Things To Do

Best Bets: Tutu, KyLin’s Garden and When Houston Had the Blues

Photo by Rob Li Photography
Asia Society Texas presents “KyLin’s Garden.”

It’s World Gratitude Day, so we encourage you to do a simple, random act of kindness today. Our act of kindness is that we’ve taken the work out of planning what to do this week by gifting you today’s list of best bets. Keep reading for a play making its Houston premiere, a dance company making its Houston debut, and a flashback to Houston’s musical legacy.

Last year, Sandy Hickey, the co-founder of the Houston Blues Museum, told the Houston Chronicle that “Houston is the blues capital of the world,” adding that the city “is a hot-bed for the blues sound.” If you need proof of the city’s musical history, head over to Discovery Green on Friday, September 22, at 7 p.m. for a screening of When Houston Had the Blues, an in-depth look at Houston’s Black music scene. Prior to the documentary, directed by Alan Swyer, Texas’s own Diunna Greenleaf – “once dubbed ‘The People’s Queen of Blues’” – will perform. Greenleaf is featured in the film and “getting some long-due recognition” alongside notable blues musicians like Big Mama Thornton, Clifton Chenier and Lightnin’ Hopkins. You can register for the free event here.

Two former classmates reconnect at their 20-year high school reunion in Craig Wright’s The Pavilion, which will make its Houston premiere at 4th Wall Theatre Company on Friday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. 4th Wall’s Artistic Director Philip Lehl, who will play the role of Narrator in the production, recently told the Houston Press that the character is “like a master of ceremonies” who also “slips in and out of a dozen major characters and another dozen very small characters” in the play, which he thinks is “timeless.” Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays at Spring Street Studios through October 7. Tickets can be purchased here for $25 to $60 with a pay-what-you-will performance scheduled for Monday, October 2 (with a suggested price of $27).

The Houston Ballet opens their first mixed repertory program of the season, titled Tutu, on Thursday, September 21, at 7:30 p.m. The work that lends its name to the program title is Stanton Welch’s Tu Tu, danced to Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for Piano in G major and costumed in designs inspired by Gustav Klimt. Joining Tu Tu are a Houston Ballet premiere of George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, set to music by composer John Phillip Sousa, and a world premiere from Colombian-Belgian choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, her first commission for Houston Ballet. Read our preview here. Performances continue at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and September 30, and 2 p.m. Sundays through October 1. Tickets are available here for $25 to $215.

Kun-Yang Lin, the dancer and choreographer behind Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, broke through in 1997 with his solo, “KyLin’s Garden,” which utilized the imagery of the Qilin, “a mythical creature thought to appear when a sage ruler comes to the throne.” The company, now in its 25th season, will restage this work, along with three of Lin’s other works and new choreography from two of the company’s dancers, during KyLin's Garden 麒麟的花園: A Space for Tending, Sharing & Imagination on Friday, September 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Asia Society Texas. Lin has said that the body of the Qilin “is like a dancer. There’s fierceness but at the same time, gentleness. It’s about finding calmness in the chaos of the world …[It’s] an invitation to connection, serenity, a deep joy.” Tickets are available here for $25.

Broadway star Norm Lewis will join the Houston Symphony and Principal POPS Conductor Steven Reineke at Jones Hall on Friday, September 22, at 8 p.m. for Blockbuster Broadway with Norm Lewis. Stephanie Alla, the Houston Symphony’s Associate Director of Artistic Planning, has said audiences will “hear pieces from Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, and many more” during the program, noting it will “really highlight a lot of the songs from the musicals, from [Lewis’s] career, and kind of take a travel through his time on Broadway.” The concert will be performed a second time on Saturday, September 23, at 8 p.m. and this performance will also be livestreamed. Tickets to either in-hall performance can be purchased here for $34 to $120, or you can buy a ticket to view the livestream here for $20.

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Aperio, Music of the Americas, will bring Sandbox Percussion to The MATCH to perform Andy Akiho’s “Seven Pillars.”
Photo by Kjell van Sice

On Friday, September 22, at 8 p.m. Aperio, Music of the Americas, will bring the Grammy-nominated quartet Sandbox Percussion to The MATCH to perform “Seven Pillars,” an 80-minute, 11-movement “breakthrough” composition from Andy Akiho, “an increasingly in-demand composer who rose as a steel pan virtuoso.” The work – which “combines sensuous timbres, an agile command of rhythm, and a wide span of international influences” and will be presented with stage direction and lighting design by Michael McQuilken – is the result of an eight-year-long collaboration between Akiho and Sandbox Quartet that was named 2022 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Music in addition to earning two Grammy nominations. Tickets are available for the evening-length work here for $15 to $35.

Sibling rivalry and a family drama run rampant at a funeral in The Ensemble Theatre’s production of Chicken & Biscuits, which you can see on Saturday, September 23, at 2 p.m. Playwright Douglas Lyons has described the comedy as “comfort food,” created in an effort to bring Black joy “into the theater,” saying that he sees “Chicken & Biscuits as a movement that is giving a breath of fresh air and new energy to a generation that can come out and see themselves as happy as they are in their actual life, not just as the theater has portrayed them to be.” Read our preview here. Performances will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through October 15. Tickets can be purchased here for $34 to $53.

The Texas Medical Center Orchestra returns to Miller Outdoor Theatre on Saturday, September 23, at 8 p.m. to perform a free concert titled Romantic Masterpieces. The program will feature the “sinuous melody, mesmeric rhythm, and slowly building orchestral crescendo” of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, featuring dancers from the Mitsi Dancing School, as well as three movements from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, a “magnificent” piece that is “not a simple or easy listen” but “well repays the effort put in.” You can reserve a ticket for the covered seating area beginning here at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 22, or you can grab a blanket or lawn chair and opt for the ticketless seating on the Hill. If you can’t make it, you can catch the concert on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, YouTube channel or Facebook page.