The annual Houston Fringe Festival, now in its sixth year, is one of the most popular performing arts events every season. It's our pick for Friday. Top of the not-to-miss list this year is Red Rocket Burlesque's Soul-Sucking Panties (October 3 and 4 at Frenetic Theater). A combination of traditional burlesque and vaudeville, Panties mocks modern cultural norms. Heidi von Hoop (Heather Mia) and Mistress Mimi (Meredith Spies) make up Red Rocket Burlesque. They developed Soul-Sucking Panties after trying to wrangle their curvaceous forms into a pair of Spanx (tummy-tucking panties) in a futile attempt to conform to conventional beauty standards for a photo shoot. "The panties literally sucked out my soul that day," said Heidi.
Also in the lineup is an innovative dance performance called Aquaria, choreographed by Maggie Lasher, which explores the motions of the undersea world. "I have always been interested in making dances that involve creating a world in which the dancer creatures can exist, and I am constantly inspired by the movement of animals," said Lasher. "In the past, I have done a lot with reptiles, mammals and birds, but I have never done ocean life." Theater, -music, dance and improv performances are on the schedule.
Performances are at various times and dates. Through October 6. Various locations, including Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation. For a complete schedule, call 832-426-4624 or visit the Fringe Festival website. $10 to $90.
The opera La Traviata, our pick for Friday, tops off the series Opera in the Heights has built around the 200th anniversary of composer Giuseppe Verdi's birthday. The tragic but beautiful story of Violetta, a courtesan living in Paris in the 1800s, pairs heartrending sacrifice with deep, selfless love. Violetta, living a carefree life filled with parties and transient romances, meets Alfredo, a young man from a respectable family who abandons his wealth and position in order to be with her. Their happiness is short-lived, though, when fate intervenes.
"I have gathered a magnificent group of guests artists," says Opera in the Heights Artistic Director Enrique Carreón-Robledo, winner of Best Artistic Director at the recent Houston Theater Awards. "We take a fresh look at this masterpiece to render an interpretation true to the spirit in which it was composed." Violetta will be sung in alternating performances by Sara Heaton and Julia Ebner, while Steven Wallace and Christopher Trapani appear as Alfredo. La Traviata is sung in Italian with English surtitles projected above the stage.
See La Traviata 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through October 13. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Boulevard. For information, call 713-861-5303 or visit the Opera in the Heights website. $32 to $59.
When Standing Room Only Productions executive producer Wayne Landon was a kid growing up in the 1960s, the world was black and white, he recalls. "Or at least it appeared that way on my family's 12-inch Motorola TV." Landon's affection -- "if not obsession," he admits -- for 1930s horror films like The Wolfman, Dracula, The Invisible Man, The Mummy and Frankenstein set the stage for his fondness for Young Frankenstein The Musical, Mel Brooks's ode to the big, lovable, misunderstood monster being presented by SRO at Obsidian Art Space and one of our picks for Saturday. "When [the movie] Young Frankenstein opened on the big screen in 1974, it was not only absolutely hysterical...the monochromatic look reminded me of those 1930s-era horror movies," Landon says. While the stage play's scenes and dialogue are essentially the same as in the classic 1974 movie, a musical score, also written by Brooks, supplements the show. "The most challenging visual element is bringing the monochromatic look and feel of the movie to the stage -- or at least attempting to do so for the more classic scenes," Landon says.
Young Frankenstein The Musical runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. October 20. Through October 26. 3522 White Oak Dr. For information, call 713-300-2358 or visit the SRO Productions website. $25 to $32.50.
Hops heads, suds sycophants and connoisseurs of craft brews come together at the Houston Press Brewfest, our pick for Saturday. The returning beer-sampling event and festival features more than 110 beers from 45 breweries around the country including Saint Arnold, Killians, Sam -Adams and Sierra Nevada. "With Oktoberfest going on this month, it just seemed like the time to do it," says Houston Press Marketing Director Allisen Picos. "And we'll have our first ever Seasonal Beer Showdown, where guests will sample 20 [seasonal offerings] and select the winner." The winner gets a much sought-after Das Beer Boot glass mug and bragging rights for the next year. Brewfest also features live music from acts such as Keyun & The Zydeco Masters, Justin van Sant, Texas Rezurrection and August West along with games, food trucks and giveaways. Eight three-ounce beer samples are included in the ticket price. Additional tasting tickets can be purchased on site.
Drink up between 2 to 7 p.m. Silver Street Studios, 1501 Silver. For information, visit the event's website. $35 to $70.
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A couple of hundred years from now, will people of the future consider the rock and pop of the 1960s to be "classical" music? The Houston Symphony gets a jump start on the concept with Classic Soul, our pick for Sunday. "Many of the great soul songs are very romantic and lyrical," says the symphony's principal pops conductor, Michael Krajewski. "These qualities lend themselves well to being enhanced by a symphony orchestra. And actually, many of the original versions of these songs had strings and other orchestral instruments in the accompaniment." The lineup includes songs made famous by Al Green, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. At the mike will be guest vocalists Capathia Jenkins(seen above) and Darius de Haas, along with three local backup singers, Kam Franklin, Lisa Harris and Lucas Gorham. "We're very proud to give these talented local singers the opportunity to share the stage," Krajewski says.
Revisit Classic Soul at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑224-7575 or visit the Houston Symphony website. $29 to $125.
Nancy Ford, Jef with One F and Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.