Arts community unites for D-PASS, versatile performing arts series

DPASS

When Dallas’ newly designed Arts District went officially online four years ago, it promised to be a kind of clearinghouse for the arts community, a place where patrons could congregate to see opera, music, theater and dance in one place. Well, that promise has come to fruition in an inventive way.

Early this morning, Mayor Mike Rawlings announced the D-PASS, the Dallas Performing Arts Subscription Series, which unites seven Dallas arts organizations in an effort to expand the performing arts in the area. Starting with a three-show package at $75, and increasing in $25 increments to all seven shows, the D-PASS allows you to decide which shows you want to see and get them for a flat rate (fees are included). “These packages are a creative way to share great performances with new audiences,” the mayor said.

The package, which will be available now through Jan. 15, allows you to choose any combination of the following shows (three as a minimum).

Dallas Opera — The Barber of Seville.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra — Bernadette Peters in concert.

Dallas Theater Center — Fortress of Solitude.

Dallas Summer Musicals — Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

ATTPAC/Lexus Broadway Series — Godspell.

TITAS — Motionhouse.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre — Cultural Awareness.

You can learn more here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

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Crow Sculpture Garden

Downtown Dallas is the center of culture this week — in a big way.

Just like every month, the First Saturday tours of ATTPAC will be taking place, and there will be a street fair with lots of art from One Arts Plaza to Klyde Warren Park. But on the stages and galleries is where the real action is.

First, Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s 8th annual DanceAfrica will be performed Friday and Saturday at Annette Strauss Square. Inside the Wyly Theatre starting Friday is DTC’s preview week for Clybourne Park, the sequel to A Raisin in the Sun, both of which will be performed in repertory throughout October.

The Crow Collection of Asian Art, which is always free to the public, officially debuts its long-in-development Sculpture Garden, which encircles the Trammell Crow Center above the museum. The huge fu dogs (really lions) and the beautiful “sweepers” are among the draws outside, as well as the exquisite landscaping. Among the impressive items currently on exhibit inside the Crow are brass Chinese zodiac heads from famed artist Ai Weiwei, as well as a hand-painted Porsche that looks like a Chinese tapestry on wheels.

The new exhibit by gay artist Jim Hodges officially opens inside the Dallas Museum of Art on Sunday, but really, you can catch a sneak peek during the fair on Saturday. Hodges is a multimedia artist of such remarkable breadth, you mind will be blown.

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View from the Reunion Tower GeO Deck.

Also on Saturday, you can divert south of the Arts District down to Reunion Tower to enjoy the GeO Deck, the observation level of the tower below the revolving Five Sixty restaurant. In addition to Halo, a system of table-sized iPads that allow you to explore the city (both visually from live cameras and its history), you can actually walk outside and get a 360-view of Dallas, from the Omni to the Trinity to Uptown. A level up from the GeO Deck is a cafe (also manned by Wolfgang Puck staff) that, live the formal dining room, revolves while you eat.

Then head back to the AT&T plaza on Monday for A Gathering 2013, the second performance of music, dance and the spoken word that serves as a commemoration and benefit for Dallas-area HIV/AIDS charities. (Check out a slide show of rehearsal photos below.)

That’s all in addition to LifeWalk in Uptown on Sunday, Dallas Black Pride and Tarrant Pride going on all weekend and the release of the most anticipated film of the season, Gravity. So, if you say you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ATTPAC announces discounted ticket lottery for ‘The Book of Mormon’

Book of MormonThe Book of Mormon is the most awaited theater tour of the year, and if you thought tickets would be hard to come by — or just too expensive — there is a solution. And you don’t even need to be a student to benefit.

For the entire run of the show — Aug. 21 through Sept. 1 (it launches the Lexus Broadway Series season) — beginning 2½ hours before each performance, the box office, at 2353 Flora St., will conduct a lottery. You simply write your name and the number of tickets you want on a card (only one or two), and exactly two hours before curtain, they will select from the entrants a limited number of lottery winners.

Your cost? Only $25 per ticket. Considering that tickets even in the Grand Tier balcony of the Winspear run $70 — and considering the show is practically sold out — that’s a deal.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TITAS announces dance-centric season

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The Trocks.

The return of Pilobolus, Philip Glass and Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo — “The Trocks,” a drag ballet troupe — mark the 2013-14 TITAS season, but it’s what’s new about the season that makes the biggest impact.

For decades, TITAS has programmed about 10 shows a year — five music, five dance — until the last two seasons when dance has predominated slightly. That domination is full-force now, with nine of the 11 performances (including the bonus Command Performance Gala) dance.

“We needed to stop thinking about what [TITAS] has done in the past and look to the future,” said Charles Santos, the arts organization’s executive director. “We need to be curatorial as part of ATTPAC.” The center, he noted, already programs music (the interview took place even as the music of Rodriguez wafted from Annette Strauss Square adjacent to the Winspear Opera House), but TITAS does dance “better than anyone.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Steer ‘n’ the ship: Oklahoman Ryan Steer is onboard for ‘Anything Goes’

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Most gay guys have a “thing” about sailor suits — from the time their moms dress them up in one through the Village People singing “In the Navy” and until they pant over the sailors disembarking during Fleet Week, nautical fantasies are common.

And Ryan Steer gets to live it.

Steer is one of the ensemble members in the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, which docks into the Winspear for 10 days starting tonight. And he enjoys the chance to dress up like a seaman.

“I’m constantly changing costumes from sailor suit to tuxedo,” he says, and “while I think all of the costumes are out-of-this-world amazing, I do adore our sailor suits — they were made to have this MGM glamour quality to them. They are very tight in the butt and make all the sailors look like caricatures of strongmen, with broad shoulders and tiny waists. I don’t think anyone’s pretending that’s not a draw. And, they are very comfortable.”

Steer probably doesn’t need to pretend to be a strongman — the young (he’s 26), strapping Oklahoma native cuts a dashing figure in street clothes. But even so, touring with the Tony Award-winning production has been something of a dream for him.

“It is a family,” he says of his company, some of whom came directly from the Broadway production but most of whom are newcomers to the show. “Rachel York is a perfect Reno Sweeney — she’s just stellar in the show.”

Still, Steer’s familiarity with Anything Goes was surprisingly thin when he was tapped to be in it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING NEWS: Lill stepping down from Arts District post

Veletta Forsythe Lill, the former Dallas City Council Member who since 2009 has been the executive director of the Downtown Arts District, spearheading development there since the opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, is stepping down, effective Nov. 1.

The move was timed in part because the City Performance Hall, which has spent the last week celebrating a week-long opening gala, was the last piece in the puzzle for the Arts District.

“I have spent 15 years on the frontlines of change. With the final opening celebrations this fall and a blueprint for the future of commercial development I believe the time is right to pass the torch to a new generation.”

Among her accomplishments was lobbying for rules that would allow food trucks in the Arts District, making it a more desirable location not just during evening performances but during the day and weekends.

Lill, a long-time friend of the gay community (she’s pictured here posing for the NOH8 campaign opposing Prop 8′s anti-gay movement in California), Lill served on City Council  for eight years.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tegan and Sara set for show at Annette Strauss, tickets go on sale Friday

Tegan and Sara Quin, the Canadian identical twin sisters who perform under the name Tegan and Sara, return to Dallas for a concert at Annette Strauss Artist Square next to the Winspear Opera House on Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show, which features opening act Speak, go on sale at ATTPAC.org at 10 a.m. Friday.

We interviewed the sisters, who are also both lesbian, a few years ago in Dallas Voice. Their latest CD, also a DVD, is 2011′s Get Along.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Alec Baldwin Challenge” raises money for ATTPAC

Alec Baldwin knows how to put his money where his mouth is.

Last Friday, he appeared at the Winspear Opera House as part of the Brinker Speaker Series, where he talked for about 90 minutes about his films, TV, stage work and his life. And in the course of the evening, he made an unusual pledge: If people in the theater (and presumably, who read a blog post like this) would make a contribution to the AT&T Performing Arts Center, he’s match it, up to $25,000.

ATTPAC is thrilled, of course. “In 35 years of working in the performing arts I have never heard of something like this,” said ATTPAC CEO Mark Weinstein in a statement. The contribution should put the ATTPAC fund over $1 million for the first time.

If you want to contribute, you can do so online or by sending a contribution to ATTPAC to the attention “Alec Baldwin Challenge.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Newest venue in Dallas Arts District resembles oversized tool shed, opens Thursday night

The latest venue in the Arts District will open Thursday night.

The new Annette Strauss Artists Square has been desecrating the magnificent Winspear Opera House since just weeks after the opera house opened. Answering my horrified questions about the cinder-block monstrosity growing under the Winspear’s graceful canopy, I was told that was just the frame of the frame of the structure and it would become another wonderful piece of architecture once completed.

I was shocked to hear that it was opening tonight. Passing it every day on my way to work I’ve been wondering when it was going to start being magnificent. I got my answer today. It’s not.

It’s a concrete block that looks more like a place to store the lawn mower than another performance facility.

Why no photos on this post? I couldn’t find one online. ATTPAC must be so embarrassed that there’s not a single photo on their website. None online. Anywhere. Every pic of the Winspear obscures the tool shed. I’ll get some over the weekend and update next week.

The Winspears should be outraged.

The Strauss family should be insulted. It’s really horrible.

Tear it down! Get rid of it! It’s an eyesore! And it opens tonight with a free concert by Rachel Stacy & Stingray at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required but the event is free.

From the ATTpac:

Blankets welcome; lawn chairs not allowed
Concessions available for purchase
Convenient parking located at the Center and throughout the Dallas Arts District

Admission is FREE but tickets are required to reserve your space.
1. Visit www.attpac.org
2. Select “performances and tickets” then “on sale now”
3. Click “September 16″ then select “Strauss Square Tuning Concert”
4. Enter promo code “TUNING” to reserve your tickets
5. Continue to checkout

Please use our new print at home delivery method.
Tickets will not be mailed for this event.

—  David Taffet