When Horse Head Theatre Company was scheduling its new season, local playwright (and frequent Houston Press contributor) Abby Koenig dusted off an idea that first came to her ten years ago, and she finished a script in three weeks. The resulting play, a black comedy entitled Your Family Sucks, has its world premiere this month at War'hous Visual Arts Studios and our recommendation for Friday. The story follows a young woman who's obsessed with the world's biggest Hebrew-pop star. In order to get him to notice her, she gets her family on his favorite game show (think a truly dysfunctional Family Feud). The trouble is that her family is a little screwy. Her dad is an alcoholic, her mom is bipolar, her big sister is sexually confused and she herself is, well, she's not only obsessively in love with someone she's never met, she's bulimic. And yes, it's supposed to be funny. "That's the whole thing; because the dad is an alcoholic and the mom is bipolar, you think, 'That's not funny.' But life is so sad that it has to be funny sometimes," Koenig tells us.
See Your Family Sucks at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Monday, December 10. Through December 22. 4715 Main. For information, visit the Horse Head Theatre website or call 713-364-4482 $20.
On Friday, get a sneak peek at soprano Lauren Snouffer, scheduled to appear in Houston Grand Opera's upcoming Show Boat, when she performs in A Baroque Christmaswith Mercury in a joyful concert of seasonal treasures from the 17th and 18th century repertoire. The program includes Scarlatti's Christmas Cantata, Corrette's Noel Symphony No. 4 and Handel's Gloria. Here's some trivia for classical music fans: Handel's Gloria was probably composed in 1706, but wasn't performed until 2001 after it was found in a collection of his arias in the Royal Academy of Music's library in London. The piece has been called "fresh, exuberant and a little wild in places, but unmistakably Handel." Sounds like the perfect Mercury piece.
Mercury performs A Baroque Christmas at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the Mercury Baroque website or call 713-533-0080. $10 to $61.
The collection of short plays in NSFW: The Office Plays, our pick for Friday, tackles different aspects of cubicle life...most of which would make Dilbert blush. Leighza Walker of Big Head Productions, which is producing NSFW, notes that more than 100 play submissions were received from around the country for consideration. That was whittled down to just 11 for staging. "We wanted plays that were out of the norm and extreme, something gritty. We're not producing Neil Simon here," Walker tells us. Plots include an office shooting, a secret office romance, four angels given the directive to "work" on creating the universe and -- Walker's favorite -- one in which a woman, unable to quit her job, begins disrobing in an effort to get fired.
See NSFW: The Office Plays at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as select Wednesdays and Mondays. Through December 22. Obsidian Art Space, 3522 White Oak. For information, visit the Obsidian Art Space website or call 832-889-7837 $10 to $15.
Music by Bach, Danny Elfman, Nina Simone and Shakira accompanies the works performed in the annual Emerging Choreographers Showcase on Friday and Saturday. Students from the University of Houston present original works, acting not only as choreographers and performers but often as lighting and set designers as well. In Alexandra Di Nunzio's Cinq Cygnes Blancs, a quintet of dancers perform to Bach's Suite No. 1. In Lauren Burke and Meghan Ruger's Mine, the pair perform to "Destruction," co-written by Danny Elfman. Later in the program, in Erica Henderson's S.I.R., a septet moves to "House of the Rising Sun" by Nina Simone while in Nadia Dosal's Agape, a sextet of dancers perform to Shakira's "Los Dos." The students work with local dancemakers and UH School of Theatre & Dance faculty Karen Stokes, Becky Valls, Toni Valle, Jonathan Middents and Teresa Chapman.
Catch the Emerging Choreographers Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, or visit the University of Houston website or call 713-743-2929. $10 to $12.
As a group, the Beatles always had a warm spot in their randy Liverpudlian hearts for Christmas. Each year, Paul, John, George and Ringo would record a special holiday message filled with goofy antics for fan club members. One Apple Records office party featured John and Yoko as Father and Mother Christmas. The Music Box Theater combines Christmas tunes, Beatles music and fun comedy sketches (featuring special guest John Gremillion) in the ensemble show The White Christmas Album: A Beatles Holiday, our pick for Saturday. Hear the talented troupe perform "The Christmas Song" and "I Saw Her Standing There," along with a "Hey Jude"/"All You Need Is Love" medley and a "Drummer Boy"/"Come Together" mash-up.
Come together at The White Christmas Album: A Beatles Holiday at 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and select Thursdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through December 29. Music Box Theatre, 2623 Colquitt. For information, visit the Music Box Theater website or call 713-522-7722. $25 to $35.
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The YMCA's annual Jingle Bell Run is taking place that Sunday afternoon starting at 1 p.m., but it's not just your typical 5 or 10k. The Jingle Bell Run is a highlight of the holiday season in which more than 5,000 runners, volunteers, sponsors, individuals, children and families -- at all fitness levels and most in holiday costumes -- run through the streest of downtown to benefit the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA's Partners Campaign, which provides scholarship dollars for people in need of YMCA programs.
And for the first time ever, this year's Jingle Bell Run will feature a food truck village for those in the races and for those coming out to watch, cheer on and support the runners. The Eating...Our Words Food Truck Village will be serving lunch and other healthy treats all afternoon long, with goodies from the following trucks: Monster PB&J, Zeapod Cakery, Kay's Kitchen, Texas Juice Girl and Bare Bowls.
The Jingle Bell Run will begin and finish in front of the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA at 808 Pease. Complimentary parking is available in the KBR Garage (500 Jefferson entrance on Louisiana) and the 1600 Smith Garage (entrance on Bell). For information, visit the event's website. $20 to $45 for runners, free for spectators.
Bob Ruggiero and Katherine Shilcutt contributed to this post.