Outdoor Opera in Houston

The past few days have been a frenzy of activities as we showed of the sights of H-town to V’s mom and granny. The common complaint from most visitors to Houston is the lack of things-to-do here. After the pre-requisite trip to NASA, Kemah and might be a visit to the Chinatown, Hindu temples H-town’s only other entertainment are its malls. But there are other things to do in Houston and the next few posts will be on what to do if you are visiting Houston.

The Miller Theatre:

In the middle of Houston, within seconds of the world’s largest and renowned medical centre complex, a mere minutes away from downtown there the lush, green Hermann park. It feels like a mirage for the concrete jungle weary Houstonian. The park has the usual trails, golf courses, toy train and ofcourse the Miller Outdoor Theatre. The theatre is located on an area of about 8 acres with a 64 x 41 foot stage and the usual requisite theatrical lighting, orchestra pits, greenrooms etc. There is limited (about 1500) seating and a sloping lawn that accommodates about 5000 more people. The Miller Theatre offers the most diverse season of professional entertainment of any Houston performance venue. Classical music, jazz, ethnic music and dance (including Indian dances, V has performed there once), ballet, Shakespeare, musical theatre, classic films, and everything you can dream of. The best part of the Miller Theatre is that all its events are free to the public. And we were there last Friday.

Scheduled on Friday was the Houston Grand Opera’s performance of Humperdinck’s fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Growing up the fairy tale was a part of our lives, and we were looking for the opera’s renderation of the much-loved fable. The Houston Grand Opera is one of the nationally renowned ones (so says the website, we are no regulars at the Opera).

The Opera had three acts and went on for around a couple of hours including a 30 minute intermission. We arrived early at the theatre and were lucky enough to find a great parking spot close by. Spread out the blanket and got out our picnic foods, home-made masala pori(puffed rice), V’s favorite Sushward mixture, kadalai mitai (Indian peanut brittle) and some fruits. The open-seating at Miller theatre is a far-cry from the stiff theatre scene and is very relaxed. It makes an ideal family outing. And ofcourse sharing the space with canine friends can be intimidating for few.

My personal impression of the Hansel and Gretel was that it was a good one but not upto my expectations. I loved the forests and the lighting. They were awesome and so life-like. The orchestra was magnificent. I am music-illiterate but still felt the meaning it was meant to convey and that is music to me. The puppetry was amazing and so well-coordinated. It is difficult to choose my favorite, was it the angels or the dancing cat or the raven? But I was quite disappointed by the ginger-bread house of the witch, might be because I was looking forward for the story book image replica. The house was pretty and well-detailed but lacked the magnificence and opulence and grandeur I was looking forward to. Another disappointment was the witch (Liam Bonner), the witch was made to look tall and huge but somehow I never felt the scared. I have seen better witches at the Halloween parties. Might be I have just grown up and am no longer scared of witches. Loved the dad character (Ryan Mckinny) with his jolly-good-fellow attitude and the la-la-la la-la-la’s (R does a great imitation!) but never felt it was a starving family. Ofcourse Hansel (Fiona Murphy) and Gretel (Rebekah Camm) were great!

Source: Miller Theatre website

Overall I would say it was a good one to watch at the Miller Theatre - free, fun and a wonderful way to spend the Friday evening with loved ones. And if you are in Houston, forget the Friday party scene and head out to the Miller Outdoor theatre this summer. Enjoy the balmy summer evenings of Houston and the performances. The schedule of performances is here.

Pack a picnic with your favorite foods, or stop by Ruggles Cafe Bakery in the Village and pick up some of their amazing sandwiches and desserts and make the evening special.


Kavi said...

Am kind of intrigued by this. Open theatre indeed sounds for the audience. When there are no boundaries and stiff chairs to sit on...well, well..it would be so very relaxing !

And throw the kadalai mittai in ! What more can you ask for !