To Houstonians, Miller Outdoor Theatre is a favorite landmark spot known for amazing free entertainment, good times and the occasional roll down the hill. (Mine have been unintentional rolls/falls for the past twenty years or so, but I’m one of those “beautiful but clumsy” types.) They have featured musicals, concerts, operas, multicultural festivals (Accordion Fest, anyone?), and all manner of fun events for 30 years, all completely free of charge! Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who opt to sit in the covered seating area (in metal chairs that I refer to as torture devices), instead of on the hill. There’s a side for blankets AND a side for chairs, people! Pick one!
In more recent years, they’ve updated the bathrooms (so many stalls!) and added a sort of “snack shack” that sells stadium-type foods. Since I’m a creature of habit, though, I always choose to bring along either my hippie blanket (always in the trunk of my car and specifically utilized for picnic-mergencies), or folding chairs, and a picnic! When I was a kid it tended to be either homemade, or in true Southern style, fried chicken. Obvs, I had very little say in the matter, being a child, but these days I get to pick anything my hedonistic heart desires!
This particular visit was specifically chosen as a means to garner a particularly fancy picnic. I heard about this place (in Rice Village, for those in the know) called the Plate & Bottle on Miller’s website. They claimed to provide a picnic “basket” for couples (it ended up being a super nice box complete with a carrying handle!), and if you were a person of substance attending an event at Miller, not only would they donate part of the cost to said non-profit entertainment venue, they would allow you to pick up this miracle at the theater OR pick it up (and perhaps participate in a free wine tasting) at their shop!
We totes picked it up at their completely adorable shop in the Village and participated in a free wine tasting, had some complimentary bites, and a brief conversation with some fellow young people! Included in this $35 box-o-magic is: a bottle of wine, fancy cheese (provided by the Houston Dairy Maids), dried fruits, baby carrots, water bottles, delicious chocolates AND outdoor-propriate plates and flatware! GENIUS!!! These are all the things I could ever want or need!!!
Needless to say, upon learning about this universe-altering delight, I zeroed in on an appropriately awesome event that would allow me to legitimize this purchase ASAP. Thankfully, Miller was hosting Queen’s “A Night at the Opera” LIVE on a Saturday evening two weeks hence!
So, this amazing performance was undertaken by Classic Albums Live, who have presented several classic albums live at Miller in years past. I have not been fortunate enough to catch those performances, however, this night was GLORIOUS! There is really nothing else like hearing already great music performed live by incredible musicians with a huge group of people (who aren’t also elbowing you, rubbing their sweaty t-shirts on you and/or obnoxiously belting out lyrics off key) who are equally excited to be there. And there are some kick ass songs on this album, y’all. (I’m not generally a fan of the childrens, but if you want to see some goofy, totally inhibition-free moves, they’re the ones really bringing the boogie out there.) Much dancing, singing, swaying and generally cooky good times were had by all!
All this is to say: if you’re in Houston, get a picnic from Plate & Bottle and get thee to Miller Outdoor Theatre immediately! If you are not so fortunate to have this particular ability, I hope you will take advantage of whatever other outdoor venues you have, and by all means, take a bottle of wine and someone fun to sit beside. Also, Queen is amazing, and we all miss you, Freddie.
What’s your favorite Miller memory? If you’re not in Houston, do you have a favorite outdoor venue? Do they have free performances?? Blanket or folding chair? What’s your favorite Queen song and/or album? (You can give me your top 5 if you just cannot decide.)