21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Pub Crawl, Hive Caroling and a Bake-off

Tuesday, December 6

You might not be able to name one of the longest-running television shows in history, but here are some hints: It has gone strong since 1999 and recently screened its 900th episode. Need more help? The two-hour program is on every Tuesday and features “real” violence from the likes of main characters with names like “The Lunatic Fringe.” No? It’s WWE SmackDown Live, arguably the first reality show that’s also a weekly professional-wrestling showcase that has been broadcast from seven different countries. The house of winners includes “world champion” AJ Styles, “intercontinental champion” The Miz, tag team rulers The Wyatts, women’s titleholder Alexa Bliss. “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose, Becky Lynch and James Ellsworth are also scheduled to participate in the wrassling potpourri. 6:45 p.m. December 6. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information, call 866-446-8849 or visit $20 to $105. — Steve Jansen

It's the classical music story of a British boy band that hit the big time. Grammy-award winning arranger and composer Philip Lawson performed with The King's Singers for 18 years, singing more than 2,000 concerts and appearing on 25 CDs. He's since moved on, but his contribution to the all male vocal ensemble will be evident during their one-night stop at Stude Concert Hall, courtesy of Chamber Music Houston. The program begins with a version of the ancient text, Veni, veni Emmanuel, created by Lawson. They also have planned an arrangement by Lawson of the French carol, Noël Nouvelet, which tells the story of the birth of Jesus and calls Christians to celebrate the good news. The second half of the program focuses on 20th century favorites from the Great American Songbook, including Ogden Nash's poem, The boy who laughed at Santa Claus. The King's Singers are celebrating their 46th year; current members Christopher Bruerton, Patrick Dunachie, Julian Gregory, Christopher Gabbitas, Jonathan Howard and Timothy Wayne-Wright are planning a full evening of holiday songs ranging from Orlandus Lassas and Arvo Pärt to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. December 6. Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-5400 or visit $20 to $80. — Susie Tommaney

Wednesday, December 7

Ready for another journey into the dark woods with great music? Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods is coming to Houston courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars, and Emily Skinner, a Broadway veteran (Billy Elliott), will be playing The Witch in a story peopled with fairy-tale characters who get their wishes, which doesn’t always turn out for the best. “It’s about parent-child relationships and family and accepting responsibility and growing up and wish fulfillment and the consequences of growing up,” says Skinner, who describes her character as “a frustrated truth teller.” She also promised some different things at the end, but wouldn’t say what. You’ll just have to come see for yourselves. 7:30 p.m. December 7. Continuing 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. December 6 through 18. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit $38.50 to $116. — Margaret Downing

The classically-trained Irish Tenors are returning to the Jones Hall stage, this time for a holiday concert with popular selections such as "White Christmas," "Jingle Bell Rock," and "We Three Kings." Don't worry, their set-list includes the traditional Irish tunes that we've come to expect: "Galway Bay," "Lord of the Dance," "Little Brigid Flynn" and, naturally, "Danny Boy." Finbar Wright, Anthony Kearns and Ronan Tynan – who always mix in a little humor and warmth into their performances – have been touring for nearly twenty years, selling out shows in Radio City Music Hall, the Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall. After their breakout PBS special in 1998, the group went on to become the second-highest grossing touring act from Ireland, lapped only by U2. Come see what all the buzz is about this Wednesday night with We Three Kings — An Irish Tenors Christmas, presented by Society for the Performing Arts. 8 p.m. December 7. 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit $43 to $128. — Susie Tommaney

Thursday, December 8

Traditional Christmas caroling is flawed: Not every singer can carry a tune, and there’s that whole fadeaway when it comes to remembering the second verse. New York composer Phil Kline updated this holiday pastime in writing the four-track “Unsilent Night,” asking participants to simultaneously press “play” on smartphones, boomboxes and mp3 players while moving in procession. The international initiative is celebrating its 25th year and, here in Houston, is presented by University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. “It’s not the typical holiday, Christmas carol-type melodic tune. It is more contemporary and a little more ambient, but still very beautiful, especially as a cacophony with everybody’s speakers,” says Karen Farber, the center’s executive director. It’s presented in collaboration with Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and there’s a costume contest and an early reception at 6 p.m. RSVP, then download the app and charge your device in advance. 7 p.m. December 8. The Water Works, Buffalo Bayou Park, 105 Sabine. For information, visit Free. — Susie Tommaney

Houston puppeteer Kevin Taylor’s influence on the premiering ensemble piece you see it from outside is just one of the surprises onstage as Hope Stone Dance partners with community organizations to present Collective + Hope. The evening includes a drum circle by the “Warrior Beat” veterans, a monologue by a Cristo Rey Jesuit high schooler, and dance pieces by fourth graders from Poe Elementary and the four-year-olds of Generation One Academy. “While I’ve always been a dancer, I realized that the visceral experience of doing art, performing art, being in community is what we all need,” says Jane Weiner, a former dancer with the Doug Elkins Dance Company who founded Hope Stone, Inc., in 1997. 7 p.m. December 8. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-526-8898 or visit $11 to $55. — Lawrence Elizabeth Knox

Trying to determine exactly what led the wise men to the right manger is a little like investigating a UFO report, says Dr. Carolyn Sumners, vice president of astronomy and physics at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. In The Star of Bethlehem: Mystery, History and Science, a behind-the-scenes lecture investigating the most celestial of night sky objects, Sumners rules out the usual suspects (meteors, comets, supernovas, etc.) and re-creates exactly, for the first time, what scientists believe the Magi saw — live and in Tru-8K high-def. The full dome show in the Burke Baker Planetarium “totally immerses you, and the effect is 3-D without glasses,” says Sumner. “With our new system, the contrast ratio and the resolution, we can produce the sky and it is the sky. It looks just like the sky of the desert 2,000 years ago.” 6 p.m. December 8. 5555 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit $12 to $18. — Natalie de la Garza

Countrified offshoot of ‘80s college-rock icons Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker is the less quirky, but no less acerbic, vehicle David Lowery rode to much success on the ‘90s rock charts through singles like “Teen Angst,” “Low” and “I Hate My Generation.” In more recent times, Lowery has taken to bringing both bands out on tour with him (and why not?), but not in Houston this time, meaning Warehouse’s cozy Studio room is in for an up-close whiff of uncut Cracker soul. Lowery and faithful partner/badass guitarist Johnny Hickman most recently planted their flag with 2014’s Berkeley to Bakersfield, a double album that explores the reaches of California far away from Sunset Boulevard or Silicon Valley. Here Cracker is fully able to explore their beautifully split personality, allowing plenty of room for Lowery’s trademark sarcasm (“March of the Billionaires,” “Reaction”) and Hickman’s honky-tonk genius (“King of Bakersfield,” “Get On Down the Road”). 9 p.m. December 8. Warehouse Live, 813 Saint Emanuel. For information, call 713-225-5483 or visit $20 to $23. — Chris Gray

Friday, December 9

If soulful classical guitarists make you swoon, then the line forms here. Jason Vieaux, 2015 Grammy Award-winner for Best Classical Instrumental Solo for his album Play, is coming to Houston courtesy of Da Camera. His international set-list includes works by German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Spanish pianist Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz and American jazz legend Duke Ellington. “A lot of what is [appealing] about a classical artist is their choice of repertoire, how they put things together,” says Vieaux. “Not unlike how a restaurateur puts together his menu, the contrast is sort of what makes the whole experience.” He says classical musicians are interpreters. “My belief is if you took 20 pianists and had them be as faithful to a score as possible, they are still not going to be able to repress their own musical personality.” Vieaux, whose diversity is reflected in his 11 studio albums, will draw from those influences in presenting this musical self-portrait. 7:30 p.m. December 9. The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit $42.50 to $72.50. — Vic Shuttee

Movies and music go hand-in-hand — it’s the soundtrack that gives Jaws its bite and Psycho its fright — and CineConcerts has found a way to redefine the audience experience by presenting feature films along with a live orchestra. They’ve done it with The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the entire Harry Potter franchise and now, for one night only with the Houston Symphony, they’re presenting Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life. Dimitri Tiomkin’s original score has been restored by composer/conductor Justin Freer, who co-founded CineConcerts along with producer/writer Brady Beaubien. “One of the things that makes this project so unique is the amount of music that has been restored from Dimitri. I spent three or four months restoring about 40 minutes of music that wasn’t used in the movie version,” says Freer. Cornball alert: Stick around for a sing-along to “Auld Lang Syne” at the end. 7:30 p.m. December 9. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit $22 to $115. — Sam Byrd

Don’t call Daniel Bauer an illusionist. “The ‘i’ word is a horrible word; I never use it. What I do is I’m a magician, an escape artist and a mind reader.” Bauer, who fancies himself a modern-day Harry Houdini, has been pursuing the craft of magic since his youth, when he was known as Dan the Magic Man of Poughkeepsie. He tried teaching high school (his parents insisted he fetch a “practical job”), but the limelight beckoned. “I sacrificed everything to move down to the city and become the new ‘it’ boy of magic,” says Bauer. Everything was a go until Bauer got the news that would rock his life: He’d been diagnosed with HIV, a fact Bauer tackles head-on in his act, Beyond Belief: Escape to Survival. He says that it’s really the story of his life, beginning with his very first escape, from his mother’s womb, and on into the dark days when he lost it all. “But magic was my safe haven. It’s [what] I keep going back to.” 8 p.m. December 9 and 10, 2 and 7:30 p.m. December 11. Classical Theatre Company, 4617 Montrose. For information, visit $30. — Vic Shuttee