Events for the week
TubaChristmas Concerts and the Dallas Bach Society: The tuba has as long and esteemed a history as most of the other brass instruments--but somehow, all that goes down the tubes when you hear one in its natural habitat. Not to say that the tuba is an unworthy or ridiculous instrument, but it makes ridiculous sounds. It's the Fatty Arbuckle of the brass section--which is not to say it's been implicated in a damaging arrest on morals charges, but it's a willful and even enthusiastic object of aural comedy, honking and bleating and bellowing until the rest of the brass section becomes second bananas. The annual TubaChristmas concerts in Dallas and Fort Worth are bound to make you hear some of the most well-trod holiday chestnuts in a new way, put a smile on your mall-weary face, and surprise you with the range and sounds possible from a family of instruments--Sousaphones, baritones, and euphoniums--generally lumped together because of their particular suitedness to orchestral clowning. More than a hundred instruments are expected to converge at each site, and if the proceedings sound a bit spontaneous, that's because practice takes place shortly before. The Fort Worth TubaChristmas Concert happens December 22 at noon in the General Worth Square of downtown Fort Worth. For information call (817) 464-3196. The Dallas TubaChristmas Concert takes place at December 23 noon in Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. Both are free. If you're interested in participating, call (817) 464-3196. For a somewhat more somber, traditional--not to mention expensive--holiday musical experience, the Dallas Bach Society presents its full orchestra and choir performing Handel's spine-tingling Messiah. The concert kicks off at 8 pm in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora in the Arts District. Tickets are $15-$35. Call 520-2787.
It Ain't Grease, It's Dixie Peach: Nostalgia is a big sell, even nostalgia recycled to the point where it's past kitsch, through camp, and into a tinsel-heavy time warp of its own--witness the bucks that the new Broadway reinterpretation ("revamp" is probably a better word, with emphasis added to the last syllable) of Grease has managed to wring once again from the pockets of folks who want to be dragged to a kinder, gentler time, even if that time never existed. Fort Worth's Jubilee Theatre weighs in with its own entry for the genre, an original and perennial favorite entitled It Ain't Grease, It's Dixie Peach by artistic director Rudy Eastman and music director Joe Rogers. Although this rock 'n' roll revue, set at the Sammy Davis Jr. Senior High School and featuring the Suthuhn sounds of the fictitious Dixie Peach Radio Hour, is designed for everybody, it might help if you had some familiarity with the 1950s other than through sitcoms and old movies. It might also help to be African-American, since the joys and frustrations peculiar to that community in that period of history form the background of this piece. On second thought, throw all those considerations out the window and just come to enjoy. It Ain't Grease, It's Dixie Peach runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:15 pm, with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:15 pm through January 17. There are no performances on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Tickets are $8-$14. The Jubilee Theatre is located at 506 Main in Fort Worth. For information call (817) 338-4411.
Oshkosh Novena: While most of us who view the Christmas holiday from some vaguely Christian perspective often wind up paying more attention to the frills than the message, a huge, involved history--really more like a universe--of rituals and traditions is often ignored. Even if you're defiantly agnostic or atheistic, the insight into human nature that Christian doctrine provides is fascinating. If you want to witness something really unusual but still thoroughly grounded in the pantheon of Christ, his disciples, and his Catholic emissaries on Earth--the saints--attend "Oshkosh Novena," a performance art piece by former Dallas musician-artist Bob Price (he was a long-time member of the improvisational jazz troupe BL Lacerta). He and fellow artist Nancy Coscione come to Dallas from their Nebraska homes to perform one piece of their nine-part series that reimagines the Catholic practice of honoring saints with nine-day festivals. The fourth day is honored here, combining ecological knowledge with video, slides, photos, journal writing, movement, and improvisational talk. It should be interesting, to say the least, and nonbelievers shouldn't be alienated by the Christian aspects. Price describes the work as "a very P.C., postmodern ritual celebrating our junk in lieu of nature." The performance happens at 8 pm at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $2-$5. 953-1MAC.
Kumar's Birthday Bash: He's a slightly mysterious figure even to those many who've made the Cosmic Cup, the Oak Lawn Indian cafe-performance space-philosophical mecca, their hang-out of choice. If you've never checked out the Cup, you must do so, but you'll probably be wondering who is that handsome young Indian gentleman juggling and balancing in all those black-and-white performance photos that adorn the walls. He is Kumar the Magnificent, father of Cosmic Cup owner-operator Deepak Pallana, and his particular brand of timeless energy has insinuated itself through the place since the doors first opened. Kumar is a trained yoga master with distinctly vaudevillian instincts he hasn't been able to shed, although he officially retired from the stage many, many years ago. A world traveler in circus-like revues, an occasional Ed Sullivan guest, and a darned good cook (when he pads among the tables with a saucer full of some spicy new concoction, it's best not to refuse his offer of a free taste test), he still teaches yoga and occasionally takes the Cup's stage, most memorably when Little Jack Melody ambles through. And he's just wrapped the local shoot of Bottle Rocket, a Columbia Pictures release starring James Caan, in which what began as a bit part for Kumar turned into a meaty supporting turn as a safecracker. The Cosmic Cup celebrates Kumar the Magnificent's 76th birthday with a night of live music, poetry readings, and a few surprises. The festivities kick off at 9 pm at the Cosmic Cup, 2912 Oak Lawn. Admission is free. For more information call 521-6157.
Brave Combo: Speaking of weird and wonderful ways to approach the upcoming holiday weekend, Denton-based masters of the world pulse Brave Combo present their annual, packed-to-the-rafters holiday show, featuring music off their 1992 yuletide album It's Christmas, Man. The boys only warm their chestnuts on an open fire one concert a year (and even then, they keep a nervous eye on the door to make sure the cops don't bust them for public lewdness), so that means if you miss this performance, you'll have to wait another 12 months to hear the samba version of "O, Christmas Tree" and numerous other classics and originals, reenergized, of course, with the supremely danceable international grooves they've rendered permanently hip. Brave Combo promises to devote equal time to Hanukkah rhythms and melodies, which means those in the Jewish community who are sick to death of hearing about Christ and Santa Claus can sample some musical traditions more appropriate to their festivities (those of us who can swear we've never heard a word of Yiddish drop out of Carl Finch's mouth before will be in for a treat as well). They're calling their Dada performance "A Brave Combo Christmas Pageant," so expect a few surprises of the audience-participation variety. Brave Combo performs at 9 pm at Club Dada, 2720 Elm. For more information call 744-DADA.
Trees, Toys, and Traditions: The Irving Arts Center had so much success with its Christmas tree exhibition last year that it decided to make it an annual tradition and give each yuletide season a different theme. This year's theme is the not-too-mentally-taxing "Christmas Through the Eyes of A Child," and so the Trees, Toys, and Traditions: The Arts in Irving Celebrate features many elaborately festooned trees, each by a different arts organization of the city. A panel of celebrity judges from WRR 101.1 FM, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and KDFW-TV Channel 4 gave out their awards for favorites three weeks ago based on appearance, how well the tree represents the organization, and how creatively the theme was developed. If you just can't bear to let the 1994 Season of Good Will pass without one more tinsel fix, stop by and peruse the exhibition--it'll be up through January 2, 1995. Also part of the show is art work created by elementary students from the Irving Independent School District and winners from the 1994 international art competition entitled "Families Celebrating Year-End Holidays." Trees, Toys, and Traditions is on display through January 2 at the Irving Arts Center, 3333 N MacArthur Blvd in Irving. It's free. For more information call 252-7558.
Ronald Judkins: One of the audio wizards who worked on the team that looped an Oscar for Jurassic Park will speak about his impressive recent accomplishments at the invitation of the Dallas Communications Council. (Suggested question for the Q&A segment--how the hell did they come up with that terrifying bellow-screech that erupts from the jaws of the Tyrannosaurus Rex?). Ronald Judkins, a former Dallasite and Southern Methodist University student, is a much-sought-after Hollywood sound technician. Spielberg's box office dino-mite is only one blockbuster that bears a Judkins credit--he also worked on the sound for Schindler's List (a film he says he's prouder of than Jurassic Park, because Spielberg gave him more creative freedom on that one), the new Miracle on 34th Street, Toys, Hook, and Drugstore Cowboy, as well as countless high-profile television projects. Judkins promises to keep his discussion of the sound process at an accessible level, and he'll venture at length into one of his pet assertions--that Hollywood studio blockbusters really don't use the best and most up-to-date sound technology available, because they've got so much money tied up in mono equipment and other fossilized sound junk they don't want to chuck it all and go really high-tech. This is a must-be-there for every die-hard Hollywood fan. Ronald Judkins speaks at the request of the Dallas Communications Council at 6:30 pm at the Stokes Group, 5602 Dyer. For admission information call 869-0222.
Jim Bailey: You can't spit these days without hitting a (presumably) heterosexual male box office star showing how he's so secure with his masculinity, he'll gladly learn to tease a wig and walk in high heels for a few laughs. This phenomenon really is a question of financial, not sexual, security, since Mrs. Doubtfire netted well over $200 million and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has become this year's runaway art-house hit. Here's a little secret from inside the community that turned drag into an art form, in the interest of educating hetero consumers to make smart entertainment choices: there are two kinds of drag, the really good and the really terrible. And unfortunately, there's a lot more of the latter than the former. Men putting on a dress is only inspired when they create a character to go with it--when they actually take a cultural risk and attempt to become the opposite sex in as much performance detail as possible. Caking on foundation and base, bitching at the audience, and lip-synching to Diana Ross ballads isn't artistry, it's tedious. There's a wide chasm between Robin Williams in the aforementioned Mrs. Doubtfire, a mediocre movie lifted by Williams' carefully studied turn as a crotchety old British nanny, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior, a wretched flick made even more appalling by the Austrian Republican's lazy, Milton Berle-esque walk-on in a frock. It's also the difference between the thousands of drag artists who ape diva Barbra Streisand and Jim Bailey, who's taken the time not only to adopt the minutest details of her mannerisms with uncanny accuracy, but develop a singing voice that rivals the original. If you still say, "What's the point?" then you've read too far. Jim Bailey performs December 27 through December 30 at 8 pm and December 31 at 8 and 10:30 pm at the Playhouse at Park Cities, 6719 Snider Plaza. Tickets are $25-$40. For more information call 691-7469.
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