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The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Sexy Devils, Otello and More

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It's hard to imagine a Monster Mash where the partiers are both semi-naked yet still somehow costumed, but if there's any place that can pull such a thing off, it's The Colorado Bar & Grill. It is, after all, a hunting-lodge-themed topless bar filled with not only stages full of dancing hotties, but also some of the most interesting hunting trophies this side of a safari, so they're used to blowing people's minds with the unexpected.

On Friday, things in that hot hunting haven will get even more exotic when the hallways full of famed patron memorabilia are filled with costumed dancers and patrons, all celebrating The Colorado Halloween Monster Mash in true strip-pub style. The Colorado is even awarding prizes and trophies for the best costumes at this day-long party, and should you win, we fully encourage you to display the gleaming beacon on your shelf with pride. You've earned it, buddy.

Expect Monster Mash fun all day, starting at 11 a.m. Colorado Bar & Grill, 6710 SW Freeway. For information, call 713-781-1122 or visit thecoloradobarandgrill.com.$7.

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Otello is a Muslim and several years senior to Desdemona, a Christian who defies her father and family to run away and marry the man she believes is her true love. Perhaps he should have known better, but he falls in love with the idea of her being in love with him. And then there's Iago, the creature so unhappy in his own right that he spreads lies and dissension among those around him. As anyone who has read William Shakespeare's Othello knows, this is not a happily-ever-after fairy tale. Brought to life in a run that includes a Friday performance, and with gorgeous music by Giuseppe Verdi, the opera Otello remains a classic because of its strong themes and the opportunity it gives singers to shine. Soprano Ailyn Perez, who has won both the Tucker and the Domingo awards, is making her role and Houston Grand Opera debut as Desdemona, playing opposite tenor Simon O'Neill. "It's not a beginner's type of role. I'm very grateful it's come at this time," Perez said. Describing her character, Perez says: "She's probably one of the most strikingly feminine women that I've ever interpreted in a very quiet way, in a very naive way.

"Desdemona is almost a silent heroine. She doesn't come out with an aria. The only time she sings alone onstage is her 'Ave Maria.'" It was a challenge to understand her, Perez readily admits. "She leaves her whole life up to destiny and wonders why she's not understanding anything." But still, Perez said, Desdemona is strong. "Her final lines are 'I did this to myself.' Otello, his passion and violence were still nothing in comparison to her." HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers will conduct and John Cox of Covent Garden will return to direct.

See Otello at 7 p.m. October 24; 2 p.m. October 26; 7:30 p.m. November 1, 4 and 7. Wortham Center, 500 Texas. For information, call 713‑288‑6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $15 to $354.

There's a mechanical doll. Also a singer, a seductress and a woman protected by her father. And Hoffman loves them all. Billed as a mixture of "steampunk, the supernatural and romantic decadence," Jacques Offenbach's opera fantasy The Tales of Hoffmann is coming back to the University of Houston Moores Opera House for the third time, including a performance on Saturday. Grad student and teacher Tyler Beck is singing one of the four Hoffman roles. "This opera has a lot to offer the audience. There's a lot of drama, there's a lot of melodrama, but there's also so much comedy, and each act is based on a different story by E.T.A. Hoffman," Beck said.

Performed in French with English surtitles, the music can be tricky, particularly for college students. So Buck Ross, the director of Moores Opera Center, decided to exploit his "bumper crop of tenors" and switch out the leads not between shows but between acts. "They'll be dressed exactly the same all the way through," Ross added. "Thematically it works really well, too, because we're seeing Hoffman at different stages in his life, from innocent to one that's frankly rather drunk and depraved at the end."

The point of a UH college production, unlike professional operas, is to give as many students a chance to shine as possible, Ross said. "The show is a terrific showcase for virtually every singer we've got." So in addition to all the Hoffmans, there's a huge cast, Ross said. "We've probably got 80 singers onstage. It's quite an extravaganza."

Adding in steampunk elements was a natural, Ross said. The piece was written in 1881, the show Offenbach did right before that was an adaptation of Jules Verne's A Voyage to the Moon. "Jules Verne is sort of cited as a foundation of the steampunk movement," Ross said. Besides the mechanized doll, "the show is framed in a tavern. We've made it into a giant brewery so we have lots of big tanks and steam and bubblers going all throughout to create that kind of atmosphere." The show is done in three parts with two intermissions and clocks in at about three hours.

See The Tales of Hoffman at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The University of Houston's Moores Opera House (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). For information, call 713‑743‑3313 or visit uh.edu. $12 to $20.

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How does a piano player who grew up in Sugar Land watching Carol Burnett and Cher on television end up singing jazz with Mel Tormé at Carnegie Hall? Find out at An Evening With Billy Stritch. During Sunday's concert, you'll get some music (Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim), some anecdotes about his famous friends (Liza Minnelli, Christine Ebersole, Tormé) and, as he'll be performing in his hometown, some stories about growing up in Texas.

Stritch is still putting together the program, so his set list isn't final, but he tells us each song he'll perform relates to his career, from his time performing solo in a piano bar to his time working with the vocal group Montgomery, Plant and Stritch, and his long association with Minnelli to his debut on Broadway. "Musically, I really live in what they call the Great American Songbook, which is Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and all of the Broadway show music. I throw in a little bit of Brazilian bossa nova...because I really like that. I try to get a nice mix, with a little something with everyone."

5 p.m. concert, 7 p.m. reception. Sugar Land Auditorium, 226 Lakeview Drive, Sugar Land. For information, visit slcaf.org. $26 to $100.

If you've ever wondered what causes all those traffic jams on I-10 and Studemont, look no further than Nightmare on the Bayou. It's a ridiculously scary haunted house located right next to an old graveyard, and is known as Houston's only actual haunted house. As in, this place is known to have some real spirits lurking about, along with those freaky actors. Lines wrap around the building as Halloween inches closer, which means you should probably check it out. Just watch out for the ice-cold hands; it'll be hard to tell whether the thing that grabbed you is still rocking a steady heartbeat or lacking a pulse. Either way, it's a guarantee that you'll be shaking in your boots for days after.

7:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until November 1, 7:30 p.m. - 11 p.m. daily from October 27 until November 1. Party Boy - Nightmare on the Bayou, 1515 Studemont. For information, call 713-868-3344 or visit nightmareonthebayou.com. $20 to $45.

Angelica Leicht and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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