Houston's ultimate guide to holiday theater: Christmas classics, merry musicals, and more
Houston is in the midst of celebrating the holiday season with dozens of dazzling winter light shows, but holiday theatrical performances — from classic to innovative — offer a chance to toast the season, take in seasonal stories, and mark hallowed traditions.
With that in mind, we've rounded up the top shows Houston troupes are staging all across town. Our list includes familiar and popular performances from power producers, as well as hidden gems in community and specialty theaters.
Consider this a guide to can't-miss holiday shows meant to delight audiences of all ages.
Popular performances— Steven Devadanam
The Rice Village theater closes out its Christmas at Pemberley trilogy with Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley. The holiday play explores how Georgiana, the younger sister of Mr. Darcy, and her friendship with the youngest Bennet sister, Kitty, helps the two of the find their way and their proper roles in Regency-era England. Apropos for Jane Austen lovers and Austen newbies alike, this new take on classic characters is a holiday treat. Due to popular demand, the show has been extended. Through December 23.
Energetic, joyful, and stacked with hits, A Motown Christmas packed the crowds in so much last year that Midtown powerhouse Ensemble has chosen to close out 2023 with the crowd favorite.The singalong sensation pumps legendary classics into the holiday in a revue-style show that offers seasonal hits from Motown legends Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Jackson 5, and more. Consider entertainment the whole family will love. Through December 24.
Alley mainstay David Rainey (second left) is masterful as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.Photo via Alley Theatre
A venerable Christmas tradition in Houston, the Alley's A Christmas Carol weaves Charles Dickens' classic story of spirits — and spiritual transformation — in Victorian London. Alley mainstay David Rainey is masterful as the miserly Scrooge as he endures ghostly visits, revealing to him different versions of Christmas that spur him to change his ways. Through December 30.
Generations of Houstonians flock to Houston Ballet's The Nutcracker, a local holiday rite of passage each year. HB artistic director Stanton Welch crafts a dreamy holiday spectacle with the ballet's full company of dancers along with a host of young dancers from Houston Ballet Academy as well as locals from the annual open audition. The Nutcracker Prince, Sugarplum Fairy, Rat King, and the international players will leap to Tchaikovsky's beloved score, while Welch has Clara play hero in his version of the classic. Through December 27.
Every Christmas, Stages offers a brand-new panto performance, putting its own, over-the-top spin on this holiday tradition. This year's show is Panto Alicia in Wonderland, a first-ever collaboration with TEATRX. Alicia is about to make her quinceañera and torn between her parents' traditions and what she wants for herself. As if that's not enough, she falls down a rabbit whole and things really get strange. December 1 through 31.
Audiences have three chances to see holiday-themed shows. Duke Ellington's Nutcracker jazzes up theTchaikovsky classic. A Very Merry Pops brings together the symphony and the Houston Symphony Chorus for seasonal favorites and a sing-a-long. Handel's Messiah follows the life of Christ in one of classical music's most-loved pieces, including the soaring "Hallelujah Chorus." Duke Ellington's Nutcracker is December 12; A Very Merry Pops is December 20 through 23.
Two shows light up TUTS stages at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderellabrings the beloved fairytale to life, using the Whitney Houston and Brandy version of the show as its inspiration.
Office life gets ugly in TUTS' Ugly Christmas Sweater Musical. Photo via TUTS
In The Ugly Christmas Sweater Musical, a group of office workers must produce the ugliest Christmas sweater imaginable in order to keep their jobs after a conglomerate buys their business. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Musical runs November 28 through December 24; Cinderella runs December 5 through 24.
Holiday hidden gems— Holly Beretto
This cabaret troupe's raison d'etre is the celebration of The Great American Songbook, and the small ensemble brings together some of Houston's finest voices in an intimate Rice Village setting. This year marks the group's first holiday show, We Need A Little Christmas, featuring holiday-themed songs from Broadway musicals, along with lesser-performed carols. November 27 through December 11.
Brenham is a favorite day tripping spot for Houstonians, who should think seriously about adding a performance of The Game's Afoot to their holiday choices. A comedy by Ken Ludwig, it takes place at Christmas. An actor playing Sherlock Holmes who invites his castmates to his retreat for some holiday cheer. But then one of them winds up dead. Can his on-stage sleuthing assist in finding the killer? The show runs November 30 through December 17.
The Conroe theater presents Stage Right's production of Christmas Belles, a Southern farce that's sure to put some spice in the holiday season. Its got squabbling sister, a surly sheep, even a reluctant Elvis impersonator. It's a story of holiday havoc in a small Texas town and the spirit of the season prevails. December 1 through 17.
Get into the holiday spirit with Jingle All the Way, a concert at the MATCH, blending the bright sounds of the ensemble with the voices of the Houston Pride Chorus. This one-night-only performance of holiday favorites is a perfect kick-off to seasonal celebrating. December 1.
The cabaret group brings back its popular annual Christmas show, A Beatles Holiday Cabaret, blending sounds of the season with favorites from the Fab Four at Queensbury Theatre. December 1 through 23.
Music Box Theater pays homage to the Fab Four with A Beatles Holiday Cabarey.Photo via Music Box Theater
Dedicated to showcasing the diversity of music and cultures in the Bayou City, this group seeks global harmony in a divided world. Silver Bells, their holiday offering at the MATCH, does just that, with festive songs performed in Arabic to Ukrainian. It's an opportunity for audiences to hear music from traditions across the globe and experience the unity of the season. December 2 and 3.
This small but mighty organization brings some of the best classical ensembles in the world to Houston. That tradition continues with a concert by The King's Singers, an a capella group founded at Cambridge University's King's College and among the most-lauded around the globe. They'll sing holiday favorites and some lesser-known gems. December 12.
Justapose Arts Collective presents Believe at the MATCH. The holiday story is about a group of children who find themselves on a magical train ride to the North Pole. Along the way, they'll discover things they never knew about themselves and learn how the decisions they make have ramifications they never knew. December 15 through 17.
Mainstage theater is back at the CityCentre venue, and families should love A Charlie Brown Christmas, a live-action rendering of the beloved animated classic. Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and the gang help Charlie Brown find the Christmas spirit. December 15 to 23.
The community-based arts organization has long celebrated multiculturalism through song. This year's Christmas Revels concert at the MATCH spotlights the song traditions of Appalachia, telling the story of a folklore researching traveling through the area in the 1930s. It's a journey of singing and dancing, demonstrated a very American take on the Winter Solstice celebration. December 21 through 23.