Things To Do

Best Bets: One Snowy Day, Eight Reindeer, and 12 Dames

Angela Ingersoll brings a little Garland, Joplin, and Lee to The George Theater in The 12 Dames of Christmas.
Angela Ingersoll brings a little Garland, Joplin, and Lee to The George Theater in The 12 Dames of Christmas. Photo by JPM Photography
Films from around the world, an opera based on a (color) barrier-breaking children’s book, and a naughty Santa Claus are just a few of the things you can find on this week’s list of best bets. Keep reading for more on the best the Houston arts and culture scene has to offer over the next seven days.

If you’re in need of a warm childhood memory, check out Houston Grand Opera’s production of The Snowy Day. HGO has turned Ezra Jack Keats’s 1962 classic, “the first major picture book to break the color barrier in children’s literature,” into their 72nd world premiere. Composer Joel Thompson, who created the opera with librettist Andrea Davis Pinkney, recently told the Houston Pressit was a welcome change to look at the world through the eyes of wonder, through the eyes of a child.” You can register for HGO’s first-ever opening night livestream, scheduled for Thursday, December 9, at 7 p.m. (and available through January 8) here. Or get tickets for $20 to $210 to enjoy the show in-person at the Wortham Center through December 19.
From Thursday, December 9, to Saturday, December 11, the Houston Museum of African American Culture will be hosting a virtual screening of Jessica Beshir’s debut feature film, Faya Dayi. The Mexican-Ethiopian filmmaker created “an evocative portrait of Ethiopian society as it revolves around the production and consumption of its main cash crop, khat, a euphoria-inducing flowering plant,” one that the president of Criterion – a company that kind of specializes in great film – called a “commanding love letter to Ethiopia.” You can purchase access to Faya Dayi here for $12.

Join Apollo Chamber Players at The MATCH for their fourth annual Holiday Voyage concert this Friday, December 17, at 7 p.m. On the cross-cultural program is Arcangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto – a work Corelli specifically noted was “made for the night of Christmas” – and Mark Buller’s String Quartet No. 4, Fantasia on Three Christmas Carols, an exploration and manipulation of three familiar carols featuring tenor (and member of the Houston Chamber Choir) Wayne Ashley. Jovino Santos Neto contributes his Suite Brasileira de Natal (Brazilian Christmas Suite), which includes “some Jewish elements and some Indian classical elements,” and the concert will feature the world premiere of Brian Nabors’s Kwanzaa Suite, a work commissioned by the Apollo Chamber Players. You can purchase tickets here for $10 to $30.
Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, “a wonderfully absorbing and moving family drama with a buttery, sunlit streak of sentimentality” will open the Korean Film Days festival at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Friday, December 10, at 7 p.m. The film, chosen by the Honorable Ahn Myung-Soo, consul general of Korea in Houston, will proceed five films over three days, including Hong Sang-soo’s 25th feature, Introduction, “an airy 66-minute sampler of everything the Korean director’s fans admire,” and Escape From Mogadishu, a film “part disaster flick, part horror-comedy” that was the “year’s biggest moneymaker in the South Korean box office” and is their “entry for best international feature at the 2022 Oscars.” You can purchase tickets for each screening here for $8 to $10 dollars.

Count on the Houston Symphony to perform a “fixture of the Christmas season,” George Frideric Handel's Messiah. Though written for Easter, is there really a better time than now for the “feelings of joy you get from the Hallelujah choruses,” which have been said to be “second to none”? No, so join Conductor Julian Wachner as he leads the Symphony, chorus, and four guest soloists in performing “the greatest story ever told.” Handel’s Messiah will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 10, and Saturday, December 11, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, December 12, at Jones Hall. Saturday night’s concert will be livestreamed. In-hall tickets can be purchased here for $29 to $130, or you can purchase access to the video performance for $20 here.

No one is above a little “character assassination,” not even Santa Claus in Jeff Goode’s The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. On Friday, December 10, at 8 p.m. Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. will dive into the world of holiday programming when they open Goode’s “wickedly topical contribution to Yuletide culture.” Now, that’s topical for the ‘90s, but we’re not complaining about “a sort of tabloid Rashomon,” featuring Santa accused of harassment by one of his reindeers, “with calculated echoes of news coverage of public figures like Clarence Thomas, Bob Packwood and Michael Jackson.” The play, directed by Trevor B. Cone, will be performed at Spring Street Studios through December 18. General admission tickets are $25, with pay-what-you-can performances scheduled for December 12 and 13. Get tickets here.
The Islamic Arts Festival is back for its eighth year this weekend, with two days’ worth of activities and more than 5,000 works of art to display on Saturday, December 11, and Sunday, December 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to perusing the art – paintings, calligraphy, woodwork, glass work, ceramic tiles and more – there will be live interactive sessions on different artistic topics, such as calligraphy, henna tattooing, Arabesque pattern coloring, and Ebru. After last year’s successful online-only edition, the Islamic Arts Society will present this year’s festival (still free to attend) in a hybrid format. If you attend the in-person event at Masjid Al-Salam, you can also participate in mosque tours as well as enjoy food from the on-site food trucks.

Brenda Lee was only 13 years old when she recorded “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” a now holiday standard you can hear all season long, and “the second most spun Christmas song nationwide.” (Second only to Mariah’s “All I Want For Christmas.”) Lee’s “breezy 1958 ditty” is just one of the festive tunes you’ll hear during The 12 Dames of Christmas starring Angela Ingersoll this Monday, December 13, and Tuesday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. over at the A.D. Players’ home base, The George Theater. Ingersoll, well known for her work as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow, will again sing as Garland, as well as Julie Andrews, Janis Joplin, and more – with a holiday twist. Tickets are available here for $36 to $75.
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Natalie de la Garza is a contributing writer who adores all things pop culture and longs to know everything there is to know about the Houston arts and culture scene.