The stage is set. TransCanada Theater District Open House's 25th anniversary will bring excitement, drama and entertainment to downtown on Sunday, August 26 from noon to 5 p.m. The second largest theater district in the country promises a day filled with performances, artful adventures, backstage tours and some of the deepest discounts for the upcoming season.
The free annual event takes places at venues throughout the district with an array of activities highlighting the best of what's in store for the upcoming season. Participating organizations include Alley Theatre, Mischer Neurosciences Broadway at the Hobby Center, Da Camera of Houston, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Revention Music Center, Society for the Performing Arts and Theatre Under The Stars.
Last year, the open house was scrapped due to Hurricane Harvey's devastation, which makes this year a triumphant return.
"Wortham has been closed all year. People didn’t get to see the ballet, opera or Da Camera perform in the district. It will be great to have everyone back, and it’s an afternoon to explore the theater and have fun at a performing arts festival," said Theater District CEO Kathryn McNiel. "Explore what’s coming up, see what the season looks like and decide which shows you want to attend."
The organizers provide several hours worth of entertainment — much like a glimpse into each presenter's upcoming season in 30-minute spurts — to help visitors review which shows look the most engaging. They also provide free parking, shuttle service between the venues and family-friendly entertainment like face painting, pop-up performances in the streets and a free concert to close out the day.
"There will be art on Jones Plaza, so while you’re listening to music, you can enjoy art and have your face painted as one of the characters from a show this fall," McNiel said.
New to this year's celebration, Jones Plaza will host an afternoon festival with art-making activities, food trucks and a performance from Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts' Jazz Ensemble and the jazz trio Mike Moreno, Burniss Travis, and Kendrick Scott, presented by Da Camera. The day also features a free performance by the Houston Symphony at 4 p.m.
Last year, Buffalo Bayou created havoc during Harvey as it overflowed and damaged the performance spaces in the district, but, as artists do, they are turning lemons into lemon martinis and celebrating the waterway that graces the north region of downtown. They've included free boat rides along the scenic pathways as part of the festivities.
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Open House serves as a pride point for Houston's booming arts scene. Houston is one of only five cities in the United States that boasts permanent, professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines. Houston’s Theater District spans 17 blocks, and its four flagship theaters house 13,000 seats.
Further, don't discount the performing arts' economic impact in the city. Houston’s nonprofit arts and culture industry affects cultural enrichment, student development and tourism. It generates $1 billion in taxable sales, according to a 2017 report from Texas Cultural Trust.
With prowess like that, it's hard to dismiss the ability of arts to transform a city. Schedule some time to attend Open House and witness the immense talent Houston's art scape provides.
Theater District Open House takes place from noon to 5 p.m. in downtown on Sunday, August 26. For information, visit theaterdistrictopenhouse.com. Admission is free.