Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
Despite a marital breakup and a long-running battle with multiple sclerosis, this daughter of a preacher man remains one of the pillars of stability at Channel 13. As an anchor and reporter, Melanie Cerise Lawson conveys empathy, poise and intelligence. The last is not surprising, given her Princeton undergraduate credentials with advanced journalism and law degrees from Columbia. Licensed to practice law in Texas and New York, she served a stint as a Wall Street attorney before returning home to establish herself as one of the first high-ranking African-American television news figures in Houston. In the empathy department, Lawson also had a good teacher. Her father is Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church pastor Bill Lawson, a man credited with helping to broker the way for expanded civil rights and political opportunities for black Houstonians. Separated from high-tech-company owner Geary Broadnax, the 46-year-old Lawson now flies solo from an aerie at the Bayou Bend Condominiums off Memorial Drive. So far her MS has required occasional use of a cane, but is not noticeable to viewers and didn't keep her from traveling to South Africa with former president Bill Clinton for Nelson Mandela's election. Like longtime Channel 13 favorites Dave Ward and Marvin Zindler, Lawson is a prime reason the station continues to stay competitive in the Houston TV news market.
Stages set the pace for the entire theatrical season with its boisterous production of Jane Martin's Anton in Show Business. After that, artistic director Rob Bundy never looked back. Some of the best productions included the strange and disturbing comedy about a group of suits from corporate America in Laura Hembree's Car Pool. The holiday season brought the requisite musical; this year Bundy produced the understated and beautifully ironic Company, by Stephen Sondheim. Old Wicked Songs, by Jon Maran, focused on anti-Semitism and the power of music to heal; it was perhaps the most moving production of the year. Ex-Oiler Bo Eason pulled in full houses for his smart if sentimental script, Runt of the Litter, about the gory guts of professional football. And of course Stages couldn't complete a season without one totally off-the-wall script, which bounced across the stage in the shape of Betty's Summer Vacation, an absolutely bizarre tale of serial killers, mommy-hatred and raincoat-clad flashers. We can only hope that next season will be as provocative.
Giselle is one of very few stories that is best told in the language of ballet. It's based on the legend of the Wilis, the ghosts of young maidens who were jilted by men and died before they could marry. These mysterious creatures haunt the shadowy forests at night, looking for young men whom they will dance to death in their vengeance. In last season's production of the classic, dancers of the corps de Houston Ballet hopped across the stage slowly, their faces shrouded in white tulle, their legs all aloft in perfect arabesques. They were icy and ethereal, robotic and romantic. It was enough to give you the willies.
The Tejano scene in Houston is as unpredictable as the Gulf Coast weather. One day a club is hot; the next day it's shuttered and silent. Hallabaloo's is the exception. Set in a gritty southeast neighborhood, the club has kept the Tejano fires burning in Houston for nearly ten years. Wednesday night is live Tejano night. Top acts like Bobby Pulido, Los Chamacos and Joe Lopez set couples twirling with their festive sounds. Tuck in your shirt and head inside to a world of starched jeans and heartfelt gritos emanating from under white Stetsons.