Androcles For the kiddies, A.D. Players presents a musical in which a runaway slave removes a thorn from the paw of a big, bad lion, thus making a lifelong friend. Presented in the style of commedia dell'arte, and aimed at ages five through 12. Opening, 10:30 a.m. Through April 5. (See Thrills, Kids, On-stage for additional showtimes.) St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Rotunda Theater, 3471 Westheimer, 526-2721. $7; $5, children.
Our Ireland "Our" Ireland, because the folks whose photographs make up this exhibition were born and raised on the Emerald Isle. Now John Freeland, Harry Hilton, Rosemary Lloyd and Denis Lloyd live here, and in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, they're sharing Ireland the way they see it -- which is surely nothing like the way you've imagined it through the bottom of a pint of Guinness. Artist's reception, 4-6 p.m. 1100 Louisiana, lobby gallery, 664-7621. Free.
Dracula It's not much of a stretch to present ballerinas as vampires: After all, the dancers are already ghostly white and deathly thin. The trick is in transforming Bram Stoker's gruesome 100-year-old tale into a successful story ballet. Houston Ballet choreographer Ben Stevenson says he wanted to convey the story's haunting darkness and sensuality (hence the 18 young brides in sheer gowns). Judge for yourself whether all this adds up to a night of good dance: The world premiere of Stevenson's work is 7:30 p.m. tonight. Through March 23. (For additional showtimes, see Thrills, Dance.) Wortham Center, Brown Theater, 500 Texas, 227-ARTS. $10-$80.
The God We Never Knew Dr. Marcus J. Borg is here to discuss a topic George Burns covered fairly thoroughly: God. Presumably Borg, the author of Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, won't be playing for laughs. Presented by the Foundation for Contemporary Theology. Check in, 6:30-7; lecture, "Meeting God Again, Then and Now," 7-8:30 p.m. The lectures continue Saturday, from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue, 666-0051. $35.
Celebrate Texas Attention, secessionist nuts: Here's your chance to celebrate Texas's brief, shining moment as an independent nation. San Jacinto College students modeling 19th-century garb will serve the dinner part of a dinner/revue. Brisket, King Ranch-style beans and Stephen F. Austin's banana pudding are followed by character enactments of Governor Sam Houston, the Widow Brown and other Republic of Texas luminaries. The Don Sanders Western Trio plays, too. Dinner, 7; show, 8:15 p.m. San Jacinto College Central, 8060 Spencer Highway, (281) 476-1850. Dinner and show, $20; show only, $10 or $5 for students.
Houston Auto Show charity preview The Houston Auto Show is back with more than 650 models (some human, most fiberglass and metal). Ogle the long-awaited restyled Corvette, a 345 horsepower V-8 number that'll hit 60 from a dead stop in only 4.7 seconds; and caress the Porsche Boxster, that company's first new vehicle in nearly two decades. The show opens for public consumption at 10 a.m. Saturday and continues daily through March 23 at the Astrohall, Kirby at Loop 6-10; from 7-9:30 p.m. tonight, get a sneak peek at the cars, chow down on Mediterranean foods, watch belly dancers wiggle and help raise money for Earning by Learning of Houston. Call 799-9500 for general information, or (281) 980-3434 for benefit tickets. Benefit admission, $75; regular admission, $6 (children 12 and under are admitted free).
Galveston SpringFest Galveston's hardly let the buzz subside from Mardi Gras, but already folks there have moved to the next big thing: SpringFest, a celebration of the pre-summer season. Kicking off SpringFest is Kitefest '97; professionals (who knew?) and regular joes are both welcome. The pros will offer special performances, including one by kite buggiers -- kite-powered three-wheelers that can reach speeds of 40 miles per hour. Around 2 p.m., walk a couple of blocks down the sand to witness the dedication of the See-Wall mural. This 2.5-mile stretch of public art, which the Guinness book deems the world's longest mural, was created by local and regional artists, 14,000 volunteers and 8,500 school kids. If only the artists show up, expect a crowd. See-Wall dedication, 2 p.m., 49th Street and Seawall Boulevard; Kitefest, 9 a.m.-dusk, 47th and Seawall. For more info, call (800) 351-4237. Free.
Home & Garden Show of Galveston Before you return to Houston, dust the sand off your feet and take a gander at home and garden accessories, purveyed by a whopping 185 exhibitors. If you're lucky, you can quiz KTRH's superhandyman Tom Tynan about the most mundane household concerns, and ask that station's "Garden Line" guys, John Burrow and Randy Lemmon, how to combat the black spots on your roses. Proceeds benefit the Galveston Animal Shelter. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. today; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Moody Gardens Convention Center, 1 Hope Boulevard, (409) 744-4673. $4; $3, seniors and students; free, children under 12.
Neil Sedaka SpringFest's piece de resistance: a performance by Neil Sedaka. (No, really.) The relentless creative force behind "Calendar Girl," "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" and "Love Will Keep Us Together" will perform live at 8 p.m. In the lovely Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $14.50-$45.50.
Blarney and Blather Could it be that we're so eager to kiss the Irish each March mainly because we're even more ready to kiss off winter? Celebrate both Irish culture and the arrival of spring with an afternoon of storytelling. Bring a blanket or chairs for the kids, and bask in the blarney of the Houston Storytellers Guild. Presented by the Houston Heights Association. 2 p.m. Marmion Park, Heights Boulevard at 18th Street, 523-3289. Free.
March Mart sneak preview The annual mega plant sell isn't until next weekend, but this preview hints of the high-quality specimens and rare finds that will be available. Pick up a copy of the arboretum's top ten list of plants that work especially well in our region -- it'll help you plan for next week's spree. 10:30 a.m. Mercer Arboretum and Nature Center, 22306 Aldine Westfield, 443-8731. Free.
104 KRBE Private Sessions Last year, KRBE treated lucky callers to intimate acoustic concerts with Sarah McLachlin and Lisa Loeb, and compiled the year's efforts on a CD. This year, No Mercy kicks off the new season, playing dance tunes tempered with Spanish guitar and vocal harmonies tonight. It's free, but only if you're one of the chosen 100. 7 p.m. Art Institute of Houston, 1900 Yorktown. For more information, call 266-1000.
Houston Symphony The Symphony is home, having spent the first part of this month tearing up the Continent. Tonight they prove they're glad to be home with an all-Tchaikovsky program. Sixteen-year-old violin wonder Tamaki Kawakubo will be featured on the Russian composer's Violin Concerto. Neil Sedaka will not sing along. 8 p.m. tonight and Monday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $13-$49.
JC Penney fashion show and Seventeen magazine model search See what's hip with the kids these days and pick up tips for starting a modeling career. Kellie Lindsey, retail merchandising editor for Seventeen, narrates the fashion show and will take questions from the audience on breaking into the biz. 2 p.m. Today also marks the deadline for entering Seventeen's Cover Model Contest. Houston girls have fared well in this competition, winning twice in the last six years. Entrants must be between 13 and 21 and must submit an entry card (available at Penney) with four photos (two full-face, two full-length). JC Penney, Almeda Mall, 12200 Gulf Freeway, 944-9100. Free.
Tot rocker Gary Rosen rocks the pre-teen set with songs about nutrition, science and good behavior. One of his tunes is "Mr. Mom," a proud father's song about his domestic skills. Do the little girls of the world a favor: take your son to the show. 3 p.m. Jewish Community Center, Kaplan Theater, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, extension 3231. $7.
The Shamrock Hotel remembered The Shamrock Hotel would be 48 today, if not for her untimely demise. Glenn McCarthy's legendary hotel -- a fabuloso symbol of excess, as immortalized in Giant -- was demolished in the name of progress, but her memory lives on. Reed Robinson, onetime star of the Shamrock pool, will deposit a wreath on the hotel's former site, and Dick Krueger will sing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling." 9 a.m. sharp. 6900 Main (at Holcombe), 961-4741. Free.
St. Patrick's Day observance Slip behind the Spaghetti Warehouse midday today to witness Houston's second major St. Patrick's Day tradition: the dyeing of Buffalo Bayou. Shortly after noon, the Slippery Rock Boosters Club's Philharmonic Kazoo Symphony Orchestra will set the mood with a few musical selections, after which Texas Army troopers will fire muskets and Boosters will add emerald-green dye to the murky downtown waterway. Since when do brown and green make green? If it works, call it the luck of the Irish. Event planners aim for the greening of the entire city: participants will receive free cypress or pine seedlings to plant. 12:15-12:45 p.m. Buffalo Bayou, between Main and Travis streets. Free.
John Gary Singer Gary won a Grammy, back when the Grammies were new. And he remembers the Shamrock Hotel; once upon a time, the tenor played its swank Cork Club. He claims also to have picked up musical tips singing along to Muzak while waiting tables in his early years, and includes in his resume every possible detail, from his various modes of transportation in getting to and from jobs to his holding an underwater endurance record. Perhaps it's his having beaten cancer that's given him an appreciation of the little things.8 p.m. Scottish Rite Auditorium, 2900 North Braeswood, 667-9196. $20-$25.
Art Car registration The parade -- one of Houston's most glorious annual events -- has a few rules. Your vehicle can't be taller than 13 feet, and no wider than 12; it must be decorated, but not in a vulgar way; and it must not pose a threat to the general public. And it must be able to idle in the hot sun for a while, till the parade gets rolling. But within those bounds, you and your vehicle are free to blow paradegoers' minds. The deadline is March 22; the parade itself will roll April 19. Mail entries with two photos to the Orange Show Foundation, Art Car Weekend, 2402 Munger Street, Houston, TX 77023. For more information, call the Art Car Hotline at 926-CARS or the Orange Show Foundation at 926-6368. An optional $18 entry fee helps the Orange Show cover expenses and gets entrants a bunch of cool mementos.
Houston Center for Photography 1997 Print Auction This isn't just a charity auction; it's a chance to explore a whole new side of yourself, to unleash the art collector within. The Houston Center for Photography has put 125 or so prints on the block, and even if you don't know photographic art from a snapshot, you can at least pick one you like. Preview, 6; auction, 7 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Jones Hall, 3919 Yoakum, 529-4755. $20.
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