Top Performing Arts & Live Theater Shows in Houston: October 2023

"Drumfolk" brings a story of endurance and hope in late October | Courtesy of Step Afrika!

Catch some of the city’s most exciting upcoming performances, happening all month long, with our roundup of live theater and performing arts productions in October 2023.

This month’s performing arts scene continues with a massive slate of hometown arts companies kicking off new seasons while others keep the show rolling with must-see performances.

From classical music and regional play premieres to musicals and dance, there’s something for every taste and budget.

Top Performing Arts & Theater Shows in Houston: October 2023

Opening This Month

  • Dance Source Houston presents Mind the Gap XXVI at MATCH | Tuesday, October 3 – This evening of works by local choreographers features a variety of dance styles, including aerial, contemporary and modern. Come see why these showcases are among the most-loved by dance audiences. Pay-what-you-can; $15 and up. 7:30pm.
  • Houston Symphony presents Lang Lang in Concert at Jones Hall | Friday, October 6 – The world-renowned pianist, called “the hottest artist on the classical music planet” by the New York Times, joins the symphony for a concert featuring Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique and Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2. $95 and up. 7:30pm.
  • Switzerland at Stages | Friday, October 6 | Ongoing – In this taut, psychological thriller, Texas murder mystery writer Patricia Highsmith gets a strange visitor to her remote Swiss Alps home. A stranger, a fan of her work, turns up urging her to write another installment of her Tom Ripley series. Will she? Or will something worse happen? Stages favorite Sally Edmunson stars as Patricia. This production runs through Sunday, November 12. $50 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • Mercury presents Bach’s Mighty Fortress at Wortham Center | Saturday, October 7 – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was already a dramatic hymn written by Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation. Then, J.S. Bach added to its majesty. Hear the thrilling work along with other Bach pieces in this concert, which includes the orchestra and singers. $25 and up. 8pm.
  • Heroes of the Fourth Turning at Rec Room Arts | Saturday, October 7 to Saturday, October 28 – When four friends gather on the edge of the wilderness to honor their mentor, recently named president of a deeply conservative Catholic college, they find their sensibilities and values challenged amid a changing world. Are they really who they thought they were? Find out in this play about grace and redemption. $15 and up. 7:30pm.
Houston Symphony is joined by world-renown pianist Lang Lang | Courtesy of Lang Lang
  • Paul Hope Cabaret presents Star Dust: The Songs of Hoagy Carmichael at Ovations | Mondays from October 9 to October 30 –  With a mission to keep the music of the Great American Songbook alive, these cabaret performances offer insights to mid-century music, and bring some of Houston’s best vocal talent to the stage. Carmichael is known for “Georgia,” “Star Dust,” “Lazy River” and more. Spend a Monday night with an ensemble that’s doing exceptional singing work. $15 and up. 7:30pm.
  • Dia de la Hispanidad: Ida y Vuelta at Miller Outdoor Theatre | Friday, October 13 | FREE – Explore the rich history of music in the Americas and the way Indigenous cultures and Europe influenced the sounds of the continents. This full-scale production touches on the musical culture of Peru, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and many others through music, dance, and magnificent costumes. 7:30pm.
  • Viva Latin America with Guillermo Dávila and El Coque Muñiz at Zilkha Hall | Friday, October 13 – Latin recording artists Guillermo Dávila and El Coque Muñiz join the Houston Latin American Philharmonic to close out Hispanic Heritage Month with a program of cultural highlights. Tickets TBA. 8pm.
  • Live at the Founders Club: The Songs of Tony Bennett at Hobby Center | Friday, October 13 & Saturday, October 14 – This evening of jazz by saxophonist Shelley Carrol and saxophonist/vocalist David Caceres includes songs you know by heart, including “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “New York State of Mind” and more. $40 and up. Friday at 7:30pm; Saturday at 7pm and 9pm.
  • Ragamala Dance Company presents Ananta, The Eternal at Asia Society Texas | Saturday, October 14 – Body, memory, desire and devotion are woven into this new dance work by Aparna Ramaswamy, who is joined on stage by her sister Ashwini for an evening of solos and duets. $35. 7:30pm.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Hobby Center | Wednesday, October 18 to Sunday, October 29 – The Tony Award–winning musical from the mind of Stephen Sondheim returns to Houston just in time for spooky season. Set in the corners of London in the Industrial Age, a vengeful barber fatefully meets an all-too-eager pie shop owner and together, they go into a murderous business. $40 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • On the Exhale at Unity Theatre | Thursday, October 19 to Sunday, October 29 – Head to Brenham to catch this riveting play about a liberal college professor who finds herself inexplicably drawn to guns and gun ownership following a harrowing event. Recommended for mature audiences. $27. Showtimes vary.
Sisters Aparna and Ashwini Ramaswamy perform ‘Ananta, The Eternal’ in October | Photo: Kyle Flubacker; courtesy of Asia Society
  • Dirt Dogs Theatre presents The Birds at MATCH | Friday, October 20 | Ongoing – Based on the Daphne DuMaurier short story, which also inspired the classic Hitchcock film, this thriller finds two strangers trying to survive as a deadly slew of birds attacks humanity. The show opens Dirt Dogs’ 8th season. This production runs through Saturday, November 4. $30. Showtimes vary.
  • Garden Theatre Company presents The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) at MATCH | Friday, October 20 to Sunday, October 29 – This rollicking romp through the Bard’s work takes on Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear and more. No need to be a Shakespeare scholar to find the fun behind this laugh-out-loud play that’s been called “wacky” by the Los Angeles Times and “two hours of laughter” by the New York Times. $23 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • Houston Grand Opera presents Intelligence at Wortham Center | Friday, October 20 | Ongoing – The Opera’s 75th world premiere opens the new season, based on a true story set during the Civil War. Prominent Confederate Elizabeth Van Lew runs a Union spy ring, working with her enslaved servant Mary Jane Bowser. With choreography from Urban Bush Women, a score by Jake Heggie, and libretto by Gene Scheer, this groundbreaking work shows how one of the city’s finest arts companies continues to push the envelope and embrace new works. This production runs through Friday, November 3. $25 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • ROCO presents Rise Up at Asia Society Texas | Friday, October 20 – Part of the chamber orchestra’s Connections series, this performance is an evening of thought-provoking chamber works and dialogue highlighting the fight for women’s rights in the U.S., Iran and other parts of the world. It includes the world premieres of Breaking the Veil by Grammy-winning, ROCO Season 19 Composer-In-Residence Richard Danielpour. $45. 7:30pm. 
  • Asia to the World at Miller Outdoor Theatre | Saturday, October 21 | FREE – Take in a journey of cross-cultural dance that showcases the many diverse cultures, colors and styles of countries across the Asian continent. Ranging from traditional to contemporary forms, the evening promises a performing arts spectacle for the whole family on the Hermann hill. 7:30pm.
  • Performing Arts Houston presents Step Afrika! Drumfolk at Wortham Center | Friday, October 27 & Saturday, October 28 – A little-known historic event in the early 18th century stripped Africans of the right to use their drums—but it couldn’t stop the music, whose beats became infused in their bodies. Presented by the first professional dance company dedicated to stepping, this event offers expressions of endurance, hope and unity. $39 and up. 7:30pm.
“Tutu” closes in early October at Wortham Center | Courtesy of Houston Ballet

Closing This Month

  • AD Players presents Forever Plaid at the George Theater | Through Sunday, October 1 – The Plaids are on their way to a gig when they’re hit by a bus and killed instantly. What happens when they return from the afterlife for one final show? The answer lies in this beloved musical filled with barbershop harmonies and enchanting melodies. $30 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • Houston Ballet presents Tutu at Wortham Center | Through Sunday, October 1 – The ballet opens its season with a triple bill featuring the Houston premiere of Balanchine’s iconic “Stars and Stripes,” set to the marches of John Philip Sousa; Delmira, a world premiere Houston Ballet commission from Colombian Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa; and Stanton Welch’s Tu Tu, with its tongue-in-cheek choreography set to Ravel’s Concerto for Piano in G major. $25 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • TEATRX presents La Vida es Cortos/Life is Short at MATCH | Through Sunday, October 1 – This festival in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month presents stories on stage and screen. This year’s offerings include programming  geared toward young audiences ages five and up. Pay-what-you-can. Showtimes vary.
  • 4th Wall Theatre Company presents The Pavilion at Spring Street Studios | Through Saturday, October 7 – Craig Wright’s play explores the lives, loves and regrets of Peter and Kari, high school sweethearts who reunite at their 20th high school reunion. Called an “Our Town for our time,” critics around the country have praised the show’s deft dialogue and insight to relationships. $30 and up. Showtimes vary.
“POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive” | Courtesy of Stages
  • POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive at the Gordy | Through Sunday, October 8 – This feminist farce explores power, misogyny and how women both support and undermine each other. When the president makes an off-color statement including a certain four-letter word, all hell breaks loose. The women on his staff and in his family roll into action to contain the fallout, even as events spool out of their control. $30 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • Catastrophic Theatre presents Waiting for Godot at MATCH | Through Saturday, October 14 – In Samuel Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece, two penniless tramps wait on a road for Mr. Godot to show up, only to find out that he won’t come today, but surely tomorrow. As they wait, they pass the time in every way imaginable. Greg Dean, Charlie Scott, Kyle Sturdivant and Troy Schulze reprise their roles from Catastrophic’s 2013 production, which was hailed by critics across the city for its brilliance. Pay-what-you-can. Showtimes vary.
  • What the Constitution Means to Me at Main Street Theater | Through Sunday, October 15 – This regional premiere tells the story of 15-year-old Heidi, who earned scholarship money for college by taking part in Constitutional debate competitions. As Heidi looks back on her experiences, she considers what one of our most important founding documents means for our history and our future. $39 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • Chicken & Biscuits at Ensemble Theatre | Through Sunday, October 15 – Douglas Lyons’ family comedy examines what happens when the Jenkins crew comes together to celebrate the life and legacy of the family patriarch. Things unravel when a family secret turns up at the funeral. $34 and up. Showtimes vary.
  • American Mariachi at Alley Theatre | Through Sunday, October 22 – In this play about dreaming big, it’s the 1970s, and Lucha wants to form a mariachi band. But girls don’t do that. Or can they? This heartwarming clash of cultures showcases what it means to embrace all of your heritage. $35 and up. Showtimes vary.

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Holly Beretto
Holly Beretto writes about food and wine, the arts and interesting people for a variety of local and regional publications. In addition to 365 Things to Do in Houston, her work has appeared in the Arizona State University Alumni Magazine, Arts + Culture Texas, Bayou City Magazine, Downtown, Galveston Monthly and Houston Woman. She is also a regular contributor to Eater.com's Houston site. She earned her B.A. in mass communication with a minor in professional writing from Franklin Pierce College (now Franklin Pierce University) and her M.A. in communication studies with an emphasis in journalism from St. Louis University. She has worked in television news production, public relations and marketing in Rhode Island, Maine, New York and Texas. A native Rhode Islander, she has lived in Texas since 1997. She is the author of Christ as the Cornerstone: Fifty Years of Worship at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, published by Bright Sky Press.