9 best Houston plays + performances showacase dramas and a Disney fave

June theater heats up right away — with a dark, world premiere musical at the Alley — but ends with a magical Frozen treat. Along the way, we’ve got music, cabaret, poetry, several world premieres and new play festivals.

Let’s keep it cool with the hottest Houston theater.

Noir at Alley Theatre (June 2-July 3)

In this world premiere musical from pop star/scribe Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening) and Kyle Jarrow (SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical), a lonely man, self-imprisoned in his apartment, begins listening in on his troubled neighbors. Mystery, drama and music follow. The original story pays homage to the film noir genre while creating its own unique experience as musical theater. Houston audiences might just get an early look at the next Broadway hit.

#1 Hits/Feelin Groovy at Music Box Theater (now through August 20)

Music Box Theater specializes in fun cabaret with fresh new shows every few months. In June, they end their showcase of Billboard hit songs from across several decades and genres, including chart toppers from Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Doobie Brothers, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Pharrell Williams, and more. Then beginning on June 25, they get down and groovy for a psychedelic summer looking back to the summer of love and beyond for an all new exploration of the music of the 1960s and ’70s.

Crumbs from Cone Man Running Productions (June 10-25)

This world premiere from playwright Dan Ciba reimagines the Hansel and Gretel story for contemporary times as two sister (Hannah and Greta) grapple with their journey into adulthood.  Mixed with musings on childhood innocence, personal loss and the inscrutability of memory, Crumbs considers how the past continually informs the present.  As the sisters run away, get lost, and meet their witch, can they resist the familiar story — the awkward legacy that casts them as justified murderers — and find their own path forward?

Alley All New Festival at Alley Theatre (June 16-26)

The Alley’s festival of new play readings and workshop performances finally returns live and in person. Tales range from a woman’s journey to become a bullfighter to twins leading very different lives to the relationship between a Vietnamese-American son’s struggle for deep communication with his hearing impaired father to a bio drama about Houstonian jazz pioneer Arnett Cobb. This year’s new play festival will give audiences that first look and listen to some truly unique voices and stories. And for a twist on a new classic, Kirk Lynn of Austin’s Rude Mechs finished a lost and incomplete Thornton Wilder play.

La Sylphide from Houston Ballet (June 16-26)

Last performed by the Houston Ballet 14 seasons ago, this most classic ballet by August Bournonville is the very definition of a fairytale ballet, with its story of a forbidden romance between a human and fairy. A young Scottish farmer becomes spellbound by a beautiful, winged creature. As the Scotsman abandons his bride-to-be, he offends not only the wedding party but a witch who predicts his betrayal before he follows The Sylph into her kingdom in the woods. La Sylphide will be accompanied by a world premiere from Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM, Sparrow. Set to music by Simon & Garfunkel, including popular songs such as “Cecilia” and “The Only Living Boy” in New York, this new work will feature a large ensemble cast of dancers.

Disturbing the Peace: A Theatrical Poetry Experience presented by 4th Wall Theatre (June 17-18)

This debut devised show conceived by one of Houston’s favorite actors, Joe Palmore is billed as not your typical poetry show. Palmore tosses the mike to a cohort of Houston performers and poets who will spend two nights exploring a full spectrum of human emotion through a kaleidoscope of topics such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, family drama, and more.

Fade to Black Play Festival at MATCH (June 23-25)

Houston’s first and only short play festival to provide a platform exclusively for African-American playwrights celebrates its 10th anniversary with a roster of new works from playwrights around the country. Explore a world of 10 new works for 10 years of excellence.

Sarah Sings a Love Song at Ensemble Theatre (June 25-July 31)

This feel-good musical chronicles and celebrates the extraordinary love affair forged between a couple, Elaine and Russell, who have been married for over 30 years along with the music, travails, and life of Sarah Vaughan. Told through Elaine’s eyes, this jazz romance explores the first 34 years of their relationship from 1956 up to the death of Sarah Vaughan in 1990.

Disney’s Frozen from Broadway at Hobby Center (June 30-July 17)

Cool sister power and love wins the throne in the Broadway smash, live musical version of the Disney film. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and that man of snow, Olaf, are live and onstage in this musical. This version features favorite songs from the film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. As the snowy magic blows into the Hobby Center, all the kids will be belting “Let It Go” from their seats, but let’s be honest, so will all of the adults. 

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