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Films, art, and music created by and celebrating people with disabilities will be on display during ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival.EXPAND
Films, art, and music created by and celebrating people with disabilities will be on display during ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival.
Photo by Mark Katz Photography

Best Bets This Weekend: Mardi Gras, Star Trek, and a Latinx Theater Festival

For those of you not gearing up for this Sunday’s XFL home game between the Houston Roughnecks and the St. Louis Battlehawks, there’s plenty else to do this weekend. Whether you like chamber music (Schumann or Schubert), want to have a good time at a festival (Mardi Gras returns to Galveston), or are a Trekkie (William Shatner’s coming to town), there’s something for you. Oh yeah, and it’s also Valentine’s Day.

Just this past Sunday, actor Zack Gottsagen made history at the Oscars as the first presenter with Down syndrome to grace the Academy Awards stage. And this Sunday, Gottsagen’s film, the Mark Twain-esque The Peanut Butter Falcon, with Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson, will open the ReelFilms part of the ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival, a city-wide celebration of the stories and contributions of people with disabilities. More than a dozen films – each representing disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, deafness, and autism – will screen between Sunday and February 19. In addition, the ReelArt arm of the festival will include a multi-sensory art exhibit by Dr. Stephanie A. Skolik, titled “Touch to See,” on display at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston through February 26, and an exhibit at The Center for Art and Photography at Celebration Company, with 30 Celebration Company artists along with featured artist Mara Clawson through April 17 (with an opening night reception on February 13). The festival itself will culminate with ReelMusic at White Oak Music Hall on February 20, an evening of live music from musicians with disabilities emceed by Ernie Manouse.

The ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival continues through February 20. Various times and locations. For more information, call 832-786-0361 or visit reelabilitieshouston.org. Admission is free to all film, music and art events, but registration is requested.

After last year's excellent programming, including performances of WET: A DACAmented Journey pictured here, Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival returns to Stages.
After last year's excellent programming, including performances of WET: A DACAmented Journey pictured here, Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival returns to Stages.
Photo by Youthana Yuos

Get ready to chip away at the walls that divide us when Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival returns for its third year. This year, the crown jewel of the Sin Muros programming is Quiara Alegría Hudes’s Water by the Spoonful, the second part of Hudes's Elliot Trilogy which is currently, impressively, being mounted across three theater company stages this winter. Theater folks will appreciate the festival’s theater teacher professional development day, playwriting workshop, and a town hall on working in Houston as a Latinx artist, and everyone can enjoy the Sin Muros Poetry Tent and plays (staged and readings). The Poetry Tent, hosted by the Latinx Literary Organization Tintero Projects, will include Inprint poetry buskers crafting on-demand poems (in English or Spanish); the oldest Latino literary publisher in the United States., Arte Publico Press, selling books; and live poetry readings from Reyes Ramirez, Liliana Martinez, and Natasha Carrizosa. The plays include a production of Cenicienta, a bilingual Cinderella-inspired play for young audiences; a workshop production of Ursula, or let yourself go with the wind by Frida Espinosa-Müller and set to live music; and readings of Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, Sometimes by Franky D. Gonzalez and Teen Dad by Adrienne Dawes. Read the Water By The Spoonful preview here.

Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival continues through February 16 at The Gordy, 800 Rosine. For more information, call 713-527-0123 or visit stageshouston.com. Free to $65.

The first Bumpin’ Bus Parade (a procession of more than 20 party buses) will be added to this year's Mardi Gras! Galveston festivities.
The first Bumpin’ Bus Parade (a procession of more than 20 party buses) will be added to this year's Mardi Gras! Galveston festivities.
Photo by Jesse Solis

It’s that time of year again – time to party hearty before Lent. The largest Mardi Gras celebration in Texas, and the third largest in the country, Mardi Gras! Galveston, returns to the island city’s Historic Strand District and Seawall Boulevard for its impressive 109th year. Plan for two weeks’ worth of revelry, including more than 30 concerts, almost two dozen parades, balcony parties and balls. Headlining those 30 concerts this year are Blue October and Bowling for Soup, with Los Herederos de Nuevo León and Bibi Bidi Banda on the bill for “Fiesta Gras,” a special bit of programming to honor Hispanic heritage now in its fourth year. Festival-goers can also expect the first Bumpin’ Bus Parade (that’s a procession of more than 20 party buses dressed – if you will – to the nines) on February 22 led by Grand Marshal Bun B before the largest parade, the Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade. “Electric Mardi Gras” will also return for electro fans everywhere. And don’t forget the beads. We won’t even try to guess how many pounds of beads will be there.

Mardi Gras! Galveston continues through February 25 in Galveston’s Mardi Gras Entertainment District. Times and locations vary. For more information, visit mardigrasgalveston.com. Prices vary.

If the name María Irene Fornés doesn’t immediately jump out at you, well, it’s a shame, because the playwright just so happened to author what is widely considered to be “a landmark of feminist theater.” The work in question is the Cuban-born American’s 1977 drama, Fefu and Her Friends, and if you are wondering why (outside of things like sexism), it’s because of Fornés off-off-Broadway inclinations. While “immersive” may be the buzzword now, the staging of Fefu and Her Friends, which is written to take place in four different rooms with the audience separated into four different groups to experience each before reconvening to finish out the play together, is not the sort of logistical mess most theater companies want to deal with. Catastrophic Theatre will stage the play here in Houston and, just so you know, the play itself is about a day spent with the titular Fefu and seven of her friends (yes, an all-female cast) in a 1935 New England setting. And, no spoilers, but it is quite the day.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at The MATCH, 3400 Main. For more information, call 713-521-4533 or visit catastrophictheatre.com. Pay what you can; suggested price $40.

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins musicians from the Houston Symphony for a special Valentine's Day program as part of the Schumann Festival.
Cellist Alisa Weilerstein joins musicians from the Houston Symphony for a special Valentine's Day program as part of the Schumann Festival.
Photo by Decca / Harald Hoffmann

It’s double the romance over at the Hobby Center for Valentine’s Day, courtesy of the Houston Symphony’s Schumann Festival. If you haven’t heard of the Schumann Festival, now in its second and last week, then you’ve been missing out on some of the greatest music of the Romantic era. Luckily, there’s a special Valentine’s Day offering of three romantic works – two by Robert Schumann (Three Romances for Oboe and Piano and his Piano Quartet) and one by his quite accomplished wife, Clara (Three Romances for Violin and Piano). The program will feature a small ensemble of Houston Symphony musicians (Jonathan Fischer, oboe; Scott Holshouser, piano; Sophia Silivos, violin; Yoonshin Song, violin; and Joan DerHovsepian, viola) with noted cellist Alisa Weilerstein joining in on the Piano Quartet. Also joining the Chamber Music with Alisa Weilerstein and Houston Symphony Musicians program are actors Jay Sullivan and Alicia Beard, who will read excerpts from Robert and Clara’s love letters. And remember, in terms of love stories, these two had to sue Clara’s father for permission to marry. Read a preview of the Schumann Festival here.

Schumann Festival: Chamber Music with Alisa Weilerstein and Houston Symphony Musicians is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. February 14 at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For more information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $35.

Elijah Alexander seen in the recent Alley Theatre production of The Winter's Tale.
Elijah Alexander seen in the recent Alley Theatre production of The Winter's Tale.
Photo by Lynn Lane

In a reversal of the usual order of events, playwright and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright set out to write a play about the historic Camp David Accords and had so much information that he then decided to go ahead and write a nonfiction book too. Admittedly, the subject matter is pretty compelling, as the Camp David Accords were a landmark series of agreements signed by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and brokered by then-President Jimmy Carter over 13 days of secret negotiations while sequestered away at the president’s country retreat in 1978. It was quite the coup considering that, to put it mildly, “Israel and Egypt did not make good neighbors,” and the two leaders couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other at times. If you’ve watched the news at all since 1978, you probably know that the Camp David Accords didn’t exactly bring peace to the Middle East, but the deal is no less historic, and audiences will get a fly-on-the-wall view when the Alley Theatre opens Wright’s behind-the-scenes dramatization, Camp David, this Friday. Read the preview here.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. Through March 15. For more information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $47 to $74.

The Transitory Sound and Movement Collective presents Follow, an interdisciplinary work created with dance and sound artists.EXPAND
The Transitory Sound and Movement Collective presents Follow, an interdisciplinary work created with dance and sound artists.
Photo by Lynn Lane

In case you’re a little rusty on your Jungian psychology, let us remind you that Carl Jung proposed four major archetypes: the self, the persona, the anima/animus, and the shadow. The shadow is essentially the dark side, the parts of the psyche that are hidden and repressed. (Though it should be noted that there’s some good in there, too, but that’s for another day.) In their upcoming piece, Follow, the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective will explore the relationship between the self, the shadow and more through the movement and dialogue of two dance artists, choreographer (and TSMC founding member) Jennifer Mabus and Seth McPhail, amidst an environment created by sound artists Lynn Lane and vocalist Federico De Michelis. Lane (TSMC founder and artistic director) and Michelis will create the immersive environment with video and live sound from the cigar box guitar, electronics, a kalimba, and more, promising for a unique, experiential evening that we’re betting will be like no other this weekend.

Follow is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. February 15 at Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett. For more information, visit tsmcollective.com. $10 (free for Aurora Picture Show members).

Nicholas Phan performs in Franz Schubert's The Miller's Daughter in November 2018.EXPAND
Nicholas Phan performs in Franz Schubert's The Miller's Daughter in November 2018.
Photo by BEND Productions

"Truly, the spark of divine genius resides in this Schubert!" once said Ludwig van Beethoven of Franz Schubert, and really, is there any higher praise a composer can receive? In terms of classical masters, that’s pretty darn good. This Saturday, Mercury will bring what is arguably Schubert’s greatest masterpiece, Winterreise (or The Winter’s Journey), to the stage with a bit of a twist. Instead of the usual vocalist on stage with a pianist, Mercury will be presenting the 24-song cycle with a new orchestration, while treating the staging as if it were an opera. Tenor Nicholas Phan will navigate the emotional intensity of the piece on a set with costumes, a dancer who will be taking on different roles, and projected subtitles of the German poetry by Wilhelm Müller. Mercury artistic director Antoine Plante emphasizes the production’s accessibility through its projections, noting that we no longer live in 19th-century Vienna, which can make the Winterreise hard to keep track of. “Without having to think about it, without having to look back to a sheet of paper, you really can experience this piece at his whole,” says Plante.

Winterreise is scheduled for 8 p.m. February 15 at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For more information, call 713-533-0080 or visit mercuryhouston.org. $10 to $62.

If you’re loving Star Trek: Discovery and Picard but you want more (or you’re just smarting from the seeming death of Tarantino’s Star Trek project), maybe you need to take it back to a classic, like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. And let’s not argue. Let’s just agree that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek movie ever made. (Half-hearted apologies to J.J. Abrams.) This Sunday, Houston-area Trekkies will have the opportunity to watch the film at Arena Theatre, followed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, taking the stage to talk about the film, the franchise, and we can only guess what else from his almost 70-year career. One thing you won’t get a lot of, though, is on-set stories about Shatner and Khan actor Ricardo Montalbán. Because Montalbán was simultaneously filming Fantasy Island, he filmed at different times from the rest of the cast, meaning he and Shatner never ran into each other on set. (Speaking of Fantasy Island, though, the film crew did find time to prank Montalbán by sticking his co-star Herve Villechaize’s face on a small robot.)

William Shatner and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Arena Theatre, 7326 Southwest Freeway. For more information, visit arenatheatre.net. $59 to $80.

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