Let's Play School: With the explosion of high-quality children's entertainment during the past decade, the consistent craftsmanship and wit that infuses the Children's Television Workshop's Sesame Street is a measure of the love behind it. Those of us who learned numbers, letters, and a fine satirical sense as preschoolers can still flip to Channel 13 in the mornings and laugh ourselves silly over the sheer ingenuity of the writing. It's no wonder that during the thick of last year's congressional PBS-bashing, public-television officials trotted out the normally reticent Big Bird as their most effective weapon. One hour of Sesame Street a day more than justified the limp nature shows, stale Britcoms, and comatose Masterpiece Theatre episodes in which public television had become mired. Let's Play School, a new touring production that features Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Elmo, Zoe, and the others, emphasizes education over inventiveness, as the gang runs through a musical series of basic math and spelling lessons taught by the high-strung Professor Grover. If you don't have kids, grab one you love as cover and check it out. Performances are February 22-25 at University of North Texas Coliseum, 622 Avenue D in Denton; and February 29-March 3 at Tarrant County Convention Center, 111 Houston Street in Fort Worth. Tickets are $10.50-$17.50. For more information, call 373-8000.
The Internet Show: Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a recent essay for Time magazine that pretty much blew the glamorous lid off the information superhighway: Communicating online with worldwide strangers might be a nifty new technological development, she agreed, but it does nothing in itself to raise the level of conversation among people. (Topics introduced to Ehrenreich included, "What kind of drugs have you tried?" and, "Can I lick your thighs?"). Indeed, anonymity encourages risk-taking, which, in turn, blurs the line between boldness and idiocy. This is the dumb new world satirized by 4 Out of 5 Doctors' new show comedydocs.com: The Internet Show. Chat-room sightings of Elvis, new methods of IRS terrorism, and other cybertopics are covered. The show happens every Wednesday at 8 p.m. through April 10 at The Improvisation, 4980 Belt Line Road. Additional performances happen Fridays and Saturdays at 11 p.m. through March 23 in the Pocket Sandwich Theatre, 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane. Tickets for both venues are $8. Call 404-8501 or 821-1860.
The Passing Show: The second decade of the 20th century is widely recognized as "The Age of Upheaval." By some inexplicable intellectual harmonic convergence, philosophers, psychiatrists, painters, writers, and politicians took a hard look at the new technologies springing up around them and introduced radical new methods, schools, and subject matters. Cliburn Concerts, in association with Fort Worth's RetroFest '96, presents a concert of period pieces entitled The Passing Show: Popular Entertainment in the Decade 1911-1920. Cast members include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Balcom, Emmy-winning actor Andre Shields, soprano Joan Morris, and mezzo-soprano Angelina Reaux. The show was created and directed by Michael Feingold, theater critic of the Village Voice. Performances are presented February 23 & 24 at 8 p.m. and February 25 at 2 p.m. in downtown Fort Worth's Caravan of Dreams, 312 Houston. For information, call (817) 738-6536.
Barbara De Angelis: Unhappiness is a lucrative business, as a glance at almost any New York Times nonfiction bestseller list of the past 15 years will prove. Whereas people used to turn to the Bible, or great literature, or community involvement to better understand themselves and their place in the world, nowadays The Big Questions are answered with alarming simplicity by Oprah guest panelists. Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D., has been one of those. A self-proclaimed relationship expert, infomercial star, million-selling author, and, to be fair, a certified professional counselor, she focuses on "making love work." Her suggestions are perfectly reasonable, even compassionate, but like those of every media figure who has earned big bucks telling people how to be happy, hers can't possibly tap the real sources of misery with a series of bumper-sticker diagnoses. She appears at 7 p.m. at Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets are $30. Call 233-7106.
Eartha Kitt: The patrons of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center owe cabaret legend Eartha Kitt an apology. A quarter of the way into her Meyerson concert last year, whole rows of tuxedoed blue-hairs rose and exited. By the time of her show-stopping finale with Eric Carmen's "On My Own," a good third of the purchased seats were empty. Could it be that Kitt is still haunted by her notorious White House comment to Lady Bird Johnson about the unfairness of black men serving a racist homeland in Vietnam? That undeniably true appraisal snowballed, causing a hefty FBI file in her name and many years of being blackballed. Kitt, whose career spans five decades of movies, TV, stage, and recording, bounced back in last year's hit Unzipped, after designer Isaac Mizrahi paid fealty to her timeless, self-deprecating sexiness. Consummately professional, she works hard for your money. She performs February 22-24 at 8 p.m. in the Dallas Theater Center's Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Boulevard. She makes a special in-store appearance to sign her new album, Back in Business, at 2 p.m. in Crossroads Market, 3930 Cedar Springs. Tickets are $40. Call 521-8919.
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