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Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: B.L.K. Gurls ~n~ W.H.T. Boiz: Singin' 'bout Gawd! and More

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Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle never met -- although they attended the same university a year apart and were fans of each other's stories -- but thanks to playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, their work is joined in Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club. Co-director Mark Shanahan says the play opens with an unhappy Holmes, not sure what his place is anymore. It's not the usual 1880s setting, but after the turn of the 20th century with electric lights, movies and telephones. Someone, something, may be setting up the deaths of very prominent men, and in usual Holmes style, the fate of the Empire may be at stake. Shanahan says Stevenson (Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) wrote his short story trilogy "The Suicide Club" ten years before Doyle debuted "A Study in Scarlet," but the two are a good match. Both feature adventurous leaders with sidekicks who have military backgrounds.

See our interview with Suicide Club co-director Mark Shanahan.

Alley Company actor Todd Waite is back as Sherlock Holmes. "The great thing about Todd is having played the character, he really has an affinity for him," says Shanahan. "He's very protective to make sure the character is not made fun of, is not a superhero, is not a pompous fool; he fleshes out a person who is troubled by his genius -- and it's difficult to be Sherlock Holmes -- and he struggles with it." Shanahan points to the strength of the Holmes character in that while so many different versions of him have been done and he's been moved in time so often, the essential nature of the man, his intellect and his abiding strong friendship with Dr. John Watson still come through. "The character can survive all of that," he says.

7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Through June 23. 615 Texas. For information, call 713‑220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26 to $70.

Artists under the Nazi regime were a creative bunch. Not just because of the work they produced, but because of how they kept some of that work from being destroyed. The Nazis ruthlessly obliterated thousands of pieces they deemed socially unacceptable (some because of content, others because of style). Hundreds of artists hid their work; some hid it in plain sight. "Many pictures were placed next to works produced by patients in asylums," says Redbud Gallery's Gus Kopriva, explaining how a number of works avoided destruction.

Redbud hosts "Degenerate Art," an exhibition of art by painters banned by the Nazis, with an opening reception this Saturday. The show includes Das Windmädchen (The Wind Girls), a 1929 work by Jewish artist Moritz Melzer, who died in 1966. "His large monotype [depicts] the legend of a blue female spirit that was present in the Black Forest where I was born," says Kopriva, who holds some 180 more German expressionist graphic works in his private collection. Some of the 15 pieces displayed at Redbud return to Berlin in the fall for the 75th anniversary commemoration of Krystal Nacht, Kopriva adds.

There's an opening reception at 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. Regular gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Through June 30. Redbud Gallery, 303 E. 11th Street. For information, call 713-862-2532. Free.

Choreographer jhon r. stronks is joined by former student Jasmine Hearn for B.L.K. Gurls ~n~ W.H.T. Boiz: Singin' 'bout Gawd!, an evening-length program made up of solo and duet performances addressing spirituality and reconciliation the pair performs on Saturday. "A lot of the girls that I grew up around were African-American," stronks tells us. "I would go to church with them and sing in the choirs with them. We were just enjoying being young and small together." Race, sexuality and class issues eventually intruded as stronks and his friends grew up, he says, and they grew apart. When he saw the pieces Hearn was working on recently, he noticed strong elements of spirituality and reconciliation. It seemed the perfect opportunity to address his own feelings about the topics.

The program is set to what stronks calls "an anthropological mixtape," with samplings from music by Nancy Wilson, Tupac Shakur and Ekova along with original text by Hearn and stronks. Composer/bassist William von Reichbauer joins the pair for the performance.

Oh, and just in case you think you know what the title B.L.K. Gurls ~n~ W.H.T. Boiz means, ah, you're wrong. "My titles are always crazy," laughs stronks. "It is and it isn't literal." Yes, Hearn is a black woman and stronks is a white man, but the unconventionally spelled words are also acronyms. "B, l, k stands for 'boys love care' and w, h, t is for 'women honor tears,'" stronks confides.

7 p.m. Saturday. City Dance Studio, 1307 W. Clay. For information, call 713‑529‑6100 or visit thereinthesunlight.com. $15 to $20.

Area architects, designers, engineers and contractors gather their trowels, buckets and sunscreen as they get ready for the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects' 27th Annual AIA Sandcastle Competition on Saturday. Representatives from more than 80 of Houston's most prolific, distinguished and unabashedly gritty architectural/design firms take part in the contest, one of the largest amateur sandcastle build-offs in the world. The designs are inspired by political headlines, pop culture and local lore. A few years back, one particularly creative firm with an eye for whimsy made over the OctoMom as a sprawling octopus holding an offspring in each tentacle. As exciting as the competition is, there's even more fun to be had the day after the official competition, when the Galveston Bay water eventually reclaims the beach.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. East Beach, 1923 Boddeker Drive, Galveston. For information, call 888-425-4753 or visit galveston.com. Free for spectators.

The Houston Ballet's latest repertory program and our choice for


, is

Journey with the Masters

. The program includes works from three acclaimed choreographers; there's the company premieres of George Balanchine's

Ballet Imperial

and Jiri Kylian's


and the revival of Jerome Robbins's

The Concert


Ballet Imperial is the latest Balanchine work Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch has added to the company's repertoire, something he's done every year he's been here. "As a dancer and a choreographer, I grew to love Balanchine's work," Welch tells us. "It's filled with musicality. It doesn't matter if you're in the corps de ballet or a principal, you always feel like you're really dancing in his ballets."

See our 100 Creatives profile of Stanton Welch.

With all of the works available for Welch to choose from, it might seem unusual for him to select a full company piece, complete with tutus. "There are very few classical tutu ballets and yet they are by far our audience's favorite works. "There's a real beauty and elegance to them. I think when a dancer is in a tutu, they dance differently." He goes on to add jokingly, "If you have tutus onstage, you have a standing ovation almost [as soon] as the curtain goes up."

The company has performed Jerome Robbins's The Concert before. Welch says it's popular with both the audience and dancers, and a personal favorite of his. "A lot of choreographers have humor in their work, but it's rare to find something that actually makes you laugh out loud. The Concert certainly does. The thing about The Concert is that it makes fun of...how seriously we all take ourselves all the time. It's one of those ballets I saw as a child; I'm 44 now and I still laugh each time I see it. That's pretty impressive."

7:30 p.m. June 1, 7 and 8, 2 p.m. June 2, 8 and 9. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713‑523‑6300 or visit houstonballet.org. $19 to $180.

Nancy Ford and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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