2014: the year of Houston Theater Transitions

ComedySportz is Checking into the Holiday InnThis morning in my inbox was the announcement that CSz Houston is checking in to the Holiday Inn.  Yep – the old location is being sold, so they are moving to a new location.  Their last performance at 901 Town & Country Boulevard will be August 30, and while they prepare their new digs (which they are maddeningly secretive about) they will be performing at the Holiday Inn (West-Energy Corridor) 1112 Eldridge Parkway @ Enclave.  Considering the explosive growth in the Town & Country Village, it’s really no surprise that the strip mall where they were is being sold.  Out with the tired old strip mall, in with the expanding “Town & Country Village lifestyle center and CityCentre mixed-use complex.”  (Sad Trombone)

But this is by no means the only Houston improv theater in transition.  Third-Coast Comedy held their final performance in their long time venue on 34th street on June 14th.  Their website is still up, but there is currently no indication of whether they are relocating or simply discontinuing their ongoing performances.

Update 8/6/14:  Beta Theater has had their lease revoked by Meca.  I believe they have through the end of August to vacate their 50 seat theater space on Kane Street.  Jeromy Barber, the theater’s founder, is currently engaged in a search for a new home.  Stay tuned to their Facebook page and website for updated location information.

Station Theater’s artistic director, Shyla Ray moved to La Grange the beginning of July.  Station is now being shepherded by the distinguished alumni triumvirate of Roger Anderson, Jessica Brown, and Steven Saltsman.  Shows continue Thursday through Saturday at their location on Houston Avenue, but if you’ve been to a show lately, it’s clear that they are quickly outgrowing the space.  Are there plans in the works for an expanded space on the horizon?  Time will tell.

Outside the make-it-up-as-you-go theater scene, The Alley Theater began demolition this month on their renovation effort at their long time home on Texas Avenue.  Major enhancements are planned for the Hubbard stage, including a state of the art fly system.  Full disclosure – I worked for the Alley for 7 years back in the early ’00s.  We had been talking about this renovation back then and I’m thrilled to see it finally becoming a reality.  Performances in this year’s season will be at the University of Houston School of Theater and Dance.

Main Street Theater also begins a major renovation this Fall of their location on Times Boulevard, and to complicate matters their landlord at the Chelsea Market location has terminated their lease effective September 1.  In the meantime, Main Street Theater will be performing their children’s season at Talento Bilingüe de Houston on Jensen Drive, just East of 59 on the North end of downtown.  Main Street has an Indiegogo campaign currently in progress to raise funds for their emergency moving expenses.  If you would like to help out, check out the campaign at:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/main-street-theater-emergency-moving-expenses

We <3 HoustonSpeaking of Main Street, a new theater complex broke ground on Main Street on May 8th.  The Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH) is scheduled for completion in late 2015.  Main Street Theater will be moving their offices to the new facility and it will act as their permanent home for their children’s theater.  A 400 seat theater is planned with two additional mixed use Black-Box Theaters which can also act as Art Galleries.  I have to say that I find this new development absolutely thrilling.  This is an awesome location and a much needed facility for the smaller nomadic performing and visual arts groups in the city.  I think this will really raise awareness for the thriving arts scene in Houston.

In summary, there is a lot going on right now and I know it is not an easy time for many of these performing arts groups.  Moves and transitions tend impact audience turnout in negative ways – make it a point to support these theaters during this time of transition.  Houston may not be known across the country as a great theater town, but that is changing.  I’m looking expectantly forward to a great 2015 for Houston and Houston theater.