Dazzling affair for the holidays

AdultChorus1

In 2009, local actors and singers came together as DFW Actors Give Back to release Holidazzle, a CD of holiday music all for the benefit of Jonathan’s Place, an organization that serves the needs of children suffering through abuse. As it turned out, the match was successful enough for performers to assemble again for Holidazzle: Act II.

The collective raised close to $10,000 for the organization.

The CD will be available at several theaters through the holiday season for $15. Performers in this second edition include local faves like Gary Floyd, Denise Lee and B.J. Cleveland.

DFW Actors Give Back will host a CD release party this Monday which also provides a preview of what’s on the disc. Along with appetizers and drinks, featured artists will also perform songs from the CD. Oh, and they want you to dress in festive attire.
If that doesn’t get you in the holiday mood, then bah, humbug to you.

— Rich Lopez

Kalita Humphreys Theater,
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Nov. 7 at 7 p.m.
DFWActorsGiveBack.org.

—  Kevin Thomas

Best Bets • 10.07.11

Saturday 10.08

Pretty in pink
Edna Jean Robinson steps out of the box and into the pink. She hosts Pinktober 2011 for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Between fundraising and premiering two new songs, Edna Jean should make the event a fabulous one.

DEETS: Hard Rock Cafe, 2211 N. Houston St. 8 p.m. $10.
HardRock.com

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Saturday 10.08

Keep it hush-hush
Uptown Players regional premiere of The Temperamentals closes out the season on a high note. If you were “temperamental” in the ’50s, that was code for gay. Jon Marans play touches on the alternatve vocabulary used by gay men to communicate in a more conservative time.

DEETS: Kalita Humphreys Theater
3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 8 p.m. Through Oct. 23. $25–$35.
UptownPlayers.org.

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Sunday 10.09

Dog day late afternoon
Support Animal Angels this weekend as the sanctuary for homeless animals celebrates 20 years. The event includes drinks, appetizers and prizes. This sweet dog will thank you.

DEETS:  Sambuca 360, 7200 Bishop Road, Plano. 6 p.m. $25.
AnimalAngelsTexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride Performing Arts Fest wraps up

Uptown Players’ inaugural performing arts festival, timed to coincide with Dallas Pride, was a risky venture, if only in training theatergoers to seek out new plays mid-week and in repertory. But the experiment has paid off so far; co-producer Craig Lynch reported that most of the performances in the upstairs Frank’s Place space were complete or near sell-outs last weekend. Good for them, but even better for audiences, getting to see Paul Rudnick’s hilarious New Century, where Lulu Ward gives the best performances I’ve seen on a stage this year, and a fully-dressed staged reading of the lesbian melodrama Last Summer at Bluefish Cove — both of which you can still see one more time (New Century on Saturday at 4 p.m., Bluefish on Friday at 8 p.m.). The whole event wraps up Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., with a cabaret performance RSVP Vacations vets by Amy Armstrong and Freddy Allen, pictured.

— A.W.J.

All performances at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Sept. 17. UptownPlayers.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Best bets • 07.29.11

Friday 07.29

Lady looks like a dude
What is poor Victoria thinking? Dressing up as a man who performs as a female entertainer? Clearly a struggling artist will do anything to get by. Uptown Players presents the musical Victor/Victoria where Victoria becomes the toast of Paris as Victor but now has to deal with the mobster who is getting a little too attached.

DEETS: Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 8 p.m. $30–$40. UptownPlayers.org.

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Saturday 07.30

Being all he can be
Justin Elzie may be a happy man right now. As “don’t ask, don’t tell” comes to an end, his work wasn’t in vain. Named Marine of the Year in ‘93, he was discharged for coming out on national TV. He sued, won and has been advocating for LGBT rights in the military. He comes to Dallas to discuss his work in fighting for DADT’s repeal.

DEETS:     Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan 2 p.m. RCDallas.org.

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Thursday 08.04

Just a hot mess
Do we love Ke$ha because she’s the sloppy mess we wish we could be? It’s a brilliant act to come off as a drunken slacker and a blonde bombshell. See how she does it this week on her Get Sleazy Tour with LMFAO and Spank Rock.

DEETS:     Gexa Energy Pavilion, 1818 First Ave. 7:30 p.m. $30–$65. Ticketmaster.com.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Out of step

Fitting in seems overrated in two musicals of substance

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

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ON THE BOARDS
NEXT TO NORMAL at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Through July 3. UptownPlayers.org.

BILLY ELLIOT at the Winspear Opera House,
4103 Flora St. Through June 19.
ATTPAC.org.

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OUT, OUT BRIEF CANDLE | A birthday cake triggers a couple’s painful memories in ‘Next to Normal.’ (Photo by Mike Morgan)

Reality: It’s so inconvenient sometimes. For Diana, the wife and mother in Next to Normal, reality often means staying drugged to the point of catatonia; for 12-year-old working class kid Billy Elliot struggling through life in an England mining town interferes with his passion to dance. Mental illness and politico-economic upheaval — not exactly the stuff of the typical song-and-dance musical. But there is little typical about either of these shows.

For Uptown Players, the regional premiere of Next to Normal is the best show the company has ever done: The best cast, all of whom are at the top of their games; the best set; the best band (a pitch-perfect performance, led by music director Scott A. Eckert); and the best directing personally for Michael Serrecchia, who moves the scenes seamlessly as the play hits you in waves, alternatingly poignant and humorous.

It’s not the easiest material to make into a musical. Diana (Patty Breckenridge) had struggled with bipolar disorder for years, ever since a tragedy left her with a slipping grip on reality. Her husband Dan (Gary Floyd) has soldiered on, monitoring her prescription use and looking for warning signs. But what if Diana doesn’t want to feel “normal”? What if feeling a little crazy is her baseline — it’s normal for her?

At the same time we watch Dan and Diana work through their marriage, we see how their daughter Natalie (Erica Harte) and her new boyfriend Henry (Jonathan W. Gilland) mirror their relationship from 20 years ago.

These are heavy issues, but for each moment of devastation, you are simultaneously awed by its beauty and power. It helps that the score — basically a rock opera — is performed by some of the best singers around. On all her songs, Breckenridge reaches into the emotion and the musicality; nowhere is she better than on “I Miss the Mountains,” a heartfelt ballad of the Jewel-Indigo Girls variety that you can imagine hearing on the radio.

Floyd’s lilting tenor melds gorgeously with Anthony Carillo, playing Dan and Diana’s son Gabe, especially on “I Am the One” and “It’s Gonna Be Good.” Carillo imbues his performance with an impressing physicality as well, bursting out of his skin on the anthem “I’m Alive.”

Next to Normal, which won the Tony Award for best score as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama, sounds sad, and sometimes it is, but its genius is leaving the audience with the memory of the power of the human spirit. This is not a musical about depression; it is a musical about hope.
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GOTTA DANCE | A working class boy imagines a future, dancing ballet with himself, in ‘Billy Elliot.’ (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

You could say almost the same thing about Billy Elliot, now at the Winspear Opera House. This national tour of the Elton John hit about how a boy discovers ballet is perhaps an even less likely topic for a musical treatment, given its context: A strike during the Thatcher Administration that, in the mid-1980s, nearly resulted in a British civil war, and polarized the classes in a way that hadn’t been seen in a century.

Billy (played on press night by Giuseppe Basilio, but with a rotating Billy almost each performance) is growing up amid the fiercely testosterone-fueled environs of Northern England, with a father and older brother who are miners, with only the memory of his late mother and his often soused grandmother to nurture him.

Billy is forced to study boxing, but when he wanders into a ballet class led by Mrs. Wilkinson (Faith Prince), he begins to realize that being different isn’t easy, but it sure is liberating.

You know you’re in a strange world, even in musical theater, where the showstopping number in the first act (“Expressing Yourself”) is a lavish tap-dancing fantasy about the joys of cross-dressing, led by Billy’s fey companion Michael, who seems more at home in his burgeoning sexuality than his older friend.

Everything about this production is massive — the sets, the themes, the score, the dances, the talent, even the accents — except the kernel of it: The lone boy who wants to make a better world for himself. (In the show’s most moving sequence, miners contribute what they can to help fund Billy’s audition for the Royal School of Ballet, because they realize — sadly, beautifully — that Billy represents the future, their future, as their industry is being gutted by right wing bullies.)

Broadway veteran Prince demonstrates her star-power with a flashy supporting role, but Basilio is a remarkable young dancer, with fine lines and a commanding presence during a duet with his older self and on his big solo number, “Electricity.” On opening night, the audience swelled in a sustained, spontaneous ovation. It was completely deserved. It was, itself, electric.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Health

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BEST GENERAL PRACTITIONER
Jaime Vasquez, D.O.

The Vasquez Clinic
2929 Welborn St.
Open Monday–Friday at 9 a.m.
214-528-1083
VasquezClinic.com

In today’s doc-in-a-box society, a visit to your local sawbones can feel more like a NASCAR pit crew change than a physical checkup to assess your health. That’s not the case with Jaime Vasquez. He’s the kind of doc that remembers your name, not just your chart, and takes the time necessary to really figure out what’s really ailing you. In other words, he gives great bed…side manner. It’s not uncommon to enter Dr. V’s office complaining of a cold and leave feeling like you just finished a cheesecake on the lanai with Blanche, Rose and Dorothy. And if that’s not enough to love, he can also hook you up with the youthful glow of Botox on your way out the door. Forget the politics of HMOs and Obamacare. We vote for HOMOs and no-drama care. Oh, and that cute Jaime Vasquez smile, too.

— Jef Tingley


BEST CHIROPRACTOR
Eric Peay, D.C.

COREhealth Wellness Center
3131 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 820
Open Monday–Friday at 8:30 a.m., Saturday at 10 a.m.
214-219-3300
CoreHealthWellness.com

You avoided sidewalk cracks all your life for fear of breaking your mother’s back. You lifted with your legs. You ate plenty of calcium-rich foods and drank your milk. Yet here you are, filled with aches that simply won’t go away no matter how hard you work through the power of positive thinking. That’s where Eric Peay of COREhealth Wellness Center comes in. His hands of magic make the pain go away, whether in your neck, your lower back or even that cramp in the troublesome middle toe on your left foot. Through traditional chiropractic adjustments, massage and cold laser treatments, Peay and his team are experienced in working with each patient as an individual, so no cookie-cutter treatment plans here. And for everyone looking to get in better shape — and really, who isn’t? — patients can participate in nutritional education classes, small-group training and Peay’s Booty Camp group fitness program. From head to toe, Peay and his COREhealth team provide a one-stop shop for living a better, healthier life.

— Steven Lindsey


BEST OPTOMETRIST
William Henderson

Uptown Vision
2504 Cedar Springs Road
Open Monday–Saturday at 10 a.m.
214-953-3937
UptownVisionDallas.com

What makes a successful optometrist? Certainly Bill Henderson, having been in practice for 19 years, knows something. We could ask his patients, but we decided to ask another doctor. “He’s really one of the best optometrists in town in patient care and diagnostic ability,” says Nick Bellos, M.D. Of course, Bellos isn’t unbiased — for 14 years, the two have been a couple. It’s not just his care in the exam room but in the community that helps Henderson stand out: He’s played with DIVA and has volunteered at Legacy Counseling Center while co-rearing the couple’s two children, daughter Aryn, 14, and son Bryce, 13. “I think he’s a great guy,” says Bellos. Readers definitely agree.

— David Taffet


BEST PLACE TO TAKE
A FIST TO THE FACE
Oak Lawn Boxing Gym

1339 Crampton St.
972-497-1767
OakLawnBoxing.com

When Travis Glenn talks, you should listen. The Oak Lawn Boxing Gym owner knows his stuff when it comes to throwing a punch. Taking one? Well, you can do that, too. It’s easy to pass his gym, located on the industrial side of Oak Lawn — there’s no big signage. Inside, the place is a pristine modern gym with a boxing ring, punching bags and all the equipment you’d ever need to kick, duck and bob. Glenn, pictured, holds instruction for boxing, grappling and martial arts alongside the discipline for using them the right way and not as tools of aggression. But we know you’ll think it’s cool to be a downright badass if need be. Right?

— Rich Lopez

BEST DERMATOLOGIST  • TIE
Jeri Beth ‘J.B.’ Foshee, M.D.

Dermatology Center of Dallas
Presbyterian Professional Bldg. III
8230 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 500
Open Monday­–Friday
by appointment only
214-739-5821
DermCenterOfDallas.com

Farhad Niroomand, M.D., P.A.

2501 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 450
Open Monday­–Friday
214-303-1102
UptownDerm.com


BEST HIV SPECIALIST
Gene Voskuhl, M.D.

Uptown Physicians Group
2929 Carlisle St., Suite 260
Open Monday–Friday
214-303-1033
UptownPhysiciansGroup.com


BEST DENTIST
Clint Herzog, D.D.S.

Herzog Dentistry/Floss
2828 Routh St., Suite 310
Open Monday-Thursday
214-969-1000
HerzogDentistry.com


BEST MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
Chad Collom, DNP, PMHNP-BC

Solace Counseling
1475 Prudential Drive
214-522-4640
SolaceCounseling.com


BEST HOLISTIC HEALER
Michelle Bardwell

Flower Road Natural Therapies
4123 Cedar Springs Road,
Suite 1428
Monday–Friday by appointment
214-987-2766
FlowerRoad.net


BEST PERSONAL TRAINER
Billy Young, C.P.T.

COREhealth Wellness Center
3131 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 820
Monday–Saturday by appointment
214-219-3300
CoreHealthWellness.com


BEST GYM
L.A. Fitness

4540 W. Mockingbird Lane
(and additional locations)
Open daily
214-453-4899
LAFitness.com


BEST YOGA STUDIO • TIE
Sunstone Yoga

2907 Routh St.
(and additional locations)
Open daily
214-219-3300
SunstoneYoga.com

Uptown Yoga

2636 Thomas Ave.
(and additional location)
Open daily
214-965-9642
UptownYoga.com


BEST PHARMACY
Walgreens

3802 Cedar Springs Road
(and additional locations)
Open daily
214-443-5160
Walgreens.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Le mort d’artiste

There’s a lot of death and sex in the new permanent collection at GMF

SHADOW PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS | Shine a light on a sculpture of penises and hands and they become silhouettes of the artists, right; Damien Hirst’s gruesome take on St. Sebastian with a calf carcass contrasts with a one-armed gorilla in the background, left. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

When the Goss-Michael Foundation opened four years ago on Cedar Springs, it mounted mostly solo shows of British artists pulled from the substantial collection of the gallery’s co-owners,  Kenny Goss and George Michael.

Now, the GMF has new, bigger digs (in the Design District), a renewed mission and the real estate to show a broader spectrum of art.

The current exhibit combines pieces from the prior exhibitions, including Damien Hirst’s gruesome St. Sebastian, Exquisite Pain (a calf peppered with arrows trussed up in formaldehyde), Sarah Lucas’ Pepsi & Cocky (intertwined legs of two female ballet dancer) and Adam McEwen’s collection of fantasy obituaries, and in one place you realize: These are some twisted fucks.

Homoerotic sexuality and mortality are recurrent themes across the panorama of pieces here, often in fascinating ways (as if the theme itself weren’t fascinating enough). Chief among the intriguing works:  A sculpture of penises and human hands which cast shadows of the artists and

The color combo of the video portrait of co-owner George Michael will never be seen again. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

explicit drawings of sex that are creepily authentic. You won’t see this stuff anywhere else. And that’s enough reason to seek it out.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Goss-Michael Foundation, 1405 Turtle Creek Blvd. Through Feb. 28, 2011. Free.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

’Tis the season

Christmastime gears up stage traditions

PANTO-MOM | Ivan Jones, right, plays Governess Amplebottom in ‘Babes in the Wood,’ a fairy tale take on Robin Hood that’s suitable for kids but full of double entendres. (Photo by Mark Trew)

With Thanksgiving now behind us, theater companies are pullout out their Christmas fare — many with more-than-holiday appeal to the gay community. Check out these shows that might jingle your bells.

A Christmas Carol (Dallas Theater Center). The classic production returns to Oak Lawn, with a few tweaks. Back in the cast are local actors Chamblee Ferguson and Liz Mikel … only this time in new roles. Ferguson has matured from Cratchit to his boss, playing Scrooge, and Mikel returns, now in the role of the ghost of Jacob Marley. Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Opens Dec. 3, runs daily (except Mondays) through Dec. 24. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

The Santaland Diaries (Contemporary Theatre of Dallas). Another tradition is back, as actor Nye Cooper and director Coy Covington add some holiday jeer with David Sedaris’ hilarious antidote to Christmas treacle, about a gay elf toiling away at Macy’s during the holiday. Ho-ho-homo! Greenville Center for the Arts, 5601 Sears St. Opens Dec. 3; runs weekends through Dec. 23. ContemporaryTheatreofDallas.com.

Babes in the Wood (Theatre Britain). Dallas’ resident Anglophile troupe has a new venue and a new show, its annual world premiere panto. A tradition in England for 200 years, this fairy tale always features a cross-dressing comic dame (played this year by Ivan Jones) who tells lots of lascivious jokes that go over the kids’ heads but keep the adults laughing. Cox Building Playhouse, 1517 Avenue H, Plano. Opens Dec. 3, runs weekends through Dec. 23. Theatre-Britain.com.

The Drowsy Chaperone (Theatre Three). It’s not a Christmas show, but this buoyant musical — about a forgotten but goofily charming Depression Era musical that comes to life in a gay man’s apartment — is loaded with good cheer and a smartness about the conventions of the form. Theatre Three, 2900 Routh St. in the Quadrangle. Currently in previews; opens Dec. 6, runs through Jan. 8 (no performances Christmas week). Theatre3Dallas.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Best bets • 11.26.10

Saturday 11.28

Everything is ‘Illumination’Christmas trees get all fancified
Artreach Dallas hosts the inaugural Bough Wow event to tie in with the lighting of Lee Park. Forget popcorn garland and plastic ornaments here. Artists and designers put their talents to the test using trees and wreaths as blank canvases. While you pine over the greenery, DJ Lucy Wrubel will spin the tunes while the wine and appetizers are served.

DEETS: Arlington Hall at Lee Park, 3333 Turtle Creek Blvd. 5 p.m. $65. ArtReachDallas.org.

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Tuesday 11.30

Everything is ‘Illumination’
While we are recovering from food overload, superhumans gear up for Cirque Dreams Illumination. In what sounds like Rent meets Pink Floyd, the show depicts workers and pedestrians (aka urban acrobats) balancing on wires, chairs and other daring stunts against illuminated effects and eclectic score from rock to jazz to street beats.

DEETS: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Through Dec. 5. 7:30 p.m. $22-$49. BassHall.com.

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Thursday 12.02

Red ribbons should match that cosmo
Chef Blythe Beck serves up her designer nibblies while Micah B provides the tunes at Kimpton’s Cocktails for a Cure red ribbon party. With auction items, cocktails and food, the only thing that makes it all better is that it benefits the Resource Center Dallas.

DEETS: Central 214, 5300 E. Mockingbird Lane. 6:30 p.m. $20. HotelPalomar.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘Closer to Heaven’ closes this Sunday at Uptown Players

Closer to Heaven wallows in sex, drugs & rock

The performances in Closer to Heaven surpass the material. If the androgynous Master of Ceremonies from Cabaret were a coke whore and more clearly a woman, she’d probably look and sound a lot like Morgana Shaw’s Billie Trix. In her leather fetish garb, it seems as if the director, Bruce Coleman — here and with his bondage-themed take on Equus last winter — is working through some S&M fantasies at Uptown Players. In Shaw, in thigh-high latex platform boots, he’s found an excellent medium.

DEETS: Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. 2 p.m. $30–$40. UptownPlayers.org

—  Rich Lopez