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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Rigoletto, Detroit and More

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It's hard to know who to root for in Rigoletto, Verdi's tragedy being presented by Opera in the Heights and our choice for Friday. There's the Duke. An indulgent tyrant, he beds women -- from young, innocent virgins to manipulating women of the court -- as casual entertainment. There's the title character, Rigoletto. He's an ugly, hunchbacked court jester who mocks the put-upon husbands who have to stand by and watch as the Duke openly seduces their wives. There's Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter. Shut away by her father in an effort to protect her from the Duke, Gilda falls in love with a man she sees in church. The man is, of course, the rakish Duke. The three are on a collision course that will leave one of them dead and one of them brokenhearted.

The role of Rigoletto is shared by Octavio Moreno and Daniel Scofield.

Profiled in our 100 Creatives series earlier this year, Moreno is a Houston Theater Awards finalist for his performance in the OH! production of Lucia di Lammermoor last season. Scofield, who is making his company debut. Dane Suarez and Bernard Holcomb share the role of the Duke, while Gilda is played by Erin Kenneavy. At the podium, as always, is OH! Artistic Director Enrique Carreón-Robledo.

See Rigoletto at 7:30 p.m. September 26 and 27, October 2, 3 and 4; 2 p.m. September 28 and October 5. Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights. For information, call 713-861-5303 or visit operaintheheights.org. $35 to $67.

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You don't have to be a kid to attend the Fourth Annual Tweens Read Book Festival, but kids get first dibs on asking questions of the various panels and on seating. Grownups can ask questions at the Saturday event, of course, just not first. It's not anti-adult, by any means; it's just very pro-kid. Very, very.

Begun four years ago by a bookseller and librarian who wanted to encourage kids to read, the Tweens Read festival features some big-name authors, including Jacqueline Woodson and Margaret Peterson Haddix, both keynote speakers. Woodson is the well-known African-American author of Miracle's Boys (a Coretta Scott King Award winner), After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers and Show Way. Haddix is best know for The Missing and Shadow Children series. Several food trucks will be on site providing lunch and refreshments.

The Fourth Annual Tweens Read Book Festival runs 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. South Houston High School, 3820 Shaver, Pasadena. For information, call 281‑497‑8675 or visit tweensread.com. Free.

Two couples end up living next door to each other in an unidentified American suburb in Detroit (despite the name, the play is supposed to refer to any "first-ring suburb in America.") The country is in an economic downturn and Ben has just lost his job, resulting in a change of prospects for himself and his wife, Mary. The new neighbors, Kenny and Sharon, former drug addicts, are in the process of straightening out their lives and are looking to suburbia to provide stability. The couples meet over a backyard barbecue.

Another choice for Saturday, the 90-minute one-act Detroit, by playwright Lisa D'Amour (whose latest play, Airline Highway, it has just been announced, is going to Broadway), was a finalist for the Pulitzer and Susan Smith Blackburn prizes in 2011 and won the Obie Award for Best New American Play in 2013. Now Catastrophic Theatre is bringing it to Houston, and director Troy Schulze says his cast members have embraced the play and what it has to say about changes -- not only those brought about by financial change but in the places we live.

"You see how the suburbs have changed throughout the years. There's something about it that suggests a death of some sort. Something that we'll never get back." Despite the somber notes, Schulze says there's a lot of humor throughout this work. "Usually we'll follow up Tamarie Cooper's [annual summer] show with a play that's really dark and depressing. But this one is really funny and uplifting. I think there's going to be a lot of laughter." A turntable stage enables a quick shift from one backyard to the next.

Opening night for Detroit is September 26. Regular performance schedule is 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Through October 18. Catastrophic Theatre, 1119 East Freeway. For information, call 713‑522‑2723 or visit catastrophictheatre.com. $10 to $50.

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Film festivals aren't usually thought of as examples of democracy in action, but the Manhattan Short Film Festival, screening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and our pick for Sunday, certainly qualifies. During the week of September 26, more than 100,000 moviegoers in 300 cities across six continents will gather to vote for the winner of the festival. The ten entries in this year's competition run anywhere from eight to 15 minutes long and come from countries including the U.S., the Netherlands, Germany and Mexico.

Films include Crime (seen above). The 14-minute film (a graphic-novel-style documentary about the effects of crime) was directed by Alix Lambert and Sam Chou. There's also 97% (about a man trying to track down a potential love interest on a crowded train with a smartphone app), The Fall (two mountaineers depend on each other to survive, but one has a secret), La Carnada (a teen tries to illegally cross the border into the United States), and The Bravest, The Boldest (a mother tries to avoid two U.S. Army officers about to deliver some bad news).

"This film festival will unite people in all corners of the globe, from Sydney to Mumbai, from Buenos Aires to Cairo," Nicholas Mason, founding director of the festival, says in a press release. "In times like these, cross-border events like Manhattan Short [Film Festival] that contribute toward greater tolerance and understanding are needed more than ever."

The Manhattan Short Film Festival screens at 7 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713‑639‑7515 or visit mfah.org/films. $10.

The River Oaks Chamber Orchestra opens its tenth season with ROCO Alive in Concert: Once Upon a Time. The program, one of our choices for Sunday, includes the world premiere of Maria Newman's Abilene Concerto, commissioned by ROCO. "Every concert this season will feature a ROCO-commissioned world premiere," says founder and artistic director Alecia Lawyer via press materials.

Former ROCO concertmaster Brian Lewis returns to join the 40-piece orchestra under conductor Victor Yampolsky as the featured soloist in Abilene Concerto. Once Upon a Time also revisits the first ever ROCO performance, Rossini's Italian in Algiers Overture, which the orchestra performed in 2005. The program also includes Britten's Suite on English Folk Tunes and Mozart's Symphony 41, the last one ever composed by the man who inspired the '80s classic "Rock Me Amadeus" (among a few other accolades).

ROCO Alive in Concert: Once Upon a Time starts at 8 p.m. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-665-2700 or visit rocohouston.org. Free.

Margaret Downing and Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.

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