You're simply not trying, you guys of Dallas. Last February's retail recap revealed the same old, same old for the top four Valentine's Day gift categories. Chocolates, flowers, cards and naughty nighties are so uninspired. Think outside the heart-shaped box this year and get your gal pals all aquiver for February 14 and beyond. If a romantic evening of ballet comes to mind, Texas Ballet Theater (formerly Fort Worth Dallas Ballet) sets the stage nicely with its Four of Hearts program February 13 through February 15 at Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St. It also offers to do all the work for the 8 p.m. February 14 performance with a Valentine's package for $190 per person, which includes dinner, orchestra seats for the ballet and a post-performance reception. Four of Hearts features four in-the-mood dances, including George Balanchine's "Serenade," plus the premieres of "Moonbeams" and "L," choreographed by ballet master Ben Stevenson, and "Jitter Hoppin'," set to swing music. Performance-only tickets, for Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m., are $15 to $87. Call 1-877-212-4280 or visit www.texasballettheater.org. --Annabelle Massey Helber
Givin' Up the Cherry
New theater troupes in new venues performing new material can often be a frightening situation for an unsuspecting audience. Novice actors schlep through unrefined scripts on a stage that's barely ready for a performance. Comedy is the worst as jokes fall embarrassingly flat or are totally missed by an audience unfamiliar with a troupe that has yet to gel. So don't set your hopes too high if you check out VooDoo Mechanics, "Dallas' newest sketch/improv company," at the West End Comedy Theatre, "Dallas' newest comedy performance venue," in its virgin show Cherry. VooDoo Mechanics features Greg Silva, Bo Nelson, Dixon Wiles, Jonny Elbow, Tyler Via, Angie Epley and Victoria Hines under the direction of Doug Ewart, resident composer for regional favorites Esther's Follies in Austin. Cherry is a revue of original works including "J.F.K. Café" and "Horny--A Love Song." It could be a flaming disaster--the opening date is Friday the 13th--or it could be the latest, greatest show to grace a stage in Dallas. There's only one way to find out: show up. Cherry opens Friday at 9 p.m. at the West End Comedy Theatre, 603 Munger, Suite 100B. Tickets are $15. Call 214-577-2537. --Jay Webb
Two to Tango
This Valentine's Day, don't take your special lady to a blow-up movie or drag her to a wrestling match. Instead, swallow your pride--and testosterone--to attend a concert titled "Tangos Among Friends." The event, which will be performed by the Arts District Chorale, is geared toward the romantics with love songs by Cole Porter and tangos by Astor Piazzolla. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, 2010 Flora St. Tickets are $30 per person or $50 per couple. Reservations are required. Call 214-979-6437. --Mary Monigold
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Solamente una Vez
This is one karaoke night that won't feature drunken sorority girls singing "Love Shack" or "Hit Me With Your Best Shot." Instead, on February 18, El Ranchito hosts a free evening of "Vicente Fernandez Karaoke," a celebration of the south-of-the-border entertainer some call "the Elvis Presley of Mexico," whose hits include "Picardia Mexicana" and "Tacos al Carbon." If that's not enough cheese for you, just try some of the authentic dinners El Ranchito serves at 610 W. Jefferson in Oak Cliff. Call 214-946-4238. --Sarah Hepola
Free at Last
There are many second chances in The Exonerated
These days stars have taken over courthouses and holding cells all over the country. Guilty or innocent, their lives are for the world to see and, except for some bad press, it could be worse. Martha still has a show on syndication. Kobe hasn't been booted from b-ball. But what about those not in the limelight whose fates are a little more grim than a 60-second sound bite about how bad their mug shot looked? Right, Nick Nolte and James Brown? Playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen interviewed 40 American former death row prisoners who were eventually found innocent and freed by the state. The couple used the interviews and individual court documents to create The Exonerated. Lyle Lovett and Kathleen Turner star in this critically acclaimed play, which comes to Fort Worth's Casa Mañana Theatre from February 17 through February 22. Lovett plays Gary Gauger, who was convicted of killing his parents in April 1993. According to the October 5, 1996, edition of the Chicago Tribune, McHenry County police said they "suspected the victims' son because he behaved strangely when the bodies were discovered." The U.S. District Court overturned his conviction in March 1996, ruling authorities never had probable cause for the arrest, let alone for subjecting him to 21 hours of intense questioning. Turner plays Sunny Jacobs, a mother convicted for participating in the 1976 killings of two police officers and who spent 17 years behind bars in Florida, five of which were on death row. Her husband, Jesse Tafero, also accused, was eventually executed in 1990 before evidence cleared them both. And these are just two out of six compelling stories in The Exonerated. Tickets range from $37 to $60. Call 817-332-2272 or visit www.casamanana.org. --Jenice Johnson