BR5-49: Take a listen to either their debut EP Live at Bob's or their recently released, self-titled debut album on Arista, and it's clear why BR5-49 have earned an ecstatic following by folks who normally pooh-pooh roots country...and have been condemned as a bunch of pretty-boy smartasses by some of the more conservative elements of Nashville, the city from which they hail. These five fabulously talented musicians combine a supremely confident mastery of western swing and honky-tonk with a lyrical sensibility that lands somewhere between Kinky Friedman and Randy Newman. "Me and Opie Down by the Duck Pond" is their ode to a fictional lost episode of The Andy Griffith Show, one in which Opie and his pal turn Otis on to an intoxicant that comes from a plant, not a still, and "Bettie, Bettie," an ode to '50s pinup Bettie Page, are just two of the dance-friendly charmers these talented musicians spin for your listening pleasure. This is a must-see show for fans of upstart country. Doors open at 8 p.m. at Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm. For ticket information call (214) 747-4422.
Spontaneous Combustion: Only an artist would have the tenacity to confront an ancient racial enmity like that between Arabs and Jews and seek a reconciliation through a public performance. Dallas-based performance artist Fred Curchack and percussionist extraordinaire Jamal Mohamed are two guys with a lot of talent and a lot of nerve. They combine both in an evening called "Spontaneous Combustion," which uses the Biblical and Koranic stories of Ishmael and Isaac as a point of departure for a multimedia excursion that poises the Jewish Curchack and the Muslim Mohamed as friends, enemies, creators, and destroyers. Although each has enormous respect for the other, both promise that the gloves are off for this one. Performances happen November 29 and 30, 10 p.m. at the Mc-Kinney Avenue Contemporary. Tickets are $7. Call (214) 953-1212.
The Sleeping Beauty: Somewhere on the trip from old Europe to colonial America, the word "pantomime" changed meanings. In America, a pantomime is a performance without words; in England, it's a traditional fairy tale with songs, dances, tricks, and, above all, interaction between audience and actors. Theatre Britain is a North Texas ensemble dedicated to promoting some of the more archaic English traditions in our area. Their production of The Sleeping Beauty hews much closer to the European fairy tale than does the version Disney has peddled here in America. Performances are Saturday at 2 p.m. through December 21 at the Plaza Theatre in Old Downtown Carrollton. For ticket information call (214) 373-8000.
Polly Maynard: The Dallas Classic Guitar Society takes a break from flying in those superstar instrumentalists from all corners of the world and focuses on an acclaimed guitarist right here in Texas. Although Polly Maynard both graduated from and taught for ten years at the University of North Texas, she has appeared on both sides of the Atlantic, having participated in master classes with the likes of Oscar Ghiglia and Eliot Fisk and performed as a soloist and member of ensembles. She performs her third show with the Dallas Classic Guitar Society as part of its DMA series. The show is at 3 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $6. Call (214) 528-3733.
Pictures With Pets: We all know the world is divided into two kinds of people--those who send out Christmas cards featuring photos of themselves and their pets, and those who think the first group are pathetic. Pet lovers have a habit of tuning out negative karma--perhaps it has to do with having friends so laid-back that they don't mind cleaning their anuses in front of others--and making their quadrupeds a part of the holiday cheer. Operation Kindness, the no-kill animal shelter in Carrollton, offers people the chance to get their pets photographed with Santa Claus and make a donation to the organization. Santa appears for pictures November 30 and December 7 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Warehouse Photographic and Lab, 2225 Beltline at Kelly, Carrollton. Cost is $5 for a professional Polaroid mounted in a holiday folder. Call (972) 418-0938.
The Littlest Angel: As part of a trio of holiday performances, Theatre Three has tapped a nationally lauded puppetmaster who has worked with Jim Henson and Sid and Marty Kroft to offer Dallas audiences his original Christmas fantasy. The Littlest Angel is the creation of Pady Blackwood, the official stringpuller for Howdy Doody since the mid-'70s. He turns to the sacred with this tale of a trouble-making angel who must learn to tone down his hijinks for heaven--until the Christ child locates the pure heart that everyone else has ignored. Performances are Saturday, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m. through December 28 at Theatre Too, downstairs at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh in the Quadrangle. Tickets are $5-$6. Call 871-3300.
Don Perlimplin and Belisa In Her Garden: You say The Littlest Angel didn't quite quench your thirst for professional puppetry? A more adult spectacle is hosted by Teatro Dallas. The legendary Spanish scribe Federico Garcia Lorca wrote poems of amazingly sensual heartiness, invoking taste, smell, and touch as well as sight in his pieces. As a playwright, Lorca was just as determined to utilize every medium of expression offered by the stage, including masks and pupppetry. Teatro Dallas invited the Puppet Theater of Juan Jose Barreiro from Mexico to perform as part of its 4th International Theater Festival; the chosen play was Lorca's Don Perlimplin and Belisa In Her Garden, a tale of tragic love the author originally envisioned as a puppet spectacle. Performances happen November 29 and 30 at 8:15 p.m. at Teatro Dallas, 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $15. Call (214) 741-1135.
Great American Train Show: Neophytes who wander into the Great American Train and Model Railroading Show with no concept of what an HO scale is might feel intimidated at first, but unless you've taken a room away from a spouse or child and devoted it to the obsessive collecting of tiny transport vehicles, it's not really necessary for you to be down with the lingo. The Great American Train and Model Railroading Show caters to mavens and the merely curious alike, with more than 10,000 model trains on display and for sale. The show runs November 30 and December 1, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Fort Worth-Tarrant County Convention Center, 1111 Houston St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $5 for adults; free for kids under 12 with an adult . Call (630) 782-4621.
Deion's Superstar Weekend: It's about time "Neon" Deion and a few of his overpaid buddies share a little bit of that obscene wealth they've acquired through their ability to catch, throw, and carry balls. Sanders and a host of his Cowboys teammates (including Emmitt Smith, Erik Williams, and Leon Lett), as well as professional athletes and celebrities outside the football field, have chosen the busiest shopping weekend of the year to host their "World's Largest Players and Fans Party," which benefits a variety of local charities. There'll be free photo and autograph sessions with the guys, fantasy football competitions, a football toss-off, a flickball tournament, an interactive midway, and more. Events happen all day November 29-December 1 at the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin. Tickets are $10.50-$12.50. Call (214) 373-8000.
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Holiday 1996: An International Festival of Trees: In the spirit of charity and over-decoration that marks the Yuletide season, the Irving Arts Center presents the fourth in a series of exhibitions that benefits from both. Holiday Exhibition 1996: An International Festival of Trees features trees from 20 different nonprofit and service organizations in Irving, each festooned in a style that's appropriate for the organization and that reflects a different cultural sensibility. The show runs November 30-January 2 at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving. It's free. Call (972) 252-7558 for info.
A Christmas Carol: As we lurch toward that annual orgy of spending, eating, and disappointment, get ready for an onslaught of Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers, as one company after another attempts to make these stories fresh and interesting again--or refuses to make them fresh and interesting again, which in this era of rampant "restagings," is something of a radical act. Dallas Theater Center rakes in money every year with its production of A Christmas Carol, but this year is importing a distinguished, Obie Award-winning stage actor to play Scrooge. Art film fans may remember Tom McGowan for his terrific performance as Alexander Woolcott in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle; TV nuts will recognize him from a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. DTC's got him for a one-month run. Performances are Tuesday-Sunday (with an additional show December 23) through December 24 at the Arts District Theater, 2401 Flora. Tickets are $14-$35. Call (214) 522-TIXX.
Tattoo Girl: With the closing of its recent production of The Deatherians, The Undermain Theater has a tough act to follow--in terms of quality of performances and the number of creative ways in which the "F" word is used. The troupe wraps up 1996 with a special short run of a play they've been working on with students from the theater arts department at the University of Texas at Dallas. Tattoo Girl is an adaptation by Naomi Iizuka of Donald Barthelme's Perpetua, which looks at a contemporary American family through the eyes of one earnest, restless, slightly screwed-up member. Performances run December 3-5 at 8 p.m. and December 6 at 9:30 p.m. at the University Theatre of the University of Texas at Dallas, Floyd and Campbell, Richardson. Tickets are $5. Call (214) 747-5515.
Photographs of the Mexican Revolution: It's never easy for an outsider to document a country's internal strife, because from an expatriate's perspective the two sides in conflict seem to feed into each other, the violence seems to snowball, and the reasons for the revolution become less clear as it grows more vicious. In the case of the Mexican revolutionary period of 1910-1930, the world can be helped to understand by the presence of Augustin Victor Casasola, who lived and worked in war-torn Mexico and is widely considered the most important chronicler of that era. When Casasola died, his son, Gustavo Casasola Zapata, continued the legacy by organizing his father's works and shooting new material of his own. Photographs of the Mexican Revolution features images by both men. The show runs through January 19, 1997, on the 7th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young St. It's free. Call (214) 670-1400.