Houston Theatre

To the untrained eye, Houston may not seem to have all the glitz and glam of the New York performing arts world, but Houston’s theatrical realm is more than capable of satisfying the most devoted theater fans. This arts scene boasts the oldest and largest African American theater of its kind in the Southwest, a devoted comedy theater featuring both local and national artists, the Houston Ballet (the fifth largest company in the country), the Tony Award-winning Alley Theater, and even the fabulous Gay Men’s Chorus of Houston, to name a few. From Jones Hall—known for its award-winning architecture—to the critically acclaimed Theater LaB, the world of Houston theaters stands out as one to be rivaled.

Alley Theatre

615 Texas Avenue; Houston, TX 77002; Tel. 713.228.8421
Many say that artistic director Gregory Boyd is responsible for the outstanding achievements the Alley Theatre has made throughout the past fifteen years. Perhaps this is true, considering that during his tenure, the resident company has not only been the recipient of a Tony Award, but also positioned itself as a distinguished group with an internationally-recognized reputation. On stage, this theatre troupe delivers powerhouse performances of contemporary works from Miller to Mamet, and close ties to notable players such as local playwright Edward Albee place the theatre in the unique position of consistently working alongside gifted artists. To get a glimpse of what goes on behind the curtains at one of the Houston theatre district's most beloved stages, the theatre offers tours of the facility, in addition to "Talkback" sessions after selected shows where audiences have the opportunity interact with cast members during Q&As moderated by a member of the Alley Theatre's artistic staff. (JH)

Country Playhouse Theatre

12802 Queensbury, Houston, TX ; Tel. 713.467.4497
The humble beginnings of this community theatre date back to the late 1950s, when their first production (which took place at a local elementary school) made a profit that probably wasn't even enough to purchase the props they'd need for their next. Since then, the Country Playhouse Theatre has endured, settling into a two-stage permanent residence where it has been housed since the early 1980s. The main stage offers a blend of well-known contemporary theatre that has included productions of musicals like Cabaret and dramas like A Streetcar Named Desire. The smaller stage, called the Black Box, is dedicated to edgier performances that in years past has included works such as Charles Busch's Psycho Beach Party, and also features the New Play Reading Series. In addition to its dramatic presentations, The Country Playhouse offers voice and acting classes for children and adults. (JH)

Gay Men's Chorus of Houston

P.O. Box 541004 Houston, TX 77254; Tel. 713.521.7464
Founded in 1979 as the Montrose Singers, the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston is one of the most notable performance troupes of the GLBT community in the city. More than 100 performers make up this singing sensation, which is supported by its volunteer staff of more than 40 men and women. With a repertoire that runs the gamut from holiday favorites to Broadway classics, the GMCH continues to grow — particularly under the artistic direction of James Knapp — and has been increasingly successful in recent years. The chorus is open to new members and no audition is required. (JH)

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

800 Bagby Street; Houston, TX 77002; Tel. 713.315.2525
As the architectural gem of the downtown theatre district, the Hobby Center for Performing Arts offers all the luxuries of a distinctly modern structure inside and out, aesthetically and technically. A glass and steel façade graces the grand entrance with windows that extend three stories, providing excellent panoramic views of the city skyline from the terrace located on the second floor. Pristine marble, golden accents and streamlined design give the theatre its luxurious, yet understated opulence. The two theatres feature their own inside the Hobby Center feature year-round entertainment that includes Broadway productions, local presentations, classical music and much more. Particularly notable is the Uniquely Houston series that showcases local performance troupes of all types including Stages Repertory Theatre's EarlyStages series and the Houston Chamber Orchestra. If you happen to catch a show inside the Sarofim Hall, the larger, and certainly more attractive of the two, be sure to gaze up at the celestial dome. (JH)

Jones Hall

615 Louisiana; Houston, TX 77002; Tel. 713.227.3974
Marveling at the eight story pillars and marble façade of Jones Hall's awarding-winning architecture is a dramatic experience in and of itself — especially when considering its size. (The grand performing arts center located in the theatre district takes up an entire city block!) But if onstage, live performance is what your after, then the annual schedule of events here includes enough variety to suit most tastes. As the resident home of both the distinguished Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts (SPA), Jones Hall offers a mix of top-notch billing — most with a traditional, albeit diverse appeal. In addition to classical concerts, performances here include a wealth of dance and cultural events sponsored by SPA. Before or after the show, take a few minutes to marvel at "Gemini II," a sculpture suspended by wires in the theatre's lobby, designed by American artist Richard Lippold. (JH)

Masquerade Theatre

1537 North Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77008; Tel. 713.861.7045
This musical theatre has been dedicated to staging professional productions in Houston since 1996, and is the only professional theatre of its kind in the city that targets, recruits, and hires local professional actors exclusively. Each season offers an array of productions suitable for audiences of all ages — from popular classics such as Beauty and the Beast to lesser-known works. The Professional School of Theatre offers school-aged children the opportunity to explore the performance arts through a variety of classes. (JH)

Radio Music Theatre

2623 Colquitt, Houston TX; Tel. 713.522.7722
The costume changes are fast and loose and the actors' talents are versatile and inventive which makes this Houston theater's charm irresistible. (SP)

Stages Repertory Theatre

3201 Allen Parkway, Suite 101, Houston, Texas 77019; Tel. 713.527.0123
Fearless when it comes to exploring new theatrical territory that doesn't adhere to tradition, this company is pleasant diversion from the city's more traditional circuit. And as one of the few Houston theatres that operate under an agreement with Actor's Equity Association — the professional actor's union — Stages Repertory Theatre consistently provides formidable acting and talent coupled with inventive narratives. Through top-quality performances that challenge and excite, these productions explore everything from pop culture to politics, as they showcase the works of both local and national playwrights. The theatre's EarlyStages series introduces young audiences to the realm of theatre with a season of fantastical productions suitable for children. These kid-friendly adventures put on by Stages Repertory Theatre take place at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. (JH)

The Ensemble Theatre

3535 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002; Tel. 713.520.0055
This performance troupe holds two titles within the realm of African American theatre as the oldest and largest company of its kind in the American Southwest. Nearly 30 years running, the Ensemble Theatre offers an annual season of productions that celebrate the richly creative heritage of African Americans – upholding traditions, as well as forging new paths in the contemporary African American theatre genre that are suitable and entertaining to audiences of all kinds. On stage, expect to see both notable classics and contemporary works that encompass everything from the dramatic tales of August Wilson to musicals that fuse storytelling with the soulful sounds of jazz and gospel. The physical structure of the theatre provides an intimate seating arrangement, putting you relatively close to what's unfolding on stage. (JH)

The Laff Stop

1952 W Gray St, Houston TX; Tel. 713.524.2333
This Houston comedy theater offers heavy-hitting comedy from national and local artists in a relaxed setting where Houston theater goers go to laugh and drink. (SP)

Theatre LaB

1706 Alamo Street, Houston, TX 77077; Tel. 713.868.7516
If you like to experience theatre up close and personal then this space is sure to satisfy. A critically-acclaimed company, Theatre LaB stages Off-Broadway productions in a setting that is about as physically intimate as a theatergoer can get without actually taking part (the small-size theatre area puts viewers no more than a few rows away from the action on stage). Since its inception in 1993, the theatre has had a strong and eclectic running that has included everything from child-friendly fairytales penned by local playwrights to grown-up dramas scribed by both rising stars and well-knowns. During the summer, the theatre stages its most daring — and in some cases perhaps it's most challenging — productions when they host the annual Fringe Festival (think Ensler's Vagina Monologues or Miller's Glory Box). (JH)

University of Houston School of Theatre

133 Wortham; Houston, TX 77204; Tel. 713.743.3003
Don't be fooled by the fact that this theatrical troupe is composed of artists- and actors-in-the-making. With stage sets, costumes and acting on par with what you'd expect to find at a professional theatre, the University of Houston's School of Theatre offers audience-pleasing performances year after year. Perhaps it has something to do with the distinguished faculty at the school that includes Edward Albee, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright whose work has appeared on stage both in the United States and abroad. In addition to a four-play season, the University of Houston School of Theatre is the host of the very popular Shakespeare and Children's Theatre Festivals each year. The school's dance division also holds one annual performance. (JH)

Verizon Wireless Theatre

520 Texas Avenue; Houston, TX 77002; Tel. 713.230.1666
The best thing about the Verizon Wireless Theatre is its location inside one of the city's hot spots, Bayou Place. Bustling with people both day and night, Houston's former convention center turned entertainment complex is a popular go-to destination for locals and visitors alike. Stacked with bars, clubs, eateries and more, the multilevel attraction is a great place to get to long before a show at the theatre begins or stay after it ends. Fittingly, the Verizon Wireless Theatre is a venue that consistently hosts some of the most sought after tickets in the city. Performances — a sizeable number of which are big name singers and musicians — span from stand-up comedy to theatrical productions. (JH)

Wortham Theatre Center

500 Texas Street, Houston, TX 77002; Tel. 713.237.1439
Houston's theatre district brims with opportunities to experience some of the very best arts and culture in the U.S. And the Wortham Theatre Center's main stage is the home of two of the city's greatest cultural assets — the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera. The fifth largest company in the U.S., the Houston Ballet has an extensive repertoire that ranges from classic to contemporary choreography, and is a must-see troupe for any lover of the form. The internationally-acclaimed Houston Grand Opera is especially known for its commitment to broadening the scope of musical theatre to encompass works that appeal to larger audiences, while dually positioning itself as a company that masterfully performs works from more the traditional operatic repertoire. The smaller stage at the Wortham Theatre Center hosts smaller productions, live music and touring performers. (JH)