Come in From the Cold and Check Out These Houston Theater Offerings

Coming soon to a theater near you.
Coming soon to a theater near you. Photo by Lynn Lane
Winter has finally arrived on the bayou with an icy blast that probably won't last too long, but if you're in need of someplace to hunker down for the duration, look no farther than our own Winter Theater Season. During the next months, it's cozy and warm inside. You'll go to marvelous places and meet new people you never would have guessed could be so interesting. And in the grand scheme of things, the cost is a lot less than for a Caribbean vacation. You don't even need to pack a bag, just an open mind. And isn't that what travel – and theater – are all about?

The following overview is just that, a quick survey of what's been planned by our diverse, ever-inquisitive theater companies. Go, explore.

Every Broadway Musical Ever, the Musical!
January 13, 14, 15
Eado Playhouse
2619 McKinney
Houston's newest venue, the funky Eado Playhouse, starts off with a weekend revue blitz of a flash-drive history of the Broadway musical. All your favorites will be showcased as they fly by, cabaret-style, Oklahoma to Hamilton, Gypsy to Sweeney Todd by an intrepid, talented troupe of Houston Broadway babies. This original production, a world premiere, I believe, will be catnip for all who sing “Memories” in the shower. You know who you are.

The Johns

January 19 through February 4
Mildred's Umbrella
Studio 101, 1824 Spring Street
For Mildred's Umbrella's production, playwright Mary Bonnett has adapted her 2014 Chicago-based drama about sex trafficking, originally titled Shadow Town, to a place closer to home, The Woodlands. This scalding dissection of perps and victims, based on interviews Bonnett conducted with dozens of sex trade survivors, is unstinting in its harsh reality. Featuring Seán Patrick Judge, Bobby Haworth and Sara Gaston, under Jennifer Decker's direction, it arrives with a serious disclaimer: “This play contains graphic subject matter and is suitable for mature audiences only.”

Dry Powder
January 20 - February 12
Alley Theatre
615 Texas
See how the 1 percent lives and operates in Sarah Burgess's slash-and-burn X-ray of our current financial times. These hedge fund managers manage quite well, thank you, and usually operate without anesthetic. They flip commodities with the finesse of a diner's short-order cook churning out pancakes. Workers be damned, what's the bottom line and what's the profit share? If you have a soft spot for all things economic, you'll relish the backstabbing and power plays inside this private equity firm; if you think the barricades need more pitchforks, these pompous gargoyles are ripe for the guillotine. Either way, the art of the deal is deftly dealt, especially by Alley pros John Feltch, Jay Sullivan and Elizabeth Bunch as A-list Wall Streeters. Mind you, they've stashed the aces up their sleeves, and you will lose, but you'll go to bankruptcy court laughing. You can bet on it.

History making.
Photo by Michael Cooper
Nixon in China
January 20, 22m, 24, 26, 28
Houston Grand Opera
Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas
713-228-6737 (OPERA)
Commissioned in 1987 for Houston Grand Opera, John Adams's “minimalist” opera about Richard Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China, like the work of fellow contemporary Philip Glass, is full of arpeggios and repeated noodling, but Adams's style is more eclectic, mixing in jazz, big band and shades of Stravinsky. The work has gained in stature since its world premiere, becoming one of the few new operas to make a dent in the enduring rep that refuses to budge Puccini, Strauss, Verdi et al. Conducted by Robert Spano, baritone Scott Hendricks sings Nixon; soprano Andriana Chuchman, first lady Pat; baritone Chen-Yu Yuan, Chinese premiere Chou En-Lai; tenor Chad Shelton, wily old Mao; and bass Patrick Carfizzi, wily old Kissinger. Detente has never sounded so current.

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover