The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Christmas...With Monkeys!

Categories: Top 5

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Photo by Dalton DeHart
Joe Kirkendall
On Friday, standout musical theater stars Joe Kirkendall, Jennifer Gilbert, Joel Sandel, John Gremillion and Tamara Siler tackle The Great American Christmas Songbook in the Bayou City Concert Musicals holiday program Christmas on Broadway. Sharon Williams, president of Bayou City Concert Musicals, tells us that while the show is called Christmas on Broadway, that's just one genre on the program. "We're taking a rather broad definition of 'Broadway,'" she says. "We're including music from Broadway shows, film scores and the standards." And, yes, a few Christmas carols. "We're doing 'Little Drummer Boy' and 'Peace on Earth,' so there will be a little bit of traditional music, but most of the program is made up of pop and show tunes."

Under the direction of BCCM Musical Director Michael Mertz, the group sings "A Winter Wonderland," "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" and "The Christmas Song." "We're jazzing 'em up a little. Jennifer Gilbert is going to sing "Hard Candy Christmas" from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. We're keeping it fun." Fun, Williams is quick to point out, doesn't mean unsophisticated. Group numbers include "Believe," "Countdown to Christmas" from the Broadway show A Christmas Story, and "Jing-a-ling-a-ling," which is an Andrews Sisters song. "Those group numbers can get really complicated. [The singers] have to make it seem so easy, but there's a lot of difficulty in [the arrangements]. There's lots going on."

8 p.m. Ovations, 2536 Times Boulevard. For information, visit bayoucityconcertmusicals.org. $25 to $35.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: "Double Life" and More

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From Mountains of Encounter
A trio of international artists explore the idea of performance beyond the usual definition of live artists presenting to an audience in "Jérôme Bel, Wu Tsang, and Haegue Yang. Double Life" which has an opening reception on Friday. The works blur the differences between performing and visual arts, documentary and fiction.

Based in Paris, choreographer Jérôme Bel contributes two works, the 2004 video Veronique Doisneau and 2009's Cédric Andrieux. In both, Bel invited dancers onstage to discuss their life experiences through movement and dialogue. (By becoming both the subject of the work and an active par-ticipant in its presentation, each dancer becomes more than just a physical body translating movement.)

Wu Tsang contributes For how we perceived a life (Take 3), a 16mm film loop capturing images of the artist and other performers lip-syncing to segments from Paris Is Burning, the legendary documentary by Jennie Livingston. Presented out of context, the statements made in Paris take on new meanings. Tsang also premieres his newly completed commission, Miss Communication and Mr:Re, a two-channel video installation showing several encounters between the artist and poet and critical theorist Fred Moten.

Haegue Yang's Mountains of Encounter is an installation of bright red suspended Venetian blinds. Illuminated by moving spotlights, Mountains references a series of secret meetings between Helen Foster Snow, an American journalist, and Jang Jirak, a Korean national, in China during the 1930s. Snow eventually wrote a book, Song of Ariran, based on those encounters that records the complex, often troubled history between Korea, Japan and China. Yang's work is filled with angles and peaks that echo both the mountain region where the two met and the searchlights and bars of the prisons, the probable punishment for their activities.

Related special events include "In Conversation: Haegue Yang and Dean Daderko" on December 13 and a performance by dancer Cédric Andrieux January 30 and 31. There's an opening reception at 6:30 to 9 p.m. December 12 with a gallery tour led by curator Dean Daderko. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Through March 13. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713‑284‑8250 or visit camh.org. Free.

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The 5 (+ 1) Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: The World Premieres Edition

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Photo by Ashley Horn
Detail from Dans La Lune with dancer Prudence Sun
Houston audiences received their Christmas presents a little early this year - in the way of five (yes, cinco) productions making their world premieres this weekend. Our choices for Friday include Ashley Horn's Dans La Lune, a dance program inspired by the film of the same name. Also on Friday, and just to make it really difficult to decide which one to see on that day, we've got Kendal Kaminsky's new play The End of Side A. (Both productions also have a Saturday performance, so you can see each of them.)

On Saturday, we recommend Panto Rapunzel (and Zombies) over at Stages Repertory Theatre. The latest installment in the company's ongoing panto series, Panto Rapunzel (and Zombies) includes some non-lethal zombie cast members. Also on Saturday, there's the Houston Grand Opera's A Christmas Carol. The holiday opera may be just the first in what the organizers tell us may be an ongoing tradition for HGO.

On Sunday, there's Ho Ho Humbug, an original stage play being presented by Stark Naked Theatre. Our sixth suggestion (our +1) is the comedian Hannibal Buress, who has a one-night stand set for the House of Blues on Sunday.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Zoo Lights, The Nutcracker and More

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Photo by Stephanie Adams
See an electrified giraffe at Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, our suggestion for Friday. The life-size, long-necked giraffe, a wire structure wrapped in lights, has lots of company with dozens of brightly lit horses, apes, hippos, elephants and other animal sculptures scattered around the zoo's illuminated and decorated grounds. Jackie Wallace, zoo spokesperson, tells us that with a total of 2 million lights, this year's Zoo Lights is bigger than ever. "It's doubled in size," she says.

Among the features that are new this year are a walk-in snow globe and more toy train scenes. Past visitor favorite Holly Berry, a 1958 Cadillac that's been heaped with holiday decorations and lights, is back, playing seasonal favorites. (Someone must have left her radio on.) The zoo's live oak trees, covered in twinkling lights, are a must-see. Most evenings, local choirs perform holiday carols.

"Most families take about two hours to see the entire [exhibit]," Wallace says. "There's a path for you to follow; that way you make sure and see everything." That "everything" won't include many live animals. "A lot of them are sleeping in their [quarters]," Wallace explains.

Giant turkey legs, pizza, funnel cakes, s'mores, hot chocolate -- with or without a shot of Baileys ® -- beer and wine are on the menu at the zoo's Macaw Cafe and Cypress Circle food court.

6 to 10 p.m. Daily. Through January 4. 6200 Herman Park Drive. For information, call 713-533-6500 or visit houstonzoo.org. $10.95 to $12.95.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Samurai Warriors, François Truffaut and More

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Courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science
Seven hundred years of Japanese history and tradition goes on display when the "Samurai: The Way of the Warrior" exhibit opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Friday. Composed of pieces from one of the most important private Samurai collections outside of Japan, "Warrior" includes rare and elegant examples of the samurai's complex armor and advanced weaponry, along with cavalry equipment and personal items. "The swords that they carried were exquisite works of art and incredibly technologically advanced," says Dr. David Temple, an anthropological curator for the museum. "The elaborate armor that they wore, the weaponry that they used, all of that communicated not only the traditions of the samurai but also the power of [the Japanese state they served]."

As heavy and bulky as some of the armor is, it would seem the samurai would find it difficult to walk, much less fight. Temple tells us much of what's on display is ceremonial regalia, rather than everyday outfitting. "You didn't use all of these [items] on the battlefield, but they were certainly adapted from the battlefield. The swords seen in the exhibit, for example, were extremely effective weapons, but they were more often used in ceremonial [functions] or as badges of honor for the elite. Bows would certainly be used more often on the battlefield."

The exhibit also includes ink wells, correspondence boxes and writing tools "You think, samurais writing? But it made perfect sense. In order to administer the government, they had to write decrees and keep records. They were administrating an empire and writing was important."

See "Samurai: The Way of the Warrior" 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Through September 7, 2015. 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713‑639‑4629 or visit hmns.org. $25.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Revolve Dance Company and More

Categories: Top 5

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Gothic South Productions
From A Wider Lens, Revolve on Camera
Revolve Dance Company is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a program of new works entitled X over a two-day run on Friday and Saturday. Choreographers/dancers Amy Cain, Lindsey McGill and Dawn Dippel created the new works, which include Cain's jazz pieces The Search (about the struggle between living in the now and planning for the future) and Pride (inspired by the male-­­female relationships found inside a lion pride), Dippel's contemporary Butterfly Effect and McGill's Something Wonderful is Going to Happen. Also on the program are excerpts from Revolve on Camera, (seen above) a dance film by Gothic South Productions that will be screened later in the week at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston as part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival.

Catch X at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Barn, 2201 Preston. For information, call 281‐363‐2475 or visit ­revolvedanceco.com. $20.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: From Marilyn Monroe to Otello

Categories: Top 5

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Courtesy of Limited Runs
Detail of a photo of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Prince and The Showgirl
Our first suggestion for Friday is the short-run exhibit "Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Photos of a Hollywood Star." Many of the images seen in the collection "The Lost Photos" were, in fact, literally lost. Mischa Pelz's photos, taken in 1953, were found by his former assistant after an earthquake damaged the storeroom where they were being kept. Cinematographer Thomas "Doc" Kaminski, who documented the filming of The Misfits in 1960, shot candid photos of the actors on the set and mailed them home to his family, where they went unnoticed for 40 years.

Family members found photos taken by Allan "Whitey" Snyder, Monroe's makeup artist and a close friend, in an attic. "They always knew they [existed]," says Pierre Vudrag, the founder of Limited Runs and curator for the exhibit, "but they didn't know exactly where they were.

"She and Allan were very, very close friends," Vudrag tells us. "She met Allan when she did her very first screen test and he had just been hired as a makeup artist. They were both coming up together and they hit it off. He worked with her right up to her death. They were so close that she asked him, 'If I die before you, I want you to do my makeup.' In the end, he did her makeup and was a pallbearer at her funeral. They were very close friends, so I think you see a lot of her not in the typical Hollywood pose. You see her, who she was behind the persona. You see her just being with her friends, just being Norma Jean."

"Lost Photos" is available for viewing noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bisong Art Gallery, 1305 Sterrett Street. For information, visit limitedruns.com. Free.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: The Noche de los Muertos Celebration, Byron Stripling and More

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From Marius
The 3rd Annual Mediterranean Film Festival adds films from Spain this year. Organized by the Houston-area consulates of Croatia, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Spain and Turkey, and in conjunction with Rice University Media Center, the festival screens several films from the region including an adult retelling of Snow White and what may be the first Christmas movie made in Turkey.

On Friday, there's an opening reception followed by the French film, Marius (6 p.m.). As the first film in Daniel Auteuil's remake of Marcel Pagnol's trilogy of plays, "Marius is a high-profile film...[and] a great costume drama," Dr. Charles Dove, cinema director at Rice University, tells us. Set in 1920s Marseille, the story follows Marius, a man with a wanderlust for the sea, and Fanny, the young woman who loves him.


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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Sexy Devils, Otello and More

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It's hard to imagine a Monster Mash where the partiers are both semi-naked yet still somehow costumed, but if there's any place that can pull such a thing off, it's The Colorado Bar & Grill. It is, after all, a hunting-lodge-themed topless bar filled with not only stages full of dancing hotties, but also some of the most interesting hunting trophies this side of a safari, so they're used to blowing people's minds with the unexpected.

On Friday, things in that hot hunting haven will get even more exotic when the hallways full of famed patron memorabilia are filled with costumed dancers and patrons, all celebrating The Colorado Halloween Monster Mash in true strip-pub style. The Colorado is even awarding prizes and trophies for the best costumes at this day-long party, and should you win, we fully encourage you to display the gleaming beacon on your shelf with pride. You've earned it, buddy.

Expect Monster Mash fun all day, starting at 11 a.m. Colorado Bar & Grill, 6710 SW Freeway. For information, call 713-781-1122 or visit thecoloradobarandgrill.com.$7.

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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Get a Jump on Halloween

Categories: Top 5

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Halloween is still a couple of weeks away, but we suggest you get a head start on all of the spooky, scary, scream-worthy happenings this weekend. Be sure to check out our Halloween Guide. It's packed with info on haunted houses, pub crawls, ghost tours and family fun events.

On Friday, we suggest a visit to Nightmare on the Bayou. (If you've ever wondered what causes all those traffic jams on I-10 and Studemont, Nightmare on the Bayou is why.) It's a ridiculously scary haunted house located right next to an old graveyard and is known as Houston's only actual haunted house. As in, this place is known to have some real spirits lurking about, along with those freaky actors. Lines wrap around the building as Halloween inches closer, which means you should probably check it out this weekend. Just watch out for the ice-cold hands; it'll be hard to tell whether the thing that grabbed you is still rocking a steady heartbeat or lacking a pulse. Either way, it's a guarantee that you'll be shaking in your boots for days after a visit to this haunted house.

7:30 to 11 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 26; , 7:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. daily from October 27 until November 1. 1515 Studemont. For information, visit nightmareonthebayou.com. $20 to $40.

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