Houston Theater District's Open House and Our Theater Awards Issue

For entry level opera-goers: Sweeney Todd
For entry level opera-goers: Sweeney Todd
Photo by Marie Noelle Robert

Besides the ballet, the theater companies and the symphony, this year's 21st Annual Theater District Open House will feature food trucks in Jones Plaza, tango lessons from the Society for the Performing Arts and has expanded to include Bayou City Music Center and Bayou Place (known rather more for their rock music than classical works).

And even though Alley Theatre has moved to a temporary home at the University of Houston where its first show of the season The Old Friends opens Wednesday, its personnel will still be on hand to show visitors through its production rooms to plumb the mysteries of costumes and wigs and rehearsal halls.

Perryn Leech, acting board chair of the Houston Downtown Alliance and Houston Grand Opera's managing director, says this year as always gives visitors an up-close-and personal (and free!) look at the Houston arts scene with the added benefit of being able to sign up for discounted subscriptions. "There are good bargains to be had," he says.

Tying in to all the occasion, the Houston Press this week presents its annual Houston Press Arts Guide as well as the third year of our Houston Theater Awards, in which we draw attention to what we believe were the outstanding theatrical performances in our city during the 2013-14 season.

Upcoming Events

The theater district open house also gives people a chance to explore things they might not ever otherwise -- as in Leech's own brand of the arts: opera.

"Our stakeholders are the people of the city of Houston. What have you heard about opera may not be what opera really is. For us next season we're doing at least two projects which are very much entry operas. Christmas Carol is our world premiere aimed at5 a family audience and Sweeney Todd is very much a musical theater end of the operatic cannon.

"At the end of the day the arts are very important to the city of Houston. As one of the performing arts organizations downtown we want to make sure and put our best foot forward and say this is something that really might interest you."

The arts speak very much to the quality of life," Leech says. "We have something very special here. We're one of only four cities that have a resident opera company, ballet company, symphony and resident theater."

The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. centered at the Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-658-8938 or visit houstontheaterdistrict.org. Free.

Here's the day's schedule:

ALLEY THEATRE Production Center, located in the Alley Theatre garage. Take elevator to the 14th floor noon - 4 p.m. Backstage Tours

HOBBY CENTER Sarofim Hall 12:20 -12:40 p.m. Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) Season Musical Revue 1-1:20 p.m. Broadway At The Hobby Center Showcase 1:40- 2 p.m. TUTS Season Musical Revue 2:20 -2:40 p.m. Broadway At The Hobby Center Showcase 3 - 3:20 p.m. TUTS Season Musical Revue 3:40 -4 p.m. Broadway At The Hobby Center Showcase

Zilkha Hall: Spotlight on Uniquely Houston 12:15 - 12:30 p.m. Noble Motion Dance 12:40 - 12:55 p.m. Hope Stone Dance 1:05 - 1:20 p.m. TUTS Humphrey's School 1:30 -1:45 p.m. Virtuosi of Houston 1:55 - 2:10 p.m. Musiqa 2:20 - 2:40 p.m. TUTS Underground 2:50 - 3:05 p.m. Houston Symphonic Band 3:15 - 3:30 p.m. Karen Stokes Dance

JONES HALL In front of Jones Hall noon Society for the Performing Arts presents Joy of Djembe Drumming 1:30 p.m. Society for the Performing Arts presents Joy of Djembe Drumming

On the Jones Hall stage 12:30 p.m. The Inventor Kevin James of THE ILLUSIONISTS

1:15 p.m. The Inventor Kevin James of THE ILLUSIONISTS 2 p.m. The Inventor Kevin James of THE ILLUSIONISTS 2:40 p.m. The Inventor Kevin James of THE ILLUSIONISTS 4 -5 p.m. Houston Symphony concert

In lobby of Jones Hall noon to 3 p.m.Houston Symphony Arts and Crafts, Instrument Petting Zoo, Prize Wheel and Jones Hall tours noon to 3 p.m. Society for the Performing Arts Education Station WORTHAM THEATER CENTER Cullen Theater 12:15 - 12:40 p.m. Houston Ballet II 12:50 - 1:15 p.m. Da Camera Chamber Music 1:25 - 1:50 p.m. Houston Grand Opera 2 - 2:25 p.m. Houston Ballet II 2:35 - 3 p.m. Da Camera Jazz 3:10 -3:35 p.m. Houston Grand Opera

Wortham Center Lobby 12:30 p.m. Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts 2:15 p.m.Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts

Cullen Alcove 12:50 -1:15 p.m. Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts 1:30 - 1:50 p.m. Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts 2:40 - 3 p.m. Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts 3:10 - 3:30 p.m. Tango performance from Society for the Performing Arts

Bayou Music Center noon - 4 p.m. Live band, kids fun packs, DJ, backstage troures, food sampling from Blue Fish and Hard Rock Cafe, representatives from Sundance Cinema.

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