The Year in Culture

Expect theater's Flu Season wonder to last: Houston full of new art venues

Expect theater's Flu Season wonder to last: Houston full of new art venues

News_Nancy Wozny_sold out_The Flu Season_Mildred's Umbrella_Jessica Janes_Lyndsay Sweeney_Wayne Barnhill_Caleb George
I carried around the script of Flu Season for a while. That's how good the play was. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
News_Nancy_Horse Head_984612015_pnTTQ-O
Among Thugs had some breakout performances. Photo by Natalie Hebert
News_Bluefinger_cast
Bluefinger played to sold-out crowds. Photo by Anthony Rathbun
News_Nancy Wozny_sold out_The Flu Season_Mildred's Umbrella_Jessica Janes_Lyndsay Sweeney_Wayne Barnhill_Caleb George
News_Nancy_Horse Head_984612015_pnTTQ-O
News_Bluefinger_cast

In 2010, there was a lot to like in Houston's theater scene, which showed growth at all levels. Among my favorites:

Mildred's Umbrella's production of Will Eno's The Flu Season wins "The Arthropologist's best of the year" award. I just made that award up. This very second. That's how much I loved this play.
 
Directed by Matt Huff, with a cast including Bobby Haworth, Sean Patrick Judge, Caleb George, Wayne Barnhill, Lyndsay Sweeney and Jessica Janes, The Flu Season succeeded on all fronts. There was even a time when I carried the script around with me. Twisted, I know.
 
Even Edward Albee was in the audience. He appeared to be smiling. Eno mania continues with Oh, The Humanity and other exclamations at Stages Repertory Theatre on Jan. 26-Feb.20.
 
What a hilarious gem Theater LaB Houston had in Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed. The cast — stellar all — included Mary Hooper, Nate Suurmeyer, Bryan Kaplun and Rebekah Stevens.  

In the glorious chestnuts department, South Pacific, (Lincoln Center production) presented by TUTS, looked as shiny as ever. 

Catastrophic Theatre continued its steam roll momentum with Wallace Shawn's Our Late Night and The Designated Mourner, followed by the sold-out run of Bluefinger: The Fall and Rise of Herman Brood.

Three performances stood out on Houston's theater stages: Matt Kelly's portrayal of Herman Brood in Catastrophic Theatre's Bluefinger, Kim Tobin's crazed and nuanced take of Rachel in Brave Dog Theatre's fine production of Reckless and Santry Rush's misbehaving man in Horse Head Theater Co.'s production of Among The Thugs.

In that other Texas town, Austin, Kristen Kosmas' This from Cloudland, presented by the Fuse Box Festival and Physical Plant Theater, had me screaming, "I love this show," and that was right after I put my row mate into a coma about how unimportant it is whether or now I like anything. Stripped of the usual conventions of the stage, Kosmas lets words be their own kind of theater.

Another promising new trend I noticed: A lot of new performing and visual arts spaces opened or will open soon. They include:

 

Editor's note: This is the 19th in a series of articles CultureMap will be running this transition week (the end of '10 and the beginning of '11) on The Year in Culture. The stories in this series will focus on a key point or two, something that struck our reporting team about the year rather than rote Top 10 lists or bests of.

Other The Year In Culture stories:

Organic, sustainable, local: The words that now dominate food

Demolishing the doldrums: Office towers somehow keep rising in Houston

Less blockbuster, more indie surprises: A call for fewer Texas-sized art exhibits in 2011

Forget The Social Network, it's all about keeping mom off Twitter

On the store front: H-E-B's final plan for Montrose market has a neighborly attitude

Houston chefs turn into celebrity spouses and I find a new partner

It's the year of the "gaybie:" Elton John is the latest proud parent

One thing I learned in 2010: Not even the BP oil spill could rub out Louisiana's soul

Ka-ching! The return of million dollar fundraisers made for a bountiful year

Rick Perry, socialite spaniels & Speedos: Things that touched me in 2010. Literally.

From Black Swan & Dancing with the Stars to Houston Ballet & other troupes, it was The Year Of Dance

Yes, I hate New Year's Eve and you should too

Burgers take over Houston: All hail the unstoppable food force

Yes He Did: Obama had a great year in 2010 that's gone unrecognized

The best Internet comments ever: It's not a world for chickens or Hitler

Houstonian becomes a Chilean miners offshoot celebrity, gets Perry love

Houston's best dressed moments of 2010

Kanye West tries to deliver a Swift kick to Arcade Fire: Who wins?

The movies you should have seen, but didn't & The Inception exception