It looks like Lou Bega will never release "Mambo No. 6," but the neo-swing revival has a little life yet. Faithful boppers will turn out in their cat clothes this weekend at a clash between the classy and the brassy, as the Houston Symphony teams up with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy for "Swinging Symphony." Put yer mittens on yer kittens and away we go "Pop shows are normal for our musicians," says the symphony's Art Kent, "but a lot depends on the quality of the arrangement." Artists including Tony Bennett, Dennis DeYoung of Styx and Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers have all led the symphony in concerts that would surprise Bach and Beethoven.
At "Swinging Symphony," which will use up to 70 of the symphony's musicians, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will lead the big band in classic swing favorites and songs from its previous records. The band also may play tunes from its upcoming release, Save My Soul (or, given the state of the genre, Save Our Careers).
The folks at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion will be getting into the "swing" of things at the family-friendly gig, offering up free fedoras (while supplies last) for your e-mail addy. And the Houston HepCats, a dance troupe specializing in the lindy hop, will give free lessons at the pavilion's North Plaza before the show. They'll also perform in the pit during the show. Just be on the lookout for a strong HPD presence. You never know when a zoot suit riot might break out. 8 p.m. Friday, May 30. 2005 Lake Robbins Drive. For information, call 281-363-3000 or visit www.pavilion.woodlandscenter.org. $15 to $45. -- Bob Ruggerio
After sex, spoken word may be the second oldest form of entertainment. Since 1992, "Texas Bound" has held readings where Texas thespians read short fiction by scribes from the Lone Star State. "Most actors are far better readers than most authors," says founder Kay Cattarulla. "They give the works a new dimension." Monday's program features actors Judith Ivey (you'll remember her from Designing Women), James Black and Raphael Parry reading works by Padgett Powell, Mark Boren and Robert Flynn. At least their twangs will be authentic. 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 2. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.org. $7 to $16. -- Bob Ruggerio
A Royal Debut
Houston Grand Opera has had incredible success with its original productions -- think Nixon in China and Cold Sassy Tree -- and its latest, The Little Prince, is shaping up to be no exception. Based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic novel about a young man's search for wisdom, Prince, which features music composed by Academy Award-winner Rachel Portman, is the company's 27th world premiere since 1973. Playing in lead roles are 11-year-old soprano Nathaniel Irvin as the magical prince, and Australian baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the downed pilot in whom the prince confides. The Little Prince runs from Saturday, May 31, through Sunday, June 22. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-OPERA or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $30 and up. -- Marene Gustin
The makeshift theater revue "Show Stoppers," this weekend's performance of eight short plays at the Midtown Art Center, will highlight the unearthed, undiscovered talent bubbling around this city's arts scene. Directors Hana S. Sharif and Christopher S. Young have assembled a group of nine actors and musicians to perform short works (lasting about ten to 20 minutes) by such diverse scribes as Joseph Heller and Adrienne Kennedy. "It's definitely a way to show great talent," says Sharif. 7 p.m. Thursday, May 29, through Saturday, May 31. 2 p.m. Sunday, June 1. 3414 La Branch. For information, call 713-521-8803. $10. -- Craig D. Lindsey