Top Five Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Wicked, Tamarie Cooper's Summer Musical, Lawndale Art Center's "Big Show," Eric Red and More

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You have plenty of time to see Wicked, (the show's in town for a month) but sooner's better than later; we suggest Friday.

Kathy Fitzgerald, with several Broadway shows to her credit, says she has made a career of playing funny women. When she was offered the role of Madame Morrible in Wicked on Broadway, it gave her the first chance "to play someone really horrible. She is horrible, but somebody has to be the nemesis and somebody the antagonist." Since spending a year and a half in the role, Fitzgerald has been busy with other projects (she guested on three episodes of the TV show Smash) but now she's on her way to Houston in a national touring company (her first time to tour) of the blockbuster Tony- and Grammy- award winning tale of two witches - the green Elphaba and the pretty Glinda who provide the "real" story of the witches of Oz. "Wicked has got this massive appeal with these two girls and their friendship. And the music (by Stephen Schwartz) is crazy," Fitzgerald says. Fitzgerald won't be the only Broadway vet on the Hobby Center stage. John Hillner (La Cage Aux Folles, Mamma Mia!, Footloose and television's Person of Interest) will play Dr. Dillamond and Jenny Fellner will reprise her Broadway role of Nessarose.

In its nine years, Wicked has brought in more than $2.9 billion in ticket sales and been seen by 36 million people (more than a couple of whom were repeat attendees). Its strength can be seen in its month-long Houston run hosted by Gexa Energy Broadway.

See Wicked at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, and 2 p.m. July 11. Through August 11. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 800-982-2787 or visit Broadway Across America's website. $44 to $191.40.

It's certainly true that Tamarie Cooper is older than she was back in 1996, when she first began this egocentric yet irresistible musical avant garde annual endeavor that's become essential to Houston summer theatrics. Up this summer and one of our picks for Friday: The world premiere of Tamarie Cooper's Old as Hell at Catastrophic Theatre. But isn't age just a number? "One can feel 'old as hell' in many different stages in life," says creator, director and star Cooper. At 42, or just six in dog years, Cooper knows she's "not really that ancient." The spark for the show came about when she realized that, at that age, she was "technically at the midway mark, statistically speaking. But," she adds curiously spryly, "there are certain situations or milestones that have made me keenly aware that I am not exactly a spring chicken, either." Like childbirth three years ago, maybe? "I'll probably create another show in 20 years called Now I'm Really Old as Hell." We're looking forward to it!

See Tamarie's new summer musical 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Through August 24. 1119 East Freeway. For information, call 713-522-2723 or visit the Catastrophic Theatre website. Pay what you can.

Sponsors for "The Big Show", opening on Friday at Lawndale Art Center, have been sweetly dubbed "Red Hots," "Gobstoppers," "Lemon Drops" and other sugary confections. Have the show's organizers succumbed to the addictive online phenomenon that is Candy Crush? "Definitely not!" laughs Lawndale Executive Director Christine Jelson West. "The colors...for 'The Big Show' this year seemed very candylike," she explains. "Also, candy somehow feels like a summer thing, and 'The Big Show' takes place every summer.

"I look forward to 'The Big Show' every year at Lawndale," West adds. "It is one of the best ways Lawndale demonstrates its focus on local art and offers a lively and sometimes raucous way of looking at what artists are creating in Houston right now. Many artists exhibit their work for the first time in 'The Big Show,' and many others submit year after year...It's like a Houston summer tradition." Sweet.

Duncan MacKenzie, Chicago artist, critic, and writer and this year's "Big Show" juror, reviewed 922 works in various media by 366 artists for the show. Some 83 works by 67 artists made it into the exhibition.

There's an opening reception 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through -Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through -August 10. 4912 Main. For information, call 713‑528‑5858 or visit the Lawndale Art Center website. Free.

We call David Caceres a jazz musician, but the label seems a little too small to encompass everything he does. He handles alto sax duties with a variety of his own groups, including the David Caceres Quartet, performing on Saturday at Cezanne. He sings; a fluke gig while he was at the Berklee College of Music put him in front of a microphone as a wedding singer, and now he sings as much -- and as well -- as he plays. He records; he's been a sideman on numerous albums, including La Mafia's Grammy award-winning Un Millon de Rosas, and he has four CDs to his credit.

He writes; each of his albums features some of his original compositions. He teaches; he's been on the faculty of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the University of Houston. And he carries on a family legacy; relatives include a grandfather, jazz violinist Emilio Caceres; a great-uncle, big-band saxophonist Ernie Caceres; and a brother, vocalist/bassist Anthony Caceres (both Ernie and Anthony had stints with the Glenn Miller Orchestra). On the other side of the family, his grandfather Manuel Rangel owned a Latin music label. Expect a heady mix of jazz standards and original compositions. Caceres, known as a powerful yet nuanced performer, shares the stage with Jose Miguel Yamal (piano), Anthony Sapp (bass) and Daleton Lee (drums).

The music starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday. 4100 Montrose. For information, call 832‑592‑7464 or visit the Cezzane website. $10.

In the 1980s and '90s, Eric Red was hands down the best writer/director of horror and thriller fare. He's the man behind Near Dark, also known as the best vampire movie ever made, period. Among his less well-known films is Cohen & Tate, a 1989 kidnapping thriller starring Roy Scheider and Adam Baldwin, screening here on Sunday. The film follows two antagonistic hit men sent to assassinate a young boy, the witness to a mob murder. They manage to kidnap the boy, killing his family in the process. As the tension between the two assassins escalates, things get more and more out of control, with the hit men trying to kill each other as well as the boy and anyone who gets in their way.

Filmed right here in Houston, it's a fairly obscure but excellent violent character piece and one of the best action flicks we've ever seen. Red hosts today's Cohen & Tate with Eric Red Live, a rare 35mm print screening of the film. A few lucky fans will also get free Blu-ray copies of the film; Red is enthusiastically supporting the release. "The best thing about the Blu-ray coming out now is it introduces the film to new viewers," Red said by e-mail. "The release timing is good because contemporary audiences have a more tough-minded sensibility than their counterparts did when the film came out and will probably be more receptive and in tune to the edgy characters and story."

7 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park, 114 Vintage Park Boulevard. For information, call 713-715-4707 or visit the Alamo Drafthouse website. $12.

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

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