Now that American Ballet Theatre superstar Angel Corella won't be performing the title role in Ben Stevenson's Peer Gynt because of an injury, the men of the Houston Ballet have big slippers to fill. The ballet, based on Ibsen's epic, is the story of a sexy young peasant who ditches his poor mother, romances another man's bride, seduces the daughter of a Mountain King, deserts his rich American sugar mama (for lack of a better phrase) for a nubile Egyptian princess and finally leaves the woman who truly loves him waiting in his mountain hut to grow old and blind alone. So how are we supposed to sympathize with the protagonist? Well, we need a dancer -- and actor -- with incredible charisma. Charming HB principal Dominic Walsh performed the role in Peer Gynt's 1995 Houston Ballet production and will undoubtedly return with confidence this year. Principal Timothy O'Keefe, known as one of the company's best demi-caractere dancers, will tackle the part for the first time. And soloist Parren Ballard has the huge opportunity of making Peer his first title role. Peer Gynt opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continues June 12, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and June 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas, (713)227-ARTS. $11-$84.
It's the tenth anniversary of the Texas Folklife Resources' "Accordion Kings" concert, and to celebrate they've expanded the show into a three-day accordion extravaganza. The only Houston player on the bill, Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws, plays tonight with Louisiana's Cajun legend Walter Mouton and Conjunto Aztlan, a group of Chicano players from San Antonio. Regular conjunto "Accordion King" Mingo Saldivar, Beaumont's Touch of Cajun and the klezmer band, Rubinchik's Orkestyr, play Thursday, June 10. And Czech superstars from the Vrazels Polka Band headline the zydeco and conjunto groups of Geno Delafose and Ruben Vela, respectively, on Saturday, June 12. All shows start at 7:30 p.m. at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. For more information, call Texas Folklife Resources at (512)441-Y'ALL. Free.
Bobby Slayton claims to be the "pit bull of comedy," but he's actually more like an insecure, grade-school smart-ass who just happened to be handed a microphone somewhere along the way. Jews, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, African-Americans and women get the brunt of his humor-by-stereotype. Some find it refreshingly un-PC; others walk out. "So long as you're laughing," Slayton says, "I don't really care if you like me or not." Just don't dare to heckle him, or you'll learn where that pit bull nickname came from. Slayton headlines at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at the Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, (713)524-2333; www.laffstop.com. Also Thursday, June 10, at 8 p.m. ($11) and Friday, June 11, at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. $14.
Monique Woodard opened the Exotic Cat Refuge and Wildlife Orphanage in Kirbyville 11 years ago when she took in a jaguar named Czar. She got Czar jobs in a Mstley CrYe music video and a Jeep commercial, then used the money to build a compound to help some of his furry friends. Now the orphanage, Houston's nearest USDA-approved refuge, is home to some 60 exotic animals -- 30 big cats, wolves, owls, lemurs and a grizzly bear rescued from an Arizona forest fire. But the refuge itself is now on the "endangered list" as a result of poor funding. Exotic Animal Relief '99 will feature a dunk tank, face painting, balloon animals, raffles, barbecue, volleyball, live music by seven local bands and special appearances by KLOL's Outlaw Dave and Czar the jaguar. Councilwoman Annise Parker will speak at 5:30 p.m. Your $3 donation will go to the Kirbyville refuge. Noon to midnight at Shark Island, 6229 Richmond, (713)972-1660.
Some would call Dan Mitchell Allison crazy: He likes to create and show his art in war-torn Yugoslavia. In fact, Allison thinks art is most important in times of war, as documentation and expression of upheaval. And his relationship to this region goes back to 1987, when he was awarded the International Graphics Biennial Prize, an award he shares with the likes of Joan Miró, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. In the years since, he has toured the region with the U.S. Information Agency, spearheaded Houston-based relief efforts and even been detained by the Croatian militia. Allison has recently returned to the States from a retrospective exhibit at the Valjevo Art Center in Belgrade. While he doesn't speak the language, Allison says, he can get the mood of the country from popular music. "In 1989, their favorite song was Dylan's The Times They Are Changing. In 1991, about the time the problems started in Slovinia, it was Don't Worry, Be Happy. In 1994, it was some crazy disco version of The Flintstones," he says. "My driver was laughing ... and said, 'They are bombing us back to the Stone Age.' " But, according to Allison, nobody's singing much at all these days. Allison's "New Icons" is on display at Buchanan Gallery, 2217 Post Office in Galveston, through July 11. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday (noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday). Call (409)763-8683 for information. A portion of the proceeds benefits Allison's Artist Rescue Mission.