Open Stage Talent Showcase Keeps It Playful, Positive

At the Monday night Open Stage talent show in Richardson, the emcee, Russ Sharek, shows the audience the "Positivity Pill." It's a stuffed toy shaped like a capsule and it's tossed at anyone who doesn't give the performers upbeat feedback. No booing allowed here and no "keeping score" about which singer, poet, juggler, belly dancer or stripper is the most entertaining.

Um, stripper? Yep. On a recent Monday the ecdysiast was "GlamAmour," known as "The Stripping Poet." Doing a mild peel-off from kimono and boxer shorts to no kimono and boxer shorts, Glam clutched a plush toy moose to her bosom and read poems by Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne. (She's also done Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

The act was sweet, weird and not a little awkward, mostly because the stage was rushed by audience members wielding cameras to catch a quick glimpse of tasseled nip.

The other acts including singer-songwriter Bret Crow, singer-songwriter Sonya Jevette (she did a killer blues thing called "Big Girls"), folksinger-songwriter Wayne Greene and a bellydancing trio named Samantha, Summer and Judy.

The showcase grew out of a juggling club started by Sharek. Post-show, audience members join performers for a "Playground" session of improvised singing, dancing and overall silliness that can go on till midnight. It's a friendly atmosphere, welcoming to newcomers and supportive for first-time performers.

Bring your own booze. Middle Eastern food can be ordered from the Olive restaurant a few doors away.

Open Stage happens at 8 p.m., every Monday at House of Poets, 580 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson. Admission, $10. No reservations needed.

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