Main Street Theater's The Dead The fact that dramatists Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey managed to tease James Joyce's melancholic story The Dead into a musical was nothing short of astonishing. But it was the skilled cast who re-created the essential Victorian party scene at the center of Joyce's tale with delicate warmth and seamless familial unity. The middle-aged drunk, Mr. Browne (played by David Downing), enticed fellow partner in crime Freddy (Kregg Alan Dailey) with a salesman's care. Celeste Roberts's high-strung rendition of Miss Molly Ivors played off Joel Sandel's gentlemanly Gabriel with expert precision. Warmth and tenderness came from the dear old aunts played by Marietta Marich and Sylvia Froman, and adding beauty and a palpable sadness was Kaytha Coker as Gabriel's lonely wife, Gretta. All together, they created a tender production for the Christmas season and captured the intelligence and aching heart of Joyce's story.

Main Street Theater's The Dead The fact that dramatists Richard Nelson and Shaun Davey managed to tease James Joyce's melancholic story The Dead into a musical was nothing short of astonishing. But it was the skilled cast who re-created the essential Victorian party scene at the center of Joyce's tale with delicate warmth and seamless familial unity. The middle-aged drunk, Mr. Browne (played by David Downing), enticed fellow partner in crime Freddy (Kregg Alan Dailey) with a salesman's care. Celeste Roberts's high-strung rendition of Miss Molly Ivors played off Joel Sandel's gentlemanly Gabriel with expert precision. Warmth and tenderness came from the dear old aunts played by Marietta Marich and Sylvia Froman, and adding beauty and a palpable sadness was Kaytha Coker as Gabriel's lonely wife, Gretta. All together, they created a tender production for the Christmas season and captured the intelligence and aching heart of Joyce's story.

Ann C. James in Laughing Wild In one of her strongest Houston performances in years, Ann C. James burned up the stage in Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild, produced by the amazingly resilient Unhinged Theatre Company. The strange play focused, in part, on a street woman haranguing the audience with her many wonderfully obscure opinions. During one 30-minute monologue, James ranted against a world full of people who don't have "sufficient humility to question themselves" and declared, "Mother Teresa makes me sick." Then she asked the audience, "Have you ever noticed how sexual intercourse makes you want to commit suicide?" Consistently sadistic and hilarious, James brought this feisty loony tune (and her adroit observations) to clarifying light, and she managed to create a realistic sense of woe in the character while maintaining the play's silly, macabre absurdity.

Ann C. James in Laughing Wild In one of her strongest Houston performances in years, Ann C. James burned up the stage in Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild, produced by the amazingly resilient Unhinged Theatre Company. The strange play focused, in part, on a street woman haranguing the audience with her many wonderfully obscure opinions. During one 30-minute monologue, James ranted against a world full of people who don't have "sufficient humility to question themselves" and declared, "Mother Teresa makes me sick." Then she asked the audience, "Have you ever noticed how sexual intercourse makes you want to commit suicide?" Consistently sadistic and hilarious, James brought this feisty loony tune (and her adroit observations) to clarifying light, and she managed to create a realistic sense of woe in the character while maintaining the play's silly, macabre absurdity.

Sundown at The Social "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day." So reads the second chapter of King James's Genesis, though the Sabbath crowd at The Social in the Heights apparently didn't get the memo. Criminally sexed-up hotties mingle with Houston's best metros, all gelled up and ironed down in their Sunday best. The spacious interior lounge allows for maximum circulation, as does the eye-candy-on-parade patio. Grab a drink, ease into a seat and get ready to double-take. With local house impresarios like Champa Moore and Sean Carnahan on hand to furnish the beats, you just might forget it's a school night.

Sundown at The Social "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day." So reads the second chapter of King James's Genesis, though the Sabbath crowd at The Social in the Heights apparently didn't get the memo. Criminally sexed-up hotties mingle with Houston's best metros, all gelled up and ironed down in their Sunday best. The spacious interior lounge allows for maximum circulation, as does the eye-candy-on-parade patio. Grab a drink, ease into a seat and get ready to double-take. With local house impresarios like Champa Moore and Sean Carnahan on hand to furnish the beats, you just might forget it's a school night.

Best Place to Be Glad You're Alive

Houston Zoo Lions, tigers and bears, oh, my! Komodos, leopards and white alligators -- even better! It's hard not to feel giddy while roaming the Houston Zoo on a sunny day. After all, for $7 you can be instantly transported to the Serengeti, the Andes or the Australian Outback, gazing upon the most magnificent creatures that ever roamed the earth. And it's funny how the animals are so much like us -- the nurturing mom and pop giraffes with their brand-new baby, the nervous, blinking prairie dogs, the oafish gorillas. Here's another thought: You're not the one in the cage. Somehow, that puts everything in perspective.

Best Place to Be Glad You're Alive

Houston Zoo Lions, tigers and bears, oh, my! Komodos, leopards and white alligators -- even better! It's hard not to feel giddy while roaming the Houston Zoo on a sunny day. After all, for $7 you can be instantly transported to the Serengeti, the Andes or the Australian Outback, gazing upon the most magnificent creatures that ever roamed the earth. And it's funny how the animals are so much like us -- the nurturing mom and pop giraffes with their brand-new baby, the nervous, blinking prairie dogs, the oafish gorillas. Here's another thought: You're not the one in the cage. Somehow, that puts everything in perspective.

Free Radicals' Aerial Bombardment This jazzy, funky, hip-hoppity, experimental and dub-centric Houston collective never stays within the boundaries of a particular genre, and that's only one of the things that make them so special. Their third CD, Aerial Bombardment, is a unique masterwork helmed by percussionist Nick Cooper and featuring 50 different musicians and vocalists, mostly from H-tizzle. Though the album is largely instrumental, blues singer Gloria Edwards pops in, as do rappers Zin and Perseph1 and members of the Blackout Poets Collective. Free Radicals introduce some new forms on this one, including capoeira angola-meets-dub remixes and beat collages. With its pulsing angst, it plays like a soundtrack to the revolution.

Free Radicals' Aerial Bombardment This jazzy, funky, hip-hoppity, experimental and dub-centric Houston collective never stays within the boundaries of a particular genre, and that's only one of the things that make them so special. Their third CD, Aerial Bombardment, is a unique masterwork helmed by percussionist Nick Cooper and featuring 50 different musicians and vocalists, mostly from H-tizzle. Though the album is largely instrumental, blues singer Gloria Edwards pops in, as do rappers Zin and Perseph1 and members of the Blackout Poets Collective. Free Radicals introduce some new forms on this one, including capoeira angola-meets-dub remixes and beat collages. With its pulsing angst, it plays like a soundtrack to the revolution.

Best Of Houston®

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