• SHOP

UNLEASHED is a non-season series featuring readings and other theatrical presentations off-site from our MATCH home base.  


UNLEASHED is a non-season series centered on development of new works, staged readings, and other theatrical productions that further the mission of Dirt Dogs Theatre Co.

WRITTEN BY Mary Hooper

DIRECTED BY Ted Swindley


MARCH 24 ‒ APRIL 9, 2023

MATCH | Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston


RUNTIME: 90 minutes
(one, 15-minute intermission)

The Book of Mary (It Costs a Lot to Be Real), is an autobiographical one-woman show, written by and starring Houston’s own theatre legend, Mary Hooper, and directed by Ted Swindley, founder of Houston’s STAGES theatre and author of the popular musical, Always…Patsy Cline. It’s a raucous ride: from her Beaumont beginnings as a shy child of deaf parents and her timely escape to the "gayborhood" of Montrose in the 70s and 80s, to her adventures onstage in Houston’s way off-Broadway theatre scene. Both funny and poignant, The Book of Mary is a love letter to the diva in us all.

The Story

The Book of Mary is made possible by the generosity of Sue Smith.

The Reason


Welcome to the Ted Swindley Theatre Workshop and to our first full production and world premiere of The Book of Mary written by and starring Houston’s own MARY HOOPER!

Having worked in theatre professionally for more than 45 years, this theatre workshop is a brand new venture for me. I am proud to be founding artistic director of STAGES theatre and author and original director of the hit musical, Always…Patsy Cline, among my many other directing and playwriting credits.

For me, the creation of this workshop is just another expression of my passion for live theatre, particularly in this age of somewhat dehumanizing electronic everything!

And now for one of the most important and fulfilling projects in my long career, it is with great pride that I present to you this theatrical event starring and performed by one of Houston’s true theatre artists and legends to grace our city’s stages for many years — MARY HOOPER.

I would have never in a million years imagined the gift of Mary and this show to come into my life at this stage of my long career.

Mary was instrumental as one of the founding acting company members of STAGES by helping me establish the theatre as a home for new plays and musicals and fresh looks at stage classics.

Now after a 30-year separation, Mary and I happily reconnected when she requested that I direct and consult with her on the amazing script, which you will experience at this performance.

Over the entirety of last year, the two of us have met religiously (and I mean that literally) at my home once or twice a week and shaped and sharpened the world of this play. We have done two developmental readings of this script that tells the story of an extraordinary life filled with triumph and loss, which Mary has created on her own terms. Through this show she has given me, and all of you, a gift of theatre magic, which I believe will be part of Houston’s cultural heritage in the years to come.

I could not be more proud to have been a part in the creation and realization of this masterful work!

I would like also express my deep appreciation to our marvelous sponsor and a person who has given so much to our city — SUE SMITH. She has made a dream come true! Thank you, Sue!

I also want to thank Dirt Dogs Theatre Co., our city’s most vibrant and “scrappy” young theatre company. As the directors of this group of artists, Trevor B. Cone and Malinda L. Beckham, provided us the first public showing of this play, which has led to its current full production. Trevor has also served as our general manager for this production. Thank you, Trevor.

So please join me in the celebration of my colleague, fellow theatre artist and one of my dearest friends — the unforgettable MARY HOOPER who reminds us that “it costs a lot to be real.”

Listen to 20-minute interview with the playwright, Mary Hooper on Queer Voices radio.

PHOTOS BY: Gary Griffin

The Reviews



“There is something about Mary Hooper that Houston loves, and if you are lucky enough to catch this one woman show called THE BOOK OF MARY you will learn why..”

Mary Hooper Holds Court
Our own theater royalty shines a light on Houston’s gay past and more.

Read David Clarke‘s article in Outsmart Magazine.

Go see this production, it has Montrose history, ArtCar Parade history, it’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cry. Fabulous work Mary Hooper, congratulations!

It’s DYNAMITE!!!!!!

“It was a very engaging performance and a buffet of story telling that took us on a journey.”

The Reaction

The Promotion


The Book of Mary Team



Ian Evans

Lighting Design

TIm Thomson

Sound/Video Designer

Mark Lewis

Scenic Designer

Mary Hooper

Gary Griffin



Production & Stage Manager

General Manager


Norma Catlin Thomson

Trevor B. Cone

Ted Swindley

Mary Hooper

as herself

Previous UNLEASHED Events