Best Theater Company (2004)
Masquerade Theatre Musical theater doesn't get too adventurous in Houston. TUTS revives the usual suspects of Broadway warhorses; Broadway in Houston tours the safest current hits; and most of the smaller troupes in town, ever on the edge of financial ruin, can't afford to take too many chances. But for seven years, Masquerade Theatre, near the Heights, has consistently put on terrific, low-budget productions of risky but rewarding shows such as City of Angels, Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins and A New Brain. The resident acting company all have fine voices, and director Phillip Duggan tends to make the most out of the cramped space that serves as home. The only drawback is the sparse musical accompaniment -- there's no swelling of strings or blasting horn sections here -- but if Masquerade had to pay for a large orchestra, they'd compromise the edgy shows we admire.