21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Yes Men and the Texas Artist of the Year

Tuesday, September 19

That man in the gray suit may not be exactly who you think he is — he may be a Yes Man. Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, guests of honor at UH’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts’ annual Artist Lecture, will speak about employing humor as a form of activism. Using the tools of identity thieves as a means to mock the corrupt and powerful, the Yes Men have produced three documentaries about their long cons; they also run a nonprofit, Yes Lab. The Yes Men enjoy bragging on targets, including former President George W. Bush, who called them both “garbagemen” in 2000, and the World Trade Organization, which once dubbed them “deplorable.” The duo seems content to be on the side of the little guy and not The Man. 7 p.m. Tuesday. 3351 Cullen Boulevard. For information, call 713-743-2255 or visit mitchellcenterforarts.org. Free. — Vic Shuttee

The University of Houston Moores Opera Center makes its fall return to the Duck for What's Opera, Duck?, a night of fundraising, arias and a few musical theater selections thrown in for good measure. Program director (and the evening’s emcee) Buck Ross will gather up a group of his grad students for the cabaret, which is sure to feature numbers from their upcoming 2017-18 opera season, including Sergei Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, based on a play by Carlo Gozzi that involves a witch and a man cursed to search the world looking for princesses inside oranges; Pietro Mascagni's L’amico Fritz, about a man whose bet that he'll never marry gets a little complicated when he meets his tenant's daughter; and Gioacchino Rossini’s ever-popular The Italian Girl in Algiers. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. For information, call 713-528-5999 or visit mcgonigels.com. $20 to $22. — Natalie de la Garza

Wednesday, September 20

E.T. come home? Yes. For two nights only, the 1982 Steven Spielberg classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is back on the big screen for its 35th anniversary and, of course, to inspire an entire new generation of youngsters to look at Reese’s Pieces in a whole new light. Thanks to Fathom Events’ partnership with TCM Big Screen Classics, the highest-grossing movie of the 1980s is returning to theaters digitally projected in its original aspect ratio with specially produced, behind-the-scenes insights by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. With a delectable score by John Williams, the film debut of young Drew Barrymore and that iconic shot of the bike flying past the moon, E.T. is good family fun that hasn’t aged a wink. 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday. Edwards Marq*E, 7600 Katy Freeway. 844-462-7342. Price varies by location; visit fathomevents.com for participating venues. $13.53. — Vic Shuttee

Pulitzer finalist Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, Gruesome Playground Injuries) has returned to the Alley Theatre with a play unlike any he’s ever done before, he says. Describe the Night starts with Russian author and journalist Isaac Babel (Red Cavalry) in 1920, travels with a KGB agent to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and rounds out the three-plays-in-one with the 2010 airplane crash in Russia of a plane carrying several members of the Polish government. And somehow, the seven men and women in the play are connected through time. “In spite of it being this kind of lengthy play about Russia and Poland and Communism, it’s not a history lesson. I’m certainly playing with the facts and mythology and rumor and conspiracy theories. And it’s also entertainment,” says Joseph. “There’s comedy in it. There’s love and sex in it.” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 2:30 p.m.; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. September 15 through October 15. Because of damage done to the Alley Theatre during Hurricane Harvey, performances have been moved to the University of Houston’s Quintero Theatre. 3351 Cullen. For information, visit alleytheatre.org. $35 to $75. — Margaret Downing

Thursday, September 21

What would you do if you won $337 million? Cassie and Kurt, the middle-aged couple who hit the jackpot in David L. Williams’s The Winners, hire an escort, but their night of fantasy fulfillment quickly takes a dark turn. Director Lindsay Boyd says though the play is a warning against letting money go to your head, it’s also commentary on people’s tendency to be blinded by insignificant things, which allows them to treat others poorly. “I want people to leave feeling like this is something that exists, this is a problem that exists that people aren’t paying attention to, that people just let slide because they’re Southern, or they’re white, or that’s just how they were raised.” 8 p.m. Thursday. Continuing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and September 25; 3 p.m. October 1. September 21 through October 7. Beacon Theatre, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 281-972-5897 or visit conemanrunning.com. $15 to $20. — Natalie de la Garza

Friday, September 22

Let’s see. There’s sex, violence, drugs, obsession and insanity — all set to the powerful choreography of Sir Kenneth MacMillan with music by Liszt. Mayerling tells the story of Crown Prince Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his 17-year-old mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera. The couple’s deaths in 1889, an apparent murder-suicide pact whose causes were first covered up, later scandalized the world and have been the subject of speculation for years. Houston Ballet will perform the three-act ballet’s North American debut, with Principal Connor Walsh dancing the physically demanding lead role on opening night. “Not only is it sort of a nonstop role — in the first act he’s onstage nearly the whole time — and he also has a lot of different relationships: a pas de deux with his mother, a pas de deux with his wife, with his mistress, his wife’s sister; he actually has two mistresses, so he has five pas de deux during the whole ballet, on top of some some solos and ensemble work,” says Walsh, adding that he feels incredibly honored to perform the work. Because of hurricane-related damage to the ballet’s home stage at the Wortham Theater Center, there were fears Mayerling would be canceled, but the Hobby Center opened its doors and the dancers will be onstage at Sarofim Hall. 7:30 p.m. Friday. Also 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. September 23; 2 p.m. September 24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $30 to $135. — Margaret Downing

Even though the Theater District took on serious water during Hurricane Harvey, Ars Lyrica’s season opener, Sweet Philomela, will still fill the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall with compositions by Handel, Mozart, Bach, Hasse and Telemann. “We’re still thrilled it is going to happen,” says Executive Director Kinga Skretkowicz-Ferguson. “The Hobby Center took some floodwater damage, but they’ve been working tirelessly, drying everything off. It’s really a miracle the damages weren’t that extensive.” Taking the theme of “Artful Women,” this one-night-only affair stars soprano Sherezade Panthaki and glass-harmonica virtuoso Dennis James. Invoking the music lover of Greek myth who lends the evening its name, Skretkowicz-Ferguson adds, “The Philomela and the nightingale are an inspiration to many composers, as the sorrowful transformation into a bird speaks more than words.” 7:30 p.m. Friday. 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit arslyricahouston.com. $33 to $55. — Vic Shuttee

It will be a show honoring the best in the great state of Texas, and Trenton Doyle Hancock had it coming. He’s an artist who reached his midcareer point with all the honors due someone who draws, paints and sculpts the way he does. Not only does his work speak to the experience of the black diaspora, but it’s deeply woven into the fabric of pop culture and avant-garde cartoons. “I’ve always owned my position as political figure; the black body is politicized, even though I’m speaking a universal language. The work helps me get through the day,” Hancock says. The 2017 Texas Artist of the Year Exhibition: TEXAS: 1997-2017 Trenton Doyle Hancock opens with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, with an introduction by Glassell School of Art director Joseph Havel at 6:30 p.m. Continuing 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. September 22 through November 11. Art League Houston. 1953 Montrose. For information, call 713-523-9530 or visit artleaguehouston.org. Free. — Camilo Hannibal Smith

Note: the Houston Symphony has pulled the previously scheduled Andrés Conducts Schumann and replaced it with the new program Beethoven and Piazolla, featuring Beethoven's Symphony No. 7; Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnole; and Piazolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, featuring guest violinist Leticia Moreno. German composer Robert Schumann suffered from depressive episodes and was admitted to a mental asylum despite his artistic brilliance. Eh, sounds like a normal Monday morning to us. Nonetheless, his music has stood the test of time and returns during the Houston Symphony’s Andrés Conducts Schumann. As an added treat, sandwiched between Schumann’s Symphony in G minor and Symphony No. 1 will be the world premiere of Jimmy López’s Aurora. As the orchestra’s new composer-in-residence, López says his piece will be a feast for both the ears and the eyes. “We wanted to bring this visual spectacle into sound trying to reflect the waves of light through sound.” The organization will bring in a lighting designer to visually depict the Aurorae during the show. 8 p.m. Friday and September 23. Stude Concert Hall, Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $23 to $120. — Sam Byrd

Flamenco takes the stage during Impulsos - Tablao Flamenco, a lounge-style music and dance show.
Flamenco takes the stage during Impulsos - Tablao Flamenco, a lounge-style music and dance show.
Photo by Cecy Duarte

Saturday, September 23

Señorita Cinema’s Stephanie Saint Sanchez says if there’s a theme running through the group’s program, it’s “mujeres on the edge.” As curator of the program, Sanchez says she looks for a variety of genres, different voices from different places and varying levels of aptitude, from “mija made a movie” first-timers to returning filmmakers who screen their work nationally. The only requirement is that it be directed by a Latina and be a short. “I like shorts because if they’re awesome, then they leave you wanting more. It they’re terrible, they’re almost over.” Sanchez says this year’s program is really “representative of the richness [of] the Latina experience” and includes Adelina Anthony’s Amigas with Benefits, Catherine Arriaza-Ortiz’s documentary, The Children of the Ranch, and selections from Denise Soler Cox’s The Enye Project. 7 p.m. Saturday. Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett. For information, call 713-868-2101 or visit senoritacinema.com. $10. — Natalie de la Garza

When the Harlem Quartet kicks off Da Camera’s 30th anniversary season, “No Place Like Home,” not only will they celebrate their musical roots, ranging from classical composer Edvard Grieg to the jazz stylings of Dizzy Gillespie, but audiences will witness a musical reunion between violinist Ilmar Gavilán and his brother, pianist and composer Aldo López-Gavilán. Gavilán says they’ve lived parallel lives since he left Cuba at 13 (his brother was eight), making From Harlem to Havana a “true reunion” since together with the quartet, they will perform several of López-Gavilán’s compositions. “The musical language my brother’s found in his compositions is truly — some people call him a genius,” says Gavilán. “It’s really a merger, a very organic merger, of all these influences and his own voice that I think doesn’t really happen that often.” 8 p.m. Saturday. Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $25. — Natalie de la Garza

When Tony Brandt, artistic director of Musiqa, reached out to Annie Arnoult of Open Dance Project about the possibility of collaborating on a concert, there was no question that Bodies In Motion would happen. “Both organizations are champions of interdisciplinary performance and the composition process,” she says. The program includes the world premiere of Three Pieces for String Quartet by Marcus Maroney, with choreography by Arnoult; and Lonely Suite for violin by Lera Auerbach, with choreography by Hope Stone’s Jane Weiner. Bodies is also an opportunity to experience an excerpt of the acclaimed Stalemate, which was created out of Arnoult’s frustration with the current political climate but takes on new meaning after Hurricane Harvey. “We began remounting the piece while we were all stuck in our homes, unable to get to the studio because of the flooding,” says Arnoult. “We could not get over the connections between our immediate experience and the opening monologue of the piece: Let’s go. We can’t. Why not? We’re waiting.” 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Hobby Center For the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-524-5678 or visit musiqahouston.org. $11 to $58. — Adam Castaneda

It looks like Galveston’s historic opera house will be rolling out the red carpet on more than a few occasions this season, with big names from cinema and stage jetting in for iconic, one-night-only performances. Sophia Loren is on the books for November 12, and gold stars to the genius who thought up the pairing of Tony Award®-winners Tommy Tune and Chita Rivera in this Saturday’s Chita & Tune — Two For The Road. Tune tells us this will be the first time he’s performed onstage with Rivera. “This is a dream job and we started rehearsals yesterday. I was so excited. I could not go to sleep,” he said during our convo in August. “I kept telling myself, ‘It’s okay. It’s okay, there’s going to be another rehearsal tomorrow.’ She’s so wonderful to work with; we’re falling in with each other.” 8 p.m. Saturday. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 800-821-1894 or visit thegrand.com. $48 to $165. — Susie Tommaney

Practice your best “Ole!” for Impulsos - Tablao Flamenco, a lounge-style show featuring the art of flamenco, a dance and musical form that originated in Spain but was ultimately shaped by a variety of cultures, including Arabic, Judaic, Iberian, East Indian and Latin American influences. Saturday night’s performances will showcase the three classic elements of flamenco: cante (song), with guest vocalists Chayito Champion and Stela Moreno; baile (dance), with dancers Ana Maria Barcelo, Alexandra Simmons and Laura Siebert; and toque (guitar) plus percussion. If you’re interested, you can purchase a regular admission ticket or a "Hurricane Relief Fund" ticket, for which all proceeds will go to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday. Ovations, 2536 Times. For information, visit flamencocollective.com. $20 to $25. — Natalie de la Garza

Some say that Puerto Rican musical style plena originated through the work songs of Joselino Oppenheimer. Others say it began when former slaves settled in Ponce, mixing their own musical cultures with those of the locals. Regardless of which may be true, an entirely new genre was born, one that gave voice to the everyman and the unique blend of African, Spanish and Caribbean influences in modern-day Puerto Rico. When Plena Libre plays the Miller Outdoor Theatre, courtesy of the Institute of Hispanic Culture of Houston to celebrate Dia De La Hispanidad (Day of the Hispanic World), the three-vocalist, 12-piece band will bring the distinct sounds of plena and bomba, present on their 2017 release Amores en el Camino (Love's Journey), along with more than two-plus decades of experience and multiple Grammy nominations. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

Sunday, September 24

Johann Sebastian Bach spent over 15 years working on his Mass in B Minor – and in fact it was completed only a year before his death – but if critic Hans Georg Nägeli, who called it "the greatest work of music in all ages and of all people,” is to be believed, then it was probably worth it. This weekend, the Bach Society Houston’s Bach Choir, recently back from a trip to Germany, joins the Bach Orchestra to present the massive four-part piece with five soloists, a full baroque orchestra and impressive trumpet, flute and string work, all under conductor Rick Erickson and guest concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock. A portion of ticket sales for Bach’s Mass in B Minor will also benefit Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 6 p.m. Sunday. The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit bachsocietyhouston.org. $5 to $50. — Natalie de la Garza

Step into a world of pure imagination at the Ultimate Willy Wonka Party at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – Mason. In addition to seeing the classic 1971 film, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, about five children who win a tour of a chocolate factory, led by the eccentric – to say the least – owner, played by Gene Wilder, you can expect one of Alamo Drafthouse’s patented movie parties, complete with plenty of bubbles, candy and even special guests: Paris Themmen (the TV-obsessed little cowboy Mike Teevee) and Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca “I want it now!” Salt), who will be participating in a Q&A after the movie. Included in the ticket price is a special edition Willy Wonka poster signed by both Themmen and Cole. 3:15, 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Sunday. 531 South Mason Road, Katy. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit drafthouse.com/houston. $28.57. — Natalie de la Garza

The Houston Chamber Choir kicks off their 2017-18 season with This American Voice: Reconstructing after Harvey, a concert utilizing the work of great American composers to hopefully bring a little comfort to Houstonians in the midst of recovery. The program promises Charles Ives; the music of Stephen Foster, composer of American standards like “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Oh! Susana”; Steve Reich’s 1972 composition “Clapping Music,” written for two performers to – you guessed it – clap; and “Fly Away I” by Caroline Shaw, a graduate of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, the youngest ever Pulitzer Prize-winner for music and frequent Kanye West collaborator. The Houston Chamber Choir is asking musicians to bring choral music donations to the concert for tenor Jason Watt, who - as choir director at Kingwood High School - lost his entire library during Harvey. 4 p.m. Sunday. South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main. For information, call 713-224-5566 or visit houstonchamberchoir.org. $10 to $40. — Natalie de la Garza

It's time once again for Arts in the Park Featuring Shakespeare in the Park. Celebrate The Woodlands' local arts community with a live performance of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet from UpStage Theatre, featuring live musical accompaniment from The Woodlands Symphony Orchestra. Venice in this production has disco fever, so the show will feature music from 1977, and everyone is invited to dig out their bellbottoms and platform shoes to get in the spirit. The performance will begin at dusk, and be sure to bring a lawn chair. Concessions and food trucks will be on hand as well as kid-friendly activities and plenty of opportunities to learn more about the artistic community. 4 p.m. Sunday. Rob Fleming Park, 6055 Creekside Forest Drive, The Woodlands. For information, call 281-210-3800 or visit thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

Monday, September 25

After 42 years of hosting American Public Media's A Prairie Home Companion (heard in Houston via NPR affiliate KUHF 88.7 FM), Garrison Keillor decided to retire from the show, but that hasn’t stopped him from entertaining his fans. Courtesy of the Houston Symphony, the velvet-voiced narrator will grace Houstonians with stories that Lesley Sabol, the symphony’s director of popular programming, says people will enjoy because “he’s such an amazing storyteller. He’s a modern-day Mark Twain in my opinion. He’s just brilliant.” In an ad to fans, Keillor says he’s “heading off to Houston, telling stories about Lake Wobegon in MN, the little town that time forgot…Not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.” This one is a sure sell-out, and be sure to look for Keillor’s signature red Converse sneakers. 7:30 p.m. Monday. Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $35 to $149. — Sam Byrd

Ever heard of that super-mean dinner game where instead of each guest bringing wine or flowers, they compete to bring the biggest loser? Well, that’s the starting point in Francis Veber’s 1998 French farce Le Diner de Cons (The Dinner Game), selected by Houston Grand Opera artistic and music director Patrick Summers to screen as part of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Movies Houstonians Love series. Veber, whose name you may recognize as the screenwriter of La Cage aux Folles, adapted the film from one of his own plays, and note – despite the title, circumstance dictates that the two men, the inviter and the invitee, an accountant who builds matchstick monuments in his spare time, never make it to dinner. Still, expect some big laughs from the two’s odd couple-like hijinks. 7 p.m. Monday. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $7 to $9. — Natalie de la Garza

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