Freshman Year Sucks! doesn't suck. In fact, Rob Nash's funny one-man, 26-character play about his experiences at Houston's Strake Jesuit College Prep school made its local debut at Stages last summer to significantly less-than-sucky reviews. Now, the reluctantly gay Ben, the awkward and nerdy George and their fearless leader, Johnny, are back in town to relive their sucky freshman year and introduce Sophomore Slump, the second play in Nash's Holy Cross Quadrilogy. The heroes are, of course, a year older, but the new play is set ten years later, in the 1992-93 school year. "By skipping around in time," Nash says, "I hope to show the timelessness of the high school rite of passage." The forthcoming Junior Blues and Senioritis will be set in 2013 and 1954, respectively. But first Nash is taking Freshman Year Sucks! and Sophomore Slump to New York for an off-Broadway run -- that's why Jeff Calhoun, the Tony Award-winner of Will Rogers Follies, Annie Get Your Gun and Grease! revival fame, is directing. Performances run Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. through July 18. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, (713)52-STAGES. $12-$15.
What do you get when you set a few female choreographers loose on issues like labels, relationships and societal balancing acts? Weave? No, not this time. There's a new woman-friendly, semi-political dance group in town: Isadora's Dish. Inspired by everything from Martha Stewart to their own backyards, Susan Blair, Amy Ell, Sandy Marcello and Leslie Scates started dishing out dances together in 1997. This year they'll present Blair's Lord Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, featuring a high wire but not a safety net; Marcello's piece about stereotypes and semantics, Swinger; Ell's untitled multidisciplinary collaboration; and Scates's duet about the "heteroworld," Welcome to My Tipi; and her solo look at mother-daughter traditions. The performance, which begins at 8 p.m., concludes DiverseWorks's season. Also, Thursday and Saturday, June 24 and 26, at 8 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, (713)228-0914. $12; $10 students and seniors; $8 members.
Les Blank has a way with documentaries. If the typical documentary is anthropological, educational and dry, Blank's films are funny, fascinating and profound. Perhaps it's his choice of subject matter: The Blues Accordin' to Lightnin' Hopkins follows the charismatic Texas singer through backyard barbecues, black rodeos and a return to his childhood home in Centerville. Always for Pleasure wanders through a traditional New Orleans brass-band funeral, "black Indian" one-upsmanship and Mardi Gras preparations. And Gap-Toothed Women points out the similarity between Lauren Hutton, Sandra Day O'Connor and Howdy Doody, and asks the question of whether a space between your teeth makes a difference in your life. Blank himself will introduce all three of these films at the Museum of Fine Arts's Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, (713)639-7300, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and go on sale 30 minutes before showtime. On Friday, June 25, at 9 p.m., Blank will introduce his latest film, Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists, at the Orange Show, 2402 Munger, (713)926-6368.
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Following in the footsteps of its sister company, Suchu Dance (who presented Eight Flying Dogs at the Jewish Community Center last weekend), Fly Dance Company is taking on its own seamless, evening-length production for the first time. The hip-hop-turned-modern dancers are performing old favorites such as the funny and crowd-pleasing Mambo, the skateboard-inspired This Is It and Bounce, a dance about the stock market that Fly is entering in the year 2000 Rencontres competition in Paris. But they've also created The Red Line, a new martial arts piece set to the music of Kodo drummers and performed with R.E.D. Dance Company, Fly director Kathy Wood's younger talent pool. Also, Chris Gamez will perform his solo, Have You Forgotten Who I Am, and trickster John Ramirez will head-spin his way through Jabberwocky. Quick costume changes are facilitated by Justin Calhoun's photographic projections of the Fly guys. Fly Zone begins at 3 p.m. Also, Saturday, June 26, at 8 p.m. Kaplan Theatre, Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For tickets, call (713)729-3200. For performance information, call (713)523-3709. $13 general public, $11 JCC members, $8 students and seniors.
This just in: In a move that shocked the world, a flock of 40 Antarctic King Penguins has made itself at home on the always-unseasonably-warm Galveston Island. How are our fine and feathered but frigid friends feeling about the climate change? Well, it was perfect when they were eggs, collected from South Georgia Island and kept in 96-degree incubators. But now that they've hatched and grown some plumage, they need extreme air-conditioning. Luckily, the recreated rocky Antarctic coast in the new Aquarium at Moody Gardens is kept at a nice, comfortable 35 degrees. The aquarium will also house other Galveston newcomers, including fur seals, coral reefs, stingrays, eels and sharks. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. One Hope Boulevard, Galveston, (800)582-4673. $10.25; $7.25, seniors; $5.25, kids; free for children three and under.
Photographer Nan Goldin became famous in the 1980s for shooting real New York scenes of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Her "Ballad of Sexual Dependency" was an edgy installation of 700 projected images accompanied by a blues, soul and new wave music soundtrack. "But this show," says Contemporary Arts Museum Senior Curator Dana Friis-Hansen, "is comprised of images which are more deeply felt, emotionally atmospheric and even metaphorical." This survey of Goldin's more recent work includes such peaceful images as a sleeping lover and swimmers in a lake, but also pictures that touch on the difficult process of recovery after addiction. "Nan Goldin: Recent Photographs" is on view Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to 9 p.m. Thursday) and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. through August 8. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, (713)284-8250; www.camh.org. Free.
Space Center Houston's new summer exhibit asks kids the question, "Do you have what it takes to play in the future?" It's actually not as easy as it might seem. "StarTropolis: An Intergalactic Space Place for Kids...In a Galaxy Not So Far Away" will disorient them with its "Cosmic Corridor" and toss them around in its "Multi-Axis Gyro Tumbler." The "Celestial Spinner" may make them lose their lunch, but luckily the "levitating lavatory of the future" is nearby. Space Center Houston is open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Labor Day. 1601 NASA Road 1 (20 miles south of downtown, off I-45 at Johnson Space Center), Clear Lake, (281)244-2100. $12.95; $11.95 for seniors; $8.95 for children four to 11; free for younger children.