Hyde Park Theatre — Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Theatre
Located in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood, Hyde Park Theatre is a truly exceptional experience. Often referred to as a ‘hole in the wall,’ it is best described as unassuming with a healthy dose of reality, passion and sheer talent.
Still, when you arrive for the first time, you’ll wonder if you have the correct location. Patrons expecting bright lights, a large building and obvious parking are often surprised. Hyde Park Theatre resides in a nondescript, humble building. It appears to sit behind a former service station. Parking is generously provided by a nearby hair salon and local church. Once you conclude you are in the right place, your evening continues to be filled with unique experiences and interaction.
Inside, you’ll be greeted warmly by staff members. You may note that many of the guests are addressed by first names. Everyone is friendly and that’s a good thing because the seating is very intimate. The venue holds approximately 50 seats and there isn’t a bad one in the house!
The interior is quite small. With seating so close to the stage, it allows the actors to interact with the audience. The shows are described as ‘alternative theatre’ by those in the business. What this means to those of us who attend, simply to enjoy real talent, is that the shows are edgier and evocative. One moment you are laughing and the next you are sitting frozen as you take in reality. The shows attack tough issues, but it’s the actors that mesmerize.
After you leave, you’ll think of the old, dark building as having a fitting ambiance. You’ll have meaningful discussion with fellow attendees. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to return for another show.
Eat before or after your play. Food and beverage options are limited. Beer, wine, water and a small selection of candy are available for purchase. Because of the limited seating, reservations are recommended.
Hyde Park Theatre also hosts the largest performance festival in the southwest United States, FronteraFest. FronteraFest is currently in its 20th year and runs January 15-February 16, 2013. Shows from 25 minutes to 90 minutes.
If you like to review venues, you’ll give Hyde Park Theatre five stars. If you seek unique experiences that add quality to your life, you’ll attend a performance here. It’s a magnificent slice of Austin in a tiny building. Enjoy!