Plano Native, Ugly Betty Star Michael Urie Brings His Hit Off-Broadway Show Home

Categories: Theater

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ATTPAC

It's a sunny day in May, and I see Michael Urie's toothy smile before I've even opened the glass door to the City Performance Hall. He's home from New York City for the weekend, quietly hosting press conferences before heading to Austin for a wedding. The tour of his hit off-Broadway show, Buyer & Cellar, hasn't been announced yet, but Urie is giddy to put a September stop in Dallas on his calendar. It's set to be the last stop on the mini-national tour and the season opener for the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Off-Broadway on Flora series at the City Performance Hall, September 3-6.

"I'm excited for my high school teachers and some family to see me on stage," says Urie, a Plano Senior High School graduate. "I wouldn't have guessed that I'd spend this much time with Barbra Streisand."

He's not sharing the stage with Babs -- at least, not exactly. Since 2013 he's been acting in a one-man show about a struggling L.A. actor who works in the basement of her Malibu home, where the eccentric madame built a shopping mall.


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Why I Almost Peed My Pants and Wrestled for Money at an Art Show This Weekend

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Chris Moezzi
Maybe not a fair fight...

It's the end of our night. I've had about as much performance art as I could stomach and now I'm in a little tiny room with a very large man, attempting to wrestle him for a chance at a handful of what I am promised is $500. Dollar bills are piled on top of the red safe behind him, the artist, a shirtless, musclebound man in sumo wrestler stance.

I stand around 5-foot-3 in tiny brown flats and suddenly I feel even smaller and more helpless. Just outside, I'd signed a waiver without reading it, which of course now seems foolish because I don't know if the man in front of me is allowed to touch me, tackle me, or -- I don't know -- kill me. And he's grunting like an animal, glaring at me, and looks ready to pounce. I stand in front of him on tiptoe, giggling like a small child and toying with the idea of lunging at the money. I take one step over the boundary and he lunges at me. I squeal, slip backwards, and just like that my chance at the money is over.

Performance Art is not life; waking up and disembarking from bed every morning is not a performative act. Not unless you do it with the intention of "performing." Then, it might fall under the auspices of one of the Arts' most expansive genres. It's not that simple of course, but if you spent Saturday evening touring PerformanceSW and (wo)manorial's "Inside)(Outside: A Live Performance Showcase," there was a thoughtful, albeit occasionally unoriginal, demonstration of the multifaceted output known as performance art.


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Why the Hell Does Dallas Love Performance Art So Much? (With Video)

Categories: Is This Art?

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Wikimedia
Hugo Ball wearing some kind of something.

Nearly every art critic in Dallas has weighed in on the subject of performance art in the past 72 hours thanks to inside)(outside, a performance art project curated by Dallas-based PerformanceSW. inside)(outside is an online exhibition exploring gender roles through performance but Saturday night the online project manifested itself in physical form for a one-night only performance art festival, of sorts. I'm sure responses to the night's performances, which took place throughout Oak Cliff and included performances from 15 artists are sure to be mixed.

Performance art by its nature is hard to evaluate, after all, the very premise of the art is that anything can be art, but as performance art multiplies in Dallas, we're collectively struggling with how to balance our support of the creative spirit that prompts the art's creation with serious, critical evaluation; I think we can all agree the scene will never mature if we accept everything simply because it is, instead of evaluating it on its actual merits. With that in mind, we think it's a good time to look back at some of the most groundbreaking works of performance art.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 68 Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

As Paige Chenault opens the door to the Birthday Party Project's new office in Addison, she greets me with a warm smile and hug. The office is full of boxes packed high with birthday presents and goody bag treats, as well as volunteers sorting through them. Cheanult's entire staff is wearing BPP T-shirts that read, "Eat. Sleep. Party. Repeat."

BPP visits 12 agencies each month and each kid who has a birthday that month receives a cake, birthday gift, and a birthday badge. The other kids in the agency celebrate, too. In June alone, BPP celebrated with more than 500 kids.

A retired wedding planner, Cheanult has the innate talent for planning a big event, but also the passion and kindness for being a part of other people's celebrations to back the talent up. But from speaking with her, it became apparent it's not the birthday the nonprofit is celebrating. It's the children.

As Chenault begins to speak about the birthday parties and the individual children, her eyes become watery.

"I have a lot of favorite stories. Each of our agencies are so very unique. We meet with," she pauses. "God, I'm going to get emotional." She continues, "We get to party with kids that are coming out of domestic violence. We get to party with kids whose moms are being rehabilitated from sex trafficking. We get to party with families that are truly just in this chronic homeless system. And so I feel like we have this unique opportunity to serve these kids and meet their needs right where they are."

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10 Best Thrift Stores and Vintage Shops in Dallas

Categories: Lists, Shopping


Savvy shoppers are always on the hunt for a good deal. Trust fund babies and lottery winners aside, stylish thrifters know to head to vintage shops when they're looking for champagne flutes on a beer glass budget.

Still, as the "vintage" trend continues to explode, there are a number of so-called "shops"that function as dumping sites for people's old junk. Experienced thrifters may learn to love the search for treasure, but no one wants to sort through piles of ratty, outdated clothing and racks of chipped dishware. Thankfully, Dallas has a number of vintage and thrift stores that put a lot of thought into curating interesting collections from their secondhand offerings. These are ten of the best.

Lula B's
2639 Main St; 1010 N Riverfront Blvd
Lula B's gets a lot of credit for their selection of furniture, mostly mid-century, but this thrift-store-slash-antique-mall has so much more to offer. Spend a little time going through the piles of costume jewelry and stacks of old postcards that vendors use mostly as decoration for their bigger wares. That being said, I did score an old Herman Miller desk chair there for less than $100, so you shouldn't skip out on the furniture bargains either.


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The Journey from Locked Out to Comedy's Big Leagues

Categories: Comedy

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Courtesy of ComedySports Dallas
Performers Michelangelo Everhard, Von Daniel and Jared Burger prepare to square off for everlasting comedy glory (until the next showdown) as the newest ComedySportz franchise in Dallas.

If you could jump in your "comedy time machine" (a time machine that can only be used for the purposes of viewing important moments in comedy groups' histories and therefore can't be used to go back and...I don't know... stop Hitler) to view the history of Locked Out Comedy and set the dial to seven years ago, you'd see them clearing out their stuff from a West End venue around the same time that the rest of the place was slowly turning into a graveyard.

You can guess how they got their name.

"We pondered a name for 40 minutes to an hour," said founder and performer Von Daniel. "Then somebody threw out Locked Out and we went with that. The original owner said, 'I'm no longer going to do this so if you have personal belongings in the theater, get it now or you will be locked out.'"

Now the group not only holds regular shows at the Addison Improv and the Life Central Church's theater in Plano but they also do the bulk of their shows for corporate and private audiences that hear about them solely through word of mouth with no traditional marketing whatsoever other than a website and a Facebook page. They've also earned back the ComedySportz designation they thought Dallas would never have again seven years ago when the old owner closed up the shop.

"We all met at the bar afterwards and said let's just continue doing what we do," Von Daniel says.


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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 69 Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams

Categories: 100 Creatives

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. Know an artistic mind who deserves a little bit of blog love? Email lauren.smart@dallasobserver.com with the whos and whys.

One doesn't quickly forget their first visit to WAAS Gallery - or the first time meeting the gallery's extraordinarily creative owner and curator Brandy Michele Adams.

Based on a handful of exhibition openings I've attended at WAAS, the gallery always feels like an open, welcoming space for artists to show their work. And, likewise, Adams always seems welcoming, positive and effervescent. A self-aware "rare bird" and self-taught painter, Adams possesses a style that is remarkably unique. She accurately describes her style as Rainbow Bright meets Alexander McQueen.

Born in Florida, Adams was raised in Dallas and spent her formative years in the area before heading to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a make-up artist, studying at Los Angeles' Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts. This post offers a great recap of Adams reasons for leaving, then returning to Dallas and opening WAAS.

Even after a brief conversation with Adams, you come away believing that she believes art has the power to educate, enrich and transform a community. Adams has described her gallery as "an artist helping artist kind of gallery." And WAAS is an independent art gallery that features established artists and up-and-comers, and as their about me says serves as "an incubator for art."

Adams is a natural host - in the gallery or on stage. And she served as the emcee several art-related events in Dallas over the past year, most notably RAW's Dallas events. And she's the one who will greet you at the gallery, which is a two-story building built in the 1930s located between Fair Park and Deep Ellum (2722 Logan Street) with more than 3,000 square feet of show space, allowing plenty of room for interesting larger art installations.


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Dallas Theater Center Does Just About the Nicest Thing Ever

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Karen Almond
Marius and Eponine get a hipster update.

The Dallas Theater Center's version of Les Miserables has turned quite a few heads for its contemporary take on the classic tale of the French Revolution. Director Liesl Tommy's politically charged update has earned comparisons to Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. The musical when placed in a modern context signals the story's timelessness, as well as the repetitive nature of history. And this courageous interpretation has earned DTC mountains of press throughout the globe, placing it in front of the eyes of many an interested theater-goer. Including, it turns out, a 16-year-old girl named Anna in Alaska.


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14 Awesome Things to Do in Dallas This Weekend, August 14-17

Categories: Dallas Stories

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HOMECOMING! Committee
Kris Pierce, "Favorite Things," 2013, oil on canvas

Traffic is lighter on the roads, the sun is hotter, and the words "back to school" are popping up on advertisements throughout the city. It must be August. An easier way to learn this might've been looking at a calendar, which would also point out that the weekend is arriving today. There's plenty to do around Dallas for those of us not on vacation. We've sorted through the art openings, performance art festivals, theater and more to round up the best stuff just for you.

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Podcast: How We Will Remember Robin Williams

Categories: Film and TV

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Williams in Moscow on the Hudson
On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice and Amy Nicholson of L.A. Weekly remember Robin Williams, who died on Monday. He was 63. They also recommend We Are Mari Pepa, a slight movie about growing up punk in Mexico, the Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan rom-com What If, and Lenny Abrahamson's Frank, the movie where Michael Fassbender wears a giant mask the entire time.

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