An inside look at ‘The Bodyguard’ with Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox, a longtime favorite in the LGBT community, is in Dallas right now, starring in the stage version of The Bodyguard, in the role made famous on the silver screen by Whitney Houston, and she sat down recently with Dallas Summer Musicals to give her fans an inside look at the production.

The show is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals  through July 30, 2017 at Music Hall at Fair Park. Click here for details and ticket information.

The show then moves to Fort Worth, playing Aug. 1-6 at Bass Performance Hall. Click here for details and ticket information.

Watch the video below:

—  Tammye Nash

STAGE REVIEW: ‘The Bodyguard’

I have to admit it upfront: I hated the movie version of The Bodyguard, and when I heard the original cast recording earlier this year felt underwhelmed. So I went into the stage version —  a jukebox musical now at Fair Park and then moving to Fort Worth’s Bass Hall — with jaundiced eyes. The plot is cheesy. The thriller aspect not-so-thrilling. The songs have not been assembled to actually advance the story in any meaningful way.

But I still loved it.

The Bodyguard is the stage iteration of the beach-read novel, or the summer movie blockbuster. Its aim is pure entertainment, and it hits a bullseye.

You probably know the plot: Recording star Rachel Marron (Deborah Cox) is campaigning for an Oscar for him film debut, but it being stalked by a dangerous fan. Her management team hires Frank (Judson Mills) to spearhead her security detail. She resists; he insists; both are kisses (by each other). Can Frank still protect Rachel while (gulp!) in love with her?!?!

C’mon!

The film was a monster hit, owing in large part to its soundtrack of hits sung by Whitney Houston. All of those songs — as well as more from Whitney’s canon (plus Chaka Khan, Deniece Williams and a few more) — get shoehorned into this show, but because Rachel is a singer (as well as her sister), there’s usually cause to plant Cox centerstage, hand her a microphone and zip up a mermaid dress, and let her belt out a number.

And belt she does. Cox is practically the raison d’etre of The Bodyguard, tasked with the most numbers, and she’s in fine voice. She’s a terrific stage presence. But Jasmine Richardson as her wallflower sister more than holds her own musically, Mills is a dashing and humorous Frank and even the backup dancers make for likable eye-candy. I don’t believe in the phrase “guilty pleasure,” but The Bodyguard definitely defies you not to be delighted. You’ll leave the theater happier than when you went in.

Fair Park through July 30. DallasSummerMusicals.org. Bass Hall, Aug. 1–6. BassHall.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 01.29.16

Sunday 01.31

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Opera luminaries Flicka and Jake, together again … in concert

When last we saw Frederica von Stade, she was delighting audiences in the world premiere of composer Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at the Winspear. Well, these opera luminaries (and personal friends) have teamed up again for an afternoon of music, with “Flicka” singing a variety of songs, accompanied by Heggie on piano. It’s a rare chance to see these talents in a more casual and intimate setting.

DEETS:
City Performance Hall
2520 Flora St.
2 p.m.
$20–$40
DallasOpera.org

Tuesday 02.02 — Sunday 02.14

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‘Bridges of Madison County’ swoons into Fair Park Music Hall

The novel The Bridges of Madison County was something of a phenomenon in the early 1990s, but it took more than 20 years for it to be adapted to the Broadway stage, with Jason Robert Brown providing a Tony Award-winning score. The national tour of the show arrives in Dallas for the first time, courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals. Get out to see this romantic and elegantly composed musical now through — appropriately enough — Valentine’s Day.

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

Friday 02.05

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Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance makes long-awaited Dallas debut

TITAS continues its season of almost-exclusively North Texas premiere dance companies with this import from Taiwan. Cloud Gate Dance Theatre has been around for 40 years, but this is the first chance for Dallas audiences to catch this inventive modern dance troupe. Presented in conjunction with the Crow Collection of Asian Art, this innovative company weaves themes of sunlight, soil, wind, water and fire in a visually arresting style that is dramatic and beautiful. It performs a one-night-only show, so don’t miss it.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
8 p.m.
ATTPAC.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 29, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Harvey Fierstein: The gay interview

As Kinky Boots opens in Dallas, the flamboyant theater diva opines on Johnny Weir, Robin Williams and why we hate ourselves

Harvey Fierstein by Bruce Glikas

“I’m sorry,” Harvey Fierstein growls in his unmistakable Brooklyn gravel, “I gotta go on with my life.” And so, after our insightful 40-minute chat peppered with Fierstein’s true-to-form frankness, he does.

But for Fierstein, a revered Broadway legend known for an iconic writing répertoire that includes Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage aux Folles and, most recently, Kinky Boots, which opens tonight at Fair Park Music Hall courtesy of Dallas Summer Musicals, this isn’t just the Tony Award winner’s blunt way of concluding our extensive conversation. It’s a way of life.

Fierstein reflects on the past—  up for the “sissies,” what he calls his “legendary disaster,” and how his own “12 steps of happiness” inspired his latest Broadway smash — but the 62-year-old’s very much living in the present, and for the future.

And look for our one-on-one interview with Fierstein’s Kinky collaborator, Cyndi Lauper, in Friday’s edition, in print and online!

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: I’m certainly not the first person to tell you that Kinky Boots is a massive hit. When you first began writing the musical, did you imagine it would become as successful as it’s been?  Fierstein: You know, you don’t. I’m really old. I’ve been around a really long time, and I’ve had — knock wood — an unbelievable run of hits, and I’ve had some horrible misses and a couple of in-betweens, but you go into all of them with the same heart.

I’ve done a couple for the wrong reasons. I did one to try and make money, which is really a very bad reason, and you make no money doing it that way. I’ve learned that lesson, and I would never do that again. But you basically go in for the right reason because you’re gonna spend years of your life involved with these characters, with these collaborators. And it’s not something you take on lightly if you’ve ever done it because, well, Kinky Boots took almost five years to write.

It’s clearly been a labor of love for you.  They have to be. That’s exactly why they have to be a labor of love, because from sitting down and starting work, which was a year or more before I even called Cyndi [Lauper, who wrote the music and lyrics], to the opening in Korea [last December], we’re now up to seven or eight years. It’s part of your life for the rest of your life.

Jerry Herman and I wrote La Cage 30-something years ago and we are still the parents of that show. We still have to talk about it all the time. So, to say, “Did you know it was gonna be a big hit?” No, you don’t know. You go in with the best hopes and the best intentions of doing something that will entertain, which is our number one job.

What’s a project you did for the wrong reasons?  Legs Diamond. I had a friend who was directing it. Peter Allen had AIDS and his best friend who was writing it for him, who was not a writer but a clothing designer, had AIDS dementia. My friend Robert [Allan Ackerman] called me up and said, “Look, will you come in on this? I know it’s a terrible idea — Peter Allen as Legs Diamond — but all we have to do is get Peter out there, let him shake his ass, sing a couple of numbers, and we can just cash the checks.” And I drank the Kool-Aid.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chinese Lantern Festival lights up Fair Park

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For the second year, the Chinese Lantern Festival lights up acres of space at Fair Park with new features, including an acrobat show.

One of the highlights among this year’s displays is a replica of the White Pagoda built in 1204 in Yunnan Province. The nine spires stand up to 52 feet tall, about the same height as the original, and is made of 68,000 porcelain plates, cups, bowls and spoons hand-tied together.

Other features include a floating dragon boat that reflects in the lagoon, a multi-story castle and gardens of mushrooms, tulips and bamboo-eating pandas.

Chinese Lantern Festival at Fair Park. Dec. 5–Jan 5. 5:30 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Adults $22, children 4-12 $14. Parking $15 or take the Green Line to Fair Park Station.

 

—  David Taffet

Dallas to celebrate Earth Day with Fair Park, Oak Cliff events this weekend

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Oak Cliff Earth Day 2012

Two Earth Day celebrations take place this weekend — a two-day event in Fair Park and a Sunday afternoon bash in Oak Cliff.

Earth Day Dallas is an annual, outdoor festival in Fair Park promoting environmental awareness to influence the way North Texans think, live and work. A number of the exhibitors include companies promoting alternate energy sources for the home and ways to conserve.

The cast of Wicked will be at Earth Day Dallas for photo ops. Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico performs. A&M has a full schedule of master gardeners and naturalists slated to speak.

Earth Day at Fair Park takes place April 20–21 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free but parking is $10. Earth Day organizers encourage people to be green and take the Green Line to Fair Park.

The seventh annual Oak Cliff Earth Day is April 21 from noon to 5 p.m. in Lake Cliff Park in the Demonstration Rose Garden near Zang and Colorado Boulevards and is free. Free parking is available at Methodist Hospital Lot 10 with a shuttle bus running to the park. (It is Earth Day, though, so you could actually walk the two blocks.)

Live entertainment and lectures begin at 12:30 p.m. Mutt Strutt begins at 2 p.m. with prizes for best dogs in costume.

Learn about protecting against West Nile Virus, composting, protecting the environment, proper tree care and hosting a beehive in your backyard at demonstrations and lectures through the afternoon.

The event is pet friendly. Lots of animals will be on hand with a petting zoo, native reptiles and live raptors. The kissing booth is staffed by dogs.

Fair Park may be hosting the bigger event, but you’ll only find Get Gay Stuff, AIDS Arms LifeWalk, DFW Human Rights Campaign and Hunky’s at Oak Cliff’s celebration.

 

—  David Taffet

STAGE REVIEWS: ‘Re-Designing Women,’ ‘Penix,’ ‘Wicked,’ ‘Rx’

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Re-Designing Women. When Jamie Morris writes a spoof, he doesn’t hold back. Even before the actors come onstage for the first scene of Re-Designing Women, Morris’ send-up of the ’80s-era sitcom Designing Women, we’re treated to an “opening credits” video to remind us of the tone and characters. Of course, once the show begins (which is does at the Rose Room most Fridays and Saturdays for the next month-and-a-half), we simply revert, like muscle memory, to knowing who we’re seeing.

It’s the present day, and Sugarbakers Designs is going strong … well, not so strong. They’ve fallen on hard times. Finances are so bad, Suzanne (Ashton Shawver) has tricked the others into appearing on a Bravo reality show, Sugar Walls. They’re all mortified, until the show becomes a hit and Mary Jo (Chad Peterson) and Charlene (Michael B. Moore, whose vocal impersonation borders on the uncanny) become rivals while Bernice (Mikey Abrams) becomes the break-out star.

Morris, who also plays the stentorian Julia, has a knack for capturing the essence of a show while simultaneously updating it. Thus, there are tacky (but hilarious) jokes about “Sarah Palin’s half-wit baby” and the contemporary exacerbations that rankle Julia, including the cross-eyed Bravo producer Andy Cohen (Kevin Moore). (If you follow the ModernSeinfeld Twitter feed, you get the idea.) And while Morris never hesitates to push the line a bit too far (fart jokes!), this play — following Mommie Queerest, The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and The Silence of the Clams — is probably his best writing: The characters are sharply drawn and even better performed. And when Morris recites one of Julia’s famous speeches from the TV days (her “Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” riff), fully half the folks in the Rose Room seemed to recite along. That’s called knowing your audience.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Idina Menzel to perform at Fair Park in June

OK, we’ve been here before but I’ll take it this it’s true: Idina Menzel will be appearing in Dallas.

This isn’t the first time she was scheduled. Menzel, who won a Tony Award for Wicked, was supposed to perform her show at Fair Park Music Hall last fall, but the shooting schedule for Glee forced her to postpone. She’s now set to bring it to the Park on June 13 — just in time, we don’t mind noting, for National Pride.

Like all gay men, we love Idina, because she (a) starred in Rent; (b) starred in Wicked, (c) appears on Glee and most of all (d) married Taye Diggs. That’s basically the life and career I’d like to have. Tickets for the show go on say Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster. Please don’t disappoint us, Idina! And if Taye wants to sit with me, well, I won’t complain. And if you don’t already know why you should love her, check this out:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Performance artist John Michael performs solo show tonight at Magnolia Lounge

Last May, John Michael completed his junior year at Oklahoma State University, where he was the recipient of a grant from the LGBT student group to produce a show about coming out while working at McDonald’s. Now, Texas has him: Michael transferred to U.T. Dallas in August, to study with Fred Curchack. And in just three months’ time, he already has a show being produced.

I hate guys like this.

Well, not really; I’m just hugely jealous. Which is a good thing. The show, 069, is being produced by Nouveau 47 Theatre in a one-night-only show. The performance will include an excerpt from his McDonald’s piece, Would You Like Guys with That? A McTolerant One-Man Show.

The show is at the Magnolia Lounge inside Fair Park starting at 7:30 p.m., and runs 70 minutes. Tickets are only $5 and it’s BYOB. Gotta love a play that encourages drinkin’.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘West Side Story’ cast at Mama’s Party tonight

The cast of the Broadway national tour of West Side Story, onstage through this weekend at Fair Park, will take their night off to perform at Amy Stevenson’s cabaret fundraiser  Mama’s Party on tonight.  The event raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, which provides funds to our local agencies.  The evening, featuring local musicians as well as cast members singing some of their favorite songs, will be ar Tucker’s Blues, 2617 Commerce St. Doors open at 7 p.m. with an cover charge of $5 (cash only).  There will be prizes for raffle tickets and some auction items as well.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones