Summer isn't just a word or a season. It's a state of mind. Think about it: when you describe someone as "summery," what do you mean? You mean they're bright-eyed, effervescent, happy. They've thrown aside the cares of winter, taken advantage of the rebirth of spring and opened their doors of perception wide to all the verdant possibilities out there. They're primed and ready to go. Or maybe they're just loopy from the heat. In Houston, one possibility is as likely as the other. But whe-ther sunny or simply sun-struck, Houstonians know that this is the time of the year when you stop planning and start doing. Musing about getting to the beach is no longer enough: get to the beach. Contemplating the pleasures of a picnic won't do: fire up the smoker. Pondering whether the Astros can reach the World Series won't cut it: plop your bottom in an Astrodome seat and cheer them on. And if you wonder what else is to be done, just turn the following pages to see.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead Ricky Ian Gordon and Jean-Claude van Itallie's opera makes its world premiere with Charles Prince conducting and Marcus Stern directing. Through June 2. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Theater Center, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $15.
The Food Chain Nicky Silver is the current darling of Broadway, maybe because his plays manage to be funny and dark at the same time. Through June 9. Tue.-Thu. 7:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 & 7:30 p.m. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave., 228-5078. $18-$36.
The Sleeping Beauty In her last dance on pointe with the Houston Ballet, Janie Parker will perform Ben Stevenson's version of the 19th-century story ballet. June 6-16. Fri. & Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. Wortham Theater Center, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS, $10-$75.
The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and the gang will be hoofing it up in the musical version of Frank Baum's tale. Through June 29. Mon.-Sat., 8 p.m. Galveston Island Outdoor Theater, 13 Mile Rd., Galveston, (800) 547-4697. $19-$29.
The Drunkard Bro Herrod's book and tunes from Barry Manilow (yes, that Barry, the man who is music and who writes the songs) come together in this tipsy musical. Through July 14. Stages, 3201 Allen Pkwy, Suite 101, Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m., 527-0220. $15-$18.
I Hate Hamlet Paul Rudnik's comedy examines the question: will the main character choose to be or not to be Hamlet? Through July 27, Fri. and Sat., 8 p.m. Company OnStage, 536 Westbury Square, 726-1219. $10.
Poor Super Man Brad Fraser, the sexy new Canadian playwright responsible for Unidentified Human Remains & the True Nature of Love, has a new play about -- big surprise -- young urbanites and their search for love. Through August 4. Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m. Theater LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo (off the 2100 block of Houston Ave.), 868-7516. $18.
South Pacific This is the musical that made the song "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" fodder for shampoo commercials. Through July 20. Mon.-Sat., 8 p.m. Galveston Island Outdoor Theater, 13 Mile Rd., (800) 547-4697. $19-$29.
Ten by Ten Are short plays your thing? Scriptwriters/Houston will showcase the results of their ten-minute playwriting competition for local writers. Through July 20. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m. Stages, 201 Allen Pkwy., Suite 101, 707-5194. $10.
Choreographic Workshop In June and July, the Houston Ballet Academy runs an intensive training program for aspiring young dancers from around the world. Starting today, they open the doors to let outsiders see what the future stars have learned. Through July 25. Tue.-Thu., 7 p.m. Houston Ballet Academy, 1921 W. Bell, 523-6300, ext. 201. $5.
Grease! Mackenzie Phillips and Sally Struthers will don leather and star in the super-cool hit musical. Through August 4. Tue. & Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m. Houston Broadway Series, Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 629-3700. $38-$44.
Cabaret Set in Berlin during the Nazis' rise to power, Cabaret tackles politics, bisexuality and the belief that the show must go on. Through August 18. Mon.-Sat., 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894 or (800) 821-1894. $19-$25.
The Winter's Tale One of the enduring mysteries of Shakespearean-era theater is how they managed the dancing bear scene in this play. Go figure it out for yourself at the opening performances for this year's Houston Shakespeare Festival. August 2, 8, 10, 14 & 16, 8:30 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Dr., Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
Gypsy This is the show that made Bernadette Peters a star at age 12. That, of course, raises the interesting question of why her voice never changed. Through September 8. Mon.-Sat., 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston, (409) 765-1894 or (800) 821-1894. $19-$25.
Sonidas de sur Mexican and Mexican-American conjunto, marimba, son jarocho and banda. 8:30 p.m. Presented by the Society for the Performing Arts at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Dr., Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
Don Giovanni Is this the same Mozart who did The Magic Flute and Cosi fan tutte? Don Giovanni has a darker story than most of Mozart's operas, but the music is just as good. 8:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat., August 31. Presented by the Houston Ebony Opera Guild at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Dr., Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free.
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