We're not big on crying. For one, it's not becoming. Swollen eyelids and a snotty nose? No thanks. But there was a time when tears came more easily for us. Say, 1989 or so, when we were 13 and a whole lot less jaded, and when Steel Magnolias was released in theaters. The movie, based on Robert Harling's tear-jerking semi-autobiographical play, left us blubbering like an idiot--in front of people, no less. And it was full-on, can't-catch-your-breath, wipe-your-nose-on-your-sleeve sobbing. Which is why, even though we encourage you to go, we will be avoiding Contemporary Theatre of Dallas' production of Steel Magnolias. We just can't risk that embarrassment again. But for you non-blubberers out there, starting August 20 and continuing through September 19, CTD will transport audiences to Chinquapin, Louisiana, where Ouiser, Clairee, M'Lynn and the others gather at Truvy's beauty salon for new 'dos and juicy gossip. We can't make any promises, but we bet you'll love it more than your luggage. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. There is no matinee August 22. Tickets are $19. Call CTD, 5601 Sears St., at 214-828-0094. --Rhonda Reinhart
Go to Christopher Cross' official Web site--no, seriously, go there now--and you're greeted by what remains his signature song all these years later, "Sailing," which takes me away to every single bar mitzvah dance I ever attended in the early 1980s. It's one of those damned songs that if you heard it once, you needed to hear it a thousand times; ashamedly I still recall every blasted word, and accompanying every hackneyed syllable is the choking memory of trying to get Amy Sanders on the dance floor and always hoping she wouldn't notice how I was desperately trying to keep my distance, ya know, because. Cross, who apparently had some other hits the titles to which I can't recall at the moment, will play a benefit from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson with proceeds going to the Science Place in Fair Park. For $85 you can see the show and attend a champagne reception at 6:15 p.m. For $10,000 you can get your picture taken with Chris Cross and take 20 of your nearest and dearest to a meet-and-greet. I figured at this point Cross oughta pay me to shake his hand, but it's for a good cause. And memories like the ones he provided me, and you (admit it), are priceless. Call 214-428-5555. --Robert Wilonsky
Near and Dearly
Chock-full of life lessons, the play Dearly Departed teaches us about hillbilly finances, junk-food binges and the religious fervor that can be brought on by Dad's unexpected, Corn Flake-induced demise. Perhaps it should have been called The Requiem of Jed Clampett. Join the Turpin clan at Runway Theatre, 215 N. Dooley St. in Grapevine, from August 20 through September 5 and give your neck a rosier hue. The dysfunctional family fun takes place at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Call 817-488-4842 or visit www.runwaytheatre.com. --Mary Monigold
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If you're looking for a dark, angry comedic voice to speak for the intensely emotional issues-laden portion of the population, look no further than Richard Lewis. His freewheeling style has a sense of spontaneity and randomness, but with the more self-deprecating vibe of a therapy veteran who's spent a little too much time at the end of his dysfunctional rope. He hits the stage of the 21-and-up-only Improv in Addison at 4980 Belt Line Road from August 19 through August 22. Tickets are $18 to $20. Call 972-404-8501. --Mary Monigold
Stomp, Drop and Roll with Tap Dogs Rebooted
Ah, the dog days of summer. You work like a dog, come home dog-tired, slip off your Hush Puppies and plop your aching dogs up on the coffee table. Your dog-faced spouse, who never could let sleeping dogs lie, barks at you to stop it. Whoever said, "It's a dog's life," must've meant real dogs. Keeping real dogs is too much trouble, unless you're fattening one up for a holiday feast. You do need to keep your feet, however; otherwise, how could you dance? When you dance, especially on one of these dog-day afternoons, it helps you forget your dog-eat-dog existence. Australian Dein Perry had a life like yours, wishing he were in show biz but settling for the drudgery of industrial machinist work until opportunity knocked. Perry is the brains behind Tap Dogs, a group of friends and work-world dropouts who burst on stages around the world wearing Blundstone boots and skimpy yet macho costumes. Perry has reconfigured his troupe with the help of designer/director Nigel Triffitt and composer Andrew Wilkie and added sassy girl stompers for Tap Dogs Rebooted, a high-energy dance performance a bit more sophisticated than Stomp but less polished than Savion Glover's smooth groove. Dallas Summer Musicals is presenting Tap Dogs Rebooted at the Music Hall at Fair Park as a one-week subscriber's special from August 24 through August 29. There's an international cast for this North American tour, which follows a long, critically acclaimed run at London's Sadler's Wells theater. Evening performances start at 8, but their dog-day matinees are at 2 p.m. August 28 and August 29. Single tickets ($11 to $75) are available by phone at 214-631-ARTS or online at www.ticketmaster.com. --Annabelle Massey Helber