The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: 2014 DocFest and More
Kick off your weekend with the women from the Ruby Revue Burlesque Show. Pinup queen and burlesque dancer Bettina May, who's often compared to Rita Hayworth, appears as the special guest artist at one of Friday's two shows. It's easy to see why May gets compared to Hayworth - the Titian-haired beauty has a 36-28-38 figure, movie-star good looks and a vintage Hollywood glamour style. But Rita Hayworth never shimmied like Bettina May.
Among her most popular routines are a classic gown peel (her ode to Hayworth), a chair dance (a nod to Marlene Dietrich) and a showgirl showstopper (echoes of Josephine Baker). Originally from Canada, May earned her green card for her skill as a striptease artist. (She was deemed an "alien with extraordinary ability," a category usually reserved for scientists, world-class athletes and such.) Now based in New York City, May is the author of the recently released Everyday Bombshell, a how-to guide for women who want to add a bit of vintage pinup beauty to their lives.
Also appearing as a special guest is Grace Gotham. Billed as a bawdy chanteuse, the Dallas native has been known to take a spin on a pole if there's one handy. Gotham's a gourmet of sorts; she writes Tassel to Table Cuisine, a popular food blog.
The women of the Ruby Revue will take their turn in the spotlight. "We'll be performing our award-winning group act, Taste The Rainbow," troupe member Ginger Valentine tells us. "We won Best Troupe from [the] Burlesque Hall of Fame for that routine, and crowds always go nuts." Shelbelle Shamrock (also known as The Get Lucky Girl) is performing She's Dangerous, a routine that showcases her hip-hop and break-dancing skills. And Renee Holiday draws on her opera training for La Petite Morte, a satire of a classic aria.
See Bettina May, Grace Gotham and the Ruby Revue Burlesque Show at 6:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday at the House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. For information, visit therubyrevue.com. $32 to $40.
Robert "Doc" Morgan, the former director of jazz studies at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, was pretty happy when Grammy Award nominations were announced recently. No, he didn't get a nomination. He got something better: Three of his former students were among the nominees, each recognized for individual projects: Jason Moran, Everette Harp and Robert Glasper. "Oh, and Beyoncé, she got a bunch of nominations, too," he deadpans about PVA's most famous alum.
On Saturday, Harp headlines the 2014 DocFest, a music festival featuring Doc's ex-students. Bassist Chris Walker, currently a sideman for Al Jarreau, is chair of the event, which benefits the Helen and Bob Morgan Jazz Scholarship at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. DocFest has been in the works for more than a year, he tells us. "Doc was such an inspiration for so many of his students, it just seemed like the right thing to acknowledge that. He did so much more than just teach us about music; he taught us about the business, how to be professional, actually about how to be a good person. Those lessons have stayed with us whether we went into music or not."
Walker is slated to join Harp onstage during DocFest, as are keyboardists Darrell Lavigne and Skip Nallia, guitarist Dwight Sill, and drummer John Fontenot. Also performing are saxophonist Warren Sneed (currently director of jazz studies at HSPVA) and singer/guitarist Scott Gertner.
There's music 6 to 11 p.m. at Saturday's 2014 DocFest. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, visit docfestjazz.org. $25 to $50.
The Artic Ice Slide at Moody Gardens
Photo by Jerri Hamachek
You've got just a few more days to check out the Moody Gardens' Ice Land and Arctic Ice Slide (seen above), including this Saturday. While it might feel like T-shirts and shorts weather outside, you'll have to don a parka and mittens when you visit Moody Gardens' newest attraction, Ice Land: Ice Sculptures with SpongeBob SquarePants. A team of artisans from China have spent several weeks carving 50 figures and structures from 900 tons of ice to create a holiday spectacular. (Some of the sculptures are more than 30 feet tall.) Set inside a specially cooled tent, Ice Land boasts a temperature of nine degrees. (Nope, we're not missing a zero on that number -- nine degrees!)
The annual Moody Gardens Festival of Lights also is ready for visitors with more than 100 decorated holiday scenes and strolling entertainers. There are two extra-cool (literally!) attractions in the Festival of Lights -- a 100-foot-long Arctic Ice Slide and an outdoor ice rink.
See the Festival of Lights at 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Continues daily through January 3. Hours vary for Ice Land, Arctic Ice Slide and other attractions. 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, call 800‑582‑4673 or visit moodygardens.org. Prices vary.
Christmas might be officially over, but that won't mean much to the audience at the Manhattan Transfer Christmas Show when holiday tunes are given the cool jazz treatment the vocal group is known for on Sunday.
Made up of Janis Siegel, Alan Paul, Cheryl Bentyne and Trist Ethan Curless, the Manhattan Transfer is expected to throw a few of its most popular tunes, including "Java Jive," "Birdland" and "Tuxedo Junction," into the mix. Curless has only recently joined the group following the death of Transfer co-founder Tim Hauser. (Today's performance pays tribute to Hauser.) The Grammy Award-winning quartet, founded some 40 years ago, has long been recognized as one of the most innovative and versatile vocal groups around. (The Manhattan Transfer has ten Grammys to its credit, including the first ever win in both the pop and jazz categories in the same year.)
Catch the Manhattan Transfer at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston. For information, call 800‑821‑1894 or visit thegrand.com. $20 to $85.
The key word in the show title Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring The Rockettes is "spectacular." The Rockettes' signature performance style has never been what you could call subtle, and this year they've kicked everything up a few notches at the final two shows on Sunday. Expect all-new, bigger, brighter, more colorful musical numbers including New York at Christmas (the Rockettes climb on board a life-size double-decker bus and, with the help of a 50-foot LED screen, give the audience a tour of New York City).
In another scene, dozens of Santas dance across the stage...maybe we should say hundreds of dancing Santas; the dozens of live dancers are mirrored, seemingly to infinity, on an upstage video screen. Watch for the Rockettes' impressive tumbling line during "The Parade of Wooden Soldiers" and their fun, spirited version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" (since this is The Rockettes, yes, there's a kickline). Other numbers include scenes from The Nutcracker, a visit to Santa's workshop and a living nativity. The crescendo ending to the show is, of course, an onstage appearance by Santa Claus. (Pay close attention to his reindeer -- they look suspiciously like Rockettes!)
Catch the last two shows at noon and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 800‑952‑6560 or visit houston.broadway.com. $41 to $161.50.
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