arts eclectic

The play "Steel Magnolias" has been enduringly popular since its Off-Broadway debut in 1987. The comedy-drama features a cast of six women, and one set, the Southern beauty parlor in which the women congregate, gossip, argue, and laugh over the course of several years.

Artistic director Andy Berkovsky chose "Steel Magnolias" as City Theatre's holiday production because of its themes of family and togetherness.

This weekend's Wizard World Austin Comic Con will be a three-day celebration of comic books, science fiction, and pop culture in general. There will be panel discussions, Q&As with artists, actors, and writers, and special appearances by myriad celebrities, including Stan Lee, William Shatner, cast members of Firefly and The Walking Dead, and many, many more.

The con will also feature several local artists, who will display and sell their artworks. Cartoonist Will Rodriguez, of the online and self-published comic Mangled Stare, will be there, pen in hand, sketching convention goers and displaying his wares.

The classic comedy Arsenic and Old Lace opens November 22 at the Vortex. The play, by Joseph Kesselring, centers around the Brewster family, which is eccentric to say the least. The clan includes Teddy, who believes he's Theodore Roosevelt and is digging the Panama Canal in the basement; Jonathan, who failed as a doctor but found success as a murderous mafioso; and Martha and Abby, the sweet, elderly aunts who have recently started murdering lonely old men. As the relatively calm center, third brother Mortimer tries keep things together.

The play was written in 1939 and is probably best remembered for its 1941 film version. The version which will open at the Vortex this week is produced by Different Stages, under the direction of Norman Blumensaadt. It stars Jennifer Underwood and Karen Jambon as the Brewster sisters, Tyler Jones at Mortimer, Michael Harlan as Teddy, and Steven Fay as Jonathan.

"Murder Ballad Murder Mystery" began its life several years ago, as a site specific work at the Vortex Theater.

Since then, its creative team decided to form their own production company. And the play's been condensed and made a little more travel-friendly.

The show (as the title implies), is a murder mystery inspired by murder ballads. It will soon hit the road, to be staged in several bars in Austin, as well as stopping at New Orleans and Marfa, Texas.

After listening to the White Stripes' recording of Robert Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down," playwright Kirk Lynn was inspired to try a cover version of his own.

He decided to take on a Shakespeare play. But, reluctant to tamper with one of the greats, he opted to create his own version of what he considered Shakespeare's worst play, "King John."

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