Sometimes the Best Gifts Come in Small Packages: Houston Theater Gems

Rec Room has been transformed into a magical, translucent forest for Englebert Humperdinck's 1893 opera, Hansel and Gretel.
Rec Room has been transformed into a magical, translucent forest for Englebert Humperdinck's 1893 opera, Hansel and Gretel. Photo by Natasha Gorel
Big things do come in small packages — who wouldn't swoon at receiving a small box from Tiffany & Co. — and this year's holiday productions are no exception. From a door-slamming farce in the East End, to the best of The Beatles and even a pint-sized opera, there are still plenty of ways to get in the holiday spirit this week with Houston theater offerings.

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Cone Man Running Productions presents Our Cups Runneth Over at The Beacon Theatre.
Photo by Christine Weems

A store owner in his cups and a boutique full of brassieres provide plenty of titillating humor in this new comedy by local playwright Michael Weems. After finishing a pair of dark, full-length plays, Weems wanted Cone Man Running Productions to present something light for the holidays, and a trio of dressing rooms serves as the perfect vehicle for door-slamming fun in Our Cups Runneth Over. Weems tells us he was working two different dry erase boards trying to keep track of who was behind each door while writing this fast-paced, who's-on-first style farce as characters hide, pass out and lose consciousness. "With 2017 being a bit stressful for Houston and the U.S., we thought an evening of hijinks, laughter and a little lace was the solution," says Weems. Fellow Cone Man board members join in the fun, with Christine Weems directing and Bryan Maynard channeling his inner pimped out gambler persona. 8 p.m. December 21, 22 and 23, The Beacon Theatre, 5120 Navigation. For information, call 281-972-5897 or visit $20.

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The Music Box Theater presents The Best Beatles Holiday Ever through December 30.
Photo by Eric Edwards / Schell Photography
They didn't invent the mash-up, but it certainly seems that the talented crooners over at The Music Box Theater perfected the art form. Each holiday season they take a little bit from The Beatles songbook, add a touch of Christmas music, mix in some skits and the result is always funny and entertaining. For this year's The Best Beatles Holiday Ever, regular cast members Rebekah Dahl, Brad Scarborough, Luke Wrobel, Cay Taylor and Kristina Sullivan do their take on "I'll Be Home for Christmas" paired with "Across the Universe;" "Eleanor Rigby" is joined with "We Three Kings;" and "Please Come Home for Christmas" blends perfectly with "Oh Darling." 7:30 p.m. December 21, 29 and 30, The Music Box Theater, 2623 Colquitt. For information, call 713-522-7722 or visit $29 to $39.

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A.D. Players presents an unconventional Christmas message in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
Photo courtesy of A.D. Players
When desperation sets in a director takes a big risk and casts the "worst kids in the history of the world" for the upcoming church Christmas pageant, in part because the miscreants were promised snacks. The Herdman siblings are notorious for their bad behavior — cussing, drinking and shoplifting are not unknown — and the whole town predicts more of their misfit antics when they take the stage. But the miracle of Christmas sets in and everybody is both surprised and pleased in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Based on the best-selling book by Barbara Robinson, A.D. Players delivers mayhem and merriment in this mainstage production. 7:30 p.m. December 21 and 22, 2 and 7:30 p.m. December 23, A.D. Players, 5420 Westheimer. For information, call 713-526-2721 or visit $20 to $70.

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With gypsy threads and wild blue dreads, Megan Berti transforms into the ultimate wicked witch with Rec Room Arts' interpretation of Hansel and Gretel.
Photo by Natasha Gorel
Englebert Humperdinck's 1893 opera Hansel and Gretel is big enough for the grand stage, but what happens when a Mini Me version is produced? Wonderful things, apparently, and Houston Press theater critic D.L. Groover labeled Rec Room Arts' scaled-down version "eerie and enchanted and ripe with mystery." Mezzo Megan Berti does double duty as both careless mom and evil witch, but it's her take as the child-eating crone that's the showstopper. Tickets are limited for this one (the Back Room stage only seats 30), so they're recommending making reservations online before heading downtown; at press time both the December 21 and 22 shows were sold out. 7:30 p.m. December 23, Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit $15 to $35.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney