Things To Do

Best Bets: Fade to Black, The Eternal Daughter, and Ishida Dance Company

Steven Reineke will lead performer Michael Cavanaugh and the Houston Symphony in The Music of Elton John and Billy Joel.
Steven Reineke will lead performer Michael Cavanaugh and the Houston Symphony in The Music of Elton John and Billy Joel. Photo by Cameron Bertuzzi
New year, same reliable Houston arts scene. On this week’s list of best bets, you’ll find a beloved rom-com turned musical, a showcase of short plays by Black playwrights, and an evening – actually three – featuring the music of two greats, Elton John and Billy Joel, over at Jones Hall. Keep reading for our recommendations of the best to do this weekend.

Roger Ebert once wrote “if quirky, independent, grown-up outsider filmmakers set out to make a family movie,” it would be 2003’s School of Rock – which was made by one of those outsider filmmakers, director Richard Linklater. You can catch the film, which stars Jack Black as a man who scams his way into a job at prep school and turns his fifth grade class into Battle of the Bands-ready rockers, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, during another installment of Bank of America’s Screen on the Green over at Discovery Green’s Anheuser-Busch Stage. Ebert went on to add that School of Rockis as serious as it can be about its comic subject, and never condescends to its characters or its audience,” and “is a movie that proves you can make a family film that's alive and well-acted and smart and perceptive and funny — and that rocks.” Don’t forget to bring a blanket and pack a picnic for the free screening.
Now that the holidays are over and we’re settling into the new year, you might be in the mood for the “emotional complex of family tragedy, the horrors of war, the mutual incomprehension of parents and children, the unslaked anguish of married life, and the inescapable presence of the dead.” If so, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has got you covered on Thursday, January 5, at 7 p.m. when they screen Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter. The film, “a lovely and haunted dream of a movie,” is about the relationship between a mother and daughter, both played by Tilda Swinton, explored within the walls of a (maybe) haunted house. The New Yorker described the film as “very much a two-hander for one actor, an astonishing tour de force for Swinton’s art and for Hogg’s writing and direction.” The Eternal Daughter will screen a second time on Friday, January 6, at 7 p.m. Tickets for either screening can be purchased here for $7 to $9.

In 1990, Julia Roberts and Richard Gere starred in the Pygmalion-inspired film Pretty Woman, a rom-com that remains one of the highest-grossing of all time. On Thursday, January 5, at 7:30 p.m. you can experience the film on stage during Pretty Woman: The Musical. Jessie Davidson, who takes on the role of America’s most sweet-hearted prostitute, Vivian, in the production, recently told the Houston Press that there are some notable differences between the film and musical saying that not only does this version highlight a “strong female leading character who has a point of view, fights for what she wants and isn’t saved by the love interest,” but because it’s a musical, they’re “allowed to sprinkle in some magic." Performances will continue at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through January 8 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available here for $35 to $95.

On Thursday, January 5, at 8 p.m. you’ll have your first chance to experience Ishida Dance Company since they were named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” – in part due to their “one-of-a-kind shows in Austin and Houston, which project a boutique international festival vibe” – last month. This weekend’s program, titled stirs up still things, will feature world premieres from John Wannehag, Kristian Lever, and the company’s artistic director and choreographer Brett Ishida, who will present "Among dim shapes.” Performances will continue at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 6, and Saturday, January 7, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 8, at The MATCH. Tickets to any of the performances can be purchased here for $45 to $90. There is also an opportunity to nab a VIP ticket for the Friday and Saturday shows for $110, which includes premium seating and a post-performance reception with the dancers and choreographers.
If you haven't yet visited Studio Iregular’s “Solstice,” the interactive, site-specific art installation that opened on November 11 at Discovery Green, this weekend will be a great chance to experience the installation’s changing colors and soundscapes with a little added entertainment. On Friday, January 6, and Saturday, January 7, at 6:30 p.m. dance students from Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts will stop by Discovery Green to perform a work specifically created for “Solstice” with guest choreographer Laura Gutierrez. Students from the creative writing department will also be present at the free event for a little free poetry busking, too. If you can’t make it out this weekend, the LED and mirrored arches of “Solstice” – which was designed for Discovery Green’s 15th anniversary celebration – will remain on view during daily park hours through February 14 on the Brown Promenade.

Since its first year in 2013 – when it was described as “an astonishing, invigorating, and deeply thought-provoking evening of theatre” – the Fade to Black Reading Series, presented by Shabach Enterprise, has been showcasing new short works by Black playwrights. And this weekend, returns for its sixth year, which means ten new short plays – from playwrights from all over the country, San Diego to New York. The plays, divided into two acts, will be presented three times at The MATCH on Friday, January 6, and Saturday, January 7, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 8, at 3 p.m. You can purchase tickets in advance for any of the three performances here for $25 or you can get a ticket for $35 at the door. Note too that there will be a talkback with playwrights after the January 7 performance.

In February 2001, Billy Joel’s manager brought the Piano Man himself to the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to surprise piano bar performer Michael Cavanaugh. Though later Cavanaugh would say he felt like he was going to have a heart attack, it led to him getting cast in the lead role in the Joel musical Movin’ Out. On Friday, January 6, at 8 p.m. the Houston Symphony will welcome Cavanaugh to Jones Hall to perform the hits of not only the Piano Man but the Rocket Man during The Music of Elton John and Billy Joel. Conductor Steven Reineke will lead Cavanaugh and the Symphony in songs like “Bennie and the Jets,” “I'm Still Standing,” and “My Life.” The concert will also be performed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 7, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 8. Tickets for any of the concerts can be purchased here for $39 to $145.
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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.