Thursday, March 6, 2014

Arts Spotlight for the Weekend of March 7

Fortress of Solitude Creative Team: Composer and lyricist Michael Friedman,
Director Daniel Aukin, Book Writer Itamar Moses

Lights! Action! Jazz Hands!
by Jayne Herring

Another home run for the performing arts scene in Dallas this weekend. It's the start of Spring Break for many, and there are a lot of heads of all ages that need to be filled up with culture. Once again, I am here to help. Below is my list of suggestions for what live performances you should catch this weekend, depending on your taste or mood. And since you procrastinated, check these links to see if there are any last-minute deals, as there often are. Let's get cultured, Dallas.

No Brainer: See The Fortress of Solitude.  Personal bias aside, there is nothing hotter happening in Dallas this weekend than the opening of The Fortress of Solitude at Dallas Theater Center's Wyly Theatre. When I was working at a bookstore in Chelsea (New York) in 2000, the Jonathan Lethem novel "Motherless Brooklyn" won a National Book Critics Circle Award and was flying off the shelves. It seemed as if every New York reader was carrying it around the subway, and everyone knew his name. A few years later, Lethem published The Fortress of Solitude, which became a New York Times Bestseller. And between then and now, New York-based director Daniel Aukin (Soho Rep), who decided this book needed to be adapted to the stage, partnered with playwright/author Itamar Moses (Boardwalk Empire) and composer Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), to turn the book into a brand spankin' new musical, co-produced by our very own Dallas Theater Center and The Public Theater in NYC.

Featuring a team of performers including Broadway veterans (Tony and Emmy winning Andre DeShields from The Wiz and The Full Monty as just one example), award-winning DTC company members from around the country, and some SMU alums, a set designed by legendary Eugene Lee (Saturday Night Live, Wicked, Sweeny Todd) and sound designed by Tony-winning Robb Kaplowitz, it is a collaboration like Dallas has never seen. But don't just take my word for it; try Time Magazine's:

So what is it about? A story of two boys in 1970's Brooklyn, one black and one white, told through soul and rap, block parties and blackouts, friendship and betrayal, comic books and 45s. As it is partly autobiographical, Lethem remarked at a recent DMA Arts & Letters Live that the story is a collective experience about the life of his neighborhood, and as such is perfectly suited for the stage. As a supporter of the DTC (donor levels with perks start at just $75), I was able to sit in on the very first rehearsal with the cast and orchestra together, and it was a breathtaking experience. To witness theater history yourself, go to for more information and tickets. Wyly Theatre March 7th through April 6th, in the Dallas Arts District. (In previews through the 13th; this will sell out.)

Also Recommended:

Feeling Romantic? The American premiere of the romantic and political British play Less Than Kind opens tonight at Theater Three in Uptown.  Set in London, 1944, where a dashing senior minister enjoys an affair with a beguiling widow. Now the widow’s teen-age son returns from Canada where he’d been sent for safekeeping. Learning of his mother’s “mistress” status, he’s horrified and starts a war at home. See the play by Terence Rattigan that brilliantly captures the flavor of WWII in England with a masterful mix of sparkling comedy and idealized post-war hopes. Showing Mar. 6 - Mar. 30, 2014

Ready to give the symphony chance? Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents ReMix Astor Piazzolla: Tango to Argentina, a faster-paced experience with cocktails you can enjoy in the hall and a chance to meet the artists.

Experience Piazzolla's red-hot take on The Four Seasons with conductor, Tito Muñoz at Dallas City Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District Friday and Saturday night at 7pm. Join them in the lobby before each concert from 6:00-6:30 for dancing open to the public and then from 6:30-7:00 enjoy a tantalizing performance from Tango Amor featuring Nasrin Barmaki & Hassan Parsa.

Want to laugh? Kitchen Dog Theater in Uptown presents the regional premiere of the 2011 Tony Nominee for best play The MotherF**ker with the Hat. (This is worth seeing just so you can say the real title and shock your friends.) Directed by Jaime Castaneda and playing through March 15th, this comedy is about the relationship between recovering alcoholic and his girlfriend Veronica, which is going well until Jackie spots another man's hat in their apartment and embarks on an incompetent quest for vengeance. Fast paced, uproarious, and obviously foul-mouthed.

Not feeling the high-brow? Then let Dallas Summer Musicals entertain you and your friends with We Will Rock You, the National Tour of the worldwide smash hit musical by Queen and Ben Elton. Another One Bits the Dust, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Are the Champtions, Bohemian Rhapsody… yep, it's all there. It's a party from London's West End and it's at the Music Hall at Fair Park through March 16th.

For the kiddos: Start off spring break with Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts' Beauty and the Beast at the Dallas Children's Theater. A young girl, a beast, a rose, a curse. Can love break the spell? The classic French fairytale passed down for generations is brought to life through the magic of Kathy Burks' renowned company of artists. See the story you know told as you've never seen it before. Script Adaptation and Original Music by B. Wolf, March 7 - March 30, 2014 at Rosewood Center for Family Arts, Lake Highlands. (For ages 5 and up)

And if we shadows have offended… For only $10 (free for students!) witness an unabridged reading of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, 7pm March 9 & 10 in Hamon Hall at the Winspear Opera House in the Dallas Arts District.

Let me know what you saw and what you thought!

About the author: Jayne Chobot Herring

Jayne is an executive liaison from New York City who fell in love with a Texan and is now embracing everything about her new life in Dallas.  A passionate traveler, hostess, and mom to a sassy little girl, she is often over-caffeinated and always on the hunt for new & interesting. You can follow her adventures online @jayniemarie,and on her blog A Moveable Appentency.