When Jesus Christ Superstar debuted more than 30 years ago, people turned out to picket the blazingly hard-rock opera about Jesus' last days. But today, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's show is a theatrical standard. And while the Who's Tommy, which featured a Christlike figure, came earlier as a rock opera, the source material for Superstar is, oh, just a tad older. Like Shakespeare's plays, Superstar has been presented in a variety of settings, and this production marries Escape from New York with Rent, with Jesus as a goateed, boho urban hipster lording (no pun intended) over a vaguely Orwellian apocalyptic/futuristic world. But with the catchy songs and monster guitar riffs intact, it's a lot more fun than some dull sermon.
And Superstar's not-so-subtle comments on modern celebrity and the cycle of fame have even more resonance today. (We wouldn't be surprised if this latest production featured a cameo by Paris Hilton.) Opens Tuesday, December 21, and runs through Sunday, December 26, at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information and showtimes, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.broadwayacrossamerica.com. $10 to $61. -- Bob Ruggiero
Drumming Up Some Cash
It's philanthropic and funky at the Christmas Jazz Show
Legendary drummer-bandleader Bubbha Thomas has been giving the gift of music to Houston for decades. He founded his multipronged Jazz Education program in the early '70s at a time when the nation was experiencing deep, bitter divisions over issues such as Vietnam and civil rights. Thomas continues to promote jazz to Houston-area youths, but his goodwill costs money, and public funding is scarce. That's why proceeds from his Christmas Jazz Show this week will benefit the Jazz Education program. It's a unique opportunity for philanthropic jazz lovers to make a difference and groove their asses off at the same time. Kyle Turner, Norma Zenteno, the Choraleers and the Trombone Quartet also appear. 8 p.m. Thursday, December 16, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman. For information, call 713-528-4100 or visit www.jazzeducation.org. $30 in advance; $35 at the door. -- Scott Faingold
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Though he's not exactly a household name, funnyman Jake Johannsen's comedy special, This'll Take About an Hour, is listed in TV Guide's "50 Funniest Moments on Television." He's a comic's comic: When Bob Newhart was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, he specifically requested Johannsen to perform during the ceremony. Johannsen has manned many a stage over his nearly 20-year career, but he always delivers new material -- like observational rants on Iowa, dads and women -- when he stops by. Thursday, December 16, through Sunday, December 19. The Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information and showtimes, call 713-333-8800 or visit www.improvhouston.com. $15 to $17. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
Honey, She's Home
In a past life, Bria Zari was a college student and local journalist, penning pieces for the Houston Press and other publications around town. Now, she's a budding rock diva who jiggles it on stage wearing strategically placed fur and a big grin. A New York resident, she returns to Houston to front the band HoneyHut for a CD release party at the Rhythm Room. See if Ms. Zari loves company at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, December 18. 1815 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-863-0943 or visit www.honeyhut.net. $5. -- Steven Devadanam