A Merry Little Virtual Christmas: The Best Houston Theater and Concerts to Stream Now

Ben Hope and Katie Barton at Stages; photo by Os Galindo

For those hungry for great music and theater, there is a feast of online, family-friendly holiday fare available throughout the dark days of December. Here's just a sampling of the homegrown performances you can enjoy from the comfort of your home.


Stages is offering two very different performances this month. Husband-and-wife Americana duo Ben and Katie Barton Hope, who have created theatrical tributes to Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, throw their hat into the pandemic ring of fire with their on-demand "audio-play" Holiday at the Hope's, a Christmas "mixtape" of original and traditional holiday songs and stories inspired by their experience as first-time homebuyers. (Break out the whiskey and eggnog!)

Meanwhile, the art of British pantomime comes alive in the one-man show Button's Sleeping Beauty, starring Ryan Schabach as Buttons, with book and lyrics by Kenn McLaughlin and music by David Nehls. Through song, dance, slapstick comedy and topical references, Buttons shares the story of the battle between the virtuous Serena and an evil fairy Godmother. Stages holiday panto performances are an audience favorite, so kudos to Schabach and company for reimagining the show for the digital realm. Holiday at the Hope's is currently available on-demand through Dec. 13. Button's Sleeping Beauty premiers Dec. 15 at 7:30pm and will be available through Sunday, Dec. 27. Register at stagestheatre.com.

For fans of the classical voice, the Houston Grand Opera's upcoming HGO Studio Holiday Celebration features current HGO studio artists performing holiday repertoire, including Handel and contemporary favorites. The free performance premiers on Dec. 18 at 7:30pm, and will be available on-demand at no cost for one month.

Conductor and artistic director Robert Simpson leads his Grammy Award-winning Houston Chamber Choir in a special program of Christmas carols and music from around the globe. The new, pre-recorded performance, titled A Time to Bring Hope, is the second virtual offering from the HCC this year, and will be available on December 20 as a three-day rental for $9.99, or to access whenever you need to hear some glorious singing for $24.99. Visit houstonchamberchoir.org for details.

Houston Chamber Choir

And Houston's renowned Alley Theatre has stepped up with newly filmed production of A Christmas Carol, now available to view online for free through Dec. 27. "It's not like any production we've done before," says David Rainey, who plays the dual role of Scrooge and a grumpy stage manager among a company of exuberant actors preparing to perform the Dickens classic. The Alley recently announced the remainder of its 2020-21 season will be entirely digital, with both short and full-length plays produced with the technology used for A Christmas Carol. For more on the Alley's innovative approach, click here.

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