Press Picks

may 1
Sweet Little 19 Poor old Numbers: Despite nearly two decades of cutting-edge bookings, the cavernous club on lower Westheimer has yet to be named "best live venue" in a Houston music poll. And yet, like Susan Lucci, the club makes do -- sans trophy -- with a solid reputation and a hard-core following. Numbers, after all, is the place that introduced Houston audiences to the likes of Beck, Nine Inch Nails, Alanis Morissette and Ministry. Today the club turns 19 -- the dreaded cusp of adulthood -- and the lineup for its free birthday blowout includes the best of Houston's pop scene: the Jinkies, the Suspects, Chlorine and Atticus Finch. Doors open at 8 p.m. Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 526-6551. Free, 21 and over; $5, under 21.

Princess Hamlet Cast, thy name is woman. Director Lauren Johnson turns the tables on the Bard by casting women to play all the parts in Main Street Theater's new production of Hamlet. The characters and the story are the same, but rather than having men interpret the women's roles, as Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote his plays, Johnson's putting the melancholy Dane and his manly cohorts in touch with their feminine sides. The play opens with a preview performance at 7:30 p.m. Through May 18 (see Thrills, Theater for additional showtimes). Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Boulevard, 524-6706. Preview price, $5.

may 2
Joe Chvala's Flying Foot Forum It's like a sinister Stomp, and the dancers dress better. But neckties or no, Chvala and troupe get primal and passionate employing Native American dance, French Canadian step dance, Appalachian clogging and plain ol' American tap, plus they bang sticks and furniture on the floor. The precise moves and intense rhythms will reach into your very being, consuming you like a rapid heartbeat, or a pounding headache. The Flying Foot Forum is the second installment in the Houston Fringe Theater Festival. 8 p.m. today and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway, 223-8346. $15; $7, seniors and students.

Ricky Van Shelton Van Shelton produced five platinum and three gold albums between 1987 and 1993. He loved the music, but not the industry's politics, and he p.o.'ed a few bigwigs by saying so. Then there was a recording that didn't do so well, and it's been slower going since. (He's made two guest appearances on Baywatch, plans an animated video series based on his Quacker series of children's books and has recorded a CD of traditional country songs due out in June.) Thus, he's performing in Freeport tonight to help raise funds for Brazosport High School's Project Graduation. Rounding out the bill are Brady Seals, former frontman for Little Texas and current hit-maker ("Another You, Another Me); the country/rock/rap/blues outfit the Debonaires; and country crooner Jeff Chance. 6 p.m.-midnight. Brazosport High School auditorium, 1800 West 2nd Street, Freeport, (409) 233-0151. $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

22nd Annual Fort Bend County Czech Fest It was a Czech who tooted Come to My Bower on his fife to signal the Battle of San Jacinto, and Czech-made music has been rockin' Texas ever since. Czechs settled down the road from the famous battle site, and this weekend, they celebrate their culture with oompah bands and cloggers, bake-offs and food booths. They'll gladly teach non-Czechs a Czech word or two (good luck!) and even how to make homemade noodles. Tonight, honorary Czech and Texas legend Johnny Bush (he wrote "Whiskey River") plays with his Bandoleros, and the Fort Bend County Czech Alliance crowns its festival queen. 6 p.m.-midnight; 9 a.m.-midnight Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Fort Bend County Fairgrounds, Highway 36 South (three miles south of Rosenberg), (281) 342-5934. $5; $2, children six12; free, children under six.

Les Hommes du Port Filmmaker Alain Tanner pays homage to Genoa, Italy, and the men who work its ports. His own working life began 40 years earlier in that city, when he boarded a ship bound for Africa. Tanner dropped out of shipping to explore the cinema. But decades later, he returned to film the loyal workers, who relish the freedom and camaraderie their profession provides. A Houston premiere. In French and Italian with English subtitles. 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7515. Free.

may 3
Surfside Open Surf's up. No, really: People do surf the Gulf, and even take part in organized competitions. Today's match is the last in the Texas Gulf Surfing Association's series before the Texas State Surfing Championships in South Padre in mid-May. The competition ranges from menehunes (boys and girls under 13) to legends (boys and girls over 55) and from longboards to bodyboards. 8 a.m. Surfside Pier in Surfside, 975-5314 (weather pending). Free for spectators.

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Betsy Froehlich