It was in the tragic aftermath of her first husband's death that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis commissioned the famed Leonard Bernstein to write MASS: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers to celebrate the 1971 opening of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Now, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will bring the moving one-hour, 45-minute work to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.Bernstein's MASS is a tour de force of classical, modern, rock, popular and Broadway idioms; a commentary on spirituality in modern American society. "This is our reply to violence; to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before," Bernstein said as he planned the work. Baritone Douglas Webster will star as the Celebrant in a role for which he has become famous while guest conductor Williams Eddins will lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas and dancers from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts. Dallas music lovers will be treated to the fully staged, original version of MASS, complete with a Broadway-sized cast of dancers and some of the most beautiful melodies crafted by Bernstein, long a devotee of the theatrical-like liturgy of the Catholic Church, during his remarkable career. In MASS, he explores the drama of a person's faith and how it changes when exposed to ambition. Additionally, the production offers Dallas an opportunity to rejoice in the talent of Bernstein, the legendary composer, conductor and pianist whose credits range from the score for the motion picture On the Waterfront to the stage production of West Side Story.
Performances of MASS will be Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. In addition, the Sixth Floor Museum will create an exhibition for the Meyerson, displaying selected artifacts and photographs highlighting the creation of the now-famed Kennedy Center. Tickets range from $25 to $95 and can be purchased by calling the Dallas Symphony box office at 214-692-0203. A corresponding exhibit will also be on display at the Visitor's Center of The Sixth Floor Museum with a $10 admission fee.--Carlton Stowers
Not Your Mama's Fiddle
What do you get when you put Eddie Van Halen, Dr. Phil, Michael Flatley and the Dixie Chicks into a blender? If you said the Attorney section of the yellow pages, you'd be off, but not by much. You'd get Barrage, a troupe punched silly with kinetic stage action, musical virtuosity, idiosyncratic choreography and the one thing that makes musical entertainment as fun as lawyer jokes: eclecticism. Now in its new show, Vagabond Tales, Barrage employs its international ensemble of seven vocalists/violinists plus a drummer, bassist, guitarist and percussionist to craft a tale of a musical wanderer and his troupe of roving minstrels that threads enlightened freedom, self-discovery and colorful mirth into the narrative. It also employs a magic steamer trunk for inspiration, which trumps case law every time. Barrage sets its Vagabond Tales story to musical snippets from a smattering of eras and cultures, creating a fable of global scope. Catch Vagabond Tales as it sweeps into McFarlin Auditorium, 6400 Hillcrest Ave., on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $55 and can be obtained by calling the TITAS box office at 214-528-5576 or by surfing to www.titas.org. --Mark Stuertz
Dance the Night Away
The mouse is in the house
We've been had. Offered a chance to write about The Great Russian Nutcracker, we were psyched. We are fans of politics and history, so we figured some historical documentary or exhibit about ol' Joe Stalin would be right up our alley. Turns out, we had the wrong nutcracker. This one, apparently, is a ballet. Here is our total knowledge of ballet: It involves dancing. Oh, and Shirley McLaine once made a movie about it called The Turning Point that we saw a long time ago, probably to impress a girl. Can't remember. Anyhoo, this is in fact Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, which "combines the family favorite with a special prayer for peace," according to press materials. Plus it's performed by bona fide Russians, so it has authenticity on its side. So, if you have only one chance to see sugarplum fairies and giant rodents dancing, out of the 10,000 or so various Nutcrackers to be performed locally this season, the Moscow Ballet's version is a safe bet. Performances are at the Majestic Theater at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 to $65 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 214-373-8000.--Patrick Williams
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Biirtsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. It's much the same for the language of modern dance. If you've ever cut someone off on the freeway, you know enough about gesture and pantomime to "get" a dance performance. If you've ever selected the perfect CD as prelude and accompaniment for an evening of sexploits, you know enough about movement and music to "get off" on modern dance. Test these theories on Sunday as Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth invades the Modern Art Museum in Random Acts of Dance. The performances at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. are structured improvisations that incorporate elements of the internationally acclaimed museum's artful space. With live music by local composer Van Eric Martin, CD/FW dancers will observe one another and audience members and react in "Sight Unseen," choreographed by Kerry Kreiman. In a second untitled piece, dancers will pop up around the museum lobby for "environmental improvisation." Gather in the Modern's lobby, 3200 Darnell St., for the free performances. Call 817-922-0944. --Annabelle Massey Helber