TITAS announces 2017–18 season

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 8:04pm

Herve Koubi’s muscular dancers return in 2018

At the opening night performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, TITAS executive director Charles Santos announced the 2017–18 lineup — which, once again, is all dance. All performances will take place at either the Winspear Opera House or the City Performance Hall. Tickets will be available at ATTPAC.org.

MOMIX. The company known for its elaborate costumes and and colorfully modern dance returns for its umpteenth encore, featuring Moses Pendleton’s evening-length work Open Cactus. Winspear Opera House, Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

Ballet Hispanico. This company fuses contemporary and classic techniques of Latin dancing with passion and theatricality. City Performance Hall, Sept. 15–16. 8 p.m.

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. This troupe from Israel is one of the top touring dance companies in the world. City Performance Hall, Oct. 27–28. 8 p.m.

Malpaso Dance Company. With the borders now more open, this Cuban-based company makes its Dallas debut with a bold repertoire cultivated in its brief (five years) existence. City Performance Hall, Nov. 10–11. 8 p.m.

La Compagnie Herve Koubi. This French troupe, which made its Dallas debut a year ago as part of the 2015–16 season, and will kick off performances in 2018, this time at the Winspear. Jan. 20. 8 p.m.

Lucky Plush will make its Texas debut with this quirky, superhero-inspired production. City Performance Hall, March 9–10. 8 p.m.

L.A. Dance Project. Another Texas debut from this new Los Angeles-based company. March 30–31. 8 p.m.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The return of this powerful modern ballet company, which pulls from many traditions. Winspear Opera House, June 9. 8 p.m.

Parsons Dance Company. The New York company is known for its athletic and colorful ensemble. Winspear Opera House, June 30. 8 p.m.

In addition, the annual Command Performance Gala will take place at the Winspear Opera House, May 5. 7 p.m.

 

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Things to do this weekend

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 12:13pm

Alvin-Ailey-American-Dance-Theater's-Jamar-Roberts-and-Glenn-Allen-Sims.-Photo-by-Andrew-EcclesThere’s a lot going on tonight, tomorrow and Sunday so rather than make you look for it, I figured I’d put it all in one place.

There are some musicals in town just for another week or so — both of which I have reviewed here: Uptown Players’ It Shoulda Been You and Dallas Summer Musicals’ national tour of Kinky Boots.

For dance, there’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Winspear tonight and Saturday (both matinee and evening). I’ll be there tonight — say hi if you see me,

Trees has a performance by bounce pioneer Big Freedia, with former Dallasite Dezi 5 — he recently relocated to New York City — opening.

Saturday afternoon, Prep Warriors DFW are hosting a Q&A with medical professionals regarding the use of Truvada, also called the PrEP pill, at Sue Ellen’s from noon to 2 p.m.

And Saturday and Sunday, the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show plays… I already wrote about it here.

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Come learn about LGBT travel Sunday at Dallas Market Hall

Posted on 30 Mar 2017 at 1:09pm

The LGBT community loves to travel, but there’s more to life than Olivia Cruises and time-shares in P’town … as wonderful as those are. In fact, there’s a lot more. Wanna know what the hot spots are, how to get discounts, when to book, where to stay and other tricks of the trade? Well, that’s what the Seventh Annual Dallas Travel & Adventure Show is for.

On April 1 and 2 at Dallas Market Hall, purveyors and experts — including NPR stalwart Rick Steves, and yours truly — will be showing their wares and sharing their knowledge about travel. In fact, I’ll be participating in a panel presentation Sunday morning specifically discussing gay travel.

Doors open 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, with one- and two-day admission tickets available here… although, if you contact me directly in my Twitter (@CriticalMassTX) or Instagram (@Cineastex), I’ll be happy to see about getting you a discount.

See y’all soon!

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Funeral arrangements set for Rene Moreno

Posted on 30 Mar 2017 at 11:23am

MorenoRene Moreno, the acclaimed local director who died of cardiac arrest earlier this week at age 57, will be interred at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas, on Greenville Avenue near the intersection with LBJ. The service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday. A memorial will be set for some time in April. Family requests that in lieu of flowers, mourners make a donation to the charity of their choice.

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ATTPAC hosts a Broadway Bar Crawl on Greenville Avenue Thursday

Posted on 29 Mar 2017 at 3:33pm

We don’t really need a reason to go on a bar crawl, but hey, what better reason than to sing a showtune.

Earlier this week, the AT&T Performing Arts Center released its lineup for the 2017–18 season (I wrote about it here). To commemorate the shows in its season, host Rob McCollum will lead guests on a walking tour that includes The Libertine Bar, Truck Yard, Blind Butcher and HG SPLY Co. There will be free cocktails, bites and sign-ups for raffles and prizes. We said it was free, right? Just remember to RSVP here.

The tour starts at 6 p.m. at the Libertine and ends around 8:30 p.m. Come on out!

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Appreciation: Rene Moreno, 1959–2017

Posted on 28 Mar 2017 at 10:14pm

MorenoThere’s a secret in the restaurant business that a lot of chefs can flambe cherries jubilee or bananas foster tableside, and many can toss around their knives like a magician in a side show, but when you wanna hire someone to run your kitchen, you ask him to cook an egg. Flamboyance is great and showmanship is wonderful, but mastering simplicity is the true sign of talent.  Can’t cook a measly egg? You’re all sizzle, no steak.

The same holds for a number of disciplines, not the least among them the craft of theater. I’ve seen directors crash chandeliers and fly helicopters and I’ve thought “Wow.”  But until you’ve seen a director who can break your heart and make you smile simultaneously while showing you an awkward Irish couple navigate their feelings for each other,  or gasp at the humor and humanity of an octogenarian and his prickly relationship with a young gay man, you don’t know what great directing means.

Rene Moreno directed Outside Mullingar and Visiting Mr. Green and dozen of other plays during his illustrious career. And damn, that man could cook an egg.

I first encountered Moreno as an actor. It was nearly 25 years ago I saw him in a minor role in Dallas Theater Center’s production of A Christmas Carol, and  he stood out — not because he used a wheelchair, but because he grabbed your attention. He made an impact as an actor — in the Dallas-filmed movie Late Bloomers, on Broadway in the original run of Amadeus (before the accident that paralyzed his legs), even in a late-career return to the stage as the title villain in Richard III — but his true calling was really behind the scenes. It probably wasn’t long after that Christmas Carol that he ventured into directing full-time, starting in 1996 with Miss Julie. He took to it like a duck to water. What was that mystical conjuring that allowed him to extract such painfully beautiful performances out of any cast of actors he blessed with his touch? He could turn a seemingly mild comedy-drama like Good People into something profound; in my review, I noted it was “directed, as always, with deft understanding for the subtleties of humanity by Rene Moreno.” That was it, all the time. He knew the human psyche so intimately, he was able to coax out breathtaking work — not just from actors, but designers, too. His prowess at storytelling was legendary. He could tackle massive American dramas like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and August: Osage County with brilliance, spin back to adapting a Restoration comedy like The Lucky Chance to swingin’ Mod London with light-footed farce, turn to a chamber comedy-drama like The Trip to Bountiful and manage to helm a Strindberg to rarefied heights. He wove the most exquisite tapestry of life, one where you never saw the seams.

So when word broke late Tuesday that Moreno, who had undergone recent surgeries, has succumbed to a heart attack in the hospital, it didn’t just feel like the Dallas theater community had lost as artist; it felt like the soul of all North Texas had been somehow vanquished.

In a region flush with amazing theater professionals, from actors to directors to producers, musicians and designers, I don’t think anyone would disagree that Rene Moreno was nonpareil — not merely the best of the best, but virtually peerless. He had the incredible ability to elevate everyone in a show he was in charge of. (He won more Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards than I can count.)

“WaterTower Theatre Board and Staff offer their deepest condolences to the friends and family of René Moreno,” Gregory Patterson, managing director at WTT, messaged me. “Rene was a longtime colleague of WaterTower’s and he will be greatly missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with the DFW theatre community as we mourn the loss of this great artist.”

“It’s an extraordinary loss,” Susan Sargeant, founder of WingSpan Theatre Co., told me. “My heart aches.” (Moreno’s final directorial effort, WingSpan’s staged reading of Rose, will proceed as planned this weekend at the Bath House Cultural Center.)

But it wasn’t just that he was a director, but a consumer of theater. I last saw Moreno — whom I count as a personal friend (our birthdays were just days apart — both Geminis, which Rene found humorous) — watch a show a few weeks ago. We chatted that he was undergoing several surgeries; he seemed upbeat but a bit sanguine as well at the prospect. Still, the heart attack at age 57 that took his life following, reportedly, a recent back surgery, came as a shock. The outpouring of grief on social media was immense, with condolences conveyed to his longtime partner, Charles McMullen.

Perhaps it was his comparative youth, or the suddenness, or the realization of the loss of his good humor, that surprised people most. But speaking personally, it feels deeper than mere loss. Rene Moreno was an authentic genius of his craft whose work transformed all who saw it. The cost feels incalculable.

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E! gets into gay realiTV with ‘What Happens at The Abbey’

Posted on 28 Mar 2017 at 9:50am

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Logo was about to debut a new series called Fire Island, following a clutch of hedonist gayboys as they navigate the shallow waters of East Coast life on a gay resort island. Last week, I wrote how VH-1 is now the official home of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now comes word that the E! channel is getting into queer realiTV with a new series, What Happens at The Abbey. Stealing a paraphrase of the Las Vegas slogan, the show follows behind-the-scenes activities at the famed West Hollywood gay bar. The series will debut on “Sunday Funday,” i.e., May 14 at 9 p.m. Central. Here’s a teaser for the series:

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Coming out in sports … as gay, and as a soccer player

Posted on 27 Mar 2017 at 8:46am

 

When you grow up in Minnesota, you play hockey. If your family is “masculine and sports-oriented,” you play lots of other sports too.

Ryan Adams was a hockey player, a soccer goalkeeper and a varsity tennis star.

But, like so many gay men, he knew as young as 4 that he was different. He left the macho environment of hockey after Bantams (a level of youth hockey) and stopped playing soccer in high school. Looking back into the haze of adolescence, Adams can’t even remember what year he quit. The mix of sexuality, sports and “a bit” of bullying was too much.

It did not help that for as long as he could remember, his father made anti-gay jokes. The effect was so strong that for a couple of years after coming out Adams could not even go to a Pride parade.

“I’ve evolved so much since then,” he says in wonderment. His family has, too … including his dad.

Coming out was complicated. Adams had a full military ride to a ROTC program at a Catholic college, ranking third among 46 cadets. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was still in effect. The Air Force was overstaffed though, so he was allowed to leave without paying back his tuition.

Exploring the gay world online, Adams found a new life in Nashville. It was a big, important change. But at 21 he moved back to Minneapolis, and began living his life openly and proudly.

He found a Facebook group of LGBT people involved in social and athletic activities like bowling and raising money for AIDS causes. When he learned of a coed LGBT soccer team — and heard about the Gay Games and World Outgames — he realized what he’d been missing. The young man who had been turned off by the sports world wanted back in.

The Twin Cities Jacks became a major part of Adams’ life. Founded in 2007, they’re the only LGBT soccer club in Minnesota. They field teams in local, national and international tournaments; host social outings for LGBT fans; promote the game, and educate other soccer organization about homophobia in sports. Players of all skill levels are welcome. Allies are encouraged as well.

Adams, who had earned a master’s degree in sports management and now works full time for a college marketing organization, rose quickly through the volunteer ranks. “I wanted everyone to have a chance to live healthy lives, and make friends,” he says.

He notes that despite increasing openness, “we’re still in an era when a gay adult may be playing sports for the first time in their life, or be out as an athlete for the first time. Lifting that emotional burden is so important. It’s amazing to play a sport as exactly the person you are.” What was once a “hindrance” for many, he says, “now draws us together.”

That sense of fulfillment and camaraderie has opened many eyes. TC Jacks’ outreach to allies has helped straight soccer players experience the world in a new way. A lawyer and his wife who moved to Minnesota from rural Iowa had known only one gay person ever. But they found the Jacks, and became passionate, devoted friends of the LGBT community.

The Jacks use their popularity to influence the broader soccer world. Minnesota United FC begins play in Major League Soccer this year. The Jacks are helping team officials become “socially responsible” — beyond simply sponsoring one Pride Night a year — and have engaged supporters groups, too. “They’re incredibly LGBT friendly,” Adams says.

Beyond the Twin Cities, Adams has taken on leadership roles too. He served the International Lesbian & Gay Football Association in an interim role, and has begun a soft launch for an organization called US LGBT Soccer.

The goal for that group is to offer a home for LGBT players, coaches, administrators and fans around the country. A unified organization can provide a national association for clubs; offer resources and best practices, so that new teams and leagues do not have to reinvent the soccer wheel; tie together LGBT supporter groups of professional clubs; recruit, train and aid LGBT referees; partner with pro leagues to combat homophobia — and create an LGBT national team to represent the United States in foreign tournaments.

There are not many sports with such outreach to all members of their community. There are not many team sports with such global appeal as soccer, either. There are not many people with the energy and vision of Ryan Adams.

But there are plenty of Ryan Adamses in the LGBT sports world — men and women who understand the power of athletics to provide community, competition and fun to everyone, in a healthy, open and affirming environment. As a new year dawns, their work endures.

— Dan Woog

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BREAKING NEWS: ‘Fun Home’ to open ATTPAC’s 2017 season

Posted on 26 Mar 2017 at 8:01am

The Dallas Summer Musicals snared what is certainly the most-anticipated theatrical tour of the next few years — the already-announced Hamilton. But what is probably the second biggest musical tour will be coming to Dallas thanks to the AT&T Performing Arts Center … and you won’t have to wait until 2018 to see it. Fun Home, the multiple-Tony-Award-winner, including best musical, will open ATTPAC’s 2017-18 season, the organization just announced.

Set in a funeral home, Fun Home it tells the story of a girl who comes to understand her own sexuality… and that of her father. It will kick off the five-show season, running Sept. 13–24 at the Winspear Opera House.

Fun Home will be followed by two familiar musicals — Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical, Dec. 5–17 and immediately after Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, Dec. 19–31. There’ll be a bit of a break until The Humans, a comedy that won a best play Tony nomination last year, May 9–20, 2018. Finally, Bright Star — a bluegrass musical co-written by Dallas native Edie Brickell and comedian Steve Martin — will end the subscription series June 12–24.

In addition, two additional shows will be presented outside the season subscription: the 20th anniversary of Riverdance, March 20–25, and the ever-popular Jersey Boys, May 22–27.

Season tickets can be purchased here.

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Topsy Turvy: A bright star in dark times

Posted on 24 Mar 2017 at 10:59am

Brandi Amara Skyy reviews the Turtle Creek Chorale’s “Topsy Turvy” concert, continuing tonight and Saturday night, March 24-25, at City Performance Hall. (Photos courtesy Turtle Creek Chorale)

 

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Call me a bad gay, but I had never been to a Turtle Creek Chorale concert before last night.

Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I texted a few of my closest friends who are devoted fans (and season ticket holders) to get a feel for what to expect. My good friend Dana said, “You’re in for a nice surprise. They always combine serious with comedic moments.”

He was right.

The evening was filled with … surprises — something that in this day and age of the internet is not necessarily what we expect. It’s far too easy to Google the happenings of the latest episode of our favorite shows prior to even the show airing the first time, let alone us watching it. Or to attend a show and be moved by the visuals, but not by the message.

So when I received the email with the set list being performed last evening (the names are not supposed to be known to the audience until after the show has ended), I made the decision not to open it. Because if Sean Baugh, the artistic director, wanted me to ride the wave and be surprised, I wasn’t about to deny him — or myself — the pleasure of this rarity.

And in this arena — the element of surprise — Topsy Turvy is a massive win. From song inclusion to talent to flow, Topsy Turvy does what it sets out to do — not just tell a story, but create and share an experience.

The Chorale promises “one of the most energetic and full-force arrays of musical selections our audience has ever experienced,” and I can feel, based on the audience’s energy and attention (minus the blonde wine-gulping girl sitting two seats to my left who completely ignores Rule No. 2 (Don’t Sing Along) when the finale hits) that this particular show and evening is in fact, different from all the rest.

I feel it too, even though I have no prior knowledge to compare it to.

But I’m not going to lie, this is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write because I refuse to spoil the experience by referring to the songs in the show by their name. So I will only reference them by the number in which they appear in the show.

The Topsy Turvy experience is billed as songs you thought you knew, and they drove that artistic theme home by reshaping pop, musical and LGBTQ classics into arrangements and styles we’ve never heard before (I’m thinking about songs 14 and 18 in particular). The visuals, the big top and all the dancers are stunning. And B.J. Cleveland is not only excellent and captivating as our ringleader, he is right there to help usher us through the two-hour experience (although I did miss him in the beginning of the second half).

The Thursday audience, teased for being the least vocal of the three-day bunch, rose to their feet for a song (hint: No. 5) and I rose for one as well (you’ll know it when you experience it). My personal favorites? Numbers 4, 5, 9,14, 17, 19, 21 (and a certain “whistler” in No. 3). These seven pieces were elegantly thought out, choreographed, and fully realized — and executed.

And while the soloists were spectacular, every single chorale member stole my heart that evening because they were so full of love for what they do. You could see it. But more importantly you could feel it.

Were some pieces in Topsy Turvy more successful than others? Yes. Were some pieces more polished? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Always.

But did the TCC deliver on their promises? Hell, yea — and then some.

What I love most about attending events, shows, and art in our community is just that. WE are a community. And both Bruce Jaster and Sean Baugh made sure to drive that point home to the audience every chance they got. And with all the talk about arts funding being cut and walls waiting to be built, we — I — needed to hear that as a community we are more inclusive now than ever.

Whether you are a devoted fan who has season tickets or you’re like me and new to the whole TCC experience, this show is a bright light in dark uncertain times, with just the right amount of camp, adult humor, laugher, nostalgia, and seriousness to keep me thoroughly invested — and entertained.

Topsy Turvy runs tonight and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Dallas City Performance Hall.

Go.

Brandi Amara Skyy is a drag artist who writes and plays in magic. You can find out more about her and many projects at brandiamaraskyy.com.

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