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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Bluebonnets, Wine and Ballet

The all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo returns to Houston for another night of gleefully funny grand ballet with hilarious parodies of classical and contemporary dance. Shown are artists of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.EXPAND
The all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo returns to Houston for another night of gleefully funny grand ballet with hilarious parodies of classical and contemporary dance. Shown are artists of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.
Photo by Zoran Jelenic
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Tuesday, March 21

Before you step up to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Birthing Center and ask, “Who’s going to go next?” — visitors’ No. 1 question, according to co-manager Richie Knebel — remember, animals are just like humans. “There’s no set schedule on parturition, or birthing, so it could happen any time,” says Knebel. “We have due dates, of course. I commonly refer to them as suggestion dates.” The exhibit, run by Knebel and his father, Rich Sr., includes cows, ewes and sows, which produced 21 calves, 21 lambs and 59 piglets last year — and 90 to 100 more this year, Knebel expects. He says that toward the end of the show, with a lot of babies on the ground, the exhibit easily houses “a lot” of livestock. “It’s like a miniature farm.” 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. March 7-26. NRG Center, One NRG Park. For information, call 832-667-1080 or visit rodeohouston.com. $5 to $10. — Natalie de la Garza

Local author Cassandra Rose Clarke (go team) is out with a new space opera about a young woman who learns a sinister secret about her father's past. Instead of writing about hometown Houston, Clarke sets her story on a futuristic gaseous planet surrounded by four terraformed moons. As young Esme prepares to take over the family business, she realizes that dear daddy has been tinkering with alien DNA, which might or might not have something to do with the estrangement of her three half-sisters. Brazos Bookstore is stepping up to the plate and hosting the launch party for this one, and Clarke will be in attendance to discuss and sign copies of Star's End. 7 p.m. March 21. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, March 22

He’s never played God before, but that’s what Alley Theatre Company member Todd Waite does in An Act of God. He’s even accompanied by two wingmen (groan) in angels Gabriel (John Feltch) and Michael (Emily Trask), who act as intermediaries between God and the audience. The one-act by 13-time Emmy® Award-winner David Javerbaum (The Daily Show) has its more serious moments but, for the most part, this is above all a comedy, Waite says. “This God has a sense of irony. He’s humorous, he’s wry, he’s smart, he’s a little petulant at times and forgiving in moments as well, but mostly he’s funny. I wouldn’t say he’s the God they know in King Lear.” 7:30 p.m. March 22. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays (dark April 12), 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. March 28 and April 4, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. March 26 and April 2 and 9, 2:30 p.m. April 16. March 22 through April 16. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-229-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $53 to $105. — Margaret Downing

Dust off those derbies, because it’s that wonderful equestrian time of year when elegant hunters, high-flying show jumpers and the horsey set gather for the two-week event known as the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. Admission is free most days, but don’t miss some of the premium nights: family-friendly Grand Prixes on March 25 and April 1, the Hunter/Hatter Derby on March 31, and food trucks Thursdays through Sundays. Pack an ice chest (no glass containers), visit the Shetland therapy ponies and miniature horses and do a little shopping at The Pin Oak Marketplace; it’s a lot of fun, and you’ll feel better knowing that this philanthropic event benefits charities that support the healing of sick children. Ticketed events are 4 to 9 p.m. March 25, March 31 and April 1. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 22-24, 26-30 and April 2. Great Southwest Equestrian Center, 2501 South Mason, Katy. For information and full schedule, call 713-621-6290 or visit pinoak.org. Free to $10. — Susie Tommaney

Rec Room cofounders Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Matt Hune are both employed as educators, so they come from the mind of can-do, not can-don’t. “Everyone can be creative and make something,” says Wittels Wachs, co-creator of Le Spring Film Festival de Mobile Phone. The mobile phone movie fest features an hourlong screening of 12 to 15 films from filmmakers of any/no experience level. “Short films” are three minutes or less; anything more is considered a “feature.” Winners of the quarterly fest, now in its third edition, receive prizes and a photograph taken in front of a Sundance-looking step and repeat. Wittels Wachs is thinking about making her film debut. “I have great footage of my kid eating pasta from ages zero to three,” she says. Might it be “feature” length? “Probably. She eats a lot of pasta.” 8 p.m. March 22. Rec Room, 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. $5. — Steve Jansen

Thursday, March 23

It’s been said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but Pennie Mahon and her troupe of performing hounds prove otherwise. Houston Disc Dogs return to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with their gravity-defying canine tricks of all types. “There will be all kinds of dogs doing anything from long distance and Frisbee to freestyle flying discs where dogs jump off our bodies. They do handstands, jump ropes and high jumps,” says Mahon, head trainer of the organization. The show lasts approximately 25 minutes, followed by a meet-and-greet where families can get up close and personal with the animals. The Houston-based group rescues animals ranging in age from one to ten, and we hear one of them is talented enough to hula hoop. Now that’s worth watching. 7 p.m. March 23. Also 7 p.m. March 22, 7:30 p.m. March 25, 5 p.m. March 26. NRG Center, One NRG Park. For information, call 832-667-1080 or visit rodeohouston.com. Free to $10. — Sam Byrd

Jolly nerds and gleeful geeks: Your minds are about to get played with. Mythbusters host and beloved dork avatar Adam Savage is hitting the road with his new partner in experimentation, Internet personality Michael Stevens (known to his 11.7 million YouTube subscribers as Vsause) for Brain Candy LIVE, and we’re pretty sure stuff’s gonna blow up. The brilliant dweebs have got a few big old grown-up toys that will crush and create and make marvelous spectacles of science right before your very eyes. As imaginative as Walt Disney, wacky as Willy Wonka and cerebral as Albert Einstein, this unique two-hour comedy-lecture hybrid offers the opportunity to potentially get onstage with the duo and assist in the madness. This family-friendly romp is not without its dangers – if you’re squeamish, you might want to steer clear of the splash zone up front. 8 p.m. March 23. Cullen Performance Hall, 4300 University. For information, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit uh.edu/cullen-performance-hall. $40 to $65. — Vic Shuttee

Award-winning musician and native of China Maiko Sasaki has performed with arts organizations all over town, but for this intimate chamber performance the ROCO clarinetist is bringing it home in "Roots, Reeds and Rhapsody," presented by ROCO and performed at Asia Society Texas Center under its Performing Asia umbrella. The eclectic program includes Bright Sheng’s Concertino for Clarinet and String Quartet; the contemporary composer drew from fragments of folk tunes he heard decades ago while living in northwest China. Joining Sasaki are violinists Amy Thiaville and Kana Kimura, cellist Courtenay Vandiver-Pereira, pianist Makiko Hirata with Suzanne LeFevre on viola. They also will perform works by Sergei Prokofiev, Franz Liszt, Béla Bartók, Claude Debussy and Zhou Long. 7:30 p.m. March 23. 1370 Southmore. For information, call 713-665-2700 or visit rocohouston.org. $15 to $25. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, March 24

Hairy chests, drag-queen makeup and gauzy but gaudy tutus: It is ballet, but there’s nothing typical about Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male troupe as adept at en pointe as they are at spoofing the classics. “There are a few members of the audience that don’t know what they’re going to come and see so they don’t usually know how to react,” says company member Alberto Pretto, who says children laugh at the outrageous choreography first, letting adults know it’s safe to join in. Their parody of “The Dying Swan,” with feathers falling out of the tutu in fits and spurts, offers the ultimate in comedic death scenes. “[It’s] an audience favorite,” says Pretto. “It’s really enjoyable to perform because we have the support of the audience laughing for us and cheering for us.” This light, funny evening serves as a good initiation to ballet and is presented in Houston courtesy of Society for the Performing Arts. 8 p.m. March 24. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $43 to $83. — Susie Tommaney

This year's featured artist at our favorite moveable feast for the eyes (downtown in the fall and at Memorial Park in the spring) is Amanda Bennett, a mixed media artist who hails from New Orleans, though she's logged time in Alabama and Tennessee. She fuses a few of her favorite things — mid-century advertising, acrylics and photography — and transforms them into pop art-inspired funk that echoes the culture and rhythm of the Crescent City. Come view works by Bennett and more than 300 artists and craftsmen at this open air salute to creativity, with food, music and fun. The Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park, which is presented by Art Colony Association Inc., is celebrating its 45th year and we've got a few housekeeping notes: strollers are OK, but they've put the kibosh on pets, boomboxes, drones and coolers. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 24-26. Memorial Park, Memorial Drive and South Picnic Lane. For information, call 800-350-8850 or visit artcolonyassociation.org. $5 to $15. — Susie Tommaney

What's often billed as the Marseille Trilogy is, succinctly, the slow and steady story of girl chases boy, girl loses boy. As told through the eyes of playwright-turned-filmmaker Marcel Pagnol, the seriocomic trilogy of Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936) introduces us to exquisitely drawn characters. There's the fresh-faced Fanny and her conflicted lover Marius who tries to follow mathematically impossible drink recipes from his widowed father César, plus a host of other seaside townsfolk: a wealthy sail-maker, a cheerful ferry captain and a half-sly, half-naïve port inspector. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents all three classics this weekend so stay in town and catch them all. Marius screens at 7 p.m. March 24, Fanny screens at 7 p.m. March 25 and César screens at 5 p.m. March 26. In French with English subtitles. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $7 to $9. — Susie Tommaney

The three weekend Spring Bluebonnet Wine and Cheese Trail spotlights some of the best Texas wineries in our region: Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville, Cork This! in Montgomery, Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Peach Creek Vineyards in College Station, Pleasant Hill Winery in Brenham, Saddlehorn Winery in Burton and Texas Star Winery in Chappell Hill.EXPAND
The three weekend Spring Bluebonnet Wine and Cheese Trail spotlights some of the best Texas wineries in our region: Bernhardt Winery in Plantersville, Cork This! in Montgomery, Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Peach Creek Vineyards in College Station, Pleasant Hill Winery in Brenham, Saddlehorn Winery in Burton and Texas Star Winery in Chappell Hill.
Photo by Bill Allen, courtesy of Bernhardt Winery

Saturday, March 25

Brush up on the vocal warm-up techniques from that public-speaking class. Three minutes to tell a story might tongue-tie even the most cunning of linguists, but that’s what some of the country’s best poets will be doing at the Bayou City Poetry Slam Festival. “They have three minutes to tell a whole story and draw us in. They’ll be judged on what they can tell in three minutes,” says Savannah Blue, event organizer. The two-day competition starts with 40 spoken-word artists in a preliminary round, each moving through a series of eliminations. The final 12 left standing after three rounds will move on to day two at the Alley Theatre for a final showdown to crown the king (or queen!) of the competition. 7 to 10 p.m. March 25. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. Also 7 to 11 p.m. March 24, Houston Community College, 3517 Austin. For information, call 832-396-9547 or visit bayoucitypoetryslam.org or alleytheatre.org/slampoets. $10 to $25. — Sam Byrd

For Grown-up Storytime #100, BooTown co-artistic directors Lindsay Burleson and Emily Hynds have chosen the best of the best to be reprised, and over the last ten years and some 780 stories, they’ve definitely heard some good ones: Werewolf, Philip Hays’s account of being a kid necromancer in Sugar Land; the anonymously submitted Rules of the Clinic, about a woman seeking an abortion; and Brendan Bourque-Sheil’s “happy-sad” tale Twinkies, about his curious reaction to the Hostess treat in a post-Harvey Milk world. “Everyone’s favorite writers will be represented at #100,” promises Hynds. “They span the past ten years so there’s definitely going to be ones that you haven’t heard in potentially eight years — or never heard.” Drunk Robot returns to emcee, and kicking off the centennial edition at 6 p.m. is a panel featuring original members and folks from the L.A. and Boston GUSTs. 7 p.m. March 25. The Secret Group, 2101 Polk. For information, call 832-898-4688 or visit bootown.org. $20 to $40. — Natalie de la Garza

While on a seemingly never-ending summer excursion with his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, Joseph Haydn realized his orchestra had a problem — they wanted to go home. In response, Haydn composed Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, its fourth movement marked by each musician, one by one, leaving the stage until only two violins remained. “Indeed, the prince did get the message and shortly after, they were back in Vienna,” laughs presenter and conductor Antoine Plante, Mercury’s artistic director. The theatrics of Haydn’s so-called “Farewell” Symphony share the stage with his solo-filled Symphony No. 6 in D major, “Le matin,” and Beethoven’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 19, in Mercury’s Haydn and Beethoven, a joint program Plante says is united by a shared sense of beauty. “We have this really classical aesthetic that is so beautiful, so uplifting,” says Plante. “It is gallant, it’s refined yet passionate.” 8 p.m. March 25. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $19 to $68. — Natalie de la Garza

Santiago sent them, and they ain’t leaving till you laugh. The Tenderloins, aka the comedy foursome behind the basic-cable powerhouse hidden-camera show Impractical Jokers, are taking their goof-abouts on the road in their second major tour, Santiago Sent Us. Thirtysomethings Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano met in high school and haven’t been apart much since graduating in ’99. They’ve bombarded the web-space with sketches, podcasts, funny tweets and viral hits and now have set their sights on claiming the world one theater at a time – they’ve just hit London’s legendary O2 Arena (four sold-out houses), and now it’s Revention Music Center’s time to shine. Promising a blend of comedy, hijinks and video premieres onstage, this show promises much mischief with such expert pranksters afoot. 5 and 8 p.m. March 25. 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600 or visit reventionmusiccenter.com. $52 to $95. — Vic Shuttee

Who dat? This fest is the real deal, y’all. Having originated in Louisiana, they weren’t born here but got to Texas as fast as they could, and now The Taste of Louisiana Festival is celebrating its fifth year. “The theme this year is ‘Made in Louisiana,’” says Joaquin Trent, event coordinator. “It’s pretty much 360 degrees of Louisiana: the culture, the food, the music.” He says they’ve got sessions on Zydeco, Creole and second line culture at 3 and 5 p.m., a main stage that looks like a parade float, Mardi Gras beverages and tons of shopping. “This year we have our French Market with spices, soaps; all the wonderful things you can buy like pralines, Louisiana baked pie.” Don’t miss the Second Line performance at 7 p.m. and a “Bake, Boil and Fry” cook-off in the Chef’s Corner (our money is on fry). 1 to 9 p.m. March 25. Constellation Field, One Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, visit thetasteoflouisiana.com. $10 to $20. — Susie Tommaney

If you can't make it to Lincoln Center this month to catch The Metropolitan Opera revival of Mozart’s Idomeneo, never fear, because it's being broadcast live to the big screen courtesy of Fathom Events. View Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s classic production, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, starring Matthew Polenzani in the title role and featuring Elza van den Heever as Elettra, Nadine Sierra as Ilia, Alice Coote as Idamante and Alan Opie as Arbace. As with all things Fathom, this The MET: Live in HD presentation includes an intermission lagniappe with cast and crew interviews and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into staging an opera. In Italian with English subtitles, with an encore performance on March 29. Price varies by location; visit fathomevents.com for participating venues. 11:55 a.m. March 25 and 6:30 p.m. March 29. Edwards Houston Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX, 7600 Katy Freeway. For information, visit fathomevents.com/events/idomeneo. $21.65 to $28.15. — Susie Tommaney

Sunday, March 26

A visit to one winery is good; seven is better. The Spring Bluebonnet Wine and Cheese Trail spotlights some of the best Texas wineries in our region, complete with a septet of participants. At each stop guests can enjoy a select pairing of two wines and specially crafted cheese appetizers during the three-weekend long event. “You will see at every single place something new and different,” says Jim Chisolm, owner of Texas Star Winery. “People are proud of their wineries and they’re happy to talk about the process.” 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. March 25 through April 9. Bernhardt Winery, 9043 County Road 204, Plantersville; Cork This!, 21123 Eva, Montgomery; Messina Hof Winery, 4545 Old Reliance, Bryan; Peach Creek Vineyards, 2029 Peach Creek, College Station; Pleasant Hill Winery, 1441 Salem, Brenham; Saddlehorn Winery, 958 FM 1948 North, Burton; Texas Star Winery, 10587 Old Chappell Hill, Chappell Hill. For information, call 936-825-3669 or visit texasbluebonnetwinetrail.com. $35 to $56. — Sam Byrd

Memorial Day flooding. Tax Day flooding. The question isn’t whether we’ll have another deluge, it’s when. Enough is enough, and it’s time to fight back. The newest trend in residential and business construction is to assume that flooding will occur and find a way to survive these events. Resilience is the new buzzword, and architects are getting creative in dealing with the challenges of living in a floodplain. This year’s Rice Design Alliance Architectural Tour: H2Ouston showcases six examples of smart architecture, including vents that allow water to flow back out, sturdy finishes and elevated construction. The original Sunset Coffee building at Allen’s Landing, completely gutted and stripped down to its concrete structure before restoration, serves as Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s new digs. “The first floor serves as canoe storage. It’s flood proof,” says Angie Chen, RDA’s assistant director of programs. 1 to 6 p.m. March 25 and 26. For information, call 713-348-4876 or visit ricedesignalliance.org or signup.rice.edu/2017rdatour. $15 to $35. — Susie Tommaney

"Be our guest. Be our guest." It's definitely time to "Tie your napkin 'round your neck" when Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Mason Park serves up a decadent four-course Beauty and the Beast (2017) Feast. As we watch Emma Watson's version of Belle engage in a snowball fight with the Beast, played by that dashing but dreamy Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey, enjoy baby artichokes en croute, "gray deliciousness" (don't worry, it's just roasted eggplant and arugula on a baguette), beef ragout and a flamed cherry pie and pudding. Spend a little more for wine pairings and get swept away by this immersive cinematic experience. 5:30 p.m. March 26. 531 South Mason Road, Katy. For information, call 281-492-6900 or visit drafthouse.com/houston/theater/mason-park. $64.95. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, March 27

The right herbs and spices can make a good dish great and the quartet of artists exhibiting in “4 – SEASONED” have added a touch of old-school experience to their personal recipe. “The three painters – myself, Allan [Rodewald] and Page [Piland] – we are all over, shall we say 40, and we’ve all been doing this for a long time,” says Ron Gordon, who organized the exhibit under his WALLHOG entity. Rounding out the exhibit of trompe l’oeil, photorealism, surrealism and abstracts are glass and pottery pieces by Albert Goldriech. “Each one of us individually, partly because of our age and passions, have interesting life stories,” says Gordon. “There’s a back story; we’re pretty interesting sort of fellows.” There’s a post-event talk and reception from 2 to 4 p.m. April 1 at Studio 119, 1824 Spring Street. 6:30 to 10 p.m. March 25, 3 to 6 p.m. March 26, 6 to 9 p.m. March 27. Winter Street Gallery, 2101 Winter. For information, visit rongordon.wixsite.com/mysite-1. Free. —  Susie Tommaney

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