Dallas Summer Musicals announces uber-gay 2014 season

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Joe DiPietro is back in Dallas with ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It.’

Dallas Summer Musicals announced its 2014 season at an event Tuesday night, showcasing a larger eight-show mainstage season, as well as two special events. And boy! Is it ever a gay season.

The series kicks off, as already announced, with the holiday show Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Dec. 17–29. That will be followed in the new year by Ghost: The Musical (Jan. 28–Feb. 9). Then the gay heats up.

Next up is The Little Mermaid, written by gay Dallas native Doug Wright (Feb. 13–March 2); We Will Rock Youa London hit featuring the music of glamrock band Queen (March 4–16); the return of the Friends of Dorothy — not in Wicked, but in The Wizard of Oz (March 18–30); the new production of Webber & Rice’s Evita, the recent B’way hit that starred Ricky Martin — but don’t expect Martin on the tour (April 15–27); the return of the uber-gay ABBA jukebox musical Mamma Mia! (June 3–15); and finishing up with Nice Work If You Can Get It, featuring the music of the Gershwins in a new story by gay writer Joe DiPietro, pictured (Sept. 2–14). 

Interestingly, the season does not include the announcement for the State Fair musical, which typically plays for much of the month of October. It may be a pipe-dream, but DSM head Michael Jenkins is one of the producers of Kinky Boots. DSM is also a producer of the recent Tony favorites Rodgers+Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Matilda The Musical, though they may be, like Kinky Boots, a few seasons away.

UPDATE: Apparently, DSM’s contract with the State Fair ended, and so there will not be a State Fair musical next season — and, possibly, far beyond.

In addition to the mainstage shows, there are two special events as well. First is Lord of the Rings In Concert, which features the music of the massive show played by the Dallas Pops Orchestra (Nov. 8–13, 2013), then the Beatles tribute show, Rain (Nov. 23–24, 2013).

All performances will be at the Fair Park Music Hall. Tickets can he purchased here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DSM announces 2012 season

The Dallas Summer Musicals have formally released their next season lineup, although several of the shows — Memphis and The Addams Family,  for instance — were already common knowledge. The full schedule is:

Bring It On! (Feb. 14–26), a new musical based on the film set in the world of competitive cheerleading.

Million Dollar Quarter (March 6–18), a jukebox musical set on the one day in 1956 when newcomers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins all recorded in the same studio. Gay singer Levi Kriess won a Tony for his performance.

La Cage aux Folles (April 10–22). The recent Tony-winning revival of the musical about drag queens and alternative families.

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (April 24–29) returns.

Memphis (May 15–27), a fictionalized telling of the integration of the radio in 1950s South won multiple Tony Awards, including best score and musical.

Mamma Mia! (May 29–June 3), the uber-gay ABBA musical, returns yet again for a one-week run.

Peter Pan (July 10-22), the children’s classic with a campy sensibility, once again starring Cathy Rigby.

The Addams Family (Oct. 2–21), the current Broadway hit with gay cred, based on the cartoons and movie/TV franchise, will be the State Fair musical next fall. (This year’s State Fair musical, West Side Story, opens in a few weeks.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

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

That ’70s Show vs. Show

2 music icons who rose to stardom in the disco age — Elton John and ABBA — face off (sort of) with modern takes on classic sounds

In the decade of disco, ABBA was at the top of the charts with hit after hit on the radio and the dancefloor. At the same time, Elton John was making his mark taking glam rock to new levels with his touch of gay flamboyance.

Both have endured — ABBA mostly in nostalgia, John with new albums on a regular basis. And they both hit North Texas this week — in a manner of speaking.
ABBA Mania recreates the live ABBA experience, while John’s tour stops in Fort Worth for his newest album, a collaboration with Leon Russell called The Union.

So which will you lean toward?

In The Union, John teams with Russell, the legendary R&B Okie, and producer-of-the-moment, Fort Worth’s T-Bone Burnett, combining John’s piano boogie and Russell’s bluesy roots — with mixed results. He’s been quoted as saying he’ll make real music now instead of pop fodder. The live show has won raves, with the first half devoted to the new CD and the last filled with John classics.

With John’s new “serious” outlook, will you have as much fun as you could at ABBA Mania? It was hard enough to sit still through Mamma Mia! without singing along while dancing out of your seat. The tribute show has toured the world with the absolute goal of giving the ABBA concert most people under 50 never got to see.

We broke down the best about John and the actual ABBA to see if it could help us make up our minds, but we may just flip a coin on this one. Tough call, for sure.

— Rich Lopez

………………………………

Elton JohnElton John (with Leon Russell)

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes and glittered glasses in the ’70s.

…. won an Oscar for the song “Circle of Life” for the Disney film The Lion King.

…. Does gigs with anti-gay personalities. At the Grammys with Eminem (forgivable) then performing at Rush Limbaugh’s wedding (his $1 mil fee went to his AIDS foundation — still deciding)

…. recorded “Hello, Hello,” a duet with Lady Gaga for the upcoming Disney movie
Gnomeo and Juliet about  garden gnomes in love.

…. conquered Broadway with The Lion King and Billy Elliot; won a Tony for
2000’s Aida.

…. being a gay man, had no ties to disco music during the rocking ’70s, with fellow community member Freddie Mercury of Queen.

…. lost a whole lotta street cred performing a Diet Coke commercial with Paula Abdul in 1990.

…. is a gay icon for being a diva, a legend and even kind of a bitch. He’s not much of an advocate for the community but stands by its side enough.

…. performs at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena, 1201 Houston St. Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. $53–$173. Ticketmaster.com.

………………………………..

ABBAABBA Mania

…. wore outlandish bell bottoms, platform shoes, but with the occasional ascot and lederhosen. Not cute.

…. had a hit movie with their old songs in Mamma Mia! which turned out to be the No. 1 movie of all time in Britain. Oscar their ass.

…. sidestepped most public drama. Even the marriages and divorces within the band weren’t all that controversial.  Snore.

…. inspired the 1990s clones Ace of Base who subsequently inspired the beat behind Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.” OK, that’s reaching, we know.

…. had a fling with Broadway when Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus received acclaim and award noms for Chess and Mamma Mia!.

…. were all straight and the epitome of disco alongside the Bee Gees and Donna Summer. So straights do better dance music while non-straights can rock your face off. Who knew?

…. maintained their dignity by rarely, if ever, doing anything outside of performing their music.

…. are gay icons for their work on the dancefloor. All they really had to do to secure a spot in the gay pantheon was release “Dancing Queen.” Yes, ABBA, thank you for the music.

… plays at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. $40–$65. EisemannCenter.com/Tickets

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

The Women’s Chorus invites you to sing along with ‘Mamma Mia’

No, really, thank you for the music

As if the combo of ABBA and a musical on stage and the big screen isn’t heaven enough, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas goes one better. The ladies present Mamma Mia! The Movie Sing-Along! giving you the chance to belt out the way you wanted at the theater. “Dancing Queen” should likely be a spectacle to hear and see, on screen and off.

DEETS: Studio Movie Grill, 11170 N. Central Expressway. 2 p.m. $15. TWCD.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Best bets • 07.30.10

Saturday 07.31

Hit over the head with comedy

Seriously, there is nothing better than a man who makes us laugh. Four men and two women are even better. The improv comedy troupe Blunt Force Drama will work hard for your laughs, but we have yet to see out member Dave Cudlipp in action. As the strong, silent type, he may be the most hilarious.

DEETS: Mouth, 2626 Main St. 7 p.m. $10. MouthDallas.com.

Saturday 07.31

No, really, thank you for the music
As if the combo of ABBA and a musical on stage and the big screen isn’t heaven enough, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas goes one better. The ladies present Mamma Mia! The Movie Sing-Along! giving you the chance to belt out the way you wanted at the theater. “Dancing Queen” should likely be a spectacle to hear and see, on screen and off.

DEETS: Studio Movie Grill, 11170 N. Central Expressway. 2 p.m. $15. TWCD.org.

Thursday 08.05

No dinner with this murder mystery
In Theatre Three’s Sherlock Holmes in the Crucifier of Blood, we follow the detective all the way from India to an opium den in London as he unravels his mystery of the moment. But the best part — it already sounds better than the Robert Downey Jr. movie.

DEETS: Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St. #168. 7:30 p.m. Through Sep. 5. $20–$40. Theatre3Dallas.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas