Harry Houdini lent a degree of legitimacy to the magic arts early in the 20th century, performing illusions in public venues, lecturing and appearing in the movies until his death in 1926 on Halloween. Contemporary magicians Jonathan and Charlotte Pendragon re-create two of Houdini's illusions, besting the best in the Metamorphosis illusion, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. "We perform it in a quarter of a second," Charlotte Pendragon says, beating the former record of three seconds. "The effect is instantaneous," she says. The Pendragons' Mysterium performance, showing at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. December 29, features large illusions, the couple's penchant for romantic comedy and "close-up" magic tricks. Like Houdini, who was madly in love with the dancer-singer Bess Raymond, whom he married and later performed with, the Pendragons met and married at the University of California at Irvine. They've worked together 25 years, still madly in love, they say, and still incorporating dance, music, visual arts and ideas from film effects in their work. Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall is located at 525 Commerce St. Tickets are $14.50 to $29.50. Call 817-212-4200. --Annabelle Massey Helber
Show of hands: How many of you have ever sabotaged your neighbors' display during a holiday yard-decorating contest? OK, fine. How many of you have sabotaged your neighbors' display just because they're show-offs and you know that pumpkin roll they gave you was store-bought and they just took it out of the package and wrapped it in red cling wrap to make it look like they spent hours slaving away when that's what you did on their cookies and it's not like you wouldn't be fine with it if they were just honest and left it in the package? Not that we have any feeling on the matter or anything. Joe Sears and Jaston Williams, however, know all about small-town Christmas chaos as they perform the final 24 hours before Christmas as it takes place in the tiny town of Tuna, the third-smallest town in the Lone Star State, thanks very much. There's a far-from-successful production of A Christmas Carol and the already mentioned yard contest. Casa Mañana welcomes Sears and Williams to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth as they portray all 24 citizens and exhaust the possibilities of holiday mayhem through December 26. Tickets are $20 to $59. Call 817-212-4280. --Merritt Martin
For culinary simplicity and gratification, there's no better cuisine than Tex-Mex. Tasty beans, steaming tortillas, rich sauces--and if you're lucky, lard. Lots and lots of lard. The truth is lard makes things taste delicious. Though, like so many of life's pleasures, it'll kill ya. These complexities may (or may not) be discussed when Southwest Communications Associates mounts Cooking With Lard, a play set in a small-town Texas diner with four women playing all the roles, through December 30 at the Southfork Motel in Plano. Call 214-821-9411. --Sarah Hepola
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Don't Know Jack
Jack Ingram knows: Stand me up for an interview and feel my wrath--by which I mean that I will stand at the back of the crowd at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, several thousand people between us, and yell "Jerk!" loud enough that my friend and three people who think I'm talking to my friend can hear. Maybe I'll make a repeat performance at Ingram's Christmas concert Saturday at Billy Bob's Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth. Tickets are $8.75 to $12.75. Call 817-624-7117. --Shannon Sutlief
Cold as Ice
To play up the cliché: "It's Cinderella like you've never seen it before!" Yeah, because it's on ice. Unless you've been to one of the Disney theme parks and seen the girl dressed up as Cinderella fall on her ass because of a patch of black ice during the street parade, this will be a new experience for you. All cynicism aside, this truly different show is not something to feel ashamed about. Mainly because this is not--we repeat--not Disney on Ice. The performance, sponsored by Dallas Summer Musicals, will be for the whole family, but don't expect zany anamorphic performers sliding around like Chevy Chase doing his President Ford shtick. Cinderella will be performed at the Majestic Theatre (that's right; in the Majestic...with ice) and has been brought to Dallas by the St. Petersburg State Ballet on Ice. The choreography by Konstantin Rassadin of the famed Kirov Ballet will be a substantial boon to the event as well. Think about it like this: You're going to get world-class ballerinas/figure skaters performing a timeless tale, choreographed by a man who, in his time, was the crème de la crème of the ballet circuit--all authentic, all Russian, all right here in Dallas. To put it bluntly, the fanciest of Russia without all the reminders of Communism, and the classic tale of Cinderella without the saccharineness of Walt Disney. Performances are 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, 2 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Tickets are $13 to $45, and valet parking is $10, available from Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000 or www.ticketmaster.com. --Jonathan Freeman