Best Virtual Bets: Broadway, Dragons, and Audre Lorde

The Apollo Chamber Players have launched their 20x2020 Virtual Festival, which spotlights the 20 different works the ensemble have commissioned over the last six years.EXPAND
The Apollo Chamber Players have launched their 20x2020 Virtual Festival, which spotlights the 20 different works the ensemble have commissioned over the last six years.
Photo by Ben Doyle
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We’re back this week with another list of virtual events for your perusal. From the tunes of Broadway to the queen of intersectionality, we hoping the variety of these virtual best bets will keep everyone happily glued to their couch for one more week.

Though we here at the Houston Press would never take credit for the success of the Apollo Chamber Players, we are quite proud that the money we awarded the ensemble along with the 2014 Houston Press MasterMind award was a first step in realizing an initiative to commission 20 new works by the year 2020. Though the plan was to premiere each work at a venue around town, COVID-19 put an end to that.

Instead, the ensemble is premiering a new video episode every Thursday and Sunday at 7 p.m. as part of the 20x2020 Virtual Festival. Each episode features one of the 20 composers in conversation with host St. John Flynn, artist interviews, and old and new performances. This week, viewers will be treated to episodes three and four, Thracian Airs of Besime Sultan by Erberk Eryilmaz on Thursday and Three Goat Blues by Gilad Cohen on Sunday. Episodes can be viewed on Apollo Chamber Players’ social media platforms, including YouTube and Facebook.

You may not know it, but Audre Lorde, the self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet" whose words remain as relevant now as ever, lived in West Berlin in the 1980s. There, she taught and spurred on the Afro-German political and cultural movement as only Lorde could. Beginning this Friday, September 4, at 10 a.m. and until 12 a.m. on September 6, the Goethe-Institut in North America – with its Goethe Pop Ups (including, of course, Goethe Pop Up Houston) and the Schwules Museum Berlin – will present Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 as part of their virtual film series Queer Cinema From Germany, itself a part of their Queer as German Folk project. The Dagmar Schultz-directed documentary from 2012 will be free to stream all weekend and all you have to do is register here.

Pass through the Rice University campus lately? If so, you may have seen the colorful stripes adorning the windows of the Moody Center for the Arts. Light Shift, created by Austin-based artist Erin Curtis, is the second installation of the Moody's Summer Window Series and this Friday, September 4, at noon, the Moody will host Open Dance Project for a special performance. The 12 dancers of Open Dance Project have been tasked with creating a performance in response to Curtis's work set to live music by local percussionist Kirk Suddreath. For a special behind-the-scenes preview, check out the Moody’s Instagram page, but for the complete performance, visit the Moody’s YouTube channel Friday. Light Shift will remain on view through September 12.

This week’s edition of Stages Studio Sessions, the company’s new performance series, will feature Kelley Peters in a show called Songs My Father Taught Me. Peters, who you may recognize from productions like Always … Patsy Cline or The Honky Tonk Angels series, will perform songs passed down through her family during the concert, which will be livestreamed on Friday, September 4, at 7:30 p.m. The one-hour program will be available on demand for 48 hours after it premieres, and you can register here. And remember, there are sessions by Tamara Siler, Raven Justine Troup, LaBraska Washington, Jasminne and Lupe Mendez, and Mark Ivy still to come.

Cat Thomas as Princess Plumeria in Elizabeth A.M. Keel's Tooth & Tail.EXPAND
Cat Thomas as Princess Plumeria in Elizabeth A.M. Keel's Tooth & Tail.
Screen shot courtesy of Mildred's Umbrella

Princesses, dragons, and pirates, oh my! Elizabeth A.M. Keel’s Tooth & Tail, a lovely product of the development and workshopping done with Mildred’s Umbrella, returns to open the company’s 2020-2021 season. Hopefully, Houston’s theater-goers will have the chance to see it on stage in the spring, but for now we can enjoy the digital performance of the postponed world premiere production. If you’re wondering what to expect from Tooth & Tail, here’s a clue: Keel told the Houston Press that she had a “eureka moment” during a viewing of the classic film The Princess Bride. So yes, this one is also family friendly. Tooth & Tail will be available to view beginning September 5 and run through September 15. You can register for tickets here.

We love the synergistic energy generated when our arts organizations cross over and that’s exactly what will happen on Saturday, September 5, at 8 p.m. when artists from Theatre Under the Stars join Houston Symphony for their POPS season opener, POPS Live from Jones Hall: Best of Broadway. Six stellar vocalists, including TUTS favorite Simone Gundy (who you may remember from recent productions of Elf, The Wiz, and Memphis) and Courtney Markowitz of the Houston Theater Awards 2019 Best Musical winner Ragtime , will join Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke for the hour-long livestream to perform music from Waitress, Les Misérables, Frozen and yes, Ragtime. Tickets, which include 24-hour on demand access after the concert, can be purchased here for $20.

If you haven’t been taking advantage of Theatre Under the Stars’ Spotlight Series at the Rotunda Theatre over in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, you’ve been missing out on a great opportunity to take a deep dive into their productions, from what it takes to actually mount one of their shows to getting to know the cast and creative teams behind them. Like most things during the pandemic, the Spotlight series has been on hiatus, but this week, TUTS will launch two digital arms to the series: the TUTS Spotlight Webcast and the TUTS Spotlight Podcast. On Wednesday, September 9, at 6 p.m. the first episode of the TUTS Spotlight Webcast, titled “Houston Strong,” will premiere featuring TUTS Artistic Director Dan Knechtges in conversation with the artistic directors of the Alley, Stages, MECA, Teatro de Gente, and the Ensemble Theatre. That same day, the monthly TUTS Spotlight Podcast will launch hosted by TUTS Director of Community Engagement Israel Jimenez. You can catch the Spotlight Webcasts on the TUTS Facebook page, and you can find the TUTS Spotlight Podcast on iTunes.

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