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Best Bets: Mozart, Pokémon and Double the Scandal

Jonesing for some Pokémon-inspired art? Make your way down to Sketch ‘em All: A Pokémon Art Show on Friday.
Jonesing for some Pokémon-inspired art? Make your way down to Sketch ‘em All: A Pokémon Art Show on Friday. Photo by Lisandro Sanchez
It is Friday the 13th eve, but you don’t have to worry about being unlucky when it comes to the arts scene in Houston. On this week’s list of best bets, you’ll find one of the most beloved operas of all time, one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, and a Broadway musical for the ages. Keep reading to see our picks for your best bets around town.

On Friday, January 13, at 7 p.m. let Houston Grand Opera transport you to Francoist Spain circa-1960s for its production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s much beloved operatic rom-com The Marriage of Figaro. Soprano Nicole Heaston, who will perform the role of Countess Almaviva, told Houston Life that “it’s a funny show” featuring “very good elements,” with the production’s Susanna, soprano Elena Villalón, saying that it’s “incredibly relatable” as “the human condition remains the same, so the relationships and the interactions between people are things we experience in our lives with the people we love or the people we hate.” Performances continue at 2 p.m. on January 15 and 22, and 7 p.m. on January 20, 26 and 28 at the Wortham Theater Center. Read more about the upcoming production here. Tickets can be purchased here for $20 to $210.

Calling all Pokémon lovers! If you’re reading this from anywhere in the United States, then it probably won’t surprise you to know that Gengar is the most popular – or at least most Googled – Pokémon. Or maybe it will. Regardless of your personal preferences, there’s sure to be something for you on Friday, January 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Hardy and Nance Studios for Sketch ‘em All: A Pokémon Art Show. Hardy and Nance and Insomnia Gallery will present the all-ages-welcome, free show – the fourth art show staged in honor of the series. So bring the kids, bring the dogs, bring your trading cards, games, and anything else you need to get in the Pokémon spirit.
Go on a journey with a sad-eyed donkey on Friday, January 13, at 7 p.m. when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston screens Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO. The film, shortlisted for the International Feature Film Oscar, follows a circus donkey, sold off to farmers after the circus goes broke, and the journey he goes on across Europe after he escapes the farm. If you’re reminded of another famous donkey movie – Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar – it’s because the 84-year-old Polish director “riffs” upon the film and the result is “brash, freewheeling and inventive,” with NPR calling it “a thrillingly imaginative piece of filmmaking: a strange, haunting epic about a donkey that couldn't feel more of our moment.EO will screen a second time on Saturday, January 14, at 7 p.m. Tickets for either screening can be purchased here for $7 to $9.

The Houston Symphony will kick off their two-weekend-long Riots & Scandals Festival with Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin, the premiere of which caused an uproar “so deafening and lengthy that the fire curtain had to be brought down.” Pianist Yefim Bronfman also joins the program, Bartók Miraculous Mandarin + Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto, for the Rachmaninoff piece, while Music Director Juraj Valčuha leads the Symphony in Bartók. The concert will be performed at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 15, at Jones Hall. In-hall tickets can be purchased here for any of the concerts for $29 to $144. Or you can buy access to a livestream of Saturday night’s show here for $20. The Riots & Scandals Festival continues next weekend (January 20-22) with Stravinsky Rite of Spring + Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto.

Who doesn’t enjoy knocking the aristocracy down a peg or two? On Friday, January 13, at 8 p.m. Classical Theatre Company (CTC) will do just that as they also achieve a first when they open William Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal: It will be the first CTC-produced restoration comedy (and the second of three comedies being staged as part of CTC’s 15th anniversary season). The satirical comedy of manners, which premiered in 1777, will be adapted and directed by Philip Lehl, who will be overseeing an added wrinkle to the production – only six actors will portray the play’s 16 characters. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Monday, January 23; 8 p.m. Fridays; 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays (with post-show talkbacks following the Sunday matinees) through January 28 at The DeLuxe Theater. Tickets can be purchased here for $10 to $25.
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The 45th Annual Original MLK Jr. Day Parade returns to downtown Houston.
Photo by Doogie Roux
Former U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. from Michigan brought up the first motion to designate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday just four days after the civil rights leader’s assassination in 1968. It actually took 15 years for the King Holiday Bill to be signed into federal law (and we won’t talk about how it took until 2000 to get all 50 states on board, too) – the point is that on Monday, January 16, at 10 a.m. the Black Heritage Society and Mayor Sylvester Turner (who will also serve as grand marshal) will bring the 45th Annual Original MLK Jr. Day Parade back to downtown Houston. The "Climbing the Mountain to the Future”-themed parade – the very first in the nation back in 1978 – will begin at Lamar and Smith and include all the usual parade suspects – marching bands, floats, dance teams and more. Free to the public.

Get a little preview of what’s to come at Main Street Theater on Tuesday, January 17, at 6:45 p.m. when they welcome in an audience for a fly-on-the-wall viewing of the first read-thru of their upcoming production, Thomas Gibbons’s Permanent Collection. The play, which will open on February 11, explores the conflict that results when an art collection’s new director, an African-American businessman, wants to add several works of African art to the titular, and long unchanged, permanent collection. Variety noted that “Gibbons puts his finger on a key element of race relations in America: Even smart, reasonable people can’t seem to have a productive conversation about it,” going on to say that the playwright’s “insightful if slightly manufactured dissection of ego, art and race provides welcome layers to a traditional debate play.” You can RSVP for the free event, part of Main Street’s Part of the Art Series, here.

Jesus Christ Superstar is coming to town, courtesy of Broadway at the Hobby Center, but the Andrew Lloyd Weber-Tim Rice rock opera about the last days of Jesus Christ will be a little different when it arrives in Houston on Tuesday, January 17, at 7:30 p.m. for its 50th anniversary tour. Isaac Ryckeghem, who takes on the role of self-described “bad, evil character” Caiaphas, recently reminded the Houston Press that the show, as written, “was more of a vocal acrobatic show,” which makes the current production an “unprecedented” retelling, adding that “there’s a lot more dancing in our production than there has been in productions past" and “it really adds to the emotion of the show.” Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through January 22 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased here for $35 to $115.
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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.