Sarah McLachlan: The gay interview

20140425KharenHillSarahMclachlan_Bedroom_0175While promoting Shine On, her first album in four years — which brings her to the Winspear Opera House on Sunday — Sarah McLachlan breaks her silence in a recent interview with our Chris Azzopardi.

Dallas Voice: At what point in your career did you know you had a big gay following?  Sarah MacLachlan: Hmm … probably Boston 1991.

That’s very specific.  I’m serious. Maybe 1992. It was with my second record [Solace] and I remember going to do a gig in Boston. I hung out with a lot of women after the show and there was one bartender in particular who was really hot! And I’m not gonna say anything else, but yeah.

Wait, no, no. You can’t just leave me hanging like that.  She was a good kisser  — that’s all I’m gonna say! That was my first sort of foray. It didn’t go past that, but that was, mmm, yeah.

I just remember there being a lot of women holding hands in the audience — and not only that, but it was a really intelligent audience. I don’t even know how I could tell that, but I just remember this feeling of, wow, this is just a great, great audience. I wish I could say why, but anyway, that was sort of the beginning of it and I think it just progressed from there.

So girls aren’t just good kissers but also super attentive?  I can generalize with my fans in that way, and all my fans — gay, straight — are coming for the music. They’re coming for church. I say that because that’s how I feel, especially about playing live; for me, that’s sort of my church. I get to be a part of something bigger than myself and be really connected to other human beings on a real emotional and visceral level. It’s very powerful.

It’s a mutual feeling.  It’s a mutual lovin’!

You mention your girl-on-girl foray in 1991, and for the longest time people have made assumptions about your sexuality. What do you think of the public’s interest in whether you’re bisexual?  People are always interested in how people bend. I’ve never shied away from it. I mean, I’m pretty straight. Let me just put it this way: I’ve never had sex with a woman. I haven’t. I’ve made out with more than one woman, but it just sort of happened. And there may have been alcohol involved during one of them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pell stepping down as artistic director of Dallas Opera

Pell Jonathan

Jonathan Pell in the Winspear just before it opened in 2009.

Jonathan Pell, who has spent nearly 30 years with the Dallas Opera, currently as its artistic director, and who marshaled its move from Fair Park to the Winspear Opera House, is stepping down from his full-time role with the company, the DO has announced.

Pell started with the DO in 1985 as its artistic administrator and will walk away on Dec. 31 from his day-to-day role. He will stay on as “artistic advisor.”

Pell brought such luminaries to the DO for their debuts as Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Denyce Graves and Ruth Ann Swenson. He also spearheaded several world premieres, including The Aspern Papers (which was revived last season), Therese Raquin and Moby-Dick (which will return next year).

The DO will continue its operation under general director Keith Cerny and new music director Emmauel Villaume. The DO wrapped up its 54th season earlier this month.

—  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

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

IMG_8936

Crow Sculpture Garden

Downtown Dallas is the center of culture this week — in a big way.

Just like every month, the First Saturday tours of ATTPAC will be taking place, and there will be a street fair with lots of art from One Arts Plaza to Klyde Warren Park. But on the stages and galleries is where the real action is.

First, Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s 8th annual DanceAfrica will be performed Friday and Saturday at Annette Strauss Square. Inside the Wyly Theatre starting Friday is DTC’s preview week for Clybourne Park, the sequel to A Raisin in the Sun, both of which will be performed in repertory throughout October.

The Crow Collection of Asian Art, which is always free to the public, officially debuts its long-in-development Sculpture Garden, which encircles the Trammell Crow Center above the museum. The huge fu dogs (really lions) and the beautiful “sweepers” are among the draws outside, as well as the exquisite landscaping. Among the impressive items currently on exhibit inside the Crow are brass Chinese zodiac heads from famed artist Ai Weiwei, as well as a hand-painted Porsche that looks like a Chinese tapestry on wheels.

The new exhibit by gay artist Jim Hodges officially opens inside the Dallas Museum of Art on Sunday, but really, you can catch a sneak peek during the fair on Saturday. Hodges is a multimedia artist of such remarkable breadth, you mind will be blown.

IMG_9016

View from the Reunion Tower GeO Deck.

Also on Saturday, you can divert south of the Arts District down to Reunion Tower to enjoy the GeO Deck, the observation level of the tower below the revolving Five Sixty restaurant. In addition to Halo, a system of table-sized iPads that allow you to explore the city (both visually from live cameras and its history), you can actually walk outside and get a 360-view of Dallas, from the Omni to the Trinity to Uptown. A level up from the GeO Deck is a cafe (also manned by Wolfgang Puck staff) that, live the formal dining room, revolves while you eat.

Then head back to the AT&T plaza on Monday for A Gathering 2013, the second performance of music, dance and the spoken word that serves as a commemoration and benefit for Dallas-area HIV/AIDS charities. (Check out a slide show of rehearsal photos below.)

That’s all in addition to LifeWalk in Uptown on Sunday, Dallas Black Pride and Tarrant Pride going on all weekend and the release of the most anticipated film of the season, Gravity. So, if you say you’re bored, it’s your own damn fault.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: David Sedaris at the Winspear

David-Sedaris-laughing-CREDIT-Anne-FishbeinWhenever people tell me I have a great job because “you get paid for watching movies,” I always correct them — I don’t get paid for watching anything; I get paid for writing about it afterwards.

Now, wanna talk about great jobs, you’re talkin’ David Sedaris. Here’s a guy who turns his daily life into a career. He writes pieces for erudite magazines like the New Yorker, anthologizes them, then gets paid for standing in front of 2,000 adoring fans reading them aloud. Sometimes he doesn’t even have to publish them: At last night’s appearance at the Winspear as part of the DMA’s Arts & Letters Live series, Sedaris spent 20 minutes reading from his diary. Now that’s a plum job.

Of course, it helps that Sedaris’ diary entries are more cogent, funny and insightful than most anything else you’d read in edited periodicals. His style is starchy and prim, but his subject matter rangy — he can recount shopping in an antique store with the same high-mindedness of portraying a Santaland elf at Macy’s. Yes, the reading part is easy; it’s the genius it took to get there that’s hard to come by.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEWS: ‘Anything Goes,’ ‘Catch Me,’ ‘The Chairs,’ ‘The Lucky Chance’

Anything GoesStephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly Henry Miller's Theatre)

It’s a busy season for theaters, with opening and closing coming fast and furious. Few things, though, as as fast and furious as the tap-dancing in Anything Goes, which continues its run this weekend at the Winspear Opera House. The national tour of this Tony Award-winning revival is part of the classic strain of American musicals where quick-witted people end happily while dancing their asses off, all the the tunes of folks like Cole Porter. There are more hits in this score than during a Mafia wedding: “Friendship,” “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “It’s De-Lovely” and, natch, the title tune. If hearing the sounds that make up the foundation of the Great American Songbook, belted out like Merman on speed, isn’t your idea of a fun night of theater, there’s something wrong with you.

Rachel York leads the cast as Reno Sweeney, the sassy cabaret star who’s chasing after a boy who has eyes on another girl, who is engaged to be married to a British lord, who doesn’t care much about marrying her …. Oy. Plot is not its friend. But jaunty one-liners, sexy men in sailor suits and timeless songs are. Even 80 years after it opened, the energy is as fresh as morning glory. (Through Sunday.)

How, then, can Catch Me If You Can at Fair Park Music Hall, which is just two years old, feel so much more dated than Anything Goes? Scored by the team that did Hairspray (partners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) and written by Terrence McNally, it’s also set in the 1960s and based on a hit movie. And that’s where the similarities cease.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Steer ‘n’ the ship: Oklahoman Ryan Steer is onboard for ‘Anything Goes’

Steer_Ryan_Headshot

Most gay guys have a “thing” about sailor suits — from the time their moms dress them up in one through the Village People singing “In the Navy” and until they pant over the sailors disembarking during Fleet Week, nautical fantasies are common.

And Ryan Steer gets to live it.

Steer is one of the ensemble members in the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, which docks into the Winspear for 10 days starting tonight. And he enjoys the chance to dress up like a seaman.

“I’m constantly changing costumes from sailor suit to tuxedo,” he says, and “while I think all of the costumes are out-of-this-world amazing, I do adore our sailor suits — they were made to have this MGM glamour quality to them. They are very tight in the butt and make all the sailors look like caricatures of strongmen, with broad shoulders and tiny waists. I don’t think anyone’s pretending that’s not a draw. And, they are very comfortable.”

Steer probably doesn’t need to pretend to be a strongman — the young (he’s 26), strapping Oklahoma native cuts a dashing figure in street clothes. But even so, touring with the Tony Award-winning production has been something of a dream for him.

“It is a family,” he says of his company, some of whom came directly from the Broadway production but most of whom are newcomers to the show. “Rachel York is a perfect Reno Sweeney — she’s just stellar in the show.”

Still, Steer’s familiarity with Anything Goes was surprisingly thin when he was tapped to be in it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

After two weeks of “soft opening” service, last night Monica’s Nueva Cocina and ME Lounge on Cedar Springs in the ilume had its “official” opening with open bar and passed hors d’oeuvres. Monica told me there’s always a honeymoon phase where people love ya … it’s six months on when you know if you’re a hit. I’ve eaten there a few times already. A review will come next month, but you might wanna start making your reservations…

Over at the Winspear, Chicago (pictured) is back, and it’s surprisingly not stale, even after countless productions ever since the 1996 revival. And John O’Hurley can actually sing! And if you go on Tuesday — or even if you just have some free time — I’ll be doing my usually GLBT Broadway lecture at 7 p.m. in Hamon Hall before the show, pointing out ways you might enjoy the gay text and subtext better. Then on Thursday, Casa Manana puts on a local professional production of Greater Tuna — something of a coup, as authors-stars Jaston Williams and Joe Sears often guard licensing carefully in their home turf. But with David Coffee in many of the roles, it’s sure to be funny. And Sweeney Todd continues over at KD Studio Theatre.

The fourth annual Pink Party features tons of musicians and other acts (burlesque? Uh-huh) on both floors of the ladies’ club, all raising money for breast cancer research. It’s at Sue Ellen’s tonight. There will be fundraising as well with the men, ginning up bucks for Resource Center Dallas. Honey Pot II: Summer Chill is a Sunday afternoon beer bash at Dallas Eagle, with members of the Dallas Diablos in attendance.

There are also several drag opportunities this week. In addition to the shows at the Rose Room and other clubs, Cassie Nova hosts the “turnabout” show of Caven employees at JR.’s on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Celeste Martinez is M.C. of Miss Gay Highland Park at the Round-Up Saloon.

And at the movies, the last performance by Whitney Houston is preserved in the new release Sparkle, with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks sharing screen time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

The Bruce Wood Dance Project has three more performances of the choreographer’s new show at Booker T. Washington in the Arts District, including an encore of the first program, which debuted last night (with Gary Floyd providing beautiful vocals to the stunning new “I’m My Brother’s Keeper”). Wood is up to his old tricks: The technical beauty of classic ballet combined with the muscular physicality of modern dance plus Wood’s own unique contributions of humor and an emphasis on the potential of the male form. Don’t miss it — it ends this Sunday.

Also over this Sunday is Oklahoma! at Lyric Stage; don’t miss it, either (you have a busy weekend ahead of you!). As we’ve come to expect, director Cheryl Denson has crafted a massive and engaging piece of classic theater with a huge cast, full orchestra and dazzling sets. You have more time to see Jersey Boys at the Winspear Opera House — it’ll be around almost another month — but it’s just as unmissable.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Concert Notice: Indigo Girls and Janis Ian head to Dallas — but not together

While looking at the ol’ concert calendar, I noticed that a couple of major queer icons in music are headed this way. Better yet, they are performing in venues that should truly let them shine.

The Indigo Girls will play with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on Aug. 29 at the Meyerson Symphony Center. I think that could be quite an interesting show seeing how the IG play such minimalist music. How do you add a whole symphony to “Watershed” or “Strange Fire” and still keep that distinct IG feel?

Tickets are $30–$105 and on sale now.

I had the pleasure of speaking to the legendary Janis Ian the last time she came to Dallas. Back in 2009, she performed a benefit show at the Rose Room. But this winter, she’ll perform at the Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House. Although I haven’t seen it yet on the ATTPAC calendar, but Ian has Dec. 8 (as does Pollstar) listed on her website as her day (or night) in Dallas. For tickets, stay tuned to the ATTPAC’s listing when it goes up.

Ian is most famous for her “At Seventeen” hit, but did you know the folk star dabbled in disco? Watch the video of “Fly Too High” after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez