The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Comics, Cars and Latin Culture

It's shaping up to be a throwback weekend with a vintage festival for retro cars and fashion, plus there's a revival of the first offering from Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda over at TUTS. And now that DC Comics has introduced us to the Dark Knight of a reborn universe, we're celebrating comics through cosplay at Bedrock City as well as the darkly bizarre CarnEvil. Let's finish the weekend with a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month when the Houston Symphony offers up a free concert at Jones Hall. Bravo!

Move over, American Horror Story — there’s a new show in town. ReFine Arts presents CarnEvil — a boggling, bizarre collection of evil geniuses, mad scientists and dastardly villains who make up this ultimate freak show. Nothing is to be underestimated as characters from fairy tales, comic books, literature and films come alive and welcome brave souls into their demented world, which sounds just weird enough to be one of our picks for Friday night. Director Melody Johnson tells us, “People can expect the unexpected. We put together different art forms: dance, circus, fire arts and crazy music.” Characters include The Joker, Aurora, Dracula, Maleficent, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, Harley Quinn, Dr. Frankenstein, Cat Woman, Queen of Hearts and Prince Charming. Beware: Some stories don’t always have a happy ending.

8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Pilot on Navigation, 5102 Navigation. For information, call 281-771-6502 or visit $18 to $20. 

It was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (Hamilton) first show and a Tony Award winner. In the Heights follows three bittersweet days with family and friends in the Washington Heights area of New York City as they try to figure out what home means to them. “I love the fact that everyone will do anything for everyone else in this musical. There’s really no evil characters. It’s truly about ‘what does home mean to you?’” says Nicholas DeGruccio, who’ll be making his Houston directing debut with the show for Theatre Under The Stars. DeGruccio says he’ll be working with the cast to create a sense of family and history, as well as to get across “the Latin flavor” of the show. “These people have lived together for a long time. They’ve grown up together in this community. They know which buttons to push. They are very upfront about their feelings.” Added to that is the music. “The music has a Latin flair; we’ve got salsa, hip-hop, rap and then some beautiful contemporary musical theater ballads,” says DeGruccio, who has done most of his directing work in Southern California. It seems as if we've been waiting months for this one, putting In the Heights on our list for Friday night entertainment.

8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through September 25. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit $46.50 to $135. 

Maybe it's something in the water, but the 1960 store is going all Arkham Asylum this Saturday when Bedrock City Comic Company celebrates Batman Day. "All the employees are going to be dressed up," says Tiffany Cochran, director of marketing. "[They'll be] focusing on the Batman villains like Black Mask, Bane, Poison Ivy and the clown prince of crime himself, The Joker. Comic fans can find cosplayers at all five locations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: A Batman character will be at the Westheimer store, Poison Ivy at Washington, Batman and Harley Quinn in Clear Lake, and Catwoman will be in Sugar Land. Everybody gets a free copy of Batman Rebirth #2 (while supplies last), making this one of our picks for Saturday awesomeness. Artist Mostafa Moussa will be at the Westheimer store from 1 to 6 p.m., with other talents appearing at the other locations. "All our Batman and Batman-related items are 20 percent off, excluding Golden and Silver Age comics and Hot Toys," says Cochran. "Everybody who comes dressed in a Batman-related costume will be entered in a drawing." Each store is raffling off prizes in both adult and children's categories, including a four-pack to the animatronic Jurassic Quest at NRG Center next weekend.

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. 6516 Westheimer, 713-780-0675; 102 West Bay Area Boulevard, Webster (Clear Lake), 281-557-2748; 4683 FM 1960 West, 281-444-9763; 4602 Washington Avenue, Suite A, 713-862-0100; 4831 Highway 6, Missouri City (Sugar Land), 832-987-1994. For information, visit Free.

Anybody can walk into a big box store and purchase new stuff, but we're digging the cool, retro styling of vintage cars, fashion and radios. Sure, it's fun to spend an afternoon trolling through dusty shops looking for that perfect find, but why not come out to the Houston Vintage Festival for a supercharged dose of timeless design? The organizers have been ramping up all week with a '70s house party and trivia night, a skater flash mob and a Friday night preview party and fashion show. Now it's time to boop-boop-de-doop-oop over to the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. “I would arrive at 11 a.m. because if the weather holds up, we have two aerobatic planes,” says Mitch Cohen, event coordinator. “They'll drop off a couple of contestants for Ms. Vintage.” That sounds like a show-stopper, making this our other recommendation for Saturday. There's a retro hair-styling demo at noon, the Ms. Houston Vintage Pageant is at 2 p.m. and the winning vintage car gets chosen at 3 p.m. “We have a vintage car club that includes two vintage firetrucks on site, and the Battleship Texas is bringing a gargantuan gun that will be in the parking lot,” says Cohen. “It's crazy; it's a lot of fun.” So bop on over, jam to six hours of '70s music, sample branded whiskeys and ride the bicycle taxis over to the hangar to view planes and helicopters from the '40s and '50s.

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 8325 Travelair. For information, visit $5 to $10.

Music inspired by the cowboy culture of Argentina’s wild west and the premiere of a new piece featuring the sounds of the Peruvian jungle are on deck when the Houston Symphony celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with Fiesta Sinfónica. America Salvaje is exotic, dynamic and exciting, says Carlos Botero, the symphony’s musical ambassador, about the premiering work. “It includes instruments that are not part of the orchestra.” He says it was inspired by the conflict that resulted from the Spanish conquest of Peru. “[The music] represents the actual sounds of the jungles of Peru. Salvaje is the word for ‘wild’ in Spanish.” Music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducts the program, which features GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist Michel Camilo. They were cryptic about exactly which instruments they were using, teasing that we "had to come see for ourselves," which puts a free evening at the symphony on our list for Sunday.

6 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit Free.

Sam Byrd and Margaret Downing 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