of casting some of our favorite local actors while introducing us to new faces, so we can’t wait to see the world this cast creates.
The Real Inspector Hound at Main Street Theater (July 16-August 7)
If it’s summer, that must mean a manor house mystery, But since this is a Tom Stoppard play, expect lots of theatrical and intellectual fun in this spoof on Agatha Christie-type murder mysteries.
For decades MST has been the go-to theater for plays of ideas — and especially Stoppard plays of ideas, from chaos theater to brain science to Russian philosophy. With that, we’re looking forward to their take on this early Stoppard twist on both murder mysteries and stage criticism, something that Stoppard did himself early in his career.
(Theater criticism that is, we have no knowledge about Stoppard solving or doing crime.)
Clue at Alley Theatre (July 22-August 28)
Get ready for some summer comic chills with this madcap mystery based on the cult classic ’80s movie based on the ’40s board game. On a dark and stormy night, six supposed-strangers gather for a dinner party where murder is on the menu.
Who killed Mr. Boddy? Did the butler do it? Was it Mr. Green in the study with a lead pipe, Mrs. White in the drawing room with a rope, or Dr. Chartreuse with a catapult in topiary garden? (Okay, we might have made that last one up, but for live, comic summer theater and the Alley resident acting company likely letting loose, who knows what could happen?)
For this beloved board game-turned film-turned live theater, the real mystery we want answered is (spoiler alert) will there be multiple endings?
Dream: The Story of the Everly Brothers at Stages (July 22-September 4)
Country rock pioneers the Everly Brothers get their stage homage in this world premiere musical from Ben Hope and Eric Anthony, two of the creators of another musical bio/tribute hit at Stages, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.
One of the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Everly Brothers were known for tight harmonies and steel-string acoustic guitar. Hope and Anthony play tribute to these legends as they share the music and stories of the Everly Brothers weaved among their own tales of influences, music making, and family.
With more than 25 songs, from No. 1 hits to deep cuts, Dream showcases the full humanity of the Everly Brothers and the rich legacy.
H.M.S Pinafore from The Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston (July 23-31)
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, the Gilbert & Sullivan Society will launch the most operatic of parties on the Hobby Center’s Zilkha stage.
In this Gilbert and Sullivan fan favorites filled with the most memorable numbers, a sailor falls in love with the captain's daughter, but they can’t be together due to his lowly station in life. At the same time, the high-ranking First Lord of the Admiralty, played by stage director Alistair Donkin, seeks the daughter's hand for himself.
After participating in Gilbert & Sullivan’s summer productions for the last 40 years, Pinafore will be Alistair Donkin’s curtain call production, and the last chance to see the G&S veteran in one of his most famous roles.
King Lear and Cymbeline from Houston Shakespeare Festival (July 28-August 6)
After two years, one of Houston’s favorite theatrical traditions is finally back home at Miller Outdoor Theater.
Since 1975, the University of Houston Department of Theatre and Dance has partnered with the city to bring free summer Shakespeare to Hermann Park, and this year, the festival offers quite the pairing. Though King Lear is one of English theater’s greatest tragedies, the festival hasn’t staged this monumental story of family betrayal, love, loyalty and madness in 20 years.
On alternate nights, dive into Cymbeline, a fairytale romance that some consider one of Shakespeare’s most complex and occasionally perplexing comic plots. Long-lost siblings, a wicked stepmother, cross-dressing, conniving royals, (in)fidelity tests, mistaken identity, and forest shenanigans all included.
Runaways from On the Verge Theatre (August 5-21)
Houston’s newest theater company, founded by two Houston director veterans, Bruce Lumpkin and Ron Jones, begins its inaugural season with this provocative, ’70s musical based on real stories of teen runaways.
Don’t expect late-20s and 30-something actors to play the characters; instead, the roles will be performed exclusively by students from Houston area high schools and colleges — adding a layer of casting authenticity.
Structured as a collection of songs, dances, and spoken word pieces, the show might serves as an intriguing look into this new company’s mission and theatrical point of view. While On the Verge has plans for shows in unusual venues and locations, Queensbury Theatre will host this first musical.
Mean Girls from Broadway at Hobby Center (August 16-21)
In the early oughts, Tina Fey tried to make a comic/anthropology film about the cutthroat world of high school popularity wars happen, and girl, did it ever happen. The movie’s plot, characters, and cutting lines quickly became pop culture staples. In 2018, Fey partnered with husband Jeff Richmond (music) and Nell Benjamin (lyrics) to turn the story into a smash musical.
While the pandemic might have confiscated their Burn Book for a few years, no one keeps these Mean Girls down for long. Now Cady, Regina, Gretchen (played by Houston nice girl and TUTS Tommy Tune Award winner Jasmine Rogers), and the rest of the girl gang head to Hobby to sing their way to the top of the class.