Final bets at the finale of Team DV’s P-P-P-Poker Tourney

Ante up to the table

Team Dallas Voice and Pocket Rockets Dallas are raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. After three weeks, the event has come to the grand prize final.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to enter the raffle. Among the prizes available or that have been won are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

DEETS: Check out the Facebook event page here for details.

—  Rich Lopez

That ’70s musical

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WE WILL SURVIVE | Doralee (Diana DeGarmo), Violet (Dee Hoty) and Judy (Mamie Parris) take on the boss in ‘9 to 5: The Musical.’

Office politics and country music combine for ‘9 to 5,’ a Dolly’d-up women’s lib throwback

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

The plot of 9 to 5: The Musical hews closely to the film: Three working girls (we called them “girls” back then) — experienced professional secretary Violet (Dee Hoty), typing pool bombshell Doralee (Diana DeGarmo) and a workforce newcomer, recent divorcee Judy (Mamie Parris) — endure the butt slaps, passed-by promotions and office gossip endemic to the “man’s world” of big business. They were stooped over from touching the glass ceiling before we had that term.

When lowlife CEO Mr. Hart (Joseph Mahowald) threatens to have them all fired, they kidnap him and stage a coup-d’etat, running the company via memo the way they want it run. Of course it is a smashing success, with employees and shareholders. Of course they keep their jobs and Mr. Hart gets his. Of course, of course, of course.

That’s actually kind of a good thing. Many stage adaptations of movies swing wildly away from the source material, so this is a comforting, surprisingly tight rendering of a well-worn plot, interspersed with a variety of Dolly Parton-penned songs, several with distinct country flair (but not all). Dolly even makes a video appearance as the narrator. 9 to 5 is a perfectly palatable, even enjoyable musical comedy, a lightweight feminist screed against big business that wouldn’t offend anyone who doesn’t have a talk show or Fox News or who is not named Trump.

What the show isn’t is a standout in any measurable way. It could be an office version of The Producers, but it lacks memorable hooks and enough punch to hit a home run.

DeGarmo flexed some acting muscle, affecting a Betty Boopish voice that sounds more like Butters from South Park than Dolly clone, and as American Idol loyalists know, she can sing. It’s Parris, though, who gets the 11-o’clock number, “Get Out and Stay Out,” an anthemic power ballad that rivals “I Will Survive” for sheer defiance.

But Hoty, a Broadway star, underwhelms in what is the de facto leading role. She’s all glum sarcasm and self-pitying, long-suffering smugness. She and the other leads have a ball on the Act 1 closer, “Shine Like the Sun,” but along with Mahowald as the overdrawn villain, she’s a disappointment.

So is the set. “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” Dolly Parton is fond of saying about her signature trailer-trash-won-the-Lotto look of boobs, bleach and bangles. On that basis, I can only imagine that the scenery — mostly comprised of rotating-paneled columns that look like port-a-potties on rollers — must have cost a fortune.

For Dolly fans, hearing an album’s worth of new songs (even sung by someone other than her) and the recorded cameo may be worth it alone, but, like the company dental plan, it leaved you wanting more for what you’re paying.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Put on your p-p-p-poker face for Lone Star Ride

OK, we know Lady Gaga’s new CD comes out today (we’ll have a review in Friday’s paper), but the poker face we’re thinking about this week is yours. Starting tomorrow, and continuing for four consecutive Wednesdays, Team Dallas Voice is raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. It kicks off May 25 at 8 p.m. at Sue Ellen’s with the first qualifying round, then moves to the Round-Up Saloon on June 1 at 8:30 p..m, the Brick on June 8 at 7:30 p.m., before the grand prize final at the Brick on June 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to bid on auction items or enter the 50/50 raffle. Among the prizes available (pictured, with Team DV organizer Greg Hoover) are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, passes to the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

Poker, gay bars, prizes — sounds like an ideal way to spend a Wednesday. Or any day of the week, at that.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Not just a ‘9 to 5’ job

Director Jeff Calhoun’s fabulous, unlikely journey from Dolly queen to professional Dolly collaborator

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

JeffCalhounSmileGenJeff Calhoun has been a Broadway baby for nearly 30 years, directing revivals of Grease and Big River, plus choreographing those shows and revivals of Annie Get Your Gun and Bells Are Ringing. He’s got a Tony Award nom and is best friends with Tommy Tune. But he’s still hoping for the Holy Grail every theater director craves: That one original show to call his own, the lasting legacy.

“I thought Brooklyn was going to be that for me — the next Rent — which tells you how little I know,” he says of his 2004 show that ran a respectable 284 performances. Then when he heard producers were adapting the Dolly Parton film comedy 9 to 5 for Broadway, he thought he finally had his shot. Only it was not to be.

“I was really disappointed when they hired Joe Mantello to direct,” he says plainly. Then some serendipity occurred: First, 9 to 5 turned out to be a bust on Broadway, running only four months. Then the producers did something that has probably never been done before: They hired a new director to retool the show for the national tour. And that was Jeff Calhoun.

“It was a miracle,” he says.

Directing 9 to 5, which opens Wednesday at Fair Park Music Hall, is an appropriate bookend for Calhoun, who got his start as a 21-year-old working with Dolly Parton on the film version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

“She was in her prime — and so was I, as a matter of fact,” he jokes. “I wanted to do [9 to 5] because, first, I love Dolly; and second, I wanted to do an homage to 1970s variety shows — Sonny and Cher and Carol Burnett and such. I knew this was perfect: It takes place in 1979. But [the in Broadway version] there was no context, other than the costumes and bad hair. You should feel like you’re back in the ’70s, from Charlie’s Angels to Burt Reynolds posing nude in Playgirl.”

Calhoun tackled the show anew, treating it “as if it has its own DNA.” There was a lot of adapting: Some songs were cut, others rearranged; the style was streamlined, jokes were punched up. And working with Dolly was its own reward.

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A GAY MAN’S DREAM | Jeff Calhoun, director of ‘9 to 5: The Musical,’ came full-circle with the show, reuniting with Dolly Parton, whom he first met on the set of ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.’

“It’s been one of my favorite collaborations. I have a picture of her and me together [on the set of Whorehouse] that any fan, especially a gay person, will look at that and oh my god! All I am missing is Cher on my other side.”

 

The touring production also snagged some major talent in Tony nominee Dee Hoty (who worked with Calhoun on The Will Rogers Follies and, coincidentally, plays Miss Mona — the Dolly role — in The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public) and American Idol runner-up Diana DiGarmo, who starred in the tour of Calhoun’s Brooklyn.

Calhoun is a quick wit with a naughty, uncensored side who gets dishy and expresses his opinions without much coaxing.

Broadway is run by “businessmen without imagination,” he says. “That’s what’s great about [the new musical] The Book of Mormon — it’s brilliant and it shows original thought — rare today.” He’s happy bin Laden was killed on Obama’s watch as it “may shut up the naysayers. My parents — I love them and they are great people — but they have this blind spot for Obama. They would vote for Nixon tomorrow if he was running.” And don’t get him started on Sarah Palin.

“I wrote a song about Sarah Palin — it stars with C and ends with unt,” he says. “She’s written a book but she’s never read one? I hate that she has pride in her ignorance — it’s as if everyone in the audience of Let’s Make a Deal became Republicans.”

Politicking aside, next up for Calhoun are two Broadway shows: A musical adaptation of Newsies (with a script by Harvey Fierstein) immediately followed by a show with yet another Texas connection: Bonnie & Clyde: The Musical. For a Yankee, Calhoun has surprisingly strong ties to Dallas.

“I was in Dallas with Busker Alley when you had that big flood and my upside-down rental car was the image that led the news,” he says. “And I love [Dallas Summer Musicals chief] Michael Jenkins — he’s one of my best friends. Yes, I’ve had so many good experiences there, both theatrically and in the bars! I love me some Dallas!”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Give A Damn, get some goodies and help out a good cause all at the same time

Cyndi Lauper

Everybody knows that Cyndi Lauper is not just an LGBT rights supporter, she is a committed activist who is willing to put her time, talent and money where her mouth is when it comes to equality for all.

And now, she’s putting her sparkly high-heeled shoes where her mouth is, too.

The shoes — “Glittery Heels Worn and Signed by Cyndi Lauper” — are just one of the 43 items up for auction in the third annual winter Give A Damn online auction. The list also includes opportunities to meet a wide range of celebrities (Lauper, Jason Mraz, Ricky Martin, The Scissor Sisters, Lily Tomlin and more) in person, a chance to have lunch with Carson Kressley, 2 VIP gold hot seat ticket packages to Lady Gaga’s sold-out show at MSG, tickets to see U2 at the Meadowlands, signed items from folks like Dolly Parton, a Skype chat with Chely Wright, the chance to have Lauper, Rosie O’Donnell or Sara Silverman record your voice mail message — and much, much more.

All the proceeds from the auction go to help fund the Give A Damn Campaign, a web-based initiative launched by Lauper’s True Colors Fund “with the goal of educating and engaging everyone, especially straight people, in the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.”

So head on over to the auction page, check out the items up for auction and bid on one or two if you can. I mean, after all, who wouldn’t like the chance to walk in Cyndi Lauper’s shoes — literally?!

—  admin

Dallas Summer Musicals announces 2011 season

The Dallas Summer Musicals’ big State Fair production will be the recent revival of West Side Story, complete with Spanish-language rewrites, as well as a few other revivals, returns … and one new show.

The season kicks off with gay Texan Tommy Tune, the biggest Tony winner of all time. in Tommy Tune Steps in Time with the Manhattan Rhythm Kings. for a one-week run beginning March 15. That will be followed by the return of another dance show, Burn the Floor, for two weeks in April.

The official summer season begins May 18 with the recent Dolly Parton musical of 9 to 5, followed by the returns of Stomp and Monty Python’s Spamalot in June and Guys and Dolls in July.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones