If more proof is needed that NBC's Frasier boasts some of the best acting on the mostly boobish tube, here it is: The show's Dan Butler portrays a bit of a boob himself -- the sophomoric, homophobic, hetero-sex-starved sports-show host "Bulldog." But it turns out that Butler, in real life, goes the other way. The actor recently decloseted himself, and his show The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me... details that and other aspects of the gay lifestyle in 14 vignettes featuring 12 characterizations by Butler. Two of the show's centerpiece scenes include re-creations of the conversations he had with his mother and father in the aftermath of his announcement. According to Richard Laub, the artistic director of the group hosting the Houston premiere, "When Dan told his father, [the latter's] response was, 'The only thing worse you could have told me is that you were dead.' " Adds Laub, "Many of the vignettes are clearly autobiographical; there are some touching moments, but it's primarily an upbeat piece." Opening performances are at 8 tonight and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Monday; the run continues through April 25. The Little Room Downstairs, 2326 Bissonnet, 523-0791. $10 and $15.
Suddenly, folk music is on another cyclical upswing. But don't think "Puff the Magic Dragon"; think folk with a razor's edge. El Corazon, the latest -- perhaps greatest -- album by angst-ridden cowpoke Steve Earle, opens with "Christmas in Washington," an old-school social lament that includes the lines "Come back Woody Guthrie / Come back to us now / Tear your eyes from paradise / And rise again somehow." Similarly, former Blaster and X man Dave Alvin has always been a rocker with a roots bent, but what's roots but folk with a rock beat? Interstate City, one of Alvin's greatest albums, was a paean to the road, to rock and to the smoky pit stops where the two collide, but, like Alvin, the disc had a beating folk heart; highlights of the live effort (recorded at Austin's Continental Club) included covers of Tom Russell's "Out in California," Jim Ringer's "Waiting for the Hard Times to Go" and a medley of Alvin's "Jubilee Train," Woody G.'s "Do Re Mi" and Chuck Berry's "Promised Land" -- the latter another example of folk in rock clothing. Alvin visits tonight as part of the "Monsters of Folk Tour," which co-stars the aforementioned Russell, Chris Smither and Ramblin' Jack Elliott (see page 77). 8 and 10 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $20.
Frolicking on the "beaches" of the Buffalo Bayou sounds dicey to us, so we'll opt for the other enticements at Miss Penny Rabbitte's Bunnies on the Bayou Easter bash: mixing and mingling with the members of the gay/lesbian charitable organization Bunnies on the Bayou and their guests, casting our vote in the big Bonnet Parade Contest, dancing to the "groovin' tunes" of DJ J.D. Arnold (we'll lay odds that the Judy Garland/Fred Astaire duet of Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade" is in the mix) and, not least, raising funds for AIDS Foundation Houston, the PWA Coalition, Steven's House and the Houston Gay and Lesbian Community Center. (The voluptuous Miss Rabbitte is a cartoon character and the Bunnies' mascot.) 2 to 7 p.m. Fish Plaza at Wortham Center, 500 Texas. Info: 923-1900. $20 (minimum donation). (Gratis shuttles run from Rich's, 2401 San Jacinto, the site of this year's afterparty.)
Previous entries in Inprint's Marathon Reading series included The Inferno of Dante (featuring U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky) and James Joyce's Ulysses (with selections read by various local thespians). This year's Ernest J. Gaines Marathon Reading honors the author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman; the selection is Gaines's Pulitzer Prize-winning '93 work A Lesson Before Dying. Gaines will read along with the likes of Carolyn Farb, Akua Fayette of Project Row Houses, Sterling Vappie of the Ensemble Theatre and various students and teachers from the Houston ISD. 6 to 11:30 p.m. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet, 523-0701. More info: 521-2026. Admission is free; donations are accepted (proceeds: literacy programs at Project Row Houses and the Jewish Community Center). (Gaines also makes an appearance Tuesday as part of the Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series; see Readings & Lectures in Calendar.)