Houston's 9 must-see stage shows for October tell tawdry and thrilling tales
It’s alive! Mwahahaha! October Houston theater, that is. And like a trick-or-treat bag full of goodies, we have something for every theatrical taste this month, including comic horror, quiet tales of life and aging, immigrant love stories, sex, war, more sex, and lots and lots of singing felines.
October also brings some very good news as two theater companies, Classical Theatre Company and Obsidian Theatre, settle into new performance homes after losing their spaces last year, while 4th Wall Theatre hits a big acting milestone achieving Equity status.
So let’s usher in those longer fall nights with these can't-miss shows.
The Feast from Obsidian Theatre at the MATCH (October 3-26)
Obsidian Theatre is finally back in show business with a move to the MATCH after losing their theater space in the Heights. As harrowing as this experience has been for the company that has produced some of the quirkiest and most innovative shows for Houston in recent years, it probably wasn’t as scary as this spooky October offering. This reality-bending dark comedy sends one nice couple’s relationship into the toilet when the sewers under their apartment open up and begin to speak.
Empanada Loca from Obsidian Theatre at the MATCH (October 4-26)
One production is apparently not enough for Obsidian this Halloween season, so they’ve got another underground-themed show for us, this one loosely based on Sweeney Todd. In this one-woman show, a young woman tells a tale of horror involving weed dealing, a massage business underneath an empanada shop, and a final bloodbath that sends her to live in an abandoned subway tunnel with mole people.
Salt, Root and Roe at Stages (October 4-20)
We get into the acting harvest of the season with this U.S. premiere from Stages that caused a critical stir in the U.K. In this Tim Price drama with threads of real humor, elderly identical twins decide they want to die together until the daughter of one of the sisters attempts to persuade them to not act as one. Stages favorites Sally Edmundson plays one of the twins.
Vietgone at The Alley Theatre (October 4-November 3)
Qui Nguyen’s comic love story of two Vietnamese refugees in 1970s America became one of the most lauded works out of New York in recent years. Desdemona Chiang directs this regional debut that should resonate literally with Houston, as the Alley is promising a “hot soundtrack that serves up hip-hop, sass, and revolution.”
Spring Awakening from Theatre Under the Stars at Hobby Center (October 8-20)
Set in the late 19th century with a very contemporary rock score, the musical based on German playwright Frank Wedekind’s story of teens discovering their sexuality in not so blissful ignorance. Both joyful and tragic, the show won the Tony for best musical. Now TUTS awakens a new production for fall with local choreographer Marlana Doyle composing the moves.
Glass Menagerie from 4th Wall Theatre at Studio 101 (October 11-November 2)
Always ready for an acting challenge, 4th Wall tackles one of the great of American Theater, Tennessee Williams’s quiet, yet volatile, story of a family lost and broken.
4th Wall has extra reason to celebrate this month, as the Los Angeles Representative of Actors Equity will come to town to present the company with a plaque designating it with official Equity theater status. This will make for an important moment for the company, which has made it its mission to provide competitive pay in supporting theater artists.
Lysistrata from Classical Theatre Company at DeLuxe Theater (October 16-November 3)
One of theater’s edgiest comedies is also one of its oldest. War or sex, the men of Greece can’t have both when the Greek women go on a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian War. Classical Theatre tends to bring a fresh perspective and relevance to some of the most ancient plays, so we can’t wait to see its vision for this Aristophanes masterpiece. They’ve also managed to make a thematic connect with their mission and new home as they set up theater shop in the recently renovated historic DeLuxe Theater.
Cats presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center (October 22-27)
Relive all the catty “Memories” while also experiencing new sound design, direction, and choreography for this revival of the multi-Tony Award-winner, the 4th longest running show on Broadway. While the live version won’t star Taylor Swift, you won’t have to worry about weird CGI shenanigans, just a ton of cat makeup and the furriest of costumes.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from Manual Cinema presented by Society for the Performing Arts at Jones Hall (October 30)
Something a bit different but appropriate for the season comes with this one-night-only performance by the Chicago performing arts collective and film company, Manual Cinema. Neither a staged musical, play, concert, puppet show, or live filming, this version of Frankenstein has elements from all these performance mediums. Actors, artists, and musicians mingle onstage as the audience watches the act of creation and the creation itself come alive before them, perhaps a perfect way of retelling the Frankenstein story.