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Best Bets: Fairview, Drag Wonderettes, and A Latinx Theater Festival

Elena Vazquez as Jean, Elizabeth Marshall Black as Barbara, Deborah Hope as Violet, Katrina Ellsworth as Karen, and Melissa J. Marek as Ivy in the Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. production of August: Osage County.
Elena Vazquez as Jean, Elizabeth Marshall Black as Barbara, Deborah Hope as Violet, Katrina Ellsworth as Karen, and Melissa J. Marek as Ivy in the Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. production of August: Osage County. Photo by Gary Griffin
As we slowly but surely inch closer to summer, the arts organizations around town prepare to close their seasons in spectacular fashion. This week, they’re giving us multiple world premieres, thought-provoking theater, and Motown classics. Keep reading for this week’s list of our best bets.

Over at Stages on Thursday, May 25, at 7 p.m. they’ll open the second production set to play in repertory with The Legend of Georgia McBride, Roger Bean’s Drag Wonderettes, a take on the playwright’s The Marvelous Wonderettes. Mitchell Greco, the associate artistic director of Stages, recently told the Houston Press that Georgia McBride explores “what does it mean for the masculine to embrace this femininity in the artifice of drag and in Drag Wonderettes it's the flip side. It's celebrating the femininity and embracing it already and how friendship and love transcends community.Drag Wonderettes will continue (alongside The Legend of Georgia McBride) at 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through July 2. Tickets to either show can be purchased here for $30 to $84.

In their latest mixed repertory program, opening at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, and titled Divergence, Houston Ballet will present Aszure Barton’s Angular Momentum, Artistic Director Stanton Welch's Divergence, and a premiere from Justin Peck called Under the Folding Sky. Houston Ballet First Soloist Harper Watters shared with the Houston Press that Peck’s ballet is special because “it is inspired by not just our company but the city of Houston,” and though Watters has been with the company for 12 seasons, “there’s something so fresh about [Under the Folding Sky]. There are new concepts. There are news and innovative ways he’s moving the dancers allowing us to speak through his choreography." Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays through June 4 at the Wortham Theater Center. Tickets are available for purchase here for $25 to $210.

On Thursday, May 25, at 7:30 p.m. a reading of David Davila’s Hotel Puerto Vallarta, a legitimate work of dramatic theatre will mark the beginning of Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival returning to Houston for its sixth year. The weekend-long festival at The Gordy, led by Latinx artists and creators, will feature readings of Josie Nericcio’s 619 Hendricks, Ricardo Dávila’s parts per million & prophets and Jesús I. Valles's a river, its mouths (which will be a free virtual reading livestreamed via the Stages YouTube channel), as well as workshops, a closing ceremony and a free arts market on Saturday, May 27. You can view the full schedule here. You can purchase a ticket for each of the three play readings here for $5 or you can get a festival pass to see all three readings for $10.

Motown “created one of the most influential sounds of the 20th century,” which to this day “is unmistakable for its glorious melodies and killer hooks” from artists like The Jackson 5, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and many more. On Thursday, May 25, at 8:15 p.m. Forever Motown will come to Miller Outdoor Theatre, with nine performers, including former lead singers of groups like the The Four Tops, The Temptations and The Marvelettes, to perform the hits you know and love. The performance will be presented again at 8:15 p.m. Friday, May 26, and Saturday, May 27, with Friday night’s performance set to be livestreamed on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel and Facebook page. All performances are free, and you can either reserve a ticket here or you can grab a blanket or lawn chair and head for un-ticketed seating on the Hill.

A middle-class Black family readies to throw a birthday party for grandma in Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Fairview and then, as NPR notes, “things start to get weird, and then really, really weird” leading to “the play's final (and deeply uncomfortable) punch.” The play, which opens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at 4th Wall Theatre Company, is performed in three intermission-less acts totaling 95 minutes. Aaron Brown, who is directing the play for 4th Wall, told the Houston Press that it’s “more of a theatrical experience than a straight play that is going to be clearly defined as comedy or drama,” saying that, “One of the brilliant things about the piece is it’s so reflective of everyday life.” Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through June 17 at Spring Street Studios. Tickets are available here for $17 to $53 (with a pay-what-you-can performance set for June 12).

The relationship between a place of safety and the unknown outside that surrounds it is explored in Kinetic Ensemble’s season-concluding concert, Beyond the Sanctuary Walls, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 26, at The MATCH. The title is drawn from the concert’s centerpiece, a world premiere by composer Theo Chandler. Soprano Alexandra Smither recently told the Houston Press that the evening’s world premiere “takes a journey from the sanctuary to beyond and then back to a more expansive sanctuary by moving beyond fears and living with a love-filled view of life,” adding that “it is just so lush and lyrical. It's really satisfying to listen to.” The piece will be played alongside Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” and an arrangement of songs from Clara Schumann by Kinetic violinist Giancarlo Latta. Tickets are available here for $30 (with $10 student tickets available at the door).
Experience the story of Harriet Tubman in an Afrofuturistic, non-linear way on Friday, May 26, at 8 p.m. when The Catastrophic Theatre opens Candice D’Meza’s A Maroon's Guide to Time and Space. Actress Brittny Bush recently compared the feel of the show to Doctor Who or Sandman, telling the Houston Press that the play “breaks the fourth wall” and supposes that a brain injury caused Tubman to have visions that may have been prophetic, noting that not only is the show “a cathartic experience,” but if they “can tap into the circumstances of Harriet's life and bring that to the public consciousness again and the public imagination again, then maybe it can inspire people to make change.” Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through June 17 at The MATCH. Tickets can be purchased here; pay what you can with a suggested price of $35.

Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. will close their season with “a tribal reunion of the fractious Weston family” when they open Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play August: Osage County at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 26. Director Ron Jones will helm the “fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown,” a tale that proved “just when we thought there was nothing further to say about a dysfunctional American family in the theater, the genre is anything but exhausted in the hands of a playwright with talent, nerve and something to say.” Performances continue through June 10 at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, and 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Monday, May 29, at The MATCH. Tickets can be purchased here for $30 (and note that the May 29 performance as well as matinees are pay what you can.)
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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.