best november theater
November's must-see Houston theater: MJ, Motown grooves, a totally Texas Christmas tale, and more
As we take down our giant yard skeletons — or at least put Santa hats on them — Houston performing arts companies are already decking their stage halls with lots of holiday shows.
TUTS throws the ultimate office party for audiences with a world premiere musical. But those who love those holiday traditions, we can spend the holidays all our favorites from Scrooge to Jane Austen’s Bennet sisters to the nuttiest of princes and fairy queens in the Nutcracker.
But, if you’re not quite ready for all that holiday cheer yet, Catastrophic Theatre keeps it creepy with a world premiere adaptation of a classic ghost story and the King of Pop dances into the Hobby Center for a “Thriller” of a show.
MJ presented by Broadway at the Hobby Center (November 14-19)
MJ — or as we all know him, Michael Jackson/The King of Pop — moonwalks into the Hobby Center and leads a slate of musical bio shows for the 23-24 season. With a book by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage, we expect to go deeper into the life and music of Michael Jackson.
The song list includes global hits like “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Man in the Mirror” but also some surprises like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Climb Ev'ry Mountain.” The Broadway at Hobby season is definitely gonna “Be Startin’ Something” with this one.
The Turn of the Screw from Catastrophic Theatre (November 17-December 9)
While other theaters start decking the stage hall early, Catastrophic continues to embrace the long, spooky fall nights. We can always count on Catastrophic doing some counter-programming during the holidays, and this year, they’re turning to a classic that’s also a world premiere adaptation.
This thrilling, and likely chilling, new stage adaptation of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is a gothic ghost story about a young governess and her two cutely creepy kid charges. Conceived and co-directed by Catastrophic core artist Afsaneh Aayani and New York City-based creative director and multimedia designer Adam J. Thompson, this Turn will feature environmental staging, toy theatre, puppetry, live cinema, and a haunting soundscape.
A Motown Christmas at Ensemble Theatre (November 17-December 24)
Audiences loved this joyful show so much last year that Ensemble brings it back to tunefully ring out 2023. The Midtown powerhouse invites us to celebrate the holidays with this festive holiday revue.
Consider this the perfect blend of traditional Christmas carols paired with the soulful sounds from such Motown celebrities as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, and The Jackson 5. This soulful musical promises to bring back good memories and deliver a delightful Christmas treat for the entire family.
A Christmas Carol at Alley Theatre (November 17-December 30)
The Alley premiered this charming new production of the classic Carol adapted by Alley artistic director Rob Melrose, and it became quite the hit. Melrose went back to the Charles Dickens original novella for inspiration.
Mainstay and favorite David Rainey is back as Scrooge, with the rest of the resident acting company and Alley regulars playing all the ghosts and Dickensian characters. The Alley creative team and designers weave their own holiday magic along side the actors in this production to create a music-filled Victorian wonderland with floating houses, intricate and sometimes spooky costumes, beautiful puppetry, wondrous stage illusions, and a snowy finale for every performance.
Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley at Main Street Theater (November 18-December 17)
For the holidays, MST goes back to the world of Jane Austen, with another visit to Pemberley. Georgiana and Kitty becomes the third and latest show of Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon’s Pride and Prejudice sequels.
These Christmas at Pemberley plays have been a holiday hit for MST, so we can’t wait for the Regency romance with a 21st century sense and sensibility. This time, Mr. Darcy’s talented sister Georgiana and her best friend — the younger, spunky, and usually forgotten Bennet sister, Kitty — might have their chance for a spin around the dance floor of love as unexpected guests arrive for the annual Christmas at Pemberley.
But, will Mr. Darcy ever approve?
A Texas Carol at A.D. Players (November 22-December 23)
Here’s another Houston-born show that world premiered last year to so much success, they brought it back. Get ready for holiday family-time laughs with the outrageous, and very Texan, comedy from A.D. Players executive artistic director Jayme McGhan and artistic producer Kevin Dean.
The whole family is on the way to Mee-Maw Jane's East Texas ranch for what might be her last Christmas. The only problem: when the first group arrives, Mee-Maw is gone — like, departed from the earth.
Now, how to keep that fact (and her body) from the rest of the family — and save Christmas? A.D. Players promise a hysterical and heart-warming story about all things Christmas and all things Texas that ultimately brings us straight to the true meaning of Christmas.
The Nutcracker from Houston Ballet (November 24-December 27)
HB company wraps up – with a bow, of course — the year with Stanton Welch’s sugarplum dreamy Nutcracker Ballet. The full company of dancers will perform during the production’s run, joined by hundreds of young dancers – students from Houston Ballet Academy as well as locals from the annual open audition.
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.
The Ugly Xmas Sweater Musical from Theatre Under the Stars (November 28-December 24)
Here’s an excuse to don your most outrageous holiday apparel as TUTS puts audiences to work it ...on the runway. In this interactive world premiere written by TUTS artistic director Dan Knechtges — who will also direct and choreograph — and Megan Larche Dominick, the audience plays the part of office workers at a small clothing manufacturing company.
When a large, international conglomerate buys it to sell it for parts, Cheryl, the HR manager, comes up with a novel (and novelty idea) to save everyone’s jobs: designing and manufacturing the ultimate ugly Xmas sweaters.
As for attending: Look for lots of audience participation, with a chance to walk the ugly sweater runway on stage.