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Best Virtual Bets: Bollywood, A Cabaret, and A Choir of Man

Houston's Got Bollywood returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre for a best-of show this weekend.
Houston's Got Bollywood returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre for a best-of show this weekend.
Photo by Navin Mediwala

If you’re trying to plan for yet another night in, let us give you some suggestions. Cabaret tunes, Bollywood dance numbers, and a Choir of Man are just a few of the things you can enjoy this week.

Heiner Müller has been said to be “the most important dramatist in the German language since the war," has been regard by European critics “as the most important playwright since Samuel Beckett.” One of the late author’s “synthetic fragments” – the “bits and pieces” he assembled into “metaphoric visions” – has inspired Greg Dean to create Herzstück or My Heart Hit the Floor & Shattered into 10,000 Pieces. The film, presented by Catastrophic Theatre and Goethe Pop Up Houston, deconstructs silent-era comedies, with double acts like Laurel and Hardy, to a grisly end. The film will be available on demand beginning today, November 19, through January 31. Tickets are pay what you can, with a suggested price of $35. Registration is required.

Following the chilling performances of Things That Go Bump in the Night, Main Street at the Mic is back with Cabaret & Cocktails. Main Street’s Associate Artistic Director Andrew Ruthven returns to direct a cast that includes Amanda Carlson, Chelsea Lerner, Scott Lupton, Chaney Moore, Briana Resa, and Taelon Stonecipher taking on a program that’s a throwback to Main Street’s cabaret series. The hour-long program, filmed on the Main Street stage, will feature songs from West Side Story, Waitress, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, In the Heights, Funny Girl, and more. Cabaret & Cocktails will premiere tonight, November 19, at 7:30 p.m. on YouTube, and will be available on demand through the weekend. You can register here for free (though donations are appreciated).

Audience-less performances continue at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Friday, November 20, at 7 p.m. with HEB Presents: Texas Folklife's 31st Annual Accordion Kings & Queens Virtual Concert. CJ Chenier (son of “the king of zydeco,” Clifton Chenier, the first Creole to win a Grammy) & the Red Hot Louisiana Band top a bill filled with conjunto, Cajun, zydeco, and polka with their special brand of “happy feet music.” Chenier told the Chicago Tribune last year that music should “bring people together, smiling and dancing all night long” and that there’s “no kind of pretty like zydeco cranked up to 10 or 11.”

The next night, thousands of lovers of dance and spectacle who have enjoyed Moksh Community Arts’ Houston's Got Bollywood series can rejoice. April’s edition, Adventures in Motion Pictures, was cancelled due to coronavirus, but Moksh will return on Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. to present Houston's Got Bollywood – The Best of Moksh. The virtual, evening-length program will showcase the best performances of previous years, featuring contemporary Indian, Bollywood fusion, hip hop and folk dance, in four acts. Both events are free and will be available to watch on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, their YouTube channel, and Facebook page.

Last weekend, Musiqa opened their season with the world premiere of composer Trevor Weston’s “Stars,” a Musiqa-commissioned, five-movement piece based on a poem of the same name by American poet Robert Hayden. James Templeton filmed an ensemble of five musicians performing the 15-minute work, which imitates the sound waves found in seismology recordings, while soprano Karol Bennett interprets Hayden’s words. A reading by poet Donika Kelly, written for the season opener, accompanies the piece, as do a mix of conversations that enhance program from an astronomer, professor of religion, and literary scholar. The virtual concert will be available from 5 p.m. to midnight the next two Saturdays (November 21 and 28) and Sundays (November 22 and 29). Pay-what-you-can tickets can be purchased here, with a suggested ticket price of $25.

One thing to know about Romantic era composer Carl Maria von Weber is that he had big hands. Enormous hands, really. His hands not only made him a “formidable pianist,” but make some of the chords in his Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48, which will be featured during the DACAMERA presented recital with clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gloria Chien, unable to be “played by normal human beings.” Chien will put that to the test during the concert with McGill, principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic as they play three pieces for piano and clarinet. The other two are Johannes Brahms’ Clarinet Sonatas, Op. 120, Nos. 1 and 2. The performance, which was filmed at Mechanics Hall in Massachusetts, will be available Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. for free with registration here.

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If you’re familiar with Cone Man Running Productions, then you definitely know Spontaneous Smattering, their 24-hour race to the stage, where theater folks create and perform a short play in a day. But this weekend you can see a first: Spontaneous Scattering. The basics are the same – about 10 playwrights get a theme, they randomly draw actors, and write overnight. The next day, the actors receive their scripts, “frantically memorize like the wind and try to find costumes and props in time to perform that night.” All the same except that for Spontaneous Scattering, the medium will be Zoom and the actors will be “scattered” all around the country. The results will then be streamed this Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. A donation of any amount will get you the link and at the end, you can vote on some fun audience awards.

What is “part Once, part boy band that went through a growth spurt, and part Chippendales of the voice box”? If you guessed Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay’s 2017 breakout hit The Choir of Man, you’re in for a treat. This Saturday, November 21, at 7:30 p.m. Society for the Performing Arts will open their digital season with The Choir of Man: Live from London, a 75 to 90 minute virtual show about a group of blokes who sing the night away in a bar – and it will actually be streamed straight from London’s Pillars of Hercules pub. The show will be more intimate than the usual touring production, which has been described as “spirit-lifting twice over, in poignancy and pints.” Tickets for the performance can be purchased here; a single stream is $21.80 and a household stream is $36.80.

Though it’s one of “America’s most recognizable folk tunes,” we don’t definitely know where "Shenandoah" came from. Luckily, that doesn’t stop us from enjoying the maybe sea-shanty, like you can do this Saturday, November 21, at 8 p.m. when Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke leads the Houston Symphony in American Strings: From Folk to Film. The survey of American music will begin with Leroy Anderson’s "Three Blind Mice"-inspired, 1947 audience favorite “Fiddle-Faddle” and continue to selections from the highly decorated (and arguably best ever) film composer John Williams, the man behind the ubiquitous scores of films like Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and more. In between, Reineke will lead the Symphony in works from composers such as Aaron Copland, Scott Joplin, and Jessie Montgomery. Tickets to the livestreamed concert can be purchased here for $20.

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