The Little Prince It makes perfect sense for Houston Grand Opera to revive its 2003 world premiere, The Little Prince, for the holiday season. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's beloved 1943 children's book is a perfect subject for an opera, especially a child's first one. The story of the Rachel Portman/Nicholas Wright opera is kid-friendly, though it's more philosophy than plot. The Little Prince is from a tiny planet called Asteroid B-612. He embarks on a voyage through the universe, stopping for one aria each with the King, the Vain Man, the Drunkard, the Lamplighter, the Businessman and the Geographer. All are too busy with their "serious" work -- even the Drunkard is serious about drinking -- to pay any attention to the world around them and see what they might be missing. On Earth, the Little Prince meets the Pilot (Joshua Hopkins), who has crashed in the Sahara, and a host of other chraracters. The story is imbued with misty poetic ruminations on the wonders of life and a distrust of grown-ups who don't take time to smell the roses. Its simple, gentle message -- "trust your heart" -- is the moral that both the extraterrestrial Little Prince and the Pilot learn by final curtain. With the exception of Harrison Gerald Moore as the Businessman, the cast is drawn from HGO's Opera Studio program, and these young singers are exemplary. Francesca Zambello's magical production is another plus, assisted wonderfully by Maria Bjørnson's storybook and her minimal sets and fanciful costumes, as well as Rick Fisher's ravishingly colorful lighting. But whether Portman's somewhat subdued musical setting of this classic tale will equally win over the little tykes is up for debate. The Little Prince is a sweet, tender tale, but Portman's atmospheric score is a little too sweet and tender. Through December 19 at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas, 713-228-6737.
Sadomasochistic Xmas If you're thinking about getting a dog for Christmas, there's a sick little pup at dos chicas theater commune you might consider. This nasty thing already comes wrapped in shiny black leather. You won't have to feed it much, either, because all it does is snarl and snap, when it's not licking your face. But it's cute as a button, as long as that button controls electric shock therapy. In Sadomasochistic Xmas, resident dos chicas playwright Bob Morgan takes what is considered abnormal and perverted in polite society and twists it neatly topsy-turvy, so that the play's greasy premise becomes matter-of-fact. It's a primer on S&M conduct, an apotheosis of nipple clamps, torture, flagellation, revenge incest, paternal cross-dressing and more. Happily married Steve and Susan (Bob Morgan and Anne Zimmerman) have a liberal sex life that the Marquis de Sade would weep over. But they're unsatisfied. They want others to share the bliss -- along with the pain -- of their natural, debauched intimacy. So each Christmas, they pick an unsuspecting "normal" couple whose sex life is off-track and do a little marriage counseling on them. Beth and Bill (Jennifer Decker and Paul Drake) go through a crash course of Steve and Susan's aversion therapy, which includes everything you always wanted to know about the dark side but were afraid to ask. Fear not, all your questions will be answered, whether you want that or not. The comedy is X-rated with a vengeance, but it's told by the happy couple with such wide-eyed enthusiasm that they make the story sound as homey as apple pie (okay, apple pie with the worms baked in). Don't take your mother, unless, of course, you know for certain where and how she spends her afternoons. Through December 18 at Helios, 411 Westheimer, 832-283-0858.