There's nothing traditional about the holidays here in Houston. We've got a staging of A Christmas Carol that just might shock English author Charles Dickens, a Broadway-style musical tribute to Michael Jackson, a chance to wear that ugly Christmas sweater, and the last stop of the year for The Great Inflatable Race, a bounce-tastic obstacle course for the kid in all of us. We've also got the annual Art Crawl with looks at more than 150 artist spaces, including the doomed studio of David Adickes.
Even if political headlines are causing some grumbling, 'tis the season to leave the "bah humbugs" to Ebenezer Scrooge. We've got a new cold-hearted miser taking the stage in Alley Theatre's annual production of A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas. Interim Artistic Director James Black does double-duty as Scrooge while also directing the classic story about redemption and the spirit of the holidays. Jay Sullivan returns as the optimistic nephew Fred, as does Melissa Pritchett as the Spirit of Christmas Past, David Rainey as the Spirit of Christmas Present, Paul Hope as Fezziwig and Chris Hutchison as the overworked Bob Cratchit. The Alley first premiered this production in 1990 and recent performances have amped up the spooky, scary quotient. Still, it's appropriate for children as young as six, making this an excellent school field trip during the matinees.
7:30 p.m. November 16, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. November 17 and 18. Performances continue November 16-December 30, Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, 713-220-5700, alleytheatre.org, $37 to $85.
Holographic concerts are still more novelty than mainstream and the closest audiences can get to the stellar legends from years past is through tribute acts. Only the truly talented who can moon walk, move and dance like the gloved one are chosen for I AM KING – The Michael Jackson Experience. Miller Outdoor Theatre's stage will be electrified in this Friday night concert filled with live music, dancers from Broadway and Las Vegas, and MJ's double singing hits like “Bad,” "Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Man in the Mirror” and “Human Nature.”
8:30 p.m. November 16, Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive, 281-373-3386, milleroutdoortheatre.com/events/1176, free.
There's no shortage of ways to uglify a sweater. Add a carrot nose to a snowman, sew on a few awkwardly placed tassels, and press the button to make Rudolph's nose glow so bright. Bad attire is the main attraction at Fresh Arts annual "Ugly Sweater" themed Preview Party and Happy Hour, a ticketed event with open bar, light bites, live entertainment and first crack at shopping from more than 65 artists and makers, including paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, clothing and soap. Winter is finally here and the artful weekend continues Saturday and Sunday at the Winter Holiday Art Market 2018 with free entry, tax-free shopping, live music and even a selfie station, courtesy of the team at Station Theater.
6-10 p.m. November 16, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. November 17, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. November 18, Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter, 713-868-1839, winterholidayartmarket.com, free to $20.
Remember how it felt when you got too tall for the bouncy houses at the carnival? Well somebody figured out that we're never too old for inflatables, and The Great Inflatable Race is closing out the season with one more day of jump-tastic fun in Houston. Each race has between eight and 10 massive inflatables for bouncing, bumping, climbing and sliding on custom obstacles. The race isn't timed or judged, so everybody's a winner and there are always a few zany costumes, like the solo racer who dressed as a dill pickle or the family who wore matching rainbow tutus. Upgrade to a VIP race ticket for access to the Inflatable Village for post-race fun on the Big Baller, the Gladiator Joust or the Bungee Run.
9 a.m. November 17, Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West, thegreatinflatablerace.com/houston, $34.99 to $90.
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The wrecking ball hasn't yet come for David Adickes' studio on Nance — though it's looming on the horizon with the planned rerouting and expansion of I-45 downtown — but until that happens we can still check out some of his gigantic presidential heads at ARTCRAWLhouston2018. Ground zero is Mother Dog Studios, the oldest surviving warehouse in Houston, which also serves as headquarters for this daylong event that looks at 15 different artist warehouses downtown. Check out artist John Runnels current exhibition, "Body.Language," stop for a bite at Last Concert Cafe, then bike, skate, ride, hike and crawl your way to Hardy & Nance Studios, Michael Morton Architects, the original Silo Studios, Notsuoh, Harambee Art Gallery, JoMar Visions and more. Some studios also will be open November 18.
10 a.m.-9 p.m. November 17, Mother Dog Studios, 720 Walnut (additional locations are on map below), 713-229-9760, artcrawlhouston.com, free.