A friend in need …

Posted on 14 Jan 2010 at 5:33pm
By David Taffet | Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

DTC preview performance of new musical to benefit fire victim Liz Mikel

THE SHOW MUST GO ON | Liz Mikel, who lost almost all her belongings in a fire at her apartment complex last week, rehearses with two assistant choreographers on stage Wednesday, Jan. 13. Mikel, in red, appears in "Give It Up," a modern take on the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata," running Jan. 22-Feb. 14 at the Wyly Theatre. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Popular Dallas entertainer Liz Mikel and her daughter escaped injury Jan. 7 when fire destroyed their Holly Oaks apartment off Greenville Avenue. But mother and daughter lost just about everything but each other in the blaze.

Now her friends and colleagues in the LGBT community and the Dallas theater community are stepping up to help.

Investigators have not released the cause of the fire that destroyed six to eight units, but initial reports indicate the fire apparently started in a fireplace in a downstairs unit.

"We were dead asleep. Dead asleep," Mikel said. "I heard this banging on my front door. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang."

Her youngest daughter, who lives with her, came into her bedroom and said, "Mama, it’s a fire!"

But they didn’t realize how devastating until they opened the front door.
"There was fire above our heads," Mikel said.

She grabbed her coat and her laptop that was sitting on top of a laundry hamper and ran out. She thought she pushed her daughter out the door, but heard her screaming from the apartment so she went back in for her. Her daughter was just in her pajamas.

Before getting in her car, Mikel stopped to bang on other doors to make sure her neighbors were safe.

The apartment was a total loss and Mikel escaped with only the laptop.
Mikel began her musical and theatrical career in 1990 and became popular in the LGBT community singing at places such as Bill’s Hideaway and Side 2 Bar. Most recently she has performed at Alexandre’s on Cedar Springs Road.

She has participated in numerous AIDS fundraisers for the Resource Center’s Food Pantry and other organizations and has entertained at Black Tie Dinner and Toast to Life.

In 2007, she won a Dallas Voice Reader’s Choice Award for best actress.

At the time of the fire, Mikel was in rehearsal for a new Dallas Theater Center production of the original musical, "Give It Up." DTC public relations director Jake Cigainero said that the Friday, Jan. 15 preview performance of the show will be a "pay what you can" performance with all proceeds going to Mikel.

Tucker’s Blues in Deep Ellum held a fundraiser for Mikel earlier this week. Mama’s Party, a monthly cabaret at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, raised $500 for her on Monday, Jan. 11.

Although she missed rehearsals the day of the fire, Mikel was back on stage the next day. Her daughter missed a day of school, but returned to school and her job on Friday as well.

MIkel’s current show, "Give It Up," is based on the ancient Greek comedy "Lysistrata," about a group of women who refuse to have sex with their husbands until they end the Peloponnesian War.

In this updated version, set at an American university, the basketball team is content to lose every game. The cheerleaders decide to not "Give It Up" until the players break the school’s 30-year losing streak.

Mikel is a member of the Theater Center’s resident acting company and has appeared in such productions as "The Who’s Tommy," "Crowns" and "MacBeth." Elsewhere in North Texas she has performed with WaterTower Theatre, Theater Three, Casa Manana and Jubilee Theater.

In addition to the current production, Mikel is scheduled to appear in the upcoming DTC productions "Death of a Salesman" and "It’s a Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman," according to the theater’s Web site.

Mikel is currently featured in the Dallas County Community College ad campaign. For three seasons, she appeared on the NBC show "Friday Night Lights" as Corrina Williams, mother of Dillon High School quarterback Smash. That show is filmed in and around Austin.

Since the fire, Mikel and her youngest daughter have been living with her oldest daughter. She said that with rehearsals, she hasn’t had time to even think about looking for a new place to live.

"Maybe after we get this show open," she said.

The musical opens next Friday, Jan 22 and runs through Feb. 14.

One thing she no longer has to worry about, though, is what to wear.

On Thursday afternoon, Mikel said a box arrived for her at the Wyly Theatre. She was overjoyed to see that the "Friday Night Lights" production company in Austin sent her her character’s entire wardrobe from the show.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2010.

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