What will we be driving in the year 2000? According to the Houston Auto Show, we might be cruising around in an Audi TT, a Mercedes-Benz S-class, a BMW M5, a Jaguar S-type or the world's first alternative-fueled sport utility vehicle, the Jeep Commander. I guess we'll be making a lot more money by then, too. Check out the cars of somebody's near future from noon to 9:30 p.m. at the Astrohall. Also, Friday, January 29, noon-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 30, 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 31, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Call (713)799-9500 or go to www.houstonautoshow.com for information. $7; up to two free hours of childcare service provided.
Patti Labelle doesn't need a "New Attitude." She's got something even better: a new touring partner with an old attitude. No matter what he does, Gerald Levert will probably always be known first as the son of the legendary O'Jays' Eddie Levert, but that seems to be okay with him. Most of Gerald's work is sweaty, sensual, gospel-inspired R&B that recalls the soul music of the '60s and '70s -- his dad's music. In fact, one song off his latest album, Love & Consequences, incorporates a few lines from the O'Jays' 1972 hit "Back Stabbers." Patti Labelle and Gerald Levert play the Arena Theater, 7326 Southwest Frwy., at 8 p.m. Call (713)988-1020 for tickets, $55.
Based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, Stephen Sondheim's musical theater classic A Little Night Music tells the story of three terribly mismatched couples: Frederik is married to the much younger Anne but still in love with his former lover, Desiree; Desiree is seeing a count whose wife is throwing herself at Frederick in hopes of making her husband jealous. It gets better. Desiree decides she loves Frederik back, but he rejects her -- until he finds out that wife Anne is running away with his son (her stepson) Henrik. If that plot line's not enough, go to see star soprano Evelyn Lear, a new Multimedia Modular Stage that puts the orchestra on stage with the singers, or Sondheim's only crossover hit, "Send in the Clowns," performed as the composer intended it. The opening begins at 7:30 p.m., with additional performances on January 30, February 3, 6, 9 and 12. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. January 31 and February 14. Houston Grand Opera, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. Call (713)227-ARTS for tickets, $20-$175.
You just can't lose when you combine two wildly entertaining prospects like the greatest show on earth and the biggest Mardi Gras parade on Galveston Island. The Knights of Momus, Galveston's oldest krewe dating back to 1871, has created 20 circus-inspired floats featuring performers from the Big Apple Circus and the Philadelphia Mummers. The Momus Grand Night Parade isn't until February 13 (official Mardi Gras dates are Feb. 5-16), but you can get in the mood today at the Galveston Artwalk when Houston photographer Kimberly Gremillion, of Gremillion & Co. gallery, unveils 21 black-and-white photos in an exhibition called "Circus Shadows." Gremillion became interested in life under the big top four years ago when she photographed Circus Flora in Houston: "I am fascinated by the combination of personalities, talents and oddities that bring this group of people together...." 6-9 p.m. "Circus Shadows" will be at the Mardi Gras Museum, 2211 Strand, (409)763-1133, through February 14. Regular hours are Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. $2; $1, students.
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The Houston Cat Show is not just a feline-breeding beauty pageant. They've got a live cougar for the petting, Friskies cats for the performing and a pet psychic to help you get inside your Maine Coon's mind. The local Cat Club even lets mixed-breed "household pets" compete in costumes and Beanie Baby look-alike contests. And most of the money goes to spay and neuter clinics here in Houston. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Also, Saturday, January 30. The Friskies cats perform at noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. both days. George R. Brown Convention Center, Hall C. $6; $3, seniors and kids under 12.
Just can't get enough Sondheim? Lucky for you, neither can the opera houses. The University of Houston's Moores School of Music is performing Into the Woods, a Sondheim musical based on the various fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. To lift a curse that prevents them from having children, a baker, played by Ilich Guardiola, and his wife have to collect items from such characters as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack (the one of Beanstalk fame). But like most Grimm fairy tales, Into the Woods doesn't end "happily ever after." 7:30 p.m. Also, January 29, 30 and 31 (2 p.m. matinee). Edythe Bates Old Moores Opera Center, University of Houston main campus, entrance no. 16 off Cullen Blvd and I-45. Call (713)743-3313 for reservations and information. $10 general admission; $5, students and seniors.
Ah, Galveston -- the sea air, the Artwalks, the restaurants, the Mardi Gras parades, the ugly brown sand.... If you're craving a glimpse of the fine white stuff, head to the Rice University Art Gallery instead. Rice grad Michael Petry has returned to his alma mater with enough to cover the entire floor. In Petry's take on The History of the World, video stories about lovers imprinting themselves on the bodies of loved ones are projected onto the ever-changing footprints in the sand. Granted, there's no beach in sight, but what do you expect for free? Open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. through February 28. Rice University campus, entrance no. 1 off Main. Call (713)527-6069 for more information. Free.
Don't let the Auto Show get you down. The real wave of the automobile future (besides public transportation, of course) is "customization," and for fine customized specimens you should head across town to the Art Car Museum. Jason Perez's "Causing Chaos" is a 1995 Saturn low rider with a walk-through back end and a working interior fountain. Roland Longoria's "Hellraiser" bicycle is plated in gold and studded with rubies. Rice University professor George Smith's "Journey to Bandingara" looks more like abstract art than an automobile, but even at 1800 pounds, it still moves -- a little. Art Car Museum, 140 Heights Blvd. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (713)861-5526 for more information. Free.