10 Best Bets This Weekend in Houston: RenFest, Indian Film, Season Openers

What's your pleasure? Find it, and more, at the Texas Renaissance Festival.
What's your pleasure? Find it, and more, at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Photo by Mark Herman Reyes
Get ready for another round of throwback cosplay, giant turkey legs and now even full armored combat with the kickoff weekend of TexRenFest. This first weekend of October also brings season openers for Houston Pride Band, Opera in the Heights, Company OnStage and Mercury, while over at BBVA Stadium we're saying farewell to soccer legend DaMarcus Beasley. Rounding out the weekend is the Indian Film Festival, jazz great John Scofield, strolling through Bayou Bend, and lighting candles for peace.

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Strange and eerie occurrences transpire during The Haunting of Hill House.
If you're in the mood for a little scare, the SFX crew has been working overtime over at The Company OnStage, programming enough thrills and chills into their upcoming production of The Haunting of Hill House to have us all sleeping with the lights on. Artistic Director Stacy Bakri labels more than a few scenes, "That's a whole lotta nope," as we watch supernatural investigator Dr. Montague invite five guests to an abandoned house where strange and eerie occurrences run amok. They're also staging matinee performances of L. Robert Westeen's adaptation of Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow with the ill-fated Ichabod Crane, a headless horseman, and more than a few tricks.

Performances of The Haunting of Hill House are scheduled for October 4-26 at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. October 20 at The Company OnStage, Inc., on the campus of Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4930 West Bellfort For information, call 713-726-1219 or visit $15 to $18.

Performances of Sleepy Hollow are scheduled for October 5-26 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. October 13 at 4930 West Bellfort For information, call 713-726-1219 or visit $10.

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Buried Seeds screens during the Indian Film Festival of Houston.
Cinematography by Lourdes Severny, Stephen Cardone, Antonio Pacheco and Andrei Severny; film still courtesy of Asia Society Texas Center
Born with clubbed feet in northwestern India, young Vikas Khanna discovers a passion for cooking in his grandmother's kitchen. He later finds himself homeless in New York but, with years of struggle and hard work, eventually opens an Indian restaurant in Manhattan. The rest is history for this Michelin Star chef, and the documentary Buried Seeds: The Life Journey of Chef Vikas Khanna is the opener for this weekend's Indian Film Festival of Houston. Also on deck: Dhut, a short film about how karma will always out; The Last Color, a feature film about the first celebration of Holi after centuries of being banned; and Katran (The Uncalled), a short about how love lost doesn't have to stay that way. The weekend continues with the documentary, Daughters of the Polo God, where women found a way to become empowered through the sport; and the closing night feature film, Pataakha, a comedy-drama about two sisters who can't live with each other, but also can't do without.

The Indian Film Festival of Houston is scheduled for October 4-5 with screenings at 5:15 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. Friday, and 5:10 p.m., 5:25 p.m., and 7 p.m. Saturday at Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Boulevard. Related programming includes receptions and an awards presentation.  For information, call 713-496-9901 or visit or $15 to $50.

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The prolific jazz legend John Scofield makes his Da Camera debut.
Photo by Nicholas Suttle
Jazz legend John Scofield is perhaps best known as a band frontman, with more than 30 albums as a leader, but don't overlook the guitarist's unique style. He's gigged with Miles Davis, Joe Henderson and Chris Potter (among others), who counted on Scofield for his rhythm, timing and dynamics, as well as those trademark signature melodies. So after 40 years in the biz, it's hard to believe he's never set foot on the Da Camera stage, yet here we are. John Scofield's "Combo 66" makes its Da Camera debut this weekend and die-hard jazz fans will want to show up early for a pre-concert convo with Scofield and jazz educator Robert Morgan at 7:15 p.m.

John Scofield's "Combo 66" is scheduled for October 4 at 8 p.m. Friday at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $42.50 to $72.50.

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Houston Pride Band opens its 41st season with Game of Crowns Concert.
Photo by Monica Barahona/Monica's Foto Houston
We've all been in a deep funk now that Daenerys Targaryen is dead at the hand of Jon Snow, rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Yeah, yeah, we know she lost her way and needed to be offed, but that doesn't mean we like this post Game of Thrones era. Houston Pride Band feels our pain and has arranged for safe passage to the middle ages with a night of music from across the realms, including Wagner's "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral" and music from other royalty: Queen, Prince, King Kong and more. The Game of Crowns Concert is the season opener for these musicians that have served Houston's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community for more than 40 years.

A performance of Game of Crowns Concert is scheduled for October 4 at 8 p.m. Friday at MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit or $12.

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Opening weekend at TexRenFest includes the Oktoberfest costume contest and a bratwurst eating contest.
Photo by Mark Herman Reyes
Full armored combat makes its debut this season at the Texas Renaissance Festival, with fighters wearing medieval helmets and chain mail attacking each other with battle axes. What could go wrong? Opening weekend for TexRenFest also sees some new entertainment with the bawdy singing sister act, Off-Colored Treasures, new games like the Cliffhangers Challenge (a test of strength and endurance) and the DaVinci Arcade with science-based period games. This weekend's theme is Oktoberfest with celebrations of wurst and bier, but pretty much anything goes when it comes to period cosplay. Veterans know the drill, but newbies should know that the best way to get to the festival grounds is by overshooting it and approaching from the north: From I-45 North, exit 105 and travel west, or take Highway 290 to Highway 6 in Navasota, then Highway 105 to FM 1774 in Plantersville.

Texas Renaissance Festival is scheduled for October 5-December 1 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and November 29 at TexRenFest grounds, 21778 Farm to Market 1774, Todd Mission. For information, call 800-458-3435 or visit $11.95 (children ages 5-12) to $23.95 (general admission), plus upgrades for campgrounds, After Dark, preferred or valet parking, groups and weekend passes.

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Sopranos Elizabeth Baldwin (October 5, 11, 13) and Victoria Cannizzo (October 6, 12) sing the role of Tosca.
Photo by Pin Lim
Today, they would be the ultimate power couple: a celebrated singer involved in a passionate love affair with a talented painter. But set during a tumultuous time in Rome with Napoleon threatening to invade Italy – and rife with torture, murder and suicide — Puccini's Tosca takes a perilous turn. A proponent of the political revolution, the painter Mario Cavaradossi finds himself captured by the corrupt police chief, Baron Scarpia, who in turn wants to claim the fiery prima donna Floria Tosca for himself. Will evil win the day or will Tosca do the unthinkable for the sake of love, freedom and art? Opera in the Heights' season opener is performed in Italian with English surtitles.

Performances of Tosca are scheduled for October 5-13 at 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and October 13, and 2 p.m. October 6 at Opera in the Heights, 1703 Heights Boulevard. For information, call 713-861-5303 or visit $34.50 to $84.50.

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The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Sip & Stroll at Bayou Bend.
Photo by Rick Gardner, courtesy of MFAH
For one glorious late afternoon, we can all imagine how it must feel to have been born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Sip & Stroll at Bayou Bend lets us take a turn through 14 acres of exquisitely manicured gardens, glass of wine in hand, and then tour the former home of Houston civic leader and philanthropist Ima Hogg in what is now the MFAH house museum of American decorative arts and paintings. Savvy shoppers will want to check out the new made-in-Texas fall line from Son of a Sailor, with chic jewelry, leather wallets and more. Note: Most areas at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens are accessible for wheelchairs or those with limited mobility, but why not call ahead to make sure your visit is as comfortable as possible?

Sip & Stroll at Bayou Bend is scheduled for October 5 from 4-7 p..m. Saturday at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, 6003 Memorial. For information, call 713-639-7750 or visit $20.

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Antoine Plante conducts Mercury's season opener, Vivaldi's L'estro armonico.
Photo by BEND Productions
For the orphaned and abandoned girls at the Conservatorio dell' Ospedale della Pietà, music made their unprivileged lives just a little bit better. While they trained to excel on the violin, flute, organ, cello, bassoon or as vocalists, everybody looked forward to feast days and Sundays when violin teacher Antonio Vivaldi directed orchestra concerts that soon gained the notice of music lovers near and far. From that rich period we have L'Estro armonico, a set of twelve concertos published in 1711, with perhaps the most famous being Opus 3. Mercury kicks of its 2019-2020 season with Vivaldi's L'Estro armonico, as well as other selections from the Baroque era, transporting patrons back to 18th century Venice. Dig deeper with a pre-concert lecture at 7:15 p.m.

A performance of Vivaldi's L'Estro armonico is scheduled for October 5 at 8 p.m. Saturday at Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas Avenue. For information, call 713-533-0080 or visit $10 to $72.

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Come say farewell to DaMarcus Beasley, a veteran left back retiring in his 20th year of soccer.
It's safe to say that DaMarcus Beasley has left his mark on Houston. Joining the Dynamo in 2014 really put Houston on the map in the soccer world, and the veteran of four FIFA World Cups is getting ready to hang up the orange and retire. But not before this Sunday's Fan Appreciation and DaMarcus Beasley Sendoff presented by BBVA. Share your fave Beasley moments on FB and then come show some forever orange love when the Houston Dynamo closes the regular season against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy in this Western Conference clash.

Fan Appreciation and DaMarcus Beasley Sendoff presented by BBVA is scheduled for October 6 from 3-5 p.m. Sunday at BBVA Stadium, 2200 Texas Avenue. For information, call 713-276-4625 or visit $20 to $79.

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Light a candle and make a pledge for peace.
Photo by Nick de la Torre
With angry pundits on television, a protester getting shot in Hong Kong, and way too much gun violence in the world, it's time to remember Mahatma Gandhi's message that peace should be centered on nonviolence, individualism, soul force and forgiveness. The apostle had big dreams for world peace, a utopia where all nations could experience freedom, peace and happiness, and we shouldn't let that dream die. Come celebrate what would be his 150th birthday with a 5K Walk for Peace at Miller Outdoor Theatre, presented by the Mahatma Gandhi Library, and followed by a candle lighting ceremony in 1,000 Lights for Peace.

One Thousand Lights or Peace is scheduled for October 6 at 6 p.m. Sunday at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit Free.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney