21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Monster Jam, Syncing Ink and STOMP

The Alley Theatre presents the world premiere of Syncing Ink by NSangou Njikam.
The Alley Theatre presents the world premiere of Syncing Ink by NSangou Njikam. Photo by Christopher Diaz
Tuesday, February 7

Veteran Heights shoppers know that love is always in the air over at Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, where husband-and-wife owners Macario and Chrissie Ramirez keep the flame alive through art, culture and those oh-so-yummy (but crumbly) Mexican cookies they keep by the door. So when it came time for their annual “Amor Eterno: The Heart Show,” it was no surprise that the couple decided on chocolate and champagne for the opener last Saturday. “Chocolate is indigenous to Mexico. That’s where it all got started centuries ago,” says Macario, adding that they wanted to make it fun. Macario tells us that “love is forever,” but you can seal the deal with these timely gifts: mixed-media pieces by East End Studio Gallery’s Lizbeth Ortiz, ceramic hearts by Veronica Casares Lee and paintings by Fort Worth photographer Sergio Santos. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. February 7. Continuing 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Through February 23. Casa Ramirez FOLKART Gallery, 241 West 19th. For information, call 713-880-2420. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, February 8
Sweet Tea is fiery, bold and strong. Her small size has never gotten in the way of living her life. So says Kara Young, the actress who plays her in playwright NSangou Njikam’s semi-autobiographical journey of discovery through the rhythms of hip-hop. Syncing Ink is making its world premiere — though not its first appearance thanks to last year’s readings and workshops — at the Alley Theatre. Young tells us it’s a theatrical musical experience through hip-hop, song and dance. “To me it’s a very universal story for the underdog, for the trials and tribulations of what you go through in life and try to find your inner voice.” With hopes of taking the work to New York City, Young says the play will especially appeal to young people of any color. 7:30 p.m. February 8. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and February 14-15 and 21-22; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. February 12, 19 and 26; 8 p.m. February 17 and 24; 2:30 p.m. March 5. February 8 through March 5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information call 713-220-5700 or visit $45 to $72. — Margaret Downing

Amateur detectives, there’s foul play afoot. Murder By The Book, Houston’s go-to pitstop for death and murder literature, is bringing New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart home to promote his newest effort, Fatal. Born in Houston, Lescroart is known cross-country as the sharp-eyed mind behind lawyer Dismas Hardy, who has starred in 16 of the writer’s past works. With Fatal, Murder By The Book event coordinator John Kwiatkowski says Lescroart gets to show off his skill with detective stories. “He just really excels at these well-crafted, well-told mysteries,” he says. “This new book is a standalone psychological thriller about a woman named Kate, who is obsessed with this guy, who six months later turns up dead. Kate’s best friend, a police detective named Beth, ends up investigating the case, trying to see how Kate fits in.” Lescroart fills a specific literary void in the current landscape of choices, Kwiatkowski argues. “I think he really just taps into this old-fashioned P.I. thing that not a lot of people are doing these days.” It’s a two-for-one book signing. Kelly Parsons, a board-certified urologist and the author of Doing Harm, will read from and sign copies of his newest release, Under the Knife. 6:30 p.m. February 8. 2342 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-524-8597 or visit Free. — Vic Shuttee

Thursday, February 9

How was Göbekli Tepe, which might be the oldest temple on the planet, even built? Did man handcraft the breathtaking statues and pillars? Or was it ancient aliens? Professor Mehmet Özdogan of Istanbul University will attempt to answer some of these questions during the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Archaeological Institute of America distinguished lecture “Solving the Mystery of Göbekli Tepe: The Oldest Temple on Earth?” Göbekli Tepe, which translates to “Potbelly Hill,” is said to be at least 14,000 years young, or 6,000 years older than Stonehenge. “Göbekli is the first or one of the first that was erected of stone and in a much more monumental scale than its predecessors,” says Özdogan. “It has revealed the iconography in such a detailed picture that we now, for the first time, are able to see the symbolism [and] the belief systems of this period.” 6:30 p.m. February 9. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit $12 to $18. — Steve Jansen

The bromance between Steven Spielberg and John Williams is the stuff of legend. Williams composed perfect soundtracks to match Spielberg’s movies, and they became best buddies throughout their decades-long relationship. The collaboration has resulted in some of our favorite cinematic moments. (Anyone remember the themes from Jaws, Star Wars or Superman?) The Houston Symphony is gifting us a tribute to the twosome’s collaboration in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Film With Live Orchestra. Musicians are playing the Academy Award-winning score while the 1982 movie, about the unshakable relationship between a ten-year-old Elliott and the wayward alien, streams in the background. Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos is an unapologetic fan. “There’s nothing like the thrill of seeing the movie on a big screen, and then to hear the music live. It’s beyond thrilling.” 7:30 p.m. February 9. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $39 to $99. — Sam Byrd

Sex, drugs and politics are all part of the journey of self-discovery in Passing Strange, the Tony and Drama Desk award-winning musical that rocked Broadway’s world. Penned by Stew (L.A. musician Mark Stewart) and coming to Houston audiences courtesy of Obsidian Theater in association with SRO Productions, the story follows a young black man, Youth, as he leaves the City of Angels for Europe to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, Josephine Baker and James Baldwin. A rock band performs live during this production, delivering the score by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, and David Allen III plays the young man searching for something real. “The music is the driving force, the heartbeat of this production,” says Allen. “It’s beautifully woven through the tapestry of this story, and the music accelerates us through this poetic movement.” 8 p.m. February 9. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. February 26. February 9 through March 4. Obsidian Theater, 3522 White Oak. For information, call 713-300-2358 or visit $27.50 to $37.50. — Vic Shuttee

Friday, February 10

The “junkyard” began 25 years ago with a couple of Brits (Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas) from the town of Brighton. “They were buskers — street performers — and they also had a band. They had a piece called Dustbins, which are trash cans, and they got quite a response,” says Jeremy Price. The junkyard-themed set and push broom props evolved over time to become the internationally touring phenomenon STOMP — a merging of dance, concert and theatrical performance set to choreographed percussion — and Price, who serves as performer and rehearsal director, says it’s hard to name just one showstopper. “There’s a part where we’re swinging from the ceiling and beating on pots and pans. We have a piece called Zippos and we just play Zippos and Bic lighters and all the house lights come down,” says Price. “Which one is more amazing? You’ll have to tell me.” 7:30 p.m. February 10, 2 and 7:30 p.m. February 11, 2 and 7 p.m. February 12. Society for the Performing Arts, Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit $33 to $78. — Susie Tommaney

If you were at all cognizant in 2009, you’ll remember Travis — a chimpanzee and former TV and commercial star — whose brutal attack on a woman resulted in one of the world’s first facial transplants. But Tamarie Cooper, director of The Catastrophic Theatre’s production of Trevor, which was inspired by these events, wants to be clear — this play is about the back story: a woman, widowed, who raised a chimp in her home as her own child. Sandra may approach Trevor as her baby, but his inner thoughts show him to be a frustrated, out-of-work actor fascinated by shiny objects. Cooper says the play, by Nick Jones, raises questions about what it means to be human and explores “those moments when you’re in a relationship, no matter if you’re both human, how no matter how much you love someone, you can still not hear them.” 8 p.m. February 10. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. February 10 through March 4. 3400 Main. For information, call 713-522-2723 or visit Pay what you can; suggested price is $35. — Natalie de la Garza

For Jon Harvey, director of Classical Theatre Company’s production of The Ghost Sonata, the late Ingmar Bergman summed up the show best: “It is an unusually horrid play. Have a nice time.” Written by August Strindberg in 1907, five years before his death, the play steps into a house populated with ghosts, mummies, vampires and an old man who may or may not be the devil. Harvey says the stylized horror show has a modernist feel, and in today’s world of alternative facts is even more relevant. “It’s about how things seem versus how they really are,” says Harvey. “It’s the antithesis of being and seeming. There’s a lot of faces, and masks over those faces; a facade may be very beautiful, but when you look inside it’s not always as it looks.” 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and February 15 and 20; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. February 8 through February 26. 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit $10 to $25. — Natalie de la Garza

Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, written by the composer to honor the memory of a friend, is performed all over the world. But it is only now making its debut at the Houston Grand Opera, courtesy of Super Bowl LI. HGO chorus master Richard Bado explained that, leading up to the big game, HGO’s performance home at the Wortham Theater Center was taken over by Super Bowl personnel. So the opera needed to plan for something that could rehearse anywhere and, voilà, the 93-minute, one-act oratorio fit the bill. Coincidentally, it was something that Bado, now in his 24th year as chorus master, has wanted to do for a long time. Four soloists and 120 choristers (HGO’s Aida had only 80) will run a roller coaster of emotions from loss and fear to hope and joy, with Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers conducting. “The emotional journey the audience will go through is huge,” Bado says. “It’s a theatrical, dramatic event. This will be one of the high points of my career here.” 7:30 p.m. February 10, 15, 17 and 18; 2 p.m. February 12. 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit $15 to $240. — Margaret Downing

Maggie Lasher, the choreographer behind the fire arts-infused Lightbearer, assures us that the audience shouldn’t be scared. “We know what we’re doing,” says Lasher, who serves as artistic director for presenter Holding Space Dance Collective, adding that the group follows proper rules and regulations. While she has given us teasers before, this is the first time Lightbearer is being presented as a full-length dance narrative, and it’s making its world premiere in the East End, courtesy of The Pilot Artist Board. Lasher says that like all children, she was fascinated by campfires and fireplaces. “The fire arts itself kind of spoke to me in a different way. It’s rare to see it in performance like this,” says Lasher, noting that it’s big in the flow community. Coming from a strong background in ballet, she’s always loved telling stories through dance, movement and music, and Lightbearer’s narrative revolves around two friends as they journey through the fiery realm of the Shadow Queen to save the Light of the World. 8 p.m. February 10-11 and 16-18. The Pilot on Navigation, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 281-979-4982 or visit $15 to $20. — Susie Tommaney

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