Things To Do

Best Bets: Every Brilliant Thing, ReelAbilities, and a Stevie Wonder Ballet

Kinetic makes their debut at Asia Society Texas Center this week.
Kinetic makes their debut at Asia Society Texas Center this week. Photo by Jeff Grass
It’s Groundhog Day and whether we’re in for six more weeks of winter or not, don’t let it stop you from venturing out into the city to partake in its many arts offerings. This week, we’ve got the future of opera on display, a weekend of films relating the experiences of African American women, and a festival all about disability awareness. Keep reading for the full list of our best bets.

It’s that time of year again: Houston Grand Opera has chosen eight artists as finalists for their 2023 Concert of Arias, the 35th Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers, which is set to take place on Friday, February 3, at 7 p.m. from the Wortham Theater Center. The field of finalists – baritone Samuel Kidd, bass Gosh Sargsyan, mezzo-sopranos Ani Kushyan and Natalie Lewis, sopranos Emma Marhefka and Gabrielle Turgeon, and tenors Michael McDermott and Demetrious Sampson, Jr. – will each perform two arias in a competition for cash prizes and an opportunity to audition for HGO’s young artist program. The competition will occur live in the Wortham, and you can purchase a ticket to the in-person concert here for $43 to $120, or you can watch the livestream, hosted by Nicole Heaston, on HGO Digital and their social platforms. Whether in-person or online, you can join the fun by voting for the Audience Choice Award or Online Viewers’ Choice Award.

The roaring ‘20s, a cellblock of merry murderesses, and two fame-hungry vaudevillians are in town thanks to Theatre Under the Stars, which is hosting the 25th anniversary tour of Chicago at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts tonight, Thursday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m. The production’s Matron "Mama" Morton, Christina Wells of America's Got Talent fame, recently told the Houston Press that “the thing that's so unique about the production I'm in is we are an actual recreation of the 1996 Tony Award-winning show," adding that the music “has become timeless” as are “the themes of being fascinated by what famous people do.” Performances of Chicago are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through February 12. Tickets can be purchased here for $40 to $150.

This weekend you can view the fruits of Autumn Johnson’s labor when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Through the Lens of African American Women. As an intern, Johnson, a recent graduate of the University of Houston, combed through more than 50 films to select four films that speak to the experiences of African American women. Ayoka Chenzira’s 1994 film Alma’s Rainbow, paired with Chenzira’s short, Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People, “a first from a Black woman animator” begins things on Friday, February 3, at 7 p.m. Martine Syms’s The African Desperate will screen Saturday, February 4, at 3 p.m. with Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman at 6:30 p.m. followed by a virtual Q&A with Dunye. The weekend of films wraps up on Sunday, February 5, at 5 p.m. with Zeinabu irene Davis’s Compensation. Admission to each screening can be purchased for $7 to $9.
It’s been a minute since Dance Theatre of Harlem stopped by Houston, but on Friday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, February 4, at 2 p.m. Performing Arts Houston is facilitating their return with a visit to Jones Hall for the Performing Arts. The company brings with them a packed program, which includes William Forsythe, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and DTH resident choreographer Robert Garland’s Higher Ground. The ballet, set to Stevie Wonder, began life in 2019, inspired by the ongoing impeachment process. The eventual premiere was pushed back due to COVID, and Garland has said the intervening years, which saw the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the George Floyd protests, only served to enhance the ideas in the work, saying it’s “quite moving in that regard.” Tickets can be purchased here for $29.80 to $119.

Can you believe Kinetic has never played at the Asia Society Texas Center? Well that all changes on Friday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m. when the Houston-based, conductorless ensemble, along with soprano Yelena Dyachek, makes their Asia Society Texas Center debut with Kinetic in Concert: Musical Inspirations and Identity in France and Korea. The chamber music concert, part of the Houston Symphony's Songs of the Earth Festival, explores the relationship between French and Korean musical identities by situating three Korean American composers – Earl Kim, Nicky Sohn, and Jungyoon Wie – beside Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F major, “often considered Ravel’s first masterpiece.” Tickets can be purchased here for $25.

On Thursday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m. you can be wowed with the acrobatics, high-wire and silk acts, and comedy of Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza, which is in town for the next month. Artistic director Jennifer Lécuyer described Kooza to the Houston Press as having the “essence of circus and Cirque du Soleil in the sense that the acts really bring the audience to the edge of their seats. There are so many ‘wow’ moments, so many incredible acrobatic feats, and the clowns have a nice interaction with the audience.” Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 12, 3:30 and 7 p.m. on Saturdays; and at 1 and 4:30 p.m. on Sundays under the Big Top at Sam Houston Race Park through March 5. Tickets can be purchased here for $49 to $305.
Admittedly, themes of depression and suicide don’t sound like a positive night at the theater, but that may be because you haven’t seen “a really beautiful, kind and lovable little show” called Every Brilliant Thing, which opens at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 3, at A.D. Players at The George Theater. Written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe, the “heartfelt and buoyant” work takes “a candid and compassionate approach to the subject of suicidal depression” from the perspective of The Storyteller, played here by Orlando Arriaga, as someone who’s been keeping a list of “every brilliant thing” that makes life worth living since they were a child, when their mother made her first suicide attempt. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through February 19. Tickets can be purchased here for $40.50 to $81.

The ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival makes its return to in-person events this year when it kicks off on Sunday, February 5 – and it’s just in time for their 10th anniversary. The festival, presented by the Jewish Family Service Houston Alexander Institute for Inclusion and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, uses a range of art forms to raise disability awareness and advocate for systemic change. The list of citywide events includes Sunday’s opening reception; an art crawl on Thursday, February 16; multiple film screenings; and a concert at White Oak Music Hall on Thursday, February 23. A detailed list of events can be found here and all of the events (except ReelPeople: UP Abilities) are free. You can register for events here.
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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.