Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment
What if we got that Adam-and-Eve-in-the-Garden thing all wrong? What if it was actually Adam and Steve who named the animals, along with some help from Jane and Mabel, who lived just down the Garden path? That's the premise behind Paul Rudnick's hysterical The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, brought to charming life last Christmas by director Joe Watts at his Theatre New West. In Rudnick's wild gay Eden, Adam falls for Steve, Jane adores Mabel, and straight people (who don't appear for centuries) are kind of, well, icky. The story is of course fabulous. But a lot of what made Watts's production so terrific was his energetic cast of beautiful people, which included a hunky Adam Clarke as the original man and Jenny Yau as Mabel, the airy earth-girl who explained her female anatomy to Adam and Steve this way: "We have vaginas. They are our friends." The show also covered political ground, touching on everything from gay parenthood to AIDS, but none of it came off as bombastic or redundant. Watts and company handled Rudnick's lacerating observations about gay life with dead-on comic timing and a truthful sweetness that made this yummy show one of the best of the season, gay or not.
Tack an extra digit onto your SAT scores. Valhalla is a grad student-run bar tucked into a corner of the old chemistry building on Rice's abundantly treed campus (look for the red arched door). Even without the verdant surroundings, Valhalla's ridiculously cheap 75-cent beer is a sufficient lure for anyone interested in the effects of ethanol on the human body. The bartenders are volunteer Rice staff, faculty, students and alumni. Out on the lawn, perpetual doctoral students and their families lounge on the grass while their four-year-olds debate the existence of the Higgs boson particle and deconstruct Finnegans Wake. As DEET-coated children play Frisbee to observe laminar flow, adults take turns making beer runs into the dim, quasi-subterranean bar.