Small Ball
Commissioned by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey
by Mickle Maher (book/lyrics), Anthony Barilla (music), Merel van Dijk (music)

World Premiere

Ticket Price

We Suggest $35
More If You Have it
Less if you don't


3400 Main St
Houston, TX 77002


Apr 6, 2018 -
May 13, 2018
Thu 7:30p
Fri & Sat 8p
Sun 2:30p
“There’s mystery in this world yet.”

The Play

Michael Jordan has some problems. First off, he’s not that Michael Jordan. Instead, he’s a melancholy journeyman basketball player who’s found himself bouncing around various obscure international leagues. Second, he’s recently become the star player for the Lilliput Existers—yes, Lilliput, the same one from Gulliver’s Travels—so his teammates are each six inches tall. It’s tough to pass a regulation size ball to a six-inch player, so the team hasn’t been doing too well, and the post-loss press conferences are getting rough. This is the surreal, magical world of SMALL BALL, a world premiere musical with book and lyrics by Catastrophic Theatre favorite Mickle Maher and original music by Merel van Dijk and Anthony Barilla. SMALL BALL was commissioned by Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets, a Catastrophic Theatre board member, and a lifelong musical theatre lover.
SMALL BALL began from a question from Catastrophic artistic director Jason Nodler to Morey: “What about a basketball musical? We both love basketball and we both love Mickle’s work, so what if we asked him to write a basketball musical for us? Whatever that means.” Morey agreed to serve as a producer, and Maher, an avid basketball fan, leapt at the chance to write the script. “Having Daryl involved is like having the world’s most informed dramaturg. Anytime I have a question about basketball, even the most obscure one, he has both the answer and usually a compelling story to go along with it. The fact that he also knows a huge amount about musical theater is naturally a plus,” Maher said.
Said Maher of composers van Dijk and Barilla: “They are madly talented, have such distinct vision and voices, and it’s a small miracle that the world has conspired to bring us three together.” Nodler, who teamed with Barilla in the past to create world premiere musicals in cooperation with Pixies frontman Frank Black and cult singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, will direct SMALL BALL. Barilla will serve as music director.
The Catastrophic Theatre will present two additional Mickle Maher plays in repertory, to overlap with the final week of SMALL BALL: a revival of the Catastrophic/Maher hit THE STRANGERER (2008) and that play’s spiritual sequel, JIM LEHRER, THE THEATRE AND ITS DOUBLE, AND JIM LEHRER’S DOUBLE.
Commissioned by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.

The Playwright

MICKLE MAHER ’s plays have appeared Off-Broadway and around the world, and have been supported by grants from the NEA, the Rockefeller MAP fund, and Creative Capital. They include There is a Happiness That Morning Is; Song About Himself; An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening; The Hunchback Variations; The Strangerer; Spirits to Enforce; Cyrano (translator), The Cabinet; Lady Madeline; The Pine; An Actor Prepares (an adaptation of Stanislavsky’s seminal book); and Small Ball. He is a cofounder of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck, and has taught playwriting and related subjects at the University of Chicago, Columbia College, and Northwestern University. His plays are published by Hope and Nonthings.

It Is Magic marks the 11th of Maher’s plays to be produced by Catastrophic, making him the company’s most oft-produced playwright.

The Composers

ANTHONY BARILLA is an accomplished and prolific writer, musician, composer and theatre artist. His work, both for Infernal Bridegroom Productions and his band seximals, has received extensive play on college radio stations and was included in NPR’s official release of music from THIS AMERICAN LIFE. He recently composed original music for Stages Repertory Theatre's production of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Dinolion's immersive theatre project, Red House. Anthony is working with frequent collaborator, Lindsay Kayser, on a long-term song cycle project which was played, in an early form, on the International Space Station and had a single public performance at Lawndale Art Center in Summer 2017. He is a member of multiple bands and music projects currently, including "Houston's ASS" (an all-accordion cover band) and "Merel and Tony," who play with their band "THE WOE WOE WOES."
MEREL VAN DIJK is one half of "Merel and Tony." She met music collaborator, Anthony Barilla, in 2013 while working on an art installation in a small Dutch village. Since then, they have released several EPs of songs, written music for THIS AMERICAN LIFE and other podcasts, been commissioned to compose a music for Small Ball at The Catastrophic Theatre, recorded an album of protest songs funded by a grant from the Houston Arts Alliance, and toured Texas with their band, THE WOE WOE WOES. Merel & Tony divide their time between Rome and Houston.

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