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The Age of Aquarius lives when ROCO makes musical stops in the 1770s, 1870s, and 1970s.EXPAND
The Age of Aquarius lives when ROCO makes musical stops in the 1770s, 1870s, and 1970s.
Photo by Joel Luks

Best Bets This Weekend: Pepperland, The Band's Visit, Sticky Fingers and an Ice Festival

Don’t let the big game distract you – there’s plenty to do this weekend that doesn’t involve Super Bowl LIV. Whether you’re boycotting everything but the halftime show because the Texans didn’t make it or you just need a break from all things pigskin, this weekend offers much more, from unforgettable power ballads and Beatles-inspired dance to a celebration of stickers and a festival devoted to ice. Keep reading to see it all.

There’s a reason Professor Robert Greenberg has been dubbed the “Elvis of music history and appreciation.” Since 1993, when he recorded a series of 48 lectures for The Great Courses (the course in question being “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music”), he’s become a go-to source of information, sharing his vast musical knowledge on everything from the music of the Church and the Olympics to that of Looney Tunes cartoons and, well, Elvis. ROCO will bring him to town to share some of that knowledge tonight for ROCO Connections: Age of Aquarius. Though it’s true that polyester and paisley will be absent from the program, ROCO violinist Min-Jeong Koh, cellist Shino Hayashi and pianist Mei Rui will bring classical works from the '70s (1770s, 1870s and 1970s) alive from well-known masters (Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonín Dvorák) and some slightly less familiar names (Zdenek Fibich and Iván Eröd) at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's house museum, Rienzi. Arrive early for a chance to tour Rienzi and enjoy the pre-concert reception. Read the preview here.

ROCO Connections: Age of Aquarius is scheduled for January 30 at Rienzi – Museum of Fine Arts, 1406 Kirby. Reception at 6 p.m. followed by the concert at 7 p.m. For more information, call 713-665-2700 or visit roco.org. $15 to $45.

Janet Dacal and Sasson Gabay in The Band's Visit.
Janet Dacal and Sasson Gabay in The Band's Visit.
Photo by Evan Zimmerman

In The Band’s Visit, set in 1996, the Egyptian Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, decked in eye-catching powder blue uniforms, get on the wrong bus on their way to a performance at an Arab cultural center and end up in a sandy town in the middle of Israeli nowhere. Despite the set-up between the Jewish and Arab characters, The Hollywood Reporter describes the musical, with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and book by Itamar Moses, as “less a culture clash than a caress,” and it’s been resonating with audiences since its world premiere in late 2016. In 2018, The Band’s Visit took home ten Tony Awards, including trophies for all the biggies – Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Direction, Best Actor and Actress – and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. The musical is based on an equally decorated 2007 Israeli film of the same name; the film took home eight Ophir Awards (aka the Israeli Oscars). It may have had a real shot at taking home a little more hardware from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had it not been disqualified from the Best Foreign Language Film category for having too much English dialogue. Regardless, Houston audiences have the chance to see it this weekend courtesy of Broadway at the Hobby Center. Read the preview here and the review here.

The Band’s Visit continues at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. Through February 2. For more information, call 713-315-2525 or visit thehobbycenter.org or broadwayatthehobbycenter.com. $35 to $95.

Society for the Performing Arts brings the Beatles-inspired Pepperland, choreographed by Mark Morris, to Houston.EXPAND
Society for the Performing Arts brings the Beatles-inspired Pepperland, choreographed by Mark Morris, to Houston.
Photo by Robbie Jack

Rolling Stone called it “the most important rock & roll album ever made.” Ringo Starr called it the Fab Four’s “grandest endeavor” (even if he had so much free time during recording that he learned how to play chess). And in 2018 it was named Britain’s all-time favorite album. The Beatles’ 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, has been celebrated for everything from its innovative and era-defining sound to its iconic Who’s Who album cover, boasting the faces of five dozen celebrities, philosophers and gurus to pop singers and comedians. In honor of the record’s golden anniversary, the city of Liverpool commissioned dancemaker Mark Morris to create a work for the city’s Sgt. Pepper at 50 Festival. In Pepperland, set to an original score by Ethan Iverson played live by an ensemble, audience members can expect 17 dancers to perform to Iverson’s six Beatles-inspired compositions alongside the familiar strains of some classic Beatles tunes, including “A Day in the Life,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Within You Without You” and “Penny Lane” (which, like “Strawberry Fields,” was actually cut from the album).

Mark Morris Dance Group: Pepperland is scheduled for 8 p.m. January 30 and 31 at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For more information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $39 to $99.

Conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will lead the Houston Symphony in Beethoven 7.EXPAND
Conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will lead the Houston Symphony in Beethoven 7.
Photo by Marco Borggreve

Beethoven's Seventh Symphony premiered at a benefit for soldiers wounded by Napoleon’s army during the Battle of Hanau, and it met such an enthusiastic response that it was quickly performed three more times within ten weeks of its December 1813 debut. Now, admittedly, it was the premiere of Wellington’s Victory in the Battle of Vittoria, Opus 91, that really drove the crowd wild, but Beethoven knew that the 40-minute symphony was gold, describing it as his most “excellent.” The Houston Symphony will perform Beethoven's Seventh Symphony under conductor Dima Slobodeniouk on a program that also includes Jörg Widmann's Beethoven-inspired "Con brio" and pianist Kirill Gerstein taking on Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Totentanz (or “Dance of Death”). Each ticket to Beethoven 7 also includes a special treat 45 minutes before the concert, when four Houston Symphony musicians perform Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9, IV. Allegro molto. And note: The earliest of birds will have the opportunity to sit onstage for the ensemble performance.

Beethoven 7 is scheduled for 8 p.m. January 30 and February 1 and 2:30 p.m. February 2 at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For more information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $24 to $135.

The Sticky Fingers sticker art show returns to Insomnia Gallery this weekend.EXPAND
The Sticky Fingers sticker art show returns to Insomnia Gallery this weekend.
Photo by by Jordan Asinas

In and of itself, the sticker is simple. One side adhesive, the other not. The not side designed either for function, aesthetics, or both. For most of us, stickers have been a taken-for-granted, but integral part of our lives since a first grade teacher slapped a "Super Star" on your spelling test. Some say the Egyptians and then Europeans used early stickers in their markets, and some start the history of stickers with Sir Rowland Hill in 1839 (his contribution was actually a self-adhesive stamp). But it’s generally acknowledged that R. Stanton Avery (of label fame to anyone who’s ever worked in an office) invented what we know today as the sticker in the 1930s. Insomnia Gallery continues to build on this rich history with Sticky Fingers #5, a signature sticker art show returning after a one-year hiatus. The show is free, all ages are welcome (as well as dogs), food trucks will be on hand, and it will be sponsored by Eureka Heights Brewing Co.

Sticky Fingers #5 - Sticker Art Show is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. January 31 at Insomnia Gallery, 708 Telephone. For more information, call 713-242-8145 or visit theinsomniagallery.com. Free.

The Houston Grand Opera stages an all-new production of Aida.EXPAND
The Houston Grand Opera stages an all-new production of Aida.
Photo by Lynn Lane

Set in ancient Egypt, Aida, a true star-crossed love story that sees a captured princess fall in love with the capturing general set to the music of Giuseppe Verdi, has been captivating audiences since, well, it depends who you ask. Though Verdi was commissioned by the Khedive of Egypt, Isma’il Pasha, to pen Aida for the opening of the Khedivial Opera House and it was first performed there in December 1871, Verdi himself skipped it, unhappy that the performance was not open to the public. So for him, the real premiere was a little less than two months later, in 1872, in Milan. Regardless which date you go with, Aida has been a staple at opera houses since, and soprano Tamara Wilson has sung the lead in various productions for the last decade. Wilson, an HGO Studio alum, returns to the Houston Grand Opera to reprise the role for the second to last time, in an all-new production directed by Phelim McDermott. Wilson told the Houston Press, "It's not your typical Aida. If you’re expecting camels and all that stuff it’s not going to happen.” Read the preview here.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturday and Tuesday, and 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Wortham Theater Center, 500 Texas. Through February 16. For more information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $25 to $260.

Kedrick Brown and Haley Hussey in the A.D. Players' production of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.EXPAND
Kedrick Brown and Haley Hussey in the A.D. Players' production of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
Photo by Joey Watkins Photography

It's a classic film with a memorable poster, brightly colored with a full body shot of stars Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton, and two smaller squares containing the faces of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. In bold red, the title: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. And in lighter blue, the tagline: “A love story of today.” Though that “today” refers to 1967, the year the film premiered (which was just six months after the Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia), Holler If Ya Hear Me playwright Todd Kreidler saw an opportunity to retell William Rose’s story of a young white woman who surprises her liberal parents when she brings home her black fiancé for our today. A.D. Players will stage the piece that Kreidler told the Boston Globe touches on racial issues that “are still very much alive and relevant today,” adding that “[l]inguistically things have changed, and maybe our eyes have become more accustomed to racial difference, but I don’t think our minds and hearts are settled on it.”

Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at The George Theater, 5420 Westheimer. Through February 16. For more information, call 713-526-2721 or visit adplayers.org. $25 to $75.

Celine Dion returns to Houston for the first time since 2009 on her Courage World Tour.
Celine Dion returns to Houston for the first time since 2009 on her Courage World Tour.
Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Sure, "My Heart Will Go On," the massively popular love theme from the massively popular film Titanic, was massively overplayed. Even Kate Winslet, who certainly got bombarded with it even more than the average person, told MTV News eight years ago that it made her feel "like throwing up" when she heard it. (To be fair, though, Celine Dion actually hated it on first listen herself.) But enough time has passed and, more importantly, Dion is still packing a massively powerful set of pipes, to ensure that fans will be crowding into the Toyota Center when the Canadian power balladeer brings her Courage World Tour to Houston. This is Dion’s first North American tour in more than a decade, and her first return to the city since 2009. Dion’s got quite the catalogue to choose from, but there are certain hits sure to make the set list, such as “Because You Loved Me,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and yes, “My Heart Will Go On,” along with songs from her new album Courage.

Celine Dion is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m. February 1 at the Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For more information, call 866-446-8849 or visit toyotacenter.com. $59.50 to $249.50.

The very first Houston Ice Festival: Tour Around the World comes to Saint Arnold Brewing Company this weekend.
The very first Houston Ice Festival: Tour Around the World comes to Saint Arnold Brewing Company this weekend.
Photo by Rolando De La Garza)

Ice – turns out you can do more with it than just pop a cube of it in your drink to cool it down. In fact, the ice sculptors on hand at the city’s first annual Houston Ice Festival: Tour Around the World will prove that it’s a canvas waiting for the right artist. Ice sculptors from around the country will bust out their chisels and chainsaws with the goal of transforming a block of ice into a work of art that befits the festival’s “Tour Around the World” theme in a mere four hours. While they’re busy, festival-goers can certainly watch the action, or they can take in the work of other local artists (of all mediums), listen to music, watch dance performances, enjoy some arts and crafts, and get up close and personal with some interactive ice sculptures, like a custom-made throne so you can pretend you’re the winner of Game of Thrones. The festival, organized by ice sculptor extraordinaire Reverend Butter (Rolando De La Garza) and hosted by E8GHT Percent Ice Sculpting, promises plenty to keep Houstonians entertained, and the best thing about the Houston Ice Festival: It’s free and open to the public.

The Houston Ice Festival: Tour Around the World is scheduled for 11 a.m. February 1 at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons. For more information, visit houstonicefestival.com. Free.

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