Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Debbie Does Dallas: Only the good parts (part one).

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 3:12 PM

Lots of people have asked me what they can expect to see if they go to The Circuit Playhouse production of Debbie Does Dallas, a musical based on this famous porno movie. This photo is, I think, a pretty good clue.

If you want to do Dallas its advisable to stretch first
  • If you want to "do" Dallas it's advisable to stretch first

Also, the D3 girls have made this delightful video preview.

Anybody interested in the dark stories behind the original film might also be interested in checking out the documentary embedded below. Warning: Very not safe for work. Unless you're a theater critic about to write about D3, of course.

For ticket information, this would be the link.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When Lil Buck met Stephen Colbert

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 10:15 AM

In case you may have missed this historic meeting of America's Comedian and Memphis Jookin' phenomenon, Lil Buck.

And the show...


And for a little history, here's a look back at when Lil Buck met Yo Yo Ma.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

One Sentence Reviews: 30/60

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 12:44 PM


Inspired by Chicago's Neo-Futurists and the longrunning Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, Voices of the South's 30/60 is funny as hell, mixing quirky improv with the beat-the-clock excitement of a competitive sport.

For the deets, go here.

Bad Cops, Good Show: A STEADY RAIN is pouring at Theatre Memphis

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 12:13 PM


There's not much I hate more than driving in the city at night in a steady rain. It’s like being on bad drugs. The sky’s the same color as the black top. The illuminated signs and streetlights reflect against the wet pavement distorting depth perception, confusing up and down. Police cars speed past, blue lights popping off like flashbulbs, kicking up a spray of oil and water. Keith Huff’s A Steady Rain is perfectly named. Although it takes place in Chicago, the story could have been ripped from the headlines of any Memphis media outlet. It’s a dark yarn about a flawed, but basically good cop with a drinking problem and his big-hearted but basically amoral buddy. Their entanglement in petty street crime turns into a revengers tragedy of Jacobean proportions. Was that The Wire? Or was it just last week?


For all of it’s currency, Rain is also a throwback in the spirit of countless backlot movie classics about real life in the mean streets; childhood friendships that endure even when buddies find themselves on opposite sides of right and wrong. Even when they're caught in a bad romance.

Rain requires actors who are also great storytellers. Two overlapping monologues create the framework of a play that unfolds with the cinematic ease of narrative theater. John Maness and John Moore are the only two actors on stage and they only ever portray the two cops at the heart of the drama, but audiences are introduced to an ecosystem of interesting personalities getting by at the rough edges of law and order.

A Steady Rain is loosely based on the story of two cops who accidently released a man into the custody of serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. But it’s not really about that. It’s about family, loyalty, and the same kind of demonic urge that ripples through D.H. Lawrence’s Rocking Horse Winner: “There must be more money, there must be more money...

Joey (Maness) is the good cop. He’s not drinking and trying to be more racially sensitive. He’s not going to be passed over for detective again. Denny (Moore) is the bad cop, skimming evidence, and shaking down the prostitutes he says he’s protecting. We’ve heard this story a thousand times before, but this time around it’s especially intimate. It’s like watching an autopsy of a relationship. Detached but invasive, probing, and effortlessly gruesome.

The play is directed by Jerry Chipman with a relentless and effective sound design by Eric Sefton who, in this case, might as well take credit for scenic design as well.

This show deserves a longer run and time to find its audience. Its needs are few and it would be great if the two Johns could somehow keep it in their gig bags.

To buy tickets and stuff click.

Friday, February 15, 2013

75 Rotations is a personal history of Modern Dance

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 10:48 AM

  • Silverbird
The time: a week before Project: Motion presents its latest dance concert, 75 Rotations. The place: the upstairs dance studio at TheatreWorks. The scene: a handful of dancers, veterans, and neophytes gathered to work through a soft-shoe routine. Things aren't going as smoothly as they might, and there are spots of frustration in the ranks.

A voice of encouragement cuts through the beatboxing and rings out from the back of the room. "Remember, this doesn't have to be perfect," says Maxine Evelyn Starling, whose broad smile has an immediate soothing effect on her friends. "It's all about fun," she says, lifting spirits while others lift their legs. Like most of the dancers at this rehearsal, Starling is a member of the Social Security set, and the show's title is a reference to her impending 75th birthday.

Starling, who performs using the name Silverbird, is a dancer, social activist, arts advocate, librarian, and tai chi instructor whose life choices were profoundly influenced by encounters with artists like Josephine Baker and first-generation modern dancers like José Limón. 75 Rotations, choreographed by Marianne Bell, Al Bonner, Sarah Ledbetter, and Wayne Smith, employs dance and storytelling to tell Starling's story, which begins in Beckley, West Virginia, in 1938, and winds its way through Appalachia, Haiti, Germany, and all across America. Dancers involved range in age from their 20s to 70s.

"You know some of us aren't really dancers. We're completely confounded up here," says Sue Miller, a painter and friend Starling recruited from the Lewis Senior Center. "But Maxine has this magical way of bringing you into things," she says, explaining how she and her fellow non-dancers found themselves at the heart of an unusual history lesson.

Project: Motion Presents "75 Rotations" at Evergreen Theatre, Friday-Sunday, February 15th-17th. Donations accepted. To reserve tickets, call 214-LEAP.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spaghetti Western: "ELIXIR OF LOVE" is tasty snake oil

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Costume Design for Dr. Dulcamara
  • Costume Design for Dr. Dulcamara

Adorable. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think about Opera Memphis' westernized take on Donizetti's bubbly comedy Elixir of Love. In fact, it's just about the only word that comes to mind. I mean that both as a genuine compliment and as a pointed criticism.

Yes, of course the little girl that's been inserted into the story is both cute and cutely used. The two-dimensional backlot-western set is cute, in a Chuck Jones draws Hollywood sort of way. The plots, subplots, and meta-plots that play out there are also cute.

Moving this disarmingly nuanced story of a boy in love with a girl who gets mixed up with a soldier, and the snake oil salesman who complicates everything with his "love potion," from an 18th-Century Basque village to the old west is, perhaps, the cutest thing of all. And even that's made cuter still, if possible, with supertitles that make fair use of the cowpoke idiom.

I've got to hand it to Opera Memphis' General Director Ned Canty. He knows how to action pack an opera, and his sense for screwball comedy is keen. But in this case I'm left to wonder if, while pursuing the adorable, something more fundamentally human wasn't lost along the way.

Elixir's not exactly a political screed, but there are genuine class insecurities at work in keeping the fated couple apart. It goes slightly deeper than "the farmer and the cowhand should be friends." It's what puts flesh on the bones of a beloved comedy that, if effervescent, isn't a laugh riot top to bottom.

What's most interesting about this Elixir is its ensemble feel. Sarah Shafer's nimble, fluid soprano voice (Adina) is a fine compliment for Brendan Tuohy's "aw shucks" tenor (Nemorino). Both Jordan Shanahan and Ricardo Lugo' do detailed character work as the swaggering soldier Belcore, and Dr. Dulcamara, the medicine show barker with a knack for getting the hell out of Dodge. But , in spite of some fine vocal pyrotechnics all around, everyone is best when they are working together. Opera Memphis' chorus has seldom sounded better and a playful relationship between the singers and musicians boosts everything over the top.

An ad hoc jug band featuring actors on spoons and washboard joins the orchestra at the top of the second act. As set pieces go, it is also adorable, though not as much as it might have been with an organic origin, and more thorough integration into the score.

If it sounds like I'm grumbling, maybe I am. But in his still relatively short time in Memphis Canty has set a high bar. While he continues to innovate, even here, Elixir is, perhaps, two steps forward, one step back. Still, a net positive.

Tonight (Tuesday) is the last chance to catch this Elixir. For more information here's the click.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Return of Larry: Memphis' joke-telling, chainsaw juggling, doer of impossible deeds is back

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Hell drive a nail into his face to make you smile
  • He'll drive a nail into his face to make you smile

Have you ever seen the video interview I did with Larry Clark, AKA "Larry the Clown" a few years back? If you haven't, why not now? He's done it all, from Ringling Bros. to the Jim Rose Sideshow, to touring with Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. And this weekend only he's bringing it all back home with a new installment of Larry! (The Show) . Click the vid. Then go see the man in action.

February 1 & 2 at TheatreWorks. 8 PM.

For more Larryness, click.

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