The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Patriotism, Wine and a Bat Boy

Colton Berry's Bat Boy is kind of like a car wreck: You know it's wrong, but you just can't look away. The glowing reviews for this musical put it on our "must-see" list, but America's birthday gives us a three-day weekend with all kinds of great ways to celebrate. In a 35th-anniversary tribute, the Houston Symphony is screening the Raiders of the Lost Ark while they perform the score, the Dynamo is showing some respect to our armed forces, there's a seven-stop wine trail, and you can finish out the weekend with hot air balloon rides. 

How can you fault a cult musical that uses as a lyric to the main character's upward striving, “I'm gonna Vincent van Gogh them, and Henry Thoreau them, and Plato, and Cato, and Edgar Allan Poe them...Gonna Jackie O them, Marilyn Monroe them, Botticelli, Machiavelli, Larry, Curly and Moe them!”? This is sung by half feral/half human Edgar, a.k.a. Bat Boy (the nimble and audacious Colton Berry, looking every inch like Max Schreck in F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu), captured and then brought into the dim light of West Virginia enlightenment by the sympathetic wife of the town's veterinarian. Edgar's an amazingly quick study, and his Eliza Doolittle transformation from nocturnal Chiroptera to stylish preppy is food to feast on. But you know the old saying, a bat boy's gotta do what a bat boy's gotta do, so you know his metamorphosis will not last. Nurture doesn't stand a chance against nature in Bat Boy, The Musical. This rambunctious musical is both terribly earnest and terribly tongue-in-cheek, making this one of our picks for Friday night weirdness. Basing it on the completely faux yellow journalism story from Weekly World News about a “bat child found in cave,” the authors literally fly with the juicy details, supplying satiric texture – stereotypical backwoods toothless yahoos – but also adding a surprising amount of outsider empathy – "love your inner bat boy" is its final uplifting sampler message. Kaleidoscope Theater overlays it with a slick gloss that can only be attributed to Berry, who not only stars (magnificently so), but also directs and has designed the sets, costumes, lighting, props, makeup and hair. Not even the great Ziegfeld did all that. But hats doffed to Berry, for he pulls it off. 

8 p.m. Friday. Continuing 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Through July 24. The Kaleidoscope Theater, 705 Main, Suite B. For information, call 832-817-8656 or visit $30 to $35. 

Da-dum. Da-dum. The shark theme from Jaws, the alternating pattern of two notes that foretold impending danger, was one of the first successful collaborations between legendary composer John Williams and producer/writer/director Steven Spielberg. It led to 40 years of cinematic successes, with right-hand man and behind-the-scenes operative Williams scoring all but two of Spielberg’s films, helping to roll out hits like Schindler’s List, E.T., Saving Private Ryan and so many more. Now, in a 35th-anniversary celebration, the Houston Symphony is screening the Academy Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the orchestra performing the entire score. “It’s a different way to see a movie, especially one with a great score. It brings to life this movie that we’ve all seen,” says Principal POPS Conductor Designate Steven Reineke. The Raiders March is so associated with the Indiana Jones character, it’s as recognizable as his signature hat and whip. “For many people, it’s a great memory or moment from their childhood. I will never forget the impact it had on me. I remember playing in my backyard pretending to be Indy Jones.” Adventure awaits this Friday and Saturday.

7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Jones Hall, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $22 to $99. 

There's so much going on at the Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union match-up that we're not even sure where to start. But you can't go wrong with the pregame party in the Bud Light Beer Garden, with catering by Dickey's BBQ and jams by the Josh Fuller Band. It's free for the first 100 military members with valid ID; everybody else pays just $10 and proceeds benefit Patriots and Heroes. Patriotism is in full force at Armed Forces Appreciation Night, with ticket purchases benefiting military members or veterans, a pregame flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard, and reps from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines giving away cool stuff at interactive stations. Plus, the players are wearing special American flag-themed numbers on their jerseys, and you can bid on them later in a charity fund-raiser. It's not over till it's over, so stay after for awesome fireworks with patriotic-themed music. This sounds like a great way to honor our military heroes, making it our pick for Saturday night.

7:45 p.m. Saturday. BBVA Compass Stadium, 2200 Texas. For information, call 713-547-3000 or visit $28 to $136.

They had us at seven wineries, but the folks at Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail are offering a little incentive if you hit all the stops in the Bermuda triangle between Montgomery, Burton and Bryan. Not only will you learn about the business of wine-making; the swag includes wildflower seeds, a wine glass and a “special gift” for hitting all seven stops on the Harvest Trail. “It’s fun for a group of girls, like a bachelorette weekend, or a day date, even bachelor parties,” says Savannah Gaines of Messina Hof, one of the participating venues. Start at any point on the trail, exercise caution and maybe even pick a designated driver. “The best thing is that you get to support Texas industry and see what’s so great about Texas wines,” says Gaines, putting this one on our list for a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. 

Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through July 10. Bernhardt Winery, 9043 County Road 204, Plantersville; Cork This!, 21123 Eva Street, Montgomery; Messina Hof Winery, 4545 Old Reliance, Bryan; Peach Creek Vineyards, 2029 Peach Creek, College Station; Pleasant Hill Winery, 1441 Salem, Brenham; Saddlehorn Winery, 958 FM 1948 North, Burton; and Windy Winery, 4232 Clover, Brenham. For information, call 936-825-3669 or visit $35 to $56. 

Politics aren't the only place you'll find hot air. Witness a 25-foot hot air balloon rise above Memorial City Mall at the Fourth of July Hot Air BalloonFest; it's the first event of this type at Memorial City, but we suspect it won't be the last. Nosh on grub from all the best food trucks, kick up your heels with some line dancing and DJ spins, and let the little ones jockey for a balloon animal and face-painting. The organizers are even offering balloon rides ($10 for adults and $5 for children under 12); it's the best way to see all the mature trees in this west Houston neighborhood, and a portion of the proceeds benefits Memorial Assistance Ministries. This one looks pretty cool, making it our pick for Monday entertainment, though there are tons of great ways to celebrate Independence Day in Houston and surrounding areas.

6 to 9 p.m. Monday. Memorial City Mall (near Dillard's parking lot), 303 Memorial City Way. For information, visit Free admission.

Holly Beretto, Sam Byrd and D.L. Groover 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