Press Picks

may 18
Olivia Allen-Arrington By day, she's known as Mrs. Arrington, a fitting form of address for a third-grade teacher, but on the weekends the school marm and mother of three steps out, on-stage.
In 1990, Allen-Arrington first tried selling five minutes of comedy to an audience. She did okay, and since then she's appeared in clubs all over the country, specializing in military bases, and on Black Entertainment Television's Comicview. Presumably, there's a Mr. Arrington, or at least a grandmother, helping the comedian manage family and career, but she attributes her success to "God first, hard work and the Hip Hop Comedy Stop." The now-defunct club, she says, "was a blessing for black comics in Houston, because we had somewhere we could go and be guaranteed stage time, and feedback on our performances, which is very important if you want to grow in this business." Those who remember Allen-Arrington from her days at the Hip Hop will welcome this chance to see her new material, and so will those who'd like a chance to see a funny lady. Through Sunday, May 21. Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7:45 and 10:30 p.m. (Friday early show is non-smoking.) Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Spellbinders, 10001 Westheimer, 266-2525. $6-$10.

A Little Night Music Huge production of the Sondheim show in waltz tempo, really, with giant, moving set pieces and local singers from the Houston Grand Opera and the Buddy Brock Orchestra and what have you. This musical is based on an Ingmar Bergman film, a comedy with turn-of-the-century romance. Preview tonight, 8 p.m. HCCS, Northwest College, Westchester Theatre, 901 Yorkchester, 468-0955. Preview is pay as you wish.

may 19
Museum sales The Glassell School of Art is putting student art, in a plethora of media, on sale to the public while the Museum of Fine Arts gift shop is unloading books, toys, jewelry, etc. -- some items at 80 percent savings. The MFA spring clearance sale will be held in the museum foyer during regular hours, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The student work sale raises money for scholarships for future students and will be held in the upstairs studio of the school, 5-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. The Glassell School of Art, 5101 Montrose Boulevard, 639-7500.

Spirits of the Moodys Since the historic Galveston building was turned into "The Moody Mansion and Museum," it has been the site of many and varied events (and who knows what sort of things went on when the Moody Mansion was a private family home). Today, you can join in what is possibly the weirdest, definitely the wackiest, event yet: psychic Sylvia Murray will channel the spirits of major benefactress Mary Moody Northen; her ma and pa Libbie and W.L. Moody Jr.; and siblings W.L. Moody III, Shearn Moody Sr. and Libbie Moody Thompson. All these Moodys lived in the mansion, and Murray thinks they still (in a manner of speaking) do. A native Californian now living in Austin, Murray has exactly the background one needs for this sort of work. In her recent book, Living in Eternity, Murray speaks of channeling the spirits of Elvis and Marilyn, along with the other-side incarnations of Harry Houdini, Alfred Hitchcock and Jimi Hendrix. News of this event comes to us on the Moody Mansion's usual ecru cotton stationery and so seems to be a legit press release. Those who would like to experience this event are invited to call Laura Nite at the museum, (409) 762-7668. Only three members of the media will be allowed to participate; we suspect James Randi, despite his having written several books and scads of magazine articles, will not be among the three.

Upcoming Events

Cenikor gala The first time I saw local singer Nancy Ames, she was at the pediatrician's office with her kids (I was there with my mom and a strep throat). Later, I found copies of her album I'll Never Marry in a used record store. Obviously, between that album and the interlude at the doctors office, she'd changed her mind about raising a family, but she hadn't changed her perky blond good looks. She still hasn't, not in 30 years, and she's still entertaining on a low-key, local level. One of the companies she entertains for is Cenikor, a huge, national organization providing drug education and prevention and treatment programs in most major cities and many other communities. Ames, who's ever busy organizing Cenikor fundraisers, including Cenikor's 25th-anniversary celebration, will be honored at tonight's gala. She's joined by Danny Ward, a Grammy-nominated singer. Ron Stone, who is no longer a KPRC/Channel 2 anchor, but is still loved by thousands, will emcee, and it's hard to imagine him turning this evening into a roast. No, instead of tasteless, mild-mannered insults for Ames and Ward, we expect polite celebrity guests, dance music and canapes. 7 p.m. Westin Oaks Galleria, 5060 West Alabama, For tickets, call 266-9944. $150.  

Broadway and Beyond The Houston Opera Studio is the opening act in the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion's Cultural Arts Season. With Louis Otey as the soloist, Houston Opera Studio presents a program of Italian opera and American show tunes. Selections range from Borodin's Polovitsian Dances and a Verdi opera set to Baubles, Bangles and Beads and The Wells Fargo Wagon. Otey has performed baritone roles for companies around the world, including title roles in Don Giovanni and Eugene Onegin -- couch potatoes may have seen Otey in the world premiere of Goya, a Kennedy Center production that was broadcast live on public television. The evening begins with a young musicians piano recital at 6:45. Then, a discussion led by Ira J. Black at 7:20. The recital and talk are free. The concert begins at 8 p.m. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 629-3700. $7-$10. Picnics are fine, but please please please do not try to sneak beverages of any kind past the gate.

no mo blues Sharon Bridgforth is hell on copy editors, suggesting that "bull-dog-jean, the wo'mn-lovvn-wo'mn" of lovve/rituals & rage is back, in a tale about blues music being sublime and "a feisty backwoods herstorian [who] struggles to ungrip she Soul from misery." As this quote shows, Bridgforth plays fast and loose with every known rule of written language, but don't be put off; when it comes to on-stage storytelling, she does pure and solid work. Her theater group presents no mo blues twice this weekend. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway (I-10 at North Main), 223-8346. $12; $7 students.

may 20
Travis Tritt The youngest member of the Grand Ole Opry comes to the Southern Star Amphitheatre for a family concert. Travis Tritt, for those who know TNN videos and not names, looks a little bit like Brad Pitt (although he doesn't have such good hair days as the movie star) and sings Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof, No Vacation from the Blues and Outlaws Like Us. His wry side comes from collaborations with Marty Stuart. You can call him a Southern rock guy, a country rocker or just plain country. Doesn't matter; a lot of people like all kinds of music without knowing a thing about it. Once, Roy Acuff was playing at the Opry and someone handed him a note, a request. This note was addressed to "Mr. Roy A Cupp" and the sender wanted to hear "The Great Respected Bird." 8 p.m. Southern Star Amphitheatre, Six Flags AstroWorld, Kirby at Loop 610, 799-1244. All seats $3 with park admission, which is $12.95 plus tax for an adult.

may 21
The Foreigner Tuna favorites Joe Sears and Jaston Williams star as (almost) normal characters in Larry Shue's zippy hit comedy of mistaken identities and mix-ups. The setting for this tale is not Tuna, Texas, but Betty Meck's fishing lodge in the piney woods of Georgia. There are Englishmen on the premises, real ones, and a foreigner who may not be. Don't worry, the play is funny, not confusing, because all the characters in it are confused. Matinees this weekend, 2 p.m., and night-time shows at 8 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Road, Galveston, (800) 821-1894. $11-$33.

may 22
Romance in a Minor Key This German film is being shown by the Goethe-Institut as part of their series "The Ministry of Illusion: German Film 1933-1945." These are a different sort of Nazi-era film. Unlike, for instance, Triumph of the Will, the films in the series were attempts to influence the public with urbane comedies and romance. Erick Rentschler, a professor of film studies at the University of California at Irvine, put together this package. According to a quote-heavy San Francisco Chronicle review of the series, Rentschler became "fascinated by the subtle propaganda woven into the 1,100 features made in Nazi Germany during the Third Reich, which he calls the world's first media dictatorship." Rentschler has said that "when you look at these films, they are by and large light, frothy entertainment where you never see a swastika or a picture of Hitler or hear a Seig Heil ... when studied carefully these seemingly harmless diversions are actually very strongly laced with ideological poison." A common plot, apparently, is for some sad wayward German man or woman to collide with sinister foreign forces and then find safety, redemption and security in a reconfirmed dedication to the homeland. If you wonder what that sort of thing might look like, just remember Kiss of the Spider Woman, and the film that William Hurt's character was remembering so poignantly. That romantic mystery would have fit right into this series. What Rentschler has done is round up genre films that show yet another side of the Nazi propaganda machine. The series continues through the summer and tonight's feature, from 1943, will be introduced with a lecture by Barbara Hale. 7:30 p.m. Goethe-Institut, 3120 Southwest Freeway., Suite 100, 528-4510. Free.  

may 23
Archaeological Excavations in the Region of Macedonia Dimitrios Pandermalis, professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, comes to Houston to talk about hot, sweaty work at Dion (Mt. Olympus) and more recently in Macedonia. Archaeology is painstaking work; one doesn't just waltz into the field and yank pots and jewelry out of the dirt. This is why it helps to have some idea of what one might find. To have some idea, one must read and study. Pandermalis has done all the hard work; tonight, he shares the highlights of his passionate career with a lecture audience. 7:30 p.m. University of St. Thomas, Jones Auditorium, 3910 Yoakum. For reservations, call 621-6300. Free, but seating is limited.

may 24
Paint the White House Black The Renaissance Cultural and Performing Arts Center is currently without a home, but that doesn't stop the plucky troopers from putting on a show. Paint the White House Black, a gospel comedy, opens at the Music Hall as a benefit for RCPAC's building fund -- the planned new facility will be at 3821 Jensen Drive. Def Comedy Jam star T.P. Hearns and Lecreesia Campbell, of the Wilmington, Mass. Choir, have leading roles and Howard Hewett is a featured player. The show opens tonight and continues through May 28. 8 p.m. Music Hall, 810 Bagby. For tickets, call 520-0200 or (800) 766-6048. $15.50.

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