Before the actors arrived to rehearse, James Vaughan, the director of the Fifth Annual Caring Friends Follies, took on the task of explaining the show. The Follies is a running gag this year on the comically bountiful theme of Las Vegas. Although not all of the 40 acts ("There's No Business Like Show Business," "Viva Las Vegas," etc.) will be performed in drag, spectators can count on witnessing an inordinate number of fake bosoms. This year, the money raised from the Follies will benefit the Founder's Cottage, a Dallas hospice for AIDS patients in the last six months of their lives. Those are the facts; what the show will actually be like is harder to explain. "A lot of our songs seem to go with that whole prostitute-in-Las Vegas angle," Vaughan said. "We've got some really good, funny numbers that are campy but intelligent. Does that make sense?" It began when Brenda Propper showed up to practice her number, "Stand Way Back," a demented homage to Stevie Nicks' "Stand Back." "That's just what they asked me to do," Propper said innocently. She put on a long blond wig, gathered up her tambourine and propped a fan just below her chin, which she sang right into to satirize Nicks' eerie vibrato. She twirled around and shook her tambourine. During the show, she will have on platform boots and a long, witchy skirt. "We're hoping her wig gets caught in the fan," the Follies' producer, Jason Wilson, said. He was serious. "It would be really funny if she had to drag the fan offstage by her hair." Campy but intelligent. The Follies takes place at the Gypsy Tea Room, 2513 Main St., on Sunday. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; the show starts at 7 p.m. Call 214-500-4110 for tickets. --Claiborne Smith
It ain't over till the fat lady sings. But in the case of the Dallas Opera Guild, it ain't over till the fat lady eats South American cuisine, drinks some wine and shakes her hips to some Latin-inspired music. On September 28 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center, the guild opens its 2004-2005 Dallas Opera season with a shindig called Opera Olé. The festivities celebrate Carmen, the first opera of the season. Professionals such as director of production John Gage will give fun facts and info about the upcoming season, and Chilean art will be featured throughout September. Reservations are $40 per person. The Latino Cultural Center is located at 2600 Live Oak St. Call 214-443-1014. --Jenice Johnson
For all Benjamin Franklin did--publishing newspapers, discovering electricity, drafting constitutions--it's amazing no one told his story right. No one, that is, until Walter Isaacson. Isaacson's the former chairman of CNN and managing editor of Time who, in 2003, published what many believe to be the best biography of Franklin. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life might still be on The New York Times best-seller list if it weren't for the spit-drenching political extremists and the voters who love them. In any case, Isaacson will speak September 28 at the Richardson Public Library's In Person Author Lecture Series. The event starts at 8 p.m. at the Charles W. Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, in Richardson. Ticket prices begin at $15. Call 972-744-4350. --Paul Kix
Most book signings are excruciating ordeals designed to overinflate the egos of writers. Trust us--no one knows about writers with big egos better than the Dallas Observer. That said, every now and again a book signing is worthwhile. Case in point: On Thursday, Mike Looney, author of Heroes Are Hard to Find, will hold one at Professional Bank, 2101 Abrams Road, that will also include a raffle for a signed reproduction of the book's cover art, designed by former Dallas Cowboy Charlie White. The proceeds benefit the family of David Cuniff, the Lakewood resident beaten at the Gypsy Tea Room. The book signing is 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Raffle tickets are $10. Call 214-269-2114. --John Gonzalez
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