Beautiful people, tasty bites and crafted cocktails. It's all on deck at the 15th Annual Houston Press Menu of Menus Extravaganza.
Beautiful people, tasty bites and crafted cocktails. It's all on deck at the 15th Annual Houston Press Menu of Menus Extravaganza.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Menu of Menus and High-Flying Acrobats

Tuesday, April 4

What’s for dinner? If it’s Tuesday night, then the world is your oyster when the 15th Annual Houston Press Menu of Menus Extravaganza opens its doors with tastings from more than 40 local eateries. It’s a can’t-miss event for Houston foodies and one of our favorite signature events. Don’t miss the 6th Annual Iron Fork Chef Competition, pitting defending Iron Fork champ Lyle Bento of Southern Goods against Underbelly’s Gary Ly (one chef to rule them all). Moderating this year is retired Iron Fork champ and Roost restaurateur Kevin Naderi; to add a big-city/small-world twist, Bento happens to be an Underbelly alum. Enjoy wine, beer and cocktail samples plus live music and beaucoup people-watching. Upgrade to VIP for first-in-line privileges and valet parking, but remember this one’s 21 and up. 7 to 10 p.m. April 4. Silver Street Station, 2000 Edwards. For information, call 877-987-6487 or visit menuofmenus.com. $45 to $85. — Susie Tommaney

It starts with a trio of singers, members of a Chicago girl group discovered at an amateur talent show by the man who becomes their manager. As they negotiate their attempt to rise to the top, conflicts ensue, and one member is replaced while the others go on to stardom. The Broadway version of Dreamgirls, featuring music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen, went on to win six Tony Awards and two Grammys before being made into a movie that earned Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award; now it’s presented in Houston by Theatre Under The Stars. Zonya Love (Broadway’s The Color Purple) plays the left-behind Effie, who she describes as “a fun, sassy, spunky young lady who’s misunderstood. She’s a product of her environment as far as learning how to accept herself instead of what society tells you what’s acceptable.” Love also gets to deliver the show-stopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” 7:30 p.m. April 4. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. April 4-16. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $46.50 to $135. — Margaret Downing

Wednesday, April 5

You’ve been dreaming about that sweet ride for so long, building your car online and picking and choosing all the right options (and color). But have you actually placed your butt in the seat and taken it out for a spin? Surprisingly, many shoppers who come to the Houston Auto Show with a particular car in mind end up switching allegiances. “We did a survey last year,” says RoShelle Salinas, public relations director for presenter Houston Automobile Dealers Association. “They test a vehicle and change their mind.” But don’t quaff any NRG brewskis just yet, because you’ll have to pass a breathalyzer first. “It’s a great place to do your comparison shopping efficiently,” says Salinas. “Then work your deal later. You’ll know what features you want.” Noon to 9:30 p.m. April 5. Continuing noon to 9:30 p.m. April 6 and 7, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. April 8, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 9. NRG Center, One NRG Park. For information, visit houstonautoshow.com. $5 to $12. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, April 6

Tommy’s not here, man. For most, Cheech will forever be tied to his buddy, Chong, as two groovy herb enthusiasts who found hijinks and a cult following in the ’70s. But for the younger set, the days of Los Cochinos are long gone, and many know the lovable Marin for his roles in kids’ fare (Pixar’s Cars, the original Spy Kids movies, The Lion King). “There’s a Cheech for every generation,” glows the 70-year-old funnyman, who is signing his new book, Cheech Is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong at an event presented by Brazos Bookstore and moderated by Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse. “There’s Mexican food and then there’s nouveau Mexican food. I get this great opportunity to be irreverent [and] insightful.” Without his stoner persona on display, expect to see a gentler side of Marin — the art collector, the academic, the Jeopardy! champ. 7 p.m. April 6. Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. $27. — Vic Shuttee

In Franz Schubert’s wistful quartet “Death and the Maiden,” one hears the tussle between man and death as depicted by a defiant Schubert. Even as his health dissolved and his body succumbed to sickness, the composer looked skyward, locked eyes with the specter looming above, and laughed in its face. Schubert conjures death only to mock and tease, says Antoine Plante, artistic director for Mercury, which is performing the dark and lyrical quartet. “It is a lesson in contrasts,” says Plante. Playful. Gentle. Ominous. “The last movement is a great danse macabre. A dance of skeletons,” the conductor says. Listen, and you’ll hear the cracking of the bones. 8 p.m. April 6, The MATCH, 3400 Main. 2:30 p.m. April 8, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, 11612 Memorial. 7 p.m. April 8, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 5601 South Main. 7 p.m. April 9, Dosey Doe, 25911 North Freeway, Spring. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $9 to $35. — Katricia Lang

If you're partial to Cosmos and Manolos; have taken an online test to see if you're more Charlotte, Carrie, Amanda or Samantha; or even if you're solidly committed to Team Aidan or Team Mister Big; then it's time to take a trip down memory lane during One Woman Sex And The City: A Parody on Love, Friendship and Shoes. Kerry Ipema delivers the laughs as our favorite characters brunch, banter, argue and support each other with snippets from all six seasons. Remember the naked dress, the tantric sex demonstration, the "He's just not that into you" episode and the humiliating breakup via Post-it® Note? We've been promised puns, Cosmopolitans and even audience participation, so brush up on your SatC trivia and bring it. 8 p.m. April 6. The Secret Group, 2101 Polk. For information, call 832-898-4688 or visit thesecretgrouphtx.com. $25 to $30. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, April 7

They say comedy is seldom pretty, and Steve Martin and Martin Short are masters of exposing the uglier side of showbiz at its most fatuous and absurd. Their own humor is often sarcastic and juvenile, with nothing sacred except the laugh. The two seem to have little else in common other than a long friendship with SNL honcho Lorne Michaels and a tolerance to share the stage, which they do in this standup tour dubbed Steve Martin & Martin Short, An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life. Expect Short to revive obsequious TV host Jiminy Glick and the banjo-toting Martin to bust out a tune or two with Grammy-winning bluegrass boys the Steep Canyon Rangers, but mostly a flurry of one-liners at the other’s expense. As seen in the ’80s near-classic Three Amigos or 1991’s Father of the Bride remake (but not its best-forgotten sequel), neither man has any reservations about upstaging the other. 8 p.m. April 7. Smart Financial Centre, 11811 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $89.50. — Chris Gray

Frida Kahlo inspired more than bright colors, untamed eyebrows and flowered braids. My Dress Hangs There, her all-encompassing visual commentary on the superficiality of American capitalism, also inspired a new dance by former Houstonian Mario Alberto Zambrano. Volver makes its world premiere this Friday as part of a quartet of works in METdance’s United in Dance! Kahlo began the painting while in the United States, during a period when she was homesick and longed to return to Mexico, and Zambrano’s dance celebrates that idea of returning, of reconnecting with one’s culture and identity. Marlana Doyle, the company’s artistic director, tells us the evening also includes Andrea Dawn Shelley’s The Broken Column, inspired by the passionate but tumultuous relationship between Kahlo and husband Diego Rivera. 8 to 10 p.m. April 7. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-522-6375 or visit metdance.org. $9.50 to $39.50. — Susie Tommaney

“[It’s] every woman’s life — on comedy and steroids,” says Mimi Holloway, who directs Theatre Southwest’s production of Becky’s New Car. Steven Dietz’s wacky, fourth-wall-breaking play centers around Becky Foster, a woman firmly stuck in midlife purgatory until a millionaire walks into the car dealership where she works and offers her a glimpse of the road not taken. “She doesn’t quite, exactly, 100 percent cheat on purpose, only 85 percent,” says Holloway. “She winds up accidentally with two lives, which is what she wanted but is really too much to keep up with.” Holloway stresses that Becky is an everywoman, though exaggerated, and her story is relatable. “It’s [about] how much you’re willing to risk, how much you’re willing to pretend that those risks aren’t going to hurt anybody, and those things don’t ever go away.” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. April 23. April 7 through 29. 8944-A Clarkcrest. For information, call 713-661-9505 or visit theatresouthwest.org. $16 to $18. — Natalie de la Garza

Yuga Yamato, former top star of the musical-theater troupe Takarazuka Revue, is a pretty big deal. The otokoyaku (female playing a male part) is reprising the role of Tuxedo Mask, the caped crusader in defense of Sailor Moon, during an edited version of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical in what will be its first production outside Asia. “I saw the play twice in Japan, and every time she gets onstage, everybody starts screaming,” says John Leigh, CEO of Anime Matsuri Convention, who arranged for the national premiere. He tells us that 50 über-fans are flying in from Tokyo for a chance at an autograph. Tickets to the Japanese culture convention include the musical, but there’s plenty more fun to be had: cosplay, concerts and the popular “Honey, I’m home” maid and butler cafes. The musical is at 5 p.m. April 7; single-day passes are available at the door. 11:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. April 7, 9:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. April 8, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 9. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit animematsuri.com. $30 to $200. — Susie Tommaney

The Tony Award-winning drama Dancing at Lughnasa, penned by the late Irish playwright Brian Friel, was eventually made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. The main narrator reflects back on his childhood in the 1930s in rural Ireland, in a house with his mother and four spinster aunts. When his absent father returns home — on a motorcycle no less — upheaval sets in, compounded by the return of his uncle, a priest who spent a lifetime in Africa. It was also the summer the family got a wireless set, bringing music and dancing into the household; they named it Lugh after the old pagan god of the harvest. Now Playhouse 1960 presents this poignant summertime memory play about love, poverty and the eventual loss of hope. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. April 7 through 22. 6814 Gant. For information, call 281-587-8243 or visit playhouse1960.com. $15 to $18. — Susie Tommaney

Enjoy feat after feat of high-flying, death-defying courage when Cirque du Soleil presents KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities.
Enjoy feat after feat of high-flying, death-defying courage when Cirque du Soleil presents KURIOS – Cabinet of Curiosities.
Photo by Martin Girard

Saturday, April 8

Cirque du Soleil has fascinated us for decades. This time it’s back with more, and its newest show, KURIOS — Cabinet of Curiosities, promises the same high-flying, death-defying acts that will leave everyone’s jaws floor-bound. Dawn Wilson, assistant artistic director, says, “We are pushing it much higher, much more original, and we’ve added more theatrical surprises to the acrobatics. It is new, it is high-energy and it is not what they’ve seen before. From its opening act, I think the audience is already asking, ‘How are they going to top that?’ and we do. It only gets more unexpected and outstanding as the show goes on.” 8 p.m. Thursdays and April 11-12, 18-19 and 26, and May 2-3, 9-10 and 17; 4:30 and 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and May 4 (no matinee April 21 and May 6, 12 and 19); 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sundays. April 6 through May 21. Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 1-877-924-7783 or visit cirquedusoleil.com/kurios. $35 to $175. — Sam Byrd

The Houston Art Car Parade is celebrating its 30th year, and we might see a few sandy-haired oranges on wheels vying for best political statement. “We’re anticipating some very interesting entries this year due to our political climate,” says Jonathan Beitler, spokesperson for the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which organizes the annual event. Of the estimated 250 entries in this year’s parade, more than 100 are first-timers, and they’ll all be competing for attention plus a chance at cash prizes in 13 categories, including low-riders, slabs, painted cars, cyclists and contraptions that no longer resemble a vehicle, like last year’s hospital bed on wheels. Get an up-close look at Thursday’s sneak peek at Discovery Green or Friday’s The Legendary Art Car Ball, a ticketed shebang hosted by Kam Franklin of The Suffers. The viewing party starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, so come early, pick your spot, and get ready to watch cultural icon Cheech Marin lead the parade as grand marshal. 2 to 4 p.m. April 8. Smith Street, downtown. For information, visit thehoustonartcarparade.com/about-the-art-car-parade. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Basically everyone knows The Barber of Seville the opera, but what about Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais’s play that preceded it? “Unfortunately for Beaumarchais, the opera overshadowed the play as it’s widely regarded as one of the finest comic operas ever written,” says John Johnston, executive artistic director of the Classical Theatre Company, which is mounting a new version of the circa-1773 play via Johnston’s translation from the French. “The most difficult aspect was writing lyrics for the few songs that appear in the play, because not only do I have to translate the [words] and keep as close to the original meaning as possible, but make it rhyme at the same time. See what I did there?” says Johnston, who adds, “It’s hard to top the shaving scene that takes place in the second act.” 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and April 12 and 17; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. April 7 through 23. 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $10 to $25. — Steve Jansen

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what’s the most gruesome story of them all? It turns out those fairy tales didn’t go quite like the Disney movies suggest: Birds pecked out the eyes of Cinderella’s stepsisters, and Sleeping Beauty’s father raped her. That brings us to the other princess, Snow White, whom the Queen detested. In fact, she ordered the girl’s lungs and liver be delivered to her doorstep. How’s that for drama? For Catastrophic Theatre’s world premiere modern-day interpretation of this age-old story, director Greg Dean says, “[Snow White] lives with seven real-estate developers who make high-end baby food. They have a communal sexual setup there, and she is dissatisfied with everything. She’s experiencing an awakening.” Can’t wait to find out what happens next. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. April 7 through May 6. The Catastrophic Theatre, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-522-2723 or visit catastrophictheatre.com. Pay what you can; suggested price is $35. — Sam Byrd

If you're like us, there's something exhilarating about watching the elaborate productions coming out of Bollywood. From the rich, glitzy costumes, to the complicated choreography and the captivating music, it's no wonder that Hindi cinema has taken the world by storm. Now a Broadway-style Bollywood production is touring the United States, bringing the high energy of India's pop music and culture to the stage with vibrant dances, 2,000 costumes and catchy music in a two-act musical about an Indian-born, London-based journalist in search of romance in Mumbai. Be forewarned, there's no live singing in Taj Express: The Bollywood Music Revue, but the soundtrack has enough bells and whistles — as well as hip-hop, EDM and Latin beats — to satisfy most modern audiences. 8 p.m. April 8. Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $19 to $75. — Susie Tommaney

Nature has long served as inspiration for mathematicians and artists, and the colorful illustrations of biologist, naturalist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel captured the beauty of the natural world so compellingly that contemporary composer Karim Al-Zand took pen to paper. The resulting Studies in Nature, with its three movements “Sea Lillies,” “Radiolara” and “Jellyfish” for viola, harp and flute, serves as the foundation for this Musiqa-presented evening titled Light, Land, and Sea. The program includes Kaija Saariaho's "Fall" for solo harp and electronics, taken from her ballet Maa (Finnish for land); Andrew Norman's Light Screens, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass window designs; and Fred Lerdahl's Three Diatonic Studies, a trio that stemmed from an early commission to write a variation based on the "Aria" of Bach's Goldberg Variations. 7:30 p.m. April 8. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-524-5678 or visit musiqahouston.org. $25 to $45. — Susie Tommaney

It all started with a political skit in Austin, but soon this satire of rural America took off and everybody was laughing at the antics of the cross-dressing comics in Greater Tuna. After all this time some things haven't changed — Patsy Cline is still revered and the Lion's Club is too liberal — but creators Joe Sears and Jaston Williams have hung up their wigs, dresses and heels. The good news is that Williams is now the director of the show, and an all-new cast of three is set to take the stage at The Grand 1894 Opera House, delivering all of the eclectic characters of Texas's third smallest town. Stay after for a question and answer session with Williams that's sure to keep the laughter coming. 3 and 8 p.m. April 8, 3 p.m. April 9. 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 800-821-1894 or visit thegrand.com. $27 to $72. — Susie Tommaney

Sunday, April 9

Whenever we’re having a bad day, we can always take the sage advice of our favorite redheaded orphan by lifting up our chin to grin and say the sun will come out tomorrow. And that youngster, Annie, is back to remind us once again that optimism — plus animal adoption — is always in style. Tony Award-winning lyricist Martin Charnin says, “It’s about family. It’s about love. There are universals. There are things that are iconic and have been around since Sophocles. We wanted a universal story that could last for a length of time, and we’re all very proud that it’s been around, and my instinct is that it will be around for a long time after this production.” We agree. You can bet your bottom dollar that Annie won’t disappoint in this Society for the Performing Arts production. 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 8, 1 and 6:30 p.m. April 9. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $33 to $78. — Sam Byrd

One of our favorite outdoor festivals returns to the area with more than 225 artists and exhibitors along the scenic pathways lining The Woodlands Waterway. This year's featured artist is Terrell Powell; he's the same artist who created the whimsical "Family" art bench near the water basin. He sticks to his Texas roots, delivering oils and acrylics that reflect his memories growing up in rural Texas, and has even started producing pieces made from cutout metal. There's a lot going on during the three-day The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, including a high-end Art Dash Party Friday night ($125 tickets benefit Because Art Matters), and returning Best of Show winners like 2D multimedia artist Jay Long (Austin), 3D multimedia artist Kimberly Merck-Moore (Hewitt) and photographer Greg Davis (Austin). 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 9. Along The Woodlands Waterway and in Town Green Park, 2099 Lake Robbins, The Woodlands. For information, visit woodlandsartsfestival.com. $15 to $17. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, April 10

It hasn’t happened in the National Football League or the National Hockey League. But it has during the last four U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, where there’s been a different champ each year since 2013. Instead of a near-dynasty à la the New England Patriots or the Chicago Blackhawks, John Isner, Fernando Verdasco, Jack Sock and defending champion Juan Monaco have all won the tennis tourney. All return in this year’s field, which also includes Tommy Haas, the 38-year-old German veteran who was tops in 2004. The 2017 edition features ten participants who have posted up in the top 25 in their careers, as well as four players who have been anointed as “next gen” talent by the Association of Tennis Professionals. 3 p.m. April 10. Also 10 a.m. April 8, 11 a.m. April 9, noon and 6 p.m. April 11-14, 1 and 6 p.m. April 15, 2 p.m. April 16. River Oaks Country Club, 1600 River Oaks. For information, call 713-527-0345 or visit mensclaycourt.com. $20 to $70. — Steve Jansen

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