CANCELLED: Theater District Open House Is a Performing-Arts Paradise

Hotly anticipated Tony Award-winning Hamilton will breeze through town as part of the BBVA Compass Broadway at the Hobby Center series.
Hotly anticipated Tony Award-winning Hamilton will breeze through town as part of the BBVA Compass Broadway at the Hobby Center series. Photo by Joan Marcus
Note: As of 1 p.m. Thursday, August 24, Theater District Houston announced that this year's Open House will be cancelled due to expected tropical-weather conditions this Sunday. See for more details and refund information.

The magic of theater will go beyond the stage and into the streets with the 24th annual TransCanada Theater District Open House this coming Sunday, August 27, marking the most festive day of the year to purchase special ticket packages to some of the best performances of the 2017-2018 season.

This family-friendly extravaganza includes free performances from 11 arts organizations and spans five venues. Enjoy backstage tours, demonstrations, performer meet-and-greets, calligraphy lessons, photo ops and more. Finish the day at 4 p.m. with your choice of two performances: a concert by the Houston Symphony or an onstage class and rehearsal by the Houston Ballet II.

After all, there's a lot to celebrate when it comes to the Houston theater scene.

"Houston is only of only five cities in the U.S. to have the four premier performing-arts organizations represented," says Theater District CEO Kathryn McNiel. "Over 1.2 million visitors come through the theater district every year. We're very fortunate to have a nationally prominent theater, and an internationally recognized symphony, ballet and opera".

Theater District Open House also packs a couple new tactics each year to keep things fresh.

“There’s going to be a couple of surprise pop-up performances. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s going to be great fun,” says McNiel. We suppose you'll have to show up and keep your eyes peeled for the activity. But here's a hint: We hear it will be taking place in the streets.

The event will resemble the previous 20-plus years of its existence, but a few extra thrills have been added to the mix to pump up the excitement. The traditional four venues of the Alley Theatre, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts and Wortham Theater Center have a new guest at the party.

Revention Music Center is the newest presenting partner. The building plays host year round to comedians, bands and entertainers, adding to Houston's already-rich, vibrant culture.

click to enlarge The Society for the Performing Arts always keeps the Houston arts scene on its toes. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SPA
The Society for the Performing Arts always keeps the Houston arts scene on its toes.
Photo courtesy of SPA
Even though Houston's theater district spans only a few blocks and is an easily walkable area, event organizers have scheduled a trolley to shuttle people between the venues and help them avoid the Houston heat. Yet, if the heat has you in a sweat, attendees can cool off with Buffalo Bayou tours.

McNiel says the bayou is just as much a part of the theater district as the performance venues. Buffalo Bayou runs directly by Hobby Center and Wortham Center. Tickets will be available for boat tours in the waterway that gives Houston the identity of "Bayou City."

Since the event runs from noon to 5 p.m., the theater district didn't forget about food. For any Houstonian who knows about the city's world-class restaurateurs, that's reason enough to race out of bed and join the fun downtown.

McNiel says, "There will be several different food trucks. We start right at lunch time, and we’ll be going until 5 p.m., so as people come in and out, there will be lost of sweets, coffees and all the rest."

click to enlarge The Houston Ballet will present the timeless Swan Lake. - PHOTO BYT AMITAVA SARKAR
The Houston Ballet will present the timeless Swan Lake.
Photo byt Amitava Sarkar
The upcoming performing arts season looks like a promising one, and McNiel predicts people will line up to purchase tickets at Theater District Open House for some of the hot performances on the horizon.

"It’s very exciting about what Da Camera is doing, bringing in the New York Philharmonic to profile their Beethoven season. The Society for the Performing Arts is bringing in a wonderful woman trumpeter from Canada recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the Top 25 women to watch in music. It shows great diversity," she says. "Last year was a world premier with Stanton Welch’s new Nutcracker. I suspect a lot of people will want to pick up their Nutcracker tickets for this year."

McNiel also points out the excitement for Hamilton at the Hobby Center, the Houston Symphony's new POPS conductor in his first season at the helm and Alley Theatre's Latino festival of plays.

"There is all sorts of new things going on in the performing arts and theater district," she says.

The 24th annual TransCanada Theater District Open House takes place Sunday, August 27 at Alley Theatre, 615 Texas; Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby; Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana; Revention Music Center, 520 Texas and Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd