Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: "Day of the Dead Rock Stars," The Paul Taylor Dance Company, and More

There's a twist to this year's "Dead Flowers: Day of the Dead Rock Stars" exhibit, one of our picks for Friday. Printmaker and artist Carlos Hernandez, who launched the series seven years ago as a solo show, invited other artists to participate for the 2013 installment. Julia Curan, Tom Huck and Sean Starwars among others, contributed portraits. While each artist worked around the same theme -- homage to dead musicians using Day of the Dead-style art -- Hernandez says viewers should expect more than skulls and skeletons. "There's a really wide variety to the styles you'll see. It all ties together really well, but you can tell these are several different artists, each with their own style and [sensibility]." Hernandez has only one piece in the show, a portrait of Roy Orbison called El Roy.

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 7 p.m. Sundays. Through January 30. Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth. For information, call 713‑526‑9272 or visit the Cactus Music website. Free.

Parenthood is pretty simple, according to comedian/actor Thea Vidale, our second pick for Friday. "Teenagers come with this disease called 'entitlement,'" the former Houstonian quips onstage. "They think they're entitled to stuff. But I have an inoculation that you can buy from me. It's a wooden spoon and some ads for a job."

Armed with her trademark super-long ninja fingernails, Vidale first found audiences in the 1980s on Houston's far-flung comedy club stages such as FM 1960's Good Humor Bar and local comedy king Danny Martinez's I-45 South-based Comedy Showcase. New owners Rachel Wegscheid and Becky and Ken Reed recently converted the Comedy Showcase into the Joke Joint. They present Vidale for five shows this weekend, complete with those legendary nails and that unapologetic sass. Like many breakout comedians in the 1990s, Vidale starred in her own network television sitcom, appropriately titled Thea. Though Vidale did not enjoy the blistering success of female stand-up contemporaries of that era like Roseanne and Ellen, she nonetheless has become the queen of cameos, reliably popping up in small roles in vehicles ranging from Ugly Betty to the World Wrestling Federation's Raw.

8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 11460 Fuqua. For information, call 281-481-1188 or visit the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase website. $16.

San Antonio native Francisco Graciano, a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, says he's often asked to describe Taylor's style of choreography. "It can be a tricky question," Graciano tells us, "because what he's creating can range from something very simple such as walking across the stage to something that looks similar to but isn't exactly ballet." Taylor, universally recognized as the last living member of the group of choreographers who created American modern dance, is 83 years old . He continues to explore new territory with the dances he regularly creates, often resulting in significant differences in style from work to work. "People who come to our shows sometimes ask how many choreographers are there? They'll see three different dances and they all look completely different from each other. That speaks to [Taylor's] virtuosity as a choreographer."

For its one-night stop in Houston on Saturday, the first in some ten years, the Company is performing three well-known selections including Esplanade, a piece reportedly inspired when Taylor saw a girl running to catch a bus, and Airs, which features music by Handel.

8 p.m. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit the Society for the Performing Arts website. $25 to $85.

It's 1973 and a young couple on a date goes out to dinner, where an older man and woman talk them into following them home to meet the family. Well, the family is missing a few members, actually. Conrad died in WWII and sister Veronica passed away of tuberculosis. Trouble is, the remaining sibling, Cissie, is suffering from dementia and thinks Veronica is still alive. In Veronica's Room, another of our picks for Saturday, the caregivers, Maureen and John Mackey, want the young woman, Susan, who resembles Veronica, to dress up like her and tell her sister that she doesn't blame her for her death. What ensues is a psychological thriller, the little-performed third part of the Ira Levin trilogy that started with The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby and which Stages Repertory Theatre has selected as its season opener.

Director Josh Morrison (who directed last season's Wittenberg) acknowledges that this is a different type of play for Stages, one that he expects will "get some screams and gasps" from the audience. "There's twists and turns and a definite theatricality to the piece," he says. Another major theme of this play concerns the role of females in American society at the height of the women's liberation movement -- a recurring theme for Levin, who died in 2007, Morrison says.

Artist Robert Dampier displays his "steam punk horror art" out in the lobby in conjunction with the performances. Stages favorites Sally Edmundson and James Belcher star along with Teresa Zimmermann and Dwight Clark.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through November 3. 3201 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit the Stages Repertory Theatre website. $19 to $54.

Our pick for Sunday is the Texas Renaissance Festival is the largest, most successful celebration of its kind in the nation, and with good reason according to longtime cast member Niki Marshal. "TRF has endured because it provides the public with a feasible escape," she says. "When you walk through the gates, you're instantly transported to another world...another time and place. This is a place where anything seems possible. These days, we need that kind of escape."

As tradition dictates, the fair opens with Oktoberfest (October 12 and 13), a celebration of Bavarian food, music and dance that will leave you full of beer and brats while you polka till you fall over. The festival continues with 1001 Dreams (October 19 and 20), All Hallows Eve (October 26 and 27), Pirate Adventure (November 2 and 3), Roman Bacchanal (November 9 and 10), Barbarian Invasion (November 16 and 17), Highland Fling (November 23 and 24) and a three-day Celtic Christmas (November 29 and 30 and December 1).

9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Through December 1. Texas Renaissance Festival Fairgrounds, 21778 FM 1774. For information, call 800-458-3435 or visit the Texas Renaissance Festival website. $6 to $26.

Nancy Ford, Jef with One F and Margaret Downing contributed to this post.

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