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Conference & Stage Expo
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One of the things which makes Houston such a center for performance is the Houston Grand Opera, where past productions have included operas such as Manon Lescaut, at right..

Photo/Robert Kusel,
Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau


Nic's Picks, A Native's
Guide to Houston 2008

Nic Phillips

I am very excited that my hometown of Houston will play host to the 48th Annual USITT Conference & Stage Expo. As many in the industry know well, I am probably one of Houston's biggest cheerleaders and am very active in the community here with good reason.

Houston is rich in culture and the performing arts and is ranked second only to New York in the number of theatre seats in a concentrated downtown area. We are one of only five cities in the country with resident professional companies in all of the major performing arts disciplines of opera, ballet, music, and theatre. Houston Grand Opera is the only opera company in the United States to have won a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. Houston Ballet is the fifth largest ballet company in America; Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) is the nation's largest non-profit musical theatre producer; The Alley Theatre has won a Tony; and the Houston Symphony performs more than 200 concerts a year!

Our facilities are also second to none with the incomparable two-house Wortham Center (opera, ballet, and touring), the 2,900 seat Jones Hall (symphony, touring), the two-theatre Hobby Center (TUTS, Broadway), The Verizon Wireless Theatre (music), and, of course, the thrust and arena stages of The Alley. All together, Houston is home to more than 500 cultural, visual, and performing arts organizations with more than 14,000 jobs and a total economic impact of more than $626 million.

The city's new central park, Discovery Green, will have just been completed and will serve as the foreground to the convention center. During the USITT week, The Alley Theatre -- Houston's Tony Award winning, best regional theatre -- will be performing Othello and Glen Berger's Underneath the Lintel. The national tour of The Rat Pack Live at the Sands will be in town at the Hobby Center, and Houston's Dance Salad Festival will be playing at The Wortham Center. Dance Salad presents an extraordinary opportunity to see dance performances from around the world and should never be missed.

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston will welcome USITT attendees to the highly anticipated Pompeii exhibition featuring some 350 objects excavated just in the last decade, while Houston's Museum of Natural Science hosts the world premiere of Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia where the 3.2 million year old hominid known as Lucy is on display for the first time outside of Ethiopia.

It is my goal to do everything I can to ensure my theatrical peers and the Institute have a great time and a most successful event. To do this I am assembling "Nic's Picks," an insider's guide to Houston specifically for USITT attendees and exhibitors. These are restaurants, hangouts, museums, theatres, shows, and events -- places my friends and I go all the time -- that make Houston great for us. Nic's Picks will be available through a special section of my website,, and will be developing right up to and during the Conference, so be sure to check it often!

See you in Houston!

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