best fall theater
August tends to be a month of winding down for Houston theater and performing arts before big fall openings. While a few companies have begun their 2022-23 seasons with a summer show — like the Alley’s murderously zany Clue and Stages’ nostalgic concert-musical Dream: The Music of the Everly Brothers — the curtain usually doesn’t rise on the next season until September.
With that in mind, we look ahead with a special roundup of those companies who have made formal announcements of their 2022-2023 seasons. Mark those calendars for the opening show and dates for each company, and check out our overview of a fall filled with drama, music, comedy and quite a few world premieres.
Houston Ballet opens with Peter Pan (September 9)
The first to make the dramatic fall leap will appropriately be the Houston Ballet with a fun dance take on the boy who refused to grow up by acclaimed choreographer, and former choreographic apprentice, Trey McIntyre.
The show features flying sequences, swashbuckling sword fights, giant puppets, and costumes inspired by punk fashion. As previously reported, the ballet takes about a five-minute breather before they jeté back onstage for their fall mixed rep production Good Vibrations (September 22-October 2) with Red Earth from Stanton Welch, The Letter V from Mark Morris, and the world premiere Arthur Pita dance Good Vibrations.
On the Verge Theatre presents Tied (September 15)
Houston’s newest company officially opened their inaugural season with Runaways (now through August 21), the ’70s, Tony award-winning musical based on real stories of teen runaways.
They’ll quickly move into the fall with a world premiere from Houston playwright Crystal Rae. Tied tells the spiritual journey of a father of one of the girls who died in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. On the Verge founders Bruce Lumpkin and Ron Jones plan to stage each show on a different stage or non-traditional location through its first season, with Tied presented at Ensemble Theatre.
Alley Theatre opens with Lend Me a Soprano (September 16)
The first of six world premieres from the Alley this season, Ken Ludwig reworks his contemporary classic comedy Lend Me a Tenor for the 21st century, with the divas getting their chance to go to war for the spotlight.
Next up, the Alley then begins its Neuhaus Stage season with Edward Albee’s Seascape (October 14). During his time teaching at UH, the Pulitzer-winning Albee was sometimes seen in the audience for many of the Alley productions of his work. Alley artistic director Rob Melrose says he’s been wanting to give this look at two marriages — one human, one sea monsters — a production for a long time.
The company then celebrates the holidays with two world premieres a new Christmas Carol adaptation from Melrose and the Dickens inspired, only-in-Texas tale, What-a-Christmas!
Mildred’s Umbrella opens with Scrambled (September 16)
In this one-woman show from Rotem Natchmany, the award-winning Israeli actress/playwright brings audiences along this one woman’s journey to conceive. Natchmany has performed this intimate depiction on international stages and theater festivals.
Next year, Mildred’s will finally world premiere local playwright Elizabeth A.M. Keel’s family-friendly show Tooth & Tail, which was originally set to debut in 2020 before the pandemic.
Main Street Theater opens with Trouble in Mind (September 17)
This partially forgotten, now-acclaimed play by the groundbreaking novelist and playwright Alice Childress recently had its Broadway debut, more than 65 years after it was originally scheduled to transfer.
When theater producers in the 1950s asked Childress to tone down Trouble in Mind’s exploration of racism in the theater world, she held her artistic ground. Now, MST will be the first Houston company to stage this comedy-drama that theaters across the country are embracing the play for the 21st century.
Later in the fall, MST brings back The Wickhams – Christmas at Pemberley, the second of the Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s holiday Pride & Prejudice sequels.
Theatre Under the Stars opens with Ain’t Misbehavin’ (September 20)
TUTS has one of the busiest falls in Houston with three shows before the year’s end. Things open with the ultimate party, as the Tony-winning best musical from the late ’70s takes audiences back to the Harlem Renaissance and jazz nightclubs filled with the music of Fats Waller.
Due to scheduling conflicts, the previously announced Vacation musical won’t make a road trip to Houston. instead TUTS will produce the regional premiere of The Secret of My Success. The new musical, based on the hit 1980s Michael J. Fox film, has only had one other full production, in Chicago. TUTS artistic director Dan Knechtges will direct this new production.
Lastly, look up for a visit from everyone’s favorite nanny, Mary Poppins for the holidays.
A.D. Players opens with Miss Maude (September 21)
Not only is their season opener a world premiere, it’s one set to make the jump to Broadway sometime after its Houston run.
Based on the real story of photographer and remarkable subject, playwright Martin Casella’s Miss Maude chronicles the relationship between Life Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith and South Carolina nurse and midwife, Maude Callen.
Sheldon Epps, who served as TUTS artistic advisor for the 2016-2017 season and now is senior artistic advisor at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C., will direct the show.
In November, get ready for family-time laughs with the new outrageous comedy A Texas Carol from A.D. Players executive artistic director Jayme McGhan and artistic producer Kevin Dean for their holiday show.
Stages opens with Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson (October 7)
Stages dances into fall with a world premiere that can’t get any more Houston in both its local roots and international reach.
Written and co-directed by former Houston poet laureate Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton, with choreography from both Houston Ballet artistic director and Urban Souls Dance founder Harrison Guy, this bio-theatrical work with original music tells the story of Houston’s favorite Sugar Plum Fairy, the legendary Lauren Anderson, who is one of the first Black principal ballerinas of a major ballet company.
Keeping with the world premieres for the rest of 2022, look for two new holiday shows, Houston for the Holidays with DeQuina Moore and Panto Snow White and the Seven Dorks.
4th Wall Theatre opens with The Thin Place (October 13)
This season, the company continues to embrace cutting-edge contemporary works by the hottest established and up-and-coming playwrights, like Adam App and Jackie Sibblies Drury, with four plays that will be Houston premieres.
First up is Lucas Hnath’s Thin Place. In perhaps a perfect artfully spooky mood for October, 4th Wall describes the show as a suspenseful ghost story that probes the deeply human need for connection. As one woman grappling with loss, seeks answers and friendship from a medium, who communicates with the dead residing in a different "thin place."
Dirt Dogs Theatre opens with Coyote on a Fence (October 21)
In keeping with their reputation for intense, intimate productions, the company opens their lucky seven season with this intriguing play by Bruce Graham, inspired by a real life Texas death row story.
In the show, the editor of a prison newspaper, who is incarcerated himself, gets set to talk to a man set for execution in order to write his obituary.
Outside of their regular season, Dirt Dogs Unleashed, their initiative centered on development of new works, partners with Sweet Darlin' Productions for the new play Shakin’ the Blue Flamingo (August 12-20), about a distinctively different reunion of sorority sisters.
Houston Grand Opera opens with La traviata (October 21)
“Fortune favors the bold” has been HGO’s motto for their ’22-’23 lineup, which makes La traviata a bold opening move. This production features Grammy-award-winning soprano Angel Blue making her company debut as Violetta, a courtesan whose pursuit of love belies a creeping, fatal illness.
HGO will pair Verdi’s masterpiece with an opera that’s not seen a major production in over a century, Dame Ethel Smyth’s epic 1906 opera The Wreckers (October 28).
Broadway at Hobby Center opens with Six (November 8)
The Broadway in Houston season is still feeling some (hopefully final) COVID reverberations as it closes the ’21-’22 season late with the rescheduled, Tony-winning Hadestown (October 4-9), before beginning anew with this West End to Broadway to Houston musical sensation.
Perhaps taking a page from Hamilton, English history gets a new beat in Six, as the wives of Henry VIII — in the guise of pop divas — finally get to tell their side of the very interesting marital story.
Classical Theatre Company opens with The Marriage of Figaro (November 10)
The company that only performs works more than 100 years old, yet still manages to find intriguing new spins on the classics, will produce the French farce as a play, not as Mozart’s opera.
Classical artistic director John Johnston will translate the original 18th-century play by Pierre de Beaumarchais and also direct this new production. Figaro begins their season consisting entirely of comedies including The School for Scandal and Maugham’s The Circle both in 2023.