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GONZO247's mural gets us a touch-up this Sunday.
GONZO247's mural gets us a touch-up this Sunday.

10 Best Bets This Weekend in Houston: HUE Mural Festival, Music of Ray Charles

This week we're serving up another heaping helping of holiday lights and seasonal stage offerings, plus a chance to view rad new murals, a celebration of the music of Ray Charles, chainsawed ice sculptures, public art and so much more. Keep reading because half of these events are free.

Witness the transformation that takes place over five full days of mural painting as the 2019 HUE Mural Festival, a biennial explosion of colorful creativity, returns to H-Town. Participating artists choose their style and technique — graffiti, muralism, paintbrush work, airbrush, roller brush, wheat brush or stenciling — then have 190 hours to make it happen. Sleep is optional, coffee is not, and the festival lets visitors view the works in progress through daily guided or self-guided tours. This popular event, founded and produced by Mario Figueroa, Jr. (who goes by the artist name GONZO247), and presented and inspired by Houston First, concludes with a pop-up artist market at Saint Arnold Brewing Company this Saturday and a freshening up of GONZO247's Houston Is Inspired mural this Sunday (space is limited).

The 2019 Houston Urban Experience (HUE) Biennial is scheduled for November 20-24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at various locations. The HUE Biennial Artist Market is scheduled for November 23 from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons Avenue. HUE participatory refresh painting of the Houston is Inspired mural is November 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday near Market Square Park. For information, visit huemuralfestival.com. Free.

Nnenna Freelon, Take 6, and Clint Holmes perform "What'd I Say."
Nnenna Freelon, Take 6, and Clint Holmes perform "What'd I Say."
Photo by Jo-Ann Geffe

Is there any way to top the genius of American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer Ray Charles? The man who pioneered the genre of soul music during the 1950s is certainly a tough act to follow, but we can honor the legend with the talent of contemporary greats during this weekend's Georgia On My Mind: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles. Here's the winning formula: Bring in Emmy Award winner and Grammy® nominee Clint Holmes, six-time Grammy® nominated vocalist Nnenna Freelon, and three-time Grammy® Award winning saxophonist Tom Scott. Then to make sure this one's a slam dunk invite Gospel Music Hall of Famers Take 6, a group that has won the Grammy® Awards ten times, the Dove Awards ten times, the Soul Train Award, and was nominated twice for the NAACP Image Award. The set list hasn't been announced, but with a body of work that includes "Unchain My Heart," "Hit the Road Jack," "I Got A Woman," and "America the Beautiful," there's no messing around.

Georgia On My Mind: Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles is scheduled for November 22 from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park. For information, call visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.

Josh Morrison, Melissa Pritchett, David Rainey, and Shawn Hamilton in A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas.
Josh Morrison, Melissa Pritchett, David Rainey, and Shawn Hamilton in A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas.
Photo by Lynn Lane

Can a cold-hearted miser change his way of thinking? Absolutely, and through the words of Charles Dickens and the miracle of Alley Theatre's stage magic, this annual rendition of A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas leaves us full of seasonal joy and with the firm resolve to live a better life. Forget that "Bah! Humbug!" grumpiness and embrace the special effects, steampunk velocipede, period costumes, and dramatic reveal of the feral apparitions Want and Ignorance under the direction of James Black and with David Rainey reprising the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Read our preview and review, then chart your course for Victorian England on the Hubbard Theatre stage.

A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas continues through December 29 at 7:30 p.m. (November 22, and December 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27), 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. (November 23-24, 26, 29-30 and December 7, 14, 21-22 and 28), and 2:30 p.m. (December 1, 8 and 24) at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $28 to $181.

This season on stage is sugary sweet, but we can all use a little palate cleanser from time to time. If you're in the mood for something completely different, head over to The Catastrophic Theatre for Baby Screams Miracle where comedy is mined from the darkest of situations and we'll find ourselves laughing at all the wrong places. A family does what it should — hunkers down and shelters in place during a raging storm — but when their home is destroyed they flee to a nearby motel and witness extreme devastation along the route. Director Jeff Miller assures us that there are no decapitations onstage (phew), but does promise that the play is surreal, dark and funny. Read the preview here.

Baby Screams Miracle is scheduled for November 22-December 15 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays at MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit catastrophictheatre.com. Pay what you can; suggested price is $40.

Watch the ice chips fly at Discovery Green's Frostival.
Watch the ice chips fly at Discovery Green's Frostival.
Photo by Morris Malakoff, The CKP Group

Armed with nothing but chainsaws, gloves and their imaginations, "Arctic lumberjack" Reverend Butter and DLG Ice Factory are returning to Discovery Green in Frostival, and the chips will be flying as they slice, dice and sacrifice the ice. From blocks of ice to finished sculpture, their design remains under wraps until the big night. Plus, guests who make a contribution to Discovery Green Conservancy net a hand-carved stein made of ice plus a free brewski from Saint Arnold Brewing company (craft or root), or purchase your own ice stein and two pours for $25.

Frostival is scheduled for November 22 from 6-10 p.m. Friday at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/frostival. Free.

A view of what Paloma Sponsored by PNC Bank will look like after dusk.
A view of what Paloma Sponsored by PNC Bank will look like after dusk.
Rendering by Pitaya

By day Paloma will look like a flock of origami birds suspended from the live oak trees along the Brown Promenade. But as dusk begins to settle, the colorful aluminum sculptures will be illuminated by LED lights to create the illusion of flight, bringing another season of magic to Discovery Green. Conceived by the French creative studio Pitaya, this will be the first time the immersive art installation travels to Texas and Paloma Sponsored by PNC Bank is being paired with Houston-based artist and anthropologist Lina Dib's Here and Now, a multi-channel sound installation that draws on the restless sounds of Zugunruhe, or the compulsion to migrate. Mark your calendars for companion programming: Artist talk on November 21 at 7 p.m., and origami workshops from 1-3 p.m. Sundays from November 24-December 8.

Paloma Sponsored by PNC Bank and Here and Now are scheduled for November 22-February 24 from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit discoverygreen.com/paloma-pnc. Free.

You're already there, so why not head over to Avenida Plaza to view the giant kaleidoscope, Prismatica, that will be brightening our holiday season with every color of the rainbow. During the day the giant prisms will reflect off downtown Houston, but when night falls the prisms will project the full spectrum of light. Walk through and around the installation, rotate the prisms yourself, and compose your own color, light and sound installation. The brainchild behind this spectacle is RAW Design in collaboration with ATOMIC3, produced by Montreal-based Quartier des Spectacles Partnership. Merci!

Prismatica is scheduled for November 22 through January 3 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at Avenida Plaza, outside George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For information, visit avenidahouston.com/event/prismatica-at-avenida-houston/73555. Free.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights has eight themed areas.
Sugar Land Holiday Lights has eight themed areas.
Photo by Russell Wohldman

It's our annual holiday nightmare, pulling boxes of stringed lights out of storage only to find a tangled, garbled mess. So imagine the horror when the folks over at Constellation Field pull out more than three million lights for their annual holiday spectacular. Sugar Land Holiday Lights Sweetened by Imperial Sugar is an all hands on deck endeavor, but so worth it, with more than 100 different displays in a variety of themes that reflect all cultures, plus live and recorded music, and special events like this Sunday's Lights and Leashes, December 5th's sensory-friendly night, or December 8th's ugly sweater night. Sounds like it's time for a new holiday tradition. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase; food trucks and culinary treats will be on hand.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights Sweetened by Imperial Sugar is scheduled for November 22-January 5 from 6-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-240-4487 or visit sugarlandholidaylights.com. $12 to $16.

Claire Hart-Palumbo plays the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds
Claire Hart-Palumbo plays the housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds
Photo by Bryan Kaplun

There's no better time to celebrate dysfunction within the family than during the holidays, and nobody captures 18th century human foibles better than English novelist Jane Austen, especially in societal satires like Pride and Prejudice. Superfans will be glad to know that playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley) are back, poking more fun at the British gentry, this time with The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley. Sort of like Rashomon, this new play takes place at the very same Christmas holiday in 1815, but this time it's set downstairs where the reprehensible Mr. Wickham is hiding out from the high-minded Mr. Darcy. Claire Hart-Palumbo, who plays the neutral housekeeper Mrs. Reynolds, warns us not to expect just romp and laughter; this script has a more sardonic edge and even a bit of a bite. Read the preview here.

The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley is scheduled for November 23-December 22 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at Main Street Theater - Rice Village, 2540 Times Boulevard. For information call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $36 to $55.

The 27th Annual ArtCrawlHouston returns this Saturday.
The 27th Annual ArtCrawlHouston returns this Saturday.
Photo by Marco Torres

Every Houstonian's bucket list should include the popular but grungy art crawl, where art patrons can traipse through un-air-conditioned studio spaces and say "thank you" to the passionate artists who weather extreme conditions for the love of art. Home base is Mother Dog Studios, the oldest surviving warehouse in Houston, and headquarters for the 27th Annual ArtCrawlHouston 2019. Don't miss John Runnels' exhibition, "Mother.Nature.Human.Nature.Back.To.Nature" where you can question the artist about punctuation, his worldview, and what it takes to survive as an artist in Houston. More than 200 artists are participating from Hardy & Nance Studios, Michael Morton Architects, Elder Street, David Adickes sculpture studio, the original Silo Studios, Notsuoh, Harambee Art Gallery, JoMar Visions and more.

The 27th Annual ArtCrawlHouston 2019 is scheduled for November 23 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at locations north of downtown between San Jacinto, I-10 and McKee (see map). For information, call 713-229-9760 or visit artcrawlhouston.com. Free.

Experience Zoo Lights with the 21-and-up crowd on November 21 and January 9.
Experience Zoo Lights with the 21-and-up crowd on November 21 and January 9.
Photo by Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

It's beginning to look a lot like Zoo Lights and the lions, tigers and bears aren't quite sure what to make of it. But we sure do, and TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights is even bigger and brighter this time around. Stroll through a 100-foot-long Infinity Tunnel of Light presented by KSBJ, wander through the 4-D Enchanted Forest presented by King & Spalding LLP, see a giant Ice Dragon come to life, and experience faux snow in Winter Wonderland presented by Houston Methodist. Interact with Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra presented by H-E-B and make sure to take a selfie on the giant ice throne before having your photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Yummies include churros, s'mores and hot chocolate, oh my. Special 21-and-up events include Brew Lights on November 21 ($25 to $45) and the Ugly Sweater Night on January 9 ($25 to $35).

TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights is scheduled for November 23-January 12 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. daily (last entry at 9:30 p.m.) at the Houston Zoo, 6200 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-533-6500 or visit houstonzoo.org/events/zoo-lights. $16.15 to $23.55.

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