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Shangela: Fully Lit Tour

Shangela: Fully Lit Tour

Photo courtesy of Shangela

Actor and performer, D.J. "Shangela" Pierce, can currently be seen starring as a co-host and producer of the Emmy-nominated HBO series We’re Here. Famous for his phrase "Halleloo," Pierce has created a number of live drag shows combining his performance and comedy talents.

Photo courtesy of Zach Theatre

ZACH Theatre presents Holiday Heroes

ZACH Theatre presents Holiday Heroes

Back by popular demand, the original Holiday Heroes returns with some new songs and surprises. In this hilarious fun holiday sing-along, everyone gets into the holiday spirit with Ernie and Rufus. At the joyous, toe-tapping good time, audiences can celebrate the season with singing, laughter, and holiday cheer for all.

Courtesy photo

Broadway's The Grinch sleds into Austin for a different Christmas song and dance

Welcome to Whoville

Taking kids to sit on Santa’s lap is going out of style. Sorry if that’s a grinchy take, but if a man in an oversize suit is part of your holiday plans, it might as well be the Broadway take on the Grinch. The record-breaking production Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical is coming to Austin’s Bass Concert Hall on December 6.

If you’ve ever wished to see a Christmas version of Cats, this might be your Christmas miracle. It has it all: bizarre and fuzzy costumes, audience engagement, at least two iconic songs: “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and “Welcome Christmas.” (Plus, you try explaining the Grinch to someone who somehow avoided the story into adulthood.)

Reviewers point out that the show does not match the movies entirely, so there is new material even for people who know the story back-to-front. Max the Dog takes on a new role as the narrator, and the Grinch’s heart is exactly its traditional size: “two sizes too small.”

The Whos appear to defend their favorite holiday in candy cane-striped costumes, and promotional videos show lots of physical stage antics like jump roping and lots of pantomiming. There is not much official information on what to expect onstage, but reviews agree that the 90-minute show is likely best suited for younger kids.

Adults will not see Matthew Morrison (Glee’s Will Schuester), as Broadway in Austin features special touring casts. The rest of the season gives Austinites a chance to see Broadway-level acting in Pretty Woman, Disney’s Aladdin, Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Hairspray.

Tickets (starting at $30) are available at texasperformingarts.org, the theater box office, or by phone at 512-477-1444.

Photo courtesy of The Georgetown Palace Theatre

Georgetown Palace Theatre presents A Tuna Christmas

Georgetown Palace Theatre presents A Tuna Christmas

A Tuna Christmas is a broad comedy set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas. The plot centers on the town's annual Christmas Yard Display Contest, won 14 times in a row by Vera Carp. A mysterious "Christmas Phantom," known for vandalizing the yard displays, has the contestants on edge.

Among the subplots are Stanley Bumiller's attempts to end his probation and leave Tuna, Bertha Bumiller's struggle to hold her family together at Christmastime, and Joe Bob Lipsey's fight to mount successfully his production of A Christmas Carol despite the town controller of the electric company threatening to turn the lights off. The play is both an affectionate commentary and withering satire of small town, Southern life and attitudes. Two actors play all 20 zany characters.

Photo by Andy Sharp

Georgetown Palace Theatre presents Holiday Inn

Based on the 1942 award-winning movie, Holiday Inn is a fresh take on an old classic. When singer-songwriter Jim Hardy tires of showbiz, he shocks his best friend Ted and fiancee Lila by leaving the bright lights of Broadway behind and for a calm life in a farmhouse in Connecticut.

At first, he greets his new life with enthusiasm, but, just as he starts to think farm life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, he meets Linda Mason, a spunky school teacher harboring immense talent and big dreams. Together, they bring life back to the Mason farm by transforming it into the Holiday Inn, a lively venue for festive performances celebrating the red letter days on the calendar.

However, when Ted shows up ready to spirit Linda away to Hollywood, will Jim lose his best shot at happiness? The production features dance numbers galore and a score packed with Irving Berlin classics like “Blue Skies,” ”Heat Wave,” “Shaking the Blues Away,” and the beloved “White Christmas.”

Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center

Peppa Pig's Adventure

Peppa Pig's Adventure

In Peppa Pig's Adventure, Peppa goes on an exciting camping trip in the woods with George and her school friends, including Pedro Pony, Suzy Sheep and Gerald Giraffe. With lunchboxes packed and Daddy Pig driving the bus, Peppa and friends are excited about their outdoor adventure, full of singing, dancing, games, and surprises.

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Mobile vet company brings its no-rush, stress-free services to Austin homes

Home Is Where the Vet Is

Austin, one of the largest no-kill shelter cities in the United States, already knows a lot about adopting instead of shopping. A puppy is a wonderful addition to the family, but senior dogs need love (and are loved), too. As many have learned firsthand, taking care of a senior pet can be challenging — with higher medical bills, potentially heavy lifting as joints stiffen, and tough decisions to make about what kind of care is necessary — but also incredibly rewarding.

November is National Senior Pet Health Month, calling for awareness about an older pet’s needs, and providing opportunities to celebrate wins all over local news. In Austin, one of those wins came in scrubs. The Vets, a mobile veterinary service that makes house calls, expanded into Austin in 2022 (after launching the year prior), eventually bringing the national count to 16 locations including Houston and Dallas. Texas and California are tied for the most locations, at three each.

“Among the top reasons that pet owners avoid or postpone their visit to the vet clinic include the stress of transporting their pet, restrictive pet carriers, and crowded waiting rooms,” explained a statement from the company. “Our no-rush visits give your pet the time to bond with our vet and you the opportunity to ask questions. And you always have the option to rebook the same vet to help grow that special relationship over time.”

This team provides care for every stage in a pet’s life, and most of their needs, too; that’s everything from routine wellness exams, microchipping, nutrition consulting, and even emergency services including those with specialized equipment like ultrasound machines. When the time comes to ease a pet’s end-of-life transition, the team also offers at-home euthanasia, dramatically reducing stress for both pets and people who don’t want a sterile environment or a tearful drive home.

The American Veterinary Medical Association lists many needs for senior pets, including increased medical care, vaccinations, and pet parents that are observant about environmental concerns like house structure and stimulation. With a home vet, pet owners might consider asking for opinions on how to streamline some of these interactions, without having to worry about having to write notes, try to remember potential issues in the space, or miss any important details a professional would see right away.

A good vet can make animals comfortable no matter what, but The Vets emphasizes the stronger relationships that its team can build in a comfortable, stress-free environment. In addition to a more convenient and comfortable experience, this can also mean better care for a pet that doesn’t have an entire puppyhood to adjust.

More information about The Vets, including scheduling, is available at thevets.com.

Austin-area pig rescue wins Airbnb contest to build one-of-a-kind pig-themed guest house

This Place is a Pigsty

KVUE — From tens of thousands of entries from around the world, 100 aspiring designers, architects, DIYers, and makers from more than 20 countries and regions have been chosen to bring their unique space ideas to life as part of the $10,000,000 Airbnb OMG! Fund.

One of those winners is Tracey Stabile, director of the Central Texas Pig Rescue (CTPR) in Austin. Tracey and Dan Illescas, founders of Central Texas Pig Rescue, will receive up to $100,000 to create a one-of-a-kind pig-shaped guest space. Over the course of the next 10 months, they will design, construct, and outfit the space to be guest-ready by summer 2023.

"Basically the OMG! Fund contest was a way for people to be really playful and kind of invent a really cool dwelling that would be something that's totally notable to people and be a destination," said Stabile.

Stabile said Airbnb left all of the freedom of creativity up to them. They went through several rounds of design and planning and review.

"Each step of the way, we were like, 'We're one step closer.' It was very exciting. Just getting those emails at each milestone and seeing that we were actually contenders in this contest. Then the fact that we, of course, won and now we're going to be able to build this amazing thing that we absolutely never would have been able to build under other circumstances. It's just an amazing opportunity," stated Stabile.

Stabile said she wanted to build something that was a little bit unpredictable and wanted to avoid some of the shapes that people might expect. The current pig sanctuary in Smithville, about 45 minutes outside of Austin, is home to over 200 pigs that were saved from abandonment. The sanctuary houses a mix of all different types of pigs, mostly potbellied pigs, and is 100 percent volunteer run and 100 percent donation based.

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Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Texas state parks beckon this holiday season with festive events and peaceful escapes

Silent nights

If roasting s'mores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
Follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 am-12 pm December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Visit the popular attraction during December to learn how the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am-2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 pm December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2-5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive through December 19. Visit December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 am December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm December 17.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru, 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on December 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park, 6-8 pm December 10.