Top Five Things to Do This Weekend

The cast of Fleaven
The cast of Fleaven
Photo by George Hixson

Still haven't planned out your weekend? We've got a few suggestions for you, starting with Catastrophic Theatre's Fleaven. It was American Falls that snagged actor/playwright Miki Johnson the Best Playwright nod at the Houston Press's Houston Theater Awards last August. Falls is Johnson's first-ever produced work, but Fleaven, produced here by Catastrophic Theatre, is actually her first playwriting effort. The show's title is a mash-up of two characters' names: Flame, a disco star wannabe, and Heaven, an international disco star who left Flame behind on the road to fame. The setting is a mall -- a disco mall. The dialogue is in rap-influenced rhyme...spoken by people on roller skates...who also sing sometimes. "You definitely can't talk about it seriously for long, because it gets ridiculous," Johnson tells us, laughing. "But really, it's about a friendship that's very broken."

Johnson says writing is a bit of a change from acting for her. "When I'm acting, I'm that one character. When I'm writing, I'm all of them. In Fleaven, I'm the villain more than anything, but I'm also the good guy. All of the characters are based on my point of view," she says before quickly adding, "but they aren't based on me." (Just in case we had any doubts about her secret life as a roller-skating, rap-rhyming disco queen.)

8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Through November 17. Frenetic Theatre, 5102 Navigation. For information, visit the company's website or call 713‑522‑2723. All performances are pay-what-you-can.

Daniela Barcellona in The Italian Girl from Algiers
Daniela Barcellona in The Italian Girl from Algiers
Photo courtesy of Houston Grand Opera

Italian mezzo-soprano Daniela Barcellona checks in at about five-foot-ten, and in Houston Grand Opera's second offering of the season -- The Italian Girl in Algiers -- she is taller than Lawrence Brownlee, who plays her lover, Lindoro. Rather than being a drawback, this plays to her advantage as she makes her HGO debut in the lead role of Isabella, who journeys after her Lindoro, an Italian slave to Mustafa, and then is shipwrecked and ends up in Algiers. "She is a commander. She manipulates Mustafa," Barcellona says, laughing. Mustafa (played by Patrick Carfizzi, last seen as Dr. Bartolo in Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville) has decided to shake up his love life and that to do so, he needs an Italian woman, not the same old, same old from his wife and harem. Isabella arrives on cue, and Mustafa is smitten.

Upcoming Events

Check out our review of The Italian Girl in Algiers by D. L. Groover.

The Italian Girl in Algiers is sung in Italian with English subtitles. 7:30 p.m. November 3, 7 and 9; 2 p.m. November 11. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information, visit the HGO website or call 713‑546‑0200. $15 to $327.

The Polish Film Festival has a stellar lineup. On Saturday, there's Dzień Kobiet (Women's Day) by Maria Sadowska. The drama centers on a single mother (Katarzyna Kwiatkowska) raising a teenage daughter. When she's offered a promotion at the supermarket where she works, she finds out the chance for advancement comes at a high cost. Sadowska and Kwiatkowska will both be in attendance at that Saturday night screening.

On Sunday, the political thriller 80 milionów (80 Milion), by director Waldemar Krzystek, starts the night. It follows a group of Solidarity activists in 1981 as they plan to steal $80 million from a bank before the government imposes martial law and the account is seized. In Lek wysokoáci (Fear of Falling), Bartosz Konpka's family drama, a man attempts to reconcile with his elderly father once the older man is unexpectedly admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Other films in the festival include Mitia Okorn's romantic comedy Listy do M (Letters to Santa) and Jan Komasa's dark thriller Sala samobójców (Suicide Room) -- can you guess the plot?

All of the films have English subtitles. Various screening times. October 31 through November 4. AMC 30 Studio, 2949 Dunvale. For information, visit the festival's website. $8 to $10.

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