21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week
Fourteen interactive sculptures by Asheville sculptor John Payne are on view at Moody Gardens in "Dinosaurs in Motion."
Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens
Tuesday, October 11
It wasn’t enough to build life-size dinosaurs out of recycled metal. Asheville sculptor John Payne imbued the 14 interactive sculptures in “Dinosaurs in Motion” with biomechanics and robotics, delighting children and adults with a creative illustration of science and technology. The public is invited to touch the kinetosaurs during an apprentice’s journey through art, science and innovation, while also learning about the late visionary artist who practiced what he preached: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Continuing 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through January 8. Moody Gardens, One Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, call 800-582-4673 or visit moodygardens.org. Free to $14.95. —Susie Tommaney
In 1782 William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus and suddenly the size of our solar system, which had been thought to end with Saturn, doubled, says author John Pipkin, who incorporated that real-life story and more accounts from the late 18th century into his novel The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter. The historical fiction story set in Ireland centers on Caroline Ainsworth, the foundling daughter of astronomer Arthur Ainsworth. As she works alongside him in that day’s space race — the discovery of new planets — she sees his passion become obsession, as he discards even the most rudimentary protections to stare directly at the sun and heavens and ultimately destroys his eyesight. Following his death, she must decide whether to continue his work or forge a new path for herself. Pipkin, who got his graduate degree from Rice University, says he’s been interested in astronomy since he was a kid and set this book when he did because: “This is the moment when modern astronomy is born. Prior to this time, astronomers knew there were things they hadn’t figured out about the heavens. They hadn’t realized if they turned on powerful telescopes, they would find things that they didn’t know were there.” 7 p.m. Tuesday. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. —Margaret Downing
Astronaut Mike Massimino is self-effacing when he calls himself “the space guy.” But he knows you may have seen him on late-night couches, pausing for the laugh track on The Big Bang Theory or discussing space tourism on CNBC. The astronaut, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, can’t help it — he loves talking space, which is what he’ll be doing when he stops in Houston to sign copies of his new book, Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe. He says he wrote the book for a simple reason. “I want to tell people about this,” says Massimino. “I think everyone should see [planet Earth] like this, and since everybody can’t, I felt like it was something I could do to share it. Maybe [this is] what my calling was, more than what I could do to fix the Hubble Space Telescope.” 7 p.m. Tuesday. Blue Willow Bookshop, 14532 Memorial. For information, call 281-497-8675 or visit bluewillowbookshop.com. Free. —Natalie de la Garza
Wednesday, October 12
In De Kus (The Kiss), two people meet unexpectedly. One is a homemaker facing a medical crisis, the other a disillusioned comic; both north of 50. “They’re contemplating the kind of choices they’ve made in their lives and where it’s led them. It’s really about the consequence of every choice you make,” says Stages Repertory Theatre Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin, who directed the U.S. premiere of this work by Dutch author Ger Thijs in St. Louis and is now bringing it to Houston. Actors Lisa Tejero and Eric White, who won accolades (along with the play) in St. Louis, return for this co-production with St. Louis-based Upstream Theater. “At a certain time in your life, you start to think to yourself, ‘Hey, I don’t have any more choices left,’ so you start to be really careful,” says McLaughlin. “You lose a little bit of hope about the choices you make and your dreams are not as bright later in life. The play has a little bit of magic in it: What if you did choose to dream as big as you did when you were young; what would happen?” 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through October 30. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $21 to $65. —Margaret Downing
It’s a play done in sometimes excruciating form by middle schools and high schools throughout the country. That or it’s trudged through in English class. Now’s the chance to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream done right by a troupe of actors used to acting with and playing off each other. With Artistic Director Gregory Boyd directing, the Alley Theatre once again presents Shakespeare’s classic tale of love, transformation and magic in the night. Elizabeth Bunch (winner for Best Actress in the 2016 Houston Theater Awards) plays Hermia, and this time it’s opposite her real-life husband, Chris Hutchison, as Lysander. “I’ve done Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream more than I have ever done anything else,” she says. “It’s a play worth any artist revisiting. It lends itself to interpretation in such a fun way because it’s got so much magic in it, which translates to a great way to play with theatrical magic.” 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (no performances October 26, October 27, November 1 or November 3); 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through November 5. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $98. —Margaret Downing
Thursday, October 13
The Houston Italian Festival is bringing the tastes of Italy to H-Town with fun, festivities and tons of food. To get the juice buds flowing, here’s a sneak preview: The organizers hand-made 15,000 meatballs. Joining the symphony of mouthwatering morsels are other delights, including chicken marsala, gelato, Italian wines and beer and, of course, spaghetti. Festival representative Margaret Bannon says, “This is an introduction to the Italian-American foods and the fun our culture enjoys. It’s a time to get together and have fun.” For an authentic Italian experience, partake in the grape stomp and the pasta-eating contest. No festival would be complete without a visit from an authentic opera singer: Soloist Aaron Caruso headlines the entertainment, alongside DJ Italia, folk dancers and more. 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. October 14 and 15, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. October 16. University of St. Thomas, 3800 Montrose. For information, call 713-524-4222 or visit houstonitalianfestival.com. Free to $25. —Sam Byrd
Office spaces are usually bo-ring, so at first glance, Jonathan Schipper’s “Cubicle” might seem unremarkable. It’s not. Over the course of its two-month run, Schipper’s 40-by-44-foot office cube reproduction will collapse because all the elements — the staple remover, a computer, a Rolodex, the office chairs — are hooked to strings that are attached to a mechanical winch that’s concealed behind the wall. The winch will slowly pull the items inward until everything dogpiles on itself. The work is part of the Brooklyn-based artist’s “Slow Room” series; one of his previous installations re-created a super-duper slow-motion car crash. (It took a month for the cars to crash.) “You might at first think you’re looking at a completely placid and static room. Only if you look closer, you’ll see things are being pulled off the wall,” says Josh Fischer, assistant curator at Rice University Art Gallery, about the installation. “It goes against your expectations. It’s art that slowly destroys itself.” Continuing 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through December 4. 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-6069 or visit ricegallery.org. Free. —Steve Jansen
Think Like a Man actor Gary Owen had a rocky start. “Trying to get stage time in San Diego, I was only getting one show a week,” says the comic, who caught wind of “quote-unquote black spots” where other white comics wouldn’t play and soon developed a successful following in the venues. The gambit paid off, as Owen has even been named “Black America’s Favorite White Comic” by Ebony Magazine. That turned into a relationship with BET, which is producing his self-titled series this month. Reflecting back, Owen wagers that “being himself” was vital to finding fans, and he’s bringing the real deal to Houston this weekend. “Here’s what I learned: I’d see white guys go up at the black rooms and not be themselves; they’d become a character. Black audiences saw right through that. I’ve always been me onstage, and they’ve embraced it.” 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $40 to $50. —Vic Shuttee
Pablo Gimenez-Zapiola — one of a dozen creative people awarded individual artist grants by the Houston Arts Alliance this year — is putting his $10,000 to work with Eastext, in which he will drive through the East End projecting poetry by Houston’s first poet laureate, Gwendolyn Zepeda, as well as four other Houston-based poets. “Every texture is a canvas,” says the artist. “Moving light is the most powerful of experiences. It’s very strange to see the words passing along the houses or fences or trees. It’s strange for me, and I’ve been doing it for a long time.” Participants meet at the hosting venue, view a 45-minute performance, then reunite for an artist talk, poetry and more projections. 6:40 to 8:40 p.m. Thursday at El Rincón Social, 3210 Preston. Other performances are scheduled for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. October 20 at Gallery HOMELAND, 3401 Harrisburg, and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. October 27 at Box 13, 6700 Harrisburg. For information, visit pablogimenezzapiola.com. Free. —Susie Tommaney
Theater LaB Houston is packing every musical powerhouse into its production of The Musical Of Musicals, The Musical! A hilarious satire, this production features the plight of June, an ingénue who can’t pay the rent and is threatened by her evil landlord — or else. Told through the viewpoint of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kander and Ebb, the story takes a roller-coaster trip through all the greats of songwriting and stagecraft. “It’s a tour de force. It’s a really fun evening, and it’s like seeing five different musicals for the price of one,” says director Jimmy Phillips. Theater veterans Joseph Reed, Shelby Fisher, Haley Hussey and Ryan Smith headline this knee-slapping comedy. Five musical geniuses under one roof at one time? Who could ask for anything more.
8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. October 16 and 23. Through October 23. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-868-7516 or visit thelabhou.org. $34 to $38. —Sam Byrd
Friday, October 14
Becky Shaw, the wickedly funny play about romantically challenged friends, is making its Houston debut courtesy of Firecracker Productions. Penned by Gina Gionfriddo, it opened off-Broadway in 2008 and was a 2009 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. “I love the dark humor of the show,” says director Kelsey McMillian of the script. “It’s hilarious.” She teases the play as a comedy about two thirtysomethings. “Susie’s dad has died and Max has been pseudo-adopted by Susie’s family. They sort of have this push-pull romance going on.” But after Susie marries another man, she tries to set Max up with a co-worker, the title character. “Becky Shaw is more than a little crazy,” McMillian says. “She’s a stage-five clinger.” Beyond the laughs, what McMillian adores about the play is its honest dialogue. “I’m always more drawn to shows that feel more realistic, that seem closer to reality,” she says. “It’s a play about [deciphering] what we owe to other people, about deciding how responsible are we for other people’s feelings or emotional state.” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through October 22. Hub Studio, 1502 Sawyer, Suite 232. For information, call 832-588-8100 or visit firecrackerproductions.org. $10 to $40. —Vic Shuttee
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel may have been plagued with troubled waters, but thankfully the sounds of silence that resulted from the American folk rock duo’s breakup have now ended. Vocalists AJ Swearingen and Jonathan Beedle have been selling out houses with their tribute show, The Sounds of Simon and Garfunkel, and now they’re returning to Houston for a three-day run with the Houston Symphony. Michael Krajewski conducts the concert, which includes “Sounds of Silence,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Mrs. Robinson.” “The first show we did with a symphony was in Houston, outside, for the Fourth of July. We did four songs in front of 30,000 people,” says Beedle. “AJ and I have been doing solo versions of this show since the early ’90s,” the Bethlehem, Texas, native concedes. “But the way these arrangements are written, the orchestrations just envelop you in beautiful sound.” 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. October 16. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $138. —Vic Shuttee
For those in the mood for comedy with a ghostly undercurrent, Playhouse 1960 has you covered with its production of Noël Coward’s classic Blithe Spirit. Sammy Green, who directs, says the spooky joker is the perfect show for the theater’s Halloween slot. “I personally really love the play,” she says. “With the supernatural elements and the makeup of eccentric personalities, [I knew] this would be a great fit for the Playhouse.” For purists of the 1941 classic, Green’s version makes slight alterations. “We’re not using British accents, because sometimes that’s difficult,” Green says. “I would rather not have poorly done dialects [if it] gets in the way of telling the story.” The production, which stars Allison Schuette, David Herman, Lynn Stevens and Meredith Gaines, also updates the play by setting it in modern times. Green herself describes all these tweaks as minor. “As long as the actors deal with the emotional intent, it all works.” 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Through October 29. 6814 Gant. For information, call 281-587-8243 or visit ph1960.com. $15 to $18. —Vic ShutteeNext Page
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