Things To Do

Best Bets: Star-Spangled Salute, To Be or RPG LIVE! and Body Double

Join Houston Symphony and vocalist Rafael Moras for Star-Spangled Salute at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Join Houston Symphony and vocalist Rafael Moras for Star-Spangled Salute at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Photo by Melissa Taylor

It’s the weekend to let freedom ring, and we’ve got plenty of Independence Day activities for you to check out, not to mention a little more Americana, including the music of country legends and a classic kids’ baseball film. Once you get your fill of July 4th festivities, we’ve also got an Oscar-winning animated film, a live role-playing game, and an erotic thriller from 1984. Keep reading for more on our picks for this week’s best bets.

If you’re looking for the perfect setting to celebrate Independence Day, may we suggest heading over to the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens for their annual Fourth of July Celebration on Thursday, July 4, from 1 to 5 p.m. The afternoon of family-friendly festivities includes an art workshop; readings of the Declaration of Independence by actors from Brave Little Company (not to mention the chance to sign the document with a quill pen) and of Faith Ringgold’s We Came to America; costume expert Tommy Attaway talking about what the British and American armies wore and carried during the American Revolution; and live musical performances from acts like the Lonestar Bluegrass Band and the Houston Brass Quintet. Admission to the celebration is free, and be sure to tour the first floor of Bayou Bend while you’re there.

click to enlarge
Join 50,000 of your closest friends in Houston for Freedom Over Texas.
Photo by Kennon Evett
Or, if you’re interested in celebrating Independence Day with the rest of the city, you’ll want to make your way down to Eleanor Tinsley Park on Thursday, July 4, from 4 to 10 p.m. for Freedom Over Texas. The fun includes a dozen acts scheduled for a concert – including Chapel Hart, Jo Dee Messina and headliner Russell Dickerson – which will start at 7 p.m. And because we know this is probably the most important question you’ll have – the fireworks are scheduled to start at approximately 9:35 p.m. Tickets to the festivities are available online here and at the gate for $10 (with kids five and under set to get in free). If you’re not inclined to party with around 50,000 Houstonians, you can also catch the action at home on ABC13.

It’s no secret that the national anthem of the United States is no easy song to perform. For every classic performance, say Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV back in 1991, there’s a Kat DeLuna, and a Fergie, and a Christina Aguilera. But if you want to hear a version that won’t disappoint, head out to Miller Outdoor Theatre on Thursday, July 4, at 8:30 p.m. for Star-Spangled Salute. Houston Symphony, at the baton of Conductor Jason Seber, and tenor Rafael Moras will celebrate Independence Day with a program full of patriotic hits, including “God Bless the U.S.A.,” “America the Beautiful” and The Stars and Stripes Forever. Tickets for the free show can be reserved here, but if they’re no longer available, you can always sit on the no-ticket-required Hill.

Hayao Miyazaki, the director of films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, came out of retirement to make The Boy and the Heron, a film that went on to win this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Film. Though at times an “unwieldy tale of a 12-year-old boy coming to terms with his mother’s death,” the film is “a strikingly beautiful, densely detailed fantasy,” and you can catch it on Friday, July 5, at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Additional screenings are scheduled for Saturday, July 6, and Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 7, at 2 p.m. Note that the July 7 showing will be dubbed in English while all the other screenings will be in Japanese with English subtitles. Tickets to any of them are available here for $7 to $9.

If you’re one of the many fans of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, but you sometimes find it lacking in Shakespearean characters and references, Classical Theatre Company (CTC) has been answering your prayers Monday nights on Twitch during To Be or RPG. The livestreamed D&D play series features regulars from CTC with an added theatrical flair befitting the company’s focus on classics (with proceeds benefitting the company). The cast and crew will open season two of the series in-person and in front of a live audience on Saturday, July 6, at 8 p.m. with To Be or RPG LIVE! at The DeLUXE Theater. And don’t worry – no experience with D&D or season one of the web series is needed to enjoy the show (or the drinks, which will be provided by Saint Arnold Brewing Company). Tickets are available here for $8.

We wouldn’t want to try picking the best country artist of all time, though Rolling Stone certainly did when they put together their list of the “100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time.” On Saturday, July 6, at 8:30 p.m. you can hear classics from some of those “one-of-a-kind” list-makers– like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams – when the Houston Symphony returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre for The Legends of Country. The concert, which will also include music from more contemporary artists like Carrie Underwood and Faith Hill, will also feature the vocal talents of Patrick Thomas (The Voice) and Rachel Potter (The X Factor). The show is free and you can reserve tickets here starting on Friday, July 5, at 10 a.m. As always, no tickets required to sit on the Hill.

What better way to commemorate America’s birthday weekend than with a 31-year-old cult classic about America’s pastime? The one that includes the classic line, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” We are, of course, talking about The Sandlot, a “nostalgic tale of a group of boys playing baseball and hanging out in the summer of 1962” written by David Mickey Evans (also the director) and Robert Gunter. The 1993 film “became a beloved hit on VHS cassette and television” and “a pop-culture staple of the 1990s,” one that is “quotable,” “memorable” and “re-watchable.” On Sunday, July 7, at 8 p.m. you can catch a screening of the film over at Home Run Dugout-Katy – and the best part? The screening is free.

Filmmaker Brian De Palma is widely considered one of the great auteurs of the 1970s, so when he set out to make “the most erotic and surprising and thrilling movie I know how to make,” of course he succeeded. The New York Times said of the resulting film, Body Double from 1984, that De Palma “goes too far, which is the reason to see it,” saying the unapologetic homage to Alfred Hitchcock is “sexy and explicitly crude, entertaining and sometimes very funny.” On Wednesday, July 10, at 7:30 p.m., you can catch De Palma’s “exhilarating exercise in pure filmmaking” on the big screen when Alamo Drafthouse shows the film as part of their Film Club, meaning you can stay after for an optional group discussion about the movie. Tickets can be purchased here for $11.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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.