Wet Willie Loves Pyro: Dallas-based actor-writer-poet Dalton James offered local audiences a rich, thoroughly lived-in performance earlier this year in Open Stage's production of Nicky Silver's jet-black family comedy Fat Men in Skirts. James lured us through his funny-scary transformation from a timid, Katharine Hepburn-obsessed mama's boy to a dead-baby eating, ferociously angry, Katharine Hepburn-obsessed mama's boy. It was a smashing act of comic devolution, more impressive because James never had to take a bite out of the scenery to unnerve us. He returns to the Dallas stage for another in a series of one-man performances. Wet Willie Loves Pyro promises ticket buyers "a fairy tale romance to rival that of Zeus and Ganymede," but the performance is thoroughly contemporary in its concerns. Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. through December 14 at Swiss Avenue Theater, 2700 Swiss Avenue. Tickets are $10. Call (214) 522-9646.
The Moveable Feast: The Dallas Poets Community has shelved its regular Third Thursday reading at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary for a new series of invitational poetry gatherings they've called "The Moveable Feast." The word "feast" is appropriate when you look at the first performance, with offerings more eclectic than a Pillsbury Bakeoff. Joe Ahearn and Brian Clements of Rancho Loco Press; Anita Barnard and Michelle Rhea of the anthology Blood Offerings; spoken word queen C.J. Critt, sans her Angry Girl Sextet; Jeff Davis from the international literary forum WordSpace; nationally acclaimed Isabel Nathaniel; and slam veteran/neo-beatster Clebo Rainey are all scheduled to bend your ear and the English language. The show happens at 8 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Donations are gratefully appreciated. Call (214) 953-1212.
Deck the Walls: In the spirit of gift giving that marks this holiday season, Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery presents a show of national and international photography assembled for no other reason than this: The pictures are cool and would make unique presents--for those, of course, who can afford to tread where collectors rule. Deck the Walls features a stocking stuffed with images by photographers you don't normally associate with holiday themes--Diane Arbus; her former photo instructor Lissette Model, who installed in Arbus a love of the form of crippled or otherwise misshapen people; Karl Blossfeldt, who photographed plant studies in highly unusual styles; and cowboy snapper Bank Langmore. The show opens with a reception December 6, 6-9 p.m. at 3115 Routh St. Call (214) 969-1852.
Melody AFI Bell: The Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House was named for the late Dallas city councilwoman, NAACP activist, and tireless promoter for the cause of desegregation in rural Texas. Upon her death in 1985, she willed her home to the city of Dallas with the stipulation that it be used to further the causes she fought for in her lifetime. This year marks the debut of The Juanita J. Craft Storytelling Festival, held in the Civil Rights House. Dallas public schoolteacher turned insatiable griot (that's an African storyteller) Melody AFI Bell is the featured performer in a series of shows that will distinguish the African tradition of communication. Performances are December 6, 11, 13, 17, and 19 at 10 a.m. at the Juanita J. Craft Civil Rights House, 2618 Warren Avenue. It's free. Call 670-8637.
Seven Brothers Meet Dracula: Clyde Gentry III of the Plano-based fanzine Hong Kong Film Connection is determined to, as he describes it, "put the midnight back in midnight movies." His first in a planned series of screenings in conjunction with Bizarro World is the 1974 kung fu horror classic Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, starring action movie never-was David Chiang and Peter Cushing, the gentleman character actor who brought a grave class to every film in which he acted--including Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, originally titled Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Gentry promises high-octane fight scenes and lots of unnecessary nudity. Screenings happen December 6 and 7 at 12:30 a.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N Central Expressway. Tickets are $5. Call (214) 855-6286.
Andrea Harris-Salisbury: Dancer and choreographer Andrea Harris-Salisbury keeps busy with her membership in Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth and as artistic director of Ampersand Dance Theatre, but not so busy that she won't happily take on a third presentation to showcase her original choreography, created during her studies at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in New York City. She and a host of other dancers and choreographers have created a series of six duets, solos, and ensemble performances that explore some of history's most famous (and, in some cases, infamous) women. From Georgia O'Keeffe's labial imagery to Jezebel's infidelities and novelist Jeanette Winterson's heart-piercing novels, a veritable monster truck rally of potent womanliness is slated for your pleasure. Performances happen December 7 at 8 p.m. and December 8 at 2 p.m. at the University Theatre of Texas Christian University, Cantey and University, Fort Worth. The shows are free. Call (817) 926-7330.
Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra: Given the generally clumsy, lame, and hostile decrees passed by Congress during the last few administrations, it's remarkable to discover that just six years ago, that battle-scarred body recognized a decidedly un-populist American music form. Congress passed an appropriation to create the 22-member Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the orchestra-in-residence at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. In conjunction with its ongoing exhibit Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington, The African-American Museum has nabbed the SJMO for a Dallas performance. The show happens at 8 p.m. at Caruth Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $25. Call (214) 565-9026.
Sakura, the Bandit Princess: Teatro Dallas makes a detour from the overwhelmingly Latino flavor of its 4th International Theater Festival by importing a critical and box office hit that explores the Japanese theatrical arts of Kabuki, noh, rakugo, and bunraku. Sakura, the Bandit Princess is a one-woman show by Hawaiian-born actress Kati Kuroda that follows a Japanese woman's rise from peasant to princess. Kuroda plays nine different people in this searing saga from 11th century Japan, and impressed New York audiences so much that Sakura was paired as a double with Laurence Fishburne's Riff Raff on the main stage of the Circle Rep Theater. Performances are December 6 and 7 at 8:15 p.m. at 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $15. Call (214) 741-1135.
Frances Pearson: AIDS services of Dallas has organized a Sunday concert recital highlighted by solo piano pieces as well as centuries-old Italian songs and tunes by Greig, Schumann, and Brahms. Lending their talents to this cornucopia of exotic classical music are soprano Frances Pearson, a veteran of the Opera Guild of San Antonio, and pianist Gioacchino Longobardi, who founded and was chosen chief conductor of Salzburg's Chamber Orchestra in Austria. The show happens at 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St. Call (214) 670-7838.
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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: Although we can't vouch first-hand, friends who've taken offspring, younger siblings, cousins, etc. to the Dallas Children's Theater's annual production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever insist it's a sure-fire crowd pleaser for the ankle-biting set. As anyone who's ever savored Dr. Seuss or Roald Dahl can tell you, the best moral lessons are often imparted to kids by depicting hilarious examples of the worst possible behavior. Barbara Robinson's book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and its stage adaptation looks at a church pageant hijacked by the Herdmans, the brattiest group of kids this side of a Willie Wonka tour. Performances happen Friday, 7:30p.m.; Saturday, 1:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. through December 22 at El Centro College Theater, Main and Market near the West End in downtown Dallas. Tickets are $9-$11. Call (214) 978-0110.
Duncan McLean: You might think the acclaimed Scottish novelist Duncan McLean would've titled his upcoming non-fiction book Stranger in a Strange Land; it chronicles the three months McLean spent in Texas tracking down the birthplace and old stomping ground of Western swing legend Bob Wills. As it is, the book, to be published in Scotland next year, will be called Lone Star Swing: In Search of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. McLean is considered the leading literary light in a renaissance of Scottish letters. He's also a fanatical Bob Wills fan. WordSpace invited McLean to read from his unpublished book along with live musical accompaniment by a 10-piece Western swing band. The performance happens at 7 p.m. at the Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm. Tickets are $6. Call 8(214) 21-9671.
Rejoice! Angels have lost a lot of their complexity (dare we say humanity?) in the centuries-long stroll from ancient Hebrew texts to subjects of best-selling non-fiction by New Age hacks. Angels were jealous, sad, belligerent, even violent creatures as originally envisioned by the writers of Judeo-Christian mythology, in many cases burdened with their responsibility as liaison between God and humankind. The Biblical Arts Center was interested strictly in the benevolent side of angels, emissaries of mercy and good tidings, when it asked Dallas and Fort Worth school children to illustrate Luke 2:9-11 from the Bible, otherwise known as the verse Linus reads to a darkened, empty auditorium in A Charlie Brown Christmas. The results are assembled in a show called Rejoice! Although awards have already been distributed by the center, voters can cast their ballot for favorite picture for a People's Choice Award to be given after the show closes. The show runs through January 5 at 7500 Park Lane. It's free. Call (214) 691-4661.
File: When people think of Cajun music, they're as likely to get the spicy taste of seafood gumbo in their mouth as hear the goodtime sounds of an accordion in their ears. You can go ahead and savor the imaginary crackle of cayenne pepper on your tongue when you imagine the music of File, but forget the accordion. This five-man outfit from Lafayette, Louisiana does have some accordion, thanks to vocalist Ward Lormand, but the key to its unique brew is a piano from David Egan pushed all the way to the front of the mix. Think The Neville Brothers with a purist strain, and you'll get some sense of the rolling, rocking instrumentation offered by these veteran musicians. The show happens at 8 p.m. at Poor David's Pub, 1924 Greenville. Tickets are $8. Call (214) 821-9891.