People have paid a tragic price over the decades--hell, over the millennia--for being different. Martyrs, murderers, geniuses, people of religious fervor and scientists; all have suffered the slings and arrows of social climates that refuse to bend...let alone break. We certainly have our share of deviations on the current landscape, but--in a rose-colored-glasses kind of way--it really is a great, forgiving time to just be yourself. That said, one can't grasp the outsider spirit today much more than a gay Trekkie. It's sort of its own tragic-joke Mad Libs, with cracks about the "captain's log" and Pickard's always befuddling choice of sleepwear ripe for plucking from the cruel comedy tree. And let's not even start on the topic of science fiction folk singing known as "filking." It's all fairly easy and more than a little insensitive, but when it's all said and done, one of the easiest routes to understanding and acceptance is through laughter, and the West End Comedy Theatre recognizes and uses this tactic with its in-house production of Queertown. Whether it's an avid Star Trek fan awkwardly coming out to his gay friends or a whole new perspective of life on the trail with "The Gay Caballero," the lighter side of being gay in America today can be seen, laughed at and consequently celebrated Thursday at 8 p.m. A cast of nationally lauded performers will bring the sketches and improvisations to life, including Chad Cline (The Groundlings L.A.) and Kristin McCollum (Four Day Weekend), with Doug Ewart (Second City of Chicago) directing. The West End Comedy Theatre is at 603 Munger Ave., Suite 100B. Tickets are $15. Call 214-880-9990. --Matt Hursh
Girls' Night Out
We confess it's often a bit melodramatic, but it's necessary at times. Girlfriends need the occasional get-together composed of sniffling through a box of Kleenex at a tearjerker movie and getting drunk commiserating about dumb choices we've made in love and wardrobe. But a little laugh therapy always helps, too. Round up the gals and head to Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, off Lower Greenville Avenue at 5601 Sears St. Feminism blows the world a hilarious raspberry kiss in this two-woman comedy created by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney. They target all the hot topics, shoot the comic barbs and run off laughing on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from April 8 through May 1. Tickets are $19. Call 214-828-0094 or visit www.contemporarytheatreofdallas.com. --Danna Berger
Comedy Central saved our troubled teens. Our inner nerd found acceptance not with our peers but with the improv freaks of Whose Line Is It Anyway? On that show, improv queen Josie Lawrence proved that women can be smart and funny. So after recognizing Lawrence from WLIIA?, we watched her in 1992's Enchanted April as she and Miranda Richardson shrugged off timidity, stood up to male dominance and bloomed, among the flowers, into true individuals. It was inspiring for a sheepish geek, to say the least. So inspiring, we read the book by Elizabeth von Arnim. (Take that, anti-TV peeps.) Too bad the film couldn't really incorporate Lawrence's famed improv song, "I'm a Spatula." WaterTower Theatre presents the stage production of Enchanted April from April 7 through May 1 at the Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 972-450-6232. --Merritt Martin
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True ballet fans would be thrilled to see the original 1877 Swan Lake or its reincarnation by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895 (the most well-known version today), both clocking in at more than four hours. But even the biggest fan's ass would need awakening after that long in a theater seat. Choreographer Ben Stevenson heard the call and shaved off two hours (your cheeks will thank him) but kept all the emotion, the love story, the trickery and that crazy stuff at the end that will make the sensitive reach for a hanky quicker than Baryshnikov can fouetté rond de jambe en tournant. Texas Ballet Theatre presents Ben Stevenson's Swan Lake from April 8 through April 10 (Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with a matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.) at the Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Serious ballet buffs can join ballet master Anna Donovan for a pre-performance lecture Friday at 7 p.m. on the mezzanine level of the hall. Tickets are $16 to $95. Call 1-877-212-4280. --Merritt Martin
This twin billing of Katherine Craft's latest play and Dan Solomon's monologue should make for a disparate evening of theater. On this side, Craft and her one-woman show Brute Brute Heart, the title derived--and the play influenced by--no less a mess than Sylvia Plath and her poem "Daddy": "Every woman adores a Fascist/The boot in the face, the brute/Brute heart of a brute like you." On that side of the billing, Dan Solomon and his Man of Action, inspired by, well, Dan Solomon and his beefs with politics and incorporating his spoken word routines and satires. Both Craft and Solomon are Austinites up here for a two-night show at Plush Gallery, 1927 Commerce St. Both the Friday and Saturday affairs begin at 8 p.m. Seating's limited, though--only 40 spots are available each night--so get there early. Admission is $8. Call 214-498-5423. --Paul Kix