A celebration of the father of Western Swing, a visit with some slithery friends, and a continuing run of a literary musical – all this and more are waiting for you this weekend. Read on for details on these, plus a look ahead to some season-ending plays, a Star Wars-themed burlesque show and more.
Charlotte Brontë’s proto-feminist comes alive in West Texas A&M University’s production of Jane Eyre, with performances set for 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday. I caught the show last weekend and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the show. Confession time: Even though I majored in English in college, I’ve never actually gotten around to reading the novel, so beyond the broad strokes (grumpy suitor, tragic life, crazy lady in the attic), I went in virtually blind. I’d listened to the original Broadway cast recording years ago and, to be honest, wasn’t madly in love with it. That said, WT’s production kept me engaged throughout. The music was much more melodic than I remembered, and the cast sings it quite well. Tana Roberson’s set – particularly its mobile staircases that whirl and spin around the stage, giving the impression that Thornfield Hall really is one of those ginormous English manors – is a work of art. The cast is uniformly solid, particularly Maddie Todd, who gives the title character a touching vulnerability; Caleb Brink, who likewise gives Rochester some heartbreaking humanity; and Lacy Franklin, who provides ample (and needed) comic relief as Mrs. Fairfax. This is a very solid, pleasingly ambitious production all around, so check it out. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors and non-WT students and free for WT students, faculty and staff. Call 806-651-2804 or visit www.wtamu.edu/theatre.
Snakes? Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?
The herpetophobic might want to avoid the Amarillo Civic Center Complex North Exhibit Hall, 401 S. Buchanan St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Tri-State Reptile Expo will offer more than 100 vendor booths, showing off common and rare species of reptiles and amphibians, along with breeding supplies and more. Look for “enormous snakes, adorable amphibians, dragon-like lizards, and even the cute and cuddly,” organizers promise. One-day passes are $12 for adults or $7 for children; two-day passes are $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Fans of Western Swing won’t want to miss the 45th annual Bob Wills Day celebrations through Saturday in Turkey. Following a salute to Merle Haggard at 8 p.m. today, concerts continue with Friends of the Texas Playboys, Billy Mata and Jason Roberts at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jake Hooker & The Outsiders at 9 p.m. Friday, the South Plains College Western Swing Band at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and Jody Nix & The Texas Cowboys at 8 p.m. Saturday. The event – which commemorates the Turkey native and King of Western Swing – also includes an arts and crafts fair, a parade, the Old Fiddler’s Contest and more at the Bob Wills Center. Most events are free, including a 1:30 p.m. Saturday outdoor concert with Mata and Roberts. Dances Friday and Saturday are $20. Call 806-423-1253 or visit www.bobwillsday.com.
What’s Under Darth Vader’s Cape?
Some of Amarillo’s burlesque talent will celebrate Star Wars Day with some sights poor innocent Luke Skywalker probably never saw on Tatooine. The May the 4th Be With You burlesque show kicks off at 10 p.m. Wednesday (May the Fourth – get it?) at R&R Bar, 701 S. Georgia St. Entertainers Pistol Holliday, Tallulah Strange, Black Dahlia, Belladonna Muse and Jostlynn Plums will do old-school burlesque numbers, Star Wars-themed acts and more. They’ll also play Burlesque Roulette, allowing audience members to draw a song from a hat for a performer to improvise an act in minutes. Cover is $10.
In case you missed it
Amarillo Museum of Art will open its annual Texas Panhandle Student Art Show on Friday; a closing reception will be held May 13. Check here for details. … WT’s Opera Workshop and guest baritone Robert Cardwell will put the spotlight on Italian composers with Viva l’Italia! at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Mary Moody Northen Recital Hall. For details on the free concert, click here. … Stand-up comic JT Habersaat, who brings a punk rock edge to his comedy shows, will return to town with Brian Zeolla for an 8 p.m. Sunday show at No Dogs Allowed, 700 S.W. 10th Ave. Check out my interview with Habersaat here. … Six area museums are offering specials and discounts Saturday to celebrate Museum Day – details here.
Amarillo Little Theatre is already seeing strong ticket sales for its production of Hairspray, opening May 5. The musical adaptation of cult filmmaker John Waters’ most popular movie – which promises a rollicking-’60s-dance-party vibe as plus-sized dynamo Tracy Turnblad tries to integrate a popular TV show – will run through May 22. Look for my preview next week. … TheatreAC will close out its season May 5 to 8 in an experimental vein with Afterlife: A Ghost Story, which at first appears to be about a married couple working through a big rough patch, then gets pretty wild by the end. I’ll tell you more next week. … I’ll also preview Amarillo College Conservatory Theatre’s The Velveteen Rabbit, on stage May 6 to 8. Bring your tissues.