A LITTLE SONG, A LITTLE DANCE, AND A LOT OF MAGIC
Much like the rest of art, once theatrics shed their exclusively religious function, whether it was early Native American ceremonies or dramas sponsored by the Spanish missionaries, things started to get interesting. Stimulated by the European stage tradition, Texas embraced the theater and all of its permutations throughout the 19th century. Houston received its first theater in 1838, an arrival that preceded the building of Houston’s first church. Theater became a great source of entertainment across the early Texas frontier and featured serious drama, musical concerts and bawdy performances that frequently matched the rowdy nature of the audience – mainly frontiersmen. Meanwhile, the Texas Gulf Coast was the place to be for professional theater where busy ports easily drew touring talent from farther east like New Orleans. Vaudeville often dominated the earliest days of Texas’ theaters with spectacles like performances by Harry Houdini. But Texas would end up producing its own auteurs as well, talents like Margo Jones – the creator of the American regional theater movement, and playwrights Preston Jones, Horton Foote, and the modern satirists Joe Sears and Jaston Williams with their wildly funny Greater Tuna. Today, Texas audiences enjoy the best that the nation has to offer in theatrical venues like the Lyric Stage, a uniquely Texas musical theater company dedicated to the development and preservation of the American musical, the Houston Grand Opera, and San Antonio’s restored Majestic Theater where local and traveling productions hit the stage every season. So take your seat. The curtain is always rising in Texas’ theaters.