Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Theater Season

    Stages Repertory Theatre

    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;… More >>
  • Best Ballet

    Giselle, Houston Ballet

    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… More >>
  • Best Place to Hear Live Tejano


    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… More >>
  • Best New Effort to Inject Culture into Houston

    Winedale Publishing

    So Gabrielle Hale's Winedale Publishing isn't exactly new (she founded the press in 1996). But at the beginning, it looked like Winedale might be little more than an excuse to bring back into print the scattered remains of husband and Houston Chronicle columnist Leon Hale's oeuvre (some of which surely was penned at Hale's "old place" in Winedale, Texas). But… More >>
  • Best Open-Mike Comedy

    The Red Rooster

    When All D. Freemon was looking for a venue to replace the vacuum in black comedy that followed the demise of the Jus' Jokin' club, he turned to the former BYOB discotheque founded by Houston NewsPages publisher Francis Page Sr. in '71. Though primarily an open mike for comedians of all stripes and colors, the Thunder Thursdays showcase has already… More >>
  • Best Local Television Reporter

    Mary Benton KPRC-TV, Channel 2

    Mary Benton stands out in the KPRC-TV crowd as a tough, capable, "no frills just the story" reporter. She was omnipresent during the aftermath of the June 9 flood, holding court in knee-deep water clad in galoshes and wielding a cordless mike. A native of Harlingen, Benton earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas while specializing in government… More >>
  • Best Director

    Mark Ramont, Old Wicked Songs at Stages Repertory Theatre

    Jon Marans's Pulitzer Prize finalist, Old Wicked Songs, is an elegant, understated play about art, music and the exquisitely terrible power of history. In it, two Jewish musicians find themselves in Austria, one of the most paradoxical places in all of the Western world, for it gave us Mozart, Schubert and Hitler. There, they must come to grips with history… More >>
  • Best Radio Sidekick

    Peter Hughes, Technology Bytes, KPFT/90.1 FM

    Try though we may, we don't always get geek humor. But Peter Hughes has a way of clueing technophobes into the joke. No ordinary straight man, Hughes is a Web developer for J.P. Morgan Chase Bank during the day. At night -- or at least Wednesday nights -- he is the John Stewart of the high-tech world. Like the host… More >>
  • Best Local Television Personalities

    Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola

    Give the rest of the world Emeril (please!), we'll keep Houston's very own Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola. We can forgive this Italian restaurant family empire for taping the show in New York, because there is no question when you watch them that these guys call the Bayou City home. And there is no question that they equate food with… More >>
  • Best Dancers

    Barbara Bears and Dawn Scannell

    They grew up together in Florida, sharing ballet teachers, friends, schools and neighborhoods. They even joined Houston Ballet within a few years of each other -- Scannell first, because she was older. And they have always looked out for each other. But on stage, the similarities end. Bears is soft and lyrical, emotive and effortless -- the perfect wispy sylph… More >>
  • Best Austin Import

    Continental Club

    We Houstonians might smirk a bit when we see those "we're hipper than you are" Austinites struggling to take a breath over the tidal wave of growing traffic and Silicon Valley rejects. But we can't get too smug. Not when they've exported a version of one their city's finest clubs to Midtown. The Continental Club, which opened in the summer… More >>
  • Best Book

    John Graves and the Making of Goodbye to a River: Selected Letters, 1957-1960, edited by David Hamrick

    Houston's upstart TaylorWilson Publishing may have been a flash in the pan, staying in business less than a year and producing only one book before bellying up to the auction block, but at least that one book was a beauty: a small keepsake edition limited to a run of 3,000 copies. The content is slim, comprising letters exchanged between Graves,… More >>
  • Best Romance Novelist

    Lorna Michaels, a.k.a. Thelma Zirklebach

    Thelma Zirklebach looks like a sweet little lady who would pinch your cheek and ask you about your older brother. She's a speech pathologist who works a lot with children, is a member of Mensa and is all around a nice lady to talk to. You'd never know she writes smut novels. She's written Harlequin Temptations, Harlequin super-romances with titles… More >>
  • Best Music Series

    The Sounds of Texas

    The Friends of Conroe have hit on something: good music in a good setting. For the past two years, the group has booked a combination of musicians who don't usually play together -- for example, Terry Allen and Guy Clark -- and put them into the beautifully restored old theater just off the main square in downtown Conroe. The result… More >>
  • Best Self- Assessment Question

    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire auditions

    In the heat of August, they came to the Westin Galleria -- well over a thousand people enduring the heat in order to get a shot at being on the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Once inside, they were given a 35-question multiple-choice test and 12 minutes to finish it. Maybe a quarter of the people in… More >>
  • Best Result of a Houston Premiere

    Bo Eason's Hollywood deal

    Former Houston Oiler Bo Eason workshopped his one-man play, Runt of the Litter, in New York and L.A., but when it came time to premiere the piece, he came back to Houston. The production at Stages Repertory Theatre drew large crowds to watch as Eason's fictional alter ego laid bare the conflicts and abuses that had led him to become… More >>
  • Best Local Television News Anchor

    Melanie Lawson, KTRK-TV, Channel 13

    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… More >>
  • Best Spectacle


    Who doesn't like songs about poo? Slump banks on the fact that everybody does. Penises too. Also: yeast infections, anal sex and hamsters. Keith Reynolds and Cathy Power have created a cult of personality around their Slump shows, which usually involve three chords on a guitar and lots of words your mother told you were not meant for polite conversation.… More >>
  • Best Local Anthology

    Gynomite: Fearless Feminist Porn

    Yogi, Webmaster and Gynomite founder (and former Houston Press staffer) Liz Belile has since moved to Austin, and Abram Himelstein, whose New Mouth From the Dirty South published the volume, is living in New Orleans now. But this collection of erotic stories by women features more than a half-dozen local writers -- including Olive Hershey, Michelle Glaw and Press writer… More >>
  • Best Tejano/ Conjunto Artist

    Lisa y Aventura

    Lisa Torres, the hazel-eyed singer of the eponymous Lisa y Aventura, stands a mere four foot ten. Her moving voice and on-stage charisma make her larger than life. Her notes range from sweet, soaring highs to raspy lows, recalling the soulful cantings of Mexican diva Ana Gabriel. The band combines Houston talent (including Torres) with musicians from Mexico, and blurs… More >>
  • Best Up-and-Coming Choreographer

    Brian Enos

    Last October, at the age of 18, Brian Enos presented his first major work for Houston Ballet. Tribal and techno, fast and furious, androgynous and sexy, classic and modern, large but with perfectly executed details, Landing was impossible to categorize. And it clearly overwhelmed the works of the other, more experienced choreographers on the Cullen Contemporary Series bill. Enos pushed… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Lucky Boyd & The Toll Booth Violators

    Houston's band names are in a rut. Great swaths of them fail to inspire anything at all. Not a smile, not a chuckle, not an appreciative nod -- nada. Instead, all too many bands try to be clever by spelling, capitalizing and punctuating oddly (Soular Slide, dr:op:fr:am+e, 30footFALL). Among our favorites, however, are the history-laden Jimmy Raycraft & The Roaring… More >>
  • Best Salsa Dancing

    Tropicana Nite Club

    Salsa gets hot in Houston. Almost every club in town these days features "Salsa Night," where the scene is set and the floor is full. Some are new; others have a past. Downtown has entered the fray, with Prague on Tuesdays and Sambuca on Thursdays. The draw is big, but is it just the latest promotion to keep the drinks… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Glad You're Alive

    Etta's Lounge on Sunday nights

    On Sundays, some people go to church. But who says church has to mean uncomfortable pews, a minister and communion wafers? Couldn't it also be a back room, Grady Gaines and a cold bottle of Schlitz? We say yes, it can. If you agree, then there is no better place to worship than the Third Ward institution that is Etta's… More >>
  • Best New Houston Oddity

    Museum of the Weird

    This is a city that doesn't use the term "oddity" lightly. There's a pretty high hurdle you've got to jump before you can be mentioned in the same breath as the Orange Show, the Art Car Museum or the Beer Can House. So when the mind behind "scar art," Dolan Smith, had the gall to call his new project Museum… More >>
  • Best Local CD Cover

    Sapsucker, walking timebombs

    A picture may be worth a thousand words, but we don't have that much space here, and frankly we're not sure what the words would be (though a few squeamish types have suggested "ick"). Oh, yeah, the music's pretty great, too. … More >>
  • Best Black-and-White Soap Opera

    Rap-A-Lot Records and the Drug Enforcement Administration

    Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince enjoys the limelight but not the microscope. A 12-year DEA and HPD investigation, which Prince attributes to the fact that cops hate rap music, has resulted in drug seizures as far away as Oklahoma City and in more than 20 convictions against Prince's associates, including a Houston police officer. Prince told reporters, and California Congresswoman… More >>
  • Best Band to Break Up/Get Together

    The Hollisters

    Seems like Houston's finest rockabilly band is always either on the verge of great success or on the brink of dissolving. Neither is ever quite true. The Hollisters' last album, Sweet Inspiration, could have been a springboard to national prominence, but a series of personnel changes followed its release. However, anchored by the baritone sounds of lead singer Mike Barfield,… More >>
  • Best Radio Commentary

    Marta Glass, The Prison Show, KPFT/90.1 FM

    Speaking up for Texas convicts is a thankless task, but Marta Glass takes it on with a righteousness that more often than not achieves a certain eloquence. Glass was (and is) a volunteer in charge of prison issues for the ACLU's Houston chapter -- she still gets 25 to 30 letters a day from inmates -- when she did an… More >>
  • Best Traveling Show

    Spymonkey's Stiff…undertaking, Undertaking at Theater LaB

    A tiny European troupe of actors who call themselves Spymonkey leaped into Houston this past spring and landed with a hysterical thump at Theater LaB. Their naughty, limber clowning glittered with Monty Python-style absurdity and Addams Family spookiness, but what else would you expect from a show about the burial business called Stiff…undertaking, Undertaking? Under the macabre direction of Cal… More >>
  • Best Club for Local Acts

    Mary Jane's

    Toby Blunt, Mary Jane's manager, is the last of a dying breed. If you are a local band and need a place to play, chances are Toby -- an experienced local musician himself -- will work something out. He doesn't book any one genre of band. Over the past seven years (and likely within the past seven days), everything from… More >>
  • Best Production

    Anton in Show Business at Stages Repertory Theatre

    The 2000-2001 Houston theater season (which ended up being as exciting as a glass of lukewarm water) started out with a great gush of roaring energy. Jane Martin's explosively funny Anton in Show Business reigned supreme from Stages Repertory Theatre over the entire season. The screamingly funny show focused on the difficulties of modern-day theater life and was perhaps more… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Totally Nude Men

    Key West, Theater New West

    Theater New West's production of Key West provided one of the cheapest getaway romps of the summer. All about love and sex and naked men flouncing their privates about the stage, this silly show rippled with breezy laughs and utterly gorgeous flesh. Jack George as the young, lovely and Swedish Per spent long, languid minutes during the first act lounging… More >>
  • Best Actresses

    Lisa Marie Singerman, Anne Quackenbush, Shelly Calene-Black, Joanne Bonasso, Ann James, Connie Cooper and Elizabeth Byrd

    The entire estrogen-laden cast of Stages' production of Anton in Show Business packed such a cohesive punch of acting chemistry that the award goes to the entire group. There was Singerman, who had the unnerving job of acting from a seat in the audience. Bonasso's naive Texas character was all round-eyed amazement at theater life. Quackenbush, the black-on-black-wearing off-off-Broadway theater… More >>
  • Best Icehouse Stage

    Shady Tavern

    They don't call it the Shady Tavern for nothing. The "tavern" part is really more of an icehouse, but the "shady" part -- an expansive side yard -- is blessedly covered with plenty of tall sheltering trees. And nestled among the pines in this low-rent bar west of the Heights is a small but serviceable stage where Bert Wills might… More >>
  • Best Actor

    John Tyson

    As usual, John Tyson stole the show when he showed up on the Alley Theatre's stage during Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream with big blown-up balloon boobs tucked in his shirt. He was Flute, who plays Thisby in Shakespeare's play inside the play. And it makes delicious sense that Tyson, Houston's consummate clown (who can also weep the saddest tears), should… More >>
  • Best Downtown Bar That Deserves to Be There

    Market Square Bar & Grill

    The explosion of downtown drinking establishments provides crowds with more choices than ever for the forays into the central city: disco, rock, retro, high-dollar, lowbrow, jazz, freak/geek/sleek and so on. And that makes the other option -- none of the above -- that much more valuable for visitors and regulars alike. Market Square Bar & Grill serves as a needed… More >>
  • Best Designer

    Steven K. Barnett, The Danube at Atomic Cafe

    Steven K. Barnett's exquisite set built into the wide-open space at Atomic Cafe for Infernal Bridegroom's production of Maria Irene Fornes's The Danube was most charming for all its stunning detail. Painterly and delicate, the minimalist creation started with a stage Barnett built in the middle of the playing space from rough-hewn planks, framed at the corners with brown towering… More >>
  • Best Cultural Center

    Talento Bilingue de Houston

    Lilting accordion swirls over rhythmic dance steps echoing through the auditorium. The dancers are not professionals, just community members of different ages polishing some basic "folkloric" steps. For 24 years, Talento Bilingue de Houston has fostered and showcased the cultural wealth readily mined in Houston's East End and beyond. The center recently featured an exhibit of the area's mural art.… More >>
  • Best Reading Series

    Nuestra Palabra, Talento Bilingue de Houston, Guadalupe Plaza, 333 S. Jensen, 713-867-8943,

    Tony Diaz read science fiction until, at the age of 20, he discovered there were authors out there who had similar experiences and backgrounds. Despite a growing Hispanic population, he found he was one of the few Latinos in the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, in a city bereft of outlets for Latino voices. Tired of having his book… More >>
  • Best Poetry Series That Wouldn't Die

    First Fridays, Inprint House, 1524 Sul Ross, 713-521-3519,

    Reading series come and go, but ever since Robert Clark rescued a dying gathering of beatniks at the Sand Mountain coffee shop back in 1975, First Friday has been plugging along under his direction. The location may have changed over the past 25 years, but loyal scribes have followed Clark to every nook and hobbit hole. Past venues have included… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Brown Auditorium

    The newly renovated auditorium debuted with the premiere of a redone version of the 1984 Oscar-winning film Amadeus to show off, among other things, its new sound system. (The Oscar-winning sound man, Mark Berger, was even on hand to talk with the audience about the restoration.) The theater has family flicks, and movies like Star Wars and the works of… More >>
  • Best Fusion CD by Local Musicians

    …is it jazz? by Spoken Mercy

    Fusion is most often associated with jazz, but this CD begs the question. A blend of flamenco, jazz and rock, Spoken Mercy has fused the three in this locally produced compact disc. The band's debut CD features Gary Norman on guitars and bass, with Tyler Essex doing the percussion and programming. Perhaps ironically, there are no vocals, but none are… More >>
  • Best Big Idea

    Spirit of Houston

    New York has the Statue of Liberty; Paris has the Eiffel Tower; St. Louis has the arch; even Huntsville has big old Sam Houston. And what does Houston have? Well, if architect Doug Michels, industrial designer Peter Bollinger and sculptor Cybele Rowe have their way, this car city will have a giant hood ornament. The 555-foot Spirit of Houston is… More >>
  • Best Local Cable Television Personalities

    David Jones and Gary Polland

    The unlikely triad of David Jones, Gloria Gonzalez Roemer and Gary Polland presents the only real weekly political talk show in town, Politics Unplugged. Jones is a veteran criminal defense attorney and Democratic activist who used to host his own cable show. Roemer, who produces Politics Unplugged, formerly chaired the Bush-Quayle campaign in Colorado in 1992 after unsuccessfully running for… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk Show

    The Dick Harmon Golf Hour, KILT/610 AM

    Dick is probably the second-most famous of the four golfing Harmon brothers, taking a backseat only to Butch, who is of course the golfing guru to Tiger Woods. Teamed with station regulars Lance Zerlein and John Granato, Harmon is informative and, more important, entertaining -- even if you don't play golf. A more suitable name for the show might be… More >>
  • Best Bar Decor

    La Carafe

    In a city in which most bar owners' decorative aesthetic runs toward merely plastering the walls and ceilings with garish beer and liquor ads, the 141-year-old La Carafe (which over the decades has been an Indian trading post, a steam bakery and a Pony Express stop) stands out like a Vermeer among velvet Elvises. The walls there have not been… More >>
  • Best Bar Mom

    Elizabeth Knox

    Good bars are always established around solid personalities -- and the best inevitably become maternal institutions for the patrons. Liz Knox learned early on how to succeed in the often slippery business world of drinking establishments. With more than three decades under her belt, she can finally look back and laugh at the early times -- at her first place,… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Elvis Impersonator

    "Elvis" John Newinn

    The white rhinestone-studded jumpsuit never looked better on Elvis himself. His throaty version of "Love Me Tender" is a seductive swooner. And what 26-year-old "Elvis" John Newinn began for fun seven years ago as an Elvis impersonator has taken him to performances in different U.S. cities (including Memphis, of course, twice a year -- in January for the King's birthday,… More >>