Press Picks

thursday
april 24
Two Trains Running Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson says of his play: "There are always two trains running. There is life and there is death. Each of us rides them both." His characters are on the first half of that metaphorical journey, contemplating their dreams and reality at their regular Pittsburgh eatery in 1969. Two Trains Running is the third installment in the Celebration Series, a joint project of the Ensemble and the Alley Theatre to tap each other's audience. 7:30 p.m. Through June 1 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). The Ensemble Theatre at Midtown Arts Center, 3414 La Branch (at Holman), 520-0055. $10-$17.

Shubunkins Modern dance outfits Mudslide and Fly split The Duplex, where they are artists-in-residence. Both companies explore modern dance's wacky side, with works such as Mudslide's "Munaliscious," a Gidget-on-acid piece backed by surf tunes, and "Bourbon Cowgirls in the Ultimate Zen Moment," about brushing teeth; the hip-hoppers of Fly interpret classical dance in "The Comedians," then move to a story about a bank teller who falls in love with the man who robs her. Presented salon-style, with a free glass of wine and post-performance chat. (While you're there, check out the new fish in their pond; hence the name Shubunkins.) 8 p.m. tonight through Sunday and May 13. The Duplex, 1924 Brun, 521-4560. $8.

Anything Goes The kids on HSPVA's visual side kicked off a monthlong celebration of the school's 25th birthday with an exhibition at DiverseWorks a few weeks back, and now their more boisterous performing classmates keep the party rolling with a three-night run of Cole Porter's shipboard musical Anything Goes. 8:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park, 100 Concert Drive, 520-3290. Free (call 942-1960 for details on a private reception Friday; tickets are $50).

Braque: The Late Works Georges Braque started out as an apprentice to his housepainter father and ended up co-inventing cubism with Pablo Picasso. Alas, Picasso's is a household name, and Braque's is not. Even art critics and curators who've documented his deserved place in art history have given less attention to his later, more straightforward paintings. Now, the Menil has pulled together many of his works from his last 25 years -- including paintings from his acclaimed Billiard and Studio series -- for this rare exhibition. Discussion, 78:30 p.m.; opening reception, 8:30-10:30 p.m. The Menil Collection, 1515 Sul Ross, 525-9400. Free.

Beppe Gambetta The flatpicking monster from Genoa, Italy, cooks up Italian dishes at once as homey and intricate as his Kentucky bluegrass licks. On his last stop to town, he led a workshop for players at Cezanne; this time around he's teaching folks how to make such recipes as pasta col pesto from his new cookbook Beppe Cooks!, which he published with the help of a couple of Houstonians at Herring Press. Friday, he trades his apron for his guitar to perform while pros cook and serve even more dishes featured in his book. Cooking class, 7 p.m. tonight; dinner and concert, 7 p.m. Friday. Italian Cultural and Community Center, 1101 Milford, 524-4222. $35, class; $40, concert and dinner; $60, both. Copies of the book are $20.

friday
april 25
The Magic Flute Political cartoonist (London Sunday Times) and animator (Pink Floyd: The Wall) Gerald Scarfe has pumped Mo-zart's classic fairy tale full of mod imagery for this Houston Grand Opera production: A psychedelic snake attacks the hero Tamino to set the mind-expanding journey in motion; a massive pyramid splits apart and shifts shapes; a penguin with a crocodile head traverses the stage. If the sum isn't enough to draw in the acid rock/laser-light show set, it should at least have the opera crowd donning their J. Garcia ties. 7:30 p.m. Through May 17 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $15-$175.

Houston Ballet Academy performance While the hippie opera debuts next door, the rising stars of the Houston Ballet Academy take a more conservative approach to draw an audience into the Wortham Center with a neoclassical creation by choreographer and academy alumnus Trey McIntyre and another by Houston Ballet artistic director Ben Stevenson. Catch these senior students en pointe in Broken Pieces and Fervor and judge for yourself if they're ready for center stage. The price of admission adds to the academy's coffers to benefit future generations of dancers. 7:30 p.m. Wortham Center, Cullen Theater, 500 Texas, 227-ARTS. $10; $25, for the show and a reception.

Cornell Hurd/Johnny Bush It's hard country night at the best honky-tonk inside the Loop, with Austin's Cornell Hurd Band sharing the stage with Johnny Bush, a true Texas legend on a comeback trail the likes of which no made-for-TV scriptwriter could imagine. He might have already seen the big time, if not for a rare ailment that wreaked havoc on his vocal cords. Thanks to therapy and the will to sing, he's back for another go-round and doing well enough to steal the spotlight away from Willie Nelson at his own picnic. Hurd and Bush trade sets before coming together for a grand finale. 9 p.m. Blanco's Bar & Grill, 3406 West Alabama, 439-0072. $12.

Swing kids "Lindy hop god" Frankie Manning makes a pass through Houston to teach such time-honored moves as the "Shorty George" and the "Boogie Back" as well a 1920s line dance, the "Shim Sham." A Tony Award-winning choreographer, Manning held court at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom and Cotton Club, lent his dance expertise to movies from the Marx Brothers' A Day at the Races to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, toured the world with jazz greats from Benny Goodman to Billie Holiday and invented "air steps," those trademark flips and swings. He may not do much flipping and swinging tonight -- the man, after all, is 82 -- but he's broken out of retirement to teach the dance to others so that it may live on for future generations. Lindy hop dance champ Keith Hughes and his partner Hilary Haselton teach too, starting with a beginners' session to set the workshop into motion. No experience (though experience will tell women not to wear heels) and no partner necessary. 7 p.m. tonight; 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. SPJST Lodge, 1435 Beall Street, 662-3861 (or e-mail rowenay@worldnet.att.net). $50 for the entire weekend.

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