21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Margaritaville and Slam Poetry

October 31
Whatever the dearly departed will find upon ascending to heaven has been debated for centuries, but in Jimmy Buffett’s universe there’s one non-negotiable component. As any good Parrothead knows, that’s cheeseburgers. The freewheeling touring musical Escape to Margaritaville is on its way to the Hobby Center, brought here by Broadway Across America, with hopes of making it to a Broadway stage. There’s a story with it too: Alison Luff (Fantine in Broadway’s revival of Les Misérables) plays Rachel, a workaholic environmental scientist who discovers there’s other more important things in life to not worry about. Luff, who grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Klein Collins High School before moving to New York City, says the show has a wide generational appeal. “There’s definitely lines and innuendos that Parrotheads will get. And just the recognition of the songs and the freedom for the audience to sing along and not take the show too seriously and enjoy themselves,” she says. Before their show in La Jolla, California, people tailgated outside the theater, she says. Houston bartenders might want to take notice and lay in a stock of rum and tequila for the six-day Houston run. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. November 1, 2 and 5; 8 p.m. November 3 and 4; 2 p.m. November 4 and 5. October 31 through November 5. Hobby Center For the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $35-$165. – Margaret Downing

What better way to celebrate the news that John Carpenter is returning to the franchise that introduced the world to Michael Myers, launched a new generation of slasher flicks and exemplifies the most creative use of a William Shatner mask ever seen on film then making the trip out to Miller Outdoor Theatre and watching Halloween on the holiday it’s named for? Enjoy Carpenter’s 1978 film, about Michael’s return to Haddonfield fifteen years after murdering his sister, while keeping in mind that Carpenter is on board to serve as creative consultant and executive producer on the next installment from director David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. Oh, and Jamie Lee Curtis is returning to the role of Laurie Strode. Pencil it in for 2018. 8 p.m. Tuesday. 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. – Natalie de la Garza

If you’ve long since grown bored with hook-handed men stalking teens on Lovers Lane, yawn at the realization the killer is in the house or swear you’ll scream – and not in terror – if you hear “it was a dark and stormy night” one more time, then Misnomers’s Ghost Stories: A Night of Horror is where you want to be this Halloween. The Rec Room’s resident theater group will take a break from their popular "They Read from a Script" series to celebrate the occasion with a night of ghost stories presented by a group of actors including Sara Becker and Jim Johnson, both of whom have extensive experience in vocal training and will lend their special talents to the evening. Be sure to come in costume to enter the costume contest – prizes are sure to be spooktacular! 8 p.m. Tuesday. 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomarts.org or facebook.com/events/1772013153095825. $10. – Natalie de la Garza

November 1
For artist Clemente Garcia Lassaulx, the creative process begins with an original score. “I write music, write down the chords and notes,” says Lassaulx. It is only then that the painting begins, fusing shapes and colors to create oils and acrylics with strong composition and harmony. About 30 of his works are on display in "It's Not a Dream," his first show at The Jung Center. Lassaulx says he came up with the title when pressed to explain the meaning of his art. “No, no, no. This is not a dream. My show is not a dream because I can explain perfectly. Everything is real.” There’s an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. November 4 where Lassaulx will share his technique. 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Continuing 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. November 1 through December 19. The Jung Center, 5200 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-8253 or visit junghouston.org. Free. – Susie Tommaney

November 2
Imagine a theatrical choose-your-own-adventure novel — that’s not far from the premise of Cone Man Running’s new play festival The Five Minute Mile, which features the written contributions of six Houstonians, including Fernando Dovalina, Arthur Jolly and Bryan Maynard. “We put out a national call for monologues and plays,” says producer Michael Weems. “And we pared that down to 32. Eight plays are guaranteed every night, then six are picked out of a hat and the other six are voted on by the audience.” The play that most excites Weems, though, is likewise homegrown. “I’m biased a little, but Christine, my wife, has a play in here that’s fascinating — it’s a hybrid monologue-play called The Toasts, as in a wedding toast. It alternates between the Maid of Honor and The Best Man, and it gets out of hand!” 8 p.m. Thursday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 8 p.m. November 6 and 12. Beacon Theatre, 5102 Navigation. November 2 through 18. For information, visit conemanprod.com or call 281-972-5897. $15 to $20. – Vic Shuttee

Just four months after a successful run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Obsidian Theatre has joined forces with Rich's Nightclub to remount the show at the popular nightclub with director Chris Patton returning to head the production and Blake Jackson stepping back into the role of Hedwig, which won him the Houston Press's Theater Award for Best Breakthrough. John Cameron Mitchell’s rock musical features a botched sex change operation, the Berlin Wall and plenty of great songs, but its message about finding yourself is what resonated with Houstonians once and is sure to do so again. Doors open at 7 p.m., a full bar is available and all audience members are invited to stay after with cover charges waived. 8 p.m. Thursday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and November 13. November 2 through November 18. 2401 San Jacinto. For information, call 832-889-7837 or visit richsnightclub.com. $15 to $35. – Natalie de la Garza

November 3
Five theater companies with diverse styles and interests — The Landing Theatre, The Ensemble Theatre, Wordsmyth and new additions Mildred’s Umbrella and Luciole International — will join Next Iteration for this year’s edition of ReadFest Houston, a biennial opportunity to present free staged readings of new and new-to-Houston works. Dianne K. Webb, artistic director of ReadFest organizer Next Iteration, says that staged readings are particularly unique in their intimacy. “When you put the script with nothing else in the mouths of actors and you let them do what they do best, which is act, you bring to life the story in a way that is very raw and very basic and very real,” says Webb. “There’s something very magical about a reading.” 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday. Also 7 p.m. November 2; 1, 4 and 8 p.m. November 4. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit readfesthouston.com. Free. – Natalie de la Garza

From zero to sizzling hot in under three minutes, French-Argentine singer/composer Carlos Gardel was a master at turning out tango recordings, resulting in several classics with longtime collaborator Alfredo Le Pera. But the baritone flew too close to the sun and died in an airplane crash in 1935, transforming into an archetypal tragic hero for Latin Americans. Now the sultry dancers of Tango Buenos Aires are celebrating his life in The Spirit of Argentina, presented in Houston by Society for the Performing Arts. The all-new program includes the collaborators’ romantic waltz, Loves of a Student, and a Broadway-style fox-trot with Blondes in New York. The show’s dynamic closer with full company follows Astor Piazzolla’s The death of an angel about Gardel’s tragic death. Turn this one into date night with free tango lessons from 6 to 8 p.m., or check out next-gen dancers at 7:25 p.m. when the Feijoo Ballet School performs a pre-show Broadway review. 8 p.m. Friday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $34 to $94. – Susie Tommaney

For two years, between 1938 and 1940, the general consul at the Chinese embassy in Vienna, Ho Feng Shan, issued thousands of visas to European Jews, allowing them to flee Nazi-occupied Austria for Shanghai against the direct orders of his superiors. The efforts of the “Chinese Schindler” went unknown for years, until his daughter uncovered Ho’s wartime activities after his death. For writer-director René Balcer’s documentary, Above the Drowning Sea, Balcer recruited Julianna Margulies and Tony Goldwyn to narrate Ho’s story, with footage shot in six countries over four continents and interviews from both Jewish refugees and the Chinese residents of Shanghai. Asia Society Texas Center will screen the film Friday with a reception beginning at 6 p.m., the film at 7 p.m. and a Q&A with Balcer and co-executive producer, Carolyn Hsu-Balcer, to follow. 7 p.m. Friday. 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713-496-9901 or visit asiasociety.org/texas. $5 to $10. – Natalie de la Garza

The cream will rise to the top, and Houston's best storyteller is about to be crowned in the ultimate battle of wits and words. For ten grueling rounds of StorySLAM we've witnessed dramatic storytelling — sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking — and now the winners from those ten rounds are competing for the title of GrandSLAM Champion with a brand new story in Out On a Limb: The Moth GrandSLAM. Come hear these champs tell heart-stopping stories about taking chances, whether they aimed for the moon or crashed and burned. The GrandSLAM was originally scheduled for September but cancelled and rescheduled due to Hurricane Harvey, so ten percent of the proceeds from the evening will be donated to the Mayor’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. 7:30 p.m. Friday. Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston, 4300 University. For information, visit themoth.org/events/out-on-a-limb-1. $18 to $25. – Susie Tommaney

Like most people, you’ve probably fantasized about what it would be like to ride in a hot air balloon, but know that your mild case of acrophobia will keep your feet firmly on the ground. But, at Balloonapalooza Fall Fest, you can choose to float through the sky by doing the traditional ascension ride or get the feel of it while tethered to Earth, rising up about 50 to 70 feet in the air and then coming back down. If it’s all too much, just enjoy the food, arts and crafts, carnival, music and “Glow Show.” The $75 VIP Package, which includes admission for one, a tethered balloon ride, meal, non-alcoholic beverages, free parking, private restroom facilities, and access to a special VIP tent. 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and November 4; 4 to 10 p.m. November 5. Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, visit balloonapaloozatour.com/sugar-land. Free to $75. – Natalie de la Garza

A new champion will be crowned at The Moth GrandSLAM on Friday.EXPAND
A new champion will be crowned at The Moth GrandSLAM on Friday.
Photo by Denise Ofelia Mangen

November 4
With a title like this, what else do you need? Horse Head Theatre honcho Philip Hays admits that when he stumbled upon a script titled The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: Youth Is Not The Only Thing That Is Sonic, by Toshiki Okada, he felt compelled to give it a read. “I was intrigued, and the play certainly is as enigmatic as the title suggests. It is not a very straightforward story (but in some ways it is), but the title has these implications on sonic life, meaning fast, but the tortoise is obviously slow — so there’s something very oxymoronic, at odds throughout the whole play. It’s a bit of a puzzle.” In this translated text by Aya Ogawa, Hayes explains the show as a “stream-of-consciousness exploration of feelings, acted out in a non-realistic way.” 8 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays though Saturdays; 8 p.m. November 6 and 13. November 2 though 18. Near Northside Studios, 1506 Lorraine. For more information, call 832-786-0944 or visit horseheadtheatre.org. $15 to 45. – Vic Shuttee

What happens after happily ever after? Apparently that’s when things get really interesting, or so goes the plot of Norm Foster’s farcical A Snow White Christmas. “Technically it’s Snow White in the later years after she introduces her husband to Cinderella and he leaves her,” says Judy Reeves, who directs the production for Theatre Suburbia. “Instead of seven little guys, she’s taking in wayward youth.” Reeves tells us it’s hilariously well-written and that the mature dialogue will flow past kids’ ears. The theater is also partnering with the Houston chapter of the National Leather Association in a toy drive, collecting new and unwrapped toys or cash (no guns). So whether you like your drama vanilla or prefer to dabble in leather and fetish, there’s something for everybody in this modern-day comedy. 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. November 19 and 26. November 3 through December 2. 4106 Way Out West Drive. For information, call 713-682-3525 or visit theatresuburbia.org. $13 to $16. – Susie Tommaney

Celebrate the art of poetry and dance at the Women on the Bayou Poetry Slam, presented by Savannah Blue Arts & Outreach. Hosted by Austin's Tova Charles, this unique event will feature 20 of the best women poets from across the country and as far away as Kenya, including Houston's own Anacristina Chapa, Marie Brown, Chris Crawford, Rayla Crawford, Erica Nicole and Rain the Poet. BgirlCity, an all-female breakdancing group, will be a special guest and a portion of proceeds will go directly to families affected by Hurricane Harvey. If you’re not convinced, check out Dominique Christina’s "The Period Poem" or Jennifer Falu's "10 Things I Want to Say to a Black Man" – both of whom will be at the slam – on YouTube for just a taste of what you can expect. 7 p.m. Saturday. Wilhelmina Cullen Robertson Auditorium, University of Houston - Downtown, One Main. For information, visit savannahblue.org. Free to $30. – Natalie de la Garza

David McGee’s works are ensconced in the now. Though his inspirations might reach across the pop culture and art spectrums, they take piercing looks at what it means to be black in America. "The Telling and the Told: The Art of David McGee," a selection of his works from the 1990s, is his first solo outing at the Houston Museum of African-American Culture after successful turns at art houses throughout the city he calls home. “My art isn’t about the African-American experience; it’s a study of the human experience,” McGee has said about his work. Still, to see black and brown faces in his most appreciated works, whether painted or on paper, is a given. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays. November 4 through January 12. 4807 Caroline. For information, call 713-526-1015 or visit hmaac.org. Free. – Camilo Hannibal Smith

November 5
NASA insider Sue Garman had a head for numbers and space, but in her free time the Johnson Space Center exec explored the universe of her imagination with complex, intricately pieced quilts. She died not long after her husband, NASA engineer Jack Gorman, but her 40-year legacy of quilt-making is on display during this year’s International Quilt Festival Houston. “Her daughter is very involved with the project and most of her friends are the quilt guardians of the show, with the white gloves,” says Bob Ruggiero, director of publications for organizer Quilts, Inc. (and, full disclosure, a regular Houston Press freelancer). “The other big exhibit is the HERstory exhibit. There’s a quilt of Queen Elizabeth, Malala, Nina Simone, Gloria Steinem.” Ruggiero says pictorial quilts are big these days, including one of a show-stopping, colorful iguana by Danny Amazonas. 10 a.m. to to 4 p.m. Sunday. Also 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. November 2, 3 and 4. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, call 713-781-6864 or visit quilts.com. Free to $12. – Susie Tommaney

Lincoln and Booth, as you’ve never seen them before. Starring graduate actors Derrick Moore and Yao Dogbe, Suzan Lori-Parks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Topdog/Underdog at UH’s Quintero Theatre should shock your system. “In our current political climate, we are constantly inundated with stories of interracial tension,” says director Dr. Matthieu Chapman. “I believe that what is lost in the conversations on race is that blackness can and does exist independently of whiteness.” UH School of Theatre & Dance Director Robert Shimko adds that while two-actor shows in a university setting are “uncommon,” Chapman’s direction and Lori-Parks’s text seemed like a powerful combination: “Her plays certainly tackle big and enduring themes in a very original ways,” Shimko says. “She’ll likely leave an important artistic legacy for some time — and who knows what other masterpieces she may yet write.” 2 p.m. Sunday. Also 8 p.m. November 3 and 4, 6, and 8-11; 2 p.m. November 12. November 3 through 12. 3351 Cullen. For more information, call 713-743-2929 or visit uh.edu/theatre-and-dance. $10 to 20. – Vic Shuttee

November 6
Novelist Claire Messud explores the power of friendship in her latest, The Burning Girl, a coming-of-age story that’s different from previous hits like The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor's Children. Rich Levy, executive director of Inprint, tells us it’s a terrific read about a woman looking back at her childhood and teen years. “There’s an expression somewhere that I read that the first person who will break a young girl’s heart is another girl,” says Levy, who adds that themes of friendship — the making and losing of a friend — are universal. Joining Messud at the next Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series is Jennifer Egan, who also veered from the formula with her new historical novel, Manhattan Beach, set in the 1930s and ’40s, about the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s first female diver. University of Houston professor Chitra Divakaruni moderates the onstage interview; a book sale and signing follows. 7:30 p.m. Monday. Stude Concert Hall, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713?521?2026 or visit inprinthouston.org. $5. – Susie Tommaney

Best-selling author and humorist David Sedaris returns for his annual visit to Society for the Performing Arts, this time with stories from his latest book, Theft By Finding Diaries. The audience will surely soak up his bizarre, candid takes on real life and his mastery of satire. “David Sedaris is truly unique,” says SPA CEO June Christensen. “There’s nothing like David. His stories are straight out of fantasy to [the point] you can’t believe it’s David’s reality, but that’s how interesting he is. At SPA, we’re so happy to have him on an annual basis. We always think, ‘Will the audience return again?’ And we’re always at capacity.” There you have it, folks…grab your tickets now or else wait another year. 8 p.m. Monday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $29 to $79. – Sam Byrd

In 1964, Jim Thompson was captured by the Viet Cong and held prisoner for the next 3,278 days. When the longest-held POW in U.S. history was released in 1973, he had missed almost nine years with his wife and four children, not to mention everything from the civil rights movement and women’s liberation to Beatlemania and the Summer of Love. “He doesn’t recognize the world,” says Carleen Graham, the director of Houston Grand Opera’s community outreach arm, HGOco. “He literally doesn’t recognize it.” HGOco will present Thompson’s story, dramatized in Tom Cipullo’s chamber opera Glory Denied, as part of its Veterans Songbook project, a multi-year initiative highlighting the courage, strength and sacrifice of service members. “[The story is] very human,” says Graham, “the good, the bad, the joyous, the ugly.” 7:30 p.m. Monday and November 9. 1940 Air Terminal Museum, 8325 Travelair. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $40. – Natalie de la Garza

Karen Zacarías is a name Houston theater-goers will surely recognize; Main Street Theater produced the playwright’s Native Gardens to rave reviews just this past spring. But Zacarías made national headlines back in September when, in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), she waived the rights to her play Just Like Us for any organization that wanted to stage a reading – an offer Rogue Productions and 50 Playwrights Project happily accepted. Based on Helen Thorpe’s Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America, the documentary-style play follows four teenagers – two documented and two not – as their immigration status begins to dictate their opportunities at the same time a police officer is killed by someone undocumented, complicating life even more. 7 p.m. Monday. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 832-370-1815 or visit rogueproductionshtx.com. Free. – Natalie de la Garza

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