The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Meteors, Mummies and Moire

This year's meteoric light show promises to be extra spectacular because Jupiter’s gravity has pushed the cosmic dust, left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, closer to Earth as it burns up in the sky. The stars are on stage, too, with the new Gambrels of the Sky and the classic-but-updated Little Women, The Musical. Rounding out the weekend is another chance to view the mummified sculptures at Sharon Kopriva's art studio, and a celebration of our coat-of-many-colors culture with the Houston Latin Fest.

We forgave the this-could-work-for-any-musical songwriting in this summer’s production of Little Women, The Musical, mainly because of the heartfelt performances by Shanae’a Moore as strong-minded Jo (A Doll’s House), Haley Landers as Amy, Amanda Parker as Meg and Connor Lyon as Beth. Directed by Joey Watkins for A.D. Players, the play offered just the right notes of nostalgia, regret and hope, with the actresses believable as real sisters. Tricked out with slick staging, creative sets and Victorian costuming (mutton sleeves, hoopskirts and moiré, oh my), the musical — with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, book by Allan Knee and music by Jason Howland — was powerful enough to melt a cynic’s heart. Now the Civil War-era story by Louisa May Alcott, loosely based on the author’s own life, is back for a short run at Miller Outdoor Theatre — with the same stellar A.D. Players cast but with an expanded set — giving us one last dose of this American classic Friday night.

8:30 p.m. Friday. 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free. 

What’s that up in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Perseid meteor shower, and this looks like a banner year with an estimated 150 to 200 meteors per hour instead of the usual 80 Perseids per hour. There’s no better place to watch the meteors, racing at hundreds of miles an hour as they collide with Earth’s atmosphere, than at George Observatory with its three domed telescopes. Amazement, wonder and a curiosity about the heavens are all on the menu, and the observatory is expanding its usual hours in honor of the light show. Director Peggy Halford gives us the breakdown of why it’s so spectacular. “The Perseid meteor shower happens every August when the Earth plows through a debris of dust that was left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle. This comet last passed close to the Earth in 1992 and won’t return again until 2126.” Bring some lawn chairs, bug spray, snacks and vivid excitement because the moon will not serve as a distraction, allowing for a great chance to view the dazzling light show this Friday night. The viewing event continues until the wee hours of the morning, but the park entrance ($7 per person) closes at midnight for vehicle access, though the exit will not be locked.

5 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday. Brazos Bend State Park, 21901 FM 762, Needville. For information, call 281-242-3055 or visit visit hmns.org/georgeobservatory. $7. 

Sharon Kopriva's little monsters have come home. As recent museum and gallery exhibitions have wrapped up, her Heights-area studio is packed with mummified clergy, the spirits of hairless dogs and rope-bound headless earth mothers sprouting roots. It's shaping up to be an impromptu 30-year retrospective of Kopriva's work, and when we heard that representative Deborah Colton Gallery was hosting another open house at Kopriva's studio, we jumped at the chance to view her Gothic babies in their natural setting. Informally titled the "three boatmen," these poor souls (1996-2004) are trapped for eternity, bound to their primitive canoes with crosses and rope. Kopriva has been known to use animal or poultry bones to form the fingers and other elements in her sculptures. A little digging in the studio will reveal a box of "fingers and toes" and, resting on top, the desiccated carcass of a cat who died in a wall. When visiting her studio this Saturday, be sure to ask to see the sculpture, mistakenly identified as a cadaver, that ended up in the morgue with a toe tag. Would you have made the same mistake?

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. 303 East 11th. For information, contact Heidi Vaughan at Deborah Colton Gallery at 713-869-5151 or visit sharonkopriva.com or deborahcoltongallery.com.

Gambrels of the Sky, by Houston writer Elizabeth A.M. Keel, is a riff on the Eve, Tree of Knowledge, getting kicked out of Eden story. But it’s also about alternative dimensions and the ability to travel between them. With a script and a set that feels snatched right off the pages of an Old Testament-tinged graphic novel, Gambrels, under the nimble and assured direction of Leighza Walker, begins the way all good fantasy stories begin, with a quest and sidekicks. There’s Rose (the superlative baby-voiced but saucily funny Cindy Lou Parker), decked out like Madonna circa the Lucky Star years. Then there’s smart but fierce September (Shelby Marie, showing off nice physical command), an accountant bored with her regular/lawful existence whom Eve brought over when she found her begging for trouble and adventure to invade her life. Keel has the three of them getting up to all sorts of no good, as ordered by Eve. They steal, they kill, they wreak havoc on the other creatures in their dimension. It’s hard to speak of the rest without spoiling the surprises Keel has up her sleeve, and they are good turns of plot. Hats off to Keel, a promising Houston writer we eagerly await more from, and an equal chapeau doff to Landing Theatre for taking the chance and bringing us this untested but intriguing new work, making this our other recommendation for Saturday night.

8 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and August 15, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through August 20. 1119 Providence. For information, call 562-502-7469 or visit landingtheatre.org. $10 to $100. 

A certain presidential candidate might be spending nights trying to design a border wall, but here in the Bayou City, we celebrate our coat-of-many-colors culture. Houston Latin Fest El Festival De Todos Los Latinos — brings together the cultures of North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, for a daylong celebration of music, art and cuisine. “It’s all about diversity within the Latin community,” says Eric Edwards, founder and president of the annual event. “This is the perfect representation of Houston. We have a large number of Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorians, etc. It allows each culture to learn about other cultures, all surrounded by the common theme of being Latino.” Big-name performers include bachata duo Monchy y Nathalia, Demphra, Angelucho and Anthony Torres, plus Orquesta Mi Rumba, Ballet de las Americas and appearances by the Houston Rockets and Houston Dynamo. So come Sunday, get ready to lick your lips and shake your hips at this fiesta hosted by Latino Noise TV.

1 to 10 p.m. Sunday. Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana. For information, call 832-546-7534 or visit houstonlatinfest.com. Free to $50. 

Sam Byrd, Jessica Goldman and Vic Shuttee 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