best october theater
As the nights begin to get a little longer, it’s the perfect time to spend them at Houston theaters. October brings some appropriately intentional and accidental spooky drama and musicals, from ghosts to underworldly gods having marital difficulties to friendly sea monsters — who are also having marital difficulties.
Houston Grand Opera resurrects a century-old classic for a brand new production, and Rec Room finds romance during a possible apocalypse. Plus, a beloved Houston Ballet icon gets her due. Here are the best bets for October theater in Houston.
Hadestown from Broadway at the Hobby Center (now through October 9)
Originally scheduled for a January stop in Houston and delayed by new year COVID, it’s been a long journey to get to the Hobby stage for this multiple Tony-winning musical. The road to Hell is full of some bad intentions but some very the best music in this show that twines together the epic Greek loves stories of Hades and Persephone and Orpheus and Eurydice. As the first song, “Road to Hell” even spoils, don’t expect a happily-ever-after with these stories, but do lookout for a decidedly different, rocking and bluesy take of those classic Greek myths you learned in junior high.
Plumshuga: The Rise of Lauren Anderson at Stages (October 7-November 13)
Stages dances into fall with a world premiere that can’t get any more Houston in both its local roots and international reach. Written and co-directed by former Houston poet laureate Deborah D.E.E.P Mouton, with choreography from both Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch and Urban Souls Dance founder Harrison Guy, this bio theatrical work with original music tells the story of Houston’s favorite Sugar Plum Fairy and one of the first Black principal ballerinas of a major ballet company, the legendary Lauren Anderson. DeQuina Moore, who will also create a new holiday show for Stages, plays one of three versions of Anderson.
The Thin Place from 4th Wall Theatre (October 13-November 5)
For a '22-'23 season filled with plays from some of the hottest contemporary playwrights, 4th Wall begins with Lucas Hnath’s Thin Place. In perhaps a perfect theatrically spooky mood for October, 4th Wall describes the show as a suspenseful ghost story that probes the deeply human need for connection. As one woman grappling with loss, seeks answers and friendship from a medium, who communicates with the dead residing in a different "thin place."
Seascape at Alley Theatre (October 14-November 13)
The Alley then begins their Neuhaus Stage season with this Pulitzer Prize winning-comedy, but as an Edward Albee play, expect humor so sharp it cuts to the bone. The Alley has an illustrious history with the late, great Albee’s work, and during his time teaching at UH, he was sometimes seen in the audience for many an Alley Albee production. Alley Artistic Director, Rob Melrose, says he’s been wanting to give this look at two marriages, one human, one sea monsters a production for a long time. The Alley calls it a tender, comic love story, told by way of an unusual marriage counseling session.
Put Your House in Order at Rec Room (October 20-November 12)
As an always innovative downtown theater beyond the Theater District, Rec Room has had success with several Ike Holter plays, so we’re looking forward to their latest production directed by company founder Matt Hune and billed as a genre-defying romantic-comedy/horror/old-school thriller. Specifically, the story is about a first date that explores beginnings at the big end. When the city around them begins exhibiting signs that something is terribly wrong, Caroline and Roland quickly have to learn to trust each other to stand a chance against the horrors outside the gate.
La traviata from Houston Grand Opera (October 21-November 6)
“Fortune favors the bold” has been HGO’s motto for their '22-'23 lineup, and thus, here's a bold opening move with Verdi’s masterpiece featuring Grammy-award-winning soprano Angel Blue making her company debut as Violetta, a courtesan whose pursuit of love belies a creeping, fatal illness. Tenor Matthew White, as her lover Alfredo, and celebrated baritone Andrei Kymach, as Alfredo’s father Giorgio, will also make their HGO debut. Conductor Matthew Aucoin, one of opera’s leading composers and a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, also joins HGO for the first time.
Coyote on a Fence from Dirt Dogs Theatre Company (October 21-November 5)
In keeping with their reputation for some intense, intimate productions, the company opens their lucky-seven season with this intriguing play by Bruce Graham, inspired by a real life Texas death row story. In the show, John Brennan, the editor of a prison newspaper, who is incarcerated himself, gets set to talk to death row inmate Bobby Reyburn in order to write his obituary. John's writing draws national attention and the interest of a journalist who wants to do a story about him. As each awaits his final fate under the watchful eye of their female guard, they confront, comfort, and change each other.
The Secret of My Success from Theatre Under the Stars (October 25-November 6)
Because of scheduling conflicts, the previously announced Vacation musical won’t make a road trip to Houston. Instead, TUTS will produce the regional premiere of The Secret of My Success, the new musical based on the hit 1980s Michael J. Fox film. The original film was a sort of rom-com with both a boy/girl and boy/multinational corporation romance at its core. This musical has only had one other full production, a pre-Broadway run in Chicago. TUTS artistic director Dan Knechtges will both direct and choreograph this new production. With TUTS partnering with Universal Theatrical Group, the production company behind Wicked, we’re wondering if this show won’t remain much of a secret for long.
The Wreckers from Houston Grand Opera (October 28-November 11)
The month ends with a new beginning for Dame Ethel Smyth’s epic 1906 opera that’s not seen a major production in more than a century. The Wreckers tells the story of Thirza, (Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke) and her resolve to defy her preacher husband Pascoe (Houston favorite and HGO Studio alumnus Reginald Smith, Jr.). Pascoe declares to their coastal community that shipwrecks along their shore are meant to be pillaged — and meant to be premeditated by leaving the town lighthouse dark. Thirza’s heart and conscience are not with her husband or with his dangerous methods. Someone among them is secretly warning the ships of danger, and the villagers search for the traitor, while Thirza embraces her convictions, no matter the cost. This new HGO production is directed by Louisa Muller and conducted by HGO artistic and music director Patrick Summers.