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Vanessa Peters plays Santa Clause in June – and plays LaGrange in Deep Ellum

The last week has been like Christmas for me.

Vanessa Peters‘ new album “The Burn The Truth The Lies” became available for download last Monday (June 18) for those of us who pledged to her Kickstarter campaign, late last year. I’m going to add—and I don’t mean this sarcastically, but as someone who has been looking forward to this for months—finally.

Fool that I am—I didn’t check my email Monday, didn’t get the link until Tuesday afternoon. Of course, I promptly downloaded the album, imported it into my iTunes, and listened to it three times through, twice in order, once on “shuffle”. And several time since then.

Once again—it’s well worth the wait.

She’s previewed a few of the songs for those of us smart enough to go to her shows, and another one was made available several weeks ago for us Kickstarter donors, but the rest of the 11-song album is all new. I gotta say, it’s brilliant.

And then, as I was running around Saturday, trying to get ready to go have dinner with friends, there was a knock on my door. The mailman was bringing me a Box o’ Joy, which included my physical schwag from the Kickstarter pledge: my signed physical copy of the CD, 2 really cool new T-shirts, a black Moleskine journal (with the Italian sales wrap label on it—how cool is that?) with the lyrics and a little story behind one of my favorite songs from her last album handwritten inside.

Anyway, now I have the physical CD, and can listen in my car. And have. More or less nonstop.

Yesterday, still more goodies—an email with a link to download of an EP containing some acoustic mixes to several songs from the album, as well as one song which didn’t make the album. Downloaded, imported, and listening to. As I type.

OK, so enough about my “Christmas in June” week—here’s the really important part:

Vanessa is doing an album pre-release show on Thursday, June 28th at LaGrange. This will be a rare, rare “full band” show (her first in Texas in 3 years, I think she said). The show includes most of the band who actually performed on the album: John Dufilho (Polyphonic Spree and Deathray Davies) on drums, Jason Garner (Apples in Stereo and Deathray Davies) on drums and bass, Rip Rowan (frequent quiet collaborator with Salim Nourallah) on keys, and Andy Lester (The Blurries) on guitar. (San Antonio’s Joe Reyes played guitar on the album, and has done several shows with Vanessa in the past few years, as well as shows and recording with Salim—in addition to his solo work, and his band, Buttercup.)

Thursday’s show is set for 9 pm (doors at 8). Denton’s Birds of Night and Dallas’ Daniel Hart are also playing, and I’m not really sure who’s playin’ first—so be on time! For. Once. In your. Life.

And the whole thing is only $5.00. That’d be a bargain at 4X the price.

Catch this one—she’s running off to tour Europe for a couple months soon after, and won’t be back on our side of the pond until October-ish, when I’m guessing she will make the rounds of Texas and nearby (and not-so-nearby) states, including—I’d guess—several shows within 100 miles of Dallas.

But really, who would want to wait that long?

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Shakespeare Dallas does “Twelfth Night” and (so I hear) “Coriolanus”

So, on Sunday, June 17, I went to catch Shakespeare in the Park for Shakespeare Dallas‘ production of “Twelfth Night”.

I like going on Sundays, because the crowds are less than on Fridays or Saturdays. The 17th was a bit of a last-minute decision, though. I’d planned to go, but the weather threatened. I dithered. As the hour grew near, however, it looked like the storms were going to pass South. Maybe.

So I chanced it. Arrived just as Shakespeare Dallas’ Executive and Artistic Director (and director of this particular production—and also a super nice guy I met quite randomly some years back) Raphael Parry was doing his pre-perfomance spiel. You know—phones off, give money please, we love our members, no recording, no smoking. But I was still nervous about the weather. I’d seen 2 lonely raindrops on my windshield driving in, and felt 3 more as I laid out my towel and chair in the Members Only section (cool jackets with too many snaps and sleeves pushed up not required). Nervous enough that I put my phone into a zip-close baggie, after turning it off.

Fortunately, other than those 5 raindrops, the only thing the weather brought was a pleasant, mid-70s evening, complete with a comfortable breeze to help keep the skeeters at bay. So we could enjoy a marvelous performance of one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, “Twelfth Night”.

Bear in mind, Shakespeare Dallas is not “community theater”. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you don’t have the director’s daughter Daisy Mae playing Viola against her brother Jethro as Orsino (with the requisite “eeewww” factor as Viola pines over Orsino). These are professional actors working with professional directors and professional stagehands.

And many of the actors and are repeat offenders with SD, and quite good. I recognized Jenny Ledel right off as Viola and Anthony Ramirez as Malvolio. Both have been in SD productions quite frequently, and both are excellent. Ramirez frequently gets the comical roles—and excels at them—but he’s also really good at the really very tragic (and briefly comical) Malvolio who is literally the only character in this play who doesn’t have a happy ending (face it—the guy gets hosed here).

But I don’t mean to focus on those two—I thought the whole cast was good. The whole show.

So, keeping with my Sunday theory—and misreading the schedule for this year—I went this past Sunday (the 24th) to see “Coriolanus”. I was kind of curious about this one—I’d read it (or at least the “Cliff’s Notes” for it) my Freshman year of college, for a class called “Politics and Philosophy”. The other things we read were Kant and Plato and Machiavelli (to name the few I remember). I seem to recall “Coriolanus” fit right in.

But I’d mis-read the schedule they sent out to members. I’m NOT picking on SD here—everyone does this—but whose brilliant idea was it to label Saturday with an “S” AND Sunday with an “S”? At least, Tuesday and Thursday often get “T” and “Th”, respectively (though not always—they are often just “T” and “T”).

Anyway, Sundays this season are for “Twelfth Night”. All of them (well, all of them until the Junior Players take over July 24-29 for “Taming of the Shrew”).

I stayed. It was good the first time, and it was good again. They had some sound issues this time around—but hey, it happens. The play was good, and well-staged.

I’ll have to go catch “Coriolanus” on a Wednesday.