Two musicians tickle the ivories and change their lives
Every time we see a new child prodigy on 60 Minutes, we're forced to ask the question: Is it better to burn out or fade away? Because, undoubtedly, one of those is the fate of 95 percent of prodigies (a figure we just made up). While it's doubleplus fun to haul around your violin and your childish ego at age 8, telling everyone you went to Juilliard rather than junior high doesn't win you many admirers at age 21. Reaching that age and realizing you have no friends but your music teacher and no social skills to speak of has to be a bummer. At that delicate crossroads, prodigies may have a nervous breakdown or simply melt into a non-musical life. Take your pick, little geniuses. Or, like Stephen Hoffman, the protagonist of Jon Marans' Old Wicked Songs, you may go in search of an environment to feed and revive your waning passion. Hoffman, played by Ashley Wood, is a 25-year-old prodigious pianist who has not performed in a year when he decides to go to Vienna to study with a Professor Schiller in hopes of finding inspiration. To his dismay, Schiller sends the conceited young pianist to study as an accompanist and a singer with Professor Josef Mashkan (Jac Alder), who challenges Hoffman's style--technically superb but emotionally superficial. Can Hoffman, a Jew, and Mashkan, a master musician possibly concealing an anti-Semitic past, bond over Robert Schumann's "Dichterliebe"? Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St., demonstrates the power of Old Wicked Songs from May 12 through May 22. Tickets are $25 Thursday and Friday and $30 Saturday and Sunday. Call 214-871-3300. --Michelle Martinez
Dave Attell's Comedy Central show Insomniac isn't exactly riveting television. Let's face it--if you're not drinking, most bars just aren't that interesting, and the scruffy, bleary Attell is no Brooke Burke. Even he has to get drunk to make it through to the end of an episode. One bright spot, however, is that Insomniac usually kicks off with a snippet of Attell's boozy, foul-mouthed stand-up routine. When Attell is free to rip on the people he has to make nice with on the rest of the show, he can be pretty hilarious. Attell brings his act to Dallas on Sunday at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.) at the Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. Tickets are $35.50 and are available at Ticketmaster or by calling 972-647-5700. --Rick Kennedy
Forget Dr. Phil
Did we really need puppetry and some sizzling dance numbers to tell us that our relationships are, as Bootstraps Comedy Theater puts it, "F'd up"? Hardly, but it's sure better to watch someone else's emotional train wreck for a change. Aside from melodrama, there are plenty of titters, titillation and, well, we'll stop there in Tab A, Slot B: A New-Age Sexiology playing at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. The story follows Man (playwright Matt Lyle) and Woman (Julie Reinagel) from first date to marriage, in an episodic combo of theater, music and puppetry-gone-wild served up in what this comedy troupe has dubbed FAUX (yes, that's a trademark symbol they want here) Performance Art. OK, whatever that means, just bring on the leggy dancers. Tab A, Slot B: A New-Age Sexiology runs May 12 through May 28 at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $5 to $15. Visit www.bootstrapscomedy.com. --Christopher Wynn
You're Gonna Flip
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Flip Orley's gotten a lot of love from the Dallas Observer. (Seriously, just do an archive search.) And by "love," we mean "press." So what more can we say? He's a hypnotist, he's a comedian, he's a self-help swami. Pretty much the ideal man. He can tap into your subconscious, make you laugh and also help you quit those nasty habits. Personally, we're afraid of hypnotists. Have you never seen the Kevin Bacon vehicle Stir of Echoes? Well, you should. 'Cause one little hypnosis session for the Bacon leads to all sorts of nefarious doings. If you're not a scaredy cat, check out Orley's shows at the Addison Improv, 4980 Belt Line Road, from May 18 through May 22 and May 25 through May 29. Show times are 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Fridays; 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15 to $18. Call 972-404-8501. --Rhonda Reinhart
Combining visual art with sound isn't a new idea--think music videos or much further back to Dadaist Marcel Duchamp. So why is ambient rock band Halls of the Machine getting on the, er, bandwagon with art installation Music Hangs on the Walls? The group members are overtly plugging their re-released album of 2001, Atmosheres for Lovers and Sleepers, but they're easily forgiven for the seductiveness and magnetism of their music. By jamming against an art backdrop, the band is seeking to fuse the art world with the live music scene, and while IR Gallery, 830 Exposition Ave., is a slick venue, the art exhibit (a painting by Don Graff, guitarist Mike Graff's deceased father, whose work inspired the Halls of the Machine project, and undisclosed works by members of the band) will merely be a curiosity. The performances are Saturday and Sunday from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Call 469-951-7323 or visit www.irgallery.com. --Emily Jacobs