The Bayou City is awash in color this weekend. More than 200 artists are chalking street drawings downtown at Hermann Square, we've got the stained-glass spiegeltent decked out for holiday beer tastings, and Society for the Performing Arts has an over-the-top holiday production with snowmen, penguins, angels, reindeer, toy soldiers, gingerbread men and Santa, oh my! Lawndale is hosting a literary crowd with Zine-Fest this Saturday and, before the weekend comes to a close, be sure to check out Jersey Boys, because our theater critic can't stop raving about this nostalgic jukebox musical.
Has there ever been a musical filled with such elation and instant, feel-good nostalgia as Jersey Boys? You can feel the excitement in the lobby; you feel the vibes pre-show, the audience is happy to be here. They're pumped to go back to their youth. The eponymous boys are Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, our own American Fab Four, and their catalog is ripe with No. 1 songs that define the baby boomer generation. The quartet is timeless, ageless, as is this ebullient Tony Award-winner from writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. The authors go simple, practically elemental: They tell the guys' story from the beginning – singing under a New Jersey lamppost, finding their sound when preternatural Frankie Valli joins in with his powerhouse falsetto, and on through the usual showbiz clichés of rise, fall and rise again. This touring production has all the swing and style of the Broadway original. Klara Zieglerova's minimal settings of nightclub neon, chain link fencing, and sunset-red factory smokestacks and telephone poles say all that needs to be said; Jess Goldstein's costumes cry '50s poodle skirts and sequined tuxedo coats; while Steve Orich's earful orchestrations and Sergio Trujillo's tongue-in-cheek choreography of the quartet's signature moves round out the fun. A sign in the lobby warns patrons with a wink about gunshots and “Jersey vocabulary.” It would be just as accurate to state, “Good times await all who enter here.” Oh, what a night, indeed! The show closes in Houston after this weekend, putting this critical favorite on our list for Friday night nostalgia.
8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. BBVA Compass Broadway at The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 800-952-6560 or visit houston.broadway.com. $35.50 to $160.50.
The holiday season is upon us, and Society for the Performing Arts doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it has a family classic with all the holiday music that we’ve come to enjoy (and expect), but has also added a new and interesting twist with Cirque Dreams HOLIDAZE. SPA has recruited 20 different acts, with 30 artists from every pocket of the globe and 300 different costumes, to make this an unforgettable family hallmark. “We are excited that we can not only offer a show that features circus acts from around the world but also a holiday-centric performance that everyone can enjoy regardless of their age,” says Marcus Powers, SPA’s public relations manager. This Friday night, enjoy snowmen, penguins, angels, reindeer, toy soldiers, gingerbread men and Santa himself as they amaze with acrobatics and breathtaking production numbers.
7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $32 to $72.
For its 23rd year, Zine Fest is upon us, H-Town. What exactly is a zine? Well, festival co-organizer Maria-Elisa Heg is here to help. “A ‘zine,’ while short for ‘magazine,’ is very indicative of a DIY ethos,” she explains. Zine creators often “come up with all the content, or they’re the editor,” Heg continues, citing comedy group MicroSatan and photographers Ryan Francisco and Diane Cannon as local stand-outs. “It’s a lot of the elements of a [traditional] printing organization, but on a smaller scale. Less people involved and waaaaaay less money.” Lawndale Art Center plays host to 130 different organizations at this year’s Zine Fest Houston 2016: Year of the Ama-Zines, which is free to attend and includes zine-friendly food trucks. This annual opportunity to meet authors and artists makes this festival one of our recommendations for Saturday afternoon. “You can walk around, talk to creators, pick up and trade zines,” Heg says. “Then, after the event, there’s a big after-party at galleryHOMELAND [3401 Harrisburg] till midnight.” Just remember to keep your zines away from sloshing drinks.
2 to 8 p.m. Saturday. 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit zinefesthouston.org. Free.
This isn’t hyperbole: Holiday Brews on the Bayou is more than an ordinary beer tasting. It’s going to take place inside of a spiegeltent, a Belgium-built portable entertainment venue from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries that happens to be a beautiful construction of mahogany, brass, mirrors and stained glass. “People hear ‘tent’ and they think ‘circus tent,’” says Bayou Bend director Bonnie Campbell, who adds that it takes about five days for spiegeltent experts to put one together. “Most people say that they feel like they’re in an old-fashioned carousel.” The event features 14 craft brewers, such as 8th Wonder and Firestone Walker, posting up in the spiegeltent (which is Flemish for “mirror tent”), while brother-and-sister combination Aaron and Ashten play singer-songwriter tunes. “It’s not like going to a parking lot to drink beer,” says Campbell. This rare opportunity to party like it's 1900 makes this our other pick for Saturday.
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2 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org/brews. $35.
While the chalk drawings at the annual Houston Via Colori® Street Painting Festival won’t have viewers riding carousel horses or cavorting with cartoon animals, they do have their own Mary Poppins-like magic. Kelsey Gross, senior marketing manager for organizer The Center for Hearing and Speech, says that seven artist teams are doing the crowd-favorite optical illusion 3-D pieces, which often take both days of the event to complete. The finished works are truly amazing, which is why we're putting Via Colori on our list for Sunday afternoon. Overall, more than 200 artists are interpreting this year’s “A Colorful World” theme on squares ranging from four to ten feet. “The final entertainer on the 20th is a former American Idol contestant, Jess Meuse, from season 13. [She’ll] perform an hour set from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sunday,” says Gross. Event proceeds assist children with hearing loss, and VIP Lounge ticketholders nosh on free food and drink while enjoying six mini-events.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hermann Square, 900 Smith. For information, call 713-523-3633 or visit centerhearingandspeech.org. $7 to $40.
Sam Byrd, D.L. Groover, Steve Jansen and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.