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Weekender: Music By The River, On The Stage, And In A Country Bar

 The Fiesta Noche Del Rio cast
Al Rendon
The Fiesta Noche Del Rio cast

It's time to plan your weekend, and fortunately, Texas Public Radio is here to help. Your choices this weekend are quite varied and all are musical. They run from flamenco music on the River Walk, to a rousing Broadway-style musical, to a performance by a legendary Texas Troubadour in an iconic venue.  

First off, head to the Arneson River Theater Friday or Saturday night for Fiesta Noche Del Rio. 

"It's flamenco, folklorico, salso, tango. If it's prominent in San Antonio, we like to feature it in the show," said Katy Hall, who directs Fiesta Noche Del Rio.  

Hall said the show starts a little later than you might expect, but for a good reason.

"At 8:30 p.m., We like to make it a little later because it's cooler at 8:30 p.m," she said.

And really, there's not a more San Antonio place to watch traditional Mexican dance and listen to flamenco music than at the Arneson. 

"The Arneson is an outdoor theater that has a stage that sits directly across the river,” Hall said.

If you’ve not been to the Arneson, the stage is on one side, and the grassy audience amphitheater is on the other side. Throughout the performance, river barges chug down the river between the two. One can imagine the surprise that tourists get rounding the bend and coming upon a full-blown stage production. Hall said the performers try to break down that third wall, crossing Rosita’s Bridge to engage the audience.  

“We try and do a lot of audience participation, and we definitely love kids,” Hall said. “So if you have a little dancer in your life that you want to bring to the show, we definitely love to showcase their talents in several of our numbers."

IF YOU GO What: Fiesta Noche Del Rio Where: Arneson River Theater When: Friday and Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Cost:  $12-$20

Also on Friday, and through August 11, the Public Theater's Matilda is running. Choreographer Courtnie Mercer said it’s a gas. 

"Very high energy, lots of fun, tells an amazing story about a little girl who has magical powers," she said.

It’s a musical adaptation of the book published in 1988, which was also adapted into a movie in 1996.

The focus of the musical is young Matilda, whose parents aren’t just bad. They’re awful.

"And they send her to this school that has this headmistress just hates children," Mercer said.

Despite that dark description, she said it's appropriate for ages 4 and up. The big payoff comes late. 

The cast of "Matilda" performs.
Credit Siggi Ragner
The cast of "Matilda" performs.

"To see how she triumphs in the end is very positive and very powerful," she said. 

Mercer says it's a nearly nonstop musical, from one song to the next, with very few non-music intervals.   

"It's a big show; we've got 38 people in the cast, and the majority are children," she said.

IF YOU GO What: Matilda Where: The Public Theater When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Cost:  $20-$45

Then on Saturday night at Floore’s Country Store the ultimate Texas Troubador: Ray Wylie Hubbard. I asked Floore's Country Store owner Mark McKinney to describe what Ray Wylie does.

"Ray Wylie does Ray Wylie. He's not like anybody else,” he said. “He's just a great, legendary Texas singer-songwriter. Funky, a great groove in all of his tunes."

Hubbard's bringing his hard-driving band with him to Floore’s, which is an indoor and outdoor music venue. They've made a good call on where to stage the show.

"Yeah, this will be an indoor show. Which will be nice with the Texas summer heat we've been having. It'll be nice-n-cool with air conditioners on," McKinney said. 

And seeing Ray Wylie Hubbard at Floore’s Country Store is clearly one of the cooler things you could do this weekend.

IF YOU GO What: Ray Wylie Hubbard Where: Floore’s Country Store When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday Cost:  $20-$25

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii