Press Picks

Messiah After witnessing the Posada, perhaps you're feeling especially hospitable toward newcomers. It just so happens we have a newbie in town tonight: Ivor Bolton makes his U.S. debut leading the Houston Symphony in Handel's Messiah. The oratorio has been presented several times already this Christmas, in both the sing-along and non-sing-along formats, but a particularly grand cast of vocalists has been assembled for this late-season entry: soprano Ann Monoyios; mezzo Linda Maguire; tenor Glenn Siebert; and bass-baritone Thomas Barrett. 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $16$45.

saturday
december 21
Merry TubaChristmas For 15 years, hundreds of tuba players have hauled out their oversize horns to play Christmas carols for this lovably goofy tradition. All tuba players (and euphonium players, too) are invited to perform and to dress themselves and their instruments up for a costume contest. (Overachievers could try dressing up like David Letterman, Calvert DeForest or a milk carton and spewing eggnog through their tubas. But if you can do no more than slap a tongue in the opening, at least make it a tongue with personality -- pierce it, fork it a la Gene Simmons or slather on bits of masticated fruitcake.) 9, registration; 10-11:30 a.m., rehearsal; noon, performance. Transco Tower Park, 2800 Post Oak Boulevard, 850-8841. Free to participate; free to watch.

sunday
december 22
One More Victory Lap In a town of sports nice guys, Carl Lewis stands out. He's the embodiment of the Olympic spirit, and he wouldn't like us saying one derogatory word about Keri Strug's little spotlight-grabbing stunt. Carl is a relentless force of positive energy; he's been there, got the T-shirt, partied with the band and has nine coordinating gold medals as proof. Now he's written a book about his final appearance at the games, "the quintessential insider's account" of events both on and off the track -- plus 35 photos taken at the 1996 sportsfest. He'll sign copies of One More Victory Lap at 4 p.m. Borders Books and Music, 570 Meyerland Plaza, 661-2888. Copies of Lewis's book cost $19.95 and make an excellent last-minute holiday purchase.

Shannon brothers' Christmas Show Since the days when they performed regularly at the Comedy Workshop, Charlie and T. Sean Shannon have ascended to greater comic glory. T. Sean writes for The Tonight Show; Charlie has a nationwide radio program called Wedge Weird News and recently finished filming a new pilot for MTV. They don't get to work together much anymore, so this one-of-a-kind performance is sort of a homecoming for them. The fun includes some of T. Sean's clips and his take on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as a video featuring toys you wouldn't want to buy and a skit wherein the Little Drummer Boy meets a Las Vegas comic. Though parts of the program sound somewhat sacrilegious, Charlie assures us that the comedy is good-natured. In fact, his parents will be among the onlookers. 8:30 p.m. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray in the River Oaks Shopping Center, 524-2333. $6.50.

monday
december 23
Schemata: Drawings by Sculptors At last, a chance to travel to a foreign, intriguing and often exotic and remote locale -- inside the mind of an artist. Well, you won't be going there literally, of course. But the current Glassell School exhibit offers sculptors' schemata, the two-dimensional plans for their three-dimensional works. Some of these drawings include notes on the artists' thoughts and emotions during the development of the pieces. The show features nine Texas sculptors, including Joseph Havel and James Surls, and one from New Mexico. Through February 16. Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose, 639-7500. Free.

tuesday
december 24
Deathtrap Mariette Hartley stars in this Broadway touring version of Deathtrap. She was quite spunky and playful in a series of award-winning Polaroid commercials with James Garner; here she plays the hysterical wife of a tapped-out playwright (Elliott Gould) who wants to bonk an up-and-coming wunderkind (Doug Wert) on the head and take his cool, new manuscript. Cross and double-cross figure into this thrilling, chilling Ira Levin work. 8 p.m. (See Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes, plus info on a signed performance for the hearing impaired.) Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $34-$40.

Christmas dinner Yeah, you're busy on Christmas Eve. But maybe if you only knew how desperately the Citywide Club of Clubs needs volunteers, then you could find a little time to help set up or serve food. Well, the Club is, and I quote, "in desperate need." The big feast takes place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas. To volunteer or to make reservations for dinner, call 523-1640. Dinner is free, but reservations are essential.

wednesday
december 25
Merry Christmas Today is Christmas; you already know what to do. Play with your new toys, eat a bunch, then go to the movies. Evita starts today. The Houston Zoo's also open, and it's free on holidays. You might think about taking Junior to visit the warthog he "adopted" for Uncle Bud this Christmas, and you might just get there at the right time to hear some other tyke as he points to said warthog and exclaims, "Look, there's Uncle Jeb's warthog!" If that's your bad luck, seize the opportunity for a dialogue on sharing and the true meaning of Christmas. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Houston Zoological Gardens, Hermann Park, 1513 North MacGregor, 523-5888. Free today and December 26.

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