Things To Do

Best Bets: Good Vibrations, Happy Days, and Southern D!scomfort

Jenelle Esparza, Gathering Bones, handwoven tapestries; natural white and natural brown cotton yarn, dyed black cotton, Japanese blue silk, and red gimp metallic yarn on walnut hangers, 2018. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio.
Jenelle Esparza, Gathering Bones, handwoven tapestries; natural white and natural brown cotton yarn, dyed black cotton, Japanese blue silk, and red gimp metallic yarn on walnut hangers, 2018. Originally commissioned and produced by Artpace San Antonio. Photo by Charlie Kitchen
We hate to go against the calendar, but instead of celebrating National Girls’ Night In Day, we encourage everyone to have a night out. There’s a lot to do in the coming days, and below you’ll find the upcoming week’s best bets, including world premieres, new art works, and music that evokes the city of Houston itself.

You can find family dysfunction in rural Louisiana beginning this Thursday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. when The Ensemble Theatre opens Love and Southern D!scomfort. The soap opera-style musical – with book by Monica L. Patton, music by Bobby Daye, and lyrics by both Patton and Daye – sees an estranged mother and daughter brought back together following the death of the family’s matriarch. Patton has said that she believes “every family can see themselves” in the show, as “it’s about the family ties that bind, it’s about dysfunction, and it’s about staying tethered to one another even when it is difficult.” Performances are scheduled for Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. through October 16. You can purchase tickets here for $41 to $60.

After a two-year-long COVID delay, on Thursday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. the Houston Ballet will finally be able to present Good Vibrations, a world premiere from Arthur Pita that marks the first time he has choreographed on Houston Ballet. Pita has explained that the “memory piece” is based on the 1966 song by the Beach Boys, saying, “I’ve always been fascinated by the structure of it and the unpredictability of it as a song. It immediately just transforms you to a place, into a feeling, which is a good feeling.” The program, aptly titled Good Vibrations, also includes a reprise of Mark Morris’s The Letter V and Stanton Welch’s Red Earth. Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and September 30, and at 2 p.m. Sundays through October 2. You can purchase tickets here for $25 to $210.

Colonialism, migration, and liberation are themes that will be found in DiverseWorks’ new exhibit, “Sites of Memory,” opening on Friday, September 23, at 6 p.m. The two-person show will feature new and recent works from Texas-based artists Jenelle Esparza and Verónica Gaona. At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, you can listen to the artist talks during the opening reception, or swing by The MATCH Gallery Thursdays through Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. (or by appointment) through November 5 to view the free exhibit. To further experience the exhibit, check out a live performance by Gaona, titled for those who do not return in life, there is always death/para aquellos que no regresan en vida, siempre está la muerte, scheduled for Saturday, October 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Lawndale and a lecture with Daniela Lieja Quintanar, the chief curator and director of Programming at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, on Wednesday, October 19, 6:30 p.m.
Taiwan is “home to about 580,000 people who belong to one of 16 officially recognized tribes,” which is less than five percent of Taiwan’s population. In or/and, a new multimedia chamber operatic poem set to world premiere on Friday, September 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Asia Center Texas Center, Taiwanese-American composer Shih-Hui Chen drew inspiration from a sacred ceremony of the Paiwan people of Taiwan and situated it against events that occurred a world away – the Women’s March of 2017 and the local demonstrations that followed. Chen explores the “unifying truth” of these events in the work, which features a libretto from Monique Truong and direction from Doug Fitch. A second performance is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, at 7:30 p.m. with panel discussions to follow both. An opening night reception will also follow Friday’s performance and panel. Tickets can be purchased here for $25 to $35.

Celebrate the legacy of the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia, on Friday, September 23, at 7:30 p.m. with Ars Lyrica when they open their new season with Hail, Bright Cecilia at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The program, featuring a Baroque orchestra and eight singers (including Houston’s favorite mezzo-soprano, Cecilia Duarte, and four performers making their Ars Lyrica debut), will feature George Frideric Handel and two works from Henry Purcell, including the titular “Hail! Bright Cecilia.” The “celebratory work,” the “greatest” of Purcell’s odes to the saint is a “kaleidoscopic exploration of the power of music to move the emotions.” You can purchase a ticket to the concert here for $25 to $75, or you can get a digital single event pass here for $20 and enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

During a conversation with a fellow actor, playwright Crystal Rae (winner of Houston Theater Awards in 2020 and in 2022) was inspired to write a one-man show from the perspective of the father of one of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. On Friday, September 23, at 7:30 p.m., On the Verge Theatre in collaboration with The Ensemble Theatre, will present the world premiere of that work, Tied: A One-Man Play. Rae told the Houston Press she’s “hoping to be a part of a movement of art that celebrates the beauty of being a father but also celebrates the beauty of being a team, a family and working together." Performances will continue through October 9 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; and 3 p.m. September 25 at The Ensemble Theatre. You can purchase tickets here for $25 to $35 (Thursday, September 29, will be pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $35).
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ROCO opens their latest season at Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Photo by Ray Kuglar/Blueprint Film Co
A world premiere from Jordan Peele’s go-to composer Michael Abels, an orchestral setting of a Vietnamese folk song, mariachis, and a little Beethoven comprise Family, the program that will open ROCO’s latest season this weekend. The program, set to be performed at Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Church of St. John the Divine, will reflect Houston’s cultural diversity as well as evoke community, family, and hope. Free tickets for the Miller Outdoor Theatre performance on Friday, September 23, at 8 p.m. can be reserved here beginning today, September 22, at 10 a.m. You can also catch the show from the ticketless hillside seating, the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel, or Facebook page. Pay-what-you-can tickets to the performance at St. John the Divine on Saturday, September 24, at 5 p.m. can be purchased here with a suggested price of $35. It will also be livestreamed free on ROCO’s website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and A440.live.

Catastrophic Theatre celebrates their pearl anniversary (that would be 30 years) with a season of productions that define Catastrophic’s avant-garde sensibility, starting with Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days opening on Friday, September 23, at 8 p.m. The play, which turned 60 last year, “is defined by both its expansiveness and its specificity” and its “stunning and simple premise”: a woman buried up to her waist in dirt (that’s still rising). Nodler recently told the Houston Press, the play is really about aging. "Aging can be difficult and it also can be quite funny. And quite happy," says Nodler. "Beckett didn't love anyone better than Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin." In a fun throwback, Tamarie Cooper and Jason Nodler will reprise the roles they played 22 years ago (as main character and director, respectively) for Catastrophic’s precursor Infernal Bridegroom Productions. Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and October 3, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through October 15 at The MATCH. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $35 and can be purchased here.

Join three-time Latin Grammy-nominated band La Fiebre at Discovery Green on Sunday, September 25, at 5 p.m. when they kick off Tejas Got Soul, a free concert series highlighting the “brown-eyed soul” that emerged from the Chicano musicians of 1960s Houston, who were inspired by Houston’s musical traditions including soul and zydeco. The band, founded in 1986 and known as the “Pride of Pasadena,” was the last Pasadena band to play Gilley’s Club (of Urban Cowboy fame) and will be the first to play in a series of three concerts scheduled this fall celebrating Houston’s musical heritage. The series will continue on Sunday, October 23, with Conjunto music from Los Monarcas de Pete y Mario Diaz and Grupo Fuerte, and on Sunday, November 27, with “nine-piece, horn-driven Tejano actAVIZO.
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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.