21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: An American in Paris and Snap Judgment

Theatre Under The Stars presents the Tony Award®-winning musical, An American in Paris, February 21 through March 5. Shown: Sara Esty and Garen Scribner.
Theatre Under The Stars presents the Tony Award®-winning musical, An American in Paris, February 21 through March 5. Shown: Sara Esty and Garen Scribner.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Tuesday, February 21

Differing somewhat from the iconic movie, the Tony Award®-winning musical An American in Paris takes up the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American expat trying to restart his life as a painter in Paris after the horrors of World War II. He meets and is intrigued by Lise Dassin, a French ballerina with secrets. Sara Esty, a former ballerina with the Miami City Ballet, is Lise and, in an interesting real-life twist, her twin sister and fellow ballerina Leigh-Ann Esty takes on the role when she can’t make it onstage. Both say it is wonderful to be on the road together doing this show with direction and choreography by Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon. “One of the pretty big themes in our story is coming out of the darkness and trying to find light in your life again,” Sara Esty says. And then of course there are the great Gershwin songs, including “I Got Rhythm” and “‘S Wonderful,” followed by the crescendo ending ballet. “We transport them to Paris every night,” Leigh-Ann Esty says. 7:30 p.m. February 21. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and February 28; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. February 21 through March 5. Theatre Under The Stars, The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $46.50 to $120. — Margaret Downing

The ensemble took their name from legendary music teacher Mieczyslaw Horszowski, finding inspiration in the great pianist's musicianship, integrity and humanity. Now the Horszowski Trio makes its debut in Houston, courtesy of Da Camera, with a nod to the flowering era of the belle époque. The program includes Gabriel Fauré’s gracefully lyrical Trio, American composer Joan Tower’s elegiac For Daniel (written in memory of her nephew who died after a prolonged illness), and Franz Schubert’s beloved Trio No. 2 in E-flat major, infused with a cool grandeur and brilliance. The ensemble – two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and pianist Rieko Aizawa – will perform in the intimate setting of The Menil Collection with limited seating. 7:30 p.m. February 21. 1533 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $60. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, February 22

Oskar is a lonely boy who doesn’t have any friends and is bullied at school. A new girl moves in next door and, although she is about his age, she strangely doesn’t go to school. Unexplained killings occur in the neighborhood and, amid all that fear and tension, the two are drawn together. Let the Right One In is presented by the Alley Theatre, courtesy of the National Theatre of Scotland, and under the direction of John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), who has done this play to great acclaim elsewhere. “At the heart it’s a love story and they seem to sit quite well on our stages. A love story between two alienated people,” says Tiffany. There is, of course, a blood-curdling reason for all the killings, so be prepared for screams to resonate throughout the theater. “I love the challenge of putting vampires onstage and people biting each other’s necks,” Tiffany says. “All of that is like mother’s milk to me.” The Alley’s promotion says it is “recommended for fearless 15-year-olds, mature teens and up.” 7:30 p.m. February 22. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. February 22 through March 19. 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $30 to $93. — Margaret Downing

Theoretical astrophysicist Dr. Priya Natarajan has been on the hunt for black holes and dark matter and, voila, she's been able to locate these seemingly invisible entities through recent advancements. The scientific community long debated their existence, but now there seems to be no doubt. In the next HMNS Distinguished Lecture Series, Mapping the Heavens – Black Holes and Dark Matter by Priyamvada Natarajan, she will discuss how she mapped these entities by observing how light bends around them while en route to Earth from distant galaxies. The observation has already led to the discovery of gravitational waves from colliding black holes. Dr. Natarajan is the author of Mapping the Heavens The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos; she will be available to sign copies after the lecture and books can be purchased through River Oaks Bookstore. 6:30 p.m. February 22. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $12 to $18. — Susie Tommaney

Joe Lansdale has a knack for murder, though thankfully he applies that talent to the fictional adventures of crime-fighting duo Hap Collins and Leonard Pine. In Rusty Puppy, the twelfth in his Hap and Leonard series, the author plots a brackish pond mucked up with sawdust as a fitting crime scene. “I used to farm and make a compost pile. The sawdust makes it into mush,” says Lansdale, who coined the term “rusty puppies” to describe the corroded dogs — and humans – who float to the surface in this murky grave. He says he knows his characters so well — he’s been writing about them since 1990 — and they’re always doing a ride-along in Lansdale’s brain. “I don’t plot my stories; I let them happen. That’s why my wife drives,” says Lansdale. Rusty Puppy does dovetail with current headlines, working in themes of police brutality and racial tension. He says he always has a social aspect to his books, finding ways to be entertaining while also making a statement. The author will discuss and sign copies at Murder By The Book. Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter, The Traitor’s Wife, The Outcasts) also is scheduled to appear. She’ll be signing and discussing The Dime, in which her Big Apple detective, Betty Rhyzyk, takes on Mexican drug cartels and cult leaders in Dallas. 6:30 p.m. February 22. 2342 Bissonnet. For information call 713-524-8597 or visit murderbooks.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, February 23

“The action is the art. It’s not dancing. It’s not theater. It’s just different. It’s interesting action,” says Julia Wallace, co-director and co-curator of Experimental Action, a three-day performance art festival featuring local and international artists. “All of the art being presented is cutting-edge,” adds Wallace, perhaps referring to the pervasive dose of nudity. Leave it to a group of performance artists to find a wacky marketing scheme to promote the fest. They are attempting to woo Hollywood star and fellow performance artist Shia LaBeouf with a creative #ShiaShowUp social media campaign. Since performance art is still murky waters for some, the group is also hosting a free discussion panel moderated by Alison Starr on Saturday afternoon to help shed light on the art form. 8 p.m. to midnight February 23, Notsuoh, 314 Main. Continuing 8 p.m. to midnight February 24, The Secret Group, 2101 Polk; 2 to 4 p.m. February 25, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose; 8 p.m. to midnight February 25, Walters Downtown, 1120 Naylor. For information, visit experimentalaction.com. Free to $30. — Sam Byrd

Harry Belafonte was crowned the King of Calypso in 1956 when he became the first solo artist to sell more than a million LPs with Calypso. Now, more than 60 years later, the singer, actor and activist will be joined onstage by Houston’s own Yvonne Cormier, M.D., Ph.D. for an illuminating one-night program titled A Conversation with Harry Belafonte. They’ll have much to discuss: his 2012 book, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance; the newly released When Colors Come Together (Our Island in the Sun), recorded by a multi-cultural children’s choir; and his long career in social activism dating back to the early days of the civil rights movement. He has offered criticism in the past over policies of both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations and, after serving as honorary co-chair of January’s Women’s March on Washington, has turned his fiery opposition to the current presidency. The 90-minute dialogue is presented by Brilliant Lecture Series and HEB. 7 p.m. February 23. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-974-1335 or 832-487-7041 or visit brilliantlectures.org. $35 to $500. — Vic Shuttee

Upcoming Events

University of Houston faculty member Ann C. Christensen has done some deep thinking about domestic tragedies in early modern England, arguing that the absence of husbands had as much of an impact as adultery, murder and the lavishly articulated operations of domestic life. Christensen analyzed five domestic plays — Arden of Faversham and A Warning for Fair Women (1590s), Thomas Heywood’s A Woman Killed with Kindness (1607), Thomas Middleton’s Women Beware Women (ca. 1613) and Walter Mountfort’s The Launching of the Mary, or The Seaman’s Honest Wife (1632) — and determined that domestic drama played an active role in deliberating the costs of commercial travel while also forcing realignments within the home. She will be on hand to discuss Separation Scenes: Domestic Drama in Early Modern England and sign copies at Brazos Bookstore. 7 p.m. February 23. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, February 24

Jazz has deep roots in Texas, thanks in no small part to Fort Worth-grown saxophone legends Dewey Redman and Ornette Coleman. Now, in a perfect tie-in to Da Camera’s Roots-themed season, and with a nod to Dewey’s jazz group Old and New Dreams, son Joshua is offering up a tribute to his late father in Still Dreaming. “For people that know jazz, this is kind of an all-star group, with Ron Miles on trumpet, Scott Colley on bass and especially the drummer, Brian Blade,” says Leo Boucher, director of marketing and audience development for Da Camera. “These are all band leaders and great players in their own right.” We can expect favorites from Dewey’s era plus new compositions by Joshua and his band and, if we’re lucky, something from his Grammy Award-nominated debut duo album, Nearness. Boucher caught their act last year in New York and he’s hooked. “Honestly, it was one of the best jazz shows I’ve ever seen.” 8 p.m. February 24. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $42.50 to $72.50. — Susie Tommaney

Looking good at 20, the Moores School of Music Jazz Festival has the formula down pat for attracting rising talent while also booking big-name headliners for evening concerts. On Friday night the Moores is digging deep with a full performance of Miles Davis’s Birth of The Cool and, come Saturday, the school’s jazz orchestra will be joined by guest artist Bill Evans. “He’s a phenomenal saxophone player. He made his big splash with Miles Davis,” says Noe Marmolejo, director of jazz studies. Marmolejo says they’ll perform music from Evans’s Van’s Joint, which includes a mix of punk, jazz and hip-hop compositions by Michael Abene and the world-renowned WDR Big Band from Köln, Germany; as well as Evans’s bluegrass and country tune, “Soulgrass.” Bonus points for the students in the program; their noontime clinics with Evans net more real-life advice than any episode of The Voice. 7:30 p.m. February 24 and 25. University of Houston, 120 School of Music Building. For information, call 713-743-3388 or visit uhjazz.com/events/jazzfestival. $12 to $17. — Susie Tommaney

What's in a name? The question is at the core of this week's Gallery Talk: Art at Noon at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Artist Angel Otero will be put under the microscope as Rex Koontz (Director of the School of Art, University of Houston) and Natilee Harren (Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art and Critical Studies, UH) discuss his work and explore the questions: "Is Angel Otero a global contemporary artist or a Latin American artist? Does it matter?" This noontime respite in the cool halls of CAMH includes a talk and gallery walk-through of the artist's first survey exhibition, "Angel Otero: Everything and Nothing," which encompasses almost ten years of his painting and sculpture. The talk is followed by a light lunch from 12:30 to 1 p.m. in the Cullen Education Resource Room. Noon to 12:30 p.m. February 24. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit camh.org. — Susie Tommaney



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