Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Chinglish, Philip Glass's Dracula, Art Car Parade and More
Lots of folks in Houston don't find anything funny about the Enron scandal; Tony Award® winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang, however, found a way to weave it into his comedy Chinglish, our choice for Friday. The Broadway hit follows Daniel Cavanaugh, an American businessman to China where he hopes to snag some big sign-making contracts. (The country is reportedly rife with poorly translated signs, such as those reading "Deformed Man's Toilet" instead of "Handicapped Men's Restroom.") There are just a couple of little, tiny complications - he doesn't speak Mandarin and he doesn't understand the subtleties of Asian business practices. Oh, and he's falling in love with someone who is completely off limits to him. Hwang, the author of M. Butterfly, skillfully zeroes in on the difficulties of communicating across cultural and linguistic differences.
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre which is co-presenting the show with Asia Society Texas Center, says he's especially proud of the cast that's been assembled for this production. New York City-based Vivian Chiu, an understudy for the Broadway production and member of the international cast, plays Vice Minister Xi Yan while local actor Mike Yager is Cavanaugh. "The entire cast is bilingual," Jaffe says. "We didn't know if we were going to be able to do that and then Mike told us, 'Oh, you know I've been studying Mandarin for years, right?' That was a real break."
Chinglish is performed in English and Mandarin (with English subtitles). 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through May 26. Asia Society Texas, 1307 Southmore. For information, call 713-515-4028 or visit blacklabtheatre.com. $35 to $125.
It's hard to improve on a classic, but Philip Glass does exactly that in Dracula, the Music and the Film, our second pick for Friday. When it was released in 1931, Tod Browning's horror masterpiece had very few sound effects and no musical score at all. In 1998, Glass composed an original score for the film to mark its re-release to video. That was for the Kronos Quartet. Later he crafted a new arrangement of the score for his own ensemble which he leads in a live performance and screening today. Even without a musical backing, Bela Lugosi's performance as the blood-thirsty vampire was eerie enough to scare generations of fans; Glass's sweeping and dramatic music performed live is sure to heighten the chill factor.
Dracula, the Music and the Film starts at 8 p.m. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit the Society for the Performing Arts website. $40 to $85.
A quartet of Houston art scene royalty will be the grand marshals for the 26th Annual Houston Art Car Parade, our choice for Saturday. Mixed-media metal artist and longtime political activist Gertrude Barnstone, painter John Alexander and conceptual collaborators The Art Guys share the honor. Marilyn Oshman, Orange Show Center for Visionary Art founder and chairman of the board, says the foursome is being recognized not only for their individual careers but for their continued support of the Orange Show and Houston arts community. Some 110 of this year's 260 parade entries are new to the party. Among them is internationally acclaimed Welsh artist Andy Hazell, who has created celebrated large-scale public art installations across the United Kingdom. Last year Mark Bradford's Mr. Green claimed the top prize with his huge monstrous Green Man that walked in from of his equally strange twisted metal car. There are a host of weekend events related to the parade, such as the Main Street Drag, a Sneak Peek at Discovery Green, the Art Car Ball, live music, kids activities and more.
See the Art Car Parade at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Allen Parkway at Waugh. For a full schedule of events, call 713-926-6368 or visit the Art Car Parade website. Prices vary.
Celebrate local craft and art at Pop Shop Houston on Saturday and Sunday. More than 70 vendors will be on hand offering clothing, jewelry, terrariums and all kinds of works in all kinds of mediums. There's literally something for everyone at Pop Shop Houston, no matter how odd. "The weirdest thing that I have seen at Pop Shop is everything, literally, everything," said organizer Brittany Bly. "I don't think I know what normal looks like anymore." Among the offerings are artwork by Gerard Baldwin, (the only living animator from the Hanna-Barbera Creative Studio and animator for The Smurfs) and photographs by Anne Marie D'Arcy.
Shop at Pop Shop Houston 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring St. For information, visit the Pop Shop Houston website. Free.
Comedy troupe Whitest Kids U' Know, in town on Sunday, built up legions of fans as they reigned supreme on Fuse and IFC for five seasons starting in 2005. Whitest Kids' founder Trevor Moore and company provided some of the freshest and most extreme sketch comedy ever thrown onto television. Some of our favorite bits include the impossibly catchy "Hitler Rap" (Google it) and the unspeakably funny - and literal - pissing contest between two Edwardian gentlemen. Then there was the Whitest Kids' version of John Wilkes Booth assassination of Abraham Lincoln ... he beat the President to death with a hammer in the butt after the Lincoln refused to stop talking during the play at Ford's Theatre.
Whitest Kids U' Know perform at 7p.m. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Dr. For information, call 713-862-3838 or visit the comedy troupe's website. $15 to $19.
Jef with One F contributed to this post.
1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston, TX