Activist's Funeral Lights Emotional Fires in 'Our Lady of 121st Street'

UH School of Theatre & Dance Production Runs Oct. 14 - 23 in Quintero Theatre

Sister Rose was a neighborhood institution. Now, she’s gone … literally. The beloved community activist and educator passed away, but her body has been stolen. Now, grieving friends and former pupils are at Ortiz Funeral Home awaiting its return while confronting their own personal demons.

Houstonians can peer into this emotionally charged wake during the University of Houston production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “Our Lady of 121st Street.” Presented by the UH School of Theatre & Dance, this acclaimed play runs Oct. 14 – 23 at the university’s Jose Quintero Theatre. Parental guidance is recommended due to strong language.

The play effectively balances dark humor and drama and introduces audiences to a colorful cast of characters. These include weary detective Balthazar, who is assigned to the case of Sister Rose’s stolen body; feuding former classmates Norca and Inez; gay lawyer Flip and actor boyfriend Gail; and Rooftop, a motormouthed radio personality.

“These characters make the show’s blend of comedy and emotion work,” said director Keith Byron Kirk, assistant professor of theater. “These are individuals with passion and rich life experiences, and they all have a willingness to give. Audiences are drawn to these characters, which is perhaps one reason why the play has proven so popular.”

“Our Lady of 121st Street” was originally produced in 2003 by New York’s Labryrinth Theater Company. Directing its initial production was Philip Seymour Hoffman, who would go on to earn a Best Actor Oscar in 2005 for “Capote.” It was named in the “10 Best Plays of 2003” by Drama Desk magazine and was nominated for best play by the Outer Critics Circle.

Assisting in the production of this play is Houston’s National Museum of Funeral History. Museum staff members have provided consultation on Catholic funeral proceedings and contributed props to the play.

Tickets are $20, $15 for UH faculty, staff and alumni, and $10 for students and seniors. Show dates and times are as follows.

  • 8 p.m., Oct. 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
  • 2 p.m., Oct. 16, 23

For additional details on the play or the UH School of Theatre & Dance, visit