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

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Del Shores is back! For someone who’s not from Dallas, Winters, Texas native Shores has spent a lot of time here, and he’s back on Friday at the Rose Room inside Station 4, for yet another one of his standup performances. If you haven’t seen him before, trust me: He’s bitchy, dishy, energetic and hysterically funny. The show’s at 8 tonight, so get your tickets now.

As a child of the 1980s, I’m not ashamed — OK, I’m a little ashamed — to say I listened to Air Supply. Worse, I even enjoyed them. And bought their records. Why not? They sang catchy songs — and the likes of Jim Steinman (Meat Loaf) even wrote and produced some of their songs, so you can’t dismiss them entirely. Well, at 10 a.m. June 15, tickets for their Dallas concert (on Sunday July 29) at the Winspear go on sale at ATTPAC.org. I can’t guarantee there will be a rush on the box office, but I bet it sells really well. There are a lot of us out there.

After more than a month, Bernie continues to sell out shows at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre, and with good reason: The East Texas comedy is spot-on hilarious about a gay mortician who is the darling on a town that makes Tuna, Texas, look like San Francisco. Jack Black deserves an Oscar nominations. See if before it goes away. On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to steer clear of Rock of Ages, a joylessly awkward and slogging film musical that’s saving grace is the romance between Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin.

Jersey Boys plays for about a month at the Winspear Opera House, but Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Theatre 3 won’t be here quite that long, and is definitely worth a look-see.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Razzle Dazzle gets into full swing this weekend, with Taylor Dayne performing at the MetroBall at Station 4 tonight. And on Saturday, the Cedar Springs sidewalk sale, LifeWalk WaterPalooza and more events take place along the strip.

The Tonys are the gayest of all awards shows, and this year is no exception, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting again.  The AT&T Performing Arts Center is hosting a Tony-watching party at the Winspear Opera House on Sunday; doors open at 6:30 p.m. You can RSVP here.

Also down at the Arts District this weekend, gay pianist Michael Feinstein teams with Marvin Hamlisch and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a performance honoring Cole Porter. The two-night engagement runs Friday and Saturday at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

The long-awaited prequel to Alien, Prometheus, opens today, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you enjoy being scared. And the return of Dallas isn’t here until Wednesday, but the superduper gay fantasy soap True Blood returns on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“American Idiot” tonight at the Winspear

Three’s company

Direct from Broadway, the smash-hit musical American Idiot tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Their quest for true meaning in a post 9/11 world leads them on the most exhilarating theatrical journey of the season.

Based on Green Day’s Grammy-winning multi-platinum album, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it’s never gone before. The result is an experience Charles Isherwood of The New York Times declares “thrilling, emotionally charged, and as moving as any Broadway musical I’ve seen this year!”

— ATTPAC.com

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Through May 20. ATTPAC.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Lexus Broadway Series’ line-up

The Lexus Broadway Series at the Winspear Opera House confirmed its 2012-13 will contain seven shows, up from the usual four or five. As already reported, it features the play War Horse, the Tony Award-winner using remarkable puppet horses and other animals (including Joey, pictured), which runs Sept. 12-23. Much of the rest of the season, though, contains some familiar titles … though some are welcome back.

The season begins Aug. 14 with Chicago, which has been through North Texas a lot — last year, in Fort Worth with John O’Hurley; he’s here again in this production. After War Horse, Constantine Maroulis, the Idol who did a good job in the recent Rock of Ages, will be seen in Jekyll & Hyde (Dec. 4-16), a delightfully bombastic musical that hasn’t been to Dallas with a national tour since before it opened on Broadway.

A ” bonus” show (not part of the Series package) is Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, another Soleil wannabe from Neil Goldberg, from Decc. 18-23.

The season returns in 2013 with the national tour of the current Broadway hit revival Anything Goes† (Feb. 13-24), followed by the African-themed Fela! (May 7-19) from Bill T. Jones. The last show, Traces (Jun 11-23), is an unknown quantity, but looks like a cross between Cirque, Stomp and Movin’ Out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pink Martini’s gay bandleader Thomas Lauderdale commits to Sunday’s outdoor show rain or shine

Before Sunday’s concert at Annette Strauss Park, Pink Martini’s gay bandleader Thomas Lauderdale discussed just why the eclectic jazz outfit as been so productive lately. With four releases in the last three years, the band has churned out material faster than in their early days.

Lauderdale also says that with Dallas’ random weather lately, Pink Martini is set to deliver on Sunday whether there’s a crowd or not proving the band’s commitment to spread its distinct sound that delves into foreign lands and classic movies.

Read my conversation with Lauderdale after the jump. Pink Martini performs at Annette Strauss Square at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 8 p.m. $45–$65. ATTPAC.org.

—  Rich Lopez