ATTPAC, DTC add open captioning for the hearing impaired

Hand making P signLast month, we ran a story about Don Jones, who for decades has been the American Sign Language interpreter for the Turtle Creek Chorale. We also mentioned how Theatre 3 was leading a push to sponsor real-time deaf interpretation during certain performances.

Now the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Dallas Theater Center are getting into the act as well. In conjunction with the Theatre Development Fund, ATTPAC and DTC will provide open captioning — similar to the supertitles at an opera, with all the dialogue, lyrics and sound effects projected on the side of the stage — at select performances of shows. The first was last Sunday at A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, but the DTC will do it four more times this season: At the new musical Bella: An American Tall Tale (Oct. 6), at A Christmas Carol (Dec. 11), at The Christians (Feb. 12, 2017) and at the world premiere Hood (July 16). ATTPAC is expected to add more dates as shows come available.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’

GGLAM Tour 3In the 1940s and ’50s, Britain’s Ealing Studios dominated the landscape of sophisticated dark comedies. The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers all starred the great Alec Guinness as the deadpan anti-hero in outrageous adventures that were far to smart to just be labeled farces. One of Guinness’ best roles, though, was actually eight roles: All the family members (young/old, male/female, gentle/wicked) tapped as victims of a murderous social-climbing illegitimate heir to an hereditary earldom in the cultural commentary Kind Hearts and Coronets. A comedy about murder? It might not have been the first, but it remains one of the best, and gave Guinness a signature turn at creating multiple memorable characters with abandon. (In recent years, no one but Eddie Murphy has really tried to replicate that feat, or at least done so successfully.)

The 2014 Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder isn’t a carbon-copy of the Ealing film (the ending is different, and of course it’s a musical), but it’s just as withering in its dissection of the British classes… and it gives actor John Rapson free rein to horse around as all the members of the D’Ysquith family, soon to be knocked off my young, ambitious Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey), the disinherited black sheep of the D’Ysquiths who wants to become earl so he can marry his gold-digging girlfriend … even though he’s actually falling for his distant cousin.

This production, at the Winspear through Sunday, had the good sense to be as fluffy and delightful as cotton candy, with a stage-within-a-stage that adds a layer of artifice: It’s an old-style English music hall, a vaudeville of jaunty songs and colorful costumes and sets. (The show it most calls to mind for theater queens might be The Mystery of Edwin Drood.) Nevertheless, writer Robert L. Freedman sneaks in some saucy political commentary among the one-liners. It’s a fanciful and clever show, a bright respite from the summer heat.

At the Winspear through Aug. 28.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

An amazing ‘Cabaret’ … and the chance to meet the cast

CabaretProvidence Performing Arts CenterIt’s been a few years since the 1998 version of Cabaret — reimagined by directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, before either became name-brand big-time movie directors — has been on tour. A similar C-named musical by composers Kander and Ebb (Chicago) has rarely stopped touring, and the differences are apparent: Chicago is a sexy-glam satire of pop culture, filtered through a theme of murder; Cabaret is more of a tragedy-with-music, a prequel of sorts to the Holocaust as Germans fiddled while Berlin burned. Almost without fail, just as a song ends and the audience is primed for an ovation, the sinister Master of Ceremonies (Randy Harrison, exploding with sexual charisma) intercedes, flirtatiously reminding us, “You thought that was cute? These people are doomed.” That’s a lot for a musical to handle.

But not, truth be told, unwelcomed. We’re now inured to “serious” musicals, from Les Miserables (political revolution) to Spring Awakening (sexual revolution), often with characters doing appalling things (even being openly gay!) … but in 1966, when Cabaret debuted (barely a generation after the end of WWII), it was scandalous but compelling. It’s still an amazing show: Set in Weimar Germany during the interregnum, as the Nazis were coming to power and an American writer, Cliff (a stand-in for Christopher Isherwood, who wrote the stories on which it is based) and the grotesquery of a society robbed of its dignity and how it can turn cruel, even evil. And the songs! It’s crammed with metaphor and comedy, and this production — a revival of the 1998 version staged by the Roundabout a few years ago, and now amazing audiences at the Winspear — is an unmissible opportunity, performed with great skill. It’s as unforgettable as it’s ever been.

Note: If you come tonight’s show, June 1, you can even learn more about the behind-the-scenes. I’ll be hosting a post-performance Q&A with Randy Harrison and other members of the cast in Hamon Hall immediately following the performance. You can even get a special discount on tickets if you go to ATTPAC.org/cabaret and enter the code “Voice.” See you tonight!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Breaking: TITAS announces new season lineup of 11 shows

Ballet BC Image 6 SMALL

If the 2015-16 season of TITAS was one of premieres, the 2016–17 season — just announced by executive director Charles Santos — is one of mostly familiar, but innovative, dance companies.

Four Texas debuts — Argentina’s Estampas Portenas Tango and Che Malambo, Canada’s Ballet BC (pictured above) and Guggenheim Fellowship recipients Bridgman|Packer Dance — join returning favorites including Pilobolus, Diavolo, Alvin Ailey and more for the 11-show lineup.

The season, titled Virtuosic Innovation, kicks off at the City Performance Hall with two performances from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (Sept. 16–17). That will be followed by Estampas Portenas, which brings the flamboyant tango to the stage of the hall (Oct. 28–29). Jessica Lang Dance, which impressed audiences with its Dallas debut in 2013, is back at the Winspear Opera House on Dec. 10.

High-Res_DougVaroneandDancers_ReComposed_2_photocredit-Grant-Halverson_copyright-The-American-Dance-Festival2017 begins with the return of Pilobolus (CPH, Jan. 13–14), one of the most popular and quirky of modern dance troupes, followed soon thereafter by Bridgman|Packer (Jan. 27–28).

It’s back at the Winspear for the return of the kinetic Doug Varone and Dancers (Feb. 18, pictured). Diavolo‘s stylist Architecture in Motion demonstrates the relationship between man and his environment at the CPH (March 10–11). Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater settles in for three shows at CPH (March 31–April 1), followed by another Argentine company, Che Malambo (CPH, April 14–15), known for its rhythmic stomping and speedy footwork. The season concludes at the Winspear on June 3 with the local premiere of Ballet BC.

As always, the season also includes Command Gala Performance (May 13), which treats audiences to a director’s choice of the best dance artists around. Season tickets are available at ATTPAC.org. Individual tickets are available for as little as $12/each.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 04-15-16

Saturday 04.16

Untitled-1

Famed Dallas rockers Jane Doe reunite for concert at Sue Ellen’s

They were the first band Kathy Jack ever booked for Caven. They have played with the likes of the great Deborah Vial. They have been seen at the Kessler, House of Blues and other venues … but not so much lately. Only Susan Carson remains in North Texas, so bringin’ the girls of Jane Doe back together for a concert is a time to celebrate, which you can as they perform Saturday at Sue Ellen’s. Mojo Dolls opens for them.

DEETS:
Sue Ellen’s
3014 Throckmorton St.
9 p.m.
Caven.com

Thursday 04.21 — Friday 04.22

WDP3117_WendyDPhotography

Edgy Canadian dance company Kidd Pivot makes Dallas debut

If modern dance has taught us one thing, it’s that “dance” is about a heckuva lot more than just moving your feet to music. On the cutting edge of contemporary dance is Kidd Pivot, which makes its North Texas debut for two shows. Combining original music with text, design and, of course, movement, it’s one of the exciting premieres sponsored by TITAS this season.

DEETS:
City Performance Hall
2520 Flora St.
8 pm.
ATTPAC.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ATTPAC announces 2016-17 B’way series

‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ is the only play in ATTPAC’s upcoming Broadway Series season.

The AT&T Performing Arts Center announced tonight the lineup for its 2016-17 Broadway Series, which imports national tours of top New York shows.

The season kicks off with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, the Tony winner for best musical. It’s an adaptation of the Ealing Studios classic film Kind Hearts & Coronets, and features a leading actor playing all the victims of a planned crime, men and women. Aug. 16–28.

Next up is the 20th anniversary tour of Rent, which won four Tonys including best musical in 1996. It centers around a group of hipsters dealing with HIV and ethical dilemmas. It, too, was based on a prior property: Puccini’s opera La Boheme. Sept. 20–Oct. 2.

For the third consecutive year, the very gay Book of Mormon comes back for an encore performance. Once more, it won the Tony. This is a bonus show, not in the regular subscription. Dec. 20–31.

The lone play in the lineup is another Tony winner, last year’s best play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a psychological drama about a gifted but isolated teenager. Jan. 11–22, 2017.

Another bonus show is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which won the Tony for best revival of a musical last year. It is a rock opera about a transgender punk singer. Feb. 7–12, 2017.

The first show not to win the best play, musical or revival Tony is nonetheless one of B’way’s modern classics: Stephen Sondheim’s twisted fairy tale Into the Woods. May 17–28, 2017.

Two more shows are huge popular hits. Something Rotten! is a campy comedy set in the Middle Ages, as two brothers set out to compose the first musical. June 13–25, 2017.

The final version is Finding Neverland, based on the Oscar-winning film, about L. Frank Baum’s inspiration to write Peter Pan. For the record, I boycott all Peter Pan-related performances. Sooooo over it. July 11–23, 2017.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Alan Cumming announced for Dallas concert

Alan-CummingThe AT&T Performing Arts Center has booked pansexual actor and activist Alan Cumming — Tony Award winner for Cabaret, co-star of TV’s hit The Good Wife and X-Men mutant — for his one-man concert called Alan Cumming Sings Silly Songs to the City Performance Hall. The one-night-only, two-show performance — a 7 p.m. set and a 9:30 p.m. set — will take place on June 24, during National Gay Pride Month.

Tickets are currently on sale only to Center Circle members, but should be made available to the general public soon. Until then, you can always join the Center Circle and get the jump on everyone. Call 214-978-2888 to join, or for more information.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The sun’ll come out… manana! ‘Annie’ goes bilingual

Annie the MusicalThe AT&T Performing Arts Center announced today that this Sunday’s evening performance of Annie will be offered in Spanish.

Broadway en espanol is a new program of ATTPAC, in collaboration with Cara Mia Theatre Co. and Univision, offering free headsets at the 7:30 p.m. performance of Annie at the Winspear Opera House. Members of Cara Mia will translate the show in real time for Spanish-speaking audience members. This is the inaugural effort for the program, but additional shows will be announced in the coming months. For now, though, enjoy classic songs like “Ciudad Nueva York,” “Quizas” and “Manana.”

Tickets are available here. My review of Annie will be in Friday’s edition of Dallas Voice, in print and online.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lights will be dimmed Friday in honor of Jac Alder

City Performance Hall and the Winspear Opera House will darken their marquee and lobby lights on Friday at 7 p.m. in honor of Theatre 3 founder Jac Alder, who died last week at age 80tides-1. He was the longest  continuously-serving arts company director in the U.S.

Theatre 3’s board also issued a statement mourning Alder’s passing today. The board revealed the establishment of the Jac Alder Memorial Fund to continue the arts leader’s legacy. A memorial honoring him will be held at CPH on July 13 at 6 p.m.

Bruce Coleman was announced as acting artistic director, with Marty Van Kleeck serving as advisor.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: TITAS unveils 2015-16 season

Tharp Twyla by Richard Avedon

Nine Dallas debuts, including two world premieres, distinguish the 2015–16 season of TITAS, the gay-run organization that presents innovative and international dance troupes to North Texas.

The 11-show season, including TITAS’ annual Command Performance Gala, includes the very sexy BalletBoyz, the return of Complexions Contemporary Ballet (founded by Alvin Ailey alums Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden) and the world premiere 50th anniversary tour of Twlya Tharp Dance.

Although it has in recent years moved toward an emphasis of dance over music, this is TITAS’ first-ever season without any music acts presented.

Twyla Tharp Dance‘s tour kicks off the season with two shows (Sept. 18–19) at the Winspear Opera House. That will be followed by the world premiere of the avant garde urban funk of Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Oct. 29–30, at the City Performance Hall.

Herve Koubi:Ce-que-le-jour

The next seven shows are all TITAS debuts:

• British-based Akram Khan Dance Company performs two shows at the City Performance Hall, Nov. 6–7.

BodyTraffic, which in three years has risen in international acclaim. Winspear Opera House, Jan. 22, 2016.

Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan will be presented in coordination with the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Winspear Opera House, Feb. 5.

BalletBoyz combine an all-male cast with muscularity and grace. Winspear Opera House, Feb. 13, 2016.

Akram Khan

Mr. & Mme. Reve, the France-based performance-art troupe that creates dreamlike imagery through movement. City Performance Hall, March 18–19, 2016.

• La Compagnie Herve Koubi Dance. Reve is immediately followed by another French company for two shows, which TITAS executive director Charles Santos calls “surprising and fiercely masculine.” City Performance Hall, March 25–26.

• Canada’s Kidd Pivot Dance Company continues the French-language triumvirate at CPH for two shows, April 21–22, 2016.

• TITAS’ Command Performance Gala annually revives works from some of TITAS’ favorite companies and artists. Winspear Opera House, May 7, 2016.

• The season concludes with a favorite, Complexions Contemporary Ballet at the Winspear, May 21, 2016.

All performances except the gala begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at ATTPAC.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones