Kids From TUTS' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre Get Ready For Atlanta Theater Festival

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of Theatre Under the Stars
It's rehearsal time at the Humphrey's School
A select group of students at Theatre Under the Stars' Humphreys School of Musical Theatre have been working for the past several weeks to perform a number from Lion King JR in the 2015 Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta in January.

iTheatrics and Disney Musicals picked the kids to appear in the New Works Showcase at the festival on Martin Luther King weekend, after which the musical will be released into the Broadway Junior Collection to be performed by schools all over the country.

Several weeks ago, Steven Kennedy, vice president of publishing for iTheatrics and Broadway Junior's Resident Choreographer, came to Houston to give the kids some tips while they practiced.

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10 Best Houston Cosplayers

Photo by Long Thai (Mineralblu Photography)
Titan as Colossus
The rise of the Houston cosplay scene has been fantastic to watch. Every year at the increasing number of geek conventions you find more and more people pulling out all the stops to bring characters to wonderful life. Today we look at the ten most amazing examples of cosplay brilliance H-Town produces.

As his name suggests Titan is a mountain of a man. He got into cosplay in 2012 after he left the army. His first costume was bane from The Dark Knight Rises. He made a splash at the Halloween party he was attending, but putting together so elaborate a set-up for just one night didn't feel worth it. In 2013 he started taking his creations to Comicpalooza and has been an avid cosplayer ever since. His other works include Colossus and the armored version of Hulk seen in Planet Hulk. The latter involved an 800-piece handmade chainmail armor and leather war kilt requiring hours of work.

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Reality Bites: Chug

Photo courtesy of National Geographic
"So, Austrians *weren't* Nazis?"
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Who doesn't like to drink? Recovering alcoholics, I guess. Also people who are allergic to it. Oh, and those of you who don't like the way it makes you feel, or the taste, or the fact you flunked out of college because you discovered tequila your freshman year and spent the next two years in a haze of keg stands and impromptu road trips to Señor Frogs.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like *my* freshman year.

So fine, plenty of you don't like to drink, but plenty still do, and for those people (who also have ample disposable income), there's Chug, National Geographic's new travel drinking show. Because what could possibly go wrong when you get drunk overseas?

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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Title:The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

Peter Jackson Is Done With Middle Earth, Right? So he says. Here's a little exercise in masochism for you: once BotFA is released on DVD, watch all six movies back to back (special editions, of course). That's probably close to 30 hours.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two-and-a-half Orson Beans out of five.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Short person tries to prevent war, mostly gets in the way. Like they do.

Tagline: "Witness the defining chapter of the Middle Earth saga."

Better Tagline: "What Would Legolas Surf?"

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The Alley Theatre's A Christmas Carol Continues, Bringing Its Young Actors Into a Great Tradition

Categories: Stage

Photo by Margaret Downing
Winch Eagleton, veteran actor in A Christmas Carol at age 13

Thirteen-year-old Winch Eagleton has been in far more performances (more than 200) of A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theatre than he has ever seen.

This year, the Charles Dickens classic story of Ebeneezer Scrooge's eye- and soul-awakening journey with three ghosts of Christmas (plus Marley's ghost) is being told once again although at the Alley's temporary University of Houston home.

The Lanier middle school student is playing the Young Scrooge at 14 and Peter Cratchit, son of Scrooge's clerk Bob Cratchit in this, his last year with the production. (He'll age out just as his older brother Fritz did before him).

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5 Things Houstonians Experience When The Weather Gets Cold

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photo by Cortney Martin
Houstonians Might Believe Ash is Falling From the Sky Before Realizing This is Snow. It's That Rare Here.

Houston's weather is famously manic. One day might be warm and humid, the type of day which will make almost anyone wonder if the proper term for our local climate should be "swampy." But that won't work, because our weather can change within hours, and the next morning might present us with a dramatically different forecast.

While it doesn't happen often, sometimes, during this time of year, the mercury dips dramatically, and Houston is faced with its own version of a winter weather. Generally more of an Icy Slush Fest than a pretty example of a snowy "Winter Wonderland," but it's what we get on our coldest days.

It's during these almost always brief periods of frigid weather that many Houstonians encounter familiar but nearly forgotten cold weather scenarios. For instance:

5. Many of us Don't Really Have Cold Weather Clothing.

Or not much of it anyway. My current winter weather wardrobe consists of a handful of hoodies and one light jacket. I don't think I'm alone in this, judging from the other guys I see similarly dressed, scurrying as quickly as they can from their cars to whatever source of heat they're running for. It just doesn't usually get THAT cold here, so buying a few heavy coats just isn't on everyone's must do list. On the four or five truly cold days out of the year where it seems like your bones might freeze on the stiff legged run from the front door to your car, that lack of foresight becomes obvious. As a side note, some people don't have warm clothes because they don't have the money to buy them, so donating clothes to shelters is a kind thing to do.

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100 Creatives 2014: Pureum Jo, Opera Singer

Photo courtesy of Houston Grand Opera
Pureum Jo
Pureum Jo, a soprano from South Korea, came to the United States while still in high school and all by herself. "I am quite independent and brave," she says. She was determined to be a global singer and to do so she believed she needed to speak English.

"English is like the international language. So I wanted to get it as soon as possible. I wanted to learn the American or Western culture when I was younger. I auditioned for Julliard pre college. I got in."

She was at Julliard for pre-college, undergrad and master's and is now in her first year as one of Houston Grand Opera's Studio Artists. "I heard about many young artists programs. I heard from friends. I realized HGO was the best thing. This was my dream," she says. .

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Why I Don't Consider Texas a Southern State

Categories: Random Ephemera

Photo by Haphazard Traveler
Pictured: Not "The South".

I've stumbled across a strange controversy while perusing various Internet forums in recent years. There are passionate arguments being made about whether or not Texas is part of "The South."

I had never really thought much about it, to be honest. Growing up in the Houston area, I would very occasionally run across some older person who would use the term "Yankee" in reference to someone hailing from a Northern state, but that was rare in my neck of the woods. As I got older, and spent time traveling through the Southern states, I noticed that there was a certain similarity in how they "felt," a homogeneity in culture that I didn't notice existing to any large degree in Texas. I just never really thought the Lone Star State felt like the "South" very much.

But there are people who claim that we ARE definitely a part of "The South," and that it's impossible to deny. I've come across many a passionate online argument over this subject. To me, the fact that this is even up for debate sort of proves that a lot of folks just see Texas as something different culturally than other Southern states - there's not similar disagreement about the "Southern-ness" of say, Alabama or Mississippi.

Now it's true, far East Texas feels very Southern. Having spent a lot of time east of Beaumont, that part of this state does seem nearly identical in culture to other parts of the South. But this is a very big state, and East Texas isn't enough to claim the rest of it for the South.

Also, from a geographical position, there's no argument that Texas is located in the Southern portion of the United States. But geography isn't what I'm talking about; I'm talking about cultural similarities.

So why don't I think that Texas is culturally similar enough to other states in the South, to claim some major connection with the rest of them? There are lots of reasons.

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Age Of Ex-Stink-Tion: The Worst Movies Of 2014

Categories: Film and TV

As movie years go, 2014 was fairly unremarkable. You had a couple superhero sequels (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Amazing Spider-Man 2), the requisite remakes (RoboCop, Endless Love), and even a handful of pleasant surprises (Guardians of the Galaxy, The LEGO Movie, Edge of Tomorrow).

But it still feels like we were sort of marking time before the blockbuster blitz of 2015, a year that will see the next installments in the Avengers and Batman/Superman franchises, a reboot of Mad Max, and a new James Bond movie, among others. Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of fine films this year (Birdman, Boyhood, Nightcrawler), but we probably won't be looking back on any of these as all-time greats.

And that just made the crappy movies -- of which there were many -- stand out all the more. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and my tolerance for that which wastes what little time on Earth I have left is at an all-time low, but the bad movies this year seemed *really* bad. What follows are the ten worst, excerpts from my quote-unquote hilarious reviews included. "Enjoy."

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"Line: Making the Mark" at the MFAH Gives You Something to Figure Out

Categories: Visual Arts

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, purchased funded by the Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in honor of Mr. Alvin S. Romansky. ©2015 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
Josef Albers, Segments, 1934, linoleum cut on Japanese paper, edition 7/35
'Line: Making the Mark," which opened last week at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and runs through March 22, is a show of prints and drawings about making marks in the modern art era -- roughly the past 80 years -- the marks in evidence being lines.

If this sounds like a circular description, well, it is. And it's a reflection of my quandary in approaching the show. In large part it's a show that eludes me. Which makes it the best kind of show for me to see.

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