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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Defy Gravity, #SummerSeries, Daniel Silva and More

The cast of Defy Gravity
The cast of Defy Gravity

Take "Popular" from the musical Wicked and blend it with "True Love's Kiss" from the film Enchanted and you have some idea of what you can expect at Defy Gravity: A Stephen Schwartz Songbook, our choice for Friday night. Conceived by Michael Bobbitt with musical arrangements by John Cornelius II, and presented here by Standing Room Only Productions, Defy Gravity features re-imagined classics by Schwartz, including several combined tunes. It "gives both numbers a brand new feel," SRO producer John Lazo tells us. "It's ... something that I don't think Houston audiences have ever experienced before, at least not in this way."

Ten actors make up Defy Gravity's cast. Performing in an intimate, black-box setting, the actors don't play characters, in the traditional sense, as much as they take on personas according to the songs which include "Day by Day" from Godspell, "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas and the lesser-known "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife. Lazo admits "Meadowlark" is among his favorites. "It is already perhaps one of the half-dozen most beautiful ballads in the history of American musical theater; in Defy Gravity [it's] performed by ... Cristina Quevedo Singleton, Christopher Zelko and Eduardo Tercero. Big dance numbers are wonderful, but few things move an audience more than a beautiful ballad."

Defy Gravity runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through August 2. Obsidian Art Space, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 713-300-2358 or visit sro-productions.com. $25.50 to $42.50.

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Artist Taft McWhorter, recently named one of Houston's Top 10 Painters by the Houston Press arts blog Art Attack, has some advice for fans planning to visit #SummerSeries, another choice event for Friday. (And yes, with some 100 artists spread out through two large complexes, you will need a plan if you want to see everything.) "You can start at either building, but try and leave time to visit every artist if possible," McWhorter tells us. "With the close proximity of Winter Street and Silver Street Studios, you should be able to visit all 100 artists in three hours. If you want to be more strategic than that, you can preview the list of artists that are participating and look up their websites before hand.

One hundred participating artists means there will literally be thousands of original works on display, including paintings, sculptures, glasswork, fiber art and more. "The interesting thing ... is that you seldom have the opportunity to see this amount of artwork in one place, meet the artists in person and see their workspace. By visiting the artists' workspace, you immediately get a better sense of who the artist is and it helps you understand their work," McWhorter says.

#SummerSeries is sponsored, in part, by the Houston Press. 6 to 9 p.m. July 18 and August 22. Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter and Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards. For information, visit silverstreethouston.com. Free.

If you're planning to attend the Daniel Silva author appearance at Murder by the Book on Saturday, we suggest you get there early And carpool if you can. In town to discuss and sign his latest thriller, The Heist, Silva is expected to draw on the largest crowds of the year at the bookstore (which traditionally draws large numbers of readers). John Kwiatkowski, Murder By The Book publicity manager, tells us, "Silva has been coming to the store since early in his career. His books have always been store favorites and ones that we've always hand sold. He's a very dynamic speaker and his talks cover history, art and current events. I think word of mouth about his talks combined with us [pushing the] series is a big part of why Houston has such a devoted fan base for him."

A New York Times bestselling author, Silva is following up his recent hit The English Girl with The Heist another story about Gabriel Allon, an art restorer and retired spy. This time Allon is on the search for a missing Caravaggio masterpiece and the best way to find that masterpiece, he finds, might be to steal another one.

Daniel Silva reads from and signs The Heist at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713 524 8597 or visit murderbooks. Free (this is a ticketed event).

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Ellar Coltraine in Boyhood
Ellar Coltraine in Boyhood
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

For Sunday you have your choice of two great films, the newly released Boyhood and 1970's The Go-Between. Let's look at Boyhood first.

Fans of the independent filmmaker Richard Linklater already know he's obsessed with the passage of time. His most famous work is the Before trilogy: Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013) - all starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as one­night lovers, then, nine years later, unrequited lovers, then, nine years yet again, a couple who may or may not stay together. But Boyhood (2014) surpasses even the Before trilogy. In Boyhood, which premiered last January at Sundance Film Festival and is now screening daily at the River Oaks Theatre, we watch child actor Ellar Coltraine, as six­-year­-old Mason, literally grow up over the course of two-­and­-a­-half hours. He starts as a pudgy kid staring dreamily at the sky, then sprouts into a gawky teen, then morphs right into the cusp of adulthood.

In some form of divine providence, young man Coltraine with his scruffy chin whiskers bears on uncanny resemblance to Hawke (Linklater's muse) who plays his step­dad. Patricia Arquette plays Mason's mom, and Linklater's own daughter Lorelei plays Mason's older sister. Shot over a period of 12 years, grabbing shooting schedules whenever the actors were available, Boyhood is positively the most amazing coming­-of­age movie. Encased within a fictional story, the most mundane everyday stuff slips away with an overwhelming ache. This is emotional time­ lapse photography of real life. See how fast it goes.

Screening times vary daily. River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713­524­2175 or visit landmarktheatres.com. $10.50.

Dominic Guard and Julie Christie in The Go-Between
Dominic Guard and Julie Christie in The Go-Between

Swept along by Michel Legrand's romantic theme, how could Alan Bates and Julie Christie, at the peak of their beauty and fire, not consummate their forbidden love? With a literate adaption by Harold Pinter, co­authored with novelist L.P. Hartley, The Go­Between (1970), directed by Joseph Losey (The Boy With Green Hair, The Servant, Accident), is lush with a banked heat that threatens to burst into flame at any moment, singeing the boxwoods and anyone who gets in the way. Invited by upper crust classmate for a visit to the sprawling family home, young Leo (Dominic Guard) gets caught up in the machinations between sultry Christie, who's engaged to rich Edward Fox, and her true love, farmer Bates. Unaware at first, subject to manipulation by all, Leo carries love letters back and forth from the lovers who know their relationship has no chance of success in class ­conscious England.

The loss of innocence is as important a theme as is social pressure, and an older Leo (Michael Redgrave) looks back throughout the film and realizes what devastation occurred, particularly to himself. Margaret Leighton, as Christie's mother, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, but, surprisingly, the movie received no other accolades in the United States, although showered with awards from England and the continent. Then again Losey had relocated to England during the House Un­American Activities Committee period, after he refused to testify about his Communist Party affiliations. Seems Hollywood doesn't always forget... or forgive.

See The Go-Between at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.

D.L. Groover contributed to this post.

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Murder by the Book

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Houston, TX 77005

713-524-8597

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Spring Street Studios

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