This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s a busy, busy week, what with people fresh back from the Thanksgiving holiday and organizations trying to rush their activities in before the New Year sneaks up. That’s why you can see any of several Christmas-themed stage plays: DTC’s A Christmas Carol, Theatre Britain’s panto of Mother Goose, MBS Productions’ saucy Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker and WaterTower’s staged reading of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. You can also see the real Nutcracker in Dallas before it moves to Fort Worth, courtesy of Texas Ballet Theater.

If you’re not really in the holiday mood, though, never fear: Friday night get drunk on French wines at the annual Beaujolais Festival: Beaujolais & Beyond, this time in the fresh new Irving Convention Center. It kicks off at 7 p.m. Or stay closer to downtown with Dick’s Night Out at Ku•De•Ta. Museum junkies can go to the Perot Museum — finally — on Saturday, as well as a new exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright at the Arlington Museum of Art. And the Holocaust Museum debuts a collection of 71 private family photos take of Anne Frank by her dad Otto. And you can stop by Ro2Art Gallery on Sunday at 7 p.m. for a farewell meet-the-artist reception for gay collage artist Gary Farrelly. His show continued through Dec. 8.

For the music-minded, Jekyll & Hyde, with club diva Deborah Cox and American Idol‘s Constantine Maroulis, opens at the Winspear. And it’s a concert-heavy week, with Mary Fagan, Patti Larkin, Duncan Sheik and Amy Cook all performing throughout the week. And Willam Belli, my former roommate at a breakout star of RuPaul’s Drag Race, performs at the Rose Room on Sunday.

And there are still some great movies of there, including Skyfall, Argo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Life of Pi, The Sessions and Lincoln (skip the dreadful Silver Linings Playbook), but one of the best is this week’s new release, Hitchcock.

And finally, Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. You can make a difference and still have a little indulgence by stopping by Sprinkles Cupcakes on Saturday. Proceeds from the sale of the special red ribbon cupcake will be donated to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lexus Broadway Series’ line-up

The Lexus Broadway Series at the Winspear Opera House confirmed its 2012-13 will contain seven shows, up from the usual four or five. As already reported, it features the play War Horse, the Tony Award-winner using remarkable puppet horses and other animals (including Joey, pictured), which runs Sept. 12-23. Much of the rest of the season, though, contains some familiar titles … though some are welcome back.

The season begins Aug. 14 with Chicago, which has been through North Texas a lot — last year, in Fort Worth with John O’Hurley; he’s here again in this production. After War Horse, Constantine Maroulis, the Idol who did a good job in the recent Rock of Ages, will be seen in Jekyll & Hyde (Dec. 4-16), a delightfully bombastic musical that hasn’t been to Dallas with a national tour since before it opened on Broadway.

A ” bonus” show (not part of the Series package) is Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, another Soleil wannabe from Neil Goldberg, from Decc. 18-23.

The season returns in 2013 with the national tour of the current Broadway hit revival Anything Goes† (Feb. 13-24), followed by the African-themed Fela! (May 7-19) from Bill T. Jones. The last show, Traces (Jun 11-23), is an unknown quantity, but looks like a cross between Cirque, Stomp and Movin’ Out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Rock of Ages’ at the Winspear

Do you wanna get rocked?

American Idol contestant and now Tony-nominee Constantine Maroulis recently announced an end to his three-year gig as Drew Bowie, the wannabe rocker in the jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which is now playing at the Winspear. But his last performance isn’t until July, so in the meantime, he’s still ready to rock it.

“It’s been huge for me on many levels as an actor and being acknowledged by my community,” he says. “I was a rock star wannabe growing up with these songs from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and other songs in my wheelhouse. This is a true artistic achievement and for it to all work out in this time when so many shows come and go, we’re kicking a lot of ass.”

So go on and feel the noise.

—  Rich Lopez

Hairiography

Rock-of-Ages-happy-shot-Joan-Marcus

Disney-fied metalrock meets ‘Xanadu’ camp in the oddly gay-friendly ‘Rock of Ages’

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

Broadway has become so terrified of becoming irrelevant, it has spent much of the last decade trotting out jukebox musicals that approximate other, more popular forms of entertainment. The latest result: The ear-splitting hair rock musical Rock of Ages, now at the Winspear.

For the first hour or more, Rock of Ages comes off as little more than an annoying, loud concert with trite set-ups and stereotypical characters interspersed to give it some small amount of structure upon which to hang ‘80s metal anthems like “Cum on Feel the Noize” and “Sister Christian.” By intermission, I was ready to write it off completely.

Then something unexpected happened: It got better.

Audiences have become used to campy, self-mocking musicals that poke fun at their catalogue of songs, from Mamma Mia! to Xanadu. Perhaps I was resistant to the idea that non-disco rockers would have as good a sense of humor about themselves to notice it, but Rock of Ages couldn’t be gayer if it had a score of only ABBA songs. When you can finally see the comedy for what it is (a Disney-fied version of rock, about as threatening as the Rock-N-Rollercoaster at Walt Disney World), and give it cred for welcoming a gay sensibility to a genre known for its homophobia, it becomes a hoot: Call it Rock of Fagulas. (It makes sense, too — metal rock is just drag of another kind.)

American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis is the headliner (playing a bar-back who dreams of rock superstardom), but the show is basically stolen by Patrick Lewallen as a hip-swishing, mullet-headed narrator (part Frank-N-Furter, part Zach Galifianakis) and three musical numbers: Peter Deiwick, pantingly sexy as a David Lee Roth clone, sets hearts racing with his rendition of “Wanted Dead or Alive;” two losers standing up for themselves to “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and the campy twist in “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” By the time the finale rolls around with the now-over-used rallying anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’,” much of the bad blood from Act 1 has been washed away. It almost makes you yearn for a resurgence in Spandex and wine coolers.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Constant craving

Constantine Maroulis is another kind of idol in ‘Rock of Ages’

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

rock-of-ages-Constantine-DanLippitt
HAIR APPARENT | Like Jennifer Hudson, Constantine Maroulis turned ‘American Idol’ also-ran status into acting cred. (Photo courtesy Dan Lippitt)

Save for Charlie Sheen, sometimes it’s not all about winning — but placing in the top 10 never hurts.

Coming in sixth on season 4 of American Idol has only been a boon for Constantine Maroulis. Without the scrutiny of a No. 1 finish but with plenty of national exposure, he landed high profile stage work (snagging a Tony nomination) and an upcoming album. And he’s far from done.

“I’m looking forward to what’s next and I want to continue new roles and projects,” he says. “I plan to tour and get the material out there. I’m a live performer and I wanna get my band out on the road. I wanna gig.”

If he sounds antsy, perhaps that’s because he recently announced an end to his three-year gig as Drew Bowie, the wannabe rocker in the jukebox musical Rock of Ages, which opens at the Winspear this week. His last performance isn’t until July, but in the meantime, he’s still ready to rock it.

“It’s been huge for me on many levels as an actor and being acknowledged by my community,” he says. “I was a rock star wannabe growing up with these songs from Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and other songs in my wheelhouse. This is a true artistic achievement and for it to all work out in this time when so many shows come and go, we’re kicking a lot of ass.”

Confident much? Oh yes. At times, Maroulis doles out a precious combination of swagger and thespic brazenness. He takes his work seriously, but his language can be as blown out as his luxurious mane.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished what I need,” he says. “With the five Tony nominations and now we’re a worldwide brand, I ask myself, ‘How the fuck did this kid do this every day for this many years?’ I mean, it’s pretty freaking impossible to do.”

But in a moment, he softens when he talks about his daughter. The rock star is gone and the doting dad appears.

“Malena was born this past December and I’m just so very thrilled,” he says. “And she’s growing up so fast, it’s amazing! I only get to see [her and her mother] every few weeks so that’s why I am looking forward to the end of this tour.”

With a family and budding career, American Idol doesn’t linger as much. While he’ll always be associated with it, Maroulis has proven to be a hot commodity on his own.

“I am a competitive person and I try to be No. 1,” he says, “but I think it was fate for me to go home early as it was fate for Carrie [Underwood] to win. She is the American idol. I like to fly a little more under the radar and have a nice flow of steady work.”

Heavy metal may not seem like the biggest gay draw, but lest people forget, it’s really just one step removed from drag: With the long hair, eyeliner and glitzy outfits, Rock of Ages tells Drew Bowie’s story of busboy-turned-rock-god with both comedy and ‘80s throwback tunes. Think of it as a swirl of the films Footloose and Rock Star with a heavy dash of Glee and glam metal — and it’s just as fabulous as Mamma Mia. As for Maroulis, whatever the medium, it’s about the art.

Just don’t ask him if he’s ever forgotten the words to a song.

“Well no, but now you jinxed me,” he says.
My bad.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas