The Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Paquito D'Rivera, Houston Press Artopia 2014 and More

Saxophonist and composer Paquito D'Rivera is one of the few artists to conquer both classical music and Latin jazz. D'Rivera made his symphony debut before he was in his teens, went on to become a founding member of the legendary Afro-Cuban music group Irakere, was an original member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, led his own Latin jazz orchestra, appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic orchestra, and recorded with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Over his career -- now spanning some six decades -- D'Rivera has earned 11 Grammy Awards; the first was for the 1979 album Irakere, which took home the Best Latin Jazz recording award, and the latest was the 2011 release Panamericana Suite, which earned him his fourth Latin Grammy. D'Rivera comes to Houston, thanks to Da Camera, for a one-night performance on Friday with guitar duo João Luiz and Douglas Lora. The program includes music by D'Rivera as well as Jacob do Bandolim, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Astor Piazzolla.

8 p.m. Friday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $35 to $65.

In Failure: A Love Story, by Philip Dawkins (a playwright with an increasing buzz about him), the grandiose themes of love, death and the transient nature of life are tackled on a minimalist stage and in a way both practical and magical, according to Leslie Swackhamer, a professor at Sam Houston State who is once again returning to direct at Stages Repertory Theatre. Failure, one of our choices for Friday, is the story of the three Fail sisters, whose immigrant parents make it to America only to die in a car wreck in their new hometown of Chicago. Each of the daughters is loved, and lost, in turn by Mortimer Mortimer (yes, that's his name), played by David Matranga. Each daughter is distinctive and special, and all three will be played by Courtney James (previously In the Next Room...or the vibrator play along with Matranga and directed by Swackhamer). Set in the late 1920s, the play includes music of the time ("Let Me Call You Sweetheart") as well as instruments rarely seen anymore (the melodeon, the harmonium).

Despite the deaths, Swackhamer says the story is really about how people can embrace life. The play runs anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours -- they haven't quite narrowed that down yet; it'll depend in part on how many songs and dances they toss in, Swackhamer says. At a certain point, all the actors turn into clocks, she says. A gramophone is conjured up by a person blowing into a horn, while a bright green scarf becomes a parrot. "How do I do a car wreck onstage with no car? How does somebody swim across Lake Michigan onstage?" she asks. "This playwright trusts the audience and invites them to use their imagination."

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713‑527‑0123 or visit $19 to $54.

Photographer Chuy Benitez is one of the winners of the MasterMind Awards.
Photographer Chuy Benitez is one of the winners of the MasterMind Awards.
Photo by Chuy Benitez

Upcoming Events

It's one of the biggest -- and best -- parties of the year: Houston Press Artopia 2014. Okay, we admit we're a little biased, but it really is a great party and it's our only choice for Saturday. The highlight of the evening is the presentation of the sixth annual Houston Press MasterMind Awards sponsored by Stella Artois to this year's three winners: photographer Chuy Benitez, dancer/choreographer jhon r. stronks and classical music ensemble the Apollo Chamber Players. They're being recognized for their talent, ingenuity and contribution to the Houston arts scene. Progressive, provocative and at the forefront of their field, each winner takes home a $2,000 no-strings-attached check. There are also several dance and music performances, a couple of fashion shows, including one by Chloe Dao, and a warehouse-wide art exhibit of more than 25 local visual artists and lots of food and drink. Get your tickets quickly (this event is expected to sell out) and check our website for information on the official afterparty. A portion of the event's proceeds benefit Houston Public Media.

8 p.m. Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter. For information, call 713-280-2400 or visit $45 to $100.

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