REVIEWS: ‘Evita,’ ‘Spunk’

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:52am

caroline bowman as eva peron with CheFor many, Evita was the show that won over musical theater fans to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s side before he became the bombastic hit-monster of Cats and Sunset Boulevard. In some ways, it’s the most unlikely of musical subjects: The machiavellian machinations of the former first lady of Argentina, Eva Peron, who was long-dead by the time the show opened. And yet, it’s a compelling piece of operatic theater, a kind of political tragedy where Lady Macbeth never has second thoughts.

The original production made stars out of Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (Madonna made the movie version 17 years later). The version now at Fair Park Music Hall, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, doesn’t reach those legendary heights, but it’s a reminder of how solidly entertaining and innovative Evita has always been.

It’s the day Eva (Caroline Bowman) has died, and a disgruntled Che Guevara (Josh Young) seems alone in his lack of sentiment. Was she a devil or a saint? Madonna or whore? Is it possible to be all of these things? Through flashbacks, Che narrates her calculated rise from rural nobody to radio star to wife of military hero and eventual president Juan Peron (Sean MacLaughlin).

This is the national tour of the recent Broadway revival that starred Ricky Martin. Ricky doesn’t she-bang in this one, but with Tony Award nominee Josh Young in the role of Che, it doesn’t matter much — he has a powerful tenor and a fierce indignation (especially evident in the fantasy number “Waltz for Eva and Che”).

He’s not the only strong performance, though — indeed, of the many productions I’ve seen of Evita this is the first where all five man roles are equally well played. Bowman’s transformation from girl-from-the-sticks to trashy actress to steely political wife to, eventually, a frail and cancer-ridden ghost, is endlessly convincing. MacLaughlin is a strong, sexy Peron, and even Christopher Johnstone, as the cheezy singer Magaldi and Krystine Alabado as Peron’s former mistress do excellent, detailed work. Michael Grandage’s direction keeps the show moving effortlessly, and despite a few missed opportunities for irony and character development, it’s a stellar show, not revived often enough.

KA2_8128Up at the Addison Theatre Centre, WaterTower Theatre has its own stellar musical on the boards. Based on three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Spunk is a jaunty little 90-minute show that has the smoky appeal of a Lenox Avenue speakeasy in the 1930s.

Liz Mikel is this show’s Che, a kind of narrator who escort us through three unrelated scenes by one of the few female voices to emerge from the Harlem Renaissance. The stories are largely unrelated both in tale and tone, but Hurston’s clear, precise style bursts through each of them. In one, a woman (Tiffany D. Hobbs) in the rural south endures the abuses of her drunken husband … until an opportunity presents itself that may free her. In another, zoot-suited dandies throw more shade than a drag queen at noon as they try to woo a liberated woman in post-War NYC. In the third, a loving family man deals with the anguish caused when his wife cheats on him in a weird twist on The Gift of the Magi.

This is toe-tapping theater, full of energy and dark beauty, magnificently lighted by Jason C. Foster (who imbues the Art Deco, Gatsby-inspired set with fire and mood) and performed by a gifted cast. Just try not to have a good time.

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So, they let Leslie Jordan in the Round-Up Saloon

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:26am

Leslie Jordan performed at the Round-Up Saloon on Thursday night in a fundraiser for Oklahoma state Sen. Al McAffrey, who is running for Congress from Oklahoma City.

Jordan was in rare form telling stories, including one about how he was thrown out of The Round-Up 20 years ago. This time they let him in — but only through the back door.

McAffrey began his political career in the Oklahoma state House. When he ran for state Senate, Kay Floyd, a lesbian, replaced him in the House. Now that McAffrey is running for U.S. Congress, Floyd is running for McAffrey’s state Senate seat, and a gay man is running for Floyd’s state House seat. Obviously, liberal Oklahoma is going to hell.

One thing’s for sure — no one else running for Congress from Oklahoma had ever had a fundraiser like this one.

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Gay Realtor calls out Texas PAC for backing anti-gay candidates

Posted on 18 Apr 2014 at 9:16am
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Bob McCranie

The Texas Association of Realtors and its funding arm, the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee, have long endorsed and funded anti-LGBT candidates. But one Realtor is hoping to change that in the coming years, if not sooner.

Bob McCranie, owner of Plano-based Texas Pride Realty, has grown tired of the Texas organizations endorsing and funding anti-gay candidates, including the four at the top of the ticket this year who oppose marriage equality: Greg Abbott for governor, David Dewhurst for lieutenant governor, Glenn Hegar for Texas comptroller of public accounts and George P. Bush for Texas land commissioner.

McCranie isn’t on the endorsement board but has donated to the PAC in the past. He said marriage equality is a Realtor issue because marriage involves property rights, but when he’s brought up his objections to the endorsements in the past, he’s told  Texas is a red state so not many candidates support LGBT equality. The endorsement board even has openly gay members.

“What I’m told is ‘You won’t change Texas’ Texas is a very red meat state,’ but I want my associations of realtors on the local, state and national level to let their candidates know that this is an important topic for us,” he said. “I want them to be aware that they are standing beside candidates that are adamantly homophobic who ring the fire alarm of homophobia to get their voters out. And we just blindly endorse them.”

The endorsement for attorney general hasn’t been announced yet, likely pending the runoff between state Sen. Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, and state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas.

Branch, who represents Oak Lawn, co-authored Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and he filed a brief in a gay divorce case before the Texas Supreme Court last year defending the state’s amendment and requesting the court to overturn a lesbian couple’s divorce.

Paxton, along with anti-gay state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, filed a bill last year to put the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the state Constitution. The act, which the Legislature passed in 1999, prohibits local or state agencies form allowing people to express their religious beliefs, including discriminating against LGBT people. The recent bill never made it to the floor for a vote.

Campbell, who filed an anti-transgender marriage bill last year, also was endorsed. But out state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, was also endorsed this cycle.

McCranie said the recent bill by Paxton and Campbell goes against the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics, which requires that everyone be treated equally. And he hopes the Texas PAC doesn’t endorse Paxton or anymore anti-gay candidates in the future.

“These laws break the code of ethics,” he said. “Why are we endorsing candidates who support this? No matter what the party is.”

The Realtors Political Action Committee funded Mississippi legislators who authored the state’s Religious Liberty Bill, which RPAC-endorsed Gov. Phil Bryant later signed. RPAC is the National Association of Realtors’ PAC.

NAR President Steve Brown, who’s openly gay, recently called McCranie to discuss his concerns and gave him a statement on religious freedom bills.

“Attempts to authorize and encourage discrimination in housing or real estate services under any banner are ethically wrong and wholly inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics,” the statement reads in part. “It’s unquestioned that where the Code of Ethics and the law conflict, the Code must give way to the law. But we will continue to tell the public, and legislators should be on notice, that the Code’s duties, which often set a higher bar than law or regulation, do and will continue to prohibit discrimination in providing real estate services despite what the law may permit.”

The statement pleased McCranie, who said he’d continue to advocate for more inclusive candidates in the future and encourage others in the real estate industry to do the same.

“My perspective is LGBT Realtors and real estate professionals are hounded all the time to donate to the industry PAC,” McCranie said. “And the industry PAC doesn’t seem to consider LGBT property rights and discrimination to be an issue, and so I’m really trying to raise the conversation in the industry about this.”

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Out director Bryan Singer accused of 15-year-old sex crime

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:54pm

DBryan Singer, the openly gay film director who shot to fame with The Usual Suspects and has since helmed Superman Returns and launched the X-Men franchise, has been accused of sexual abuse in a federal civil lawsuit. The thing is, the alleged abuse occurred in 1999. The accusation is also of sexually abusing an “underaged” male, though the plaintiff was in fact 17 at the time (the abuse allegedly occurred in both Hawaii, where the age of consent is 16, and California, where it is 18).

Singer has disputed the charges. And considering that the acts supposedly occurred as long as 15 years ago — and the statute of limitations for rape would have expired more than seven years ago — the claim is rightly viewed with some suspicion.

The timing also seems curious — Singer’s next film, X-Men: Days of Future Past, opens next month. No better time to make a stale claim than when the defendant is anxious to avoid bad press.

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Vigil planned for Dallas man murder near Beaumont

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:53pm

Kevin-Moyer

A vigil and balloon release honoring Kevin Moyer will take place Saturday in Lee Park.

Moyer was brutally murdered on April 3 while traveling on business. Two suspects have been arrested. The third man is still at large.

The vigil will take place at Lee Park’s atrium at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Bette to speak at Hyatt luncheon

Posted on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:53pm
Bette

Bette

If you think I should have put a last name in the headline, you have no need to read further and won’t be attending.

Bette Midler will be in town on May 1 for the Woman to Woman 2014 Luncheon benefiting Jewish Family Services. Chad Mantooth and I are two Jewish women here in the Dallas Voice office that will be there.

The first time I saw Midler perform was in her first role on Broadway as Tzeitel in the original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof. I saved my Playbill and years later she signed it. A few years later, I saw her first concert on Broadway, Clams on the Half Shell. Her piano player from her Continental Baths show, Barry Manilow, was in the audience. She pulled him up on stage, and they did an extra half hour that day. Over the years, I’ve seen a number of her concerts. I’ve always been exhausted after watching her perform. She’s always been nonstop, high-energy, start to finish.

The only reason I’m not still watching Ruthless People and Down and Out in Beverly Hills is because my Beta machine finally conked out, and I never replaced them on DVD.

Beaches I only saw once — I thought a great Bette movie would be comforting after coming home from my partner Jon’s funeral. Not the right time to watch it, but I had a good cry with Bette.

For anyone unfamiliar with Jewish Family Services, their offices are on Arapahoe Road in a building on the old Prestonwood Mall site. Its services, open to anyone, not just the Jewish community, include marital, family, divorce and individual counseling. LGBT families have always been welcome at JFS, which has partnered in the past with LGBT synagogue Congregation Beth El Binah to create a coming out and a parents group. A food bank, family violence intervention, employment services and services for children and adults with special needs are among the many services provided by JFS.

Woman to Woman luncheon at Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Reunion Blvd. May 1 at 11:30 a.m. Individual tickets $250 available online or at 469-206-1664.

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Oak Lawn library’s Angie Bartula named Librarian of the Year

Posted on 16 Apr 2014 at 4:01pm

BigDReads.113821Oak Lawn Library’s branch manager Angie Bartula was named Dallas Librarian of the Year.

“She won talent, swimsuit AND personality,” North Oak Cliff branch manager Ray Sablack said.

To celebrate, D Magazine is staging a festival at the deck park downtown.

“On the 26th, we are having a huge festival at Klyde Warren Park celebrating storytelling of all forms,” said D Magazine’s Community Engagement Manager Krista Nightengale. “It’s a free event that’s open to the public.”

Bartula encouraged people to bring a book to the park and spend the afternoon reading.

However, in the event she’s unable to fulfill her reign as Dallas Librarian of the Year …

“Hey,” Bartula objected. “Why wouldn’t I be able to fulfill my term?”

Absolutely no reason at all.

Since becoming Oak Lawn’s librarian, she’s expanded the LGBT section at her branch and encouraged other branches to begin LGBT sections as well, which Sablack has done in North Oak Cliff. She recently partnered with Dish, at ilume across the street from her branch, to host author lesbian Leslea Newman for a reading.

She’s active throughout the community, welcoming senior citizens, a crime watch and a North Dallas High School group. She’s encouraged a knitting group that meets at the library, a homeowners group and loves to help people with their job searches.

Well deserved, Angie, and we’re looking forward to the D Magazine centerfold in May.

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4 Texans top Out Magazine’s Power 50 List

Posted on 16 Apr 2014 at 1:51pm

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Out Magazine’s eighth annual Power 50 List released this week includes four Texans among the ranks.

Houston Mayor Annise Mayor, Brittney Griner, Michael Sam and Dustin Lance Black are featured. Both Parker and Black have been included before on the list, which examines LGBT officials, leaders, athletes, musicians and business people (among others) who have the power in America.

Parker, now in her third and final term as mayor, has used her role in the past to chair Mayors for the Freedom to Marry and recently announced she planned to introduce a nondiscrimination ordinance in the city, which is the largest city in Texas without such a measure.

Black, known as the screenwriter for Milk, has been active in LGBT causes, including taking down California’s Prop 8 and later writing the play about the events surrounding the ballot measure. He continues to work on pro-LGBT projects.

The two new Texas additions also happen to be leading the way for LGBT inclusion in sports, an area in which LGBT equality and attitudes are still homophobic.

Griner came out last April after the WMBA draft. She’s discussed how difficult it was attending college at the Baptist-affiliated Baylor University before she went to play professionally. She goes into more detail in her recent book In My Skin.

Sam, also a Texas native, made waves earlier this year as the first player pre-NFL draft to come out as gay. He said he wanted to be honest about his sexuality before the draft. While he’s expected to be an early round pick, six teams have recently come out in favor of signing an openly gay player and are seriously considering Sam.

Read the full list here.

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The moon shone red on Passover — Thanks Obama

Posted on 15 Apr 2014 at 6:37pm

MoonLast night was not just a full moon, but a blood red full moon, which brought the crazies out.

Right-wing website World News Daily headlined the event with the warning: Move over Obama: The ‘pen and phone’ that really count.

Here’s their problem. In his State of the Union address, the president said he would issue executive orders to break the deadlock in Congress. Well, God doesn’t like that. How does WND know? Because the moon was red last night in a totally predictable and explainable astronomical event that happens with some regularity.

And while we’re being bat-shit crazy, we might as well bring in the Jews, especially since this week is Passover.

WND quotes a Pastor Mark Blitz who said, “I believe the moons are like flashing red warning lights at a heavenly intersection saying to Israel as well as the nations they will be crossing heavenly red lines, and if they do, they will understand as Pharaoh did on Passover night 3,500 years ago that the Creator backs up what He says.”

So, I’m not sure if the good pastor is equating the lunar eclipse to one of the 12 plagues that is part of the story of Passover. If so, were any cattle or first-born harmed during this lunar eclipse? Or is he calling Obama the Pharoah and if so, why can’t the president just tell Congress to act or he’ll bury them in the pyramid he’s building for himself.

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SMU students will vote again on LGBT Senate seat

Posted on 15 Apr 2014 at 6:35pm
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Spectrum’s Kathrina Macalanda solicits a signature from Ryan Patrick McLaughlin

Over the weekend, Southern Methodist University students collected enough signatures to get a revote on whether to add an LGBT Student Senate seat.

After the Student Senate voted in March to add the seat, the student body needed to pass the measure by a two-thirds vote. Only 53 percent voted April 3 for the amendment to the Student Constitution. To get another vote, supporters needed to collect signatures from 10 percent of the student body, which is 1,053 people.

“I am excited to report that we actually surpassed that goal,” former Spectrum President Harvey Luna said. “We collected about 1,400 signatures.”

Normally, the issue would be put to students this week, but faculty is using the website link this week for their own elections. Instead, the amendment to add the LGBT seat will be put to students next week.

“In the meantime, we are going to begin strategizing on advertising the issue on campus — tabling, flyers, buttons, etc.,” Luna said.

 

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