REVIEW: ‘Finishing School’ at the Bath House

Elaine Liner author Sweater Curse photo by Daylon Walton 700dpi

Elaine Liner, by Daylon Walton

Some props to my friend, Elaine Liner. Elaine made her acting debut (at least since college!) last year in her one-woman show Sweater Curse (one of my favorite productions of 2013), and barely two months later, she’s represented on the boards again — not as an actor, but as a playwright. (She also penned Sweater.)

Finishing School, which finishes up at the Bath House Cultural Center Saturday, had a troubled launch. She wrote it with the wonderful Larry Randolph in mind, but he fell ill on opening eve, and the producer, One-Thirty Productions (which produces only matinees that begin, natch, at 1:30 p.m.), decided to forge ahead with a replacement in Larry’s role (Gordon Fox). I was finally able to catch it this week, with only two performances to go (today and tomorrow), but I’m glad I took the time. Even if I didn’t like Elaine already, I’d like this play: It’s smart, observant (about the hazards of growing old, and how entering one’s twilight years doesn’t mean abandoning love) and rat-a-tat hilarious, with zingers that a punnier critic might call one-Liners. Ahem. Who’m I kidding, I am a punny critic.

Fox is actually doing fine in the role of a 94-year-old who befriends a younger resident of a retirement home (John S. Davies), who’s not sure what life hold. Catherine DuBord and Ellen Locy provide some vibrancy in smaller roles, and even B.J. Cleveland manages a cameo (unseen) as the home’s activities director on the public address center. Seems like watching plays professionally has given Liner insight on how to write them, too.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Hedwig’ finishes its rush at Bath House this weekend

HedIt’s been a while since we’ve seen a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch locally. I’m not sure why — all it requires is a cross-dressing powerhouse vocalist who can be butch and femme while belting out songs about her botched gender-reassignment surgery and broken heart.

OK, maybe I am sure why. But John Cameron Mitchell’s script and Stephen Trask’s score are some of the edgier delights of modern theater, and you owe it to yourself to check it out if you can.

Mel Arizpe, who won the Voice of Pride competition a few years ago, plays Yitzhak (another trans character onstage) and Danny Anchondo is Hedwig in this explosive rock musical. There are only two more performances, Friday and Saturday, at the Bath House. Be sure to check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Art attack

Dallas gets a dose of queer and queer-friendly art options this month

Maybe the holiday season inspires artists or inspires buyers, but whichever the reason, Dallas’ art scene is in full bloom with openings, closings and anniversaries. These galleries are ready to introduce you to a world of art in your own backyard.

Local queer artist Robb Conover closes his pop art extravaganza Sweet Bullets at Kettle Art Friday. Conover curated the show with fellow artist Corey Godfrey, which includes work by Tony Reans, Nix Johnson, Daniel Birdsong, Conover and Godfrey and more. Expect an explosion of bold colors and pop culture references in this eclectic exhibit. Upon the closing of the show, the gallery will celebrate its seventh anniversary. Kettle Art, 2714 Elm St. KettleArt.com.

Local funny gay guy Dave Cudlipp debuts as an artist in Fresh Faces 2 x 2. Curator Rita Barnard’s goal of the show is to highlight local and regional artists both discovered and yet to be. Cudlipp, who we featured before as a writer for Dallas Comedy Conspiracy, shows his other talents in the exhibit where artists are required to get creative in a two by two inch space. Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Jan. 28 with an artists’ reception Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. 214-670-8749. BathHouseCultural.com.

The Dallas Museum of Art continues it’s stunning exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, featuring the designer’s edgy clothes over the years as well as added elements such as animatronic mannequins — including one of Gaultier himself. Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood St. Through Feb. 12. $16–$20. DallasMuseumofArt.org.

Alison Jardine displays her work, pictured, in PixelNation at Ro2 Art gallery at the Aloft. The digital art works are the result of Jardine creating through her iPad for 365 consecutive days. With such a modern approach, Jardine ironically takes on nature as her theme with a pixel motif. Ro2Art at Aloft, 1033 Young St. Through Dec. 29 with an artist’s reception Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. 214-803-9575. Ro2Art.com.

The Downtown gallery of Ro2Art will simultaneously feature Dallas-based artist R. Mateo Diago’s work in Every Then … and Now. The exhibit includes works from an array of media such as photography, painting, found objects and even letters and notes. Diago’s work is described as giving weight to themes of lost loves, self-identity, dreams and sexual compulsion. Sounds like his work speaks to everybody. Ro2 Art, 110 N. Akard St. Dec. 17–Jan. 28 with an artist’s reception Dec. 17. 214-803-9575. Ro2Art.com.

Applying math and musical concepts in his work, Dallas-based Rusty Scruby takes his photographic work to a new level. In Memory Bytes, Scruby hand cuts and reassembles his works into constructions of hexagons and circles in a simulated knitting style. Taking the seemingly mundane, he transforms family photos, yearbook pictures and more into further dimensions that demand a deeper look. Cris Worley Fine Arts, 2277 Monitor St. Through Dec. 22. 214-641-9266. CrisWorley.com.

The works of British artist Nigel Cooke can either bring forth a sense of renewal or evoke a feeling of dread. Either way it can be fascinating in his art currently on display at the Goss-Michael Foundation. 1405 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 18. 214-696-0555. GossMichaelFoundation.org.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Truck me!

Dallas’ food truck trend hits terminal velocity at massive meet up

dining
FOOD ON WHEELS | The lines were long at every truck in the Sigel’s lot last week, as Dallas foodies turned out for the first major food truck event. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

The food truck has been an American tradition — as expected as corrupt politicians —  for decades. But if you don’t recall seeing them in Dallas much in the past, there’s a reason for that: a city ordinance that required them to move every hour. Being itinerant is one of the joys of the food truck, a mobile kitchen that can bring its unique flavors to where the people are and migrate with them. If they high-tail it like the revenuers after a moonshine still every 60 minutes, it seems less like a convenience and more like a grey market transaction. And how do you follow a restaurant that moves all the time?

The solution has been two-fold: Repeal that pesky ordinance (the City Council did that in June), and let folks track you via GPS and Twitter. Now, a truck can hole up for as long as the business is booming, and when it goes on the move, it’s easy for tech-savvy foodies to follow. I first saw the new semi-permanent advantage put into practice this summer at the Bath House Cultural Center along White Rock Lake during the Festival of Independent Theatres: Patrons didn’t have to scarf down Doritos or speed a few blocks to a Whataburger to eat between performances, they could just go outside and sample the automat-on-wheels.

It’s become hugely trendy in the past few months — In-N-Out Burger with mobility. It reached, arguably, its peak last weekend with a festival in the Sigel’s lot on Greenville Avenue, as half-a-dozen trucks set up shop for three hours to show Dallas what it has been missing.
But it ended up as something of a clusterfuck.

Organizers underestimated the demand for rolls that actually roll, even on a sweltering evening in August. There was simply too much demand and not enough supply.

One truck, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, announced it would not take new orders for its gourmet grilled cheese sammies until it caught up with its backlog. “Half-hour, 45 minutes,” the girl there sympathetically apologized. Ninety minutes later, my order still hadn’t been taken.

I could hardly blame the chefs, who worked like 8-year-olds in a Chinese shoe factory to get the dishes served but still couldn’t seem to get their heads above water. And honestly, looking at the menu whetted my appetite to finally track them down. The Bomb cut off new orders of its fried pies well before the event was set to end. (Not so Nammi Truck, which has a long line and a two-hour wait for their bahn mi bites.)

The only dishes my party and I were actually able to sample were from 3 Men and a Taco. Figuring this might be my only chance at actual food, I tried a trio: beef charkalaka, pork and pico and an alligator taco. The gator, which I generously spritzed with the spiciest of their spicy salsas, was tender, and the sauce didn’t cause my eyes to roll back in my head (a failing — I like spicy — but tasty nonetheless). There was something unnerving about the texture of the pork, which had the consistency of wet cottonballs, though the flavors were solid. I’ll return to try the rest of the menu, just not when the line’s so long.

In the end, we ditched the parking lot and scooted over to Mariano’s Hacienda for frozen swirls and some flautas. It cost more, but at least we left with our bellies full in less than an hour. Food trucks are meant to sate you, not sap you.

Ah well. Kinks will be worked out. By the time the permanent food truck lot opens next year on Lower Greenville, there’ll be a rhythm. Until then, it’s back to playing Twitter detective and seeking out the trucks when the lines are shorter. It might be less communal, but at least you get fed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Weekly Best Bets • 07.15.11

Friday 07.15

FIT for a queen
The Festival of Independent Theaters (FIT) returns with an inspired schedule of shows including works by Steve Martin and David Mamet. We’re curious though about The Madness of Lady Bright with Larry Randolph, about an aging drag queen’s descent into madness.

DEETS: Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Aug. 6. $12–$16.
BathhouseCultural.com.

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Sunday 07.17

Walk this way
Not often do we get to see both men and women compete in drag pageants together, but Miss LifeWalk is different that way. Everyone can make a run for the tiara, but the goal is to raise funds for AIDS LifeWalk and the amazing things they do. But for real, these contestants are still gonna do all they can to snag the crown.

DEETS: Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road. 6 p.m.
AIDSLifeWalk.org/Miss-LifeWalk.

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Thursday 07.21

Givin’ up the Love
We don’t have to rely on Chelsea Lately or America’s Dumbest Criminals to get some Loni Love up in here. The comedian brings the laughs with her signature sass and we’re all the better for it.

DEETS: The Improv, 309 Curtis May Way, Arlington. Through July 24. $17–$20.
Improv.com.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tasting notes

Photo-2---Murray's-in-Kroger-Shot
SAY CHEESE | Murray’s Cheese Shop just opened at the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station with a delectable selection.
Murray’s: What a friend we have in cheeses; White Rock holds a picnic

What a friend we have in cheeses, now that Murray’s Cheese Shop has moved out of the ghetto of Greenwich Village in New York City and hit the real center of the cheese world, the hometown of Paula Lambert: Dallas.

At least, that’s how I approach it at my house, where a day without cheese is like a day without sunlight. So to have the celebrated fromagerie inside the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station is a coup for local cheese lovers.

The shop groups its cheeses by use more than style: Melting cheeses, stinky cheeses, spreadable, etc. Even better, there’s a section for this month’s specials, where you can get great deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples, or go outside your comfort zone, such as a deliciously crunchy version of two-year gouda called Reypanaer, or the veiny, pungent Smokehaus blue.

White Rock Lake celebrates its centennial with several culinary events this weekend. On Saturday, the beach turns into the Veranda Lounge, with a day-long choice of meals. Culinary couple Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare of Good 2 Go Tacos serve brunch from 10 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and wine at noon, afternoon tea at 2, cocktails at 4:30 and dinner with chef Marc Cassel starting at 7 p.m., followed by music and fireworks.

Then on Sunday, Brian C. Luscher, chef/owner of The Grape, hosts Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, starting at noon at the Bath House Cultural Center. Cassel will be back, along with Jeff Harris of RedFork, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and others. Visit HighlandParkCafeteria.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck recently adopted a dog, which motivated her to hold a benefit for Operation Kindness. (It’s also a mission close to our hearts — Dallas Voice profiles a shelter pet for adoption every week.) On June 30, the restaurant at the Hotel Palomar will hold a VIP Party — that’s Very Important Pet — on the patio, with drink special and all-you-can-eat bites for just $10. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dish is back with its drag brunch this Sunday, and will do them twice a month from now on, with bottomless mimosas and a special brunch menu.

Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park, Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10. The annual festival of food features live music, contests and lots of tastings. Among the chefs on-hand are gay restaurateur Scott Jones of Macho Nacho and Cowtown Diner and Jason Boso of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Cowboy Chow. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. See the full lineup at TasteofDallas.org.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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NUP_141681_0107TRAVEL DIARY

Josh Flagg, pictured, a star of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing who came out earlier this year, is letting his Pride flag wave. Flagg will host a four-day dance party in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica next month. It takes place July 21–25 in a gated community on the Latin American nation’s South Coast. To learn more, visit HMCRPride.com/party.

GayTravel.com is reaching out to the queer artistic community to highlight the local arts scenes in destinations for its readers.
LGBT artists and allies who work in any media are invited to submit pieces that would be of interests to gay travelers — pieces promoting events, trends or just themselves that can add to the experience of visiting new locales. You can read more about it on the website, or email sophie.needelman@gaytravel.com for details.
— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

More entries for your Foote fetish

We review two of the entries in the Foote Festival in the Voice this week — Uptown Players’ The Young Man from Atlanta and WaterTower Theatre’s The Traveling Lady, as well as a review several weeks back of Dallas Theater Center’s Dividing the Estate — but the fest continues with a number of productions coming soon. Some today!

WingSpan Theatre Co. and One Thirty Productions are doing four performances of their staged reading of The Carpetbagger’s Children today and Saturday, with two shows each: 1:30 p.m. matinees and 8 p.m. evening perfofoamnces. Performances take place at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas opens The Trip to Bountiful, directed by Rene Moreno, tonight at the Greenville Center for the Arts off Lower Greenville Avenue.

Theatre 3 is in previews of its production of The Roads Home, a collection of one-acts. Official opening night is Monday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Well, Albee

Two absurdist one-acts delve into the American pysche with humor and sex appeal

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

YOGA?BEARABLE  |  A young man (Austin Tindle) performs yoga while an old lady (Elly?Lindsay) is left to die in ‘The Sandbox,’ one of two absurdist romps. (Photo Lowell Sargeant)
YOGA BEARABLE | A young man (Austin Tindle) performs yoga while an old lady (Elly?Lindsay) is left to die in ‘The Sandbox,’ one of two absurdist romps. (Photo Lowell Sargeant)

ALBEE: TWO ON THE AISLE
Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Oct. 23. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m., select 2 p.m. matinees. $17–$20. WingSpanTheatre.com

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Most comedies — especially those written nowadays, for stage, film and TV — don’t really make much sense. Characters do stupid things because stupid leads to funny consequences. They rely on their audiences not paying too much attention. (I can’t count how many times I have been accused of “over-thinking” a comedy by people happy to be lost in the inanity of it all.)

It’s refreshing, then, to encounter a comedy that tries not to make sense … but does so smartly — so smartly, that you cease paying attention at your peril. That is the world of absurdism.

Considering that Edward Albee’s rep is based largely on his hyper-realistic masterpiece Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, it’s easy to forget he’s also America’s foremost absurdist, especially in his one-acts like The American Dream and The Sandbox, which are being revived right now by WingSpan Theatre.

WingSpan does absurdism well — Albee especially. His Marriage Play, The Play About the Baby and Tennessee Williams’ The Gnadiges Fraulein were highlights of recent theater seasons. This duet isn’t quite as strong as those, but deliciously entertaining nonsense.

Only they’re not nonsense. Albee — gay, adopted, bitter — has issues. Both plays feature basically nameless characters: Mommy (Lulu Ward), Daddy (Barry Nash), Grandma (Elly Lindsay), Young Man (Austin Tindle). This is a view of the nuclear family in meltdown.

Rhythms more than plot (plot?) provide the fodder for a couple’s obsession with materialism (their house is a hodgepodge of American flag colors, deconstructed and turned subversively critical). With annoyingly inconsequential small talk, they chatter away about the color of a hat and the content of mysterious boxes and what to do with the old lady. As with David Lynch, the logic, if any, is dreamlike — or, more accurately, nightmarish, with laughs.

Ward is ideal at conveying genteel villainy: Behind a smile cracking with anger, she exudes threatening volatility. Nash, perfectly impassive, represents a dire view of manhood.

Tindle, in contrast, captures the hearty beauty of the male form. With placid sex appeal — especially in The Sandbox, where he spends 15 minutes performing yoga in tight-fitting ‘50s-era swim trunks — he’s unattainable desire incarnate.

At least I think so. Part of the attraction of absurdism is the attraction of poetry: You can read into it what resonates with you. Director Susan Sargeant lets her solid cast loose on the material, toying with it and the audience. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all. If it doesn’t make you laugh, it may scare the hell out of you. And feel free to over-think it. That’s what art is supposed to be about.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

WingSpan tackles 2 early Albees

Being gay figures less concretely in playwright Edward Albee’s work than do his skewed ideas about the nuclear family (owing, in part, to his chilly adoptive parents). But his plays almost always deal with people on the outside of society.

Two on the Aisle: The American Dream and The Sandbox is a festival of two early one-acters from Albee, which WingSpan Theatre Co. is reviving at the Bath House Cultural Center, starting this week. In The Sandbox, an elderly relation’s (Elly Lindsay, pictured) usefulness is minimized as her materialistic family plot to get rid of her; The American Dream continues that family’s story with deep stabs at middle class values.  In true Albee fashion, the absurdism is girded by a dark sense of humor and an ample dose of satire.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Presented by WingSpan Theatre Co. Through Oct. 23. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m., select weekend matinees at 2 p.m. $17–$20. 214-675-6573. WingSpanTheatre.com.

—  Kevin Thomas

Get lost in ‘Wonderland’ at the Festival of Independent Theatres

Alice is looking a little FIT lately

The Festival of Independent Theatres is back, featuring eight local theaters and a slew of new plays. We’re curious to see how company White Rock Pollution will convey its retelling of Alice in Wonderland that looks to be a whole lot darker than the original, and in real-life 3-D, unlike that Johnny Depp movie.

DEETS: Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Aug. 7. $12–$16. ATTPAC.org

—  Rich Lopez