Things To Do

Best Bets: Pride, Fade to Black and Summer Symphony Nights

Summer Symphony Nights return to Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Summer Symphony Nights return to Miller Outdoor Theatre. Photo by Jeff Fitlow
It’s time to celebrate Pride this weekend, but we’ve also got plenty for you to do before and after the party. Classical music and works of art, ten of the best new short plays from African-American playwrights, and a summer comedy-musical tradition are just a few things coming up, so keep reading for more of the best things to do over the next week.

Over at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Monarch Chamber Players will present a concert curated for one of the museum’s current exhibits tonight, Thursday, June 22, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Pianist Yvonne Chen, oboist Katherine Hart, bassoonist Katia Osorio and clarinetist Rebecca Tobin will gather in the Beck Building’s Cullen Atrium to play a program curated specifically for the exhibition, “Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Pearlman Foundation.” Artists like Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and more populate the exhibit, which includes close to 60 works of art (with almost 30 visiting from the Princeton University Art Museum). You can learn more about the exhibit here, and if you can’t make the concert, the exhibit will continue through September 17. Admission to the concert is free (as is general admission to the museum of Thursdays), and you can add on an exhibition ticket for $10 here.
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Steve Scott, LaBraska Washington, and Troi Coleman in Stages' production of Thunder Knocking On The Door.
Photo by Melissa Taylor
The legend of Robert Johnson – who supposedly sold his soul to the devil to be the best blues guitarist – inspired playwright Keith Glover’s “fresh and strikingly imaginativeThunder Knocking on the Door, which opens at Stages on Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. In Glover’s tale, a bluesman named Marvell Thunder shows up at the doorstep of the Dupree family ready to challenge the two children of the family’s late patriarch, who just happens to be the only person to ever best Thunder on the guitar. Stages Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin recently told the Houston Press that the show “asks great questions about legacy and ultimately about art" and “has the best elements of theater all crashed together in such a unique way." Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through August 6 at The Gordy. Tickets can be purchased here for $30 to $88.

Two Louisiana women face down a hurricane in Mildred Inez Lewis’s Louisiana Shoal while a conversation goes sideways between two women waiting for a new job orientation in Larissa Brewington’s micro, and these are but two of the ten winning short plays that will be featured during the 2023 Fade to Black Play Festival on Thursday, June 22, at 8 p.m. Now in its 11th season, the festival highlights new short works from African-American playwrights. This year, those playwrights hail from the Lone Star State, California, Arizona, Maryland, Florida and Michigan. The festival of short plays will be presented twice more, at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 23, and Saturday, June 24, at The MATCH. On Friday night, guests can stick around for a post-show Q&A. Tickets for festival are available here; VIP admission is available for $50 in advance (and $60 at the door) and regular admission can be purchased for $35 in advance (and $45 at the door).

You know that saying about how only two things in life – death and taxes – are certain? Well, summer in Houston guarantees two things too: oppressive heat and a Tamarie Cooper show. This year, The Catastrophic Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director and comedy queen will present Tamarie’s Totally True Revue (plus lies too!), the 26th edition of Cooper’s all-original musical series. Cooper told the Houston Press that “there is somewhat of a comedic formula,” but that “the writing this year is especially funny. It's just very non-stop, really sharp comedy.” The show, co-written by Patrick Reynolds, will open on Friday, June 23, at 8 p.m. with performances continuing on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through August 5 at The MATCH. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $35 and can be purchased here. FYI, do note the upcoming “Free Beer Fridays” and join the cast for a free post-show drink. Just saying.
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The Houston Symphony sets up shop at Miller Outdoor Theatre for Summer Symphony Nights.
Photo by Smith Kesselman
Summer Symphony Nights kick off on Friday, June 23, at 8:30 p.m. when Conductor Erina Yashima leads the Houston Symphony in Dvořák’s “New World” at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. The “distinctively American sound” of the Czech composer’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor – known as "From the New World" – will headline a program that also includes the “soaring melodies, lush and passionate orchestral writing, and devilishly difficult virtuoso passages for the violin” found in Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor and “one of the best-loved American string pieces,” Lyric for Strings, by George Walker, the “first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music.” Like all performances at Miller, it’s free and you can either reserve a ticket here (as of this morning, Thursday, June 22, at 10 a.m.) or you can grab a blanket or lawn chair and head for un-ticketed seating on the Hill.

Pride Houston 365 will once again bring the Houston Pride Parade to Downtown Houston on Saturday, June 24, from 7 to 11 p.m. This year’s theme for the celebration of LGBTQ+ pride is “All We Need is Love,” and you can expect more than 150 entries embodying that pride throughout the course of the parade (and you can view the route here). Changes this year include no pre-parade festival, so Pride Houston 365 recommends going to your favorite haunts in Montrose before heading down toward City Hall for the evening parade. And if you’re worried about the heat, Pride Houston 365 has “tripled the number of EMTs” and will have even more water on hand. Though VIP tickets are sold out, general admission to the parade is free and you can register to attend here.
Time warp your way down to Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra on Saturday, June 24, at 8 p.m. to experience the ultimate midnight movie during one of Alamo Drafthouse's patented movie parties. Yes, it's The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The “camp twist on sci-fi B-movies,” the 1975 film – itself based on a 1973 musical version – “has defined what we mean by a ‘cult’ movie, though few can ever hope to match its phenomenal level of ritualized worship.” And as you watch Brad and Janet, a prim and proper couple who find themselves at a mansion populated by quite the characters, you don't have to just dream it, you can be it as the screening is interactive and immersive, complete with pre-show games, singalongs, and props. Tickets for the screening can be purchased here for $15.15.

On Saturday, June 24, at 8:30 p.m. the Houston Symphony returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre for a second concert, titled Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, which namedrops a Tchaikovsky masterwork, a “musical exploration of the concept of Fate as an inescapable force,” featuring “all-pervading pathos and tempestuous emotions.” Joining Tchaikovsky on the program is a suite from “one of the 20th century's most underrated scores,” Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya, and Florence Price’s Ethiopia’s Shadow in America. The piece, thought to be Price’s “first orchestral piece,” is “a three-part arc traces the historical American experiences of enslaved Africans and aligns conceptually with certain works of figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance.” Again, the concert is free and you can reserve a ticket here beginning Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. or you can opt for un-ticketed seating on the Hill.
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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.