#FineArtsFriday: Miller Outdoor Theater

Bouquet

Relaxed outdoor locale perfect for picnics and the arts.

The Palette

Nestled in the midst of the sprawling gardens and swanky golf course of Hermann Park is the imposing monolith of Miller Outdoor Theater.  During the year, Miller is home to a multitude of FREE entertainment, including my favorite Houston arts event: Shakespeare in the Park.

Miller is comprised of a towering amphitheater with stadium seating.  The seats beneath the amphitheater roof are paid seating and great for all those summer showers.  The majority of people, however, sit on the spacious hill overlooking the stage. It’s a great place to spread out a blanket and make a picnic, or play with the kids, or expose your dog to some culture.  Personally, I have great memories of rolling down the back side of the hill with my normally very stuffy grandmother. If you want to lay out your spread on a blanket, sit to the right of the stage. If you’re too good for the ground, chairs go to the left.  And don’t forget the wine.

My favorite Miller event, however, will always be Shakespeare in the Park.  For two weeks every year the University of Houston Theater Department brings to life two of Shakespeare’s plays.  They alternate night to night between the tragedy and the comedy (much like real life, let’s be honest). This past year was a wonderful rendition of Hamlet where the titular character was played by a woman to emphasize Hamlet’s youth and indecision, and Comedy of Errors.  If you missed it, fear not, it will be back around next August.

Pairings

  • Other events:  Check out Miller’s website to see all the upcoming events:  http://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com/events/month/.
  • Restaurant:  If you need a pre-show meal, I highly recommend Lucille’s (5512 La Branch St, Houston, TX 77004).  Lucille herself is also an amazing character (http://www.lucilleshouston.com/herstory.html) who invented the puff pastry used in Pillsbury rolls.  If you’re curious, I highly recommend the Famous Chili Biscuits.  
  • Podcasts:  If you’re newer to Shakespeare, University of Oxford’s Approaching Shakespeare is a great podcast that explores one question for each play to delve deeper into the play and learn the basics of criticism.  Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Unlimited is a great podcast that talks about all things Shakespeare, from the views of seasoned actors to an interview with a gentleman turning pop music into sonnets.  And Slate Magazine’s Lend Me Your Ears uses Shakespeare to discuss current political ideologies.
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