Connally Junior High theater arts teacher Kay Bell writes about a group of homeless people who find a home of sorts when they band together in “Born to Win,” but her play debut seems to have already found a home: a sellout Saturday night at the Waco Hippodrome.

The title of “Green Book” derives from a period when African-Americans often traveled at their own risk, especially in the Jim Crow South. Unwelcome in many restaurants, hotels and other public establishments, they even faced death in “sundown” towns, where they were warned to get out before evening, or else.

When the newsroom discussed 2018's top local news stories several weeks ago, the ones involving the arts in my mind didn't quite make the bar for the Top 10, though definitely they were notable for the arts organizations or groups involved.

January means a slow month for many live music venues as fans recover from Christmas season spending and New Year’s Eve partying, but it’s only a sign of a busy, star-studded year to come at the Waco Hippodrome.

NEW YORK — They are fighting, yes, but the fight crackles with the enticing electricity that only Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn could deliver. He is storming out the door. She is throwing his golf clubs after him. The music is jaunty. He is charmingly irritated.

If 2018 will be remembered for anything, it will be for well-executed blockbusters: From “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” to “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” and “Halloween,” audiences were treated to exceptionally smart, technically proficient, visually rich exercises in action, romance, horror and other genres whose mass appeal usually makes them immune to questions of sophistication and aesthetic taste.

We’ve put together a short list of Waco nonfast-food restaurants open on Christmas Day for those with guests in for the holiday — or who simply would prefer to eat out rather than cooking a meal.

Nationally known comic Carlos Mencia brings his stand-up comedy to Waco in a 7 p.m. Friday show at the Waco Convention Center. General admission tickets are $35, $45 for VIP seats, available online at

Waco audiences will get plenty of Murphey’s love for American folk music, Christmas and the West in his Thursday night Cowboy Christmas Show, but not from another Murphey labor of love for another genre of Texas music, the progressive country or outlaw country that rolled out of Austin in the 1970s.

With more than 22 years of performances and touring under their collective belt, Austin-based Americana rockers Reckless Kelly can handle all sorts of shows: outdoor concerts, nightclubs and bars, festivals and listener-friendly theater shows.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.

Hello, holidays: The downtown Waco tradition returns with the tree lighting, fireworks, a parade, a Snow Tube Hill and Ferris wheel, children’s activities and youth and community group performances. Oh, shopping, too.

Waco stages ring again with music this weekend with national and regional tours dropping in to add country, classic hits, Las Vegas pop and Americana before Christmas music starts to dominate.

Two indie films with Texas connections make their debut in Waco screenings this week although independent and Texas are their main common threads. Well, both are also free.

Texas country star Pat Green comes back to Waco Friday night with a few new songs and an updated set list, but at this stage in his career, he’s got more than music to express his creativity and energy.