Miller Outdoor Theatre
History and museums
Miller Outdoor Theatre is an outdoor theater for the performing arts in Houston, Texas. It is located on approximately 7.5 acres (30,000 m2) of land in Hermann Park, at 6000 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas 77030. The theater offers a wide range of professional entertainment, including classical music, jazz, ballet, Shakespeare, musical theater, and classic films, with free performances running from March through November, where the general public can relax in a covered seating area or enjoy a pre-performance picnic on an amphitheatre-style hillside.
Seating is provided for 1,705 patrons, with 20 wheel-chair spaces, plus an 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) sloping lawn that accommodates about 4,500 more. The theater building itself consists of a 64' x 41' stage; 54 line sets for hanging lights, curtains, and scenery; an orchestra pit which can be raised and lowered; dressing rooms; offices; a full complement of theatrical equipment; and a 110-ton air conditioning system for cooling the performance area. In its 2010 season, the Miller Outdoor Theatre provided entertainment for more than 430,000 people at 141 performances and events.
In 1922, the original theater was designed by William Ward Watkin as an amphitheater surrounded by twenty Corinthian-style limestone columns and built by Tom Tellepsen. The theatre’s dedication plaque reads:
"Miller’s Hill" was created in 1948 with dirt from the excavations of Fannin Street. In 1968, the city built a new theatre with bonds approved by public vote. The new theatre building, designed by Eugene Werlin and Associates, won several awards: the American Iron and Steel Institute’s Biannual Award (1969), the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Award of Excellence, and the James E. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation Award.
The 1968 Miller Theatre building was then refurbished starting in 1996, jointly funded by the city of Houston and Friends of Hermann Park. The roof and siding were replaced, and additional restrooms and office areas were installed. In addition, a small stage was added to the east end of the facility, playing to a newly incorporated open plaza area. The renovations were completed in 1998. Today, the venue is managed by the Houston First Corporation.