The flurry of debuting holiday shows last month becomes a winter wonderland, Houston style, in December.
With 12 singing dames, eight disgruntled reindeer, seven reenacted Harry Potter books, two Little Mermaids and one detective nun, we likely have enough holiday theater this month to do our own version of the “12 Days of Christmas.”
And, as Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker dances back into the Wortham and HGO premieres a Snowy opera to the world, you’ll find music and dance to warm even the most humbug heart.
The Nutcracker from Houston Ballet (now through December 24)
After a streaming selection of “Nutcracker Sweets,” HB artistic director Stanton Welch’s glorious vision of the season tradition is back live at the Wortham.
Dancing to the beloved Tchaikovsky score, all our favorites — the Nutcracker Prince, Sugarplum Fairy, Rat King and the international ambassadors —will take a turn at the magical winter court.
In Welch’s imagining, Clara becomes the hero of this enchanting story where the all the animals dance as well as the weather, in the form of the loveliest snowflakes in HB company.
Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold at Stages (now through December 31)
Denise Fennell is back as Sister and this time, she’s playing detective as she teaches her annual Christmas catechism class.
Just what happened to all that gifted gold those the wise men brought to the most famous Christmas party/baby shower in history? No texting or gum chewing in this class, as Sister will call on her students and sometime require active participation.
“The show transcends the boundaries between audience and artist, and everyone gets to share the joy,” explains Stages artistic director Kenn McLaughlin.
Panto Little Mermaid at Stages (now through December 31)
Take a holiday dive into the latest in Stages’ tradition of bringing world premiere panto shows that weave together contemporary fairytale revision with some adult satire and silly fun for kids.
Stages teamed up local playwrights ShaWanna Renee Rivon and Elizabeth A.M. Keel to pen this very Houston spin on the Hans Christian Anderson classic. In this new take Gulf Coast mermaid sings to keep her home waters clean with some help from her sea creature friends and a perhaps princely marine biologist.
Look for Panto favorites Ryan Schabach as Buttons and and Genevieve Allenbury, bringing her rarified U.K comic timing, to join in the third coastal musical adventures.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid from Theatre Under the Stars (December 7-24)
Another Little Mermaid hits the Houston stage shores — this time as the Disney live stage production from TUTS.
The mammoth musical producers have gone big as they’ve come home to their Hobby Center stage after over a year way, and this Little Mermaid will be their biggest show yet for 2021.
Expect a cast as big as the sea filled with Broadway veterans, local favorites and even some future musical stars from TUTS Humphreys School of Musical Theatre. Listen for classic songs from the original animated film and Broadway production like “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.”
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience at Hobby Center (December 7-January 2, 2022)
What began as a five-minute street show in 2005 from the UK writing/performing team Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, Potted Potter has become a theatrical phenomena onto itself for both fans and newbies to the Harry Potter world.
This most recent tour stars Scott Hoatson and Brendan Murphy. The two-man live comedy condenses (with some gentle parody) all seven Harry Potter books into 70 minutes, while still having time for an audience participatory game of Quidditch.
The original creators are always adding and tweaking the show as the J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world continues to grow.
The Snowy Day from Houston Grand Opera (December 9-19)
Declare a family snow day for the perfect holiday world premiere to introduce kids to opera. Based on the classic children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats, Snowy Day tells the story of young Peter, who wakes up to a snowy wonderland in New York and sets off onto a childhood operatic adventure. HGO Studio soprano Raven McMillon takes the role of Peter.
“We are so proud of this new opera and were devastated last year when we had to cancel,” says HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers. “It is our first commission from a Black composer and librettist team—Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney — and these brilliant artists have created something truly special.”
To allow the world to share in this very special premiere, HGO will offer a free livestream of the opening night performance.
The Eight: Reindeer Monologues from Dirt Dog Theatre (December 10-18)
It looks like a certain North Pole monopoly might need some HR intervention, OSHA compliance training and perhaps top attorneys if this antlered team of disgruntled worker have their say.
That’s right, allegations have been made and now Dasher Dancer, Comet, Cupid, et al spill all the coco on Santa in this decidedly not family friendly but adult’s-only holiday show.
While the play was first produced in the mid-’90s, it will likely hit some timely #Metoo notes. Find out what kind of boss Santa really in what may be the most dark comedy on our naughty and nice list.
The Twelve Dames of Christmas at A.D. Players (December 13 and 14)
Emmy-nomiee Angela Ingersoll conjures up the ultimate diva holiday-themed concert as she captures the voices and styles of Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Janis Joplin and more in this celebratory evening.
The latest show in A.D. Players partnership with Artists Lounge Live to bring headliners with distinguished careers in Broadway, theatre, film, and television to Houston.
For this holiday show, Ingersoll will be backed by a stellar band as they raise the holiday spirit with dame-worthy standards like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Santa Baby,” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”