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Best Virtual Bets: Schubert, Sopranos, and Shakespeare Three Ways

Last chance to see the digital run of Stephan Wolfert's Cry Havoc! this weekend.
Last chance to see the digital run of Stephan Wolfert's Cry Havoc! this weekend.
Photo by Ashley Garrett

We're coming right up on the fall equinox, and we're right where we were during the June solstice and the March equinox – looking for something to enjoy from the sterile comforts of our own homes. This week, we’ve rounded up a little bit of music, a whole lot of theater, and an abundance of Shakespeare.

It's officially Hispanic Heritage Month at the Alley Theatre, and they are ready to celebrate Latinx voices with a month’s worth of programming led by their Manager of Community Partnerships, Baldemar Rodriguez. On the schedule are stories from Houston’s own, written through the Alley’s Primer Borrador (First Draft) residency (the first installment is up now) and, if you caught the Alley’s production of Quixote Nuevo, you’ll be happy to hear that playwright Octavio Solis’s work returns when the Alley stages readings of stories from Retablos: Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border. These filmed readings will be released on the Alley’s website and social media starting today, September 17, and continuing throughout the month. There’s much more to come, so we recommend visiting the Alley’s website to keep up with everything as it comes.

If you still haven’t seen a show we said “chews you up and spits you out,” “gives you chills while swathing you in empathy” and is both a “nightmare with raw nerves” and “a plea for understanding and healing,” this weekend will be your last chance. We are, of course, talking about Cry Havoc! The one-man show, an autobiography written and performed by military veteran Stephan Wolfert, masterfully weaves together the experiences of vets with the words of Shakespeare for a powerful 80 minutes. You can watch for free here until Sunday, September 20, courtesy of 4th Wall Theatre Company and DE-CRUIT (Wolfert’s program to help reintegrate veterans through acting). But for those able to donate, a $25 donation is encouraged, funds that will be split between co-presenters 4th Wall and DE-CRUIT.

For more on Cry Havoc! check out last week’s episode of Beyond the 4th Wall with the man himself, Stephan Wolfert. And for even more, next week’s episode on Wednesday, September 23, will see 4th Wall’s co-artistic directors Kim Tobin-Lehl and Philip Lehl in conversation with Cry Havoc! director and Bedlam Artistic Director Eric Tucker. You can register to watch live on Zoom here.

4th Wall will keep the Shakespeare synergy going with the premiere of Sitting with Shakespeare at 4th Wall, a two-part series where Tobin-Lehl (as director) and Lehl (as actor) let audiences play fly-on-the-wall as they work through some of the Bard’s most famous monologues. Part one will focus on tragedies like Hamlet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth and be available from September 17 to 20. The second part, available from September 24 to 27, will feature Shakespeare’s comedies and romances, such as Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale. Tickets for each part are $15 and can be purchased here.

Earlier this year, when we could still go places to enjoy live art, you may have seen Tamara Wilson, one of the HGO Studio Artists program’s most prestigious alums, in their production of Aida. If you didn’t, you can hear her voice – “a wonder, bright and crisp, agile and melting, deep and cavernous” – during the first edition of Houston Grand Opera’s Live from The Cullen series. HGO’s digital season kicks off on Friday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m. when HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers joins the soprano on the piano for a free recital. On the program are Henry Purcell, Richard Strauss, Gioachino Rossini; Aaron Copland, André Previn, Amy Beach, and a surely memorable and much anticipated rendition of “We’ll Meet Again” by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles. The recital is free and will be available to watch here for one month following its September 18.

Raven Justine Troup will be featured in this week's Stages Studio Session.EXPAND
Raven Justine Troup will be featured in this week's Stages Studio Session.
Photo by Priscilla Dickson

Fresh off a digital run of MJ Kaufman’s Sensitive Guys, Raven Justine Troup will be featured in this week’s Stages Studio Session. On Friday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m. Troup will take to the stage to share songs and stories during the intimate concert. The program will stream Friday and be available through Sunday, September 20. It’s free, but register on the Stages website here. Still to come on the studio sessions are performances from LaBraska Washington, Jasminne and Lupe Mendez, and Mark Ivy.

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And don’t forget about A Woman of the World over at Stages, too. Rebecca Gilman’s one-woman show about Mabel Loomis Todd – writer, traveler, and Emily Dickinson advocate – starring Sally Edmundson will only be available on demand through September 20. You can still register here, and do tune in this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for the community talkback (registration here). Both free.

Franz Schubert was a master of chamber music, and his Octet in F major was big, both in instrumentation and length. Composed in March 1824, it was inspired by Beethoven by request – it was commissioned by clarinet player Ferdinand Troyer to be like Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat Major Op 20. The result is six movements for two violins, clarinet, bassoon, horn, viola, cello and bass, which means eight principal musicians with solos for days when the Houston Symphony presents Live from Jones Hall: Schubert’s Octet. Jones Hall is now open for limited, socially distant in-person seating, but you can also still watch from the safe comfort of your own home. The Saturday, September 19, performance at 8 p.m. will be livestreamed and you can purchase a ticket here for $20.

Last call for some silly gags and killer songs! The deadline to buy a ticket for Tamarie Cooper’s 2020: Quarantine Edition! has been extended to this Sunday, September 20. So you still have some time to get a ticket, and the ticket gets you all three episodes of the webseries to binge watch to your heart’s content from now until December 1. Get your ticket now. It is pay-what-you-can, as it always is over at Catastrophic, with a suggested price of $35 and “more if you have it, free if you’re broke.” You can join Cooper and the rest of the cast and crew for a virtual cast party next Friday, September 25, at 8 p.m. If you’re ready for a good time, you can register here.

Shakespeare is always a safe bet, as is the talent we regularly see (and desperately miss) across Houston’s stages. But there’s still room for unexpected treats at something like Main Street Theater’s BYOBard, such as our 2020 Houston Theater Award’s Best Supporting Actress winner Lindsay Ehrhardt reprising "Sonnet 14,” which she recited as part of her award-winning role in Fefu and Her Friends at The Catastrophic Theatre. On Monday, September 21, at 6:45 p.m. Main Street will go for a third installment of BYOBard, and scheduled to participate are actors Joel Sandel, Sara Gaston, Dain Geist, Marshall Mays, John Raley, Tamara Siler, Scotty Fults, John Feltch and Shannon Emerick. Like last time, it’s free (yay!), though donations are appreciate (if you can). Register in advance.

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