Night & Day

May 14
IMAX offers mind-blowing images of the natural world as a matter of course, but its occasional stabs at injecting human drama into those oversize epics usually result in pitiable failure (consider the so-called acting of the natives in loincloths and conquistadors on chargers in the IMAX paean to the Grand Canyon that runs perpetually at the park's South Rim). Thanks to bitter serendipity, Everest is the exception to the rule; director/cinematographer David Brashears and company were on the mountain in the same week in 1996 that eight climbers perished during a stormy summit attempt, and the IMAX crew brought some spooky footage back to earth. Jamling Tenzing Norgay was the "climbing leader" of the Brashears crew, and one of those who made it to the planet's highest point. In doing so, he followed -- almost literally -- in his Sherpa father's footsteps. His dad, Tenzing Norgay, was with Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful ascent of Everest in 1953. Norgay Jr. presents a discussion/slide presentation at 8 p.m. A reception precedes; an Everest screening follows. The Houston Museum of Natural Science, 1 Hermann Circle Drive in Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $15.

The Tap Dance Kid is not to be confused with Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk. The latter sports the subtitle A Tap/Rap Discourse on the Staying Power of the Beat and is, in a sense, tap's answer to Stomp. But Kid is more than a "warm-hearted musical comedy," as the Christian Science Monitor put it. The beauty of the piece by Charles Blackwell (who also wrote the screenplay for the '77 Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby vehicle A Piece of the Action) is that it's both celebration and statement. Kid, like Funk, has something to say about black pride, shame and suffering, touching on tap's slave-era origin and the minstrel-show stigma that's still attached to it while simultaneously reveling in the artform (via Henry Krieger/Robert Lorick tunes such as "Dance If It Makes You Happy" and "Fabulous Feet"). It's a thoughtful, worthy show -- as warm-hearted musical comedies go. Opening performances are at 7:30 tonight, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday; the run continues through June 14. The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main, 520-0055. $12 to $18; $10 for students and seniors.

Ray Hill has made a career of rousing the rabble, be it for gay rights, prison reform or the preservation of topless bars and smut stands. Now, the Metropolitan Community Church of the Resurrection is hoping to rouse the rabble in the name of Hill himself. At tonight's "Roast Ray," you can hear (and tell) all the wildest stories about the burglar-turned-activist. $50 contributions go to defray expenses for Hill's recent open-heart surgery. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 1919 Decatur, 523-6969 or 681-9082.

May 15
The study of (and belief in) UFOs has reached the level of religious fervor in recent years. And if UFOlogy has become a religion, then head space-head Gary Baker is its self-styled messiah. Baker is a writer (Those Sexy Saucer People) and a true believer in the notions that we're being visited by beings from other worlds and that the U.S. government has long conspired to cover up these visitations (Baker's credited with coining "men in black," the term for those paragovernmental goons who purportedly walk among us sporting superweapons and no identities). L.A. filmmaker and "cult chronicler" Ralph Coon profiled Baker in his Whispers from Space; Coon will introduce the movie, the latest entry in the monthlong "UFO Film Series," at 10 tonight. NO TSU OH, 314 Main, 222-0443. $3.

May 16
The self-taught Arnold Schoenberg was a brilliant, ambitious composer, whether he was applying his theoretical mind to music's subsurface structure -- Schoenberg devised the 12-tone system and the Harmonienlehre ("Theory of Harmony"), both of which remain highly influential -- or deconstructing/reconstructing classical orchestration (as he did with his Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16). Schoenberg thought big, and he rarely failed to deliver bigness. Still, his modernist (some would say "rebellious") slant didn't win friends or influence people in major-symphony circles; his works are infrequently performed by mainstream ensembles, which is why the Houston Symphony's decision to tackle Schoenberg's Gurrelieder is both surprising and commendable. Of course, Gurrelieder is one of Schoenberg's more accessible pieces; a rousing, Romantic spectacle of a composition, it's a choral-heavy work that wouldn't be out of place in the repertoire of, say, Gustav Mahler. The Houston Gay Men's Chorus and the Houston Symphony Chorus augment the orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, for performances at 8 tonight and Monday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-3974. $13 to $59 (Houston Ticket Center: 227-ARTS; Ticketmaster: 629-3700).

A puppet show for the "hard-drinking disillusionati"? Yep, Joel K. Orr's Bobbindoctrin Puppet Theatre -- that Houston puppet troupe for big kids -- strikes again with a program that includes the shorts "Straw Boss" ("the story of an oppressive straw dispenser and its subjects"), "Public Service Announcements" ("confused and macabre assessments of right and wrong"), "ME 6--276!" ("a romantic equation between two numerical units") and "The Mole" ("our least redeeming play to date"). The band the Free Radicals opens at 10 p.m. Mary Jane's, 4216 Washington Avenue, 869-JANE. $5.

Wild Wheels and Driving the Dream, two films by San Francisco art car guru Harrod Blank, screen this afternoon as part of a program co-sponsored by the Orange Show and the Houston MG Car Club. 4 to 6 p.m. The Orange Show, 2401 Munger, 926-6368.

May 17
Proceeds from the ninth annual Houston AIDS Walk and Roll are distributed between 18 HIV/AIDS service organizations, including the AIDS Foundation Houston, the Montrose Clinic, the New Hope Counseling Center and the People with AIDS Coalition-Houston. 8 a.m. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby. Info: 629-WALK;

May 18
Timecross'd, the new piece by local playwright Sean K. Thompson, is a potboiler of a time-travel romance/adventure tale with enough plot elements -- a brilliant inventor who's alcoholic, a mad doctor who sets out to halt the Holocaust, a meeting with a being who might be God (or might not) -- to fill half a season of the Fox network's sounded-good-on-paper series Sliders. Maybe Timecross'd will make more sense on stage; at any rate, tonight's "pay-what-you-want" performance -- which starts at 8 -- won't set you back any more than watching Sliders, at least monetarily. The Masquerade Theatre, 1537 North Shepherd, 861-7045.

May 19
California pop/punk trio the Mr. T Experience, led by singer/guitarist Dr. Frank and named after the buffoonish '80s TV star, is known for its bitterly anguished, frequently inspired, occasionally vapid songs about love -- or, more to the point, the death of feeling that follows the loss of love. The Experience (or MTX, as it's known to its loyalists) is touring in support of its most recent disc, Revenge Is Sweet and So Are You. The Teen Idols open. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, 862-7580.

May 20
Okay, this Cocktail Nation deal's getting as dog-eared as a martini napkin at a Rat Pack slumber party, but have you got anything better to do on a Wednesday night than check out Luscious Caprice, "Your Lady of Lounge"? We thought not. According to the release, the leopard-attired Luscious "oozes charm and captivates audiences with her beguiling personality and spicy delivery of tunes like 'Fever,' 'Manana,' 'Fly Me to the Moon,' 'Ain't That a Kick in the Head' and 'The Girl from Ipanema.'" 9 p.m. The Swank Lounge, 910 Prairie, 227-2665. $3.

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Clay McNear
Contact: Clay McNear