BEST JANUARY THEATER
Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Golden Girls gone bad, and Tina star in Houston's best January theater
After celebrating Houston theater’s best of the bad in 2023, we’re ready to jump into a new year filled with theater.
And what a beginning it is, as January brings three major Broadway musical tours, outrageous comedies and some Houston-grown world premieres. Also, watch for international opera-loving tourists in the crowd as Houston Grand Opera produces a rare, epic Wagner opera.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical from Broadway at the Hobby Center (now through January 7)
Ring in the new year with “Simply the Best” and all round queen of rock, R&B, soul, pop ,and really, the musical universe. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Katori Hall wrote the book on Turner’s extraordinary, no-holds-barred story.
The musical follows her from childhood singing in the church to her rise to stardom, marriage and divorce to Ike Turner and her triumph second, third and beyond acts as a international rock superstar.
Who needs another hero — when we’ve got Tina Turner?
Keepsake from Ishida Dance at the Hobby Center (January 12-13)
Not exactly theater, but we always take notice when this theatrical Texas-based contemporary dance company announces a world premiere production. Based in Austin and Houston, Ishida has garnered international acclaim and this new piece looks to continue those accolades.
Keepsake is a poetic narrative dance exploring a dissociative fugue state and what might have provoked it. The evening will also features works by two acclaimed European choreographers whose work is seldom seen in the U.S.
Look for the work “If the world was ending, would you hold me tight?” by Swedish choreographer John Wannehag and a world premiere by highly sought-after French choreographer Jeremy Galdeano. All together, the performance promises to be a rare chance to see some of the most unique choreography from Europe, Canada, and the U.S. — all on one stage.
O: A Rhapsody in Divorce from Mildred’s Umbrella (January 18-February 3)
There has been myriad retellings and reimaginings of Homer’s Odyssey over the millennia, but this latest from playwright Jami Brandli has to be one of the most wildest in its seemly mundanity.
A neurobiologist, know as O, goes on an epic couch-surfing adventure when her husband blindsides her with a divorce while refusing to leave their house.
As O hops from one couch to the next, the audience gets a tutorial on the science behind love and heartbreak while O discovers unconventional and magical ways to find her way back towards a new life and home.
New/Now from Performing Arts Houston (January 19-20)
As part of PAH’s continuing initiative to support Houston artists, the annual New/Now brings some of our most innovative artists to a Theater District stages to unveil a world premiere work.
This new year brings new works for Houston artists, Group Acorde, the Suffers’ front-woman Cam Franklin and playwright ShaWanna Renee Rivon.
Blending dance with jazz music, multidisciplinary group Group Acorde will perform Entrainment, a piece that explores themes of individualism and collectivism. Franklin celebrates H-Town’s resilience with Bayou City Comeback Chorus: Vol. 2, and Rivon new play, Emancipation, depicts the real extraordinary lives and history of Emancipation Avenue in the Third Ward.
Pictures from Home at Alley Theatre (January 19-February 11)
After making a splash on Broadway, this play travels home to the Alley Theatre where it was a part of the Alley All New Festival in 2020.
The emotional comedy is inspired by award-winning photographer Larry Sultan’s photographic memoir of his parents, with playwright Sharr White depicting Sultan’s artistic process as documented his family in the 1980s.
In a programming note, White states he thinks of the play as an exploration of Sultan’s exploration of his parent’s lives and their family. Alley artistic director Rob Melrose, who directed the workshop in 2020, directs once again with Todd Waite and Susan Koozin also back as the Sultans.
Parsifal from Houston Grand Opera (January 19-February 4)
HGO forecasts an unusual group of tourists heading into Houston in January: Wagnerites. Wagner’s epic, mystical opera, which is also his last, is only rarely mounted by major opera companies in the U.S. That means Wagner-lovers across the world will set their sights on Houston for this major operatic event, a vibrant Parsifal production from Tony Award-winning director John Caird.
For those not up on their medieval mystic lore, Wagner weaves pagan and Arthurian legend for this tale of a group of knights trying to protect the Holy Grail, while the young Parsifal embarks on a journey to retrieve the lost Holy Spear in order to save their wounded king.
HGO Principal Guest Conductor Eun Sun Kim leads a cast of extraordinary Wagnerians—including tenor Russell Thomas as Parsifal, soprano Christine Goerke as Kundry, bass Kwangchul Youn as Gurnemanz, and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as King Amfortas.
Renée Elise Goldsberry in Concert at Hobby Center (January 20)
Last year, the Hobby Center announced its brand new “Beyond Broadway” series to bring the major Broadway stars to Houston for intimate performances that go above and beyond their well-known roles.
Raised in Houston, screen and stage star Renée Elise Goldsberry seems the perfect triple threat performer to launch this series. Originating the role of Angelica Schuyler on Broadway in Hamilton earned her a Tony Award, Grammy Award, and a Drama Desk Award.
We can’t wait to see and hear how her live concert takes us into the performance beyond as she comes home to Houston.
Les Miserables from Broadway at the Hobby Center (January 23-28)
Do you hear the people sing? They’re singing the songs of the show that began a Broadway revolution. Yes, Les Miz is back at the Hobby Center for the second of our major Broadway touring musicals this month.
Dream a dream of times gone by, defend the barricades and shed a tear when Valjean sings his last note with this revival of the Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony-winning phenomenon.
Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue at the Hobby Center (January 23-27)
This hilarious cast–neither golden nor girls, exactly–bring Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia into the 21st century for brand new, adventures. Just maybe don't bring the kids to this night of comedy.
In fact, we hear the outrageous plot includes Sophia wearing an ankle monitor after being napped by the DEA for masterminding a retiree drug running scheme. Meanwhile, Blanche and Rose are starting their own social media empire by founding a sex app...for seniors.
Only Dorothy is holding their found-family together, keeping her sanity with help from a new (much) younger lover.
Steel Magnolias at A.D. Players (January 24-February 18)
For the ultimate New Year’s makeover, let’s take a roadtrip to Chinquapin, Louisiana, without leaving the Galleria area. We’re ready for a curl up and dye at Truvy’s Beauty Salon, while hearing all the latest gossip around town. Whether it’s the latest news of Shelby’s very pink wedding, the grumblings of town curmudgeon Ouiser or the mystery of Truvy’s new stylist, Annelle, we always make time to hear about the loves, heartache and triumphs of those flowers of Chinquapin with inner strength of steel. Prepare yourself for the feel-good cry you're going to do with this contemporary classic.
Madame Butterfly from Houston Grand Opera (January 26-February 11)
Puccini’s beloved tragedy, Madame Butterfly, flutters into the Wortham Center with Jordan Braun directing the revival of Tony Award-winner Michael Grandage’s acclaimed production.
The opera’s diverse cast will be led by internationally sought-after soprano Ailyn Pérez, returning to Houston as the young Cio-Cio-San. Acclaimed tenor Yongzhao Yu , who’s also no stranger to the Wortham stage, makes his role debut as American naval lieutenant Pinkerton.
Rounding out the cast, mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce plays Suzuki, bass-baritone Michael Sumuel as Sharpless, bass William Guanbo Su as the Bonze, and tenor Rodell Rosel as Goro. HGO artistic director, Maestro Patrick Summers, conducts.
The Piano Lesson at Ensemble Theatre (January 26-February 26)
As one of the greatest 20th century playwrights, August Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle gave theater a view into everyday Black lives seldom seen on stage.
The Piano Lesson garnered Wilson his second Pulitzer with its themes of family history and legacy sometimes sacrificed for progress. In this story, Boy Willie clashes with his older sister on whether to sell the family antique piano in order to buy the land their enslaved ancestors once farmed.
Television star Jason Dirden plays Boy Willie.
Sister's Irish Catechism: Saints, Snakes, and Green Milkshakes! at Stages Theatre (January 26-March 17)
They’ll be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a little early at Stages as they debut to Houston a new Late Nite Catechism show starring our favorite honorary sister, Denise Fennell.
The last time we say Fennell, she was wearing an entirely different type of veil in her one woman show — about her wedding. But now she’s back in the habit, likely welding a ruler and taking names (of any gum chewers).
In this latest edition to the Late Nite Catechism theatrical universe, Sister tests our knowledge on all things Irish and Irish Catholic. We hear there might be a poetic soliloquy on butter.
On Your Feet! presented by Theatre Under the Stars (January 30-February 11)
We began the month with Tina and end with another inspiring musical biography: a rhythmic look at the live and love of multiple Grammy Award-winning husband-and-wife musical team of Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan.
On Your Feet! chronicles their rise from Miami’s Little Havana to international Cuban-infused-pop superstars and highlights their family and cultural ties.
Look for big production numbers showcasing some of their most beloved songs, including “Rhythm Is Goon Get You,” “Coming Out of the Dark,” and of course, “Get On Your Feet.”