21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Monty Python Royalty & Touchdown Tour

Funny men reunite in John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again At Last… For The Very First Time.EXPAND
Funny men reunite in John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again At Last… For The Very First Time.
Photo by Rod Millington

Tuesday, November 29

And now for something completely unbelievable: John Cleese and Eric Idle, known best for co-founding the landmark British sketch troupe Monty Python, are appearing at the University of Houston for one night only, presumably to pay off some back royalties and legal fees. (Don’t laugh — that’s precisely the reason we got 2014’s Monty Python Live (mostly) — One Down Five to Go.) Regardless of the circumstances, this event — billed as John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again At Last… For The Very First Time — is a momentous opportunity to see true geniuses in their element. Based on our research, the goofy twosome are engaging in a brave new form of humor known as “sit-down comedy,” which features a hybrid of scripted and improvised gags, audience interactions, music, dance, a can-can line and (according to their website) “aquatic juggling.” Hope all this fun won’t kill your parrot, if you know what I mean. Wink-wink nudge-nudge. 7:30 p.m. November 29. Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 832-842-3131 or visit uh.edu/cullen-performance-hall. $60 to 105. — Vic Shuttee

Wednesday, November 30

A holiday lights display inside of a baseball field in Fort Bend County might sound like America, multiplied by a cornball factor of 5,000, but it’s not. (And even if it is, who cares?) The Sugar Land Holiday Lights, at the four-year-old Constellation Field, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters minor-league baseball team, features 2.5 million lights that are arranged in insane displays and constructions. Not only are there holiday-themed characters (Santa and the elves), but there are also adornments (Christmas trees and oversized sculptures of lights that depict holiday lights; so meta) located in the concourse as well as all over the field and in the grandstands. Of course, the ginormous Lone Star State-shaped scoreboard that flexes its Texas-size muscles beyond center field is also outlined in blinking lights. In other words, go America and go Texas. 6 to 9 p.m. November 30. Continuing 6 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 6 to 10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and December 25. November 25 through January 8. Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-240-4487 or visit sugarlandholidaylights.com. $11 to $14. — Steve Jansen

Thursday, December 1

At first, Go Yell It on the Mountain was going to be a Saturday Night Live-style set of improv sketches realized by director Rozie Curtis and musical director John Cornelius II. But then Obsidian Theater Artistic Director Tom Stell was stirred into the mix, and the result is a comedic story line inside of a “fun piece of musical theater,” says Curtis. The holiday play — which, of course, is a reference to James Baldwin’s masterful novel Go Tell It on the Mountain — chronicles an attempted hostile takeover of an innocent little historic church by a devilish, mean ol’ megachurch, “but told in a really funny way,” says Curtis. “It’s not like Walmart taking over the mom-and-pop shop. There’s a history between the pastors of the two churches.” Curtis says six cast members are playing multiple roles. “Anywhere from small children in Sunday school to the deacons and deaconesses to the church elders to the mayor and secretaries.” 8 p.m. December 1. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. December 18. Through December 23. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 832-889-7837 or visit obsidiantheater.org. $15 to $30. — Steve Jansen

The holidays aren't always happy times, especially when they call to mind the memories of those who are no longer with us. The folks over at the National Museum of Funeral History continue to offer thoughtful ways for us to honor the deceased: Each December they set up the Community Memorial Tree and invite the public to come to the museum, create a holiday ornament in memory of their loved one, and decorate the tree; then make another for the tree at home. The timing of this opportunity pairs nicely with the museum's temporary exhibit, "United We Stand, United We Signed," which honors the victims of 9/11 and also continues the story by allowing the public to record their memories in a guest book that will become part of a special 20th anniversary exhibit in the year 2021. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 1. Continuing 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. December 31. Closed December 24-25. Through December 31. 415 Barren Springs Drive. For information, call 281-876-3063 or visit nmfh.org. Free to $10. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, December 2

It starts with a man contemplating suicide on Christmas Eve after a life filled with disappointments. It’s a wonder why no one before this recognized the material in the Frank Capra movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life would be perfect for opera. Houston Grand Opera has turned to composer Jake Heggie (Moby Dick, Dead Man Walking) and librettist Gene Scheer (Moby Dick) for the two-act world premiere. “It’s an absolutely beautiful treatment of a story that is very familiar, but quite different from the film,” says tenor William Burden, who sings the George Bailey role. Not willing to reveal any of the surprises in this new version, Burden promises “wonderful theatrical magic.” And still a happy ending. Sung in English with surtitles. 7:30 p.m. December 2. Continuing 7 p.m. December 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 17; 2:30 p.m. December 4 and 11. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $48 to $127. — Margaret Downing

Beatrice and Benedick don’t get along at all. Don Pedro and his men decide to play matchmakers by planting erroneous information designed to bring the two together. What follows is a bundle of intrigue, lies, misunderstood intentions and one of the best comedies Shakespeare ever wrote: Much Ado About Nothing. Houston’s 4th Wall Theatre Company has decided to bring it to life with a cast of only five actors (Susan Draper, Herman Gambhir, Philip Hays, Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin-Lehl), most of whom take on several roles in the two-act, which is being done in the round. Looking for an alternative to Christmas plays? It’s here complete with a grand wedding at the end. 7:30 p.m. December 2. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and December 19 (pay what you can); 3 p.m. Sundays. Through December 24. Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring. For information, call 832-786-1849 or visit 4thwalltheatreco.com. $15 to $49. — Margaret Downing

It’s a chance for all the dancers in the Houston Ballet Company to shine and for audience members to spot rising stars along with the established ones. For one night only — a night off from The Nutcracker — Houston Ballet presents Jubilee of Dance, with everything from company premieres to excerpts from the classics. This is the third year Principal Jared Matthews is performing, and he’s paired in two of the three acts with Principal Karina Gonzalez. “It’s nice to be able to do this, hit a home run and then go back to the season run of The Nutcracker,” Matthews says. 7 p.m. December 2. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $35 to $125. — Margaret Downing

Each of the characters is lost in some way and finds him or herself in a bakery cafe next to a railroad depot hotel. Such is the setup for A.D. Players’ revival of its heartfelt comedy O Little Town of Bagels, Teacakes, and Hamburger Buns, penned by founder and Artistic Director Jeannette Clift George. Her “floury” title is a play on words: “Bethlehem” means town of bread, and this production is just as warm and satisfying. Managing Director Ric Hodgin puts on his acting hat, portraying the role of genial owner Bob MacIntyre, who finds himself surrounded by a hapless group of bakers, baristas and patrons looking for love and friendship on Christmas Eve. It’s a nostalgic play, and there’s a touch of that in Hodgin’s performance too: He was cast in the very first show the company mounted at its Grace Theater on West Alabama, and this is the last show in the venue before it moves to the newly constructed theater on Westheimer just outside the Loop. 8 p.m. December 2. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through December 23. 2710 West Alabama. For information, call 713-526-2721 or visit adplayers.org. $20 to $40. — Vic Shuttee

We've said it before: Mayor Sylvester Turner knows how to throw a party, and he's doing it again as he tries to top Clark Griswold's Christmas decorating style. Don't expect any National Lampoon hijinks, though, because the 97th Annual Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Presented by Reliant, an NRG Company, has all the provenance it needs to make sure the block won't go dark when the lights are turned on. The 64-foot-tall tree uses energy-efficient LED lights and is topped by a dazzling star; other luminaries making their appearance are Santa (be camera-ready), former Destiny's Child Michelle Williams, electro hip-hop violinist Svet, H-Town's hip-hop dance crew SoReal Cru and costumed characters from the Houston Ballet. They're throwing fireworks into the mix (synchronized to 60 voices singing the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah) and, if you covet a light-up Santa hat from Reliant, bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Salvation Army booth. 6 to 8 p.m. December 2. Hermann Square, 901 Bagby. For information, visit houstontx.gov/mayorsholiday. Free. — Susie Tommaney

There's a reason the homes in Houston Heights are so desirable. The Craftsman, Italianate Revival and century-old bungalows are beautifully preserved, and the dedicated homeowners really pull out all the stops when it comes to holiday decorating. Now six of the homes near and along the 1300 block of Cortlandt Street are opening their doors for the 2016 Holiday Home Tour — Jingle Bell Block, courtesy of the Houston Heights Association. Each stop has its own surprise: There's a vintage Muffy Bear collection, a train set (the owner, Mr. Potter, has been updating it since childhood), hand-carved Santas and amazing stained-glass windows inlaid with jewels. 6 to 9 p.m. December 2 and 3 to 9 p.m. December 3. Heights Fire Station, 107 West 12th. For information, call 713-861-4002, option 6, or visit houstonheights.org. $20 to $25. — Susie Tommaney



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