A year into remote theater and Houston performing arts companies have learned to get creative.
Yes, we’re still streaming some dramatic and comic theater goodness, but April also offers a plethora of different performances modes from live actors on your front lawn to virtual conferencing with a semi-omnipotent nun.
For some spring variety, we’ve also got some dramatic opera, dance and poetry on our must-see list. And if you manage to get through it all, be sure to check out this special “Thank You, Houston” message from the city’s Actors’ Equity Association (plus one, likely non-union, guinea pig).
Drama Squad from Catastrophic Theatre (now through May 9)
After sold-out shows last fall, the Cat crew bring back their theater delivery project to front lawns throughout Houston. Look for all-new world work from the Drama Squad players: Afsaneh Aayani, Tabitha Bounds, Greg Cote, Tamarie Cooper, Juan Sebastian Cruz, Bryan Kaplun, Scott Lupton, Mara McGhee, Erin Rodgers, Alli Villines, Muhammad Khaerisman, and Abraham Zeus Zapata.
Order up comedy, music, dance, and yes, drama, directly to your outdoors for a private performance for up to 10 friends.
Contemporary Short Plays from Alley Theatre (streaming throughout April)
When the Alley pivoted to a digital season, the company wanted to balance classic and ancient plays, many times in translation, with contemporary works. These freshest of short plays all come from alumni from the Alley All New play reading festival.
Look for these free digital productions debuting throughout the month, including El Chuco Town Forever by Isaac Gomez, Man. Kind. by Don X. Nguyen, For Steve Wozniak, on His 67th Birthday by Jiehae Park, Choosing Love by Chisa Hutchinson, plus a virtual play reading of full length new work, Old Black & White Hollywood, by Houston playwright ShaWanna Renee Rivon.
Gospel at The George, An Easter Celebration from A.D. Players (streaming through April 18)
Filmed live on The George stage with a six-piece band and seven background vocalists, this concert stars extraordinary singers John-Mark McGaha and Piper Jones. These long-time friends of the theater keep the Easter season going throughout April with such gospel hits as “Potter’s House”, “Jesus Will” and “Falling in Love with Jesus,” as well as classic hymns like “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus,” and of course, “How Great Thou Art.”
HGO Digital Debuts from Houston Grand Opera (now through May)
April brings three glorious selections from the digital season. There’s still time to stream the Suite Espanola: Explorando Iberia concert, celebrating the music of Spain, including the zarzuela art form, or Spanish musical theater. The concert created by HGO Artistic Advisor Ana Maria Martinez will feature a collage of selections from the repertoire’s most beautiful pieces.
On April 9 the Live From Cullen series within the season brings studio alumna, and local sensation Nicole Heaston for a recital of of spirituals and classic songs from American composers such as Aaron Copland, Carlisle Floyd, and George Gershwin. The concert then streams for the rest of the month.
If you didn’t have a chance to see the world premiere Marian’s Song back in March 2020, HGO releases a recorded performance April 30. Composed by Damien Sneed to a libretto by previous Houston poet laureate Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, the chamber opera recounts the life of famed contralto, Marian Anderson, who broke racial barriers throughout her acclaimed career.
In Good Company from Houston Ballet (now through April 30)
The Houston Ballet continues to release a world premiere Stanton Welch choreographed dance a week on its social media channels. The In Good Company series, set to the music of The Dead South and featuring the Houston Ballet dancers, celebrates connection, family, and community during a time when artists have needed to perform and create separated from each other.
Made in Texas from Music Box Theater at Queensbury Theatre (live, in-person April 16-18)
The cabaret five bring the show back inside and socially distant for an evening of Texas-themed music and fun. Look and listen for a certainly eclectic lone star selection from Willie Nelson, Barry White, Roy Orbison, Kenny Rogers, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lizzo, ZZ Top, and more.
Unfortunately, word is that all in-person seats are already sold out, but the Music Box gang asks fans to stay tuned for a virtual version coming soon.
White Rabbit Red Rabbit from 4th Wall Theatre (live streaming from April 22-May 2)
If any recent play could adjust well to these remote Zoom performances times, it’s likely playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s tricky Rabbit. The show was originally created to be performed without a director and by an actor who only receives the script moments before the performance begins. No repeat performances allowed.
This remote Rabbit series presented by 4th Wall Theatre Company in association with Aurora Nova Productions and Boat Rocker Entertainment will showcase a different actor from Juilliard Group #19 each night.
The first performance stars 4th Wall co-founder, Philip Lehl, and look for regional and New York acclaimed stage actors throughout the run, including Emmy winner and film star Laura Linney on April 24.
Jericho Brown reading from the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series (live streaming April 26)
Not theater, but we can’t let poetry month go by without highlighting the poetic return of Jericho Brown, the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in poetry winner. Earning his PhD from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, Brown won an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellowships and spent time teaching writing workshops for senior citizens in the Fifth Ward.
Brown comes home, remotely at least, to share poems from his most recent and acclaimed collection The Tradition.
Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice! from Stages (live streaming April 28-May 23)
Sister takes a Vegas vacation in this latest installment of the Late Nite Catechism theatrical series. As the church bingo supervisor, she’s more than ready to take us on a virtual tour of sin city from showgirls to animal acts to late night wedding chapels.
Be sure to put that gum away, because Sister has also learned to navigate the latest virtual conferencing apps. Set your cameras on unmute, as Sister maybe as all-seeing as God for these performances.