REVIEW: 'White Christmas' a Holiday Card for Texas

by Joy Donovan on December 27, 2013


The current offering at the Music Hall at Fair Park extends Christmas until Dec. 29.

The current offering at the Music Hall at Fair Park extends Christmas until Dec. 29.

If you dream of living inside a Christmas card, then dream your way over to The Music Hall at Fair Park for the musical “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”

The classic holiday movie transitions beautifully to the stage in this national touring production complete with Bing Crosby’s title song and my personal favorite, “Sisters,” with pale blue dresses and fans which will not disappoint.

For the uninitiated, the show-within-a-show focuses on two Army buddies, two singing sisters and a Vermont inn missing a little snow and a lot of guests. This production, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals ( in time for the holiday season is a nostalgic showcase for Irving Berlin’s music such as “Happy Holiday,” Blue Skies” and “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep.” In this show, also deserving star billing are the fabulous costumes by Carrie Robbins and the big-musical-style choreography by Randy Skinner.

Standout performances come from light-on-his-feet David Elder as Phil Davis, and tap-dancing wonder Meredith Patterson as blonde bombshell Judy Haynes. The two all but stop the show with “I Love a Piano,” which opens Act II and give the entire show a retro look into the happy musicals of another era.

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” continues through Dec. 29, giving theater lovers a chance to extend their Christmas cheer, a lot like shaking that snow globe one more time. Take your sister; she’ll love it, along with the rest of the family.

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Dinosaur Zoo Live to Roar into Dallas

by Joy Donovan on November 25, 2013

DALLAS _ The Australian theatrical creation, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live (, will play The Majestic Theatre in Dallas for 5 shows only, January 18-19.

Performances will be at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 18 and at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19.  Tickets will going on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at, by phone at 800-745-3000 or at any Ticketmaster outlet.

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live takes audiences on a prehistoric journey into a new dimension where they get to meet a menagerie of insects, mammals and dinosaurs that once roamed the planet millions of years ago.  Featuring a large-scale cast of dinosaur puppets, the life-like dinosaur recreations connect children to science with 16 large-scale puppets on stage

The Dallas engagement will be co-presented by the Dallas Zoo, the Dallas POPS, and TCG Entertainment.  A portion of the shows’ proceeds will go to the Dallas Zoo.


Dinosaur Zoo Live will come to Dallas for five performances in January.

Dinosaur Zoo Live will come to Dallas for five performances in January.

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Chefs Cook Up Tasty Fundraiser

by Joy Donovan on

The eighth annual Celebrity Chefs event, billed as an “Evening of Culinary Magic and Auction,” has been set for 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Hurst Conference Center.

Presented by Mid-Cities Supports of SafeHaven, the even will feature area chefs offering specialty cuisine. TV personality Scott Murray will serve as emcee for the fundraiser, which benefits SafeHaven of Tarrant County ( Proceeds will help child victims of domestic violence.

Tickets cost $125 per person, and are available by contact Tara Hutchins-Welsh at 817-975-1180 or

SafeHaven’s two emergency shelters, one in Arlington and one in Fort Worth, accommodate a combined 174 women and children, making it one of the largest shelters in Texas. Mary Lee Hafley serves as president and CEO of the organization.

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Restaurant Week Awaits Diners' Decisions

by Joy Donovan on August 10, 2013

Steak is but one item from the menus of more than 100 restaurants participating in Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurant Week.

Steak is but one item from the menus of more than 100 restaurants participating in Dallas-Fort Worth Restaurant Week.

Decisions, decisions.

It’s time for diners to make their selections for North Texas’ popular summer food and wine event, the 16th annual DFW Restaurant Week presented by Central Market, which begins Sunday.

With a new name and pricing options to spotlight the stellar lineup of participating restaurants throughout the Metroplex, DFW Restaurant Week will again benefit the North Texas Food Bank and Lena Pope Home. Diners must decide which restaurants they’ll choose from the list of this year’s 125 participating restaurants and menus detailed at

Diners can enjoy a different scene and cuisine every day as they select from top restaurants offering  three-course prix fixe dinners for $35, the $45 level at select restaurants or the Cadillac Lunch Experience featuring three-course lunches for just $25 at many locations.  Twenty percent from each meal purchased will be donated to charity partners, the North Texas Food Bank in Dallas or the Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth.

Formerly knows as KRLD Restaurant Week, the dining event serves as a major charity fundraiser supporting the regional community, raising a record $760,000 last year for the charities. Those funds represented a 9 percent increase in funds raised over the  previous year. 

“DFW Restaurant Week is one of our most popular and important fundraisers,” said Jan Pruitt, president and CEO of theNorth Texas Food Bank.  “It’s an ideal way to enjoy a fabulous meal at a deal, while also putting food on tables for children, families and seniors in need.”

Todd A. Landry, executive director, Lena Pope Home, says DFW Restaurant Week makes an enormous impact on funding and awareness for the organization’s work helping Tarrant County children and families.  “We love the excitement of Reservation Day when the restaurants are revealed and our supporters begin to tell us where they will be dining for DFW Restaurant Week.”



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REVIEW: Deep Ellum Scene of Party of Opposites

by Joy Donovan on June 14, 2013

Los Amigos Invisibles

Los Amigos Invisibles

The clock on the wall at Trees in Deep Ellum may have been off by more than an hour, but everything happened right on time on a recent Thursday night in Dallas.  After an eclectic disc jockey set that shifted from Bob Marley tunes into 1990s house music, Los Amigos Invisibles turned the club into quite the syncretic party.

Los Amigos Invisibles didn’t begin its set with a bang; rather, the New York-based Venezuelan funk and disco act began in darkness with a simple hand-off from the DJ to the band’s keyboardist.  Layering in guitar, drums and a team of percussionists, Lost Amigos Invisibles took off with the audience and didn’t stop until the last song of their encore.

With a high-energy stage presence (and a guitarist with seriously high-energy hair), the band seamlessly ran the gamut of Latin American rhythms and European or American dance-pop.  Numbers such as “La que me Gusta,” the lead single from the group’s latest album, have a decidedly 1980s-in-Argentina feel, while the wild disco of “El Reino Animal” is a direct descendant of 1970s American disco.  From the unexpected reference to the surf rock standard “Misirlou” to the searing merengue finale, Los Amigos Invisibles had an excitable crowd dancing into the wee hours of the morning.

This was not the typical Latin pop or even rock en español concert. Los Amigos Invisibles leans quite a bit more toward straight-ahead funk and disco and away from the seductive grooves and melodies of other Latin fusion groups.  This is not to say that the band lacks romantic crooning or hip-shaking rhythms; those aspects are just blended in with the funky keyboard lines and disco-beat drumming.

Whether whistling in harmony, inciting the audience members to respond back to their calls or simply vamping in their unique blend of Latin music and funk, the band onstage had just as great of a time performing music as concertgoers did listening. Los Amigos Invisibles surely accomplished all that they had set out to do.

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REVIEW: Who Says Disco's Dead?

by Joy Donovan on May 23, 2013

Disco, afro wigs and a road trip mix it up in the latest Dallas Summer Musical presentation.

Disco, afro wigs and a road trip mix it up in the latest Dallas Summer Musical presentation.

Love the night life? Want to boogie?

Then you’ll love “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” now playing at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

The fab production spotlights one fun disco song after another. Beginning with “It’s Raining Men” sung by three high-strung divas and rolling on with such tunes as “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Go West” and “Boogie Wonderland,” this show is a bell-bottomed romp down memory lane, musically speaking. The thin plot focuses on a road trip through the Australian outback, but the story line is just a backdrop for the fun. It’s not Shakespeare because it doesn’t take itself nearly that seriously.

The musical numbers don’t so much steal the show as they are the show. The eye-catching co-stars are the costumes, which won a 2011 Tony Award, and they’re wild, colorful and silly.

Gender-bending performers take the stage, and they proved they could dance, they could sing and when the microphones messed up, they could ad lib a funny line or two. “Priscilla” offers plenty of comedy–some of it fairly raunchy–and the actors drop a few F-bombs so even if it’s a light comedy, it’s really not family fare.

But with “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff” and “I Love the Nightlife” mixed with “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and a few other choice hits, the show’s perfect for girls’ night out, disco dancers, platform shoe freaks and afro-loving guys. Be there before this happy Dallas Summer Musical presentation closes May 26, so you can shake your groove thing. Yeah, yeah.

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Irish Play Presented in Fort Worth

by Joy Donovan on May 8, 2013

A show featuring two actors playing 15 characters opens May 16 for a six-week run at Stage West, 821 W. Vickery Blvd.

The show “Stones in His Pockets” by Irish playwright Marie Jones centers on a film crew that has descended on a beautiful Irish village. Directed by Jerry Russell, the play is told largely through the eyes of  movie “extras, Charlie and Jake. Of its production in London, The London Times said “The play is about rural poverty, cultural exploitation, the widening gap between winners and losers in the western world, and the damage wreaked by dreams and the dream industries… If there is a more cleverly constructed, enterprisingly acted play on offer in London right now, I cannot think of it.”  And the Daily Mail added, “an unalloyed source of joy, laughter, tears and delight.”

“Stones in His Pockets” will preview at 7:30  May 16 and at 8 p.m. May 17. Through  June 23, performances will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at at 3 p.m. Sundays.  Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances.  Reservations are available through the boxoffice at 817-784-9378 or on the website, The play contains strong language.


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Casa Manana Brings Plaid to Cowtown

by Joy Donovan on


The 2013 Casa Manana Gala will be held at the Fort Worth theater.

The 2013 Casa Manana Gala will be held at the Fort Worth theater.

“Forever Plaid” is the theme for the 2013 Casa Manana Gala (, set for 6 p.m. May 31 at Casa Manana Theatre, 3101 W. Lancaster Ave.

A full evening of entertainment is planned. A live auction and dinner provided by The Ashton Depot will follow the cocktail hour. Curtain is set to rise at 8:45 p.m. on a Broadway production performance of the musical comedy “Forever Plaid,” and then the group Trey and the Tritones will entertain at the post-performance party.

Shirlee and Taylor Gandy have been named honorary chairs, with Becky Renfro Borbolla and Janet Hahn serving as co-chairwomen. Attire for the evening is plaid or early 1960s cocktail. Tickets for the fundraiser range from $400 for an individual seat to $10,000 for a VIP table of 10. More information is available at 817-321-5005.

Founded in 1936 as an amphitheater, Casa Manana was an idea of Amon G. Carter who hired Broadway producer Billy Rose to launch it. In 1957, the city of Fort Worth orchestrated the building of the theater complex, which was last renovated in 2004. Today, Casa Manana brings Broadway theater, professional children’s productions, arts education and outreach programs to Tarrant County.

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American Heart Association Hosts Heart Ball

by Joy Donovan on May 1, 2013

FORT WORTH _ “Take Me Out to the Heart Ball” is the theme given to the charity fundraiser sponsored by the American Heart Association of Tarrant County, scheduled for May 11 at the Omni Hotel, 1300 Houston St.

The annual event, which begins at 7 p.m., will include a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing and live auction. Highlighting this year’s auction will be such experiences as batting practice with the Texas Rangers and a trip for two to the Rangers’ spring training. Proceeds are dedicated to biomedical research and educational programs.

Tickets cost $500 per person. For more information, call 817-698-5411 or visit


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Keith Anderson Headlines 2013 Art in the Square

by Joy Donovan on April 23, 2013


SOUTHLAKE _ Art in the Square, the annual outdoor festival sponsored by the Southlake Women’s Club, will open to the public at 4 p.m. Friday in Southlake Town Square (

With the theme “Art for All Ages,” the event will be open free to the public from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Organizers are expecting 150 artists at the juried art show (, and the family event also will include food, beverages and continuous entertainment on two stages. Featured entertainer for the event will be Grammy-nominated recording artist Keith Anderson, who will appear on the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in a free concert.

Southlake Women’s Club launched the festival in 2000. Since that time the organization has raised more than $1,700,000 for charities serving families in northeast Tarrant County

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