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Performing Arts Picks of the Summer: The Best Theatre and Dance to See in Austin

From symphonies to Broadway plays to Mexican dance celebrations, mark your calendars to see something hot in the comfort of AC this season

"Shrek the Musical" comes to Austin (Photo by Cody York Photography)
"Shrek the Musical" comes to Austin (Photo by Cody York Photography)

The heat never stops Austinites from enjoying summer to the fullest. Escape the sun and see a symphony orchestra perform movie hits from the 1980s, a Broadway play with a dash of magic, a traditional Mexican dance celebration, and much more. Below you’ll find our picks for can’t miss performing arts this summer in Austin.


The Cast of Emma 2024 at Austin Playhouse
The Cast of Emma 2024 at Austin Playhouse (photo by Steve Rogers Photography)

Emma 

Through June 30 at various times. Austin Playhouse West Campus, 405 W. 22nd St. $19-$46

The Jane Austen classic, Emma, follows Emma Woodhouse, a young matchmaker, as she navigates Highbury, England’s social scene in the 1800s. As she tries to help others find their perfect pairings (with a large dose of delusional confidence) in a society where women aspire to marriage above all, comical misadventures abound, and Emma experiences her own will-they-won’t-they romance.


Caroline Bowman (Elsa), and Company in Disney's Frozen North American Tour (photo by Deenvan Meer)
Caroline Bowman (Elsa), and Company in Disney’s Frozen North American Tour (photo by Deenvan Meer)

Frozen the Musical

June 5-16 at varying times. Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr. $35–$135. 

Disney’s Frozen on Broadway, which was nominated for a Best Musical Tony, brings a bit of the Norwegian winter to put some ice on sizzling summer days. You likely already know every word to the songs, and now it’s time to see the magic come to life in this performing arts extravaganza this summer. Yes, Elsa has a split-second, onstage dress change that will delight viewers young and old.

RELATED: A Puppet with Positivity: Olaf to Melt Hearts When Disney’s “Frozen” Hits the Stage in Austin


Movie Music Magic by the Austin Symphony: Jerry Goldsmith

June 8 at 7:30 p.m., Long Center’s Dell Hall, 701 W. Riverside Dr. $29-$112.

Flashback to the ’80s with the music of composer Jerry Goldsmith, who composed moving and even terrifying songs for films including Star Trek, Rambo, Gremlins, Poltergeist, Alien, and more and was nominated for 18 Oscars (and won one for The Omen). Hear the Austin Symphony Orchestra perform some of the music that gave you the greatest thrills and chills back in the day. as part of this exciting performing arts summer magic.


Fat Bottom Cabaret: Suns Out Buns Out

June 8 at 8 p.m. State Theater, 713 Congress Avenue. $25-$65.

Kick off summer and PRIDE month with a celebration of queer art and artists (and the body and the booty). Delight in song, dance, burlesque, and other performances during this performing arts experience, shop queer and BIPOC vendors, and enter into the raffle for special prizes. 


“Yes, And”

June 15 at 2 p.m. Jones Center, 700 Congress. Ave. Free.

Wander through all the floors of the Jones Center to experience Gesel Mason’s immersive performance, in conversation with the works of artist Lubaina Himid. The performances explore the question: “Who would you be and what would you do if, as a Black woman, you had nothing to worry about?” Engage with live events that ask the audience to imagine new futures, celebrate Black sisterhood, and delve deeper into systems that affect Black communities today.


Magic awaits at "Shrek the Musical." (Photo by Cody York Photography)
Magic awaits at “Shrek the Musical.” (Photo by Cody York Photography)

Shrek the Musical

July 21 at 6 p.m. Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr. $34–$139. 

The performing arts phenomenon that kicked off back in 2001 with a movie about a grumpy green ogre back continues to flex its grip on our collective pop culture conscience this summer with Shrek the Musical. Cheer on Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and their fairy tale pals as they try to vanquish the vindictive Lord Farquaad in this hilarious musical that will keep you laughing all the way back to the swamp.


Ballet Folklorico de Austin: Guelaguetza

July 27 at 6 p.m., Long Center’s Dell Hall, 701 W. Riverside Dr. $15-$40.

Guelaguetza (meaning “active cooperation” in the Indigenous language of Zapotec), or Los Lunes del Cerro, is an annual festival celebrated in Oaxaca. The celebration began as a way to give thanks to the corn goddess thousands of years ago and features spinning performers in vibrant traditional dress. Experience the grand traditions close to home with Ballet Folklorico de Austin.


zilker-hillside-sunset-courtesy-of-zilker-hillside-theatre

Legally Blonde the Musical

July 12-August 7, Thurs.-Sun at 8:15 p.m. Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theater, 2206 William Barton Dr. Free.

Think pink and celebrate 65 years of Zilker Theatre. See Elle Woods gain her self-confidence and discover her true talents in this updated tale of blonde ambition. You can set your blanket down to save a spot as early as 6 p.m., take a dip in nearby Barton Springs, then head back to enjoy a picnic during the show.


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

July 21-Sept. 8 at varying times. ZACH Theatre, 201 S. Lamar. $31-$51.

You know all the Carole King hits, but did you know she’s also the songwriter behind many beloved tunes, from “The Loco-Motion” to “Up on the Roof”? Hear the story of her life and illustrious career as told by her timeless songs in this Tony Award-winning musical — a great addition to the performing arts experiences in Austin this summer.


Cirque du Soleil: Songblazers

August 14-18 at various times, $43-$123. Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Dr. $34–$139.

Take your circus with a side of yee-haw at this acrobatic celebration of all things country. Live music and vocals accompany Cirque de Soleil performers who perform awe-inspiring physical stunts set to the country classics you love as well as the trailblazers breaking onto the scene.