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

REVIEW: “In the Heights”


There are almost always walk-outs during intermission even of a good show, but honestly, barring a family emergency, I cannot imagine anyone not coming back for Act 2 of the In the Heights other than it being — ahem — “too ethnic.” The opening number is an eight-minute rap sung by Dominicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans and African-Americans. The dance moves are more pop-and-lock than step-ball-change. They wear Nikes and Bedazzled tank-tops, not toe shoes and tutus. The only white faces you’ll see for two and half hours are those in the audience. Don’t like it? It’s called life.

In the Heights has a Broadway antecedent in Rent, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score simply has more street cred than Jonathan Larson’s more traditional rock-by-way-of-Puccini music. Caribbean beats, Latin rhythms and freestyle rap/hip-hop live alongside each other in the same harmony as the residents of New York’s Washington Heights barrio. Usnavi (played at the performance reviewed by Robert Ramirez) runs the bodega next to the neighborhood salon and the Rosarios’ cab company. It’s the day before July 4, and the Rosarios’ daughter, Nina (Virginia Cavaliere, who has a beautiful voice) has just returned from college in California. Benny (Kyle Carter) has a crush on Nina, but he’s not good enough for Mr. Rosario (Benjamin Perez)  that is, not the right color. Meanwhile, Unsavi is trying to shore up the courage to ask out Vanessa (Presilah Nunez), who works at the salon but will be moving downtown.

This is a rangy story, that centers around how the week’s winning lottery ticket was sold at Usnavi’s store; when we learn who, the audience lets out a collective gasp. We know it’ll change at least one life forever.

The songs are remarkably adept capturing the immigrant experience; I defy anyone to list to “Inutil,” “Paciencia y Fe” or the title opener and not be both moved and exhilarated. Even in this non-Equity production (Carter seems the most out of his depth), the passion, the energy and the singing are apparent. If Ken Burns ever wanted to make a musical, he couldn’t find a better expression of the American experience than In the Heights.

In the Heights at the Winspear Opera House through March 25. Dallas Voice Life+Style Editor Arnold Wayne Jones will hold a discussion about the show in the Winspear’s Hamon Hall before the performance on Tues., March 20 at 7 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 02.17.12

Friday 02.17Vera-Pearl-3qtr

Time to get funked up
While the late Whitney Houston recharged one of Chaka Khan’s biggest hits, there’s no denying the funk queen’s own style. Khan comes to Dallas for a night of some legendary R&B with The O’Jays, Jeffrey Osborne, The Mary Jane Girls and Ohio Players as part of the Love Train show. What’s better — that’s not even the entire roster.

DEETS:
American Airlines Center
2500 Victory Ave.
6 p.m.

$24.50–$79.50.
Ticketmaster.com.

……………………..

Sunday 02.19

Knight in shining armor
The Dallas Opera gets all soap opera like in their production of Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Sparks fly between a princess and a knight, but her husband isn’t too thrilled. He also happens to be the king. The tale is a classic and doomed love story, but the show gets a refreshed touch with this modern production.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
2 p.m. Through Feb.
25. $25–$275
ATTPAC.org.

……………………..

Tuesday 02.21

No helper needed for this Tuna
Joe Sears and Jaston Williams reprise our favorite roles for Tuna’s Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Laughter. Vera, Bertha, Petey and the rest all get a bit older, but only get better as they remind us why we can’t get enough of some Tuna.

DEETS:
Eisemann Center
2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.
8 p.m. Through Mar. 4.
$44–$55.
EisemannCenter.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

REVIEW: Loretta Lynn at the Winspear Sunday

I hadn’t invested much time into the lore of Loretta Lynn. I’m a fan of her music, I had seen Coal Miner’s Daughter and applauded her reinvention with Jack White for 2004′s Van Lear Rose. But I did not expect the spectacle of her Sunday night show at the Winspear — and by spectacle, I mean her lavender, bedazzled gown. That thing was a show in itself with its flared out skirt and shoulder pads. Oh, those shoulder pads. Fortunately, someone got a great pic of it.

Gown or not, Loretta Lynn showed why she is the legend that she is. Short and sweet, Lynn managed to jam-pack a career of songs into I’d say less than an hour, and yet, the show was overly satisfying. Mostly singing her classics like “You’re Looking at Country,” “She’s Got You” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” she delivered crystal clear vocals against a rich backdrop provided by her very able band. She did shorten some of her tunes to lead into others, but I can’t say I ever felt cheated. The enthusiasm by her fans was contagious. The people around me lost their shit as a big hit bellowed from her microphone and it was both endearing and fascinating to watch.

Lynn sat down after a couple of songs due to her new “titanium knee” and held court with her gown spread out and mic in hand. She never overdid anything and in true diva fashion, she let the band and the audience simply watch her sing and chat. The audience kept shouting out songs they wanted her to sing or mentioned their meemaw’s birthday and none of it shook her. Her game was on and she made it look like it was a breeze. After all these decades of performing, perhaps it was.

Her daughters performed as openers and they sounded fine, but her son, Ernie Lynn was the worst part of the night. At least the daughters inherited good voices, the son did not. He and LL’s backing band, The Coalminers, opened the show with a couple of covers like “Slow Hand,” that did not set any bar high. His scraggly voice and bad stage presence was quickly forgotten thanks to a more inspired showing by his sisters.

As if to make it worse, he chimed in during much of Lynn’s banter with the audience and embarrassingly so. He mentioned trying to find a girlfriend and creepily admitted to his likeness of Taylor Swift. Yuk. Apparently, this is nothing new.

But LL was magic overall and nothing could eclipse what she delivered Sunday night. Although she didn’t do an encore, the audience about fell out when she finished with “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and reminded us of greatness.

Watch a small video clip by ATTPAC live tweeter Brad Ehney (@got80s) after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Loretta Lynn tonight at the Winspear

You’ll be lookin’ at country

Normally we have to venture to Fort Worth to see Loretta Lynn, because she seems to love her some Billy Bob’s. This time, the legendary country singer graces Dallas and the opera house’s acoustics should be ideal for every note of her signature songs.  Classics like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “She’s Got You,” won’t just be sung, but instead painted with Lynn’s twangy but heartfelt voice.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7 p.m. $38–$58. ATTPAC.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas Opera announces abbreviated 2012-13 season, another world premiere from Heggie

Last year, in a major cost-cutting initiative, the Dallas Opera trimmed its season from the planned five full-production operas (plus a chamber piece) down to four, one of which was scaled back to a concert version. The upcoming season looks even more spartan, with only three full-scale shows in 2012-13. But beyond that, there’s hope for some big things.

The so-called “Pursuit of Passion” season kicks off Oct. 26 with Verdi’s Aida, which will be directed by gay British composer John Copley. (I’ve been interviewing Copley for 10 years, and he always says he’s about to retire. So far, it hasn’t stuck… all the better for us. Aida will be followed in the spring with Puccini’s classic Turandot on April 6 and the return on April 12 of The Aspern Papers, which got its world premiere  25 years ago (in 1988) at the Dallas Opera.

But TDO isn’t just reminding us of its past premieres; it promises another in 2015 … once again from gay composer Jake Heggie.

Heggie, pictured — who composed Moby-Dick for its world premiere at the Winspear Opera House in the TDO’s inaugural season there — is teaming again with gay playwright and librettist Terrence McNally for the first time since Dead Man Walking. Great Scott will kick off its 2015-16 season. The rest of that season has not been announced.

The current season continues Feb. 16 with a concert version of Tristan und Isolde, followed by The Lighthouse, La Traviata and Die Dauberflote (The Magic Flute).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Best Bets • 01.20.12

LorettaLynn_SetD_0347_FinalColor(1)Saturday 01.21

GayBingo 2.0
Before heading out to 2012’s first GayBingo, check out our online interview with new director Johnny Humphrey. He tells us some of the changes that are going down with this new version and they all sound good. Then, bust out that bingo marker and take no prisoners when your number comes up.

DEETS:
The Rose Room (inside S4)
3911 Cedar Springs Road
6 p.m. $25.

RCDallas.org.

…………………

Sunday 01.22

You’ll be lookin’ at country
Normally we have to venture to Fort Worth to see Loretta Lynn, because she seems to love her some Billy Bob’s. This time, the legendary country singer graces Dallas and the opera house’s acoustics should be ideal for every note of her signature songs.  Classics like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “She’s Got You,” won’t just be sung, but instead painted with Lynn’s twangy but heartfelt voice.

DEETS:
Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora St.
7 p.m. $38–$58
ATTPAC.org.

…………………

Thursday 01.26

Too haute to trot
Turn up the volume on your outfit and head out to Dish, where DIFFA/Dallas will announce its Style Council Ambassadors for the 2012 Smoking Haute collection.

DEETS: Dish
4123 Cedar Springs Road
7:30 p.m. RSVP at 214-352-6701.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas