These Houston restaurants dish out bountiful brunch menus to toast New Year’s Day

These Houston restaurants dish out bountiful brunch menus to toast New Year’s Day

As much as we embrace our designations of Space City, Bayou City, and Energy Capital, we in Houston are fully aware that this is an art city. To wit: Ten years ago, Broadway World named Houston the nation’s best theater scene along with New York City—imagine the difference now.

Change is a theme this year in the Houston arts, as the Alley Theater announced a name change thanks to a generous — and anonymous — $25 million gift. And speaking of Houston theater, a Rice alumnus made history as the first Latino to sing the iconic role of Christie in The Phantom of the Opera role on Broadway.

In dance, the Houston Ballet jumped into the news—also with a HQ name change, named for a longtime and beloved Houston benefactor. In the visual arts, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston hosted Obama. Musically, the greatest living jazzman came to town as we said goodbye to a beloved jazz singer.

Quite a dramatic year – here are its highlights in the Houston arts.

of Alley TheatreThe Texas Avenue home has a new name: the Meredith J. Long Theater Center. This comes on the heels of a surprising, anonymous gift of $25 million to the organization’s Alley Vision for the Future campaign. The largest gift in the Alley’s 75-year history, the donation sees the name change to honor the Alley’s chairman emeritus.

A black woman trained in Houston made history on Broadway. Alumnus of Rice Poodle Feliciano got the role of Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, making her the first Latina to sing the iconic role on Broadway. Feliciano, who identifies as Latina and Black, is also the second performer of color to sing the role on the Great White Way. We loved the fact that Feliciano was studying for Emilie Kouatchou, who is the first.

Houston Ballet’s downtown headquarters will now be known as Margaret Alkek Williams Center for Dance, as Houston’s beloved society queen and benefactor donated $10 million to the organization $10 million to the Houston Ballet Foundation. The surprise announcement was made during a dinner to celebrate Williams, who has been a perennial champion, and her support dating back to 1989.

President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama made a stop in Houston – specifically at the MFAH. Thousands of people filled the opening Obama Portrait Tour. MFAH made general admission to the museum and exhibit free on opening day, where visitors were encouraged to wear their “Sunday best” and enjoy live music, food, activations and special programming. Houston was the last stop for the tour after wildly popular shows in Chicago, New York; Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush positively earned book in their old trading grounds. In Houston for the Barbara Bush Foundation’s annual, star-studded Barbara Bush Reading Party, Barbara Bush’s granddaughters and President George W. Bush’s twin daughters shared some fun family stories and insights into their new book, Sister Superpower.

Wynton Marsalis, America’s greatest living jazz performer and icon, rolled into town for a special Jazz Houston performance featuring Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. As he explained to CultureMap, the world’s most famous jazz trumpeter was in town to support his friend and frequent musical partner Vincent Gardner, who runs Jazz Houston. The show was a bucket list concert for any jazz fan or fan.

And we bid farewell to a beloved local jazz legend, Yvonne Washington. ofcharming andThe charismatic Houston singer, who wowed audiences here and around the globe with her often stunning jazz, blues, gospel and soul vocals, has died at the age of 72.

Washington performed for celebrities such as former President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush and toured with legends such as Stevie Wonder. She was a mainstay of jazz clubs, power shows and even weddings (including this writer’s). Her rendition of “Amazing Grace” is almost legendary in Houston circles: soaring, evocative and triumphant.

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