At the Winspear, Bring in Da Newsies, Bring in Da Funk

Categories: Theater

©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer.
See boys dance, see boys jump.

Newsies is Annie with boys. And not young boys either, at least not the cast of the touring production currently tapping, back-flipping and flexed-foot kicking across the stage at the Winspear Opera House. These aren't moppets or teenagers. This is a bunch of cute but short-statured young men pretending to be way younger than they are. (One of the leads has a bald spot, which he tries to keep covered with his newsboy cap.)

They're supposed to be orphans around the age of the tykes in Oliver! But this passel of 1899 parentless boys live in squalor and earn pennies a day, not picking pockets in the streets of old London, but hawking newspapers for a penny a pop in New York City's five boroughs. Exhausting work indeed. Despite meager diets and exposure to the elements, these lads still have enough gumption to dance and sing enthusiastically of seizing the day, carrying the banner and having something to believe in, once and for all. (Those clichés are all song titles in this show. Lyricist Jack Feldman, writing words for Alan Menken's relentlessly perky soundalike tunes, works a cliché-ridden anthem like a dog with a bone.)

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Join This Weekend's Outdoor Ballet Class in the Arts District

Categories: Dance

Dust off your dance shoes.

Dance nerds, classical music fans, and even lovers of the fairy tale should have their tickets in hand already for this weekend's productions of Cinderella by French company Malandain Ballet Biarritz. For a night of stunning entertainment, it falls in the 10-zone. But...on a scale of one to 10, just how exciting is it to have booked Malandain Ballet Biarritz? And what else is there for the unlucky who can't make the show?

Charles Santos, executive director/artistic director of TITAS Presents, had a pretty confident answer for us. He practically shouted "10!" through his keyboard. And if anyone had any doubts, he went on to explain, "We presented them back in 2002, and I've always loved the quality of the dancers and the choreography. When I saw this very contemporary version of Cinderella in Paris, I knew we had to have it. It's really beautiful and current."

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It's Time to Make a List of What the Arts in Dallas Want

Categories: Visual Art

Here's something Dallas understands: A shopping list.

In this series of articles, Leslie Moody Castro takes on the role of journalist or interlocutor to explore the inequity in the creation, curation and exhibition of art. Read more here.
By Leslie Moody Castro
I liken my job in the arts to a long-term relationship. It has the ups, downs and similar moments of fulfillment that any long-term relationship has. And similarly I have to remind myself that working in this field requires compromise, exercises in communication, flexibility and empathy.

I'll never forget the day that I was going through a particularly difficult break up many years ago, and my mom asked me about my "list." I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what list she was talking of, and as a big fan of lists I was surprised that I had let one escape being made. My mom, in her stealthy pragmatism, read my befuddlement and asked me if I had ever made a list of all the things that I was looking for in a relationship. I chuckled a little, and in my head likened such a list to the same ones I use for a trip to the grocery store: assess the fridge and pantry, shop for the things you need, buy only those things and nothing more, then go home happy.

It seemed ridiculously obvious. Why didn't I have a list?

There is a point here.

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Podcast: Avengers 2 Is Better Than Avengers 1

Categories: Film and TV

Jay Maidment/Marvel
For 150 minutes they shout at the audience, "You are having fun!

Avengers: Age of Ultron director and screenwriter Joss Whedon wants to give us everything in his movie, and that he fits it all in is its own kind of feat, writes LA Weekly film critic Amy Nicholson in her review of the film, which opens May 1. Joining her on this week's Voice Film Club podcast are the Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek and Alan Scherstuhl on this week's episode, before recommending Welcome to Me starring Kristen Wiig, Felix and Meira, and Don't Think I've Forgotten. Follow us on Twitter at @Voicefilmclub.

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The Internet's Best Mother's Day Gift Guide: From A Mom!

Categories: Holidays

Barbara Williamson2010/Flickr
Tell your mom she's Wonder Woman.

Mother's Day is right around the corner, you guys! But, what do you get the woman who shot you into this cruel world? You are once again met with the challenge of figuring out what says, "Thanks for humping sperm, building my eyelashes from scratch, and then painfully fluiding me out into the world, Mom! You're the best! Still!"

Luckily, this list (created by an actual mom) is here for you in your time of Mother's Day need. Behold: The Internet's Best Mother's Day Gift Guide Ever In The History Of Ever.

A card that says, "I love you, Mom."

This shit works. Every time. All you have to do is write more than two sentences about how much she means to you, and you'll get the happy tears that say, "You nailed it." Protip: E-cards don't count for shit. Neither does that post you put on Facebook about how awesome your mom is. Moms don't care about your Facebooks. And the "more than two sentences" part of this advice is extremely important. Signing your name on a store-bought card isn't enough. Even if you're six.

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J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy Makes a Successful Leap to the Small Screen

Categories: Film and TV

Steffan Hill/HBO
Michael Gambon and Julia McKenzie are haves who want to keep the have-nots in their place in The Casual Vacancy.
Author J.K. Rowling's rags-to-riches biography is arguably better known than her most famous creation, Harry Potter. As the oft-repeated origin story goes, Rowling was a single mother making ends meet, aided by government assistance while she was scribbling the first installment of her phenomenally successful fantasy series in a café — which was heated, unlike her apartment. In five years, she went from being as poor "as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless" to becoming a multimillionaire, eventually surpassing the queen of England in wealth.

Rowling's story speaks to the triumph of talent and persistence, and yet she would be the first to decry the ideology of pulling oneself up solely by one's own bootstraps — a metaphor that originated in the 19th century to denote an impossible or nonsensical feat. In The Casual Vacancy, her first post-Hogwarts work and her first novel for adults, she posits that the biggest threat to social cohesion is class difference, and takes aim at "that pleasurable rush that comes from condemning" the socially disadvantaged. While the new BBC/HBO miniseries adaptation introduces plenty of departures from Rowling's book, the author's parable of how the rich carelessly screw over the poor — then scorn them for their vulnerability — is successfully translated to the small screen.

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5 Art Exhibitions to See This Weekend

Categories: Visual Art

bc Workshop

Ark Festival
Last year Fort Worth-based artist and Dallas Observer Mastermind Christopher Blay collaborated with bc Workshop to erect an ark in Oak Cliff -- a project meant to bring a neighborhood together. Created as a gathering space and temporary gallery installation, the ark sat on East 10th Street between Noah and Cliff streets, serving as a way for the community to share stories of their neighborhood and its heritage. This year, Blay and bc are rebuilding the ark for another iteration of the Ark Festival at noon Saturday. Blay drew inspiration for the project from the namesake of Noah Street, Noah Penn, who founded Greater El Bethel Baptist Church. The ark is made entirely of materials salvaged from the surrounding 10th Street neighborhood and will help tell the story of "the oldest intact freedman's town in Dallas." Like last year, the festival will stage Iv Amenti's play A Freeman Cries for the Future and will host a pop-up market with local vendors. The ark will remain on display for 40 days and 40 nights. More at

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Viola Delgado Taps into the 'Ticker-Tape Machine' in Her Brain to Create Her Art

Categories: Visual Art

Zachary Elizondo
Viola Delgado has never been an artist who colors in the lines.
By Jeremy Hallock
These days, Viola Delgado is an artistic inspiration in Dallas-Fort Worth. But since she was just a kid living in South Texas near Corpus Christi, she knew she wanted to be an artist. "My mom was really the first one to give me my tools to become an artist," she says. In the mid-1950s, her mother was a stick figure artist and made coloring books out of flour bag material commonly used to make dresses and shirts. Even then she was coloring outside the lines.

From there she never stopped drawing and painting, but went through somewhat of a dry spell in high school and college. Thinking that being an artist wasn't a real possibility, she has a background in psychology. "No one advised me that I could actually do something with it," she says.

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For God's Sake, Go See All My Sons at WaterTower Theatre

Categories: Theater

Karen Almond
WaterTower's artistic director Terry Martin is rarely seen on stage, which he proves is a shame.

There are just a few truly classic works of theater. Plays or musicals that don't just remain relevant, but the characters continue to introduce new worlds to an audience, the language continues to dance, and the ideas continue to ignite discussions. Arthur Miller's All My Sons is one such play.

Written in 1947 and set in post War World II America, the play is based on a true story of an Ohio family torn apart by the war. A father whose company sold parts for the planes used in war; a mother who refuses to accept that one of her sons might be missing forever; and a young man who now that the war is over feels obligated to stay on at the family company.

In the first few minutes of the play, a storm blows into town, and this nuclear family will never be the same. If you don't know what happens next, WaterTower Theatre is currently presenting a production with crackling drama and some of the strongest acting on Dallas stages this year to date.

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Actress Janelle Lutz Boosts the Wattage of Lyric Stage's Lady in the Dark

Categories: Theater

Michael C. Foster
Janelle Lutz and Ryan Appleby in Lady in the Dark.

You don't have to be in love with the old play-with-music Lady in the Dark to appreciate its artful sophistication. It's an odd one, more psychodrama than full-out musical; there are only 65 minutes of singing spread out over two and a half hours. But because it's almost never produced in regional theaters (it was last near Broadway for a brief Encores! series performance in 1994), you should experience this collaboration of three creative geniuses — playwright Moss Hart, composer Kurt Weill, lyricist Ira Gershwin — to see and hear how they shook up American musical theater in both form and content in 1941. You'll also witness one great big knockout performance.

Now running in a years-in-the-making production at Irving's Lyric Stage, directed and choreographed by Ann Nieman and partially subsidized by the Kurt Weill Foundation, Lady in the Dark is a relic worth revisiting. It is retro chic, full of references to the Stork Club, Hattie Carnegie and Tommy Manville, but with satisfying surprises for audiences inured to formulaic modern schlock adapted from dumbed-down Disney movies. With no overture, no bing-bang-boom curtain-raising show tune, the lights simply go up in silence on a therapist's office. Magazine editor Liza Elliott, played by the phenomenally talented Dallas actress Janelle Lutz, enters for her first session of Freudian psychoanalysis with a kindly shrink (Sonny Franks).

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