Press Picks

may 23
Mixed repertory program The Houston Ballet is billing this as a celebration of 20 years under the artistic guidance of choreographer Ben Stevenson, and is merely mentioning that this production will be one of prima ballerina Janie Parker's final performances. Maybe they're hoping she won't really go. Parker will dance Stevenson's Image, a work the Ballet's artistic director created not so much for Parker as with her. Image: a Meditation on the Myth of Marilyn Monroe is, ironically, about modern-day goddesses and how they can't sustain their facades forever. The program also includes Bartok Concerto and Four Last Songs, a work based on the music of Richard Strauss; the song cycle will be performed by soprano Stella Zambalis, who recently wowed critics in Houston Grand Opera's La Boheme. Opening, 7:30 p.m. (Subsequent performances listed in Thrills, Dance.) Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 227-ARTS. $10$75.

Ron Crick and the Aboriginal Texas Roadhog Ramblers, with the PC Cowboys Musical comedian Ron Crick is offering an evening of "keenly upholstered music and mirth," with Ron Crick classics such as "Jackie O's Garage Sale," "Oh No Not Another Song About Texas" and "It's Just That Monthly Thang." The PC Cowboys, a unique and modest band, appear with Crick and his entourage. 8 p.m. McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $5.

may 24
The King of the Rocket Men Long ago, when the world was young and quality entertainment ruled the cinema, all movies were preceded by serials and newsreels and cartoons. Serials are a great thing -- something we need to bring back. Instead of endless sequels, wouldn't it be nice if we could just get the latest Die Hard installment as a serial every time we went to the movies -- and wouldn't ten minutes of even Bruce Willis be better than American Express and Coke commercials? Westwood Cinema, our town's newest repertory movie theater, is showing all 12 chapters of the Republic serial King of the Rocket Men (a five-hour program) today and tomorrow. The King has a ray gun, wears a prewar space suit and saves the galaxy -- all in glorious black and white. 7 p.m. both nights. Westwood Cinema, Westwood Mall, 271-2979. $4; $2, children 12 and under.

Astros versus Cubs National League Baseball pits a team named after hyper-competitive military men against a team named after wobbling baby animals. Baseball offers oddness like that. Plus, there's the deep weirdness of Orbit. Not to mention the almost supernatural statistics (like the number of home runs that have already been hit this season, a stat that may or may not make this year's bases stolen stats look less impressive than they are). Mull it all over in person, starting at 7:05 p.m. The Astrodome, eighth wonder of the world, Kirby at Loop 610, 629-3700. Tickets are delightfully affordable, as is Dome beer.

Shenandoah Songwriters Tour Three guitar-playing folkies from those rolling hills have banded together for a concert tour that includes the Kerrville Folk Festival and Anderson Fair. One of the singer/songwriters, Terri Allard, has already been named a showcase finalist at Kerrville, and the Washington Post is sure "she'll have no trouble making her mark in country-pop circles." Her companions, Seth Austen and Andrew McKnight, also garner good reviews for the mellow, steady quality of their music. 8 p.m. Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant, 528-8576. Call for ticket prices.

The Roaring Twenties "Someone to Watch Over Me," "The Man I Love," and "Stairway to Paradise" are part of this evening's Gershwin medley. Newton Wayland -- famous for his pops concerts -- conducts this salute to the Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance with Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" from El Amor Brujo and rowdy ragtime classics, such as Jelly Roll Morton's "Grandpa's Spells." The final concert of the pops season starts at 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15$22.

Mail Bonding Proof that chain letters are not always evil: this evening of dance and poetry grew out of a letter circulated between some local choreographers and a poet. Dancers Amy Ell, Sandy Marcello and Jane Wiener and poet Niobe Ngozi have performed Mail Bonding once before, and now the work is back by popular demand. Steel yourself: the piece is non-linear, site-specific and has something to do with screen porches and scaffolding. 8:30 p.m. Under the moon and stars at Zocalo Theater, 5223 Feagan, 861-2442. $5; $3, students.

Get Ready Join the Doves, a '60s rhythm and blues group, as they meet again in Knobby's Dance Studio to consider their lives, and maybe a comeback concert tour. Get Ready is a comedy about midlife crises and rhy-thm and blues music. When The Ensemble Theatre produced the play last summer, it drew standing-room-only crowds. 8:30 p.m. today and Saturday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 100 Concert Drive, Hermann Park, 520-3290. Free. To reserve covered seating, call The Ensemble box office, 520-0055.

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Edith Sorenson