Houston Symphony presents She's Got Soul

Houston Symphony presents She's Got Soul

Photo courtesy of John Such Artists' Management

Powerhouse singer and Houston favorite Capathia Jenkins and the orchestra will present a salute to some of the greatest female soul singers of all time, including Diana Ross, Toni Braxton, Adele, Sade, Amy Winehouse, and Anita Baker.

Image courtesy of Catastrophic Theatre

The Catastrophic Theatre presents Happy Days

The Catastrophic Theatre presents Happy Days

Beckett’s existential tragicomedy Happy Days concerns itself with the plight of Winnie, a middle-class, middle-aged woman who is quite literally stuck, buried to her waist in crusted earth. Her husband Willie lives in a hole behind her mound, physically and emotionally out of reach. Even in his company she is essentially alone.

Armed with a shopping bag of everyday items and routines, a series of half-remembered stories, songs, and prayers, and a heroic capacity for optimism, Winnie presses through an endless series of unforgiving days to the merciful night to come. The bell rings again and when the blazing sun comes charging back, she is buried up to her neck. Her last resources depleted, her arms and body sunk and gone, her predicament is irreversible, hellish, seemingly eternal. Through it all she perseveres, struggling with that which remains to make real her impossibly hopeful exclamation: “Oh this will be another happy day!”

Photo courtesy of A.D. Players

A.D. Players presents Miss Maude

A.D. Players presents Miss Maude

A.D. Players presents the pre-Broadway world premiere of Miss Maude, the inspirational true story of the relationship forged between renowned 1951 Life Magazine photographer Eugene Smith and South Carolina midwife, Made Callen. Eugene is sent to do a story on Maude, but never expects the life changing impact it will have on him.

Photo by Lynn Lane

Alley Theatre presents Lend Me A Soprano

Alley Theatre presents Lend Me A Soprano

Ken Ludwig (The Three Musketeers, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express), America’s preeminent comedic playwright, debuts a “revisal” of his classic hit Lend Me a Tenor with women in the leading roles.

Lend Me A Soprano is set in 1934 as Mrs. Lucille Wiley, General Manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, is ready to welcome world-famous soprano Elena Firenzi for her one-night only starring role in Carmen. Alas, Elena arrives late, ill and in need of a nap so, following orders, Wylie’s assistant and aspiring opera singer Jo slips sleeping pills into Elena’s martini. When Elena doesn’t wake up, it’s up to Jo to save the day.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio returns heart to the classic tale

Movie review

There have been many instances of competing movies telling similar stories in the same year, but rare is the time when two movies try to tell their version of the exact same story. A few months ago, Disney released a “live action” version of their classic Pinocchio, an unimaginative, soulless film that should have never seen the light of day. Now, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio has come to save the day, bringing an allegorical story that has much more depth to it.

Co-directed by Del Toro and Claymation legend Mark Gustafson, and co-written by Del Toro and Adventure Time’s Patrick McHale, the basics of the film will be familiar. The wood toymaker Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley) creates a wooden boy soon dubbed Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) who is looked over by a cricket, this time called Sebastian (Ewan McGregor). Pinocchio is brought to “life” by a blue fairy named Spazzatura (Cate Blanchett), and Pinocchio soon causes all sorts of trouble for himself and everyone else.

But instead of going straight into that story, Del Toro and his team take the time to fill in some blanks about Geppetto’s life and give some meaning to his wooden creation. An opening sequence showing a tragic backstory sets the mood for the film, one that is serious while not being overwhelmingly dark.

Inspired by but not beholden to Carlo Collodi’s original fantasy novel, the film is a lively and yet somber adventure story, with Pinocchio’s impetuous nature leading to him getting in a lot of sticky situations. Del Toro has set the film in Italy during World War II, referencing real-world figures like Nazis and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini to ground the often-fantastical story.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Geppetto and Pinocchio in Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio.

As the film goes along, the idea of whether or not Pinocchio is “alive” is confronted in a unique way, and also juxtaposed with actual life-and-death moments that go right to the edge of the film’s PG rating. While still appropriate for older elementary-aged kids, it is unmistakably a Del Toro movie, with creepy creatures, storylines, and more that make it much more than just something aimed at children.

The stop-motion animation, assisted by the Jim Henson Company, is a wonder to behold for a variety of reasons. The flow of movement is astonishing, and a testament to the level of detail and time spent perfecting every moment by the entire filmmaking team. The characters are clearly made of clay, and yet they quickly become believable as living entities, a fun comparison to the story of Pinocchio himself.

While the film has stars like McGregor, Blanchett, and Christoph Waltz, none of them are showcased in ways where their celebrity overwhelms their character. Geppetto and Pinocchio are played by lesser-known people, allowing them to be interesting just for their voice talent, and not a pre-conceived notion of them.

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is by far the superior version of the story to come out in 2022, returning the heart to the tale that is so clearly needed. With just enough off-the-wall elements and a style that’s all its own, the film from Netflix may just be a contender for best animated feature at next year’s Oscars.


Guillermo Del Toro's Pinocchio debuts on Netflix on December 9.

Giant sea creatures made of recycled beach trash wash onto Galveston Island in must-see new exhibit

inspiring sea change

A giant great white shark, massive bald eagle, oversized octopus, and more enormous sea life are invading Galveston Island — just in time for the holidays.

Washed Ashore, a compelling and traveling art of giant sea animal sculptures made of trash collected from beaches opens in Galveston on Saturday, December 10 across 19 locations.

The clever showcase features more than 20 pieces — most more than six feet tall and as much as 17 feet wide — such as coral reefs, jellyfish, penguins, sunfish, and more.

Sculptures can be found at museums, hotels, parks, attractions, and popular outdoor spaces. Thanks to a partnership between Oregon-based non-profit Washed Ashore and the Galveston Park Board, the exhibit, which is open though March 5, 2023, is free.

This innovative, powerful exhibit to educate the public about the hazards of plastic pollution in the world’s waterways and comes at a touchstone environmental moment. Some 35 million metric tons of plastic entered the global aquatic ecosystems in 2020, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s research partners.

Similar Washed Ashore exhibits have been displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens, across the nation. Notably, this Galveston debut marks the first time the exhibit will not be behind a paid gate, per press materials.

“The sculptures are impressive,” Visit Galveston Chief Tourism Officer Michael Woody said. “But they’re even more impressive when you look at them closely. The artists at Washed Ashore placed recognizable objects – like buckets and shovels – at a child’s eye view. This way, hopefully, they will learn to take with them what they bring to the beach.”

For more information on the exhibit, visit the official site.

Photo courtesy of Visit Galveston

Meet Greta the great white shark.

Bad 'a' Hawaiian coffee shop brews up plans for 10 Houston-area locations

curiously strong coffee

A new coffee shop will brings the flavors of Hawaii to the Houston area. Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii has signed a development agreement that will bring as many as 10 locations to West Houston and Galveston in the next five years.

Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii was founded on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1989 to serve Hawaiian-sourced coffee to locals and tourists. Franchising on the mainland started in 1985, but an acquisition in 2019 paved the way for its current expansion. Currently at about 30 locations nationwide, Bad Ass announced plans to open five locations in Dallas earlier this year.

The cafe serves hot, cold, and frozen coffee drinks as well as tea and smoothes. Food options consist of a tidy menu of breakfast sandwiches, bagels, and muffins.

Bad Ass Coffee’s colorful name comes from the donkeys who carried coffee beans along steep mountain passes in Kona, Hawaii. Locals named them the “bad ass ones” for their stubborn but friendly nature, the company states.

Houston franchisees Kyle Price and Heath Rushing bring experience from the health care industry to their new role as entrepreneurs. In a release, they explain that Bad Ass Coffee’s values help fueled their interest in bringing the brand to Houston.

“We love how the brand honors its Hawaiian heritage and creates a culture that differentiates itself by embodying its island roots,” Rushing said. “Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii also isn't just a brand, it's an identity and the vision is to fuel the inner badass in all of us. We hope to unlock inner badasses by fueling customers with energy and kindness every single day.”