DMA expands this season’s Arts & Letters live with Chelsea Clinton

Posted on 13 Feb 2017 at 12:55pm

For more than two decades, the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts & Letters Live program has brought in many authors, activists and artists to talk about their work in a seminar-like session. This season’s lineup was just expanded, however, to add two more writers: Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, will discuss her latest A Piece of the World on April 3. But even more exciting is the “get” of Chelsea Clinton, who will appear on April 23 to discuss her book It’s Your World

Tickets are currently on sale for DMA members ($40) and will open to the general public on Wednesday. VIP tickets are available for the evening event with Chelsea Clinton and include reserved front-section seating, a paperback copy of It’s Your World and a “fast track” pass for the booksigning following the event; VIP tickets are $55 with discounts for students and DMA members. Order online at or call 214-922-1818.



Grammy winners include many gay faves

Posted on 12 Feb 2017 at 10:48pm

The Grammy Awards broadcast doesn’t feature all that many handing-out of trophies (which is frustrating for those of us who care about, oh you know, the winners). I mean, they have time for two performances each by Bruno Mars and Adele (three for Adele, if you count her post-F-bomb do-over) and lame bits by overrated host James Corden, but can’t even do a scroll of winners? It’s why I hate the show in general… though having Laverne Cox as a presenter and Kayne leaving empty-handed almost made it worth it.

But in between musical performances — including a baby-bumped Beyonce that will surely be the most talked-about appearance of the night — they did reveal a number of recipients, many adored by (or part of) the LGBT community. (Since there are nearly 100 categories, I’ll limit myself to the biggest ones and those of the most interest.)

Early on, the late David Bowie proved a favorite with four wins for his final album, Blackstar, which dropped last year just days before his death. The androgynous legend won for best rock performance and rock song for the eponymous single, best alternative music album and best engineering. (The album also took best recording package.)

Adele took the three top prizes of the night, including album of the year (and pop vocal album for 25, as well as song of the year (awarded to the composers) and record of the year (to the performer and producer) for “Hello,” plus best pop solo performance. Best pop duo/group performance went to Twenty-One Pilots for “Stressed Out.”

Best music video was no surprise: Beyonce’s “Formation.” (Lemonade also took urban contemporary album, though in her acceptance speech, Adele all but gave it to her for album of the year.) But her sister Solange proved a winner, too, when “Cranes in the Sky” took best R&B performance.

Best new artist went to Chance the Rapper, who spent an inordinate amount of time thanking god for his win. He also won best rap performance for “No Problem” and rap album for his debut disc. Drake won best rap/sung collaboration for “Hotline Bling,” which also took best rap song.

Best country performance (duo or group) went to the pairing of Arlington natives Pentatonix (with gay members) with queer icon Dolly Parton for “Jolene.”

The best spoken word album went to Carol Burnett for In Such Good Company. Best comedy album went to Patton Oswalt for Talking for Clapping. (He bested, among others, Tig Notaro and Margaret Cho.) Best world music album went to cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble for Sing Me Home. Cast recording of a musical went to The Color Purple.

Best soundtrack for visual media (movie or TV) went to John Williams’ score to The Force Awakens. Best song written for visual media went to Justin Timberlake and company for “Cant Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls. It’s also nominated for an Oscar, but it bears noting, La La Land was not eligible this year.

Best traditional pop vocal album went to Texan Willie Nelson for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sing Gershwin. Best rock album went to Tell Me I’m Pretty from Cage The Elephant. Best dance recording went to The Chainsmokers for “Don’t Let Me Down.” Best dance/electronic album went to Flume’s Skin.

Best engineered album classical went to the recording of gay composer John Corigliano’s opera, The Ghosts of Versailles, which also took best opera recording.


DSO announces stellar lineup for Jaap van Zweden’s final season

Posted on 11 Feb 2017 at 2:12pm

In May of next year, Jaap van Zweden will conduct his final concert as music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, capping off 11 seasons with the classic music company.

Van Zweden’s planned departure was announced more than a year ago, and it will be another year-plus before his last wave of the baton as artistic leader of the DSO, but there are plenty of other performances until then, as just revealed in the DSO’s release of its 2017–18 season.

The season starts on Sept. 14 and 17 as he leads Mahler’s 5th Symphony. (He’ll also lead the DSO gala concert on Sept. 16.) He will then conduct Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto and “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 (Sept. 28–Oct. 1). He will end 2017 conducting celloist Alisa Weilerstein in Prokofiev and Schumann (Nov. 24–26). He returns in 2018 conducting the Lebeque sisters in piano pieces by Phillip Glass and Bruckner (Fe. 2–3), and immediately returns to conduct Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (Feb. 8–10) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (Feb. 23–25).

Van Zweden will conclude with a flurry of three ambitious concerts in close succession: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 (April 26–28), a complete concert version (including vocals) of Wagner’s opera Die Walkure (May 18–20) and finally the legendary Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven (May 24–26).

That won’t be the entire lineup from the DSO, however. In addition, there will be violinist Hilary Hahn (Sept. 21–24), with James Diaz on organ, performing Sebelius, Dvorak and more; pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (Oct. 19–22) performing Debussy and Ravel; a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (Nov. 2–5); Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony No. 3 (Nov. 16–19); Rachmanioff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Jan. 11–13, 2018); Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with soloist Nicola Benedetti (Jan. 18–21); Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony No. 6 (Feb. 15–18); Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (March 8–11); the complete lineup of Bach’s six Brandenberg concerti (March 22–25); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 (April 12–15).

There will also be a Pops Series (beginning with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and include movie music, a Christmas concert and Broadway legend Bernadette Peters.

Season packages go on sale today, starting at $119. Visit


Come to Pride Night with ‘Hedwig’ at the Winspear tonight

Posted on 09 Feb 2017 at 12:18pm

My full review of Hedwig & the Angry Inch will not appear until later today or early tomorrow, but this is all you need to know: The show is amazing, and tonight promises to be even more amazing, as the Dallas Voice and Cathedral of Hope have paired with the AT&T Performing Arts Center to sponsor Pride Night, an LGBT-specific party-and-performance. Arrive by 6:30 p.m. to enjoy signature cocktails, a live DJ, cast appearances, a raffle and dancing until midnight (of, and you can check out the performance from 7:30–9:15 as well with tickets, here). Learn more about the party here, and check out the paper (in print or online) for the official review. Cheers!


Randy Rainbow: Just looking for a match with some facts

Posted on 06 Feb 2017 at 2:01pm



Lady Gaga is coming to Dallas (and the Round-Up Saloon?)

Posted on 06 Feb 2017 at 11:41am

Lady Gaga announced she’ll be coming to Dallas to perform at American Airlines Center on Dec. 8. Tickets go on sale on Monday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be sold out on Monday, Feb. 20 at 10:01 a.m.

During each of her last visits to Dallas, Lady Gaga visited her friends at the Round-Up Saloon. She credits owners Gary and Alan with giving her one of her first breaks by having her perform at their bar on Cedar Springs Road and has visited during her other appearances in Dallas.

Here’s the video of her performance in Houston at the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.


The end of an era: Theatre Britain’s current season will be its last

Posted on 06 Feb 2017 at 9:37am

Theatre Britain — the local company founded in 1996, and run by native Brits Sue and Ian Birch since 2002 — has grown and contracted its seasons over the year, and expanded to an impressive five-show season for 2017 (its first production of the new season, the comedy Will You Still Love Me in the Morning?, pictured, opens Friday). Things seem to be going well.

Except that that Birches have decided they miss Merrie Olde England, and are moving across the pond early next year. Since Sue was the creative force behind the company, this will be the final season.

“It’s bittersweet news!” Sue told me.

One of the staples of Theatre Britain’s season has been the traditional Christmas panto” — a comedy fable (Cinderella, Puss-in-Boots, etc.) aimed at children but with delightfully campy content for adults, including cross-dressing and double entendres. The upcoming panto — they have just announced that this year’s is the world premiere Three Musketeers — will be the final production of Theatre Britain.

On a personal note, the Birches are some of the most pleasant folks to deal with in theater. I’ll miss them as compatriots of theater.

You can get tickets for the new show, or sign up for the final season, here.


Makeup Tutorial: Tess Paras shows you how to Make Your Face Great Again

Posted on 03 Feb 2017 at 11:38am

Are you, like me, makeup-impaired? Are you planning for a big event and want to look extra-special? Or do you just need a new look in general?

Well, writer/actor/singer Tess Paras — of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame — has just the thing for you. She’s here to show you how to Make Your Face Great Again with an exciting new technique she calls “Trumping.”

Check it out:


Film reviews: ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ and ’13th’

Posted on 03 Feb 2017 at 8:48am

James Baldwin was perhaps the most prominent African-American intellectual of the 20th century, and certainly one of the most unusual. Openly gay when few people were, he spent most of his life living abroad, particularly France. He wrote passionately in a variety of idioms — plays, essays (The Fire Next Time is necessary reading), novels (the semi-autobiographical Go Tell It On The Mountain) and poems. It was a social critic of race and sexuality, though, that he was distinguished for, in part because — unlike Malcolm X, Martin Luther King or Medgar Evers — he was not outwardly and actively political, but more an observer and commentator. He also didn’t feel that all white people were bad, as many black activists of his day professed.

After the assassinations of Malcolm, Martin and Medgar, though, Baldwin proposed to his editor a book-length analysis of how those very different men represented key elements of black experience. Baldwin got as far as a 30 page outline before he abandoned it; he died in 1987, the project never completely.

But now, it sort of has been completed. Filmmaker Raoul Peck has assembled archive footage of Baldwin and the men he knew, accumulated letters and the outline and cast Samuel L. Jackson to read them as Baldwin, and structured a masterful and shatteringly important film out of all of it — one that is as much about Baldwin himself as Malcolm, Martin and Medgar. I Am Not Your Negro, which has opened at the Magnolia Theatre (just as Black History Month begins), is a fascinating and thought-provoking film, and a testament to a time and person who valued thinking more than partisan name-calling.

The profundity of the film is Peck’s wisdom in allowing Baldwin’s words to do most of the heavy lifting. In an age of fake news, alternative facts, infantile presidential tweets and the cacophony of contemporary punditry, Baldwin’s writing was reasoned, measured, informed … and powerful. He dissects with a surgeon’s skill the influences in micronic parsing of these heroes of the civil rights era. And he leads us along unexpected paths. When, in 1968, Robert Kennedy predicted that the U.S. might have a black president in 40 years (significantly, Barack Obama was elected in 2008), Baldwin doesn’t stand by as a cheerleader rah-rahing the hopefulness, but expresses skepticism — as if the achievement wasn’t one earned, but a payment by whites to assuage their own guilt. (The fact Obama was often vilified with thinly-veiled racism and was succeeded by a race-baiting buffoon lends credence to his analysis.)

But rather than coming off as heady and dispassionate, I Am Not Your Negro is a bold and emotionally wrenching film, a plea for — if not civility — then at least rigor in our thought. It’s as powerful in its revelations about race as Cititizenfour was about U.S. intelligence. Don’t miss it. (Now playing at the Magnolia.)

You might also want to catch 13th, a Netflix original that, like Negro, is one of this year’s nominees for the Academy Award for best documentary feature. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) takes a very different approach that Peck, compiling comments from nearly 40 politicians, activists and pundits (among them conservatives like Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist, as well as more liberal voices), who weigh in on race politics in the past 50 years and beyond.

DuVernay’s premise is that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which effectively outlawed legal slavery, left a loophole that allowed the government to use the legal system to imprison and subjugate black Americans and achieve virtually the same results. (Black makes make up about 6 percent of the U.S. population, and account for about 40 percent of the more than 2 million incarcerated today.) It’s a staggering statistic and a compelling theory, for which there is substantial support … including from Gingrich himself, who says the war on drugs (punishing crack possession 10 times worse than powder cocaine) was a disaster for the the African-American community. It’s more of a hot-button style of filmmaking (crowded with data, employing rap music and personal histories to emphasize its impact) than the more contemplative I Am Not Your Negro, but there’s no denying its power. (Available for streaming on Netflix.)


Stage review: ‘An American in Paris’

Posted on 02 Feb 2017 at 12:29pm

Garen Scribner and Sara Etsy in ‘An American in Paris.’ (Photos by Matthew Murphy)

The film version of An American in Paris is one of the signature musicals of MGM’s golden age (it won the Oscar for best picture in 1951), but by modern standards, it’s not great. Sure, there’s the music by George Gershwin and the dancing of Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron (especially the centerpiece closing dream ballet), but the elements don’t always fit together well. And Kelly’s character — former G.I.-cum-starving-artist Jerry Mulligan — is pretty much a selfish prick. He allows himself to be a kept man by art patroness Milo Davenport while openly chasing gamine Lise, who is the fiancee of one of his friends. There’s not a lot of subtext there, no commentary about shell-shocked soldiers grappling with mortality or even the “lovable heel” angle of film noir. Nope, he’s just an asshole. When he gets with Lise at the end, you’re kinda mad.

These flaws are largely dispelled in Craig Lucas’ book for the original 2015 stage version of An American in Paris (now onstage at Fair Park Music Hall through Feb. 12, and moving to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth on Feb. 14). There’s grit and personality and explanations that flesh out Jerry and several other characters … and Gershwin’s music and amazing dancing. It’s truly the best of all possible worlds: A delightful, old-fashionedly show-stopping musical with a lot of smarts.

The plot is less about a love triangle than a love rhombus: French ballerina Lise (Sara Esty) is engaged Frenchman Henri (Nick Spangler), whose family may have been collaborators with the Nazis (or maybe something else). Lise doesn’t love Henri (who may even be gay), but she’s devoted to him. Jerry (Garen Scribner) is smitten with Lise, and while she feels an attraction back, she is put off that he seems to be coupled with Milo (Emily Ferranti). Meanwhile, Jerry’s fellow-American-G.I.-in-Paris Adam (Etai Benson), a composer with a gloomy outlook, pines in silence for Lise.

Lise meets with Jerry. Jerry pursues Lise. Henri can’t work up the courage to propose. Adam struggles to find a voice. Heck, it’s almost like La La Land … maybe Le Le Land.

An American in Paris is simply gorgeous in every particular, from the nimble sets (including inventive projections), evocative costumes, sparkling lighting and stunning choreography. Director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has turned a big, vivid movie into something nearly as big but specific to the stage. One of the set-pieces from the film, “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” famously includes a huge lighted staircase; the adaptation here does away with the stairs, but comes up with such a dazzling substitute you never miss it. And the closing ballet makes much more sense (a combination of dream and concert) that lasts 14 glorious minutes.

The principal actors are all deliciously ebullient and likable … even Jerry, whose treatment of Milo seems less awful (it helps that Milo is given to modern self-reflection). There aren’t enough musicals anymore that are just about being delightful. This is welcome to set the standard.

Visit here for Dallas or Fort Worth tickets.