An Austin staple since 1933, the bright blue exterior and the colorful rainbow letters of ZACH Theatre is visible from blocks away on South Lamar. Unlike other theaters in town, all of ZACH’s productions are developed in-house, from inception to the final curtain, making for delightfully Austin-centric shows. After entering up a staircase full of inspirational quotes, guests can grab a seat inside the Topfer Theatre, a semi-circled and elevated stage that offers room for some 420 audience members. There are two other theaters and rehearsal spaces available for shows, classes and rentals as well. Outside, the People’s Plaza and Bobbi Pavilion provide guests with space for special events; statues stand on the perimeter while an art piece of two large conch shell horns with speakers inside emits toe-tapping jazz music, making ZACH a fun, vibrant artists‘ space – both inside and out.
ComedySportz’s troupe of all-star laughletes is considered to be not only comedic, but also to have good sportsmanship, since there’s no swearing allowed, the subject matter is suited for all ages, and the show is monitored by a referee who calls offense fouls and hides unfunny heads in a shameful brown bag. Take a friend, relative, significant other, or the relative of a friend’s significant other to see two teams of expert improvisers fight for laughs through an average of 7– 12 scenes, games, and songs based on audience suggestions. At the end, the crowd votes to decide which team wins the honor of dumping life-size cardboard cutouts of the other team into an active volcano.
When Ken Bradley, Cathy Grant, and Damian Gillen created The Company Theatre in 1993, they had one mission: to offer an live entertainment alternative to television or movies. Their lively adaptations of classic literature and popular stories have toured to theatres, schools, and churches all over Texas. No staging is too unconventional for the The Company Theatre: the troupe presents a condensed version of the complete works of Shakespeare with three fast-talking actors, and performs their production of “Charlotte’s Web” at an operating farm.
Austin may not be New York City or even Houston, but for a casual town known primarily for its nightclub music scene, it has one of the most renowned opera companies anywhere in America. Many credit the success of the Austin Lyric Opera to maestro Richard Buckley, an internationally acclaimed conductor who was wooed to Austin’s opera company a decade ago and continues to draw some of the biggest talent in the singing world. Austin Lyric Opera puts on lush, fully realized interpretations of classics from Verdi, Mozart and Puccini, as well as a slew of more modern operas. The company also hosts a range of education and community programs, providing a rich blend of high art and accessibility in the city of Austin.
You’ll often spot Freddie’s Place by first spotting Freddie himself, hanging out on 1st Street and drawing in longtime locals. Freddie’s got a big work family that he loves to show off, working through framed photographs of regulars and employees (some from their childhood days) that are plastered across the walls. Wooden booths and tables line the front of the restaurant, while a large circular table encloses a fire pit in the back and a dozen TVs hang throughout. Outside, a large metal rooster perches in a tree overlooking both a dog park and outdoor seating, where visitors can occasionally catch live music performances while downing their typical Texan fare. As an added bit of quirk, Freddie’s Place lists all menu items in cents – so be sure to pull out 789 pennies if you’d like to order the cheeseburger.
Filling a chamber with music is as pleasing to the senses as filling a bathtub with warm pudding. Fully grasp this truism by checking out today's side deal: for $12, you get one ticket to one concert (a $25 value) during the Austin Chamber Music Festival, organized by the Austin Chamber Music Center. The festival's eclectic lineup of talent spans the musical divide, tickling the tonal reaches by way of piano trios, string quartets, and tango-inspired quintets. Depending on your flavor of chambered love, choose one or more of the following concerts:
Cavani String Quartet on Friday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
The Bad Plus on Saturday, July 17, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Brentano String Quartet on Sunday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Raul Jaurena and The Texas Tango Five on Friday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Claremont Piano Trio on Saturday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Der Golem performed by Carpe Diem String Quartet and clarinetist Paul Green on Sunday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Escher String Quartet on Friday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Festival Finale with Kelly Willis on Saturday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m., Brentwood Christian School, 11908 N. Lamar Boulevard
Tickets for all performances are uniformly priced. Guests who would like to sit together are encouraged to purchase multiple Groupons under the same name.
The Austin Chamber Music Center's performances have been featured in the Austin Chronicle and on the Austin American-Statesman blog, Austin360.com. The center has won several awards, including the award for Best Chamber Performance at the 2007–2008 Austin Critics' Table Awards.