The Turtle Creek Chorale is back and better than ever

Posted on 27 Apr 2015 at 11:35am

TCC Artistic Director Sean Baugh (photo H Henley)

Have you ever walked out of a Turtle Creek Chorale concert grinning from ear to ear and singing? Saturday night’s performance had people out of their seats cheering one of the best shows the group has ever performed.

And that’s wasn’t just me saying it. That was one person after another I heard after the show at City Performance Hall on Saturday.

The audience at Saturday night’s Britten, Beatles & Bond was clapping along from the opening Beatles number and not just cheering but giving standing ovations throughout the evening.

The reception was well deserved.

This was Artistic Director Sean Baugh’s first concert since being named permanently to the position. He’s been acting artistic director since last summer. This was also acting Executive Director Bruce Jaster’s first concert since taking the position earlier this year. May the two have a long and continued successful tenure together. They’re obviously the right combination the chorale needed.

Jaster, a former singer and board member, was at ease dressed as Sgt. Pepper — I think he was more Dr Pepper — and Baugh has gotten better and better with each concert he’s conducted this season. He’s made that stage his own in less a full season on stage. All the fun the audience remembers from a Tim Seelig concert is back and Baugh’s breadth of music knowledge is apparent from the minute he picks up his baton through his final bow.

If you’ve ever been a Turtle Creek Chorale fan but have stayed away lately, it’s time to give the Chorale another look. There’s another concert this weekend called Musica de Mayo at 7:30 p.m. on May 2 the Latino Cultural Center.

Featuring small ensembles and soloists from the chorale, the Hotchkiss Elementary School Choir and Mi Diva Loca, the sizzling music celebrates Latino culture and heritage just in time for Cinco de Mayo. The evening honors Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Tickets are $25-35 and available online.

Turtle-ly 80s on June 12-14 celebrates the chorale’s founding decade of teased hair, baggy pants and more and is a chance to sing along with those 150 or more fabulous voices. Tickets for that performance are available here.


Cocktail Friday: Ancho Martini and Prickly Margarita

Posted on 24 Apr 2015 at 12:34pm
Ancho Tequila Martini

Ancho Tequila Martini

Randall Warder, chef/owner of Clark Food & Wine Co. (one of my top tables last year), has come up with a cool idea for a complex world: Random Act of Kindness Happy Hour. The idea goes like this: At some point during Clark’s evening happy hour (weekdays, 3–7 p.m.), a bell will ring reminding patrons to do something nice for someone else — pay them a compliment, hold open the door, call their mom. And it starts at Clark, which will buy a round of happy-hour drinks for the patrons present. That should put everyone in a good mood, and encourage them to pay it forward.

So we figured, we’d start it, because today not only marks the start of the policy but also a new craft cocktail drink menu at Clark, with their take on everything from a shandy to a margarita to two well-suited for summer in Dallas.

Ancho Tequila Martini

2 oz. Pura vida Gold tequila

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. agave syrup

Thyme (pinch, and a sprig)

Ancho powder (pinch)


Prickly Margarita

Making it: Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass except the sprig of thyme. Shake with ice for 10–15 seconds. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with sprig.

Prickly Margarita

2 oz. Z Blanco tequila

1 oz. prickly pear juice

1 oz. lemon juice

1 ox. lime juice

1/2 oz. agave.

Making it: Mix all the ingredients in a Boston shaker, and pour in a tall glass over ice. Garnish with a wheel of lime.


STAGE REVIEWS: It’s just a fantasy — ‘All My Sons,’ ‘Mildred Wild’

Posted on 23 Apr 2015 at 1:30pm

Terry Martin in 'All My Sons' (Photo by Karen Almond)

To contemporary audiences, Arthur Miller’s All My Sons feels like a first draft for his more famous Death of a Salesman. The plots are different, but the themes are eerily similar: An ageing patriarch with two sons lives in a kind of fantasy world of self-denial, aided by his doting but unstable wife; when his transgressions are revealed and one son loses faith in the father’s character, the older man cannot live with the consequences. That describes Willy, Linda and Biff Loman as well as Joe, Katie and Chris Keller. It makes you wonder exactly what Miller’s hangup was with parental figures.

Although All My Sons was eclipsed by Salesman, which came out two years later, it did win the first-ever Tony Award for best play, and has been revived several times on Broadway as well as regional theaters, of which WaterTower Theatre is the latest. While Miller was one of our primary exponents of American realism in drama as filtered through the abstractions of memory, his go-to often ended up being melodrama. That’s a problem inherent in the play, from the brooding Act 2 appearance of the chief antagonist, George, to the ways characters’ convictions seem to hinge on just a word or two. The Keller family has built an emotional house of cards that gets blown over by the storm that opens the show — heavy-handed, self-important and metaphor-laden, in case you needed to be reminded.

That hand-holding is something that has always irked me about Miller’s plays, though a good production can usually grant you permission to you overlook them (or think less about them), and WTT’s production is a good one, especially with Terry Martin in the leading role of Joe. Martin is one of North Texas’ most popular acting coaches, and he proves why every time he gets onstage. He lives inside the moment of the show, never overplaying but not afraid to explore the emotional edges of his characters. Joe is a surprisingly reckless chap, courting conflict with a kingly sense of entitlement and untouchability, and, Lear-like, discovers too late the cracks in the veneer.

Katie, played by Diana Sheehan, is a familiar type from mid-20th-century American theater: The emotional wreck trying to maintain the semblance of family, and inadvertently undermining it. We see it in Linda Loman, but also Amanda Wingfield (Glass Menagerie) and Mary Tyrone (Long Day’s Journey) and others. It’s a prickly thing to do, teetering on the brink of madness, and Sheehan does a good job. The more problematic performance is Joey Folsom as George. Folsom is a talented actor, but he seems to be appearing in an entirely different production. Gloomy as an undertaker and stalking the stage more than moving across it, he feels like Bogart with his brusque, hard-nosed delivery and squinting scowl. It’s as if he were plopped right out of 1946, which isn’t bad, except than most of the other actors don’t go there, so it’s a jarring disconnect from the world director David Denson has created.

All My Sons never fully comes together as a play; it feels almost too ambitious, as if Miller couldn’t resist moralizing about money, law, lust, family and guilt in one great epic, in case he never wrote another play again. He did, of course, which bloats the stage exactly when he needs to pull back. It’s almost in spite of itself that it still makes good points amid all the sanctimony.

Mildred Will (Marcia Carroll) is another character living in a fantasy world. She’s a woman disappointed by life who has retreated her inner life of movie magazines and TV, frittering away her existence in 1970s-era New York. When she wins a contest that promises to give her a new start, she allows herself a brief window of hope … only to have it yanked out from under her.

Doesn’t sound much like a comedy, does it? And in fact, The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, now at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, isn’t really meant to be all that funny. It has a darkness to it, sandwiched by some one-liners. Think Kiss of the Spider Woman more than You Can’t Take It With You.

Neil Simon, of course, was the master of the “comedy” that ultimately proved to be quite sad, and Paul Zindel is no Neil Simon. (His two best-known plays, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, are more definitively dramas.) There should be a bright-line that divides her depressing reality from her idealized dream world, which simply doesn’t happen under director Frank Latson. For instance, Mildred’s husband, played by Scott Latham, is sad-sack with a bad toupee, while the actor also is supposed to be the romantic lead in Mildred’s reimagined movies (she’s always the heroine, trying gamely to cast her spouse in the heroic role he doesn’t play in her day-to-day life). But Latham seems just as dull and awkward whether he’s being Fred Astaire or Clark Gable as he is a lonely candy store salesman.

Many of the problems with the play, though, lay in Zindel’s script, which — like All My Sons — tries to do too much at once. All the action takes place over the course of about 48 hours, even though there’s no reason to pile on except to create a sense of urgency. But it feels false, and the reality of Mildred’s plight comes off as theatrical and resolvable, if anyone simply put in some effort. Her home is about to be destroyed by a wrecking ball, but she hasn’t packed a single valise, nor does anyone seem concerned about that. It’s hard to care about characters when the playwright doesn’t, either.


Terry Dobson, longtime actor and musician, has died

Posted on 23 Apr 2015 at 9:50am

11182129_10153223194264417_6063514439171344223_nTerry Dobson, who for 30-plus years served as a music director, keyboardist, actor, playwright and bon vivant in the Dallas theater community, died last night. He was 59.

It was hard to miss Terry. Standing six-foot-six and cutting a lanky silhouette with a Marty Feldman-esque mug, he towered over theater lobbies. But much of his career, mostly as the musical director at Theatre 3, was spent behind the scenes, arranging scores of the musicals performed there, usually leading the band and playing keyboards. He once arranged a piece for Stephen Sondheim which the composer was pleased with; he loved to tell that story.

But Terry could also be frequently seen in front of the limelights. He performed in the Tony Award-winning three-hander Art at FMPAT, as well as numerous shows at Theatre 3. He last trod the boards in Assassins playing the would-be presidential murderer Sam Byck.

But the show Terry will be most closely associated with will surely be My Own Private Diva, a more-or-less solo show about his journey from his native Slapout, Ala., to the big city of Dallas. The play was also a love letter to his best friend and muse, local actress Sally Soldo.

Soldo was with Terry and members of his family when he passed away last night in New York City. Plans are currently underway to arrange for a cremation. Dallas memorial services are pending.

Terry was a longtime HIV survivor, and was very open about his status. About a year ago, his health took a serious turn which necessitated him stepping down from his duties at Theatre 3. But in recent weeks, he had bounced back. Personally, I ran into Sally and Terry about a month ago at the Dallas Summer Musicals. He was in good spirits and alert and friendly. “He was in great shape and happy,” Soldo told me. “We were [recently] at [Theatre 3's production of] Hot Mikado and a big Easter celebration with his extended family. This was very sudden.”

His fatal illness was not only unexpected, but unrelated to his HIV status.  A few weeks ago, Terry took a trip to New York City to take in some Broadway shows. The day after one, he fell quickly ill and was admitted into a hospital. He had developed sepsis owing to a perforated ulcer. He was treated with antibiotics and seemed to be improving. Then he developed some abscesses and his condition worsened over the weekend. Soldo flew to his side Tuesday to meet with the family.

This is one of several sadnesses visited upon Theatre 3′s staff recently. The company’s founding producer, Jac Alder — the longest-serving artistic director of an arts organization in the U.S., having helmed it for more than 50 years — was recently admitted to Baylor’s ICU for treatment of pneumonia. Until he is released, which will hopefully be in a few days, plans for a memorial for Dobson are on hold.

“Terry hated memorial services,” Soldo said. “When he had to play music for them, he ducked out as soon as it was over. So I don’t know what we will be doing, but I am sure it will involve chocolate.”

Terry would have appreciated that.


Tallywackers set to open in old Lolita’s space

Posted on 22 Apr 2015 at 10:04am

TallyKids today grow up in a more sophisticated time. When I was a lad, we used lot of euphemisms to describe body parts. One I learned at a young age, but have rarely heard used since I was 8, is “tallywacker,” meaning penis. I’m not sure of the etymology, but it seems to me “tallywacker” sounds like something much, much worse than penis.

So the addition to the gayborhood of a new restaurant called Tallywackers conjures up all sorts of memories from childhood. Innocence. Shame. Infantilization of genitalia. And wieners.

Well, the wieners in a bun is what the owners of Tallywackers probably want you to think about. It’s being called the male equivalent of Hooters, which famously serves wings (hooters … owls … wings … get it?), though the wording is far less subtle. The servers — who were being recruited over the weekend — will be hot young men clad in towels, undies, etc.

It shouldn’t be surprising, or even that offensive. I mean, how many times have you bought a glowing vial of alcohol from a bikini-wearing go-go boy at a nightclub, or a drink from a leatherman in a jockstrap? Does it make a difference that someone wants to sell fries with that shake?

The restaurant is scheduled to begin service in May. Here’s to hoping they have a big opening.


Marvel’s Iceman is gay!

Posted on 22 Apr 2015 at 9:47am

icemanIssue No. 40 of All New X-Men is out today, and readers of the Marvel Comic by Brian Michael Bendis had something confirmed that has been rumored for a while: That Iceman, one of the original X-Men, is not just a friend of Wolverine … he’s also a friend of Dorothy. Yup, the cool superhero is officially gay. Iceman isn’t the first gay hero, but it’s notable nonetheless.

Just how gay? Well, stop by Zeus Comics and ask out owner Richard Neal to sell it to ya and find out for yourself.


Women in — and out — of sports

Posted on 21 Apr 2015 at 9:10am

Helen Carroll

The story is current. But you can be forgiven for thinking it’s from 10 years ago. Or 50.

Shannon Miller was one of the most successful coaches in college athletics — in any sport, of both genders. She won five women’s ice hockey NCAA national championships at the University of Minnesota Duluth (and a medal with the Canadian Olympic team). Just before New Year’s, though, she was fired. The stated reason? Her salary was too high.

Facing budget problems, the athletic direct and chancellor let her go. They axed her entire staff, too. They did not, however, fire the men’s hockey coach … a man who was less successful than Miller, but earned more.

Interestingly, Miller — and all her (fired) assistant coaches — are lesbian or bisexual.

This is not the first curious dismissal of a female college coach in recent years. Last year, veteran University of Iowa field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum was fired, despite being cleared of charges that she had been verbally abusive. Griesbaum’s partner, a woman who was an athletic administrator at Iowa, was reassigned to other duties, soon after Griesbaum’s dismissal.

The year before, University of Texas woman’s track and field coach Bev Kearney was offered a choice (resign or be fired) for having a consensual sexual relationship with an athlete on her team.

These are just three of nearly a dozen gender-related incidents reported by Pat Griffin in a Huffington Post story called “College Athletics’ War on Women Coaches.” All occurred within the past decade. And all cause LGBT activitists like Helen Carroll to wonder why male and female coaches are treated so differently, in so many ways.

UMD’s retention of the less successful, more costly men’s hockey staff is not an isolated incident. Carroll — the sports project director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, pictured — notes that Iowa’s Griesbaum was held to a different standard than male coaches. “Guys say aggressive things all the time, without being fired,” Carroll says. “The consequences here were really severe. Can you imagine Jim Harbaugh being fired for something like that?”

At Texas, according to Griffin, Kearney’s sex and race discrimination lawsuit says that “male coaches who had sexual relationships with female students were either not disciplined or received lighter punishments and retained their jobs.”

“Sexism and homophobia are intertwined,” Carroll claims. “You can’t separate the two.”

And the twin forces of discrimination affect all women, regardless of their sexual orientation. “Every woman in sports faces stereotypes,” Carroll says. “There’s a certain standard of appearance that the people in charge want to put forth.

Almost always, of course the people in charge are males. Carroll points with chagrin to the University of Tennessee. For decades, she says, that school had a superb women’s athletics program. Run by Joan Cronan — and separate from the men’s department — it achieved renown in a number of sports. Cronan battled for equality in pay, sponsorships and facilities with men’s athletics.

But when she retired in 2012, the men’s and women’s departments were merged. The combined athletic director (male) dismissed a number of very experienced, successful women from positions in athletic training, sports information and health and wellness. He replaced them with men. Lawsuits are ongoing.

Taken together, Carroll says, the effects are devastating. Women are being eliminated from positions of leadership, and leadership tracks. Further, the consequences of being let go are different than for men. Males, Carroll says, are quickly hired for new jobs. The stigma against fired women — some of it related to perceptions (real or imagined) about sexual orientation — prevents them from finding new jobs in their profession.

“These are experienced, strong coaches,” Carroll says. “They’re not novices. But once they’re gone, they never coach or work in athletics again.”

It happens, she reiterates, because of “sexism in sports. Look at the leaders. It’s guy athletic directors making decisions, lots of times backed by their college presidents. It’s all because men’s athletics brings in the big money. I’d like to think this doesn’t happen in 2015. But it does.”

There are signs of progress. The Women’s Basketball Coaches Association has set up strong support systems. Nevin Caple just launched Coaches Corner (, an online networking platform and comprehensive resource center for coaches and athletic administrators (male and female) at all levels of women’s and girls’ sports.

Will men find the site, and utilize it? They should. Right now they hold positions of power – and thus seem to hold the key to women’s sports.

But Carroll is not pinning all her hopes on men.

“I’m optimistic, because there’s a group of strong young women coming up,” she says. “They’re interested in athletics. They’re coaches, and members of the LGBT Sports Coalition. They’re willing to fight.”

And, so long as they’re all not fired, they’ll fight for women in sports for decades to come.

 — Dan Woog


Nick Jonas performs Wednesday at Anatole

Posted on 20 Apr 2015 at 11:16am

Nick JonasNick Jonas has had a varied career, from one-third of the chastity-pledging Jonas Brothers to the hot shirtless actor who plays gay in TV miniseries. In short, we love Nick’s trajectory. And we love even more than he will be performing a free concert on Wednesday at the Hilton Anatole … only you need to be a member of the club to see it. He’s part of the series Hilton@PLAY, which teams with Live Nation to provide exclusive concerts for  Hilton HHonors members, so if you aren’t signed up you’re out of luck… though you still have time to join and attend.  Or you can see Nick’s new video here.


Cocktail Friday: The 10 Martini

Posted on 17 Apr 2015 at 1:13pm

IMG_1064Kenichi, the long-running Japanese restaurant in Victory Park (it’s the longest continuously-operating restaurant in the neighborhood), recently hired a hot new executive sushi chef, who will launch his new menu on Monday. I’ll have a review of it next week. But until then, I thought I’d share one of the faboo cocktails the back at Kenichi offers: The 10.

1-1/4 oz. Tanqueray Ten gin

1/2 oz. St-Germain liqueur

1/2 oz. simple syrup

Lime juice


Making it: Combine gin, liqueur, syrup and a splash of lime in a shaker, pour into a martini glass. Top with a splash of champagne. Garnish with a cucumber.




Sam Kalin nominated for Golden Crown Literary Society Award

Posted on 17 Apr 2015 at 11:51am


First-time author Sam Kalin of Dallas, who wrote the moving autobiography First Stone: A Gay Daughter’s Survival in a Religious World, has been nominated for a Goldie Award in the Golden Crown Literary Society’s annual competition.

Kalin is one of seven finalists in the Creative Non-Fiction category. Her book, published last year by Canyonwalker Press, tells the gritty, often heart-wrenching story of her life, growing up as the only daughter of a evangelical preacher, who himself was the son of a preacher. In First Stone, Kalin tells how she survived her father’s physical abuse, her uncle’s sexual abuse and the spiritual abuse that comes with growing up gay in a religious family, and how she is still working to overcome the scars her early years left on her soul.

Read my review of Sam’s book here.

The Golden Crown Literary Society is a nonprofit, volunteer organization founded in 2004 and dedicated to educating people about and promoting and recognizing lesbian literature. The organization aims to provide learning opportunities, encouragement and assistance to new and established authors in developing their craft; support and strengthen quality lesbian writing by providing educational programs and creating opportunities for readers and writers to interact; and to recognize and promote lesbian literary work. Membership in the society is $25 a year.

GCLS sponsors conference each year for lesbian writers. This year’s event will be held July 22-26 at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. Keynote speaker will be Dorothy Allison, award winning author of Bastard out of Carolina. Cuban-born, Louisiana-based author Ali Vali will also speak, and lesbian literary icon Rita Mae Brown will attend, as well.

For more information or to register, go here.