Film and TV

The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Twelfth Night & Much More!

Main Street Theater is following up its sleeper hit season opener Silent Sky (so successful that it played to full houses and had its run extended) with one of William Shakespeare’s best known works: Twelfth Night. In a co-production with the Prague Shakespeare Company, and our pick for this Friday, Main Street is presenting the classic tale of shipwrecked twins, gender-bending romance, and classic characters both conflicted and confused about life. Rebecca Greene Udden, Main Street’s founder, was hired by Guy Roberts, founder of the Prague company, to direct the play. “We have produced it before. I’ve been in it and costumed it, but I’d never actually directed it,” she says.

“It’s just a lovely play. So much fun. I think this production is a little bit different in that Orsino and Olivia are more mature. They’re not the young lovers. They’re people who’ve had some life experience, so it’s a little bit more interesting play because of that,” Udden says. “The actress playing Olivia is so smart and so interesting. That’s Jan Thompson, who is also the British ambassador to the Czech Republic.” Thompson, who had taken acting classes in college and had a career with the BBC before joining the British version of the U.S. State Department, where her duties included conflict resolution in Afghanistan, signed up for acting classes with Roberts when she arrived in Prague. “She just kind of took this up as an activity, and she’s really good,” Udden says. Roberts plays Sir Toby Belch, and Jessica Boone is Viola.

Also notable: the extravagant, eye-catching costumes. “It’s fairly traditional in the look of it. We had access to really fabulous constumes in the National Theater; they have a great working relationship with the National Theater there,” Udden says.

The highpoints of the convoluted plot: Viola ends up in the kingdom of Illyria after being shipwrecked, and her twin brother, Sebastian, is nowhere to be found. She presents herself as a man named Cesario and goes to work for Duke Orsino. Orsino thinks he’s in love with the Lady Olivia. Olivia falls for Cesario (who is really Viola). And Viola/Cesario falls for Orsino. Added to this classic triangle of thwarted passion is Olivia’s drunken uncle Sir Toby Belch and the comic foil Malvolio, who believes Olivia loves him. Sebastian finally shows up and there’s all sorts of confusion when Cesario/Olivia stands next to him. Anyhow, everything is sorted out happily enough at the end, well, except for Malvolio.

“It’s got the great low humor that you also have in Midsummer [Night’s Dream], which is probably the most produced comedy. The Malvolio character is pretty priceless. Then the gender bending is also fun for audiences,” Udden says.

7:30 p.m. this Friday. Continuing Wednesday through Saturday, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through January 10. Main Street Theater — Rice Village, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit $20-$39. Student tickets are available for $10 on Fridays and Sundays. 
Now that the Christmas crush is behind you, you might be breathing a sigh of relief the shopping and the stress are over. If you’re like most people, though, a little of that might linger on — and Bayou Bliss Yoga and the Rothko Chapel have the perfect antidote with our other pick for this Friday at noon: Twelve Moments: Experiencing Spiritual and Faith Traditions, a guided meditation designed to help you center and find your inner calm to face the new year. “If people are new to meditation, this is a great way for them to learn what that is — and be part of a larger community experience,” says Michelle Ashton, Rothko Chapel’s public programs director.

Using crystal bowls, each of which produces a different tone and is associated with a different chakra, Bayou Bliss’s Dana Shamas takes participants through a 40-minute journey to their inner selves. Participants are encouraged to write down their feelings as they listen and meditate, and share feelings of their experiences at the end of the exercise. “People have different emotional reactions,” says Ashton. “This is a way to really start the year with a clear mind, thinking on what you want to do. Usually, we have what we call radical silence in the chapel. But it has perfect acoustics, so this is really a unique experience. These crystal bowls and the sounds they bring forth have sacred elements. It’s really its own art.”

Noon Friday. 3900 Yupon. For information, call 713-524-9839 or visit  $10 suggested donation; reservations needed. 
You won’t fall asleep this night, with our recommendation for Saturday. Houston’s River Oaks Theatre is presenting Spirited Away, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, for two midnight screenings to kick off the new year. It’s the story of Chihiro, a young girl who becomes trapped in an otherworld of spirits (a bathhouse for the gods) who fights to get herself and her parents back to where they should be. Considered a classic in animation by many, the film came out in 2002.

“You want people to be able to stay awake when they’re watching a midnight screening,” explains Ruth Hayler, who chooses the late-night films for River Oaks Theatre. “You want to pick movies that you necessarily wouldn’t enjoy watching as much at home on a smaller screen. A big part of midnight movies is also just being there with an audience. Everything’s more fun and enhanced when everyone is around you laughing or feeling the tension of the film.”

Often midnight screenings showcase horror movies or comedy movies, not only because doing so keeps the audience awake and engaged, but also because they’re often built for a wide variety of audiences. “There’s a stereotype that anything that’s animated is primarily for children. Of course, children do enjoy Spirited Away, but so do more mature audiences, which is why we felt like we could show it as a midnight screening.” Upon its original release, Spirited Away became the highest-grossing film in Japanese history, surpassing even Titanic and winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In Japanese with English subtitles.

11:59 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-524-2175 or visit $10.50.  
It may not have been the kind of winter you find on Currier and Ives postcards, but if you head up to The Woodlands this Sunday, our pick for outdoor fun, you’ll find a southeast Texas take on those images of laughing ice skaters, decked out in holiday garb. The Woodlands Ice Rink in Town Center has become an area favorite over the past decade or so it’s been in operation.

“We’ve had people who’ve met here, did their marriage proposals here, got married and are now raising young families and bringing their children here,” says Jim Smalley, manager of Spectrum, which builds and runs the rink every year. “It’s really become a tradition for a lot of people.”

You can take part in that tradition, trying out your triple axels and double lutzes — or maybe just trying to stay upright — amid the hustle and bustle of Town Center. The area has grown up so much along with the rink that you might just feel a little bit like you’re in Rockerfeller Center. “The whole area is really a winter wonderland,” says Smalley, remarking that skaters often show up to view the lights along the Woodlands Waterway and in Town Center. He estimates that throughout the nearly two months the rink is up, more than 50,000 would-be Tara Lipinskis and Brian Boitanos turn out.

The rink offers a host of specials throughout the week. Monday is buy one regular admission and get another free; on Tuesdays, Woodlands residents receive $2 off; Wednesday offers $1 off for everyone; on Thursdays, there’s free hot chocolate. “On Fridays, there’s no discount, but we call it Rocking Friday,” says Smalley. “We’ve got disco lights and dance music.”

The rink is open noon to 7 p.m. this Sunday. Continuing 3 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 3 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through January 18. Northwest corner of Six Pines Drive and Lake Robbins Drive in The Woodlands Town Center. For information, call 281-363-0900 or visit $9.50 for adults for two-hour skating session ($5 for children five and under), Mondays through Fridays; $10.50 for adults ($$6 for children) Saturdays through Sundays. All prices include $2.50 skate rental. 

Artist and jewelry designer Ron Hartgrove became fascinated with Dante Alighieri during his teen years. That interest deepened when he studied the Italian poet further in his classes at the University of St. Thomas. Throughout his life, he says, he’s returned to Dante’s works, especially The Divine Comedy, the author’s most famous. “Most people are fascinated by The Inferno,” says Hartgrove. “But that’s because we can all relate to hell, and the hell created in our lives. When you read the entire Comedy, Purgatorio is where we find ourselves atoning, and Paradiso is surreal.”

Inspired by the works, Hartgrove made a series of visual interpretations of each book. The final segment, Paradiso, is on display this Sunday as part of the Katy Contemporary Arts Museum’s Dante Over Abstracted. Hartgrove’s work reflects the mysticism and theology he sees in the poem. A longtime practitioner of meditation, Hartgrove has used his art to “explore the places between” what he sees and what he feels. “Art should be deep,” he says. “We should explore and ask bigger questions through it. Art is another way of thinking, and expressing what gets lost in translation. Words have their limits.”

The 103 paintings on display showcase Hartgrove’s interpretation of the nine rings of heaven outlined in Paradiso. This final installment comes on the heels of Inferno and Purgatorio, shown late last year at the museum. “Dante is a lens, a template we can look at and use to look at the world around us and see why he’s endured,” Hartgrove says.

They're open noon to 6 p.m. this Sunday. Continuing 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Through January 10. 805 Avenue B. For information, call 832-857-1340 or visit $2 (free to members).

Holly Beretto, Margaret Downing and Bill Simpson contributed to this post.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney