Our choice for Friday comedian Jo Koy, who lives in California, doesn't mind earthquakes, but tornados, well, that's something else. Koy had just arrived at a Kentucky airport when one of the baggage handlers told him a tornado warning was in effect. "Don't worry, it's not a tornado, it's just a tornado warning." "What's the warning?" Koy asked. "It's a siren." "Like a fire-engine siren? What, like a police siren?"
Unconcerned, the baggage handler said, "Don't worry, when you hear it, you'll know it. And when you hear it, run and hide." "Wha-wha-what?" stammered Koy. "Run. And. Hide. A tornado, it just appears. It just picks up shit and starts throwing it."
Koy prefers earthquakes, which he insists he ignores. "Fuck an earthquake! We don't care nothing about earthquakes in the Bay Area. They try to scare us all the time, telling us California's gonna break off into the ocean. Yeah! That's what we want -- the California Islands. We'll a-l-l have oceanfront property."
Jo Koy performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Improv Comedy Showcase, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, visit the Improv website or call 713‑333-8800. $25 to $55.
Our second choice for Friday, singer and composer Lila Downs was born in Mexico, but it would be inaccurate to describe her songs as Mexican music. She mixes traditional Latin rhythms with elements of jazz, blues, soul and African roots music to create something that is uniquely her own. Her latest album, Pecados y Milagros, was released to -enthusiastic reviews and held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top Latin Albums Chart for three consecutive weeks.
Presented by the Society for the Performing Arts, Downs takes the stage at 8 p.m. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the SPA's website or call 713‑227‑4772. $35 to $70.
In Dollhouse, the new play at Stages Repertory Theatre and our choice for Saturday, the character Nora is "constantly making bets, playing tactics, trying to weigh the stakes, and she has a very fluid feminine energy -- 'I'll be for you what you need so that I'll also get what I want,'" says director Eva Laporte. "Nora is smarter than people might think; she may not be as smart as she thinks, though," Laporte adds.
If anything about that sounds familiar, it should. Dollhouse by playwright Rebecca Gilman is peopled with characters similar to those in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's classic A Doll's House -- which shocked audiences in the late 1800s with its ending. But this updated version takes a different, 21st-century turn, although its ending may equally shock audiences of today.
Terry and Nora are married, not entirely happily, as they try to pursue their version of the American Dream. "This entire household is trying to craft the perfect picture of a family and a life. So we really look at it through this modern lens," Laporte says. "What is the cost to have a truly intimate relationship with two people who are being fulfilled? Is that possible?" Gilman's play was commissioned in 2004, which adds a certain poignancy to it. "This was right before the cusp of the mortgage bubble crash, so there was a sort of innocence that an upwardly mobile middle class had about what the American Dream could look like for them," Laporte says.
Dollhouse coincides with Stages' annual Surround, a series of lectures, post-show discussions and a visual art exhibit. This Surround explores what the American Dream looks like to different people and how it has evolved, Laporte says.
See Dollhouse at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through April 28. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, visit the Stages' website or call 713-527-0123. $21 to $40.
Director Pelin Esmer's 2012 Gozetleme Kulesi (Watchtower), part of the MFAH Turkish Film Festival and one of our choices for Sunday, tells the story of two people who try to find love and solace while keeping their past at bay. Nihat (Olgun Şimşek) is a fire warden stationed in a remote tower; Seher (Nilay Erdönmez) is a woman who works at a rural bus station. When their paths cross, they cautiously begin a life together. Watchtower is Esmer's first feature. The Turkish Film Festival also includes screenings of Toll Booth, Lost Songs of Anatolia, Shattered Soul with actor Tamer Karadağlı in attendance and more.
See Gozetleme Kulesi (Watchtower) at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, visit the museum's website or call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $10.
If you know nothing else about opera, chances are you'll recognize the tune "La donna è mobile" from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, our second choice for Sunday. An immediate hit at the time (1851), the song had a much easier initial passage than the opera itself, which at least one censor thought was disgracefully obscene. The opera, of course, went on to great success and is now regularly performed around the world. This time, it's a college opera group tackling it.
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According to soprano Ashly Neumann, a second-year grad student at the University of Houston who alternates the role of the beautiful Gilda with Kirsten Leslie, director Buck Ross believes he has the collection of talent right now to pull it off. "I'm playing Gilda, the daughter of Rigoletto, the court jester. Gilda has been seeing this duke at church. He bribes her nurse so they can have an encounter," Neumann says. What follows is love on her part and lust and abandonment on his. All of that is overlaid with a curse that had been placed on her father and the duke by the father of a young woman previously wronged by the duke with the encouragement of Rigoletto.
Neumann says anyone who hasn't seen opera at the Moores's 800-seat theater is missing something. "To see the opera in such an intimate setting at Moores Opera House," she says, "it's just a fantastic experience."
See Rigoletto at 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 2 p.m. April 7. University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, visit the University of Houston website or call 713‑743-3313. $12 to $20.
Margaret Downing contributed to this post.