best December Theater
Houston's best December theater: Jane Austen meets Guns N' Roses, Drunk Shakespeare, and more
Holiday hit shows continue to roll in this month, including a few world premieres created just for Houston audiences.
But those who might be feeling a bit humbug and want a holiday show break can enjoy some nicely naughty tales with celebratory appeal — and without even one Christmas ghost. From a totally smashed Bard to doing shots with a Scottish king we’ve got shows that know how to party, no matter what the season.
Party on; here are the top stage shows in Houston for December.
Panto Alicia in Wonderland at Stages (now through December 31)
Stages continues its beloved tradition of offering a world-premiere Panto show for the holidays, and this year brings a special collab with Houston’s collaborative Latinx Theatre Company, Teatrx.
As this Alice nears her quinceañera and begins to question her tradition and culture, an accidental fall down a rabbit hole brings her into a strange new world full of talking caterpillars, Mad Hatters, and a helpful guy named Buttons who really knows his way around this wacky, weird, fairytale world.
Look for fun musical parodies of Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Bad Bunny, and more.
Sense & Sensibility at 4th Wall Theatre (now through December 23)
This as Houston’s second showcase of the Jane Austen-penned Bennet sisters on local stages this month. (The first is the wonderfully executed regional premiere of Georgiana and Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley at the always-excellent Main Street Theater that’s drawing rave reviews).
Now, 4th Wall invites the Dashwood sisters to a Regency Era dance party with this fun and fabulous adaptation from Kate Hamill. The 4th Wall co-founder Kim Tobin-Lehl directs, which is notable as she also directed a Hamill version of Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
Her vision of Pride and Prejudice quickly became one of our favorite holiday show memories, which means plenty of comic sensibilities for this next go, which features a stellar cast, hysterical musical runs, rom-com fun, and more. For a rave accounting of the show, check out CultureMap writer Holly Beretto’s glowing review.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella from Theatre Under the Stars (running through December 24)
Families will have a total ball with this production of Cinderella that’s based on the TV version produced by Disney, which starred Brandy and Whitney Houston.
TUTS holiday shows tend to be their biggest extravaganzas of the year, so look for a huge cast, including budding stars from the TUTS schools, stunning costumes, and theatrical magic onstage.
We hear the fairy godmother might be a high-flying benevolent diva in this production — literally. Don those glass slippers and get ready for a show-stopping fairytale with a happy ending.
Drunk Shakespeare at the Emerald Theatre (ongoing)
Love theater but the holidays drive you to drink? Take a swing of classic Shakespeare performed while one of the actors is sloshed.
An Off-Broadway sensation in New York for almost a decade, this theatrical franchise then drunkenly staggered into other U.S cities, with Houston the latest addition.
Like many great stories, it all begins with this drunken premise: five professional Houston actors meet as members of The Drunk Shakespeare Society. One of them has five — yes, five — shots of whiskey, and then attempts to perform a major role in a Shakespearean play. (Spoiler alert, it’s probably going to be the Scottish play.)
Each show is completely different depending on who’s drinking — and what they’re drinking. (Houston is a tequila town, after all.) There might be some audience participation as well from a VIP king or queen.
Tea at Five from On the Verge Theatre (running December 23)
Take a break from all those holiday shows by sitting down for a festive cup of tea with one of the grand dames of film, Katherine Hepburn.
With the audience as the guest of honor, Ms. Hepburn shares Hollywood secrets, anecdotes from her life, and insights into her remarkable loves and career. Former Alley Theatre actor and still a Houston favorite, Annalee Jefferies, plays Hepburn in this one-woman show.
On the Verge’s move to the Alta Arts venue should also make for an intimate setting for this one-on-one with a screen legend.
Peter Pan at Rec Room (through December 30)
No one does epic stories in very small spaces like Rec Room. We still remember their holiday immersive Hansel and Gretel opera several years ago.
With that show in mind, we’re like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to see what theatrical present they’ll deliver next. For this twist on the classic, director Matt Hune goes back to J.M. Barrie’s original story and moves it into the 1980s — before the internet forever changed childhood imagination. While keeping the story appropriate for kids and grownups, Hune goes philosophical with this Pan.
“On a deeper level the story is a myth that explores what it means to be stuck,” explains Hune. “It explores how we manage suffering and grief. It questions if we can be extraordinary within our ordinary journey of living and dying.”
A Charlie Brown Christmas at Queensbury Theatre (December 14-23)
The CityCentre theater has been focusing on education with its Tribble School in recent years, but it looks like they’re ready to welcome audiences back to their main stage with new programming, beginning with this holiday favorite for all.
Based on the classic 1960s television special, the Peanuts gang is all here in live, human form to celebrate Christmas with the saddest, yet loveliest Christmas tree ever.
Peanuts and Charlie Brown special fans will love that all the original Vince Guaraldi's music from the original program is included in this beloved holiday theater gift.
Something in the Air from Dinolion (December 20-January 6, 2024)
We’ve seen some wild and weird immersive theater experiences from this company over the years, including trippy walks through a couple of haunting spaces, filled with everything from art cars to Houston Ballet dancers to spooky rabbits.
The trippiest of all was that one naked lady in the bathtub who required the audience to bare all...of their emotional traumas, that is.
After a hiatus, Dinolion is back with a new, mysterious and musical “immersive event.” The company calls this Something a love letter to the open-mic music scene in Houston and a “stylized journey into the open mic night community.”
In keeping with the open-mic performance theme, this show will feature tunes from Fern and Rocket, Nathan Ray Band, Gio of DGS, Juliet Young, Eric Castillo of Slow Wave, and Dinolion founder Jeromy Barber. Open-mic-style poetry comes courtesy Daniel Holiday, and Lindsay Cortner directs the moves with her choreography.