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Best Virtual Bets: British Arrows, Henry V, and More Holiday Fun

Let Courtney Lomelo, Eboni Bell, John Raley, and Juan Sebastián Cruz regale you during 4th Wall Theatre Company's Holiday Story Time.EXPAND
Let Courtney Lomelo, Eboni Bell, John Raley, and Juan Sebastián Cruz regale you during 4th Wall Theatre Company's Holiday Story Time.
Photo by Jeff McMorrough
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Holiday fun peaks this week and it’s evident in this week’s list of best virtual bets. But we’ve still got some counterprogramming options for those out there who have had their fill of holiday cheer. Keep reading for some suggestions of things to keep you happy and entertained at home this coming week.

A sidewalk St. Nick is put to the test when a little boy needs help finding his way home in John Kendrick Bangs’ “Santa Claus and Little Billee,” the short story featured in the final episode of 4th Wall Theatre Company’s Holiday Story Time, which premieres tonight, December 24, at 7:30 p.m. on 4th Wall’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Local artist Courtney Lomelo will read the last tale of the filmed storytelling series, and before or after you can catch up on the previous three episodes, with Lomelo, Eboni Bell, Juan Sebastián Cruz and John Raley tackling more stories off-the-beaten-holiday-path by O. Henry, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Richmal Crompton.

The culmination of William Shakespeare's Henriad makes a surprise but welcome return with the release of Prague Shakespeare Company’s Henry V. The archival recording of the show, produced in association with Main Street Theater, was filmed live back in October 2013 at the Kolowrat Theatre in Prague. The Houston Press called the 2013 production at Main Street Theater a “glorious panorama of war and its consequences,” and described it as a “mighty pageant” that “flows like the Thames” with “an overall wash that resembles Japanese anime meets Mad Max.” You can purchase a 48-hour rental of Henry V for $20 here now through January 21, and note that all proceeds will go to Prague Shakespeare Company and Main Street Theater.

The Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra took its annual holiday concert, Deck the Halls, online this year, and it is available on-demand now through Thursday, December 31. The program includes standards like “Frosty the Snowman” and “White Christmas;” the traditional English carol, "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day"; a Broadway medley arranged by John Higgins, with numbers from The Sound of Music and Babes in Toyland; and Bill Holcombe’s “Festive Sounds of Hanukkah.” You can view the program here and purchase a ticket for $18.50 here. Purchase of a ticket will gain you access to the streaming concert for 48 hours.

Since 1976, the British Arrows, formerly the British Television Advertising Awards, have been bringing attention to the best ads coming out of the UK. These do-not-skip tier commercials range from a never-knew-you-needed Dirty Dancing-inspired ad featuring He-Man and Skeletor to a definitely needed appeal for normalization of periods. This year, you can enjoy a selection from more than 40 years’ worth of awardees during British Arrows Greatest Hits, presented by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Virtual Cinema. The 77-minute presentation will include not only a look back, but a look at the now with the winners of a special “Made in Lockdown” competition. British Arrows Greatest Hits is available for three-day rental now through December 31 for $12.

Pilot Dance Project is now streaming an on-demand virtual performance titled Mettle/Tether. Mettle, choreographed by Adam Castañeda, is comprised of four vignettes, including three duets (one performed in silence about two friends reunited after eight months of COVID-caused separation, one an exploration of the dynamics between men, and one danced to Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”) and one site-specific ensemble piece set at the Woodlands Waterway. As the title hints, Tether, by Ashley Horn with text by Neil Ellis Orts, looks at the connectedness between people with a goal of reminding the audience that we are never alone. You can purchase a ticket here for the on-demand virtual performance for $10. Available now through December 30.

Classical Theater Company's “faithful rendition” of A Christmas Carol, adapted by John Johnston and Matthew Keenan and directed by Philip Hays, is now complete. With yesterday’s premiere of the final installment, all three episodes of the “podcast-like production” are ready for a Christmas Eve listen. The Houston Press recently described the radio play as “marvelous old-fashioned entertainment” that “pays tribute to Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air from the golden days of broadcasting.” You can now experience Classical Theater Company's A Christmas Carol in its entirety on CTC's YouTube channel.

Last call for a couple of can’t miss holiday productions: Free registration for the Alley Theatre’s 80-minute “cleverly done” and “unadulterated take” on A Christmas Carol will close on December 27. The on-demand run of Stages’ production of Buttons’ Sleeping Beauty: A One-Man Outrageous Unbelievable COVID Lockdown Panto will also close on December 27 (tickets available here for $25) as will Ensemble Theatre’s archival production of the African American Shakespeare Company’s Cinderella (tickets here for $25). And over as A.D. Players, they’ve recorded their Christmas concert, Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter, and it’s available to stream now through December 31 for $35.

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend and find yourself in need of a good photo of yourself or your family, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston has got you covered. This Saturday, December 26, at 1 p.m., CAMH will release their Virtual Drop-In Experience: At Home Photoshoot experience. Download their printable instructions and, with minimal supplies, turn your home into a studio for an afternoon for this hands-on activity. Share your results on social media and, if you’re looking for more to do, visit the archive for even more activities.

Literal traveling is a no-go this holiday season, but Asia Society Texas Center still wants to invite you on a virtual trip with stops in Korea, India, Japan and China during Winter Wonderland. Learn about traditions, stories, and – most importantly – food, or try your hand at making Korean bojagi, Indian gift bags and Japanese origami during the week of on-demand virtual programming, which will begin on Monday, December 28 and run through Friday, January 1. Registration is required and free for members and $10 for non-members. For added fun, you can enhance your experience with an activity bag for $15, which includes Asian snacks, craft materials, ingredients for soba noodles, and more.

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