Bittersweet Symphony

The Art Guys inject some color into Bluebeard's Castle

SAT 1/15

A devious count, Bluebeard, brings his lovely new bride, Judith, home to his castle. Frustrated that she has free rein in the place except for seven doors in a great hall, Judith demands entry. When she opens the doors to find -- gasp -- other wives, things get creepy. Suspenseful stuff, but watching two soloists and musicians from the Houston Symphony re-create a thriller like this doesn't exactly spell "riveting performance." So the folks at the symphony enlisted local duo The Art Guys for the upcoming run of Béla Bartók's classic opera Bluebeard's Castle. "It's very dark and menacing," says Art Guy Jack Massing. He and partner Michael Galbreth plan to extinguish nearly every light source in Jones Hall save for the musicians' chairs, which will be brilliantly illuminated and will flash colors that correlate to subtitles and vocals. It's a more serious gig for the team best known for their colorful, funny installations. "Sure, we can be whimsical," says Massing, "but we're very capable of being melancholic and angst-ridden, too." Will Judith see red? Find out when Bluebeard's Castleopens at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 15. Also runs at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 16, and 8 p.m. Monday, January 17. 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit www.houstonsymphony.org. $21 to $90. -– Steven Devadanam

Odd Man Out

The Art Guys
Courtesy of the Art Guys
The Art Guys
Ashlei Kennedy and Tamiyka White
Courtesy of Tamiyka White
Ashlei Kennedy and Tamiyka White
Liviya Compean
Courtesy of Liviya Compean
Liviya Compean

Funny (and weird) guy Emo Phillips visits the Improv

THU 1/13

Before it was a genre of annoying music for whiny white suburban kids, the word "Emo" was best known as the first name of bizarre comic Emo Phillips. In the '80s, his trademark Prince Valiant haircut and wide-eyed delivery made him seem like a Keane painting come to life. But you knew there was something twisted going on in that head when the spastic, sick one-liners started coming. ("My girlfriend said to me in bed last night, 'You're a pervert.' I said, 'That's a big word for a girl of nine.' ") Phillips must've toned it down since then, as Jay Leno, of all people, has called him "one of the best joke writers in America." Listen to the Emo from Thursday, January 13, through Saturday, January 15. The Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway, suite 431. For tickets and showtimes, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improv.com. $15. -– Bob Ruggiero

More than Words

Poet Ashlei Kennedy has penned a gut-wrenching verse about a three-year, roller-coaster relationship she had with a man. But sometimes words aren't enough. So tonight some folks are helping her tell her story, "Love and Lies," which chronicles her bliss and heartbreak. Dancer Tamiyka White will offer interpretations based on the verse, while musician Jason Jackson accents the performance with his sax. The event is held by the performance art group House of Tongues, which, along with Kuumba House Dance Theatre, is pairing poetry grooves with dance moves for a series of salon performances. The moving verse starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, January 15. Kuumba House Dance Theatre, 3001 Cleburne. For information, call 713-526-1331 or visit www.kuumbahouse.org. $5. – Felicia Johnson-LeBlanc

It's a Family Show

The musical genes of Houston vocalist Liviya Compean and her brother (and drummer) Josh come courtesy of father Jesse Compean Jr., who happens to play trumpet and flute in their band. You can catch their fusion of jazz, crunchy guitar and hard rock vocals (which earned them a recent Press Music Awards nomination) on the newest Liviya Compean CD, Hormonal Injustice, which will be released at tonight's gig. Downfall 2012, Dreamtrybe and Sancho open at 9 p.m. Saturday, January 15. Rhythm Room, 1815 Washington Avenue. For information, call 731-864-6962 or visit www.rhythmroomhouston.com. $10. -– Greg Barr

 
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