History & Venue
Stages presents a broad scope of plays and musicals in an intimate setting, creating powerful connections between plays and people. Our theatre experiences range from jukebox musicals and family entertainment to world premieres and new plays by emerging writers. The common link throughout Stages’ work is a focus on sharing compelling human stories in intimate performance spaces that allow audiences to connect with both the art on stage and the people who help create it.
Founded in 1978, Stages has grown to become Houston’s leading mid-sized theatre company, the city’s sixth largest nonprofit performing arts producer overall, and the largest outside of Houston’s downtown theatre district. Stages is one of the region’s leading artistic employers, producing an average of 12 productions per year totaling more than 380 performances and welcoming 65,000+ visitors each season.
Almost all of Stages’ shows are rehearsed and constructed on-site in Houston, brought to life by an exceptional community of locally-based artists and craftspeople along with occasional guest directors, actors and designers from around the world. For more than a decade Stages has made a strong investment in nurturing emerging artists and administrators who have now become field leaders and working professionals in companies around the country.
Stages’ learning opportunities include our student matinee series, performance and production internship programs for college students and a conservatory each summer for middle and high school students. Through our community engagement initiatives, during the 2018-2019 Season nearly 20% of Stages audiences will experience our work free of charge through programs like free performances at Miller Outdoor Theatre and our Sin Muros Theatre Festival, a four-day celebration of Latina/o voices and stories reflecting Texas’s diverse communities.
Stages began life in the historic Magnolia Ballroom building in downtown Houston, led by Founding Artistic Director Ted Swindley and building on the passion and commitment of a talented group of artists. In 1985, we moved to our current two-theatre facility in the historic Star Engraving Building on Allen Parkway, and became Houston’s second Equity theatre in 1988.
Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin joined the company in 2001, serving as managing director for five years before becoming the theatre’s longest-tenured artistic leader. Current managing director Mark Folkes arrived in 2015, positioning us for a new era of transformational growth.
In December 2014, Stages achieved a landmark goal with the purchase of our longtime Allen Parkway home from the City of Houston. That facility includes our two theatre spaces along with costume and scene shops, entertainment spaces and administrative offices. Each theatre contains fewer than 175 seats, so no seat is ever more than 25 feet from the stage.
The 2018-2019 Season marks Year Four of an ambitious five-year strategic plan outlining a bold vision for Stages’ future, including major investments in facility infrastructure, artistic programming, human resources and education and community engagement initiatives. With sustained investment from philanthropic and community partners, construction is now underway on The Gordy, our new three-theatre venue funded through a $32 million capital campaign and slated to open during the 2019-2020 Season. With a design unlike any other in our region, this unique campus is poised to bring audiences and artists closer to each other than ever before.