best september theater
13 best Houston plays and performances spotlight soaring sensations and delicious drama in September
The curtain officially rises on 2022-2023 performing arts season this month in Houston, and what a dramatic, comic and musical beginning it will be. With world premieres, soaring classics, timely dramas, and some major theatrical parties, September offers the perfect time to dive back into live, in-person performing arts.
The Moonlit Princess at Rec Room (now through September 17)
Though not part of their regular season, Rec Room is hosting this world premiere work conceived and directed by local multidisciplinary artist Afsaneh Aayani.
Based on the Persian fairytale Mah Pishoon, this family-friendly production with music follows the story of Little Mah as she loses her parents, faces difficulties, all while choosing kindness and in the end finding herself. From magical ghouls to talking frogs, all the elements of fairytale classics will likely delight audiences of all ages.
Peter Pan from Houston Ballet (September 9-18)
We have to include this most theatrical of ballets and a dance spin on the classic tale of the boy who refused to grow up from acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre who had his own artistic growth spurt in Houston as a former Houston Ballet dancer and choreographic apprentice.
Look for dance magic on the Wortham stages as the production features flying sequences, swashbuckling sword fights, giant puppets, and costumes inspired by punk fashion.
Tied from On the Verge Theatre (September 15-October 2)
The second production from Houston’s newest theater company will be 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 scheduled to presented at Ensemble Theatre.
Lend Me a Soprano at Alley Theatre (September 16-October 9)
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. Lucille Wiley, Manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, tries to manage the chaos when world-class soprano Elena Firenzi arrives late for her one-night-only starring role in Carmen. Can Wiley’s underdog assistant Jo can save the day?
Scrambled presented by Mildred’s Umbrella (September 16-18)
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 to great acclaim at theater festivals around the world. Describes by critics as “unsettling” poetic and even a “fantasy cabaret,” the production also crowns quickly, so there’s only one weekend to catch it.
Mapping & Glaciers from Karen Stokes Dance (September 16-25)
With choreography/film/direction by local choreographer Karen Stokes, the show definitely leaps into our list of theatrical dance this month. Merging film, dance, and music, the production explores human concepts of territory and connection in a world of melting glaciers.
While questioning the absurdity of human choices, the show also speaks to the resiliency of human nature and creates space for hope, for the possibility of connection and interconnection.
Trouble in Mind at Main Street Theater (September 17-October 16)
This partially forgotten, now acclaimed play by the groundbreaking novelist and playwright Alice Childress recently had its Broadway debut, over 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.
Love and Southern D!scomfort at Ensemble Theatre (September 17-October 16)
Directed by Ensemble artistic director Eileen J. Morris this new musical with soapy delicious drama of estranged family coming home for a matriarch’s funeral in a steamy and sultry town in rural Louisiana. As her heirs reunite and secrets are revealed, the show highlights how love and southern discomfort fuel dissension. Original contemporary music weave a tale of jealousy, joy, pain, and love.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ from Theatre Under the Stars (September 20-October 2)
Get ready for some Roaring ’20s as TUTS invites Houstonians to the ultimate Jazz-age party. The Tony-winning best musical from the late ’70s takes audiences back to the Harlem Renaissance and nights sizzling nights at the Cotton Club filled with the music of Fats Waller. Staged like a concert and nightclub experience, this musical is set to become the ultimate September party.
Miss Maude at A.D. Players (September 21-October 23)
This next season opener that’s also a world premiere is 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.
Good Vibrations from Houston Ballet (September 22-October 2)
Peter Pan might have flown off to Neverland, but the Houston Ballet leaps back on the Wortham stage for its second production this month, a mixed-rep performance of three good vibing dances including the world premiere Good Vibrations from award-winning choreographer, Arthur Pita and set to a commissioned score by Christopher Austin, with references to The Beach Boys’ legendary “Good Vibrations.”
Also on the program is Red Earth from Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch which celebrates Australian artistry, transporting audiences to a world where adversity is expressed through movement. Also back is The Letter V originally created by choreographer superstar Mark Morris on Houston Ballet dancers in 2015, to the music of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 88 in G Major.
Or/And at Asia Society (September 23-24)
Not exactly theater, but we’re definitely intrigued by this world premiere chamber operatic poem by Taiwanese-Houstonian composer Shih-Hui Chen about a composer who finds her voice only when she accepts the seeming contradictions of her immigrant identity.
The chamber opera chronicles the journey struggling to write a piece of music inspired by two events half a world apart — a sacred ceremony of the indigenous Paiwan people of Taiwan and the Women’s March in Houston.
Happy Days at Catastrophic Theatre (September 23-October 15)
Catastrophic Theatre and Infernal Bridegroom Productions return to toast 30 years and 139 abstract theater productions. Fittingly, the company kicks off its 30th season with Samuel Beckett’s existential tragicomedy. The show centers on the plight of Winnie, a middle-class, middle-aged woman who is quite literally stuck, buried to her waist in crusted earth.
Meanwhile, her husband Willie lives in a hole behind her mound, physically, and emotionally out of reach. Even in his company she is hopelessly alone. Winnie, who carries a shopping bag of everyday items and routines, a series of half-remembered stories, songs, and prayers, and confounding optimism, she presses through each day with an impossibly hopeful exclamation: “Oh this will be another happy day!” (Editor’s note: Quite the analogy for marriage, eh?)
Tamarie Cooper plays Winnie and Jason Nodler directs, both reprising their roles from the Infernal Bridegroom production some 22 years ago.