“Bel-Air” and “The Lawsons” are the best cultural picks of the week

Olly Sholoton and Jabari Banks in “Bel-Air”

Photo: Peacock

1. “The Lawsons: A Love Story for Civil Rights”

The remarkable courtship and marriage of the Reverend William A. Lawson and his late wife, Audrey Lawson, is honored for The Ensemble Theater’s “The Lawsons: A Civil Rights Love Story,” based on a book by Melda Beaty. Timothy Eric and LaKeisha Randle Koontz star in this love story set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and their dream of founding one of Houston’s most famous churches, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, in Third Ward . Their over 600 love letters, which are part of the archives of the Gregory School’s African American Library, dating back to the 1950s, are the basis of the play.

When: Until March 13

Or: The Ensemble Theater, 3535 Main

Details: 713-520-0055; togetherhouston.com

joy of sewing

2. “Bel Air”

The Fresh Prince is back but not as you remember them. This is a serious twist on the old formula of a resourceful African-American kid moving in with his wealthy parents in the posh Los Angeles enclave of Bel-Air. Inspired by Morgan Cooper’s fake four-minute trailer in 2019 for a dramatic, cutting edge take on the story, the original Fresh Prince (Will Smith) enlisted Cooper to direct a new series based on the concept. The buzz is strong as the show drops on Super Bowl Sunday.

When: The first three episodes begin airing on February 13, with subsequent episodes airing weekly.

Or: peacock

cary darling

3. “Broadway to the Box”

The first production of 2022 at the Music Box is a tribute to Broadway, with songs from ‘Hamilton’, ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Tommy’, ‘Sunday in the Park With George’ and ‘Annie’ . In fact, the latter is a seven-minute version of the entire piece, a tradition at the Music Box where an entire production is cut to seven minutes.

When: From February 13 to April 23

Or: The music Box,

2623 Colquitt

Details: $49 reserved, $35

general; 713-522-7722; themusicboxtheatre.com

cary darling

4. Joe McPhee

For more than 50 of his 82 years, Joe McPhee has been on the move, chasing an elusive muse through improvised music, beginning with a scorching live album, “Underground Railroad,” in 1969. It’s a progressive and prolific writer and performer, with dozens of recordings to her name, who worked with dozens of collaborators, including a student spell with legendary Houston music theorist and composer Pauline Oliveros. That connection has made McPhee a regular in these regions, but he’s never done anything more complete here than this week. He will perform for Underground Sounds, a collaborative series between the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and music organization Nameless Sound. The event features four shows over four days, with more than a dozen Houston-based collaborators.

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10-11, 3 p.m. Feb. 12-13

Or: Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, 105-B Sabine

Details: $20; namelesssound.org

Andrew Dansby

5. Fran Lebowitz

Fran Lebowitz made a name for herself four decades ago with “Metropolitan Life” and “Social Studies”, two collections of lively, funny and sharp essays that made her an icon of New York culture. Her writing waned, but Lebowitz remained a sharp social commentator on television and on the public speaking circuit. More recently, she was the subject of “Pretend It’s a City”, a Netflix series created by filmmaker Martin Scorsese. For this visit, she will engage in a 30-minute interview with Ernie Manouse followed by an hour of questions from the audience.

When: 7:30 p.m. February 15

Or: Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana

Details: $35 to $80; 713-227-4772, www.spahouston.org

Andrew Dansby

6. “Flee”

If you missed Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s riveting animated documentary, “Flee,” when it opened a few weeks ago, here’s another chance. Documenting the flight of a young boy from Afghanistan to Russia to Denmark, this remarkable work is now in the running for three Oscars: documentary, animated film and international film.

When: 7 p.m. Feb. 11-12; 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

Or: Brown Theater at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet

Details: $9; 713-639-7300, mfah.org

cary darling

  • Andrew Dansby, Cary Darling

  • joy of sewing

    Joy Sewing is the Chronicle’s cultural columnist, focusing on Houston culture, families, social justice and race. The Houston native is the author of “Ava and the Prince: The Adventures of Two Rescue Pups,” a children’s book about her own rescue boxer dogs. Joy is also the founder of Year Of Joy, a non-profit organization, to spread joy to children in underserved communities. In 2020, she was one of five “unsung heroes of Houston” featured in the “Monuments of Craig Walsh” exhibit at Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston. A former competitive skater, Joy became Houston’s first African-American figure skating coach while in college. She is currently vice president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists and adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Houston. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

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