The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Witches, Nerd-lesque & Music

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All we have to say about the body painting by RCC Creations is that it's freaking awesome. KiKi Maroon's Comic Strip mixes in a little burlesque, comic book characters and comedians for one bawdy Saturday night. The themes continue all weekend with comedian Jim Gaffigan headlining in The Woodlands, and bewitching entertainment with lighthearted one-act operas at The MATCH and our favorite gravity-defying musical, Wicked, The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. Rounding out the weekend is one of our favorite free events, a day-long celebration of all types of music, courtesy of the Houston Symphony.

Operativo Houston, following its opening salvo in April, is back again with Witches. Riches. Opera., a swift-moving program of two one-act operas programmed by Brian Yeakley, founder and artistic director of the chamber music company. He says that, when starting the process of thinking about the show, he asked himself, “‘What can I present that will have the most impact on new audiences without completely turning off a normal classical music audience?’ The biggest thing I could think of was the timing,” says Yeakley. “Many modern audiences haven’t responded well to sitting for longer than a movie length, so I thought I should do a couple of short one-acts.” Eventually, the tenor landed on Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Actaeon, which Yeakley modified a bit by changing everything to English and adding arias from Bach’s Hunting Cantata and Rita by Gaetano Donizetti. “Rita deals with some ridiculously awkward themes of non-traditional as well as traditional spousal abuse, [but] the overall show can be staged to be a much more lighthearted show than the description implies,” says Yeakley. This one looks interesting enough to make it our pick for Friday night entertainment.

7:30 p.m. Friday. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 316-259-4279 or visit operativohouston.com. $10 to $17. 

This is one of our favorite annual events, folks, putting it on our list for Saturday fun. The Houston Symphony's 4th Annual Free Day of Music features a full day of tunes, dancing lessons, food trucks and so much more. Everything kicks off at noon on the outside patio stage with Mariachi Autlán, followed by Baby Sonic Boom at 2 p.m., Phap Luan at 3:15 p.m., the St. Thomas Episcopal Pipe Band at 5 p.m., and Joy of Djembe Drumming at 6:30 p.m. In the front lobby, enjoy the North America Youth Chinese Orchestra at 12:30 p.m., Haeun Moon at 2:45 p.m., the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston at 5:30 p.m., and the Houston Citywide Grassroots Chorus at 7 p.m. Highlights on the main stage include a family concert at 1 p.m. (for children and parents), the Conrad Johnson Orchestra at 4 p.m., and the Houston Symphony at 7:30 p.m. (with well-known classics). On the rear lobby stage, look for the Houston Blues Museum at 2 p.m., the Piping Rock Singers at 3:30 p.m., the Indian Music Society at 5 p.m., and the Live Out Loud Band at 6 p.m. There's plenty to do outside on Jones Plaza, where a full slate of DJs is keeping the party moving with spins from FM 97.9 The Box and FM Hot 95.6 up until 7 p.m.

Noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, and Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. Free.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a short list of interests: fatherhood, family and food. Despite this, Gaffigan has become one of the most successful and enjoyable stand-ups touring today, and the writer-performer is headed to The Woodlands for a solo appearance. Gaffigan, who currently stars in his own self-titled TV Land series, has nearly three decades of comedy experience under his belt and has become instantly recognizable for his trademark musings on Hot Pockets and his high-pitched third-person audience asides. His 2006 Comedy Central special Beyond the Pale propelled Gaffigan to stand-up mainstay and landed him work on Flight of the Conchords and That ’70s Show and in a recurring animated bit with host Conan O’Brien on Late Night. Since then, Gaffigan has released three more specials: King Baby (2009), Mr. Universe (2012) and Obsessed (2014); written two memoirs, titled Dad Is Fat and Food: A Love Story; scored regular visits on CBS Sunday Morning (which garnered him an Emmy Award); and appeared in films (17 Again, Staten Island Summer, Experimenter and The Bleeder). While Gaffigan will bring a new hour of comedy to the 16,000-seater, based on the funny man’s most likely topic of interest, you may want to pack some munchies this Saturday night (limited to one gallon Ziploc bag per person, house rules).

8 p.m. Saturday. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins, The Woodlands. For information, call 281-363-3300 or visit woodlandscenter.org. $25 to $75. 

Comic book heroines are busty and powerful, have amazing blue-black hair, and really know how to kick some crimefighting a**. Now KiKi Maroon is shaking up the local burlesque scene with a brand-new show, KiKi Maroon’s Comic Strip, mixing standup comedy and nerd-lesque with some good old-fashioned bump and grind. Her secret weapon? Rudy Campos of RCC Creations, master of makeup effects, body painting, props and costuming, is turning Blaze the Red Rose of Texas into Lady Death. “She looks like she walks right out of the comic book. It is so beautiful, so surreal,” says Maroon. “He will set up a booth at the event, doing live painting, so people can see how intense it is.” Offering comedy and impromptu commentary between acts are Dan St. Germain, Tim Convy and Sam Demaris. “I’ve got Master Splinter, Lady Death, Lord Voldemort, Final Fantasy, [twerking] Pokémon and Adventure Time,” says Maroon, who is setting up a photo area and is encouraging cosplay for audience members, putting this event on our list of Saturday night adult entertainment. “We are going to have a costume contest to give away shirts and prints and all kinds of cool stuff.”

8 p.m. Saturday. Warehouse Live, 813 Saint Emanuel. For information, call 713-225-5483 or visit kikimaroon.com. $20 to $50. 

The golden one and her green girlfriend, Elphaba, are back with the national tour of Wicked, The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, making another swoop through Houston courtesy of Broadway at the Hobby. Amanda Jane Cooper, who was the first-ever Glinda in the 2011 national tour, has picked up her wand again and rejoined the tour after guest appearances on Glee and CSI. The Carnegie Mellon graduate says she’s been approached by all kinds of people fascinated by the story about being different, kindness and friendship. Not to mention the great music by composer Stephen Schwartz in songs like “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and Glinda’s crescendo song, “For Good.” “It’s set in a fantasy world, but all of their conflicts and all of their triumphs are very real,” Cooper says. “It’s really a universally truthful, timeless story.” Wicked has become a perennial classic, making it our recommendation for Sunday afternoon or evening.

2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 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 August 14. 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org. $40 to $180. 

Margaret Downing, Steve Jansen and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.

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