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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Texas Derby and Pride Houston Events

The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, and this Friday the Houston Dynamo is defending El Capitán against FC Dallas.EXPAND
The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, and this Friday the Houston Dynamo is defending El Capitán against FC Dallas.
Photo by Marco Torres

Tuesday, June 20

Gladiators are typically depicted as the chiseled models of athletic perfection. In this case, they literally are chiseled — into stone. The Houston Museum of Natural Science will present Gladiator Graffiti & Roman Blood Sport: Findings from Aphrodisias by Peter De Staebler, a one-day-only lecture that shows how archaeologists captured previous cultures and daily lives through etching pictures into rocks. After participating in the NYU excavations at Aphrodisias, an ancient Greco-Roman city in Turkey, Dr. De Staebler found plenty of artifacts to talk about, and an overwhelming number of them focused on the popular sport. “I’ll talk and tell the story of gladiators and fights. There are images of the graffiti of places and spaces where the fights took place. It tells us how everyday people thought about their city,” he says. 6:30 p.m. June 20. 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4783 or visit hmns.org. $12 to $18. – Sam Byrd

Wednesday, June 21

Recharge your battery and fill your soul at Houston’s world-famous Rothko Chapel. During its annual, all-day Summer Solstice Observation, guests will have the opportunity to greet the day with a 6 a.m. “Sunrise Introspection,” followed by some noontime meditation led by Dr. Alejandro Chaoul and the mowing of a new labyrinth into the chapel grounds. Those who stay until nightfall will be treated to the music of Kaminari Taiko, a Houston-based Japanese drumming ensemble that will perform “all sorts of different rhythms and energize people for the exciting summer season,” says Volunteer and Program Coordinator Kelly Johnson. “The chapel is a very unique place for Houston and the world. It’s one of the few places you can really go to have a moment for yourself. The art calls you to reflect in a busy world.” 6 a.m. June 21. 3900 Yupon. For information, call 713-524-9839 or visit rothkochapel.org. Free; suggested donation $10. – Vic Shuttee

From King William of Orange's efforts to increase domestic production to London's famous Frost Fairs along the frozen River Thames to British naval officers receiving compensation in gin, the history of the spirit dates back hundreds of years. Now the Houston Maritime Museum is delving deeper into gin's history, with a maritime twist, during its June Gin Summer Celebration. Sip gin cocktails (courtesy of mixologist Kimberly Paul), nosh on tasty hors d'oeuvre and hear guest speaker Sean Dougherty unfurl the meaning of proof. 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 21. 2204 Dorrington. For information, call 713-666-1910 or visit houstonmaritime.org. $15 to $25. – Susie Tommaney

The enduring themes of love, betrayal and vengeance always make for great drama, and they're part of the reason Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers) has endured as a favorite of opera fans around the world. As performed at The Metropolitan Opera, with its vibrant sets and stunning performances by soprano Diana Damrau, tenor Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, the production brings to life all of the mystical wonder of Southeast Asia as the rival suitors vie for the affections of the beautiful priestess Leïla. The MET: Live in HD recorded the performance for the big screen, and now audiences can view this Penny Woolcock-directed production during a special, one-night-only, summer encore. 7 p.m. June 21. Edwards Houston Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX, 7600 Katy Freeway. Price varies by location; visit fathomevents.com for participating venues. $13.53. – Susie Tommaney

Thursday, June 22

Want to hear a juicy story? Grab a gaggle of friends and attend Story Hole: A Pride Celebration of Queer Stories. “The theme is ‘My First Time,’” explains organizer Ryan Leach, who says he originally wanted to talk about what people immediately think of when they hear that phrase: their first time between the sheets. But then, he adds, “it evolved into something more heartfelt and humorous, so that’s where it’s really coming from.” The stories include those from half a dozen artists who cover everything from a first kiss to a first time attending a gay-straight alliance meeting at a high school. Leach’s personal story is about how he came out to his law-school buddies by accidentally sending an email to the wrong listserv. Oops! We bet he’ll never hit “Reply All” again. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. June 22. Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. $10.  – Sam Byrd

Even as diversity onstage blossoms, playwrights of color can have difficulty getting their words produced. But thanks to showcases like Fade to Black Play Festival, ten more up-and-coming wordsmiths will have an opening night. Founded by writer/director S. Denise O’Neal in 2012, the event was designed to correct “a lack in support” for the African-American playwright in Houston, says festival Artistic Director Trey Morgan Lewis. “She realized there was underrepresentation, even with Encore and The Ensemble — theaters that do celebrate the African-American artist.” Among this year’s lineup are plays by out-of-staters Chuck Cummings, Evonne Fields-Gould and Markietha Ka’Von, alongside Houston’s own Rachel Dickson and Lorna Taylor. “I’m so proud of Lorna,” says Lewis, “because she started volunteering with us two to three years ago. She always said she wanted to write a play, and she surprised us all with what she created.” 8 p.m. June 22-24. 3400 Main. For information, 713-521-4533 or visit matchouston.org. $25. – Vic Shuttee

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words but, in this modern age of television and streaming, we can become numb to the ever-present images of war that flicker across our screens and the nightly news. There's something about the written word that helps us get inside a story, to think about how it feels to experience loss, anger, joy, fear and courage. A new term has been coined – America's "Forever War" – that describes our country's persistent state. It also has given rise to a new sort of fiction that looks at the aftereffects of the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Come hear a panel discussion with some of the writers who contributed to the 2017 veteran fiction anthology The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War at Brazos Bookstore, with moderation by Brian Van Reet; he is a Houston native and author of the 2017 Iraq war novel, Spoils. 7 p.m. June 22. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. – Susie Tommaney

Friday, June 23

After last week's controversial stoppage time goal turned what we thought was a victory against LA Galaxy into a draw, we're more than eager to get back in the saddle for this Friday's match against our enemy to the north, FC Dallas. It's more than just bragging rights. We're fighting to hold on to El Capitán, a replica 18th-century mountain howitzer cannon. Victor gets the spoils and, if we lose to Big D, they'll be hauling that howitzer back up I-45. The Texas Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in Major League Soccer, so show your H-Town pride and come support the Houston Dynamo. Plus, check out the all-inclusive specials – there's the $36 Bud Light Beer Garden Package and the $99 Papa John's 4-Pack – so put on your orange, cheer on our team, and stay after for post-game fireworks. 8 p.m. June 23. BBVA Compass Stadium, 2200 Texas. For information, call 713-276-4625 or visit houstondynamo.com/2017texasderby. $25 to $107. – Susie Tommaney

The beat keeps rolling during LGBT Pride month with Rainbow On the Green, which kicks into high gear Friday with local drag entertainers Crawford Nation and violin-toting female impersonator Angelina DM Trailz. Next up on the stage will be Stephanie Rice, a Texas-born pop-rock singer who made it big on Season 12 of The Voice; and, since no party is complete without a diva, stick around for international dance-music and R&B artist CeCe Peniston. “It will be a night to celebrate community. We don’t do big speeches or show videos. We just celebrate each other,” says Discovery Green President Barry Mandel. “It’s all about celebrating the diversity and the size, shape and colors that we all come in.” 7 to 10 p.m. June 23. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/rainbow. Free. – Sam Byrd

It wouldn’t be summer in Houston without the Houston Symphony’s wonderful — and free — programming at Miller Outdoor Theatre through the ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights series. Friday’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”) will show off the composer’s little-known flair for the dramatic. Hailed as the birth of the Romantic era, it was originally inspired by Napoleon. “When it was first performed, it was nothing short of a transformation in classical music,” says Associate Conductor Robert Franz. “The first movement starts off with two notes that can be explained as explosions. The second movement is a funeral march, but it reminds me of one of those New Orleans marches that are heartfelt and passionate. Then the last two are themes written as a piano piece and expanded.” 8:30 p.m. June 23. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 832-487-7102 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. – Sam Byrd

What better way to flex those orchestral muscles than by performing L A Variations by conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, a man so confident in the Los Angeles Philharmonic that he sent the musicians on a roller coaster ride full of ups, downs and numerous technical challenges. Now, for the double-whammy, back-to-back concerts during week three of the month-long Texas Music Festival, guest conductor Brett Mitchell will lead violinist Matthew Lee and the festival orchestra through those "Big Chords," "Big Machines" and that famous fast section in the middle. Also on the program for Orchestral Variations are Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 99 and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, Op. 36. The Saturday performance includes a 6:30 p.m. pre-concert lecture and entertainment. 8 p.m. June 23, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins, The Woodlands, (free), and 7:30 p.m. June 24, Moores Opera House, 3333 Cullen Boulevard. For information, call 713-743-3388 or visit uh.edu/cota/music/tmf/season-schedule. $15 to $25. – Susie Tommaney

The excitement has been building all week, but this Saturday the rainbow flag will fly high with the Houston Pride Festival and Pride Parade.
The excitement has been building all week, but this Saturday the rainbow flag will fly high with the Houston Pride Festival and Pride Parade.
Photo by Francisco Montes

Saturday, June 24

The rainbow flag will fly high this weekend for the Houston Pride Festival and Pride Parade. What started as a protest at New York City’s Stonewall Inn has become a national movement, and 2017 marks Houston’s 39th year commemorating the dignity and colors of the rainbow, with an expected 700,000-plus people swarming downtown to celebrate. The afternoon’s festival will be an entertaining playground of all things Houston, culminating in a performance by headliner LeAnn Rimes. Then there’s the parade itself, which begins at Smith and Lamar and continues on Walker to the intersection of Milam and Jefferson. If the barely dressed boys and glitter-covered girls have you ready for a night full of fun, slip on over to Rich’s Houston for the official Pride afterparty, Beyond Wonderland. Noon to 11 p.m. June 24. The intersection of Smith and Lamar. Rich’s Houston, 2401 San Jacinto. For information, visit pridehouston.org. Free to $200. – Sam Byrd

Forget lions and tigers and bears. This weekend’s “oh my” comes from the amazing reptiles and amphibians at Repticon Houston. Manager Chaz (Charles) Gavitt says it’s fun to watch the visitors react to the “yes, you can touch it” live animal presentations during the hourly shows and seminars: “It’s really something to see. [Kids] get so excited.” Gavitt says adults get pretty psyched, too, although “you have some that are too scared to mess with them.” So come chat with the rescue groups (snakes, iguanas and larger monitor lizards are up for adoption), meet with top breeders and educators, and stock up on your exotic pet supplies. They stocked up on feeder insects and rodents for your hungry herps. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 24 (VIP entry gets you in at 9 a.m.), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25. Pasadena Convention Center and Fairgrounds, 7902 Fairmont Parkway, Pasadena. For information, visit repticon.com/texas/houston. Free to $12. – Susie Tommaney

Alliteration is the name of the game with the oh-so-sweet Bourbon, Brunch & Booze event, a Texas-sized foodie fest that turns Saturday afternoon into a happening. It's all going down at one of the hippest, starts-with-a-B venues in town – BLUEorange Contemporary art gallery – where we'll try samples from local purveyors of bourbon, whiskey and beer. And in a fitting tie in with the gallery's orange-themed moniker, they're also serving up unlimited mimosas to pair with those brunch samples. VIP ticket-holders get to walk the red carpet and have more one-on-one time with experts from Texas-based breweries and distillers. 1 to 4 p.m. June 24. 1208 West Gray. For information, visit facebook.com/htxwhiskeyevents. $40 to $150. – Susie Tommaney

For the record, we will never, ever condone human trafficking. While Rec Room's Sell Your Body 666th Edition does involve adult themes, it's really a gritty variety show that explores consent, nudity and artistry, with a few games thrown in for fun. It's also an invitation for Houstonians to come get weird and explore the dark world of demons and shadows while entertainers amaze with choreographed burlesque, musical prowess and comedy chops. 10 to 11 p.m. June 24. 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. $10 to $15. – Susie Tommaney

Jaston Williams, the Texas-centric funny guy and co-creator of Greater Tuna, is out with a new show and the forecasters are predicting 100 percent change of laughs. Williams wrote and stars in Clear to Partly Crazy, a one-man show that celebrates the Lone Star State as he rambles off Texas-centric themes like cheerleading, tornadoes and certifiably insane relatives. 2 and 8 p.m. June 24. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 1-800-821-1894 or visit thegrand.com. $27 to $100. – Susie Tommaney

Sunday, June 25

For creative makers and lovers of the new, the second annual Arts Sound Off — Chalk Edition is bringing good food, drink and culture to the Jamail Skatepark for one fair Sunday. “This is all about bringing exposure to the new, local artists,” says event planner Savannah B, whose group, Go Savvy, is coordinating the shindig. “This is a competition, and also an opportunity for these talents to show off their works.” After last year’s spray paint-themed battle royal, B was at a loss on how to top its insanity — until a bit of childhood inspiration struck. “This year is all about showcasing chalk murals, as well as acrylic murals on skateboard decks, which we’ll raffle off to the audience. Just come ready to be impressed!” 6 p.m. June 25. 103 Sabine. For information, call 281-745-8413 or visit gosavvy.biz. Free. – Vic Shuttee

Lift up your soul with music that moves you at the Houston Ebony Opera Guild’s Images of Blackness, a portrait of strength through music. “This is our contribution to Houston’s Juneteenth celebration,” says producer Mary Marks Guillory, “and because our repertoire is wide-ranging, this concert will reflect that. There will be African-American spirituals, and we have a commitment to the preservations of [those spirituals] by primarily black composers.” With excerpts from operas including Troubled Island, Treemonisha and Porgy & Bess, Guild Artistic Director Jason Oby will lead these trained vocalists through an unforgettable evening of sound. With a catalog spanning the American Reconstruction era and the Great Depression to the years of the Haitian Revolution, Guillory promises, “This night touches on many issues of importance for the African-American community.” 5 p.m. June 25. 3826 Wheeler. For information, call 713-335-3800 or houstonebonyopera.org. $10 to $50. – Vic Shuttee

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From India’s capital to America’s Magnolia City, the globe-trotting Gandharva Choir is making a pit stop at the Wortham on its way to the Kennedy Center’s International Serenade! Choral Festival, part of the festivities surrounding JFK’s 100th birthday. “This group is the oldest school of classical dance and music from New Delhi,” says Hari Dayal, Indo-American Association executive director. “They’re only [in America] for ten days, but we’ve been able to exploit that to get them down to Houston!” This 20-piece ensemble, Dayan explains, “specializes in adapted ragas, where instead of instrumentalists or vocalists getting solos, the entire choir gets to participate, creating a very special sound.” The concert will explore India’s many languages and cultures through their folk songs. “[It’s] essentially a musical tour through the continent!” 7 p.m. June 25. 501 Texas. For information, call 832-487-7000 or visit houstonfirsttheaters.com. $35 to $75. – Vic Shuttee

Picking up at the start of the Mexican Revolution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, exhibit “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950,” is “like a textbook of Mexican art,” says Mari Carmen Ramírez, the museum’s Wortham curator of Latin American Art. Though it features los tres grandes — José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros — Ramírez says “the exhibition seeks to go beyond those figures to show the scope of artistic production [during] the period,” a cultural renaissance. The MFAH is thus showcasing more than 175 works from many of their contemporaries, both unknown and known, such as Frida Kahlo and Rufino Tamayo. 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays. February 26 to August 13. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free to $18. – Natalie de la Garza

Monday, June 26

Because the Sugar Land Skeeters are running neck and neck with the Long Island Ducks this year, this week’s seven-game home stand should be pretty exciting both on and off the field. “We do like to play the Ducks because we did sweep them in the playoffs last year,” says Megan Murnane, the Skeeters’ marketing and digital media coordinator. “On Monday we’ve got our dollar dogs and discounted margaritas.” Murnane rolls off enough specials to last all week: June 24 is Parrothead night with a beachwear-and-Buffett postgame concert; June 25 they’re giving away replica championship flags; June 27 is “buy one field-box ticket and get one free”; June 28 is free tix for kids under 12; and June 29 features $2 beer and sodas. 7:05 p.m. Monday. Also 7:05 p.m. June 23 and June 27-29; 6:05 p.m. June 24-25. For information, call 281-240-4487 or visit sugarlandskeeters.com. $9 to $55. – Susie Tommaney

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