After School's in session
When ABC's After School Specials went off the air in 1988, I was crushed. The shows were riveting: What calamitous, life-shattering disaster would bend the plot this time? And which celebrity would I see pulling bong hits or snorting angel dust and leaping out a second-story window? The show's shtick was the simplicity of the cautionary, moralistic messages. Good boys and girls are one beer/French kiss/line of blow/missed tutoring session/white lie away from pregnancy/flunking high school/gonorrhea/a psychiatric ward. The Dallas Children's Theater is producing a Young Adults Festival this month that promises all the super-charged drama of an after-school special but with perhaps a hint more sophistication in the message. They actually aim to avoid pat conclusions. The play The Wrestling Season spins the tale of Matt and Luke, two high school wrestlers teased mercilessly for the nature of their relationship outside the ring. To prove his heterosexuality, Matt ends up assaulting an "easy girl" while Luke is a victim of violence himself. A post-performance forum will further discuss the issues brought up by the play. The show runs May 6 through May 22 on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $13 to $15. Three one-hour readings will explore "issues for contemporary teen audiences." Everyday Heroes, about teen brothers caught in a lie, runs at 7:30 p.m. May 11. The Music Lessons, about Bosnian music teachers in America, runs at 7:30 p.m. May 17 and May 18. After Juliet, which takes up where Romeo and Juliet leaves off, is performed at 7:30 p.m. May 25 and May 26. A pass for all three readings is $10. All performances are at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman St. Call 214-740-0051 or visit www.dct.org. --Leah Shafer
Frankly, I've given up on bashing American Idol. At least in its televised form, anyway. Ratings confirm that adding two Candlebox wannabes to the singing cast was enough to keep viewers interested for four seasons, so bashing the weekly poop, er, pop music soufflé appears to be a losing battle. What disturbs me, though, is that people still want to see the losers they voted against in the show's annual participant-ribbon concert tour. Seriously, please don't go to North East Mall, 1101 Melbourne St., Hurst, on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to watch season-four losers Nikko Smith and Nadia Turner, along with season-three flower-lover Jasmine Trias, sing and answer questions. Entry is free, but the show will cost you your dignity and soul. Call 817-595-4471. --Sam Machkovech
Even if you're not a Broadway expert, chances are you've heard and enjoyed a Stephen Sondheim song. And if you are a Broadway expert, you know that seeing all of Sondheim's work at once would be overwhelming. Fortunately, Putting It Together appeals to all levels of Sondheim fans. The musical takes songs from shows such as Dick Tracy, Gypsy and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and presents them in a new context. Putting It Together runs from May 5 through June 11 at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St., in the Quadrangle. The musical's official opening is at 7:30 p.m. May 9. Admission is $10 to $35. Call 214-871-3300 or visit www.theatre3dallas.com. --Stephanie Durham
Dallas, In Step
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Organizers of the Folklorico Festival this weekend are predicting a multiethnic crowd at the event--with startling specificity. The flier boasts that the expected crowd of 20,000 for the three-day event will be 43 percent Latino, 40 percent white, 15 percent African-American and 2 percent Asian. It's almost worth going just to see if they're right (or going disguised as an Eskimo to see if they let you in). Of course, if you're into traditional Mexican dance, it's worth going regardless. Dance troupes and bands from across Mexico and Texas will gather at the Latino Cultural Center to celebrate their heritage. Foremost among them is the event co-host, the Dallas-based Ollimpaxqui Ballet Company, a group that has performed for President George W. Bush at the White House (feel free to hazard a guess as to the ethnic makeup of that audience). Admission is free. The fest is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Latino Cultural Center, 2600 Live Oak St. Call 214-274-6733. --Rick Kennedy
The star of Sound Stage may be the 17-foot-tall rolling A-Frame at center stage. Paul Dresher, the man behind this machine and the creator of Sound Stage, describes this enormous contraption as an instrument, "whose every surface and material produces sound...a childhood home with an attic full of memories; a set of giant harps plucked by the swinging pendulums; a drum set for all five performers." In Sound Stage, Dresher's musical concepts are paired with witty lyrics by Rinde Eckert, the writer and singer, and Zeitgeist, the instrumental and dramatic ensemble, performs a score intended to astonish, amuse and enchant adults and children. Dresher and Zeitgeist appear at Southern Methodist University's McFarlin Auditorium to perform Sound Stage, a revolutionary exploration of music and sound, which will conclude the 2004-2005 season of TITAS. The performance will be at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, from $12 to $55, are available at the TITAS box office by calling 214-528-5576 or online at www.titas.org. --Jim Schutze