B’way: ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’

In the old days, cutting the original Broadway cast recording of a new musical was always expected — even if the show closed immediately. Economics have made that less of a given (the Tony-nominated flop Cry-Baby closed without a CD of the score being made). But when your show is called Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and it gets reworked during nine months of previews, who even knows what the score will sound like by the time it opens?

On the other hand, you have something unique in the score by Bono and The Edge: A built-in audience of rockers who couldn’t give a shit about a B’way musical but who are addicted to U2’s music. Thus was born this CD, carefully titled Music from Spider-Man. The implication: These are some of the songs, but maybe not all of them. And some tracks are even demos performed not by the cast, but by Bono and The Edge himself. “For fun,” the liner notes claim. More like for economic necessity.

Musical purists may sniff, but the songs are undeniably the product of some rock gods who are trying to create their version of The Who’s Tommy. Not all of the numbers work; “Bouncing Off the Walls” is both too literal and too corny exposition, with a dull, repetitive riff, and “Pull the Trigger” tries too hard. But there are the bones of some hits. The show itself might be a disaster, but at least some of the music swings.

— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Proprietor of Tin Room, Drama Room says he hopes to reopen Bill’s Hideaway in March

The proprietor of the Tin Room and the Drama Room says he’s signed a lease on the building that housed Bill’s Hideaway and hopes to reopen the legendary gay piano bar by the end of March.

The Hideaway, on Buena Vista Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, has been sitting vacant since mid-2009, when it shut down after 26 years.

Lonzie Hershner, who took over management of the Tin Room and the Drama Room after his brother Marty died last year, said he signed a lease on the Hideaway building last month.

Lonzie Hershner said he plans to call the new bar Marty’s Hideaway as a tribute to his brother. Crews have already gutted the building and begun landscaping the trademark patio, he said.

“We’re going to start actual construction on it in two weeks,” Hershner said. “We’re fixin’ to completely restore it. It’s taken forever and a day, but we finally got the lease signed on it. … I want to get it back to what it used to be, because everybody loved it.”

—  John Wright

Lt. Dan Choi talks about Grindr, responds to criticism that his speaking fee is way too high

As you can see above, The Village Voice’s cover story this week is about Lt. Dan Choi. It’s a really interesting piece, and not just because it talks in detail about Choi’s use of the Grindr iPhone application. The story deserves a read in its entirety, but we wanted to point you to one particular section in which Choi responds to recent criticism on DallasVoice.com from Texas Tech activist Nonnie Ouch. We’ve put in a message to Ouch to get her response to Choi’s response, but we haven’t heard back, so for now here’s the excerpt from the VV story:

Others have criticized Choi for supposedly charging too much for speaking engagements.

“I’ve lost all respect for you as a gay- and human-rights activist,” Nonnie Ouch, president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Tech University, wrote in an open letter to Choi in August. Ouch, bemoaning “the exorbitant amount of $10,000 to get you out here,” wrote that “after nine months of dealing with your agent, I received an e-mail directly from you. In short, you basically said that the only way I could get you to speak is if I raised enough money to bring you to Tech. No deals, no compromises, end of story.”

Ouch had first seen Choi at the National Equality March in October 2009, where she was inspired by his “Love Is Worth It!” speech. It broke her heart, she wrote, to tell him, “You, sir, have lost sight in one of those many $10,000 checks written to you, of why you came out and became an activist in the first place.”

Asked about it, Choi calls it “a strange situation” but is dismissive of Ouch’s description of Texas Tech students who wanted to hear him as “poor college kids in an extremely conservative city.” The poorest kids, Choi argues, “are not going to college.” He says he’s proud of the fact that he’s been taking care of himself “since I left high school,” by getting appointed to West Point and serving in the military. And he says that he donates a great deal of his fees to homeless LGBT youth of color, “who are really the poorest and the most marginalized.”

Besides, students can get funds, he maintains, through their student activity boards and other sources to pay his appearance fees. He says he thinks the dispute “wasn’t about money.” He has a rider in his speaking contract that stipulates he won’t come to a school unless all campus groups are invited—gay, military, Christian—and that “they must invite the most homophobic group, four times, in writing.”

When the Texas Tech kids wouldn’t play ball by his rules, he says, “I didn’t have time for it.”

Money is a touchy subject for Choi, who says that, regardless of the amount he charges, “there are those who even question, ‘Who are you to charge anything?’ ” It’s no one’s business, he says, but “those plane tickets don’t buy themselves.” Over the past couple of years, he has gone from earning $62,000 a year down to about $700 a month (from a monthly disability check for his Iraq service, which has left him 50 percent disabled with a lung condition that, he says, won’t prevent him from re-enlisting).

—  John Wright