Saigon Smokes


Why is it that the most traumatic tales make the best stories, especially the ones with a sacrificial ending? And why do they perpetually involve an exotic but tormented virgin (insert misunderstood maiden for slight variation) and a soldier (insert young and dashing man of nobility with a heart of gold for an alternative)? But such a plot is the stuff that makes theatrical magic, and just by taking a look at the award history of some of those productions, we keep coming back for more. Miss Saigon is one of those hit-makers that is beautifully done but has the same contrived plot. From the creators of Les Misérables, Miss Saigon is set at the fall of Saigon and involves an American GI and a Vietnamese woman whose love is wrecked by circumstance. As you guessed it, this musical has its roots loosely derived from Puccini's Madame Butterfly--an opera about an affair between a French naval officer and a Japanese Geisha. Miss Saigon is the sixth-longest-running show in Broadway history, has grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide and has won 29 awards, hence proving that the human subconscious is morbidly drawn to tragedy. And why is it that smoking always accompanies drama? About 86 cigarettes were smoked onstage during the 2002-2003 North American Tour of Miss Saigon, according to the musical's facts and figures. Just an observation. Miss Saigon opens the 64th season of Dallas Summer Musicals at the Music Hall at Fair Park from May 25 through June 6. The opening-night show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $11 to $75 and are on sale at the Majestic Theatre Box Office located at 1925 Elm St. Call 214-691-7200 or visit --Jenice Johnson

Cat Comes Back

Only a skilled karaokist could tackle Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats classic "Memory. " It was the musical mid-'90s karaoke-craze tune. Betty Buckley, Broadway's original Grizabella the Glamour Cat, returns home to join Jerry Russell and Raphael Parry to read short fiction in the Arts & Letters Live literary series presented by the Dallas Museum of Art. The three Texas actors will be interpreting "Suppressing the Grief Response" by Tom Doyal, "The West Texas Sprouting of Loman Happenstance" by Matt Clark and "Pepper" by Joe Bob Briggs on Monday at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Fort Worth Central Library, located downtown at 500 W. Third St. Tickets are $20 and $15. Call 214-922-1220 or 1-888-684-3362, ext. 1220.--Danna Berger

Upcoming Events

Underwood Unafraid

These are serious times. Overseas atrocities and political mob mentalities can leave any of us "little people" anxious, frustrated and confused. Sunny celluloid action is a good way to waste time and relieve stress, but the Addison Improv offers something a bit more valuable this weekend: an opportunity for entertainment and enlightenment. Comedian (HBO's Def Comedy Jam)/actress (Bulworth)/talk show host (BET's Holla) Sheryl Underwood will be in town Thursday through Sunday. And if anything within the routine is considered controversial, it's only because Underwood hits her audience with real, thought-out intimidating rarity in and of itself. Her main agenda is to amuse, however, so be ready to laugh--and learn--in the face of adversity. The Addison Improv is at 4980 Belt Line Road. Tickets are $20. Call 972-404-8501. --Matt Hursh

Tip Tap Shape
Buckle up for some step-ball-change

"Getting served" in tap dancing shoes? The idea isn't that far-fetched. Tap dancing's early days had competitive "battles" on street corners that included challenges, complex showmanship and even step stealing. But you won't have to tap for control of your turf during the National Tap Dance Day celebrations. The Dallas Dance Council and Dallas Summer Musicals School of Musical Theatre's event focuses only on strapping taps to your feet and shuffling into the sunset. The weekend includes a Saturday Tap Jam with performances and audience participation in all kinds of tap, so bring your dancing shoes to participate in the tap national anthem "Shim Sham." Portions of this year's proceeds benefit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. National Tap Dance Day is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. May 23 at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Admission is free. Call 214-219-2290 or visit --Stephanie Durham

Dallas Dixie
Decades later, the Levee breaks out

If you remember Ed Bernet, show up at the Pocket Sandwich Theatre on May 25. Bernet will be there with his band The Levee Singers, the group that, under a different name, performed Dixieland music on variety shows hosted by Jimmy Dean in the '60s. Ah, the '60s. Back then Bernet's nightclub, The Levee, was the place on Mockingbird Lane. It seated about 180, and on the weekends the Cell Block Seven--Bernet's band--had 'em stomping to Texas swing and singing along with sing-a-longs. Then came the Hollywood agent. Then the variety shows. Then the gentle fade into obscurity. Bernet's now 70 but still plays the tenor banjo, fiddle, mandolin and drums. If you go to the Pocket show, expect to hear "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Goin' Out of My Mind" and "Bye Bye Blues." Probably "Saints Go Marching In," too. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16. The Pocket Sandwich Theatre is located at 5400 E. Mockingbird Lane. Call 214-821-1860 for reservations. --Paul Kix

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