Fun with Nuns

Theatre Southwest's Nice People is good for some laughs

In a 2002 interview, Pulitzer Prize- nominated playwright Lee Blessing said: "Theaters in the last few decades have become much more conservative in the way they program, especially new plays. And when they do produce them, they want material that won't offend." From its title, Blessing's 1982 play Nice People Dancing to Good CountryMusic seems like just the kind of country-minded stuff you'll find in most regional theaters today. But while Blessing's title is likely to hook parochial theatergoers expecting a down-home morality play, the story's content may break their expectations. For one thing, the play has nothing to do with dancing or music (the title refers to the name of a bar in Austin). For another, the cast of characters includes an expelled nun who suffers from a Tourette's-like disorder that causes her to blurt out obscenities and bark like a dog. Subversive young playwrights should take note -- what right-winger could resist a play called Ranch Dressing? Now that would suck 'em in. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through January 22. 8944A Clarkcrest. For information and reservations, call 713-661-9505. $14. –- Troy Schulze

Easy Like Sunday Evening

Local songwriters pop up for some groovy Sessions

Julie Gutman and Eric Dunlap
Courtesy of Mimi Holloway
Julie Gutman and Eric Dunlap
Barefoot and Baroque
Courtesy of DWDT
Barefoot and Baroque
Courtesy of Michael Winslow

SUN 1/9

In the beginning, all Richard Cholakian wanted was to get some live music going downtown on Sundays. "It was a lot of club and DJ stuff," he says of the scene last year, "but nothing really live." What Cholakian started as a blues night in 2003 soon became Sunday Sessions, a weekly gig featuring local singer-songwriters at Dean's Credit Clothing. The happening has spawned a large following and, now, an album. Tonight, 19 Sessions acts will perform at the Sunday Sessions CD release party. Expect poppy mainstays such as Chase Hamblin, the Karma Manifesto and Ray Younkin (who's being compared to Springsteen in some circles) and newer acts like Jason Consolacion. The crooners take the stage every 20 minutes starting at 6 p.m. 316 Main. Sunday, January 9. For information, call 713-777-6003. $5, or a donation of a nonperishable food item for the Manna Food Bank. –- Steven Devadanam

Barefoot and Baroque

FRI 1/7

Vivaldi would be shocked. His elegant, lilting notes interpreted by barefoot, sexy dancers? Good thing he's gone, because now a modern-day audience can freely enjoy Contemporary Baroque, in which the 18th-century stylings of the Mercury Baroque orchestra will guide the contemporary steps of the Dominic Walsh Dance Theater. Walsh, perhaps Houston's most beloved dancer, will join three other choreographers -- and dancers from as far away as Frankfurt -- to present a total of four world-premiere performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, January 7 and 8. Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For tickets, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.uniquelyhouston.org. $25 to $35. –- Julia Ramey

Retro Sounds

THU 1/6

If you think about it, laughing at a guy who makes funny noises seems so...'80s. Which might explain why comedian Michael Winslow had his heyday during that particular decade. The bleeping, honking dude from all those Police Academymovies is still pushing his comedy and some 10,000 noises, which he creates (hopefully) from just his mouth. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, January 6. Through Sunday, January 9. The Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway, suite 431. For information and showtimes, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improvhouston.com. $15. -- Steven Devadanam

 
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