Now That's Commedia
Believe it or not, your kids are probably already familiar with some of the characters from commedia dell'arte. Popularized during the Italian Renaissance, this form of theater was performed outdoors by professional actors playing a stock reserve of characters. One of them was Harlequin, who generally played a servant who was smarter than his master, kind of like, for example, the title character in the Cartoon Network's Courage the Cowardly Dog. The Mummers Troupe is assuming the roles of the classic commedia characters to perform Pinocchio and Cinderella in alternating performances. "The sets are child-friendly," says director Jennifer Hawk. "We want the children as close as possible. We want them to feel free to yell things out and come up to the actors when the show's over and ask them questions." Maybe they can ask the actors why Muriel and Eustace never seem to notice that Courage keeps saving their butts. 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 1:30 p.m. Sundays, from Saturday, January 31, through February 15. The Mummers Troupe Theater, 2504 Robinhood. For information, call 713-522-4893. $5. -- Keith Plocek
While imprisoned on a slave ship bound for America, Shontay's mother realizes she must pass along some African folktales to her daughter before the stories become long forgotten in the savage New World. So she invents the story of Anansi, a trickster spider with a web full of folktales. How Anansi Came to America plays at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays from Saturday, January 31, through February 28. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit www.stagestheatre.com. $8. -- Keith Plocek
The Art of Persuasion
Here's an easy way to trick your kids into begging to go to the opera: Tell 'em Maurice Sendak, the author of Where the Wild Things Are, has painted a bunch of pretty pictures for the background of a musical called The Magic Flute. (Mozart can be our little secret.) 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 30, through February 15. Wortham Theater Center's Brown Theater, 500 Texas Avenue. For information and a full schedule, call 713-546-0200 or visit www.houstongrandopera.org. $19. -- Keith Plocek
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