The best plays, musical performances, and exhibits in Texas are enjoyed by record-breaking crowds, according to our cultural arts maven Leanne Raesener, who shares our favorite recommendations for what to enjoy this fall across the state.
TWINKLE TOES, MEET FAIRY DUST
Ballet Austin’s 59th annual production of The Nutcracker is one of Austin’s favorite holiday traditions. Hundreds of dancers perform Stephen Mills’ enchanting choreography in colorful costumes to Tchaikovsky’s magical score with live accompaniment from Austin Symphony Orchestra. Catch the Austin notables who play Mother Ginger each year…always a special treat. December 4‒23. At BalletAustin.org.
ON IMAGE: Courtesy of Ballet Austin
WELCOME TO AMERICA
Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre. This musical has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Dec 7—19. At TexasPerformingArts.org.
ON IMAGE: The company of the touring version of the Broadway smash-hit, Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus].
The Blanton’s exhibition Pop Crítico/Political Pop: Expressive Figuration in the Americas, 1960s-1980s, features artists in the United States and Latin America, who increasingly manipulated Pop’s colorful and flashy representation of the familiar into a tool for social and political critique. Through January 16, 2022. At BlantonMuseum.org.
UNDER IMAGE: Beatriz González, Apuntes para la historia extensa, continuación [Notes for an Extensive History, Continuation], 1968, Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Judy and Charles W. Tate, 2016.104. © Beatriz González.
DALLAS / FORT WORTH
The Ilya+Emilia Kabakov: Paintings about Paintings exhibition at The Dallas Contemporary showcases works that remained in the studio until recently. They filled the artists with revulsion when dragged into the light of day because their light and energy had disappeared. As a result, the strangest method for injecting joy is employed—namely, flowers are sewn onto the artworks. Through February 13, 2022. At DallasContemporary.org.
UNDER IMAGE: Holiday #13, Courtesy of Ilya+Emilia Kabakov.
JOY? BEAUTY? YES, PLEASE
The Dallas Museum of Art’s exhibition Pursuit of Beauty: The May Family Collection looks at the definitive Dallas-based collection of American art built over nearly 60 years. Twenty-four works, whose dates span approximately a century, touch historical and aesthetic highpoints in American art and are united by a visual sense of harmony, tranquility, and beauty. Through January 9, 2022. At DMA.org.
ON IMAGE: John Singer Sargent, Sylvia Harrison, 1914, The Collection of Eleanor and C. Thomas May, Jr.
DIVINE SUBLIME REFINED
The Carter’s latest immersive contemporary exhibition, Anila Quayyum Agha: A Beautiful Despair, showcases Pakistani-American multidisciplinary artist Anila Quayyum Agha’s site-specific sculptural installation and related drawings informed by her multicultural experiences. Through January 9, 2022. At CarterMuseum.org.
ON IMAGE: A Beautiful Despair (Cube), ©Anila Agha.
CHARMING AND CHILLY
Relive the joy and wonder of childhood with a story as fresh and lovely as a new coat of snow. In Ezra Jack Keats’s award-winning work from 1962, The Snowy Day, the story comes to life for the holidays in this much-anticipated world premiere opera from the brilliant creative duo of composer Joel Thompson and librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney. December 9—19. At HoustonGrandOpera.org.
ON IMAGE: Art ©The Snowy Day and A Poem for Peter by Erza Jack Keats with Librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, Courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera.
OLD MASTERS ANEW
Light on Old Masters: European Art from Houston Collections, 1300–1700, denotes the artists then working in Europe. Works from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods are included in the show and drawn from the MFAH collections and through generous loans by private collectors in Houston. Through January 23, 2022. At MFAH.org.
UNDER IMAGE: Juan Carreño de Miranda and workshop, The Immaculate Conception, 17th Century, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Rienzi Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris Masterson, III.
HALLELUJAH LET’S REJOICE
The glorious holiday tradition of Handel’s Messiah returns to The Houston Symphony this season. Chorus and guest soloists fill Jones Hall with joyous refrains and exultant arias, including the iconic “Hallelujah” Chorus, in this moving and powerful presentation of the most extraordinary story ever told. December 10—12. At HoustonSymphony.org.
ON IMAGE: Photo courtesy of Houston Symphony.
BIENNIAL BLOW OUT
The 2021 Texas Biennial, A New Landscape, A Possible Horizon is a geographically-led, independent survey of contemporary art in Texas. It’s the Biennial’s seventh iteration, and the first year it’s distributed across five Texas museums: Artpace, Fotofest, the McNay Art Museum, Ruby City, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. Through January 31, 2022. At TexasBiennial.org.
ON IMAGE: Steve Parker, Sirens, 2018, Brass, plastic, conduit, speakers, and recorded voices.Courtesy of Steve Parker.
A SHARP-DRESSED MAN
Steeped in memories, both personal and cultural, the art of Wayne Thiebaud is comfortingly familiar. It evokes reflection on our own experiences with the people, fashion, places, and foods we love. Wayne Thiebaud 100: Paintings, Prints, and Drawings celebrate the artist’s 100th birthday through 100 works. Through January 16. At McNayArt.org.
UNDER IMAGE: Wayne Thiebaud, Bow Ties, 1993. Crocker Art Museum, gift of the Artist’s family, 1995.9.38. ©2021 Wayne Thiebaud/Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY.
LET’S GET POTTED
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience is a parody created by two-time Olivier Award-nominated and BBC actors Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner. The show takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books into 70 hilarious minutes. November 23—28. At MajesticEmpire.com.
ON IMAGE: Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson in Potted Potter. Photo courtesy of Potted Potter.