The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: From Marilyn Monroe to Otello
Detail of a photo of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Prince and The Showgirl
Courtesy of Limited Runs
Our first suggestion for Friday is the short-run exhibit "Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Photos of a Hollywood Star." Many of the images seen in the collection "The Lost Photos" were, in fact, literally lost. Mischa Pelz's photos, taken in 1953, were found by his former assistant after an earthquake damaged the storeroom where they were being kept. Cinematographer Thomas "Doc" Kaminski, who documented the filming of The Misfits in 1960, shot candid photos of the actors on the set and mailed them home to his family, where they went unnoticed for 40 years.
Family members found photos taken by Allan "Whitey" Snyder, Monroe's makeup artist and a close friend, in an attic. "They always knew they [existed]," says Pierre Vudrag, the founder of Limited Runs and curator for the exhibit, "but they didn't know exactly where they were.
"She and Allan were very, very close friends," Vudrag tells us. "She met Allan when she did her very first screen test and he had just been hired as a makeup artist. They were both coming up together and they hit it off. He worked with her right up to her death. They were so close that she asked him, 'If I die before you, I want you to do my makeup.' In the end, he did her makeup and was a pallbearer at her funeral. They were very close friends, so I think you see a lot of her not in the typical Hollywood pose. You see her, who she was behind the persona. You see her just being with her friends, just being Norma Jean."
"Lost Photos" is available for viewing noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bisong Art Gallery, 1305 Sterrett Street. For information, visit limitedruns.com. Free.
Photo by Lynn Lane
It's your last chance to see the Houston Grand Opera's production of Otello - the show closes on Friday. The dramatic, moving production follows Otello, who is a Moor and several years senior to his wife Desdemona; she's a Christian who defies her father and family to run away and marry the man she believes is her true love. Perhaps he should have known better, but he falls in love with the idea of her being in love with him. And then there's Iago, the creature so unhappy in his own right that he spreads lies and dissension among those around him. As anyone who has read William Shakespeare's Othello knows, this is not a happily-ever-after fairy tale. Brought to life with gorgeous music by Giuseppe Verdi, the opera Otello remains a classic because of its strong themes and the opportunity it gives singers to shine. Soprano Ailyn Perez, who has won both the Tucker and the Domingo awards, is making her role and Houston Grand Opera debut as Desdemona, playing opposite tenor Simon O'Neill. "It's not a beginner's type of role. I'm very grateful it's come at this time," Perez said. Describing her character, Perez says: "She's probably one of the most strikingly feminine women that I've ever interpreted in a very quiet way, in a very naive way.
"Desdemona is almost a silent heroine. She doesn't come out with an aria. The only time she sings alone onstage is her 'Ave Maria.'" It was a challenge to understand her, Perez readily admits. "She leaves her whole life up to destiny and wonders why she's not understanding anything." But still, Perez said, Desdemona is strong. "Her final lines are 'I did this to myself.' Otello, his passion and violence were still nothing in comparison to her." HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct and John Cox of Covent Garden will return to direct.
The final performance of Otello is at 7:30 p.m.on Friday. Wortham Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713‑288‑6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $354.
, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's tribute to one of France's most loved filmmaker continues withRemembering François Truffaut: The Story of Adele H (L'histoire d'Adèle H.)
The drama tells the story of Victor Hugo's daughter Adele, a poet and composer, as she follows a British officer around the world after he refuses her affection. Determined to win his heart no matter what the cost, Adele becomes increasingly erratic and unpredictable. Isabelle Adjani, who was only 20 years old during the 1975 filming, gives a wonderful performance as the complicated and tenacious Adele.
See Adele at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Our suggestion for Saturday, is Danse Macabre: The Constant Companion. From the warped minds of 14 Pews artist-in-resident Two Star Symphony, and its dark puppet-master counterpart, Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre, Companion is a despairingly funny black comedy . It's the tale of Sid, a man who wallows in hopelessness and despair, eventually resolving to kill himself. "He seeks help," Joel Orr, Bobbindoctrin's founder and artistic director, tells us, "but only finds encouragement to commit suicide. In a way, this is a parable of depression. All around him he sees signs that this is the best possible solution. It's cruel, for sure, but funny."
Houston audiences first saw a Two Star and Bobbindoctrin collaboration on The Constant Companion a decade ago. After a two-week run, the show closed and the puppets were packed away. Two Star Symphony recently approached Orr with the idea of resurrecting the show when it won a residency at 14 Pews. Orr agreed and the puppets came out of storage. "I still had all of the puppets, but had to rebuild the sets and some effects, and then do my best to reconstruct what we did back then. Luckily, Christopher Daniello, our sound designer, had all our sound archives, sound cue instructions and the list of videos we ended up reprising in the show. With this, I was able to successfully piece the show back together."
To be sure, Constant Companion is low-tech. The puppets are handmade and manipulated by Orr and other puppeteers who are visible to the audience. "In this...world of CGI and lush digital sounds, we operate in a decidedly analog way. Even the video [seen in the show] was constructed using an old PixelVision video camera to give it an old, grainy, otherworldly effect."
See The Constant Companion at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. 800 Aurora. For information, visit bobbindoctrin.wordpress.com. Pay-what-you-can to $15.
Our suggestion for Sunday is "Traditions Transfigured: The Noh Masks of Bidou Yamaguchi," a one-of-a-kind exhibition presented by Asia Society Texas Center. Bridget Bray, curator and director of exhibitions at the center, tells us, "We wanted Houstonians to have an understanding of contemporary art in Japan. Yamaguchi is a unique artist. No one else is doing what he is doing." What Yamaguchi is doing is taking Noh masks - that is, traditional character masks from centuries-old Japanese dramas - and bringing them into the 21st century.
The first sections of the four-part exhibition "unpack and explain the tradition the artist is working off of." Here viewers see videos and unfinished masks that detail the carving process, other works of his art and the history of Noh theater. "The process area helps the viewer really connect with the artist," Bray says.
In the last sections of the exhibit, viewers see how Yamaguchi plays with traditional elements of Noh mask-making to create pieces of contemporary art in works from his Edo Pop series and European portrait series. In his European portrait series, Yamaguchi has created three-dimensional Noh mask--interpretations of iconic female portraits like da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Botticelli's Venus. The exhibition includes a mask that visitors can try on and take photos with (selfies!).
See "Traditions Transfigured: The Noh Masks of Bidou Yamaguchi" 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays. Through February 15. Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713‑496‑9901 or visit asiasociety.org/texas. $5. Margaret Downing and Kristina Nungaray contributed to this post.
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