It's not a police siren; it's just Michael Winslow
Isaac Newton was hit by a falling apple. Ben Franklin suffered a lightning strike while holding a kite. I saw Michael Winslow on Sally Jessy Raphael. As a young'un, I'd heard Winslow's zillions of sound effects as Larvell Jones in the Police Academy series, and I was nerdy enough to frequently quote his bit part in Spaceballs, but on an early-'90s summer day, he did something that inspired me. The talk show gathered all walks of has-been '80s celebs for public embarrassment, but Winslow wouldn't go quietly. Rather than appease the crowd with quick, silly sound effects, Winslow re-created Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" from Woodstock using only his super-sized vocal cords. From that day forward, I knew what I wanted to be: a beat-box superstar. In spite of years of practice, I never got very good at re-creating sound effects with my voice, though I made an ass of myself every day while practicing in school hallways. But I never forgot Winslow's daytime appearance; how does he do that? If I purse my lips a bit, maybe I can re-create the guitar fuzz, or perhaps I can hold my mouth closer to the mike to impersonate the roaring crowd. The whole thing still drives me batty, and anyone else who is as obsessive about beat-box culture will want to see Winslow perform live at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Improvisation, 4980 Belt Line Road. Winslow's one-man variety show combines memorable bits from Police Academy with plenty of new material. Don't be afraid to shout a request for "Star Spangled Banner." Tickets are $17 and $20. Call 972-404-8501. --Sam Machkovech
On the Move
The old saying goes "Write what you know." Apparently, "dance what you know" stands as well, which explains the diversity within Complexions, the troupe spear-headed by dance partners (and life partners) Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. The mission is to throw artists of all types into the group and see what happens--explosive chemistry, for better or worse. Complexions combines classically trained ballet with cutting-edge modern and sultry jazz in compositions scored by musicians as equally diverse, from Prince to Prokofiev to Portishead. They pay homage to the classics while constantly moving forward. TITAS presents Complexions at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at McFarlin Auditorium, 6400 Hillcrest Ave. on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $12 to $55. Call TITAS at 214-528-5576. --Shannon Sutlief
Cleopatra was quite the twinkle toes in the political arena, seducing both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, ruling Egypt while courting Rome. Well, until she killed herself, that is. Check out an equally nimble Cleopatra (with a much more beautiful and dramatic death, we're sure) when the Texas Ballet Theater closes its 2004-2005 season with the Dallas production of Ben Stevenson's Cleopatra. Stevenson, the ballet's artistic director, led three major ballet companies in creating this work, with music by Rimsky-Korsakov and costumes by Judanna Lynn. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave. Tickets are $16 to $95. Call 1-877-212-4280. --Shannon Sutlief
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Uptown Players may have a largely gay repertoire, but there'll be no Andrew Lloyd Webber, thank you very much. The group is on a mission, and a creepy masked composer and dancing cats in spandex are not part of it. They're into fearlessly queer theater that entertains, educates and attracts a broad audience. Mambo Italiano opens Friday and hits that trifecta with the comedy about Angelo and Nino, a couple in Montreal who face their families' scrutiny when Angelo (John de los Santos) comes out during dinner and introduces his boyfriend Nino (Butch Anderson). Their none-too-pleased Canadian-Italian families scheme to turn the men to heterosexuality, but the plan creates an unexpected twist that threatens the men's relationship. Mambo Italiano plays at the Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 Stemmons Freeway, at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from April 29 through May 21 (no shows May 18 through May 20), plus a finale at 7 p.m. May 22. Tickets are $22 to $25. Call 214-219-2718 or visit www.uptownplayers.com. --Leah Shafer
A cheeky guy might come up with some kind of stream-of-consciousness, thinking-outside-the-box pastiche of words to put here to celebrate Dallas Poetry Slam's 11th annual Grand Slam Poetry competition. Unfortunately, we're virtually devoid of soul and excel only at bootlegged dirty haiku--which is more than enough reason you're reading about Sunday evening's event here rather than seeing our clumsy attempt at coffeehouse word-slinging destroyed by talented, seasoned slam poets. This Liquid Lounge function features participants of weekly local events (held at the Art Bar inside Club Clearview) bending the normal confines of the ancient art, bringing it to life and putting pageantry into poetry while sounding off for the right to represent Dallas in the national competition this summer, so expect nothing but the top-shelf stuff...be it political, comical, quasi-musical or preferably all of the above. The Liquid Lounge is at 2800 Main St. Call 972-841-1738 or visit www.dallaspoetryslam.org. --Matt Hursh