Rich people have license to act screwy because their wealth protects them. Exposés of their ill behavior abound, and in entertainments more literary than MTV's Rich Girls. Wendy McLeod's play The House of Yes (which was made into a 1997 movie starring indie queen Parker Posey and rich girl Tori Spelling) explores the extreme dysfunction lurking beneath the upstanding surface of the Pascal family. In a new production at Stages Repertory Theatre, Anthony Marsala plays Marty Pascal, who brings his fiancée, Lesly (Niki Thomas), home for Thanksgiving. But Lesly ends up spending the holiday with her hackles up, finding herself in a sexual rivalry with Marty's twin sister, who calls herself Jackie-O (Jennifer Farley).
Marsala compares the Pascal family's moral flexibility to that of Michael Jackson. "There's no boundaries for him," he says. "And the family in this play -- because they have such power and wealth -- they also throw off any moral boundaries." Director Joe Angel Babb puts it simply: "The outside world is beneath them." But Farley feels pity for her character, Jackie-O, who must watch her twin brother pull away from her. Says Farley: "It's the only sexual-related experience that she's ever enjoyed."
8 p.m. Friday, February 6, through February 29. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-547-0440 or visit www.u-p.org. $15 to $20. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
Not Fade Away
There's an old adage that says blues players appreciate over time, and 54-year-old piano-whacker Marcia Ball can attest to its truth. Ball might as well have a reserved parking place at the Handy Awards, which is the blues equivalent of the Grammys. Over the past six years, she's needed extra trunk space to haul home her multiple statues. The six-foot-tall Texan has another pile of nominations for the 2004 awards, including Best Contemporary Blues Album for her latest release, So Many Rivers. Possessing the energy and enthusiasm of artists half her age, the queen of honky-tonk blues commands attention when she clicks her fingernails across the keyboard of her electric 88s. An occasional bonus at H-town gigs is Ball's brother Van Mouton, a Bayou City dweller who's been known to join the band on washboard. 10 p.m. Friday, February 6. Continental Club, 3700 Main. For information, call 713-529-9899 or visit www.continentalclub.com. -- Greg Barr
Tower of Power
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Now here's a dance troupe with a good dose of freak-show appeal. Tripped-out tumbling, amazing displays of strength and mind-boggling contortion make the Peking Acrobats one of the greatest shows on earth. Hand-selected at an early age by the high-flying Hai family, the performers devote their lives to mastering gymnastics, comedy, magic and dance, not to mention all-around crazy-ass stunts. It's a bit of a stretch to believe them when they claim that their acrobatic antics are meant to mirror the toils and pleasantries of everyday life -- unless, of course, you don't happen to own a ladder. 7 p.m. Saturday, February 7. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4SPA or visit www.spahouston.org. $15. -- Keith Plocek
What's that small bittersweet voice fighting the Galveston Symphony Orchestra's flutes to take the melody? It's Houston Symphony Orchestra soloist Anne Leek's throaty oboe, standing up for the beauty of the double-reed woodwinds. This weekend, Leek will perform Mozart's Oboe Concerto, along with works by Mussorgsky, Ibert and Brahms. 7 p.m. Sunday, February 8. Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice in Galveston. For information, call 409-765-1894 or visit www.thegrand.com. $12 to $15. -- Lisa Simon