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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Rainbow on ICE and Dirty Dancing

Rainbow on ICE, hosted by Mayor Turner's LGBTQ advisory board, returns to Discovery Green this Friday.EXPAND
Rainbow on ICE, hosted by Mayor Turner's LGBTQ advisory board, returns to Discovery Green this Friday.
Photo by Katya Horner
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Tuesday, January 17

It's easy to stand by and grumble about election shenanigans and fake news, but one local venue has been quietly expressing its opinions about the political arena through the magic of Hollywood. While events are ramping up in Washington with dinners, parades and a pair of inaugural balls, local mainstay the Rec Room is gearing up for the big day by screening 19 free flicks in the same number of days with 19 Days in January. The bar is open for business and for the final stretch they've lined up 2015's Our Brand Is Crisis, loosely based on James Carville and starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, for Tuesday night. Wednesday's flick is 1983's Videodrome, about the media spinning out of control and starring James Woods and Jimmy Smits. It all comes to an end, prophetically speaking, when The Great Dictator screens on Thursday. 8 p.m. January 17. Continuing 8 p.m. January 18 and 19. 100 Jackson. For information, call 713-344-1291 or visit recroomhtx.com. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Historian John M. Keahey just may have cracked the code for making the American Revolution interesting to eighth graders. “He would start off totally dressed as a soldier from the British side of the American Revolution. He would talk about what he was wearing, what he had on,” says Nicole Temple, vice president of youth education for Houston Museum of Natural Science. After he discussed each piece — the uniform, musket, pouch, powder horn and hat — he would remove it. “Eventually he got down to the point where he was wearing socks, britches and a shirt.” He would then move to another table and don the much shabbier attire of a colonial soldier to build context. “The American side were people who believed in the cause, walked out of their house ready to fight; they didn’t have much,” says Temple. Keahey’s lecture has been so popular that it’s being presented for adult audiences — along with tidbits about where people went to the bathroom, slept and stored food — during the next HMNS Distinguished Lecture Series: The Soldiers of the American Revolution by John M. Keahey. 6:30 p.m. January 17. 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit hmns.org. $12 to $18. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, January 18

It was an admiration for 17th-century Dutch still life that got them hooked, and that passion led to 30 years of acquisitions by local collectors Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs. Now more than 65 works from the couple’s private collection, some of which have never been seen by the public, are on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in “Two Centuries of American Still-Life Painting: The Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs Collection.” The exhibit includes one of the earliest American examples of still-life in Raphaelle Peale’s Orange and Book, from 1817, as well as the more recent Rouge Poppies by Minimalist Donald Sultan. Frank is a life trustee and longtime chairman of the museum’s collections committee, so Houston gets the inaugural display; the exhibit will then travel to Tennessee and Washington. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. January 18. 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. Through April 9. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free to $15. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, January 19

Nothing drives creativity like reverse engineering a photo into a play. That was the thinking that went into Boiling Point Players’ newest production, A New Day Cabaret. The group arranged for photographers and actors to stage photos before the story was even written, then they distributed the photos to playwrights to serve as inspiration for a short act. Co-director Autumn Clack explains how it all comes together. “Those actors have to hit the tableau of those pictures at some point in the play. The photos allowed the playwrights to glimpse the personalities, and the result is it enables us to have a lot of fun.” Houston emcee Amy Pope helms the show, which also includes live singing by Katy Burns and Ellen Dyer, a dance performance by Cindy Lou Parker and improv from Magical Lying Hour and Ophelia’s Rope. 8 p.m. January 19. Rudyard’s British Pub, 2010 Waugh. For information, call 832-303-1578 or visit boilingpointplayers.com. $10 to $15. — Sam Byrd

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, the debut short story collection by Houstonian Chanelle Benz, began life as an experimental exploration of genre, time and place. The resulting ten stories — with characters ranging from a 19th-century Gothic spinster to a slave to brother-sister outlaws to a displaced 16th-century English monk — are tied together by violence, retribution and justice. Benz says her theater background showed her “you’re free to choose to become a character, to pick up different pieces that make up who they are,” which allowed her a space to dive into the world of monasteries, or Billy the Kid. “I knew I could never be in that history, so in my imagination I had to find ways to insert myself. As a brown woman, I would have to be somebody’s half, illegitimate sister or something,” she laughs. Benz will read from her book and sign copies at Brazos Bookstore. 7 p.m. January 19. 2421 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. Free. — Natalie de la Garza

After winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008, Iliza Shlesinger has dominated the stand-up circuit and is bringing her witty perspective and ballsy delivery to Houston. Originally from Dallas, Shlesinger says developing new material remains her favorite aspect of stand-up. “It’s become so rewarding to see not just how my material has evolved, but how my audience has embraced it,” she confides. “Everything from how they interpret it to the fan art they create, just seeing how my art becomes their joy has been really special.” Her first special, War Paint, hit Netflix in 2013, and last year’s Confirmed Kills made headlines for how Shlesinger tackled big issues. “One woman’s taboo is another woman’s go-to joke,” says Shlesinger. “I’ve never been raunchy or used sex as a lazy punch line. My show, although commenting on men and women and society, is smart, weird and sort of whimsical.” 7 p.m. January 19. House of Blues Houston, 1204 Caroline. For information, call 888-402-5837 or visit houseofblues.com/houston. $29.50 to $35. — Vic Shuttee

Risk! is sort of like drunk dialing with a therapeutic twist, only the potential for embarrassment is exponentially greater. Host Kevin Allison returns to Houston for this live show and podcast, where brave souls are encouraged to spill their guts to a ravenous audience. “It’s kind of like the storytelling shows you’ve heard on NPR — Moth, This American Life — but because we’re a podcast, we can be completely uncensored,” says Allison. “There’s no need to abide by the standards and practices of radio. People come to the show with a level of honesty and frankness.” Allison says he’ll tell one story, and we’ll also hear stories from four fellow Houstonians, including one about “a young girl realizing that she was gay and being confused about what exactly that meant. It’s kind of a mixture of realizing she’s gay and having her first period.” He describes the live show as “people telling true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public,” and says that audience members love it for its incredible, human rawness. 7 p.m. January 19. White Oak Music Hall, 2915 North Main. For information, call 713-237-0370 or visit whiteoakmusichall.com or risk-show.com. $20 to $22. — Susie Tommaney

Comedian and former Houstonian Ralphie May is making another swoop through the Bayou City, bringing his trademark brand of debauched humor on his "No Apologies" tour. Whether you caught his special, The Nasty Show, Volume II, on Showtime earlier this month, or you've seen his act before, you know that this larger than life comedian always brings a heavy dose of truth. We suspect he'll be delving into the political waters for his five shows at Houston Improv this weekend. In the past he's told us that, “It’s my job to take that point of view and flip it, so people can see how ridiculous they are. Especially when it comes to racism and discrimination, I don’t even have to change what they’re saying." May is also pumped because he's starting a residency in Harrah's Las Vegas next week. Rumor on the street is that it's going to be dirty, filthy and absolutely nothing will be off limits. 8 p.m. January 19, 8 and 10:30 p.m. January 20, 7 and 9:30 p.m. January 21. 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8809 or visit improvhouston.com. $25 to $50. — Susie Tommaney

Friday, January 20

Discovery Green’s ice rink comes out with the return of Rainbow On ICE, hosted by Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ advisory board. Board member and Discovery Green president Barry Mandel tells us, “It’s a party! It’s a way to bring friends and the community together.” The entire city is invited to boogie and skate the night away as well as take in some local entertainment. Performers this year are Houston’s own drag family Crawford Nation, including female illusionists Aria, Linda D. and Alexia D., with Kris and Fidel performing as Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child. Putting the “disco” into Discovery is DJ Joe Ross. Bring cash for skate rentals ($14), food and drinks. 7 to 10 p.m. January 20. 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit discoverygreen.com/rainbow. Free. — Sam Byrd

“Award-winning” and “musician” are thrown around way too much — and sometimes the two don’t even match. However, in the case of Arturo Sandoval, he has deserved all of the earned kudos. The 67-year-old Cuban jazz trumpet master, pianist and composer has scored ten Grammys, six Billboard awards, an Emmy and a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2013. There are many bonafide reasons for all of that hardware. “The thing about Arturo, technically speaking, is that he’s one of the best trumpet players alive. His facility on the horn is nearly unmatched,” says Rick Mitchell, who wrote the program notes for Sandoval’s concert, which is presented by Da Camera. “Like other Cuban musicians of his generation, he had classical training. He brings classical and jazz into one precision sound.” 8 p.m. January 20. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $37.50 to $67.50. — Steve Jansen

In our dreams, anything is possible, and the collective Pilobolus Dance Theater followed that thread to create an evening-length show that fuses shadow act, circus and concert, the visually stunning Shadowland, making its premiere in Houston. “The story is this little girl is going on a journey. She left home and goes to New York City and there are monsters — as many of those big-journey stories have — with hiccups and obstacles along the way,” says Marcus Powers, public relations manager for presenter -Society for the Performing Arts. A large arm reaches down to transform a girl into a dog (it can roll over and do tricks), and a kiss causes a giant’s head to break apart into a heart-tipped flower made of dancers. Powers says the performers move their bodies in front of or behind screens, with the aid of a few props, to make the magic onstage. “They do everything where it looks like something completely different.” 8 p.m. January 20. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $43 to $103. — Susie Tommaney

Christopher Tierney and Bronwyn Reed star in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage, coming to Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land.EXPAND
Christopher Tierney and Bronwyn Reed star in Dirty Dancing - The Classic Story on Stage, coming to Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Saturday, January 21

She carried a watermelon. He was a dance teacher with hips that could out-swivel Elvis’s. Together, the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman and Johnny Castle, with that iconic dance lift at the end, has captured the hearts and minds of multiple generations. Now the story is revived with Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story on Stage. The musical is filled with all the titular choreography, plus the hit songs “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the unforgettable “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.” Even better, screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein has added more scenes to the staged version to further develop the story. “It’s got everything in the movie, plus you see more about Baby’s relationship with her sister, her parents and with Johnny,” says lead actress Jennifer Mealani Jones. 8 p.m. January 20, 2 and 8 p.m. January 21, 2 and 7:30 p.m. January 22. Smart Financial Centre, 18111 Lexington, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-207-6278 or visit smartfinancialcentre.com. $45 to $110. — Sam Byrd

How exactly did Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two young men from Boston who dreamed about becoming actors, capture that elusive lightning in a bottle and hit the big time with Good Will Hunting? It's the subject of lore and legend, and actor/playwright Mindy Kaling, along with Brenda Withers, explored one alternative in their satirical Matt & Ben. One of Houston's newest theater companies, Rogue Productions, is bringing the gender-bending one-hour sketch comedy to Houston audiences for its first public offering out of the chute. The setup, which uses female actors (played by Chelsea Ryan McCurdy and Rachael Logue), puts these aspiring playwrights to the test with unexpected events as they try to shop their script. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. January 12 through January 29. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 832-370-1815 or visit rogueproductionshtx.com. $17 to $37. — Susie Tommaney

Shadow Town II: The Johns isn’t pulling any punches about its topic: human trafficking. “It’s a huge issue,” says playwright Mary Bonnett, who runs Chicago’s Her Story Theater, which also produced the first play in the cycle, Shadow Town, in 2013. “I’ve interviewed just about everyone involved in sex trafficking in Chicago: undercover detectives, FBI, health-care workers, therapists, as well as a number of pimps and a number of women who had been trafficked.” The Johns focuses on the man’s perspective and has been adapted for Houston audiences with a River Oaks setting. “A number of these men who opened up to me were highly educated trust-fund babies,” Bonnett says, adding that they viewed it as entertainment. “Most were fathers, married, prided themselves on being good husbands.” 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and January 30; 3 p.m. January 29. January 19 through February 4. Mildred’s Umbrella, Studio 101, 1824 Spring. For information, call 832-463-0409 or visit mildredsumbrella.com. $15 to $25. — Vic Shuttee

For Marian Luntz, film and video curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is hosting the 24th Annual Houston Iranian Film Festival, there is one question she can always count on. “Inevitably people ask me, ‘I can’t see all of the films; which should I see?’” This year’s options include Iranian actress Leila Hatami’s turn as Azar — music teacher by day, purveyor of bootleg booze, fake passports and smuggled goods by night — in I (Me); Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman, shortlisted for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; and one Afghan rock band’s quest to meet Metallica (Radio Dreams). But if she has to choose, Luntz recommends Saturday night’s double feature: Lantouri, a brutal examination of Iranian women’s rights and eye-for-an-eye justice, and A Dragon Arrives!, a trippy, genre-defying tale of dead political prisoners, a possibly haunted cemetery and the filmmaker’s own grandfather, Iranian legend Ebrahim Golestan. 7 and 8:30 p.m. January 20, 7 and 9:15 p.m. January 21, 5 p.m. January 22, 7 p.m. January 24. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $8 to $10. — Natalie de la Garza

Sunday, January 22

In honor of its 30th anniversary, composer John Adams’s Nixon in China returns to the Houston Grand Opera stage with Scott Hendricks as Richard Nixon and Andriana Chuchman as his wife Pat to tell the story of the president’s historic 1972 visit to China. “I’m just trying to find the physicality of it,” said Hendricks when interviewed in early rehearsals, adding that he watched Frost/Nixon (the movie made from the play) as research. “The music is great and the libretto is fantastic. It’s hard to believe it was John Adams’s first opera. I think it’s just a work of genius.” Sung in English with projected text. Running time is almost three hours with one intermission. 2 p.m. January 22; 7:30 p.m. January 20, 24, 26 and 28. Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. For information call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $354. — Margaret Downing

B is for Bach…and breakdancing? Not so surprising, says Uwe Donaubauer, a.k.a. B-Boy Real, one of the dancers with the German troupe Flying Steps. Houston marks the last stop of the United States tour for Red Bull Flying Bach, which reinvents Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier by adding a backstory with romance, urban beats and power moves. Donaubauer says the preludes and fugues, composed in the 1700s and often paired with ballet, translate well to hip-hop. “You will feel like the music really fits our crew because we are the voices of Bach. The idea of what Bach was making with the music, it fits the character of each dancer.” He also says United States audiences are unique. “If we’re doing a solo or quartet, most of the time people go crazy. The Americans will go, ‘Ooh, that’s fresh. Go, girl; come on, go get him.’ The dancing is more alive; they are there in the moment,” says Donaubauer. “The Europeans, they wait until the end of the number.” 8 p.m. January 20 and 21, 2 p.m. January 22. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit redbullflyingbach.com. $29.50 to $79.50. — Susie Tommaney

YouTubers will recognize the viral phenom Miranda Sings, the multi-talented alter ego of award-winning comedian, actor and writer Colleen Ballinger. Underneath the heavily applied layers of lipstick, the narcissistic Internet character has managed to amass almost 7.5 million subscribers ready to catch another dose of original songs ("Where My Baes At?," "Shook" and "Do the Miranda!") and hanging out with bestie Tyler Oakley. Now the Miranda Sings Live…You’re Welcome tour is coming to H-Town for one night only of laughter, singing, beauty tips and more. 8 p.m. January 22.  University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-2255 or visit ticketmaster.com. $39.50 to $75. — Susie Tommaney

Most are familiar with the classic fairy tale about the beautiful Princess Aurora, cursed by the evil Carabosse on her 16th birthday and cast into a deep slumber for the next 100 years. The Sleeping Beauty, as performed by the principals, soloists and Corps de Ballet of Moscow's famed Bolshoi Ballet, comes to life against Tchaikovsky's sweeping score and choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich, then supersized with luxurious sets and costumes and resplendent with jewel fairies and a magical kingdom. Now view a special production broadcast to the big screen, for one night only, courtesy of Fathom Events and in partnership with BY Experience and Pathé Live. 11:55 a.m. January 22. Edwards Houston Marq*E Stadium 23 & IMAX, 7600 Katy Freeway.  Price varies by location; visit fathomevents.com for participating venues. $16.24 to $19.49. — Susie Tommaney

Monday, January 23

Is pride always a sin? Dr. Jessica Tracy, a Canadian professor who focuses her research on pride, shame and guilt, posits that pride is a double-edged sword. It can affect how others see us, make us strive for excellence and produce super-achievers like Steve Jobs and ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes. In the wrong hands, hubris can lead to self-aggrandizement and acts of apparent insanity. The University of Houston has invited the author of Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success as the next speaker for its UH Ethics in Science Lecture Series, titled “The Nature of Pride: The Emotional Origins of Social Rank.” Ioannis Thomas Pavlidis, Ph.D., one of the event’s organizers, describes the professor as “really fascinating” and says audience members tend to be very engaged. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. January 23. Hoffman Hall, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713-743-0101 or visit uh.edu/ethicsinscience. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Procrastination rarely pays off, and especially when it comes to the über-popular Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. “Annie Proulx is already sold out, and the Wortham has 1,100 seats,” says Rich Levy, Inprint’s executive director, about the author’s scheduled stop in the Bayou City on January 23. It’s her first trip to Houston since the ’90s, and this time it’s for the release of her new novel, Barkskins. “She won the Pulitzer and National Book Award for The Shipping News and she brings those skills to bear on a huge story. A friend said it was similar to Balzac’s La Comédie humaine, 20 volumes. This one is a mere 700 pages, but it covers 300 years of American history,” says Levy. “I am just astonished by the power and momentum of the book. It has a huge cast of characters, they come and go, and you have a sense that it’s not a story of any one person or family, but the trajectory of the country and how it was settled, how it grew, from east to west, and how it was tamed or abused for the sake of enriching people. The scope of it is astonishing.” For those who didn’t get tickets, Levy assures us that the event is being filmed and will be available both on Inprint’s website and on Houston Public Media. For information, visit inprinthouston.org/for-readers/inprint-archive-of-readings. To purchase the book at Inprint’s official bookseller, Brazos Bookstore, call 713-523-0701 or visit brazosbookstore.com. — Susie Tommaney

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