Seth Rudetsky and TCC: Amahhhzing!

SETH RUDETSKY

Broadway vet and self-confessed showtune obsessive Seth Rudetsky launched the Turtle Creek Chorale’s 34th (!) season last night at the Meyerson with his one-man act that put to shame folks who consider themselves knowledgable theater queens.

Rudetsky’s shtick — an hour-long monologue with some piano playing and lots of audio clips — is a deconstruction of what makes great singers great, and sometime terrible. (Or, in Rudetsky’s words, “Amahhhzing!!!!” and “Uh….mahzing.”) He parses vibrato versus sliding off-key, belting a song (“head voice”) versus playing it close to the chest (Carly Simon is his favorite exponent of that), riffing for showiness versus expert control. And he did so in such a speedy Long Island accent, it was sometimes difficult to catch it all. (Don Jones, the TCC’s sign interpreter for 20 years, got a shout-out from Rudetsky for his ability to keep up.) But over and over, his encyclopedic knowledge and sense of the fabulous won over the audience.

He also set up Act 2 of the concert, in which the TCC performed with its Partners in Harmony, songs from Broadway, starting with a piece from Les Miserables and the most appropriate song from the operetta The Most Happy Fella, “Big D,” before seguing into Doris Day, a piece from Ragtime (which the chorale performed with Uptown Players earlier this year) and Sweeney Todd (which the chorale will perform with Uptown Players next year). It was a song-filled evening, and a nice kick-off for the storied men’s chorus’ next season.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Seth Rudetsky pitches his show with the Turtle Creek Chorale

DSC_9979In today’s print edition, I have an interview with Broadway expert Seth Rudetsky about the show he has with the Turtle Creek Chorale on Sunday, Deconstructing Broadway. You can read all the details there — and I hope you will — but you can also hear Rudetsky talk (in that inimitable style) on this video, made expressly for his appearance in Dallas. Enjoy.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Reflections on ‘A Gathering 2013′

Last night’s well-attended A Gathering 2013  at the Winspear Opera House was a very special occasion — not only for the collaborative, diva-free atmosphere, but for what it had to say about AIDS and resilience and hope. At times, it was very moving … never more so than during the Turtle Creek Chorale’s “Sure on This Shining Night,” when a video montage of faces of the nearly 200 chorale members lost to AIDS scrolled by. One could not help but be astonished at how so many gone were young, handsome, vibrant, happy folks cut down far too soon.

Markus Lloyd brought down the house at the end of Act 1 with his soulful rendition of “I’ll Cover You” from Rent, and soprano Mary Dunleavy was remarkable on “Nisi Dominus.” It was a stirring performance — not just for them, but all the artists onstage.

Check out some behind the scenes photos of the rehearsal below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Outrageous Oral shares stories on Turtle Creek Chorale, Black Tie Dinner

Kay

Kay Wilkinson

Outrageous Oral, the oral history project of The Dallas Way, featured four speakers who told stories about the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Black Tie Dinner and the recent Supreme Court decisions last night at the Rose Room.

Bruce Jaster kicked off the evening talking about the early days of the Turtle Creek Chorale. Because of financial problems that almost bankrupted the organization, the previous director left. Payroll taxes remained unpaid. When Tim Seelig was hired, the chorale could afford to pay him just $12,500, but within a year the group broke even and the budget quickly grew to a million dollars a year.

Dallas Way President Kay Wilkinson raised money to pay off the deficit by announcing, “I have a huge hole to fill,” a line that still haunts her. But she filled the hole and today the chorale is the most recorded men’s chorus in the country and the only one with an Emmy Award under its belt.

Mike Grossman talked about who inspired him and some of the groups he helped found. He talked about a group he was trying to help form. The party at his house was a dud until his 16-year-old son suggested bringing out a few joints. The party picked up, the group formed and is now a synagogue that is a member of the Union of Reform Judaism and a Black Tie Dinner recipient.

Mike Anglin is an attorney who has helped incorporate a number of organizations including Razzle Dazzle Dallas and Black Tie Dinner. He told the story of the founding of the Black Tie Dinner and why the Dallas dinner is the most successful in the country — local groups are invested in making it successful by sharing in the funds raised. He also described the awards at early dinners. Originally the announcement of the Kuchling Award was made at the dinner and the recipient’s speech was “thank you.” I really like that.

The next Outrageous Oral takes place at University of North Texas in the Willis Library on Oct. 17 with a reception to dedicate the Resource Center Archives at 5 p.m. and Outrageous Oral at 7 p.m.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Lots of LGBT orgs participating in North Texas Giving Day on Thursday

givingday

North Texas Giving Day is Thursday and a lot of LGBT organizations are participating.

Donations can be made online from 7 a.m. to midnight by going here and searching for an organization.

Among the LGBT organizations participating are AIDS Arms, AIDS Outreach, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Legacy Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, and North Texas Food Bank, which supplies much of the food for Resource Center’s food pantry.

Communities Foundation of Texas organized the event. Each $25 donation and above received Thursday will get bonus funds. If an organization receives 32 individual donations, it will be entered to win an additional $10,000.

Funds can also be designated to a specific program in the notes section.

For a complete list of organizations, go here.

—  Dallasvoice

Razzle Dazzle Dallas, MetroBall distribute $59K to beneficiaries

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Razzle Dazzle Dallas presents a check for $43,000 to the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas distributed $59,000 from its events to its beneficiaries last night at Sue Ellen’s. The total was several thousand dollars more than last year.

Thelma Houston headlined the Metro Ball at S4 on June 7 benefiting the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. That organization provides financial assistance for critical needs such as rent and utility payments when all other resources are exhausted.

GDMAF received $43,000. That’s a $10,000 increase over last year. Razzle Dazzle chair John Cooper-Lara attributed that to a very successful silent auction and Houston’s enthusiastic participation in the live auction.

The Main Event, held on June 8 at Main Street Garden, benefited AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Beautification Project, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, Resource Center Dallas, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Turtle Creek Chorale. Those groups will share $16,000.

This was the first year the Main Event was held off Cedar Springs Road. The amount distributed to the community organizations was down from last year’s $25,000. Organizers plan to return Downtown next year and hope the event will build into a larger Pride party.

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Board members from Razzle Dazzle Dallas with a check for eight LGBT organizations.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale performs at Dallas City Council swearing-in ceremony

Chorale

Outgoing council members sat in front of the incoming Dallas City Council as members of the Turtle Creek Chorale in the Choral Terrace sang the national anthem.

The predominantly gay Turtle Creek Chorale opened the swearing-in ceremony for the Dallas City Council this morning at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. About 50 members of the Chorale participated.

A number of out officials and former officials, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez and former District 2 Councilman John Loza, attended. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance were well represented. Among family members attending was Cowboys hall-of-famer Roger Staubach, whose daughter Jennifer Staubach Gates was sworn in as District 13 councilwoman.

Mayor Mike Rawlings paid tribute to five members leaving the council. The outgoing council had more women than any other council in the city’s history. All five members leaving are women.

Among those leaving, Rawlings cited Delia Jasso for her work on the LGBT Task Force and growth of business in her district, especially in Bishop Arts. He mentioned her recognition by the National Diversity Council in April as the most powerful and influential woman in Texas. He credited her with educating him on domestic violence issues. Rawlings made no mention of Jasso’s stunning recent betrayal of the LGBT community when she withdrew her support for an equality resolution, which effectively killed the measure.

The mayor called Angela Hunt a good friend. As the youngest person ever elected to Dallas City Council, he said she brought a new vitality to the horseshoe.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale defends concert with tea-bagging singer Sandi Patty

Sandy Patti

Sandi Patty

We received a message last night from a member of the Turtle Creek Chorale calling our attention to the appearance of gospel singer Sandi Patty’s name on a list of speakers and VIPs at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s ongoing Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition is headed by former moral majority leader Ralph Reed, and the conference is being headlined by the likes of Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz and Brian Brown of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

According to ThinkProgress, the three-day conference will include “a massive lobbying effort including hundreds of Tea Party evangelicals knocking on the doors of their U.S. senators and congressmen today, demanding a replacement law for what most expects to be a Supreme Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional.”

Patty, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is scheduled to join the chorale next Thursday for “Inspiration & Hope,” a one-night-only concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas — which brings us back to the message from the TCC member, who asked to remain anonymous.

“The TCC is set to sing next Thursday with Sandi Patty, even as her name appears on the list in this article,” he wrote. “There is quite a conversation going on today among the members.”

—  John Wright

David Fisher steps down as executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

David Fisher

David Fisher, who became executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale two years ago, just as a shake-up within the organization led to the sudden departure of its artistic director, is stepping down from his post.

Fisher, who previously worked for the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, will return there, once again serving as its assistant director.

“After nearly 20 years working in the arts in Dallas, I’m grateful for my time with the chorale, and I’m thrilled to be returning to the Office of Cultural Affairs where I will be able to continue the work of fostering the growth and success of all of the arts and arts organizations in Dallas,” Fisher said. No reason was given for the move.

Hank Henley, a singing member of the chorale since 2009, will step in as interim executive director.

“Having been vice president and president of the Turtle Creek Chorale, I’m thrilled to be serving this wonderful organization in yet another way,” Henley said in a statement. The board, as well as Henley and current artistic director Trey Jacobs, will immediately begin a search for Fisher’s permanent successor.

“Hank’s experience and passion will serve us well in this role, and we look forward to working with him,” said Zan Moore, Turtle Creek Chorale’s board president.

While at the TCC, Fisher led the search to replace former AD Jonathan Palant. Jacobs was named interim AD in the summer of 2011, and in the spring of last year became its permanent artistic director.

The final concert of TCC’s current season takes place next Thursday at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

IMG_6695The Turtle Creek Chorale tips its hat to Broadway this weekend with its Kander & Ebb concert, a show featuring two dozen of the songwriting teams’ most memorable hits. It’s at the City Performance Hall through Sunday. Right next door, you can check out Val Kilmer in his one-man show, Citizen Twain, playing at the Wyly. And across the street, the Dallas Opera’s season winds up with alternating performances of Turandot and The Aspern Papers at the Winspear.

On Saturday, you can get the energy to go get all your other chores done by popping by Deep Ellum for the inaugural North Texas Taco Festival, sponsored by our good friend Jose Ralat-Maldonado of the Taco Trail blog. That evening, hop over to the Hilton Anatole for the annual Bloomin’ Ball fundraiser for AIN.

On Saturday and Sunday, there are plenty of activities (in Fair Park and in Oak Cliff) leading up to Earth Day, which is officially on Monday. Then later in the week, two film festival get going: The USA Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, and runs through the following Sunday. And over in Fort Worth, QCinema returns with its spring series with the one-night-only screening of Lesbian Shorts: The Best of the Fest.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones