21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Babs, Ol' Blue Eyes & Broadway's N'Kenge

Through the miracle of stage magic, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra share the limelight this Friday at the Stafford Centre.
Through the miracle of stage magic, Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra share the limelight this Friday at the Stafford Centre. Photo courtesy of Diamond Horseshoe Productions
Tuesday, February 14

With more than 11 CDs under their belt, Cuarteto Casals just might be the first Spanish string quartet with a truly international profile. The ensemble is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and Vera Martinez (violin) and Jonathan Brown (viola) join founding members and brothers Arnau Tomàs (cello) and Abel Tomàs (violin) for a special V-Day concert. It’s their second time in Houston with presenter Chamber Music Houston, and they’ll be lending Latin heat to Mozart’s “The Hunt” Haydn quartet, Bartók’s stirring, romantic quartet and Boccherini’s sultry “Fandango.” This passionate evening of music includes solo guitar selections of Granados’s Spanish Dances by Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist Manuel Barrueco. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. February 14. Rice University, Stude Concert Hall, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-5400 or visit $20 to $80. — Susie Tommaney

From the rubble of Stonehenge arose the dark lore of an ancient beast, a mesmerizing and captivating creature that demonstrated both femininity and strength. Now this ancient 4,000-year-old European legend has been transformed for modern audiences into an immersive, neo-burlesque performance piece titled BEAST. It debuted last weekend at the 100-year-old Prohibition Theatre, that downtown bastion of opulence and atmosphere, courtesy of the precision dancers, singers, musicians, comedians and high-flying aerialists of The Moonlight Dolls and Terrible Enfants Theatre Company. With French fashion, electrifying music and craft cocktails, this decadent evening of fantasy is not for the faint-of-heart. 7 and 9:30 p.m. February 14. Continuing 7 and 9:30 p.m. February 17 and 24. For information, visit $32 to $75, plus $65 for prix-fixe meal. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, February 15

Four busboys balance their work lives around each other in the backroom of a fancy Upper East Side restaurant in Manhattan. Plans and dreams are interchanged in general accord but new management has arrived, taking away their shift pay and making their low-wage jobs even tougher. Playwright Elizabeth Irwin has put together a one-act, 90-minute play in My Mañana Comes that looks at the people who are faceless to most of us. Leslie Swackhamer directs and says the main characters are three Hispanics — two of them undocumented — and one African-American, a combination that could naturally occur just as well in any of Houston’s restaurants. Things get even tougher as the affluent diners head for their weekend homes in the Hamptons, further decreasing the busboys’ hours, and relationships deteriorate. “They start to fight each other, which is not productive, but they don’t have any power to fight the system,” Swackhamer says. “It gets morally difficult very quickly.” 7:30 p.m. February 15. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. February 15 through March 5. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit $21 to $65. — Margaret Downing

As the battle of the sexes rages on, one anthropologist offers hope for the fairer sex and predicts an era where male dominance will subside and give way to equality. The next HMNS Distinguished Lecture Series: Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy delves into the similarities and differences between male and female brains and behaviors. Guest lecturer is Melvin Konner, Ph.D., M.D., author of the bestseller, The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit and the just-released Women After All. Dr. Konner spent two years among the !Kung San Bushmen and is now at Emory University (departments of Anthropology, Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology); this program is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Natural Systems and the Family. 6:30 p.m. February 15. 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit $12 to $18. — Susie Tommaney

It's easy to stand idly by and grumble about the economy but, when it comes time for constructive suggestions, the silence can be deafening. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for its next Kinder Institute Forum Lecture, is bringing in the budget-balancing former governor of Maryland, Martin O'Malley. Not only will he discuss the challenges facing our economy but he'll also offer up some strategies that could even make things better. As for his pedigree: As governor of Maryland (2007-2015), he lowered income tax bills for 86 percent of the state's residents, recovered all of the jobs lost during the national recession, and cut more state spending than any governor in modern Maryland history. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. February 15. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit Free; reserve your seat at — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, February 16

World-renowned German violinist Christian Tetzlaff is coast-hopping the States this week, with a recital in New York on Wednesday, Texas on Thursday and California on Friday. Though he has performed solos with the Houston Symphony in the past, this Da Camera-presented program marks the Houston recital debut for Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt. Scheduled are works by Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert, as well as a pair of sonatas by Bartók. “One is a big romantic piece of 38 minutes, outreaching like a symphony in scope and content; the other is only 18 minutes long but is a very different sibling,” says Tetzlaff. “I don’t even start to comprehend about what the direct story is behind it, but I’m mystified. I love to go into this surreal world of strange colors and surreal beauty.” There’s a 7:15 p.m. pre-concert conversation with the musicians. 8 p.m. February 16. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $37.50 to $67.50. — Susie Tommaney

Ancient concepts like dybbuks, malicious spirits that possess the living; golems, magical creatures made to serve their creator’s will; and evil eyes and the eye amulets that offer protection are interpreted and modernized in a joint exhibit that comes with a stern warning: “Don’t Give Me the Eye!” Painter Anat Ronen channels the work of Arthur Szyk, while photographer Talya Arbisser documents modern-day dybbuks in the form of depression, cigarette smoking, alcohol and drugs. Marilyn Hassid, assistant executive director at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston, says the topic is quite relatable. “We all have our dybbuks today, and many of us feel we need golems and eyes to protect us.” There’s an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. February 23.
10 a.m. to 10 p.m. February 16. Continuing 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Sundays. February 16 through April 17. 5601 South Braeswood. For information, call 713-729-3200 or visit Free. — Natalie de la Garza

Friday, February 17

Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra never shared the limelight but, through stage magic, they will now in Barbra and Frank, The Concert That Never Was. Sharon Owens and Sebastian Anzaldo come through as spot-on impersonators of Babs and Ol’ Blue Eyes — complete with costumes, live singing and a multimedia experience that captures the magic of these legacies. “It’s showcasing the male and female voice of the century. You get a lot of their songs as well as some comedy and dialogue. We poke a lot of fun at each other because we’re dealing with huge egos, but the music is timeless and that’s what the show is about,” Anzaldo says. All the favorites are on the set list: “My Way,” “That’s Life,” “The Way We Were,” “Somewhere” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Don’t miss the end: The pair duet on each other’s music for a spectacular finish. 8 p.m. February 17. Stafford Centre, 10505 Cash, Stafford. For information, call 281-208-6900 or visit $35 to $65. — Sam Byrd

It’s kind of a chicken-or-the-egg thing. Ryan Scott Oliver composed songs inspired by Matthew Murphy’s photographs and, in turn, Murphy created even more images in response to the music and lyrics. 35mm: A Musical Exhibition premiered in 2012 and has since been produced more than 200 times, delivering its collection of stories about betrayal, death, love and LGBT issues through image and song. For its Houston run, Pitch Me This Productions has created a more “full show experience” offering dancing, staging and a through line of a story. “To kind of frame the whole show and put us in the same room, we made a concept that [the characters] form a support group,” says Danny Dyer, who directs, along with Joey Bernsen as music director. “We just blocked “[The Ballad of] Sara Berry” last night, which is one of the last, really big numbers of the show, about a prom-queen candidate who goes on a rampage to clinch the crown,” says Dyer, who adds that the rock music is beautiful and upbeat. Juxtapose Arts Collective and the PMT Band round out this edgy musical. 8 p.m. Fridays and February 23, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays. February 17-25. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit $25. — Susie Tommaney

In a super-rare performance inside one of Houston’s coolest spaces that’s currently hosting a crazy one-of-a-kind exhibition, a large all-female ensemble will attempt to replicate, through improvised sounds, the visuals displayed in “Francis Alys: The Fabiola Project.” Red Currant, a Houston-based experimental music group, will present a suite of vocal and movement-based pieces inspired by the small paintings, woodcarvings, needlepoints and mosaics that stretch from floor to very tall ceiling. “The major themes in the pieces we’ve written are repetition and copying. The ensemble itself somewhat replicates the inclusive nature of the collection of paintings,” says Sandy Ewen, who will lead the ensemble of at least 12 women and a handful of small wind and percussion instruments. “This is in the spirit of Alys’s piece; the beauty is in the collective vision of the artists and the sincerity of their creations.” 7 to 8 p.m. February 17. Byzantine Fresco Chapel, 4011 Yupon. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit Free. — Steve Jansen

Houston is mega-underrated when it comes to designer coffee, says Jason Burton of the Missouri-based The LAB. “Houston is so special, and I’m a sucker for cities that are underestimated.” Burton is the creator of Caffeine Crawl, a jogging-, biking- and driving-based tour of boutique coffee, tea and chocolate establishments. The tour takes place in cities all over the country, and Houston is the only Texas locale for the crawl. “Austin receives a lot of Texas’s hype love, and the people of Houston seemed to want this more than Austin, so we went with Houston and it continues to grow each year,” says Burton. The 4th Annual Coffee Crawl in Houston is already sold out, so be sure to sign up early for future editions. However, at press time tickets were still available for the Super Bowl Throwdown – Latte Art Edition, a charity-geared post-crawl after party. 7:30 to 9 p.m. February 17. A 2nd Cup, 1111 East 11th. For information, call 832-962-7656 or visit $2 to $5. — Steve Jansen

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