Tag: The Music Hall at Fair Park

REVIEW: Take a Chance on This Fun Show

The music of ABBA is showcased in the current musical at Fair Park.

DALLAS _ It doesn’t matter if you were a fan of the musical group ABBA back in the day, today or tomorrow. The show, “Mamma Mia!,” based on its songs is fun.

Now playing at the Music Hall at Fair Park through June 15, the high-energy show slams through such ditties as “Dancing Queen,” “Does Your Mother Know” and “Take a Chance on Me” for two-and-a-half hours. It’s a throw-back to the ’70s and ’80s, platform shoes and all, taking place on a Greek island just before a inn keeper’s daughter’s wedding. The plot is thin, but if the expectation is for a fun night of singing and dancing, the expectation will be met and easily exceeded. This show, after all, is entertaining enough that it’s been a Broadway fixture since 2001 and inspired a hit movie, too.

Even when the lead is replaced by her understudy, the Dallas Summer Musicals presentation (www.dallassummermusicals.com)  doesn’t suffer even one false step of a platform shoe. Opening night understudy Rebecca Mason-Wygall took over the role of Donna, and didn’t miss a pop music beat. She plays the mother and owner of a small Greek inn whose only daughter is about to marry. The question is which of three possible fathers should walk her down the aisle. 

Don’t overthink it because the production numbers are big and bold, and the comedy is cute. The jokes, the language and the overall story make this a show clearly not aimed at children but adults of a certain age will get a kick out of the costumes and the music.

Biggest mistake you can make at this show is to duck out before you’ve seen the entire curtain call. Don’t be in such a hurry to get back in Dallas traffic or you might miss something you haven’t seen in a decade or two.


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REVIEW: ‘Ghost’ Makes a Loud Appearance

For those thinking of taking in “Ghost the Musical” during its north Texas tour, here’s some advice:

Bring ear plugs.

“Ghost the Musical,” presented by Dallas Summer Musicals (www.dallassummermusicals.com), will run through Feb. 9 at the Musical Hall at Fair Park before it jumps to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. The show, adapted from the Academy Award-winning movie,

It is loud, loud, loud, ringing much beyond rock-concert decibel-level. The female lead, Katie Postotnik, hits most of her notes, which is difficult to do when you’re screaming the lyrics. Add to that a slow-moving plot and only one memorable song, and the result is a long evening.

The show, adapted from the Academy Award-winning movie, is set in modern day New York, and the musical reflects a contemporary edge. Focused on the couple Sam and Molly, the fantasy follows what happens after Sam is murdered, just as in the movie featuring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

In this stage version, the musical numbers’ multi-media special effects are the most interesting part of this production, but it can’t rescue the entire show.  The best performance comes from comic Carla R. Stewart, who plays the part made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the film, but her comedy is not enough to save the production.

The Righteous Brothers’ song “Unchained Melody” and the pottery scene, both so much a part of the film version of “Ghost,” are a part of the musical, but without nearly the swoony impact of the movie. In fact, what director Matthew Warchus has done with “Ghost the Musical” is really pretty scary.

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REVIEW: 'White Christmas' a Holiday Card for Texas


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 (www.dallassummermusicals.org) 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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Add Up the Reasons

There are at least three reasons to see the national tour of  “Memphis,” the current offering at The Music Hall at Fair Park:

The music.

The dancing.

The history lesson.

The score by Bon Jovi’s David Bryan, the terrific production numbers and the glimpse into the U.S. racial landscape of the 1950s are all great reasons to see this show. The cast is top-notch, so you can add that as reason number four to see this show. Bryan Fenkart plays the white, goofy radio DJ, Huey, and Felicia Boswell portrays the ambitious, black singer. Both are outstanding in the two leading roles, and are backed-up by singers and dancers

Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals, this national tour of the show that won the 2010 Tony for best musical runs through May 27th. Check www.dallassummermusicals.org for “Memphis” ticket information and show times.

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REVIEW: Show Rocks a Little History, A Lotta Music

Million Dollar Quartet

Goodness, gracious. I’m sure there were great balls of fire that one December night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis ended up together in a Memphis recording studio. Maybe even a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.

 It’s the stuff legends are made of…and maybe even a Broadway musical.

“Million Dollar Quartet,” the current Dallas Summer Musicals (www.dallassummermusicals.org)  show at The Music Hall at Fair Park, tells that story. It’s the story of the off-center Jerry Lee Lewis, the heart throb Elvis, the brooding Johnny Cash and the competitive Carl Perkins and what led each to that night.

The plot, wrapped in history, is far from complicated in this juke-box musical. The show’s packed with song after song, performed by such entertaining actor-singers that the plot doesn’t matter all that much.

The performances in the national tour are fantastic. Martin Kaye as Lewis cavorts upon the piano, Cody Slaughter as Elvis gyrates with the microphone,  Lee Ferris as Perkins commands the electric guitar and Derek Keeling as Cash lends his bass vocals to “Folsom Prison Blues.” Zooming through without an intermission, the show includes such legendary hits as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I Walk the Line” and “Hound Dog.” The spotlight shines on each one individually, but the foursome also gets a chance to  harmonize on “Down by the Riverside” and a more tranquil “Peace in the Valley.”

Picking a favorite would be difficult in this fun show, made for dancing in and out of your seats. Slick your hair back and grab a cold pop, then rock ‘n roll over to see this show before its run ends Sunday. Could be you’ll like the whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.

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REVIEW: Choreography to Cheer About

At least two cheers, if not three, are in order for the star of “Bring It On: The Musical,” the current Dallas Summer Musicals (www.dallassummermusicals.org).

The star of this musical built upon modern-day cheerleading is the choreography. Dance number after cheerleading routine after dance number is so much fun to watch that you might just wish for pom-pons to wave.

Behind it the high-spririted musical is Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler whose creativity really is something to cheer about. The cast, which features some regular Broadway types but also a squad full of experienced, competitive cheerleaders, executes the choreography well enough to earn top honors at any cheer camp.

This musical, boasting no big-name stars and featuring a very predictable storyline, looks at competitive high school cheerleading. Tryouts, backstage jitters, jealousy, practice–it’s all there, except no self-respecting cheerleader would ever pair her uniform with high heels.

But it serves as a short-cut to the stereotypes found in most high schools. There’s the blonde cheerleading captain, her best friend, the back-stabbing wannabe, the gay guy, the high school stud. Sprinkle them through two rival high schools and focus on the cheerleading, and you’ve got the basis for this show. If you’ve ever been in the modern-day cheerleading world where “Herkie” Herkimer from Dallas is the patron saint of this sport and competition is a given, you’ll know how close some of the show comes to real life. If you weren’t in the world of stunts and tryouts and ponytails, you can still enjoy the show.

The songs by Tom Kitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Amanda Green aren’t even listed in the show’s program. They’re nice enough, but it serves to emphasize what really is the star of this show: the movements, explosive and aerobatic.

Bring It On: The Musical will be presented by Dallas Summer Musicals through Feb. 26 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. It’ll make you want to do a toe-touch.

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REVIEW: ‘West Side’ Shows New Side

Revivals of classic musicals get revived, usually, because they’re a good enough show to warrent a do-0ver.

So it is with “West Side Story,” the current offering at The Music Hall at Fair Park. The show, which originally opened on Broadway in 1957, was nominated then for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Since then it’s been revived on Broadway in 1964, 1980 and 2009.

A national tour brings the latest production to town during the Texas State Fair, a spot always reserved for a blockbuster. The original Jerome Robbins choreography has been reproduced by Tony Award-nominee Joey McKneely, and  it is outstanding. Combine that choreography with this national touring company’s terrific dancing talent, and the result is fantastic. Production numbers for the Jets and the Sharks could be seen again and again and remain mesmerizing.

The music, such as “Tonight” and “Something’s Coming,” is predictably lovely, and the dramatic lighting quite effective. It’s obviously a carefully crafted turn on a Broadway classic.

Often with revivals, someone feels the need to inflict a new twist. For this production, the major innovation was the translation of many of Stephen Sondheim’s original lyrics to Spanish. Luckily, the show’s modern retelling of  Shakespear’s “Romeo and Juliet” is well known enough that not much meaning is lost. But it seems contrived, a superfluous stab at “realism” in a medium where we already are asked to suspend logic to believe street characters break into song.

This new production also adds much more graphic sexual content in several scenes, including one of rape. During “Gee, Officer Krupke” teenage boys act like some teenage boys act, but some of the stabs at ”humor” might make Grandma blush. Were the scenes realistic? Perhaps. Offensive? Maybe. Parents definitely should be warned that this is not the typical “West Side Story” suitable for all ages or tastes.

The show, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals, will continue through Oct. 23. It’s an interesting take on the “West Side Story” classic. Go for the dancing. Go for the beautiful music. But don’t go if you’re expecting a 1957 version of a classic.

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REVIEW: Odds Are This Show Not Much of a Gamble

Glenn Rainey, Garth Kravits and Todd Horman open the show.

Musical theater fans will find ”Guys and Dolls,” currently playing at The Music Hall at Fair Park, a good bet for a pleasant evening filled with a fantastic dancing, a classic score and some terrific performances.

The national tour opened Tuesday for a two-week stop featuring a revival of the 1940s tale of gamblers, gansters and showgirls. On Broadway, both the original 1951 musical and the 1992 revival won Tony Awards, so the show’s music and comedy are long-time favorites. Many of the Frank Loesser tunes, from “Luck Be a Lady” to “Bushel and a Peck,” are well known charmers.

For this production, Ben Crawford smoothly commands the stage as Sky Masterson, and actress Megan Sikor’s take on Miss Adelaide is very cute. One of the show’s best performances comes from Glenn Rainey whose Nicely Nicely Johnson literally stopped the show opening night with “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” 

Just like the floating crap game Nathan Detroit works so hard to organize, sometimes the dice come up snake eyes, even on stage. Steve Rosen takes a while to warm up in his role of Nathan Detroit, and Erin Davie’s beautiful voice was nice for the character of Sarah but her stiff performance was tough to watch.

The audience did hit the jackpot with the strong musical performances and Patti Columbo’s terrific choreography. The trio that opened the show set the pace with its great voices and happy harmonies, and the dancing in the big production numbers was a big win. Only odds were that just at a critical time, the theater’s sound system would give way since microphone problems  plagued the opening night show.

“Guys and Dolls,” presented by Dallas Summer Musicals (www.dallassummermusicals.org), will continue through July 31. If you’re looking for a summertime diversion, go ahead and take the bet. Odds are it’ll be worth the gamble.

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Burn the Floor Steamin’ Hot

Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev were just two of many reasons to check out the white-hot dancing at Fair Park.

I needed to turn up the air conditioning as you drive to “Burn the Floor” at the Music Hall at Fair Park.

The show was that hot.

Think of “Dancing With the Stars” on steroids. Think more energy than your two-your-0ld nephew and more electricity than a southern thunderstorm. These people can dance!

Not only did they put on a mesmerizing show, each dance smoothly faded from one fantastic number to the next. From a hypnotic waltz to a fiery cha cha, the high style parade of human artistry was the type of show that could be seen again and again.

The show’s two-week run is over, but I hope Dallas Summer Musicals (www.dallassummermusicals.org) brings it back.

I guess you can say I liked it.

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REVIEW: ‘Dreamgirls’ Nothing to Nap Through

From start to finish, the current production of “Dreamgirls” playing in Dallas is a dream of a show.

The sets, the singing, the dancing are all stellar in this show playing through July 18 at The Music Hall at Fair Park as a part of Dallas Summer Musical’s 70th anniversary year. The story, set in the early days of Motown, is told in an upbeat and entertaining way, largely due to the excellent cast.

Leading the way as Effie is Moya Angela, who has the pipes to pull off the show-stopping “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” With a performance like hers, the standing ovation came before intermission. Pushing hard to steal the show is the hilarious Chester Gregory as James “Thunder” Early, a comic mix of James Brown and Little Richard.

But this isn’t a musical that just showcases its stars. The chorus is filled with talented performers, whose tight harmonies and skillful dancing fill the stage with energy. The costumes are dazzling beautiful, and the imaginative sets have given this revival an updated look.

With a combo of great costumes, cool sets and talented dancing, the  production numbers are truly a treat. “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” was a stand-out, but other numbers are a treat for the audience, too.

The original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” opened in 1981 and went on to win six Tony Awards. The current show debuted at Harlem’s Apollo theater last fall before it began touring. 

Touring companies can sometimes disappoint, but make no mistake–this is not one of “those” shows. ”Dreamgirls” is one of the highlights in Dallas Summer Musical’s lineup, and it’s no time to be napping and miss this show.

For ticket information, see www.dallassummermusicals.org.

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