The Alley Theatre presents the world premiere of Syncing Ink by NSangou Njikam.EXPAND
The Alley Theatre presents the world premiere of Syncing Ink by NSangou Njikam.
Photo by Christopher Diaz

21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Monster Jam, Syncing Ink and STOMP

Tuesday, February 7

Veteran Heights shoppers know that love is always in the air over at Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, where husband-and-wife owners Macario and Chrissie Ramirez keep the flame alive through art, culture and those oh-so-yummy (but crumbly) Mexican cookies they keep by the door. So when it came time for their annual “Amor Eterno: The Heart Show,” it was no surprise that the couple decided on chocolate and champagne for the opener last Saturday. “Chocolate is indigenous to Mexico. That’s where it all got started centuries ago,” says Macario, adding that they wanted to make it fun. Macario tells us that “love is forever,” but you can seal the deal with these timely gifts: mixed-media pieces by East End Studio Gallery’s Lizbeth Ortiz, ceramic hearts by Veronica Casares Lee and paintings by Fort Worth photographer Sergio Santos. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. February 7. Continuing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Through February 23. Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, 241 West 19th. For information, call 713-880-2420. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, February 8

Sweet Tea is fiery, bold and strong. Her small size has never gotten in the way of living her life. So says Kara Young, the actress who plays her in playwright NSangou Njikam’s semi-autobiographical journey of discovery through the rhythms of hip-hop. Syncing Ink is making its world premiere — though not its first appearance thanks to last year’s readings and workshops — at the Alley Theatre. Young tells us it’s a theatrical musical experience through hip-hop, song and dance. “To me it’s a very universal story for the underdog, for the trials and tribulations of what you go through in life and try to find your inner voice.” With hopes of taking the work to New York City, Young says the play will especially appeal to young people of any color. 7:30 p.m. February 8. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and February 14-15 and 21-22; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. February 12, 19 and 26; 8 p.m. February 17 and 24; 2:30 p.m. March 5. February 8 through March 5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $45 to $72. — Margaret Downing

Amateur detectives, there’s foul play afoot. Murder By The Book, Houston’s go-to pitstop for death and murder literature, is bringing New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart home to promote his newest effort, Fatal. Born in Houston, Lescroart is known cross-country as the sharp-eyed mind behind lawyer Dismas Hardy, who has starred in 16 of the writer’s past works. With Fatal, Murder By The Book event coordinator John Kwiatkowski says Lescroart gets to show off his skill with detective stories. “He just really excels at these well-crafted, well-told mysteries,” he says. “This new book is a standalone psychological thriller about a woman named Kate, who is obsessed with this guy, who six months later turns up dead. Kate’s best friend, a police detective named Beth, ends up investigating the case, trying to see how Kate fits in.” Lescroart fills a specific literary void in the current landscape of choices, Kwiatkowski argues. “I think he really just taps into this old-fashioned P.I. thing that not a lot of people are doing these days.” It’s a two-for-one book signing. Kelly Parsons, a board-certified urologist and the author of Doing Harm, will read from and sign copies of his newest release, Under the Knife. 6:30 p.m. February 8. 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit murderbooks.com. Free. — Vic Shuttee

Thursday, February 9

How was Göbekli Tepe, which might be the oldest temple on the planet, even built? Did man handcraft the breathtaking statues and pillars? Or was it ancient aliens? Professor Mehmet Özdogan of Istanbul University will attempt to answer some of these questions during the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Archaeological Institute of America distinguished lecture “Solving the Mystery of Göbekli Tepe: The Oldest Temple on Earth?” Göbekli Tepe, which translates to “Potbelly Hill,” is said to be at least 14,000 years young, or 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. “Göbekli is the first or one of the first that was erected of stone and in a much more monumental scale than its predecessors,” says Özdogan. “It has revealed the iconography in such a detailed picture that we now, for the first time, are able to see the symbolism [and] the belief systems of this period.” 6:30 p.m. February 9. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $12 to $18. — Steve Jansen

The bromance between Steven Spielberg and John Williams is the stuff of legend. Williams composed perfect soundtracks to match Spielberg’s movies, and they became best buddies throughout their decades-long relationship. The collaboration has resulted in some of our favorite cinematic moments. (Anyone remember the themes from Jaws, Star Wars or Superman?) The Houston Symphony is gifting us a tribute to the twosome’s collaboration in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Film With Live Orchestra. Musicians are playing the Academy Award-winning score while the 1982 movie, about the unshakable relationship between a ten-year-old Elliott and the wayward alien, streams in the background. Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos is an unapologetic fan. “There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing the movie on a big screen, and then to hear the music live. It’s beyond thrilling.” 7:30 p.m. February 9. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $39 to $99. — Sam Byrd

Sex, drugs and politics are all part of the journey of self-discovery in Passing Strange, the Tony and Drama Desk award-winning musical that rocked Broadway’s world. Penned by Stew (L.A. musician Mark Stewart) and coming to Houston audiences courtesy of Obsidian Theater in association with SRO Productions, the story follows a young black man, Youth, as he leaves the City of Angels for Europe to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, Josephine Baker and James Baldwin. A rock band performs live during this production, delivering the score by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, and David Allen III plays the young man searching for something real. “The music is the driving force, the heartbeat of this production,” says Allen. “It’s beautifully woven through the tapestry of this story, and the music accelerates us through this poetic movement.” 8 p.m. February 9. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. February 26. February 9 through March 4. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 713-300-2358 or visit obsidiantheater.org. $27.50 to $37.50. — Vic Shuttee

Friday, February 10

The “junkyard” began 25 years ago with a couple of Brits (Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas) from the town of Brighton. “They were buskers — street performers — and they also had a band. They had a piece called Dustbins, which are trash cans, and they got quite a response,” says Jeremy Price. The junkyard-themed set and push broom props evolved over time to become the internationally touring phenomenon STOMP — a merging of dance, concert and theatrical performance set to choreographed percussion — and Price, who serves as performer and rehearsal director, says it’s hard to name just one showstopper. “There’s a part where we’re swinging from the ceiling and beating on pots and pans. We have a piece called Zippos and we just play Zippos and Bic lighters and all the house lights come down,” says Price. “Which one is more amazing? You’ll have to tell me.” 7:30 p.m. February 10, 2 and 7:30 p.m. February 11, 2 and 7 p.m. February 12. Society for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $33 to $78. — Susie Tommaney

If you were at all cognizant in 2009, you’ll remember Travis — a chimpanzee and former TV and commercial star — whose brutal attack on a woman resulted in one of the world’s first facial transplants. But Tamarie Cooper, director of The Catastrophic Theatre’s production of Trevor, which was inspired by these events, wants to be clear — this play is about the back story: a woman, widowed, who raised a chimp in her home as her own child. Sandra may approach Trevor as her baby, but his inner thoughts show him to be a frustrated, out-of-work actor fascinated by shiny objects. Cooper says the play, by Nick Jones, raises questions about what it means to be human and explores “those moments when you’re in a relationship, no matter if you’re both human, how no matter how much you love someone, you can still not hear them.” 8 p.m. February 10. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. February 10 through March 4. 3400 Main. For information, call 713-522-2723 or visit catastrophictheatre.com. Pay what you can; suggested price is $35. — Natalie de la Garza

For Jon Harvey, director of Classical Theatre Company’s production of The Ghost Sonata, the late Ingmar Bergman summed up the show best: “It is an unusually horrid play. Have a nice time.” Written by August Strindberg in 1907, five years before his death, the play steps into a house populated with ghosts, mummies, vampires and an old man who may or may not be the devil. Harvey says the stylized horror show has a modernist feel, and in today’s world of alternative facts is even more relevant. “It’s about how things seem versus how they really are,” says Harvey. “It’s the antithesis of being and seeming. There’s a lot of faces, and masks over those faces; a facade may be very beautiful, but when you look inside it’s not always as it looks.” 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and February 15 and 20; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. February 8 through February 26. 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $10 to $25. — Natalie de la Garza

Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, written by the composer to honor the memory of a friend, is performed all over the world. But it is only now making its debut at the Houston Grand Opera, courtesy of Super Bowl LI. HGO chorus master Richard Bado explained that, leading up to the big game, HGO’s performance home at the Wortham Theater Center was taken over by Super Bowl personnel. So the opera needed to plan for something that could rehearse anywhere and, voilà, the 93-minute, one-act oratorio fit the bill. Coincidentally, it was something that Bado, now in his 24th year as chorus master, has wanted to do for a long time. Four soloists and 120 choristers (HGO’s Aida had only 80) will run a roller coaster of emotions from loss and fear to hope and joy, with Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducting. “The emotional journey the audience will go through is huge,” Bado says. “It’s a theatrical, dramatic event. This will be one of the high points of my career here.” 7:30 p.m. February 10, 15, 17 and 18; 2 p.m. February 12. 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $240. — Margaret Downing

Maggie Lasher, the choreographer behind the fire arts-infused Lightbearer, assures us that the audience shouldn’t be scared. “We know what we’re doing,” says Lasher, who serves as artistic director for presenter Holding Space Dance Collective, adding that the group follows proper rules and regulations. While she has given us teasers before, this is the first time Lightbearer is being presented as a full-length dance narrative, and it’s making its world premiere in the East End, courtesy of The Pilot Artist Board. Lasher says that like all children, she was fascinated by campfires and fireplaces. “The fire arts itself kind of spoke to me in a different way. It’s rare to see it in performance like this,” says Lasher, noting that it’s big in the flow community. Coming from a strong background in ballet, she’s always loved telling stories through dance, movement and music, and Lightbearer’s narrative revolves around two friends as they journey through the fiery realm of the Shadow Queen to save the Light of the World. 8 p.m. February 10-11 and 16-18. The Pilot on Navigation, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 281-979-4982 or visit freneticore.net. $15 to $20. — Susie Tommaney

Be sure to check out Grave Digger at the Pit Party before the show, because destruction is almost guaranteed at Monster Jam.EXPAND
Be sure to check out Grave Digger at the Pit Party before the show, because destruction is almost guaranteed at Monster Jam.

Saturday, February 11

The 10,000-pound behemoth known as Grave Digger — with its funereal black base, neon-green flames and Grim Reaper death stare — is back, and destruction is inevitable: Every year more than 3,000 cars, vans, buses, motor homes, ambulances and airplanes are crushed at Monster Jam® events. When we checked in with driver Carl Van Horn during his last stop in H-Town, he told us that a vehicle body can be destroyed in under two minutes but, not to worry, because the chassis will live to see another day. These shows aren’t for the faint of heart: The methanol-injected trucks are built for speed and can race up to 100 miles per hour and jump up to 35 feet in the air. The paint jobs are definitely rad but, with almost guaranteed destruction, we recommend checking out the trucks while they’re still shiny and new at Party in the Pits. Kids love getting autographs and posing for selfies against the 66-inch tires. There’s a pit party from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. February 11 and 18; the show begins at 7 p.m. There’s another pit party from noon to 2 p.m. February 12; the show begins at 3:30 p.m. NRG Stadium, 1 NRG Park. For information, call 800-745-3000 or visit monsterjam.com. $15 to $115. — Susie Tommaney

Real-life scientists Werner Heisenberg of Germany and Niels Bohr of Denmark worked together in the 1920s making instrumental advances in our understanding of atomic science. But with the arrival of World War II, they fell on different sides. Surprisingly enough, given that Heisenberg had a great love for his country, the German traveled to Copenhagen in 1941 to meet with Bohr. No one has ever known exactly what the two said to each other — which gave playwright Michael Frayn an enormous creative opening in his Tony Award-winning play Copenhagen. The Main Street Theater production is directed by Guy Roberts, with Philip Hays, Celeste Roberts and Joel Sandel in the lead roles. “Copenhagen is a metaphysical investigation of what might have happened that day,” Hays says. “Because it was surely the end of their friendship and in many ways kind of a turning point for their careers.” Heisenberg ended up disgraced and a pariah after the war, and Bohr ended up working with the Allies on their nuclear program. 7:30 p.m. February 11. Continuing Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. February 11 through March 12. 2540 Times. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $20 to $45. — Margaret Downing

Get outside and bask in the beautiful weather — and Mother Nature — this Valentine’s Day weekend, because the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center has partnered with local restaurants for its annual Tapas on the Trails. Enjoy five stops along the gorgeous outdoor trail while sampling tasty morsels and romancing under the moonlight. The evening culminates with a visit to the meadow deck overlooking the center’s one-acre pond, where participants will indulge in sparkling wine, a handcrafted dessert, coffee and the company of a wise owl. Special Events Manager Katie Campbell says, “The evening setting is special because we’re usually not open during those hours. We have delicious foods and drinks and we give people a really great experience.” Space is limited to only 250 people per night, so act now. 6 to 10 p.m. February 10, 5 to 9 p.m. February 11. 4501 Woodway. For information, call 713-681-8433 or visit houstonarboretum.org. $75 to $85. — Sam Byrd

If you’ve been banging your head against the wall trying to think of a different way to show your love this Valentine’s Day, and Hallmark’s finest just won’t do the trick, head out to the Rec Room for something completely different. It’s the third iteration of “DUO” for METdance, where dancers explore relationships through duets, and this time around Artistic Director Marlana Doyle has sweetened the deal with wine, beer, macarons and tasty treats from Tout Suite. “It’s a good date night,” says Doyle. “The idea was for us to let the dancers — we’re usually an ensemble company — to let them kind of work together with another person to focus their energy on one partner when they dance.” The evening includes premieres from Princess Grace Award-winner Joshua Manculich, Los Angeles-based choreographer Kate Hutter, 2014 MasterMind Award-winner jhon r. stronks and Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Connor Walsh. METdance is even giving away wine from Dickinson-based DUO Winery & Cider Co., as well as providing a few opportunities to meet the dancers after the show. 8 p.m. February 9-11. 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-522-6375 or visit metdance.org. $20 to $25 per person and $36 to $44 per couple. The METdance youth company, MET too, performs “DUO too” at 4 p.m. February 11, also at the Rec Room. $10. — Susie Tommaney

Popovich Comedy Pet Theater doesn’t just use stray dogs and cats that have been rescued from shelters and the streets. “They are more pets,” says Kate Traynin of the Russian Cultural Center “Our Texas,” which is presenting the Russian circus performance. “Not just dogs and cats, but there are geese and mice and parrots.” The Las Vegas-based Gregory Popovich is a fifth-generation circus performer who initially trained as a juggler, a trade in which he has won worldwide championships. The 90-minute, no-intermission show features a limber Popovich executing impressive physical maneuvers while also juggling and coaxing more than 30 animal performers to pull off stunts. “It’s definitely Russian,” says Traynin when asked how Popovich’s Russian circus differs from America’s big-top productions. “It’s more acrobatic and the pets are an essential part of the show.” 7 p.m. February 11. The MATCH, 3400 Main Street. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit matchouston.org. $27 to $37. — Steve Jansen

Film scholar Karen Fang — she's a faculty member at the University of Houston and a member of the film committee at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — spent some time studying the way Hong Kong treated surveillance and voyeurism. She's out with a new book, Arresting Cinema: Surveillance in Hong Kong Film, and one of the flicks mentioned in this new tome is being screened this Saturday. Chicken and Duck Talk is a comedy about a stubborn food vendor in competition with a Western-style fast-food franchiser. He games the system by tampering with the time stamp on surveillance video, thus making his own good fortune. Fang will be present to introduce the film, and copies of her book are available for purchase at the box office. In Cantonese with English subtitles. 6 to 8 p.m. February 11. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $7 to $9. — Susie Tommaney

Sunday, February 12

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird became a must-read for generations of students and also earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Now her story of a small-town lawyer facing racism’s insurmountable pressures proves pressingly relevant as A.D. Players christens its newly opened space with this American folklore classic. Director Kevin Dean has some poignant words about why this play is still striking. “You never really know someone until you walk around in their skin. I think that’s what the play is about. It’s about trying to understand one another.” Bringing a certain homegrown touch, Atticus Finch is played by none other than Jason Douglas, a Houston native who found success in television’s Walking Dead, Breaking Bad and Nashville. 2 p.m. February 12. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and February 18; 2 and 7:30 p.m. February 25 and March 4; 2 p.m. Sundays. February 12 through March 5. 5420 Westheimer. For information, call 713-526-2721 or visit adplayers.org. $19 to $68. — Sam Byrd

There are hundreds of Johann Sebastian Bach works that he wrote for the liturgical calendar. There are pieces for Good Friday and Easter, Christmas and the Ascension, and for the passions of St. Matthew and St. John and St. Mark. The church cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51) is “suitable for any time of the year, liturgically speaking,” says Matthew Dirst, artistic director of Ars Lyrica, which performs the piece as part of its “Scalable Heights” concert. “It’s also the only solo soprano and trumpet in the Bach repertoire. It’s a showpiece for both as it soars up to high C in some parts. It’s a great virtuosic vehicle for both the soprano and trumpet.” The event — which includes Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in d minor, Alessandro Scarlatti’s Su le sponde del Tebro, and Antonio Vivaldi’s “Folia” Sonata in d minor, op. 1/12 — is part of the fifth edition of the Houston Early Music Festival, which also features concerts by Bach Society Houston, Houston Early Music, Piping Rock Singers, and Mercury.
Mercury: Rameau’s “Les Indes galantes,” 8 p.m. February 11. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $19 to $68.
Ars Lyrica: “Scalable Heights,” 6 p.m. February 12. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit arslyricahouston.org. $22 to $65.
Piping Rock Singers: “Madrigals, Motets and Merryment,” 7 p.m. February 17, Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice. For information, call 832-786-9226 or visit pipingrocksingers.com. $40.
Profeti della Quinta: “Madrigals & Hebrew Prayers,” 7:30 p.m. February 18. Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 North Braeswood. For information, call 281-846-4222 or visit houstonearlymusic.org. Free to $40.
Bach Society Houston: “Bach Family Motets,” 6 p.m. February 19. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice. For information, call 713-400-0514 or visit bachsocietyhouston.org. Free to $35.
Multi-concert festival passes are available. For information, call 281-846-4222 or visit houstonearlymusic.org. $89 to $140. — Steve Jansen

Dashboard Confessional vocalist Chris Carrabba remains as emotive as ever, channeling dogged sincerity as he makes a bid for a woman's hand on the recently released acoustic track "May." Though Carrabba has not set a firm date for the release of his band's next album — their seventh, and first since 2009 — this monthlong tour from New York to California might be his way of testing the waters to see if the climate is right for the next A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar. New music would be great, but so long as the set list includes "Hands Down," "Screaming Infidelities" and "Vindicated," longtime fans will continue buying tickets. 6:30 p.m. February 12. House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit houseofblues.com/houston. $27 to $45. — Matthew Keever

Monday, February 13

It seems likely that few men have spent more time observing the actions of former President George H. W. Bush than former ambassador Chase Untermeyer. The Houstonian shines light on the successes and shortcomings of those presidential years in his new book, Zenith: In the White House with George H. W. Bush. “During the Reagan administration, there was a perception that George Bush was just a lap dog — a wimp, just a handsome number two. This was a mocking [he faced] since his days as an aviator in World War II,” Untermeyer reveals. “It was a trendy notion in certain circles in Washington during the 1980s. But that all changed when he became president. And I believe this book captures that [transition] — how George Bush took command — and I’m happy people now look back on his presidency, brief as it was, as the exemplar of how to act in domestic politics and foreign affairs.” 7 p.m. February 13. Brazos Bookstore, 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. — Vic Shuttee

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