About Theater District Houston
The Houston Theater District, a 17-block area in the heart of Downtown Houston, Texas, United States, is home to Houston’s nine professional performing arts organizations, the 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. More than two million people visit the Houston Theater District annually.The Houston Theater District, a 17-block area in the heart of Downtown Houston, Texas, United States, is home to Houston’s nine professional performing arts organizations, the 130,000-square-foot (12,000 m2) Bayou Place entertainment complex, restaurants, movies, plazas, and parks. More than two million people visit the Houston Theater District annually.
The district, with 12,948 seats for live performances and 1,580 movie seats and is one of only five cities with permanent professional resident companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines: the Houston Grand Opera, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Ballet, Theatre Under the Stars and The Alley Theatre.
Houston is recognized as an important city for contemporary visual arts. The city is a prime stop for touring companies from Broadway; concerts and shows, from The Rolling Stones to Cirque du Soleil; and exhibitions for a variety of interests, ranging from the nation’s largest quilting show to auto, boat, and home shows.
The Houston Grand Opera is the only opera company in the U.S. to win a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. In 2007, Da Camera of Houston was awarded the CMAcclaim Award from Chamber Music America, for significant contribution to the cultural life of its region.
The Tony Award winning Alley Theatre, founded in 1947, is Texas’ oldest professional theatre company. The Alley is the third oldest continually operating theatre in the United States. It is considered to be one of the foremost theatre company in the United States outside of New York City and was a pioneering company of the regional theatre movement.
One of the several attractions in the district is the Bayou Place Entertainment Complex—a large multilevel building that is home to full-service restaurants, bars, live music, billiards, multiple theaters, and art house films. The Revention Music Center – Formerly Houston Bayou Music Center and the Verizon Wireless Theatre- stages a variety of live concerts, and the [Sundance Theatre – Formerly the Angelika Theatre] presents the latest in art, foreign, and independent films.
Living in Houston Theater District
It’s no secret that Houston is a city that loves to celebrate and foster the arts. In fact, there are over 400 organizations in Space City that are dedicated to the performing and visual arts in some capacity. You can find many of them in the Theatre District, a small section in downtown’s north side. The best part? Most of the major performing arts centers there are within walking distance from one another. Here are some other fun facts about the arts in this great Texan city that you may not have known before! Be sure to check out the theater arts opportunities playing in the beloved district and beyond.
1. It is the 2nd largest Theatre District in the USA.
Houston’s Theatre District spans 17 blocks downtown. Within that are a total of 8 performing arts centers that can seat over 12,000 people at full capacity. This is allows for more people than any other Theatre District in the United States to see a show at once next to the Broadway district in New York City. Some of the famed venues in Houston’s beloved Theatre District are the Alley Theatre (see #3), Jones Hall, Wortham Theater Center, and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.
2. It was favored by Elvis.
The sensational crooner Elvis played major venues in Houston a total of 16 times during his career. 2 of those performances were extremely consequential, having taken place during his rise to international fame. On April 21st 1956, a few months after the release of his hit single “Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis played the 4,000-seat Municipal Auditorium. News outlets began to pick up on how fast his star was rising. The summer following that performance, Elvis released his double-sided single of “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.” Then, shortly after the release of “Love Me Tender,” Elvis played the infamous Sam Houston Coliseum (now the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts) on October 13th, doubling his audience capacity from his previous Houston visit. The concert was less than civilized; Elvis had to be escorted in and out by police, girls screamed throughout the performance and fainted, and parents rioted. It was only the beginning of Elvis hysteria, and Houston’s great theaters got to see the start of it!
3. It is home to the 2nd oldest resident theater in the United States.
The famed Alley Theater has been around in some variation for over 70 years and is one of the most highly regarded performing arts companies in the nation. It is the 2nd oldest resident theater in the US next to the Cleveland Playhouse. As stated on their website, “The Alley Theatre’s commitment to maintaining a resident company of actors has made the Alley unique among American theatre companies. The Alley’s dedication to supporting the company artists ideal enables artists to deepen their work through long-term collaboration while strengthening their ties to the Houston community.” Alley productions have toured 40 American cities, as well as a handful abroad. Additionally, the Alley Theatre won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1996 and is also the only major Houston performing arts company that owns its building! Be sure to check out productions at the Alley that are available on TodayTix.
4. Houston was ranked as one of the best cities for actors to live in the U.S.
A report released earlier this year by the Actors Equity Association union ranked Houston/Galveston as the 9th best city to live if you work in live theatre in the United States. The new, comprehensive study took into consideration the number of Equity members per city and how often they work in union theater over the course of a year. Equity remarked that Houston/Galveston, “is home to nearly 300 Equity members and encompasses two thriving metropolitan areas that combine Texas brio with international flair.”
5. It’s seen hardship, and has bounced back beautifully.
The Houston Theatre District was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Some of the most revered theaters in the district experienced millions of dollars in damages. Yet the remarkable resilience of Houston and it’s theater artists was made apparent after the disaster. Arts-lovers have come together over the past few months to raise money through concerts and fundraisers, combating the tragedy through the beauty of live performance and artistry. While the area is still in repair, it is a testament to the passion and drive of the theater community how quickly the damaged areas have turned around after experiencing such hardship.
Theater District Houston Zip:
Things to do in Theater District in Houston
One of Houston’s crown jewels is its majestic Theater District, set in the beautiful Downtown. There, you’ll find a mosaic of artistic performance venues, as well as bars, restaurants, and family-friendly attractions that are all just a stone’s throw away. Hop from block to block, by night or day, and enjoy some cultured time at the theater.
Note: For the purposes of this list, the Theater District is the area around and bounded by Preston, Bagby, Walker, and Milam Streets.
Alley Theatre – Home to a resident company of actors and located on Texas Avenue, this renovated non-profit theater creates and hosts an array of innovative productions—from classics and underrated plays to modern premieres. It offered over 450 performances in the 2017-2018 season, producing more performances than all other performing arts organizations in the Houston Theater District combined.
Jones Hall – Set on Louisiana, the stunning Jones Hall is the permanent home of the Houston Symphony, as well as the Society for the Performing Arts. With a curving travertine marble façade, rectangular columns and elegant, vibrant red and gold interior, it sets the tone for a brilliant evening of music and art. Inside the theater, 800 hexagons can be raised and lowered to manipulate acoustics, and the room can shrink from 2,912 seats to 2,300.
Wortham Theater Center – Opening in 1987, the 437,500-square foot Worthman center hosts two beautiful theaters, playing home to the Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera. The Alice and George Brown Theater rocks a 17,000-square foot stage used primarily for the resident companies; while the 1,100-seat Lillie and Roy Cullen Theater hosts smaller opera and ballet productions and serves other arts groups and solo artists.
Hobby Center for Performing Arts – With an impressive 3-story grand lobby, 60-foot-high glass walls overlooking the city skyline, this first-class performance venue boasts two acoustically distinguished theaters, the 2,650-seat Sarofim Hall and the 500-seat Zilkha Hall. Performing companies include Broadway at the Hobby Center Series and local musical company Theater Under the Stars.
Open House – Look out for the annual Theater District Open House, where you can experience a behind-the-scenes thrill of the theatre for free.
Revention Music Center – Over in Bayou Place, this performance venue rocks a superior sound system, seeing a plethora of artists from Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, and Sting to Zedd, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Dave Chappelle.
AMC Houston 8 – Catch a blockbuster at this dine-in movie theater, also in Bayou Place.
Downtown Aquarium – Go on an underwater adventure at the Downtown Aquarium, where you can dine among aquatic life at the in-house restaurant, check out over 300 species from around the globe alongside special exhibits, and enjoy games and rides including the Shark Voyage train ride and Diving Bell Ferris Wheel that soars 100 feet into the air.
Sesquicentennial Park – Located in the heart of the Theater District near Wortham Center, this 22-acre urban park is flanked by the Buffalo Bayou. Check out art installations, including the 70-foot-high Seven Wonders pillars, the George H.W. Bush Monument, and the Big Bubble, a bubble of water you can activate in the bayou by pressing a big red button over by the Preston Street Bridge.
Hermann Square/City Hall – Nearby off Walker and Bagby sits Houston’s City Hall and the Hermann Square Reflection Pond. Look out for celebrations and festivals on the sprawling lawn.
Tranquility Park – A short walk away on Rusk and Walker, this tranquil park offers an oasis of flowing fountains and pools, serene walkways and grassy mounds.
Market Square Park – Close by on Milam, this neighborhood park hosts a variety of events, from movie nights and Blanket Bingo to pop-up festivals and annual celebrations, plus Greek eats and drinks (both boozy and not) from Niko Niko’s.