Press Picks

thursday
april 6
Peter Pan Take your little boys and girls to see the musical about a boy (often played by a girl) who never wants to grow up. HITS Unicorn Theatre, which has since 1987 brought such productions as Anything Goes, Annie and Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella to the Miller Outdoor Theatre, presents this version of the James M. Barrie story. Erin Simpson stars as Peter and Travis Franklin is the fiendish Captain Hook. The show opens tonight; Saturday, at 11 a.m., tots can learn the ropes of flying and see how the show works from the standpoint of the actors and the technical crew in a special Backstage/Peter Pan presentation. Regular shows 8 p.m. ThursdaySaturday, April 6-8, and April 1315. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park. For performance and Backstage/Peter Pan information, call 861-7408. Free.

14th Annual Benihana Celebrity Chef Show-Off It'll be a Who's Who roster of chefs, but not one of them is trained in using those fancy knives like real Japanese chefs. No, these local celebrities are donning aprons to divert attention and dollars to the ESCAPE Family Resource Center for the prevention of child abuse. Polly Bergen -- who co-starred in the original Cape Fear with Gregory Peck and with Johnny Depp in Cry-Baby -- serves as special guest celebrity. Seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. Benihana, 9707 Westheimer, 942-9500. $200 per person (tax deductible).

Hudson Vagabond Puppets Giant puppets from every genre of the animal kingdom will fill the stage tonight. Giant puppets that sing and dance. They start with a musical revue, "Mammoth Follies," featuring dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. Just because these dinosaurs sing and dance, don't expect Barney and Baby Bop to appear; the theme here is evolution and life before man appeared on earth. "Mythically Speaking" follows with puppets taking a humorous romp through Greek mythology. The puppets trace the union of Gaea and Uranus, which produced a race of giants who ruled the world until they were defeated by Zeus and his fellow Olympian gods. Ooh! 7 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 363-3300. Tickets available through Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $5, $2.50 for senior citizens.

friday
april 7
Secret Honor Robert Altman's dark comedy Secret Honor, the story of Richard Nixon as a tragic Shakespearean character coping with the death of his presidency, is the feature film at the Rice Media Center tonight. It stars Phillip Baker Hall -- and only Phillip Baker Hall. Armond White of Film Comment writes, "The one-man show is the roughest kind of theater film to sit through, full of sweat and spittle." But try to sit through it. Hall's ranting and raving is enhanced by the music of composer George Burt, a professor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, who'll introduce the show. And to boot, this screening is of a new 35 mm print on loan to the center exclusively by Altman himself. 7:30 p.m. Rice Media Center, Rice University, entrance no. 8 off University Boulevard, 527-4853. $5.

The Art Guys: Think Twice Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing, affectionately known as the Art Guys, have a few people nervous and several more waiting in eager anticipation for the opening of this first comprehensive museum survey of their work. Tonight, in celebration of this opening, the Art Guys will ignite an eight-foot-long match drawing. Yep, they're going to burn it. This would seem to be very accessible art; even Beavis and Butt-head like fire. Opening, 7-9 p.m. Exhibition through June 25. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose Boulevard, 526-3129. Free.

1995 Houston Home Show Jim Brown, Houston's own "Home Handyman," and Bette Odale, an expert on gardening in the Gulf Coast area, are among the experts who will be on hand to answer such questions as "Why is muddy water backing up in my kitchen sink when I run the washing machine?" and "Why are all the leaves dropping off my gardenia bush?" This show skips the glitz and glamour, and gets to the down and dirty basics of real home repair. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. today and Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Astrohall, use the Kirby entrance. Free; $4 parking.

Jon Secada Grammy Award-winning artist Jon Secada kicks off the concert season at the newly expanded Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Now, 13,000 music lovers can park their fannies on the grassy hill, or in the new uncovered seats, or in the old covered seats, for those so inclined. (It is April. It may rain. There are no rain-outs. Just a reminder.) No full moon tonight, though Secada will help to kindle passions with songs from last year's Heart, Soul & a Voice, as well as tunes from his 1992 eponymous debut, which sold more than six million copies worldwide. 8 p.m. Cynthia Mitchell Woods Pavilion, 363-3300. Tickets available through Ticketmaster, 629-3700. $10-$40.

Drummers of Burundi If you've been swinging your push broom vertically and kicking hubcaps for the sheer pleasure of the sound since Stomp passed through last year, the Drummers of Burundi may be for you. They're more traditional than the rhythmic rompers of Stomp. In fact, this 14-man group is steeped in tradition; the ancient rhythms they perform are designed to promote agriculture, linking the drums symbolically to ideas of fertility in Burundi. The Drummers of Burundi first garnered international recognition when they participated in the World of Music, Art and Dance festival organized by Peter Gabriel in 1983. See them at 8 p.m. tonight. The Houston-based musical group Sechaba and Mor Thiam with his "Drums of Fire" open. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 227-ARTS. $18, $22 and $26.

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