Pyramid goes iron (chef) … sort of

The Fairmont Hotel’s Pyramid restaurant — which I reviewed recently — is doing some great work, but there’s apparently some friendly rivalry in the kitchen over there. Executive chef Andre Natera and exec sous chef Paul Peddle want to show who’s tops right now, so they are demonstrating their talents in an Iron Chef-like face-off tonight in the legendary Venetian Room of the hotel. The four-course dinner with wine pairing from sommelier Hunter Hammett (one of the most astute wine guys in Dallas right now, if you ask me) costs a pretty reasonable $100, especially considering you have two chefs cookin’ for ya.

There are some tickets still available, which you can get by going here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: ‘Warrior’ in wide release

Here’s the beef

There are worse ways to spend two hours in a movie theater than watching hulking, half-naked man-meat wail on each other — in fact, it’s hard to imagine a better way. That’s at least part of the appeal of Warrior.

Set in the world of mixed martial arts, it’s a fiction film (it’s from Gavin O’Connor, the director of Miracle, about the real-life 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team) about two estranged brothers who face off for the ultimate glory: One (Joel Edgerton), a family man in financial straights, the other (Tom Hardy), a troubled Gulf War veteran with something to prove. If that sounds cliched, just try watching it.

No really, do — because, as predictable and manipulative as Warrior is, it’s also damned entertaining, in the way only the hokiest of sports movies can be. I grew up in a sports household, so have long held a soft spot for movies like Million Dollar Baby, Rocky III and The Fighter, all of which this resembles more than passingly.

Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton. 139 minutes. PG-13. Three stars.

—  Rich Lopez

SHOW vs. SHOW: Girl Talk and Girl in a Coma

Chick on chick action is fine, but when these indie bands face off, everybody wins

RICH LOPEZ  |  Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Who doesn’t like a good girlfight? No, not those videos where pregnant women street punch each other in a Burger King parking lot. In this installment of Show Vs. Show, we take it to a different level. Girl Talk turns music on its ear with astonishing mashups while San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma fuses indie rock with some Latin flair. Both come to town this weekend, but they’re duking it out here first.

The mashup can be a wonderful thing, especially when mastered by Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk. By taking the heart of one song and the soul of another, he creates astonishing new works. In his latest album, All Day, Cyndi Lauper, the Isley Brothers, Radiohead and Basement Jaxx are some of the few that get his mashup treatment — and the results are magic.

Girl in a Coma might come off as the little band that could, and they are doing it. With surprising career moves and a tenacious touring schedule, the Texas trio knows how to keep everyone’s attention. Last year’s release, Adventures in Coverland, was a surprising album made of covers — risky for a third album from a band without a huge hit under their name. But the album works so well, who cared? With nods to their Hispanic heritage and punk roots, GIAC took on Bowie, Velvet Underground and Selena and created alt-rock gems.

So which girl is gonna rock out the knockout? We have our guesses. What’s yours?

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE


—  John Wright

The way we were

Face-off: ‘Our Town’ vs. ‘Dreck the Musical’

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

ON THE BOARDS
OUR TOWN, Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road,
Addison. Through Oct. 24.
WaterTowerTheatre.org.
SHREK, Fair Park Music Hall,
909 First Ave. Through Oct. 17.
DallasSummerMusicals.org.

……………………

Even in the program notes of WaterTower Theatre’s current production, the reputation of Our Town as sentimental tripe is difficult to escape. Except in this exquisitely rendered production, it’s clear that rep is completely undeserved. Maybe abuse by countless high schools has soured opinion, but Thornton Wilder’s bare, simple snapshot of small-town life may be idyllic, but hardly is it idealized. This is humanistic theater in the best sense.

True, there would be no It’s a Wonderful Life without Our Town, but don’t allow the Capra-corn style to blind you to this show’s plainspoken beauty. Even before Act 3, when residents of the graveyard propel the action, this is a play dominated by ghosts: Memories, shadows, feelings about things and people from the past that are both specific and universal.

The Stage Manager (Terry Martin, who also directed) narrates from an omniscient P.O.V., walking us through a few days across two decades in the lives of Grovers Corners, N.H., population 2,642. No one here is spectacular, but in that prosaic bubble, spectacular things happen.

Although more than 70 years old, it still has resonance for contemporary issues, from the closeted chorus master (achingly played by Ted Wold) to an off-handed observation (“people are meant to live two by two — ‘taint natural to be lonesome”) that subtly defends gay marriage (Wilder himself was gay).

There’s not a misspent action or false note from anyone in the impressive cast (especially Wold, Joey Folsom and Maxey Whitehead), and Martin’s canny decision to take the bare-bones set and change it, just briefly, into a tactile, realistic tableau is breathtaking. Don’t let your prejudices about the show scare you away — this is the best show of the fall.

WaterTower does a lot with a little in Our Town; over at Fair Park Music Hall, the opposite is true. Shrek the Musical exudes expensivity with admittedly great costumes, big sets and a flying dragon. It’s also about as bloodsuckingly lifeless as a big Broadway musical can be.

PLAIN AND SIMPLE  |  WaterTower’s ‘Our Town,’ above, delves poignantly into the American psyche; ‘Shrek,’ opposite, delves into flatulence.  (Photos courtesy Joan Marcus and Mark Oristano)
PLAIN AND SIMPLE | WaterTower’s ‘Our Town,’ above, delves poignantly into the American psyche; ‘Shrek,’ opposite, delves into flatulence. (Photos courtesy Joan Marcus and Mark Oristano)

At first, you think it might at least capture the snarky, subversive humor that the graphic novel and animated film did. But that track is quickly diluted in favor of banal family-friendly fare with cornpone plotting and sophomoric fart jokes. (Rhyming “classy” with “gassy?” That’s schoolyard nonsense — and not a good school, either.) And Shrek’s Scottish accent doesn’t translate in the hard-to-hear space of the Music Hall.

Hiring David Lindsay-Abaire, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Rabbit Hole about the death of a child, to write a kiddie musical sounds like a bad punchline, but not as bad as most of the jokes here. Aside from a brilliantly flamboyant turn by David F.M. Vaughn as the prissy Lord Farquaad and some hambone whimsy from Alan Mingo Jr. as Donkey (although the character borders on parody — think Trotin Fetchit), it’s more like Dreck the Musical.

The other major flaw of the production — and it would be too time-consuming to list them all — is that it makes smug references to many much better musicals, among them: Wicked, Dreamgirls, The Lion King, Lez Miz, Hairspray and 42nd Street. If you’re reminding your audience that it could be watching a better show, you’re not helping yourself any. By the end, I’d wished the dragon had eaten me — preferably in Act 1.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Margaret and Bristol: Will they face off on DWTS?

Margaret Cho, left, and Bristol Palin

I am not a “Dancing With the Stars” fan. I never really even know who is on the show, much less care who wins. But I may have to change that when the new season starts.

According to Kristin Dos Santos at MSNBC.MSN.com, Bristol Palin — daughter of moose killer and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and baby mama to Levi Johnston — and Margaret “Practically A Gay Man” Cho are both going to be DWTS competitors this time around.

Now, I have no idea whether either one of them can dance. They may well have four left feet between them, and it might be the only beats either of them can hit are the ones they accidentally bump into while stumbling around the dance floor. Or they may both absolutely excellent dancers. Truth is, I don’t care about the dancing.

What I am sure of is that if it ever comes down to a battle of wits, Margaret Cho will be the hands-down winner. And that is the one battle I would love to see!

Oh, and Jennifer Grey of “Dirty Dancing” fame, will be competing, along with basketball player Rick Fox, singer Michael Bolton, Audrina Patridge of “The Hills,” The Situation of “Jersey Shore,” David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff, singer Brandy and Florence “Carol Brady” Henderson.

—  admin