Just like Elvis, we're all shook up about Pokémon Go. For all you trainers out there, save those lures and pokéballs, because it's time to #CatchEmAll at Pokéraid: Hermann Park this Friday night. But that's just the beginning of an awesome weekend in Houston. We're going to get toasted with art, music and film at French Toast Mafia while debating the merits of cannabis, watch the actors squirm over at Stages Repertory when we pick the ending to Shear Madness, and step back in time to one iconic night in rock and roll history with the Million Dollar Quartet; yeah, we're talking Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. And if you hear that tiger's roar, it means that Circus XTREME is in town, along with BMX trick riders, trampoline daredevils and a bungee aerial skydiving display.
Whether you're Team Instinct, Team Mystic or Team Valor, start stockpiling those lures and pokéballs for Pokéraid: Hermann Park, a #CatchEmAll event of epic proportions. Local cosplayer and con panelist Colossal Senpai is rounding up fellow trainers and wants us to dress up as our favorite Pokémon characters or fly the team colors of yellow, blue and red. Insider tip? Charge up your battery, bring water and snacks, and meet up at the park entrance at the arch under the statue of General Sam Houston. Rumor has it there were some Ponytas, Lickitungs, a Vaporean, a Rapidash and a random Flareon spotted in the park, and be sure to check out the Pokéstops near Miller Outdoor Theatre and the Pioneer Memorial granite obelisk. Game on.
The artists-helping-artists collective The Generators Playground, those nomadic "let's-bring-our-own-electricity" producers of awesome festivals like Black Christmas, Sunday Streets and Trifecta, are cooking up something new with French Toast Mafia this Friday night. Just like our favorite breakfast food, it's sticky and sweet, with art, music, comedy and film. Check out what's new with visual arts faves Skeez181, Bao Pham, Alex Ramos, Hannah Bull and many more, while jamming to tunes by Devil Killing Moth, ScubaDiver, WellWell and Dangfoo, for starters. In between all the vendors, food trucks, games, body painting and free French toast, let's clear up some of that misinformation flying around about cannabis, and have some real discussions about reform and its eventual legalization. "We feel like sticking together to build a stronger subculture in Houston is important for bands, musicians, street artists, films, comedians and food trucks by ways of making a living," says Bao Pham, founder of the collective, who says there's a new drive to help Houston in a more profound way. "In conjunction with Houston NORML, we hope to have petitions ready for 2017 to decriminalize cannabis, because whether you smoke or not, most of us believe it shouldn't feed this outdated war on drugs." So, let's have fun and work toward making the great state of Texas even greater while supporting local artists.
Every murder-mystery play leads its audiences through a process (simple or convoluted) of tracking down the identity of the evil villain. But in the case of Shear Madness, called the longest-running play in the United States right now and brought back to Houston by Stages Repertory Theatre, the audience is far more involved than most. “They get to vote on who committed the murder,” says co-director Mitchell Greco. Which means the script, with any number of alternate endings, is huge. “It changes every night. Depending on who the audience votes for, that’s how it’s played,” says co-director Josh Morrison. We think picking the murderer and watching the actors react sounds like fun, making this one of our picks for Saturday night. The basic plot involves the owner of a hair salon who also rents out to boarders in the same building, and who is found dead halfway through the first act. What follows is more like Clue than Agatha Christie, Morrison says. Set in the here and now of Houston, Texas, the play requires actors who are quick on their feet, Greco says. Even the intermission is interactive, with one of the actors going out to the lobby during that time to further engage with the audience.
8 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through August 21. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $21 to $52.
It was a perfect storm in rock and roll history. Jerry Lee Lewis was banging away at the piano while Carl Perkins was making a recording for Sam Phillips, and Elvis Presley — who was still trying to catch his first big break — walked into the studio. Phillips asked Johnny Cash to come over for a jam, and the rest, as they say, is history. The night of December 4, 1956, which came to be known as the Million Dollar Quartet, serves as inspiration for the latest production from Theatre Under The Stars, in a short summertime run at Miller Outdoor Theatre. “It’s sort of a nice little combination between story and music, and it’s based on the night when all four of these legendary musicians met at Sun Records for the first and only time, got together, played music, swapped stories,” says Billy Finn, who plays Perkins, right down to the blue suede shoes. “[Phillips] was known as the father of rock and roll. He signed all of them; 1956 was before they all got famous. It just happens one night all four were in town, just an unbelievable coincidence.” Finn says this historic night on the hill will be “like a rock concert in the middle of the park.” We're sold, making this one our other pick for Saturday night in the park.
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8:15 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 8:15 p.m. daily through July 17. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com/shows/million-dollar-quartet. Free to $50.
It’s big, it’s exciting and it’s The Greatest Show on Earth®. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is pitching tents in Houston for its new show, Circus XTREME, mixing in new elements with some old-school razzle-dazzle. The flying human cannonball, high-wire wizards and powerful strongmen, plus all the circus animals you can imagine, join refreshed elements like BMX trick riders, trampoline daredevils and a bungee aerial skydiving display. “The reason we’ve been around for 145 years is because we keep things new and innovative while staying true to our roots. With XTREME, we’re going above and beyond,” says ringmaster David Shipman. “We’re giving a nod to where we’ve come from, but we’re modernizing the circus with new techniques.” To cement those precious childhood memories this Sunday afternoon or evening, arrive an hour early for the pre-show and meet the performers, view the menagerie up close, try on costumes, and learn circus skills like juggling and walking the low wire.
3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. July 15, 20 and 27; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. July 21, 22 and 28; 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. July 24. Through July 31. NRG Stadium, One NRG Park. For information, call 1-800-745-3000 or visit ringling.com. $10 to $100.
Sam Byrd and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.