Press Picks

january 25
Playing the Game: How to Win at Office Politics Seminars are getting more daring. This workshop, from Robert F. Sarmiento, Ph.D., is about successful professional game playing. Most people, Sarmiento says, know that office politics have more to do with success than performance, "but often we refuse to play because some people do it unethically." His class offers "an ethical, professional approach to playing the game." 7-9 p.m. The seminar will be held in the Greenway Plaza area. Call 877-1981 to register. $20, plus $5 for materials.

Jazzy Lady Marilynn Thibodaux may be familiar to Houston audiences for her work in local TV commercials, TUTS musical theater and the late, great Comedy Workshop. But right now, she eschews light comedy for cabaret-style jazz. Over the past few years, she's been studying the arts of scat and jazz stylings, studying at workshops all over, especially workshops in Chicago. She also sings swing,"If I Were a Bell"; blues, "Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You"; Latin-tempo, "Peel Me a Grape"; and ballads, "Detour Ahead." And yes, she's heard that she resembles Liza Minnelli and, in fact, has worked as a Minnelli look-alike. Thibodaux will be accompanied by Claudia Burson, piano; David Klingensmith, bass; and Richard Waters, drums. 8 p.m. Ovations, 2536 Times Boulevard (off Kirby), 522-9801. $6.

january 26
Wild Things! Last week, a Barnes and Noble program had kids happily eating worms. This week, they'll eat "wild animal crackers" and share stories with Maurice Sendak's one and only Wild Thing. 6:30 p.m. Barnes and Noble, Vanderbilt Square, 3003 West Holcombe Boulevard, 349-0050. Free.

Four Saints in Three Acts This opera is advertised with the tag line "two visionaries, one vision," and we're not sure if the two visionaries are supposed to be Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson, the librettist and composer, or Robert Wilson and Robert Wilson -- Wilson gets double billing as director and designer. The opera is a contemporary masterwork, HGO says, "especially as envisioned by Robert Wilson." Four Saints was introduced at the Wadsworth Anthenaeum in 1934, in Hartford, Connecticut, and rather than touring the sticks and being polished, the show went directly to Broadway. Because it's short and odd, Four Saints is not in the repertoire of many companies -- in fact, no major productions have been mounted since that first glorious run. But because HGO did not make its international reputation doing conventional repertory, we get to see a lavish, loving, lively production. Dennis Russell Davies, a conductor who's made his mark with American music, is the conductor and wears a baseball cap in press shots -- and he may just wear it during Four Saints and Three Acts. Niftily, this production comes on what would have been the late Virgil Thomson's 100th birthday. Sung in English without surtitles. Opening tonight, 7:30 p.m. See Thrills, Theater, Opening for other dates and times. Brown Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas, 227ARTS. $15-$75.

After-opera benefit Planning to see the opening of Four Saints? Why not make an evening of it? The Menil has 100 tickets to the opera and a special supper (catered gratis by Jackson Hicks) for art lovers who enjoy original opera and the chance to help bring other icons, specifically the Madonna and Child, to our town. This dinner-theater package benefits the Byzantine Fresco Chapel Museum now under construction. Works by local artists -- Dixie Friend Gay, McKay Otto, James Surls and the like -- will be centerpieces at the dinner, and will be sold by silent auction to raise more money for the Chapel Museum. This festive dinner follows the 90-minute opera. For more information, call 523-2426. $500-$2,500.

Informance Meaning well, but choosing a name that is cheesy beyond belief, Gregory Boyd and the Alley Theatre offer "Informance" discussions before the Alley's Shakespeare plays. Antony and Cleopatra and Julius Caesar are playing in repertory (and featuring Corin and Vanessa Redgrave), and the Alley doesn't want to take any chances with the audience. Before the shows, Gregory Boyd will explain Shakespeare to all. Vanessa Redgrave does her first directing on our side of the pond and stars in Antony and Cleopatra; Corin Redgrave also directs, and plays the title role in Julius Caesar. (Though the play bears his name, Caesar is not the lead character; he's assassinated early on, leaving poor Brutus to brood.) Through February 11. "Informance" talks are given 45 minutes before curtain time. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m., Tuesday- Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 7:30 p.m., Sunday; 2:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday matinees. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 228-8421. $31-$40.

Cleo's Comedy Theatre Cleo's Comedy troupe has a home -- and it's on Washington fairly near where Radio Music Theatre opened its first theater; not a bad place to begin. For those who missed Cleo's shows and holiday review last year, and haven't seen the group at a private party, producer Diane Ragsdale and a half-dozen comics do sketches, parodies, magic and improv. Ragsdale, by the way, believes deeply that laughter is the best medicine; she launched her troupe after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She is, obviously, a survivor. The theatre's grand opening is at 8 p.m. tonight. Shows through March 2, Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Cleo's Comedy Theatre, 3722 Washington Avenue, 787-9969. $12.

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Edith Sorenson