Your cheat sheet to Theater District Open House: Great performances, boat tours & more — all free

Theater District Open House Guide: Fab performances, boat tours & more

Theater District Open House 2015-Broadway Pippin
Broadway at the Hobby Center previews its 2015-2016 season, including Pippin. Courtesy photo
Theater District Open House 2015-SPA Ballet Hispanico
Society for the Performing Arts brings dancers from Ballet Hispanico to Jones Hall. Courtesy photo
Theater District Open House 2015-TUTS Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins might just make an appearance during the TUTS musical revue of their upcoming season. Courtesy photo
Theater District Open House 2015-Uniquely Houston, Karen Stokes Dance
Don't miss some Uniquely Houston performances, including Karen Stokes Dance. Courtesy photo
Theater District Open House 2015-Da Camera Gregory Porter
The Da Camera season includes Grammy winning vocalist Gregory Porter. courtesy photo
Theater District Open House 2015-Broadway Pippin
Theater District Open House 2015-SPA Ballet Hispanico
Theater District Open House 2015-TUTS Mary Poppins
Theater District Open House 2015-Uniquely Houston, Karen Stokes Dance
Theater District Open House 2015-Da Camera Gregory Porter

Though it might seem that summer will never end and the (slightly) cooler days finally arrive, autumn is just around the corner, and once again, for the 22nd time, the TransCanada Theater District Open House is set, on Sunday (August 30), to welcome the new fall performing arts season by opening the doors of all its houses for a full day of the coolest live, free performances.

While the five facilities that constitute the Theater District are participating in the open house: the Alley Theatre, Hobby and Wortham Centers, Jones Hall and Revention Music Center (formerly Bayou Music Center), there will be many more than five performing arts companies and organizations represented.

There almost too much to see, so whether you want wander as the day takes you or check the full schedule and plan down to the minute, be sure to check out these don’t-miss highlights.

Seasonal Medleys

Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), Broadway at Hobby and the Houston Symphony are all offering a kind of musical tasting menu of their upcoming 2015-2016 seasons. The TUTS and Broadway shows will alternate throughout the day in the Hobby Center's Sarofim Hall, so you can experience a selection from Matilda, The Bridges of Madison County, Mary Poppins and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and much more from TUTS. Then, hang out another 20 minutes to hear songs from Pippin, Bullets Over Broadway, The Sound Of Music, Cabaret, Beautiful, the Carole King Musical and Wicked from the Broadway series.

Take a break from Broadway for opera at the Wortham and Houston Grand Opera’s performances of arias and songs by Mozart, Puccini, and Rodgers and Hammerstein, by members of the HGO Studio.

Just be sure to make it over to Jones Hall by 4 pm because the Houston Symphony will be playing pieces from all three of its series: Classical, Pops and Family. Where else are you going to hear Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 (From the New World), the Sinatra staple “New York, New York” and John Williams’ score to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in one concert?

Alley Theatre Renovation Sneak Peek

If you’re a long time season subscriber who spent last season seeing the company’s performances at UH and wondering what was going on back at the theatrical ranch or just someone who frequently drives down Texas Avenue and shakes a fist (or single digit) at the large crane that’s been parked in the left lane for what seems like forever, now is the time to get a look at the pretty new interiors all that construction has build.

Get a glimpse of the new facilities a month before the grand re-opening. Along with behind-the-scene tours, the Alley team has scheduled stage combat and play maker demonstrations throughout the day.

For the Kids and Teens

For the young performing arts aficionados, there will be lots of hands-on fun. The Houston Symphony opens an instrument petting zoo. The Alley has face painting, while the Houston Ballet will give kids the opportunity to try on ballet costumes as well as get a Christmas-in-August treat of meeting the Sugar Plum Fairy and some of her minions. Meanwhile teens might want to head to Hobby’s Zilkha Hall for TUTS’ Humphreys School of Musical Theatre presentation of songs from the school’s upcoming production of Rent. Back at the Wortham check out the HSPVA spotlight.

Deals Galore

It’s like Performing Arts Black Friday, with most arts organizations offering one-day-only specials and give-aways. But don’t worry, there are enough bargains to go around, so don’t trample anyone on your way to get to SPA’s buy four get one free deal, Houston Ballet’s 50 percent off season tickets, Houston Grand Opera’s 20 percent on all single tickets or a special 3-concert jazz or chamber music package from Da Camera.

Boat Tours

Find out what lies beneath the District (hint: water, turtles and on rare occasions the odd gator) on a 30-minute boat ride along Buffalo Bayou from the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. While I’m not sure I trust the Partnership’s word that you might catch a “cool breeze” as you glide along the bayou, the view of downtown from the water is pretty strange and wondrous.

Unique Performances

The stars of the day will, of course, be the big boys and girls of the HGO, Houston Ballet and Symphony, and Society for the Performing Arts, but Theater District Open House is also a great day to explore some of the smaller groups and performing companies you might not know so well, even though some have been around for decades.

Check out the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall for a selection of performances from some of the partner companies of Uniquely Houston, Hobby’s program for providing a venue for smaller and mid-sized nonprofit performing arts organizations. Discover your new favorite performers like Vituosi, Karen Stokes Dance and Houston Metropolitan Dance (METDance).


The 22nd Annual TransCanada Theater District Open House takes place Sunday (August 30) from noon until 4 pm in downtown Houston.