Houston is one of only a few cities in the United States with world-class symphony, ballet, opera, and theater companies. In fact, except for New York, the downtown Theater District, which includes the Alley Theater, Jones Hall, the Hobby Center, and the Wortham Center, has more seating capacity than any other city. Houstonians have regular access to some of the world’s best musical, dance, and theatrical talent, thanks to the Society for the Performing Arts.
The Houston Ballet, dubbed “one of the nation’s best ballet companies” by the New York Times, is the fourth-largest company in the United States. The company of more than 50 dancers performs worldwide and performs more than 100 performances at the Wortham Center annually.
Since 1913, the Houston Symphony has been an essential part of the local arts scene, performing more than 170 concerts each year at Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.
Houston Grand Opera, one of the country’s most prominent opera companies, is internationally renowned for its innovative repertoire, which combines classics with contemporary works and world premieres. Houston Grand Opera is the only opera company in the country to have received two Grammys, a Tony, and two Emmys.
Da Camera of Houston, founded in 1987, brings together top musicians from the United States and worldwide. It is known throughout the country for its provocative chamber music, contemporary music, and annual jazz series that features renowned performers and emerging artists. Other musical offerings in Houston include the Houston Friends of Music, the Houston Masterworks Chorus, the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
The performing arts are alive and well in Houston, which has one of the country’s largest concentrations of seats within its Theater District.
Houston’s illustrious theatrical history began in 1947 with the opening of the Alley Theatre in, well, an alley. Today, the Alley is one of the country’s few professional theaters with its own resident company of actors. The Alley’s two theaters, the 824-seat Hubbard Stage and the 310-seat Neuhaus Stage, are open all year.
Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), one of the country’s largest non-profit producers of musical theater, has cast more than 300 musicals to national acclaim in its 45-year history. TUTS produces Broadway classics, world premieres, and new works at the downtown Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, which also serves as the home of Broadway in Houston, which features touring productions of Broadway hits.
Stages Repertory Theatre, A. D. Players, Main Street Theater, and the Ensemble Theatre are among the other local theater companies, as are the Rice Players at Rice University and the University of Houston’s annual Houston Shakespeare Festival.
Stages Repertory Theater is a professional Equity theater known for challenging, a provocative theater that includes ground-breaking new works and modern classics. Stages Repertory Theater sponsors the Southwest Festival of New Plays, an annual festival featuring the best new plays from across the country.
Houston residents can see some of the best Broadway touring productions here at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts due to Broadway in Houston. Its Houston series has included Tony Award winners such as “Chicago,” “The King and I,” and “Titanic,” in addition to long-running Broadway blockbusters such as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon.”
Houston Theater District
The Houston Theater District is a 17-block concentration of world-class performing arts venues located in the northwest corner of downtown Houston. More than 2 million people each year attend performances within the district, encompassing plazas, parks, restaurants, and movies. With 12,948 seats for live concerts and 1,480 movie seats, the community has one of the highest concentrations of theater seats in a single downtown area.
Within the Houston Theater District are:
Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, home to Theatre Under The Stars, the Broadway in Houston series, and the Hobby Center’s own Uniquely Houston performance series. Offering a panoramic view of downtown and Tranquility Park, Hobby Center has two venues: Sarofim Hall, which seats 2,650, and Zilkha Hall, which seats 500.
Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts is home to the Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts. The elegantly designed venue seats 2,912.
Verizon Wireless Theater, located within the Bayou Place entertainment complex, hosts more than 100 events annually, including pop/rock and classical music concerts, plays, and comedy acts.
Wortham Theater Center consists of the Alice and George Brown Theater, which seats 2,465 people, with no seat more than 138 feet from the stage, and the 1,100-seat Roy and Lillie Cullen Theater, which is intimate enough for solo artists, chamber music, and small touring shows.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
In The Woodlands, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion outdoor amphitheater holds summer concerts by the Houston Symphony and performances by the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and London City Opera. The Pavilion, which also provides an array of culturally diverse entertainment ranging from classic rock, jazz, and folk music to children’s programming, can seat 3,000 in its reserved area and nearly 12,000 on its hillside lawn.
According to the City of Houston, the first Miller Outdoor Theatre opened in 1923 as a “classic Doric proscenium structure.” Eighty-two years later, the city’s contemporary theater, which opened in 1968, is an open-air venue located on nearly eight acres in the center of Hermann Park. The Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, and other multicultural theater companies perform at the 1,582-seat facility, which also offers hillside seating in a grassy area.
Other Houston area theater groups
A.D. Players – Theatrical works with Christian themes.
Children’s Theatre Festival (University of Houston) – Professional theater for children and their families.
Ensemble Theatre – The most prominent resident minority theater in the Southwest.
Main Street Theater – A varied mix of drama, comedy, musicals, classics, and experimental works for audiences of all ages.
Texas Mime Theater – Professional mime troupe of Houston Community College.
HITS Theatre – Heights-area musical theater productions showcasing young artists.
Rice Players (Rice University) – University student theatrical productions.
Shakespeare Festival (University of Houston) – Annual professional productions of Shakespeare works produced by the University of Houston Department of Drama. Plays are performed in English and Spanish.
In addition, regional theater groups include the Actors Theater of Houston, The Actors Workshop, and Theater LaB Houston. The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts presents regular theatrical programs.