It's a challenge for curatorial associate Nancy O'Connor to identify a favorite must-see inclusion in the "Graphic Design: Now in Production" exhibit opening at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on Friday. The major international exhibition exploring some of the "most vibrant graphic design work produced since 2000" is categorized into no fewer than eight separate entities, of sorts, including immediately recognizable posters; books; magazines; identity and branding; information graphics; typography and typefaces; and film and television titles graphics.
One standout is Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio's Brand New: Before and After. "[It] shows the redsigns of corporate logos and allows the veiwer to vote which iteration (before or after redesign) he or she likes better," says O'Connor. "Additionally, Jurg Lehni and Alex Rich's Empty Words allows the viewer to create his or her own die-cut poster in the exhibition." Perhaps the exhibit's most alarming take on found art is Anthony Burrill's screen print poster with the words "Oil & Water Do Not Mix," "made using oil spilled in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill as its ink," O'Connor grimly explains.
There's an opening reception 7 to 9 p.m. on July 19. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Through September 29. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit camh.org. Free.
See a modern classic -- the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize award-winning story of 17 dancers auditioning for an available eight spots in a chorus line, woven together with music by Marvin Hamlisch on Friday. Theatre Under the Stars is bringing A Chorus Line back to Houston, this time to Miller Outdoor Theatre (we don't envy those hardworking dancers pounding the boards in the July heat). Martin Harvey has a lead role, playing Zach, the demanding director who asks them not only to dance for him, but to divulge some of their innermost secrets as a way of winnowing them down.He performs in his native British accent (as he did in a New Jersey production) -- although he can do American wehn other productions call for that.
Saying the story was set at a time when dancers were ''at the bottom of the pile,'' Harvey says one of the great legacies of A Chorus Line is what it did for so many dancers. ''I don't know how many thousands and thousands of dancers have had jobs because of A Chorus Line,'' he says. Some of the language has been changed to remove '70s pop culture references, but the songs -- ''One,'' ''I Hope I Get It,'' ''What I Did for Love'' -- remain. Mitzi Hamilton, the model for the Val character in the original Michael Bennett production and who also performed in that role in London and on Broadway, is directing and choreographing. (Harvey got his New Jersey role after auditioning for her there.)
See who gets the part at 8:15 p.m. daily. Through July 21. 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281-373-3386 or visit tuts.com. Free.
For horror-film fans, good anthologies are few and far between. Luckily, one of the best of that genre, V/H/S 2, one of our picks for Saturday, is making its Houston debut at the River Oaks. A sequel, V/H/S 2 follows the formula of the hit first film, in which a group unwittingly stumbles across a collection of horrifying found footage, only to become involved with horror themselves. In this case, two young private investigators end up watching a series of supposedly cursed tapes. The menacing reality of the found footage aspect of the shorts is especially unnerving. They include one by Adam Wingard that features a man who has his eyesight restored through a cochlear-implant camera that now allows him to see ghosts ... ghosts that are becoming more and more dangerous as he notices them. Even more terrifying is Eduardo Sanchez's short exploring life (death?) from a zombie's viewpoint.
11:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-866-8881 or visit landmarktheatres.com. $10.
Bayou City Theatrics closes its inaugural season with the "red-hot summer musical" The Wild Party by Andrew Lippa, one of our picks for Saturday. "Through the musical handles some very intense subject matter and has one of the more challenging modern musical theater scores we've worked on, it is truly a beautiful work of art and just the kind of 'risk' we like to take!" says BCT Artistic Director Colton Berry, whom we first met through his work at Radio City Music Theatre and the glitzy F Bar.
Characters for The Wild Party include a cocaine-fueled lush, a brash lesbian with a gold, a not-so-innocent minor and a foul-mouthed hooker - all our favorite elements for a wild party or family Thanksgiving dinner. Berry's personal favorite song in the show is "Poor Child," which lands a little past the center of the first act. "It deeply explores the four center of the first act. "It deeply explores the four central characters' thoughts, desires and fears with complex counterparts and melodies," he says. "All of these intricate pieces line up perfectly for an explosive vocal climax - it is a true powerhouse number!"
Join the Party at 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Through July 27. Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston St. For information, call 713-529-1819 or visit bayoucitytheatrics.com. $26.
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Welcome to Houston, specifically to Houston in July, Aries Spears, our suggestion for Sunday. Asked about the heat, Spears (as one of his many colorful comedic characters) replies, "It is so hot, girl, I be peeing steam!" Yeah, we can relate. Onstage, Spears, a seven-year veterans of FOX TV's MAD TV, spins from his over-the-top alter egos such as Belma Buttons to his signature dead-on impressions.
Maybe he'll discuss the potential sale of basketball star and former Houston Rockets Charles Barkley; "I love Charles Barkley," Spears riffed in a recent concert, "but whatever is going in Charles' mind don't match what is coming out of his mouth. It's like his mind and mouth are playing Marco Polo. They're not on the same court."
8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Improv Houston, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $22 to $32.
Margaret Downing, Jef with One F and Nancy Ford contributed to this post.