Things To Do

Best Bets: Queen, Nella, and Rock of Ages

Houston Grand Opera presents An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann, a special, one-night event with international tenor Jonas Kaufmann on October 6, 2021, at the Wortham Theater Center.
Houston Grand Opera presents An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann, a special, one-night event with international tenor Jonas Kaufmann on October 6, 2021, at the Wortham Theater Center. Photo by Gregor Hohenberg / Sony Classical
Hope you like live, in-person theater because it is back in a big way this week. We’ve got plays and musicals, as well as poetry readings, concerts, and live dance. Keep reading to see this week’s best bets.

It’s Latinx Heritage Month (more commonly known as Hispanic Heritage Month), and to celebrate the Holocaust Museum Houston has invited poet José Olivarez to give a special, free reading tonight, September 30, at 6 p.m. During Citizen Illegal: An Evening with Poet José Olivarez, the poet will read from his “indispensable debut poetry collection,” titled Citizen Illegal, which the Chicago Tribune described as “a boisterous, empathetic, funny-yet-serious (but not self-serious) celebratory ode to Chicanx life in the contemporary United States.” Olivarez himself has said that he set out to “make a book of poems that the people I love will be proud of. A lot of the poems are about my family, my experience as a first generation Mexican-American Chicano, and I wanted to write poems that were not shameful, not ashamed.” You can register for the event here.
click to enlarge Houston Ballet Principal Yuriko Kajiya and First Soloist Christopher Coomer in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly. - PHOTO BY LAWRENCE ELIZABETH KNOX (2021), COURTESY OF HOUSTON BALLET
Houston Ballet Principal Yuriko Kajiya and First Soloist Christopher Coomer in Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly.
Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox (2021), Courtesy of Houston Ballet
You’ve probably missed Houston Ballet as much as the rest of us, but they’re back, too. This weekend, Houston Ballet returns to the Wortham Center to open their season with five performances of the Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance. The mixed rep program will include audience favorites like Artistic Director Stanton Welch’s works “Divergence” and “Play,” as well as selections from In Good Company, the digital work he created during the pandemic. You can also expect a rotating selection of pas de deux and solos from works like Madame Butterfly and Sylvia. Because it’s their first show back, soloist Tyler Donatelli recently told the Houston Pressyou’re just going to see so much pure love for dance" on stage. Performances begin tonight, September 30, at 7 p.m. and continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday, October 1, and Saturday, October 2, and 2 p.m. Saturday, October 2, and Sunday, October 3. Tickets can be purchased here for $25 to $208.

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary rock band Queen, and over on Carnaby Street in London, there’s a new pop-up store to celebrate the occasion. If the flight over to check out the five decades worth of merch and memorabilia, you can enjoy a live concert closer to home when the Houston Symphony visits Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion tonight, September 30, at 8 p.m. for The Music of Queen. Conductor Brent Havens will lead the Symphony, joined by vocalist Tony Vincent, in playing all the Queen songs you know and love, like “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Reserved orchestra seating can be purchased here for $20, or you can head to the lawn or mezzanine areas, which is free and ticketless.
click to enlarge Nella opens the Society for the Performing Arts season at Miller Outdoor Theatre. - PHOTO BY ALESSANDRO MARTINO
Nella opens the Society for the Performing Arts season at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Photo by Alessandro Martino
Society for the Performing Arts opens their 2021-2022 season on Friday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. with a free concert featuring Nella at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The Venezuelan performer, who released her first album Voy in 2019 to critical acclaim and a Best New Artist win at the Latin Grammy Awards, will perform music from her debut along with her “Venezuelan jewels,” which she’s described as songs she chooses from “the Venezuelan repertoire that has in some way marked my life or have been part of my life.” You can pick up reserved seating tickets here, or you can make yourself comfortable on the Hill (no ticket necessary). You can also catch this one virtually, by joining the show on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page.

On Friday, October 1, the Alley Theatre opens their season – back in front of live audiences – with Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s play Sweat. The play, produced in collaboration with The Ensemble Theatre, “touches on such knotty issues as racism, addiction and loyalty, which in turn highlight more intangible concepts, such as responsibility and shame.” Despite the heavy themes, Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose recently told the Houston Chronicle that he thinks “it’s kind of a relief when you watch a play and other people are having the conversation for you,” adding, “you get to let someone else do the work a little bit, and I feel like you learn from it. Then the next time you have a conversation, you’re that much more informed.” The production runs through October 24, and you can buy tickets to see it here for $30 to $61.
Darwin in Malibu (L-R): Rutherford Cravens, Mai Le and Joel Sandel. - PHOTO BY RICORNEL PRODUCTIONS
Darwin in Malibu (L-R): Rutherford Cravens, Mai Le and Joel Sandel.
Photo by Ricornel Productions
If the idea of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and the Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce together in Malibu intrigues you, then you’ll be delighted to know Main Street Theater is returning to in-person performance with Crispin Whittell’s Darwin in Malibu, opening on Saturday, October 2. Main Street’s Artistic Director (and play director) Rebecca Greene Udden recently told the Houston Press that the show is “an ongoing philosophical discussion” and it’s “so much fun.” Tickets can be purchased here for $35 to $59. Shows continue through October 24, and consider choosing one of the three dates that feature Main Street’s “Part of the Art” post-show talks: October 3, featuring The Engines of Our Ingenuity host and University of Houston professor Dr. John Lienhard; October 10, with evolutionary biologist and Rice University Professor Scott Solomon; or October 17, a day on which the audience can hear from Whittell himself, Zooming in all the way from England.


Welcome Theatre Under the Stars back to in-person performances on Tuesday, October 5, when they open the first show of their homecoming season, Rock of Ages, at the Hobby Center. The New York Times says the ‘80s-set musical – in which a love story, a jukebox full of songs from bands like Bon Jovi, Journey and REO Speedwagon, and a classic “save the orphanage” plot collide – has “brains under all the big hair.” Tickets can be purchased here for $40 to $136, and before you go, take a peek behind the hairspray and the big hooks with the TUTS Spotlight on the production, featuring director Jessica Hartman, costume designer Colleen Grady, actor Diana Huey, and multi-hyphenate (one of those being Rock Radio Hall of Famer) Dayna Steele. Rock of Ages runs through October 17.

For one night and one night only – Wednesday, October 6, at 7 p.m. – world famous tenor Jonas Kaufmann will join Houston Grand Opera in concert at the Wortham Center. An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann marks the performer’s first ever visit to Texas, and you can expect the “greatest living Wagnerian tenor” to sing a wide selection of arias and excerpts while HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducts the HGO Orchestra. You can purchase tickets to the concert here for $25 to $155.
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.