For stand-up and former Deer Park resident Ron White, comedy is a trial of endurance. "Expect to laugh real hard," he says. "Not just chuckle, but gut laugh for an hour. I can't stand it any other way." Houston audiences ready for the challenge can catch the Blue Collar Comedy alum working the Bayou Music Center on Friday. Houston has been kind to White, who claims to have "worked every comedy club in the whole damn city. [Houston's got] a pretty big spectrum of people. There's doctors and oil workers. [Last time I was here] somebody said it looked like the crowd had just walked off a very nice municipal golf course."
Fans will be treated to the work of a seasoned pro when White delivers his saucy take on family and the working-class lifestyle. "I let jokes ripen on the vine. Folks wanna see it live, 'cause that's the best presentation of it," he says. White, a lifelong comedy fan, seemed predestined to join his nightclub favorites: Newhart, Carlin, Cosby, Pryor, Flip Wilson. "My uncle was a preacher, which is exactly where I developed my cadence." Add to that an early case of ADD, and, as White puts it, "Those things are good for comedy but not for life."
All things considered, White hopes his February visit to Houston will be better than his last. "[My first show] this lady falls from a 28-foot balcony and lands on another lady...while I'm onstage! Then the next show, the same night, a guy dies of a heart attack! It was a pretty awkward thing," White recounts, "but I killed!"\
7 and 10 p.m. 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600 or visit bayoumusiccenter.com. $48.75 to $67.75
Olivia Chacon, artistic director of A'lante Flamenco, says she got the idea for the group's current production, Prophecies: A Flamenco Re-imagining of Gibran's The Prophet, after reading the famous book. "I've been obsessed with flamenco for a long time, and almost everything I read or see, I tend to think of in flamenco terms," she tells us. "When I first read Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, which was over ten years ago, I thought, 'This would make a great flamenco story.'"
One of our choices for Saturday, the two-act show loosely follows the structure of the book, but adds a twist. "The idea is that there's a prophet that's not in his own land but has been visiting in another land and finally gets the chance to go home. The people in the land that he's visiting say, 'Wait before you go; we have some questions for you. Give us your wisdom on love and how we should pray.' In the book, there are 26 different topics; we don't go through that many, but we go through quite a few. A lot of it's based on eternal things like love and prayer, but then we also decided to make it a little unconventional in the sense of adding a take on technology and modern life. Gibran's work was published in 1923, and we thought if the prophet can predict the future, what if we could ask him his opinion on things people deal with now, like cell phones and Facebook and things like that?"
8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Talento Bilingüe de Houston, 333 South Jensen. For information, visit 713-222-1213 or visit alanteflamenco.com. $25.
Playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, was stabbed to death at the age of 29, leaving behind a number of plays -- Doctor Faustus, Tamburlaine and The Jew of Malta, among others -- that were acclaimed in their time and are admired even today.
The Classical Theatre Company is currently presenting Doctor Faustus, the tale of a doctor who sells his soul to the Devil and another of our choices for Saturday. You have one more week to catch the positively reviewed show before it closes.
John Johnston, artistic director for Classical Theatre Company, says, "The decision to go with Doctor Faustus was an easy one. It's one of the iconic stories not just from dramatic literature, but literature at large. It's an age-old tale of selling something precious to gain your utmost desires.
It's also been vastly under-produced locally. In fact, we've been unable to find any record of it being produced in Houston whatsoever." The work is directed by Philip Hays, and promises to be powerful and dark, as dark as...well, it does feature Lucifer and Mephistopheles!
8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through February 16. The Barn (formerly Barnevelder Arts Complex), 2201 Preston. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $20.
Stephen Colbert and Paul Giamatti once explained Life magazine to a Twitter-fed audience this way: Giamatti said it was shiny and made of paper. Colbert said it was like an iPad that you could burn. Life magazine was famous for its provocative photographs, some of which are seen in the exhibit "Made for Magazines: Iconic 20th Century Photographs," which opens on Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
"Made for Magazines" explores images in a historical and contemporary context. "[The exhibit talks] about how these images that were made for magazines would today be on the Internet," says Anne Pappas, MFAH photography curator. "There's a photograph of a family in Harlem, and [when it ran] it raised enough money to buy that family a home. We relate that to Kickstarter today. We talk about how you had to wait a week for the next Life magazine to come out, as opposed to Twitter's instant output today."
Several photos stand out for Pappas, including Herb Ritts's shot of track and field star and Olympic gold medal winner Jackie Joyner-Kersee. "It's just of her legs," says Pappas, "which is literally what she ran on. They're so in tune, they're so forceful." The image does not show Joyner-Kersee's face, a point that Pappas thinks enhances the power of the photograph. "Photographers make choices, and that's what we want people to think about, what makes this picture [powerful] and why do I respond to it," she says.
12:15 to 7 p.m. Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Through May 4. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. Free with regular paid admission.
One is near the end of his life, a world-renowned psychoanalyst who is physically ailing but resolute in his atheism. The other is a young Oxford don who has yet to become known for his writing, but he's committed himself to Christianity. In Freud's Last Session, one of our choices for Sunday, playwright Mark St. Germain constructs a meeting between Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis (who would later write The Chronicles of Narnia) and places it on the same day that England decides to enter World War II, with all the inherent tension that accompanied that moment.
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"These are two of the smartest minds of the 20th century," says Tyler Marchant, who directed the Alley Theatre production on the smaller Neuhaus stage (and who directed the original production in Massachusetts).
Rather than a dry point-counterpoint, St. Germain says, "I tried to present them as human beings and not lecturers, and so there's a lot of humor in the play. As an adult you've made your decisions, but this play asks you to dive back in." When the play first ran, says St. Germain, there were next to no expectations for it, but it ended up scoring the longest production run ever for the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, before it moved to off-Broadway for 800 performances. "From the very beginning, we had crowds," St. Germain adds.
7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through February 23. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $75.