In Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, lesbian author recounts her childhood, growing up with a funeral-director father who was afraid to come out.
In Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, lesbian author recounts her childhood, growing up with a funeral-director father who was afraid to come out.
Photo by Joan Marcus

21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Fun Home and the 150+ Beers at BrewFest

Tuesday, May 16

In 2006, Alison Bechdel, a lesbian cartoonist and author, wrote an autobiography in graphic-novel form about coming to terms with herself and her overbearing father, a closeted gay man in a small town in the 1970s when people weren’t so willing to declare their sexual orientation. Her father, Bruce, is an English teacher and operates the family business, a funeral home — which Alison and her brothers call Fun Home. With passages both poignant and humorous, Bechdel’s book was made into a musical that went on to win five Tony Awards in 2015, including Best Musical. Theatre Under the Stars brings that production (book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Jeanine Tesori) to Houston, starring former Miss America Kate Shindle as the adult Alison (who we also see as a young girl and a college student). Shindle says, “The show to me is about the fictionalized character version of Alison looking back at her life in the process of trying to write a book about her life and having to deal with her memories and experiences in a way that she didn’t expect to.” 7:30 p.m. May 16. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday May 28. May 16 through May 28. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $46.50 to $125. — Margaret Downing

Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and thumping beat in the latest from the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective. This time around the collaborative artists have invited Danielle Georgiou, a dance artist from Dallas, to provide the movement during the premiere of Freaks, Geeks, Beats and Feets or Feats; earlier this year Georgiou shocked Big D audiences with her sexy, nightmarish, Facebook feed-inspired War Flower performance piece. With sound and multi-media artist (and world-class photog) Lynn Lane at the helm, this time on guitar with a soupçon of electronics and field recordings, and joined by 3G Percussion (brothers Sarek, Jacob and Zach Gutierrez), the whole shebang comes alive with images from New York City film artist Ron Kiley. Get ready for an intense evening of improvisational art at this trendy downtown hot spot. 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 16. Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. $10 to $15. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, May 17

The RAW brand, an indie arts organization that works with up-and-comers during the first ten years of their creative careers, is in 70 different cities around the world. What makes Houston’s RAW artists stand out? “I love the energy. All the artists are extremely confident in the best way, and they’re not afraid of failing,” says Kimberly Barbosa, director of RAW: Houston, which throws the art-filled Verse party. There will be visual artists, photographers, accessory booths, musicians, dancers, comedians, fire breathers, LED light hula-hoopers, hair and makeup artists and, at the close of the eve, a fashion show. As far as an artist roster, there’s just too many to list in this modest space, but we can say that the event host, H-Town born-and-bred Pennie Anassi, will have her hands full with what Barbosa describes as a big ol’ one-night-only pop-up art gallery. 7 p.m. May 17. Stereo Live, 6400 Richmond. For information, call 832-251-9600 or visit rawartists.org/houston. $22-$30. —  Steve Jansen

Thursday, May 18

You know Cleo, but how about Hatshepsut, the woman who successfully ruled ancient Egypt as a king? How about Merneith, Sobekneferu or Twosret? The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston Society of the Archaeological Institute of America will present Mysteries and Myths of Egypt’s Female Kings, a lecture by UCLA’s premier Egyptologist, and late-night talk show regular, Dr. Kara Cooney, to make sure you do. “Why is a powerful woman threatening to people?” asks Becky Lao, AIA executive director. “We think the issues that we’re facing today are contemporary for us, but humans throughout time have faced these issues.” Lao sees her organization as a memory keeper for much of this lost history (Hatshepsut’s nephew, her successor, erased much of her legacy after her death), which reminds us that victors write the stories and, even in today’s political world, memory can still be deliberately erased. 6:30 p.m. May 18. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

The fourth wall comes crashing down and Shakespeare might just turn over in his grave before it's all over and done. Intrepid Fringe recognized that the Bard's Measure for Measure, with its many references to human bondage, was actually the first "50 Shades of Shakespeare," and they're giving the classic lust triangle of Duke Vincentio, Lord Angelo and Isabella a modern twist with Steampunk garb, a soundtrack inspired by Nine Inch Nails and television's Mad Men, and acted out in the Makeshift Theatre at The Black Labrador Pub. In what they're labeling "meta-cognitive theater," audience members become characters in the play (spect-actors) in this fast-paced tale of burning lust. 7:30 p.m. May 18. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and May 28. May 18 through June 10. 4100 Montrose. For information, call 830-370-5907 or visit intrepidfringe.com. $20 to $35. — Susie Tommaney

We got a glimpse of Daughters of the Moon, a new work by playwright Reginald Edmund and the first of a series of nine plays in his City of the Bayou collection, when The Landing Theatre Company held a staged reading a couple of years ago. Now the story of a runaway slave girl and a former plantation mistress (and accused murderer), fleeing for the safety of the North and guided by an ancient African goddess, is making its world premiere courtesy of the TSU Players Alumni Association. Timothy Eric directed that 2015 staged reading and he's directing again, this time at the historic Fifth Ward venue, The DeLuxe Theater. 7:30 p.m. May 18. Continuing 7:30 p.m. May 19, 2 and 8 p.m. May 20, 3 p.m. May 21. 3303 Lyons. For information, call 713-581-4846 or visit thedeluxetheater.tix.com. $5 to $15. — Susie Tommaney

There should be surpluses of inspiration for the participating designers of Fashion Fusion, considering the heft of the “Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuba Art Since 1950” exhibition. The fashion show — a co-production of exhibition host Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Houston Community College — will be inspired by “Adiós Utopia,” which is the first showing of modern and contemporary Cuban art since the 1940s in the United States. As Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham curator of Latin American art, points out, this is one of the first instances of a major U.S. institution working with Cuba since diplomatic relations were re-established in 2015. Ramírez adds, “Social justice, history, sports and art had an important role…but design wasn’t necessarily developed during the time of the Cuban revolution. It will be very interesting to see what the [fashion-show designers] come up with.” 7 p.m. May 18. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free to $25. — Steve Jansen

Friday, May 19

Poor Brahms. Unlike his contemporaries who started writing in their childhoods and in their twenties, he didn’t compose his first symphony until he was in his mid-forties. Plus, his most famous work is used to help babies doze off at night, yet the Houston Symphony’s Shaham Plus Brahms is shaping up to be no snoozer. First the orchestra will play Schumann’s Overture to Genoveva, op. 81. Then violinist Gil Shaham will take us on a thrill ride in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in g minor, op. 63, which darts between melody, mischief and mystery. Finally, guest conductor Marc Albrecht will wrap up the season with Brahms’s heroic Symphony No. 1 in c minor, op. 68, which showcases the swelling music and thunderous battle between the string, woodwind and percussion sections. 8 p.m. May 19-20, 2:30 p.m. May 21. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $136. — Sam Byrd

Brother-and-sister hoofers Derek and Julianne Hough were on the go last year: Between her stint as Sandy in Grease: Live and his turn in Hairspray Live!, the talented duo never stopped moving. Now the two-time professional champion of Dancing With the Stars is sitting in as a judge for season 24 (Mr. T had heart and warmth but couldn’t go the distance) and reteaming with six-time champ Derek for the 46-city Move — Beyond — Live On Tour. Houston audiences get to see this rock concert for dance when it stops in Sugar Land. “We had Dancing With The Stars about a month and a half ago and it was a sold-out show. Really fantastic,” says Andrew Huang, director of marketing for host venue Smart Financial Centre. He labels the Houghs’ choreography “high-energy” and says their tour is based on the elements of earth, wind, fire and water. 8 p.m. May 19. 18111 Lexington Boulevard, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $55 to $300. — Susie Tommaney

Friday marks the opener of a short four-game run against York Revolution, pitting the Sugar Land Skeeters against the steely-eyed gaze of The Rev's eagle. One of our favorite things about Constellation Field (besides Swatson) is that it lets us customize the fan experience. Get all fancy with the $55 tickets in the Imperial Box and bask in air-conditioned glory while noshing on the fabulous buffet. Or bring all the kids and chow down on the barbecue buffet in the Wells Fargo Picnic Pavilion while the rugrats splash around in the pool. If you're trying to eke out those last few days till payday, bring your lawn chairs and blankets and do it up casual on the lawn. Let's put the bite on this yankee team and be sure to stay for the postgame fireworks on Friday. 7:05 p.m. May 19. Continuing 12:05 and 6:05 p.m. May 20, 2:05 p.m. May 21. Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-240-4487 or visit sugarlandskeeters.com. $8 to $55. — Susie Tommaney

BrewFest 2016 revelers. We're doing it again this Saturday at Silver Street Station.
BrewFest 2016 revelers. We're doing it again this Saturday at Silver Street Station.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

Saturday, May 20

Beer is pretty cool. When the Houston Press and Lucky’s Pub team up (sorry/not sorry, but we’re going to brag a little bit), brewski becomes nuclear-level lit and insanely cool. The sixth annual Houston Press BrewFest, presented by Whole Foods Market, will feature new participants Cedar Creek Brewery, Locust Cider and Revolver Brewing, as well as top-shelf brewmeisters such as Buffalo Bayou, Independence, Austin Eastciders, Guinness, Ballast Point, Deep Ellum, 8th Wonder, Founders, Odell and Stone. The vibe is chill, so tip back from your choice of more than 150 varieties of suds during this indoor/outdoor beer-sampling extravaganza; food trucks and live music will be there too. All tickets come with eight three-ounce beer samplings, with the opportunity to purchase more tickets. Requirements include being at least 21 years of age (duh) and having fun. 3 to 7 p.m. May 20. Silver Street Station, 1500 Silver. For information, visit brewfest.com. $30 to $55. — Steve Jansen

Adam and Eve fell from Heaven because of one. Paula Abdul had a cold-hearted one. Samuel L. Jackson famously exclaimed he was tired of seeing them on planes. Yet the Houston Arboretum says snakes don’t necessarily deserve the bad rap people give them. Make your way down to the nature preserve to get up close with our serpent friends for Arboretum at Night: Snakes. All things that slither aren’t necessarily evil, says the center’s Christine Mansfield, marketing and development associate. “They’re just as scared of you as you are of them,” she explains. “It will be very controlled. It’s a very safe environment.” The jury is still out if we’re willing to hold a snake…but we trust that the folks at the arboretum know what they’re doing. The complimentary Saint Arnold beer, Katz Coffee and light snacks along the trail walk can’t hurt either. 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. May 20. 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit houstonarboretum.org. $30 to $45. — Sam Byrd

It’s Ireland’s version of a boy band, but instead of aging out when their voices change, the Irish female vocalists in this revolving-door lineup must sing like an angel and play an instrument. “It’s really for anybody who enjoys Irish music. That’s something that we care about. We have a lot of followers who are Irish or that’s their heritage,” says Máiréad Carlin, part of the current quartet. She says Celtic Woman, Voices of Angels is also for anybody who loves bagpipe music, dancing, percussion, drumming, piano and bouzouki: “We all play instruments onstage.” They’ll perform “Danny Boy” and “Amazing Grace,” plus traditional Irish music and even some new songs from their chart-topping Voices of Angels and Destiny albums. Carlin says she loves Texas and California (the group’s next stop) and is looking forward to some good old Texas barbecue while in town. 7:30 p.m. May 20. Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.net. $49 to $81.50. — Susie Tommaney

It was a lightning-in-a-bottle moment. June Christensen, CEO of Society for the Performing Arts, spotted New York-based choreographer Jessica Lang about five years ago in New York. “I was at [festival] Jacob’s Pillow that summer and Jessica was making her opera directorial debut, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, at Glimmerglass,” recalls Christensen. Recognizing something extraordinary, Christensen invited Jessica Lang Dance to Houston. Saturday marks SPA’s second visit by the company, this time with an interesting Houston twist: Tesseracts of Time, which makes its Texas premiere, is a dance for architecture, co-commissioned by SPA, with massive sets designed by Steven Holl Architects. (In his spare time, Holl is busy putting his stamp on the MFAH’s campus expansion.) Christensen tells us that Holl will also discuss his collaboration at 7 p.m. May 19 at MFAH ($5 to $10). 8 p.m. May 20. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $43 to $103. — Susie Tommaney

Save on airfare, and hear some of Britain’s best pop tunes right in your own Houston backyard as the Music Box Theatre presents Across the Pond. “It’s a New York-style cabaret show with nonstop music!” says Music Box founding cast member Brad Scarborough. “There’s no script, so maybe we’ll talk a little bit about the song or the artist, or just make fun of each other. We’re just having a good time up there.” And Scarborough claims audiences can expect a wide range of genres. “It’s stuff you’d hear on the radio, sure. But it’s also jazz, rock and roll, folk — and all different decades, from 1950 to now,” he says. So if you couldn’t afford tickets to Adele last year, or just want to hear the hits of Queen, Elton John, Amy Winehouse and the Stones in person, Scarborough and co-stars Rebekah Dahl, Cay Taylor, Kristina Sullivan and Luke Wrobel will be belting through June. 7:30 p.m. May 20. Continuing Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. June 11. Through June 24. 2623 Colquitt. For information, call 281-513-1504 or visit themusicboxtheater.com. $27 to $37. — Vic Shuttee

Tetris still holds the No. 1 spot, but Minecraft comes in a close second with more than 121 million copies sold of this standalone world-building video game. Now über-fans can dress up as their favorite characters and meet Minecraft YouTube stars (Wizard Keen, Tomohawk, Iron Mango and more), compete in gaming arenas, explore virtual reality opportunities and help build a massive LEGO mosaic of a Minecraft creeper when Minefaire makes its Houston debut. Be on the lookout for swag; shop the marketplace for new, rare and custom Minecraft items; and pick the brains of Minecraft experts and mentors. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 20-21. NRG Center, One NRG Park. For information, call 1-866-442-4433 or visit minefaire.com. $10 to $297. — Susie Tommaney

Like many reality shows, contestants will be forced to make a masterpiece while racing against the clock, but in this case audience members are the judges and the work of art is poetry. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg believed that the first thought was the best thought and, following that thread, local writers will be challenged to come up with an insta-poem inspired by the artwork on display at RockStar Gallery. Unleash your inner critic and decide how well they channeled the essence of the paintings, if the poem has legs, and help declare the winner during Spontaneous Combustion: An Art Show with Ekphrastic Poetry. 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 20. 5700 Northwest Central #160. For information, call 832-868-0242 or visit stateoftheartshows.com/rockstar-art-gallery. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Sunday, May 21

What is it about fence lines that drives people so crazy? It doesn’t have to be big walls stretching thousands of miles across a country; the lines of demarcation between two households, such as in playwright Karen Zacarias’s Native Gardens, make otherwise rational people behave, well, less than their best. Zacarias’s comedy takes on race, immigration and stereotyping in a way that, without sermonizing, shows how ridiculous most of us can be at times. Tania and Pablo, married up-and-comers in their thirties, have moved into a mostly white neighborhood. Tania, a Ph.D. student, is from New Mexico; Pablo, an attorney in a big firm, is from Chile. Next door are Frank and Virginia, she an engineer and he a consultant for “the agency,” who sees his new neighbors as “Mexican.” His obsession with his garden and landscaping puts him at direct odds with Tania, who finds it absurd and ecologically unsound that he’s cultivating an English garden in mid-Atlantic America — and tells him so. Playwright Zacarias says her 90-minute one-act is a rollicking ride. “It’s like a rolling train. You won’t know what hit you.” She says the ending is hopeful and surprising. “This is not about people you dislike doing horrible things. You go back and forth about who’s right, but the person you’re really judging is yourself.” 7:30 p.m. May 20. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. May 20 through June 11. Main Street Theater — Rice Village, 2540 Times. For information call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $36 to $45. — Margaret Downing

The man of La Mancha returns! As part of Ars Lyrica’s Fables & Follies season, Don Quixote’s Excellent Adventures offers a patchwork of medleys created in celebration of the famed fictional explorer. “Last year was the 400th anniversary of Cervantes’s death — so there’s been a lot of Don Quixote in the air,” explains Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica’s artistic director. “I sat down with all the music the novel’s inspired over time, and came up with a program that explores themes prominent in the text.” Among the performers will be guitarist Richard Savino, who is “known for his extensive Spanish repertoire,” alongside soprano Dominique McCormick. As for Quixote himself, Dirst offers theories on his enduring popularity: “Cervantes serves him up with a delicious dose of irony. Pieces like [’60s musical] Man of La Mancha have perpetuated his reputation, and one of the reasons he’s such a strong literary character is the fact that he’s so hapless. It’s pathetic, and hilariously funny at the same time.” 6 p.m. May 21. 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2400 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $39 to $65. — Vic Shuttee

The talented warblers over at Bayou City Concert Musicals are at it again, this time with the timeless classics of Duke Ellington. Houston legend Rob Landes plays host and music director for this popular cabaret series, featuring some of the jazz great's most popular and influential works, including “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” “Satin Doll,” Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Sophisticated Lady” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.” With vocals by Anthony Boggess-Glover, Regina Hearne, Danica Dawn Johnston and Joel Sandel, Elegant Ellington definitely has that swing. 7:30 p.m. May 20, 4 p.m. May 21, 7:30 p.m. May 22. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, call 713-465-6484 or visit bayoucityconcertmusicals.org. $35. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, May 22

Much as Strauss utilized wind and thunder machines to convey the ambience of An Alpine Symphony, composer Kurt Stallmann is incorporating extra-musical elements into the language of his new site-specific work, Trajectory of a Curve, created for the James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University — except instead of nature, they’re of Houston. “[Rice is] really in the center of the city, so everywhere you go you’re going to hear the din of traffic,” says Stallmann. “That’s part of the world we live in.” While traversing the “curve,” a reference to Carl Jung’s lifespan parabola, Stallmann uses not only rush-hour traffic, but also rakes on the pebbled sidewalks and maybe a helicopter overhead or a nearby soccer game. Since sound is transmitted through the roof, it’s possible to hear both as soprano Alexandra Smither and percussion duo Scuffed Shoe perform, but “that’s our life experience,” says Stallmann. 8:30 p.m. May 21-22. 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-8000 or visit skyspace.rice.edu. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

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