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Lawyers Get (Upside) Down in Night Court's New Supernatural Musical The Law Files

Houston’s all-lawyer musical theater company, Night Court, returns to the Hobby Center for their annual musical on August 16.
Houston’s all-lawyer musical theater company, Night Court, returns to the Hobby Center for their annual musical on August 16. Photo by John Wilson
Have you heard about the law firm where lawyers are mysteriously going missing?

No, it’s not the start of a lawyer joke you haven’t heard, though it is guaranteed to be funny. It’s the premise of Night Court’s The Law Files, coming to The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts this August 16-19.

“We like to say Night Court is Houston’s all-lawyer musical theater company,” explains Allen Karger, a lawyer practicing in Houston by day, and by night, a longtime Night Court cast member and the company’s current executive producer. “Every year we come together to put on an original musical comedy written by lawyers in our group and we donate the proceeds of our performance to charities that provide free legal services to people in need in the greater Houston area.”

Karger’s involvement with Night Court goes back to 2004, when Karger was a young lawyer and a colleague offered him a free ticket to the show. Despite having almost no theater experience, Karger joined the cast the next year.

“I went in cold and Night Court made an actor out of me,” says Karger.

On the flip side, Night Court producer and marketing chair Tara Taheri was a choreographing member of pop choir and captain of the drill team in high school who went on to earn an undergraduate degree in music at the University of Houston. During law school, an assistant dean introduced Taheri to Night Court and she joined in 2014.

“I’ve always loved singing, dancing and, of course, acting,” says Taheri, now an attorney working with HIPAA Privacy at Baylor College of Medicine. “I thought, you know, [Night Court] would probably be something I would be interested in.”
Karger jokes that “there is a saying that lawyers are really frustrated actors,” and while that may not be entirely true, Karger does say one thing that makes Night Court special is that the company members come from such a different world.

“We do really well with first-time audience members because we’re a lot better than people tend to expect a group of lawyers to be,” says Karger. “It takes a lot of people by surprise.”

As always, Karger says, audiences can expect “a wacky story where a bunch of different themes and pop culture shows are crammed together and woven together with lawyer jokes, pop culture jokes [and] Houston jokes,” but this year the show will feature a paranormal theme (hence the missing lawyers).

The Law Files will be a mash-up of recognizable pop culture properties like The X-Files, Stranger Things, Men in Black, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law and more.

Though both Taheri and Karger are careful not to give too many spoilers, Taheri does share that she’s excited to be playing a villain this year.

“I am Vecna,” says Taheri, referencing the big bad that’s been terrorizing Hawkins, Indiana, on Stranger Things. Taheri says she asked the director whether she’s a monster or a human, and the answer is she’s a human, but “a very nasty, vicious human.”

Luckily, Agents Mulder and Scully are on the case, with Karger playing Agent Mulder.
Because of the influence of The X-Files and Stranger Things on the story, the show will feature parodies of songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s by artists like the Beastie Boys, Eurythmics and Shania Twain.

“We don’t want to give away all of the surprises, but we’re going for diverse musical tastes from those two decades,” says Karger.

This year's show also marks the debut of Dr. Bobby Linhart as Night Court’s new director following the retirement of previous director, Judy Frow, after 25 years with the company. As the theatre director at Houston Christian High School, Linhart has won multiple Tommy Tune Awards, including this year’s Outstanding Director honor (along with Student Director Allen Currier) for the school’s production of Guys and Dolls.

“In my 19 years in the company, Night Court has absolutely changed a lot,” says Karger. “But this is a totally new perspective on how to perform, how to prepare, and it’s already challenging for us lawyers who’ve been in the company for a long time and gotten set in our ways. But it’s also taking us to new heights and I think it’s going reflect in our performance.”

Two things that have not changed are Night Court’s commitment to both edutainment and charity.

First, every lawyer who comes to The Law Files can earn two hours of ethics continuing legal education credit. Lawyers have been able to earn credit for their attendance since 2015, and Karger considers it one of the ways Night Court has “leveled up” over the years.

“We make a point of putting actual ethics lessons and code sections into our script so the audience gets something more than just a good time out of seeing our show,” says Karger. “I think our show is better for it.”

And, of course, the show’s proceeds go to charity, with Night Court raising more than $1 million over the past 25 years. This year’s charities are AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse), The Beacon (Houston), Child Advocates, Houston Area Women's Center Children's Court Services, Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Lone Star Legal Aid Military Veterans Unit, and South Texas College of Law Houston Legal Clinics.

“So, come enjoy yourself,” says Taheri. “Have a great night out, while helping those in need.”

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 16, through Saturday, August 19, at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit or $45-$49.
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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.