Best Bets • 07.01.16

Friday 07.01 — Sunday 07.17

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‘42nd Street’ brings amazing dancing to North Texas for three weeks of performances.

Come and meet those dancing feet at ‘42nd Street’ … in Dallas or Fort Worth

Ever since the early talky film version, 42nd Street has been one of the iconic behind-the-scenes Broadway musicals. It was reinvented in the 1980s in the form it is today, and jam-packed with amazing dancing and classic songs. It’s currently playing in Dallas courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, but moves to Cowtown’s Bass Hall via Performing Arts Fort Worth… which gives you even more time to see it.

DEETS:
Fair Park Music Hall
901 First Ave.
Through July 10.
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce St.
Fort Worth
July 12–17
BassHall.com

Sunday 07.03

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Get a headstart on the Fourth’s festivities at Addison Kaboom Town!

The date on the Declaration of Independence says July 4, but Addison has always jumped the gun a bit. The town’s big Fourth of July celebration is routinely held on the Third of July, full of music, fireworks, food, an airshow and the promise of their biggest finale yet. It all starts at 4 p.m., and goes as late as midnight, so turn up for all the fun early and stay as late as you want. Best of all? General admission is free.

DEETS:
Addison Circle Park
4970 Addison Circle Drive
Gates at 4 p.m., fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
For details, visit AddisonKaboomTown.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 1, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 06.24.16

Tuesday 06.28 — Sunday 07.10

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Making it big on Broadway

Caitlin Ehlinger leads the cast in Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth’s production of 42nd Street, the comedy classic that tells the story of starry-eyed Peggy Sawyer who leaves her home in Allentown, Penn., to make it big on Broadway.

DEETS:
Music Hall at Fair Park
901 First Ave.
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Wednesday 06.29 — Saturday 07.23

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A different kind of boy

Second Thought Theatre winds up its 2016 season with A Kid Like Jake, directed by Matthew Gray and starring Christie Vela, Ian Ferguson and Jenny Ledel. Daniel Pearle’s play about a couple trying to get their son — who likes to dress up as Cinderella — into an exclusive preschool runs June 29-July 23 at Bryant Hall on the Kalita Humphreys Campus.

DEETS:
Bryant Hall
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.
SecondThoughtTheatre.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 06.10.13

Saturday 06.11

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Jane Lynch performs a gleeful concert at HOB

As hard-edged coach Sue Sylvester on Glee, Jane Lynch disparaged those who chose musical theater over sports. But as a real-life singer, Lynch loves to hum a tune or two, which she does at See Jane Sing, her concert tour that arrives this weekend at the House of Blues.

DEETS:
House of Blues
2200 N. Lamar St.
7 p.m.
LiveNation.com

Tuesday 06.14 — Sunday 06.26

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Hits of both kinds in the gangster musical ‘Bullets Over Broadway’

Woody Allen’s 1994 film Bullets Over Broadway is a quintessential backstage comedy — a smartypants playwright who gets involved with a high-maintenance star and a theater-obsessed mobster in the 1930s. Two decades later, Allen turned it into a jukebox musical, featuring classic songs from the era. It arrives this week at Fair Park Music Hall for a two-week run, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals.

DEETS:
Music Hall at Fair Park
901 First Ave.
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Friday 06.17 — Saturday 06.18

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Bruce Wood Dance returns with Six

It’s difficult to believe that choreographer Bruce Wood died two years ago… and equally amazing that his company, Bruce Wood Dance Project, has not just survived but flourished in that time. More evidence of its abiding success is Six, the company’s sixth season opener, which returns for two performances only. It features a Dallas premiere of one of Wood’s own masterworks, two other pieces also make their world premieres. Don’t miss it.

DEETS:
City Performance Hall
2520 Flora St.
BruceWoodDance.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 10, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DSM weighs in with more information about Jenkins firing

The news broke this morning that Michael Jenkins, longtime president of the Dallas Summer Musicals, had been fired. The DSM was largely silent about the reasons, but late today released a further statement regarding leadership changes at the organization.

“For some, this announcement is difficult to accept, but DSM’s Executive Committee [EC] believed that it was clear that it’s time for a change,” said volunteer chairman Ted Munselle. He further explained that for the last year or more, the EC “has been immersed in an intense assessment of the organization, with special attention on management accountability and professional examinations of DSM’s financial performance including reporting, profitability, expenditures and investments.” The board stated that the DSM has suffered losses every season, except one since 2008.

“Theater is a difficult and competitive business, and the EC was concerned about DSM’s financial losses as well as the quality of its financial reporting,” said Munselle, noting that the “forensic examination” of the financials prompted the decision. “We engaged a leading national law firm to lead a team of forensic investigators, including a group of auditors from a Big Four CPA firm, to conduct a forensic examination of the organization’s books and records.”

Munselle’s release said that last Thursday, in a near unanimous vote, the EC decided that it was time for a change in leadership.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Michael Jenkins is out as Dallas Summer Musicals president

Emily-Koch-as-Elphaba---Photo-by-Joan-MarcusMy friends Michael Granberry and Nancy Churnin, a real-life couple and both staff writers at the Dallas Morning News, have collaborated on a story I find interesting: The sudden firing of Dallas Summer Musicals‘ long-standing leader, Michael Jenkins. In the piece, which went live this morning, Jenkins accuses the DSM of age discrimination (he’s 74); the DMN announced an interim director, and said Jenkins’ termination was effectively immediately, but otherwise declined to comment on the details at this time.

The DSM, which will mark its 75th anniversary this June, is in the middle of its current season with Wicked (through May 22, pictured), and continues with Ragtime (opening May 24), Bullets Over Broadway (June 14) and 42nd Street (June 28).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 04.22.16

Friday 04.22 — Sunday 05.22

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It’s time you start defying gravity: ‘Wicked’ returns for a month!

Chances are you heard that Stephen Schwartz, the composer of the megaton musical Wicked, pulled the national tour from performing in North Carolina as a result of that state’s anti-gay, transphobic legislation. Who says are and politics don’t go together? But that’s just one reason to show your support for the show, with settled in for a month-long run at Fair Park, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals. There’s also the grand spectacle, the thrilling songs, the touching story. If you’re not already a friend of Dorothy, this will make you one.

DEETS:
Fair Park Music Hall
901 First Ave.
Through May 22
DallasSummerMusicals.org

Friday 04.22 — Sunday 04.24

Film-Fest

USAFF, DIFF wrap up this weekend

Two of Dallas’ biggest film festivals — the USA Film Festival and the Dallas International Film Festival — are going on simultaneously right now through Sunday,  and even if you have missed some of the screenings all ready, there’s still time to catch up. And since both are centered at the Angelika Film Center, you don’t even have to go far to enjoy them both.

DEETS:
Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station
5307 E. Mockingbird Lane
For schedules, visit USAFilmFestival.com and DIFF2016.dallasfilm.org.

Saturday 04.23

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Joan Rivers reincarnated (sorta)

The death two years ago of Joan Rivers has left a queer hole in our collective comedy, and Joe Posa loves to fill holes. The dragtastic comedy performs his tribute show to the hilariously inappropriate queen or standup with a one-night-only show.
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DEETS:
The Brick
2525 Wycliffe Ave.
7 p.m.
brickdallas.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 22, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Review: ‘Bridges of Madison County’

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If you weren’t around when Robert James Waller’s novel The Bridges of Madison County dropped in 1992, you probably can’t fully appreciate its cultural impact. It was, in retrospect, the Midwestern equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey: Poorly written treacle masquerading as grand romance. It was almost a parody of itself from the start, with a love interested who was masculine and mysterious, but also a feminist and vegetarian. (The message was: Adultery is wrong, unless it’s with the right guy.) Waller even included a foreword to the book insisting the story was true (it was not) and asserting that anyone not moved by his prose was a soulless ghoul.

I hated it, of course … at least until Clint Eastwood’s 1995 film adaptation. It took Hollywood’s least sentimental director to turn a work of literary diabetes into a palatable meal. Waller’s follow-up book was a comparative flop (critics never liked him, and audiences caught on)and the property drifted off, like Brigadoon, into the mists of poor decision-making, like mullets and Alicia Silverstone movies after Clueless.

At least until composer Robert Jason Brown got ahold of it, and crafted a musical version (with book by Marsha Norman) in 2014. Despite a Tony Award for best score (it bested If/Then, which just closed in Dallas), Bridges lasted just 100 performances, so a tour was not a certainty. But there it is, planted into Fair Park Music Hall for a two-week run. At capacity, almost more people could see it here than in New York — its Broadway home was fewer than 1,100 seats, not even a third of the Music Hall’s cavernous auditorium.

Which may be the principal failing of this production. Form the opening song (more like an aria), Elizabeth Stanley as Francesca — the Italian war bride living a life of quiet desperation in 1965 Iowa —cannot be heard or understood. It’s as if the actress wasn’t prepared for the vastness of the space she would be expected to fill in what’s essentially a chamber musical (albeit one that runs nearly three hours). Her Arianna-Huffington-speaking-Russian-with-socks-in-her-mouth accent garbles the lyrics; it’s not until Andrew Samonsky as the sexy NatGeo photographer Robert Kincaid belts out a few numbers that we really enjoy the aspiring beauty of Brown’s folksy-pop operetta.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Something ‘Wicked’ this way comes. And InstantTea readers can access the Yellow Brick Road

Wicked Emerald City TourWicked is, of course, a wonderful musical, and one of the signature theater events of the last decade or more. But when it’s on tour, getting the best seats can sometimes require a bit of wizardry. We can help. Dallas Voice readers have access to the Emerald City with our very own link that offers you access to the show, and picking tickets for any of the performances when Wicked returns to Fair Park Music Hall in the spring (the show runs April 20–May 22). From now through Feb. 15, this link gives you unique access to individual tickets. Your friends will turn green … from envy. So get in on the ground floor, skip the poppy fields and see the show. Again.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Review: ‘Elf The Musical’

Networks--Elf (Boise)     011 copyThe Will Ferrell movie comedy Elf is a shortish, silly, but frequently funny trifle about a human, raised at the North Pole, who returns to civilization to see out his father and bring the Christmas spirit to a cynical world. It’s a corny story, made palatable by Ferrell’s guileless performance as a 30-year-old man still captivated by the ridiculously of the holidays.

I went into the stage musical, now at Fair Park, with a fair degree of skepticism. Elf-the-movie rested on Ferrell’s shoulders; how would Elf The Musical fare without him? Actually, quite well. Unlike the disappointing slate of other recent stage adaptations of Christmas movies (White Christmas, A Christmas Story), Elf maintains the perfect amount of whimsy, buoyed by Daniel Patrick Smith’s infectiously joyous performance as Buddy, the puppy-dogish pest with a heart of candycanes.

The book, by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone), adds just the correct amount of knowing winks to the audience — about the inanity of the plot, of current society, even of musicals themselves (also a trait of Chaperone) — and the score, although not peppered with tons of memorable earworms, is jaunty and fun. It’s a delightful theatrical trifle, all warm-hearted energy and family-friendly messages.

Now through Sunday at Fair Park Music Hall.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Idea: The gift of theater

Networks--Elf-(Boise)-----107-copyThere really are gifts that keep on giving, and a season subscription to a theater company is a real way to have something new for your sweetheart all year long (and provides you both something to do together). North Texas is full of theaters to support, but we recommend Dallas Summer Musicals (you can still get tickets for the first show of the season, Elf, reviewed this week), or get someone in Cowtown a similar lineup from Performing Arts Fort Worth; Uptown Players (which next month kicks off with a bonus show with the Turtle Creek Chorale), WaterTower Theatre, the Dallas Theater Center (which has a gay-themed show running right now) and many more. Support the arts and those on your gift lift.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones