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Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events — including a Scrabble throwdown

Your weekly guide to Houston: Five (plus) don't-miss events — including a Scrabble throwdown

Michael Londra
Tenor Michael Londra, with his silky, clear-as-a-bell tone and charming artistry, stars in an energetic tribute to the Emerald Isle. "Celtic Fire" promises to be a show that evinces the essence of Ireland. Courtesy of michaellondra.com
2 Pianos 4 Hands
Director Tom Frey as Ted and Jeffrey Rockwell as Richard  in the Stages Repertory Theatre production of 2 Pianos 4 Hands. Photo by Bruce Bennett
Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company Gala "Monster Mash Ball"
Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company never disappoints when it stages a quirky arts event-cum-social. This one is chaired by Karen Osborn.
Michael Londra
2 Pianos 4 Hands
Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company Gala "Monster Mash Ball"

Hello fall. Though the official start of the season isn't until Sept. 22, there's something in the air that says, "Hey, I'm autumn, and I am here." Post-Labor Day activities on deck this week include games, a museum crawl, singing for a good cause, a crazy zombie party, Irish love and a play where you'll reminisce about your days taking piano lessons.

Let me make planning easier for you: When you click the "deets" links below each suggested event, you will arrive at a page with helpful features, like the ability to download the information right to your calendar, learn about what's around the event location and, in case you find yourself in need of cocktails and sustenance, where to eat, drink and be merry.

Literacy Advance of Houston's "Scrabble & the City"

One would think that as someone who writes for a living, I would be quite dexterous at Scrabble  — and one would be wrong. I will rely on my CultureMap colleagues — girl about town Whitney Radley and word smith Sarah Rufca — to help me feign expertise and avoid spending cash to bribe the judges to accept my ridiculous attempts at putting together suitable words.

Team CultureMap is in it to win it. Though at the end, it's really Literacy Advance of Houston that benefits from this fundraising gaming night.

The deets: Thursday, 7 p.m.; Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Update: Tickets are sold out.

Michael Londra's "Celtic Fire" 

While Riverdance may have just completed its farewell tour, there are other singers, dancers and tunesmiths picking up the step dance slack — because there's no such thing as too much Celtic spirit.

Tenor Michael Londra, with his silky, clear-as-a-bell tone and charming artistry, stars in an energetic tribute to the Emerald Isle. "Celtic Fire" promises to be a show that evinces the essence of Ireland with traditional reels, the driving beats of the bodhran (Irish drum), fiddles and uilleann pipes (a different type of bagpipe).

Confession time: I bought a bodhran a few years ago with notions that I could learn to beat it on my own. I couldn't — I looked like an idiot.

The deets: Friday, 8 p.m.; Miller Outdoor Theatre; admission is free, tickets are available for covered seating.

Houston Museum District Day 2012

Find your most comfortable walking shoes for this artsy crawl/binge as Houston Museum District Day 2012 opens the doors to 18 cultural institutions, free of charge.

The yearly affair offers the opportunity to check out what's on tap at — it's a big list — Asia Society Texas Center, Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Children's Museum of Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Czech Center Museum Houston, The Health Museum, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston Center for Photography, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Rothko Chapel, Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Jung Center of Houston, The John C. Freeman Weather Museum, Museum of African American Culture, Lawndale Art Center, The Menil Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Rice University Art Gallery.

Tip: Check out the Sketchbook Activity at Lawndale (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), listen to Da Camera's performance of John Cage's Musicircus at the Menil (3 to 5 p.m.), meet the lovely KHOU Ch. 11 anchors at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), partake in art workshops by Contemporary Arts Museum Houston's Teen Council (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and try collage making at the Jung Center (all day). Need more to do? Click here.

Free pedicabs can take you from museum to museum. Let's just hope Mother Nature holds the forecasted scattered rains on Saturday. METRORail rides will be free, courtesy of KHOU and everyone's favorite sassy lesbian, Ellen DeGeneres. 

The deets: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; participating museums; free event.

Bering Omega Community Services' 18th Annual Sing For Hope Gala "An Evening of Art Songs and Arias"

Don't confuse "art songs and arias" for a stuffy evening of over-the-top bel canto numbers that go on and on and on. Though the required attire is black tie, and the seated dinner tends to be more of a formality, the heart of the soirée is a concert that's as entertaining as the personalities behind it. 

Soprano Camille Zamora's first Sing for Hope was her way of honoring a close friend who lost his battle with HIV/AIDS. In Houston, it has become an artistically fabulous variety show during which you'll laugh, cry and sigh. This year's chairs, Jeff Gremillion and Jared Lang, salute Kathryn and Hank Coleman, the 2012 recipients of the humanitarian Camille Zamora Award.

The evening lets loose at the Bering Omega's Young Professionals Board after-party chaired by Matthew Barré, Marisa Mireles, Stacy Robinson and Maneesh Singal. 

The deets: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Houston Club and Wortham Theatre Center; tickets start at $100, $50 and up for the young professionals party.

Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company Gala "Monster Mash Ball"

That this is a Mildred's Umbrella Theatre Company event should be your motivation dig out some sort of a gruesome, undead costume from the depth of your closet and partake in this monstrous fundraising fête. That's because the nutty throng that runs and supports the forward-thinking thespian troupe never disappoints when it stages a quirky arts event-cum-social. This one is chaired by Karen Osborn.

I am bemused about "fishing" in the "black lagoon," trying out the old school "cake walk with a twist" and the Wrap the Mummy contest — all to be experienced at this B-movie horror classic costume party.

The deets: Saturday, 7 to 11 p.m.; Studio 101 at Spring Street Studios; tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door.

Arts smarty pants and in-the-loop creative doyen Nancy Wozny's pick: Stages Repertory Theatre presents 2 Pianos 4 Hands

Nancy says: "I can't say I have many fond memories of my piano teacher. Despite the fact that 2 Pianos 4 Hands, now running at Stages Repertory Theatre through Oct. 28, brought that trauma right back to me, it's loads of fun. 

"Part concert, part comedy, Richard Greenblatt and Ted Dykstra's play examines the life of child musicians, the hours of practice in an empty room and the nutty piano teachers. Tom Frey and Jeffrey Rockwell are completely lovable and mighty competent on those ivories in the roles of Ted and Richard. Think of it as a 'recital interrupted by a play.'"

The deets: Playing through Oct. 28; Stages Repertory Theatre; tickets start at $21.

Staff writer and sassy Houston explorer Whitney Radley's pick: Third Annual Art Tasting benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Whitney says: "Drinking, shopping and helping others are easily some of my pastimes — especially when the three have some overlap. 

"The wine tasting event will feature artwork created by the artists behind Pinot's Palette, food from local partners, interactive art exhibits and more. Plus, attendees will be raising funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and AIDS Foundation Houston."

The deets: Friday, 6 to 8 p.m. at Pinot's Palette - Montrose; Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m. at Pinot's Palette - Galleria; tickets start at $25.