November 29, 2011

Coming Soon: John Waters' Christmas

As we usher in December, the Christmas gears are spinning like clockwork. 'Tis the season for colder weather, warmer wishes and a plethora of holiday traditions. Things like: families, stockings, chestnuts, Rudolph and Frosty. Yes, everywhere one looks there are reminders of what this season is about: consumerism. Er, I mean goodwill towards men... and stuff.

The Paramount Theatre will be offering many holiday themed shows over the coming weeks, each with their own unique spin on December celebrations. Among the festivities are those by Michael Martin Murphey, Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, and Asleep at the Wheel. Yet there is a one man show coming to grace the stage, and is guaranteed to present a holiday event unlike any other. And that man is...

John Waters, of course.

Wait, what?!?

John Waters, the pencil-mustached film director, is... how shall we say... an interesting choice to host a live Christmas show. I mean, this is a man so unconventional and outlandish that he makes Tim Burton look like Newt Gingrich. Waters has been a film maker since the 1970s, but he certainly isn't a part of the New Hollywood wave of Coppola, Scorsese, De Palma, Spielberg or Lucas. His movies were more underground, shocking audiences with content and quickly attaining a cult following. He and his motley crew made some memorable sleazy flicks during this period, including the so-called "Trashy Trilogy" of Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Desperate Living.

In many ways, he is a crusader for bad taste itself. But there is a method to his madness. Allow him to explain...

Ever the champion for filthy yet personable characters, Waters has always pushed the boundaries of censorship. As he grew more mainstream his films grew less controversial, yet John never abandoned his idiosyncratic style.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it... Considering how Christmas attitudes have skewed from genuine goodwill to crass commercialism, perhaps John Waters isn't such a bizarre choice for a Christmas show, after all. After all, he is a big fan of the holiday. Don't believe it? Then give this a listen. It's his deliberately facetious view of the most wonderful time of the year.

With this in mind, I can think of no other person to shine a new light on how I view Christmas. I mean, who better to sift the tinsel from the trash than John Waters? Here is a man who needs no reason for his season. He keeps it weird.

Now where ever have I heard that before?

Oh, yes. This is shaping up to be one Christmas show we won't soon forget.

John Waters will have himself a Merry Little Christmas at The Paramount Theatre on Friday, December 2 at 8:00 p.m.

November 13, 2011

Coming Soon: Kenny Rogers

As the first entry in the Marquee Series this season at The Paramount, I gotta say that Kenny Rogers fits the bill as the appropriate level of "legendary." I mean, come on. Kenny's a big deal. Over the past five decades, Rogers has made waves as a songwriter and singer in a dominant fashion. In the mid 1980s, he was named "Favorite Singer of All Time" in a poll by USA Today and People magazine (take that, Elvis and The Beatles). In addition, Rogers is an accomplished producer, actor, and more. This man even launched an empire of rotisseire chicken franchises (take that, P. Diddy).

Although best known as a country music icon, Kenny Rogers actually began his musical career as a member of doo-wop group (!!!) in the 50s, and bounced around as a member of various bands and dabbling in different genres (including jazz, folk, pop, rock, and even psychedelia). For instance, check out this bizarre clip from the old Smother Brothers TV show, where Kenny Rogers and The First Edition performi their mild hit "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."

Hard to believe that's the guy who would later sing "Islands in the Stream," isn't it?

If "Just Dropped In" sounds familiar but you just can't quite place it, fret not, my friends. I can assure you that you are not the victim of any hallucinogenic episode. The song was revitalized in the late 1990s when it appeared on the soundtrack of the cult classic film The Big Lebowski. It was even featured in the movie's trailer.

As Kenny began a solo career in the late 70s, he steadily grew in popularity. But when "Lucille" was released, he skyrocketed into the upper atmosphere. he entered the 1980s firmly entrenched as one of country music's biggest stars with smash singles like "Coward of the County," "Lady," "Through The Years," and "Islands in The Stream" (a memorable duet with Dolly Parton)

Ah, but how could I leave out his best known hit. A song that spawned a legion of followers and a series of television movies. That's right, I'm talking about "The Gambler." I find it only appropriate, in the spirit of the season, to share a unique version of Kenny Roger's most famous song. No, I'm not referring to the Christmas season. I'm thinking something more contemporary to these recent weeks in 2011... something like... The Muppets.

In the years since, Kenny hasn't slowed down one bit, and still enthralled his legions of fans. As of today, he has recorded 65 albums and sold well above 100 million records.

Rogers has also appeared as an actor in the film Six Pack, as well as a string of television films based on his single "The Gambler" and a variety of television programs. Over the past decades it almost seems as if his face is omnipresent, and in the realm of internet American pop culture that has not gone unnoticed. If you really do think you see him everywhere, you're not alone. Check out this website to put your mind at ease (and a smile on your face).

And now Kenny's sure to be giving Austin his best, gracing the stage as only he could. Rest assured, he will do much more than see what condition our condition is in. You won't want to miss this chance to see Kenny Rogers on stage at The Paramount, and if you haven't got tickets yet, you now know when to run. . So don't hesitate; hurry and get your tickets now. When they are in your hand, you'll know when to hold them, but don't even think of folding them or walking away. The chance to see this legend is a gamble you can't afford to lose.

Kenny Rogers will be appearing live at The Paramount Theatre on Thursday, December 1 at 8:00 p.m.

November 9, 2011

Coming Soon: A Tuna Christmas

Why, hello there, November. You sure took your time getting here this year. Thanks for your lackadaisical ushering in of cold fronts that bring the temperature plummeting. Okay, well, maybe it's not cold. Cool, maybe. Would you believe, Cool...ish? Anyways, as central Texas temperatures drop into the 60s, we can all dust off our Snuggies in hopes of using them... next month. Oh, and while I'm at it, thanks also for turning out the lights. You know, the whole daylight savings thing that for some reason I can't quite adjust to this year.

Alright, November. Perhaps I am being a little hard on you. After all, you also bring unwavering traditions. Christmas creep has penetrated our stores, thoughts of turkeys and pies fill our brains, and Texas and Texas A&M will continue to tussle for eternity just as they always have... Oh... wait. As Rick Perry so eloquently said recently (after 50 seconds of agony), "oops."

Well fear not, my fellow Texans. It's not all about holiday blues. In fact, this month brings one more tradition that continues to endure every holiday season: Tuna. That's right. I said tuna.

No, not this guy.

If you're not familiar with "A Tuna Christmas," I can understand the confusion.

Having nothing to do with Charlie the Tuna or any other aquatic cuisine, "A Tuna Christmas" is a farcical play created by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears, and Ed Howard. Set in the fictional town of "Tuna" (proudly proclaimed as the "third-smallest in Texas"), the play revolves around the community's annual Christmas Yard Display Contest, a wayward vandal, family strife, and a frustrating attempt to stage a production of "A Christmas Carol."

The twenty-plus roles in the play, and all help the audience paint a mental picture of what Tuna, TX is really like. Each is distinct, and yet readily identifiable to anyone who's ever been in a podunk town in the Lone Star state. Funny? Yes, but here's the truly entertaining part. Everyone one of these roles is played by Williams and Sears. That's right.

It's like some mad math equation:

2 guys + 24 roles x lightning fast costume changes + comedic wit = entertainment gold.

Brewed right here in Austin and performed by many across the country, the play constantly tours the country. Extolling the virtues (and shortcomings) of tiny Tuna, TX, the performances yield laughs that spread like a contagion of silliness. And as a holiday treat each year, the original cast of Williams and Sears bring it back for a homecoming reception by the Austin crowds. Now it's as much of a November tradition as eating way too many starches on Thanksgiving, watching the Cowboys on TV, and being underwhelmed by Black Friday newspaper ads.

So come to Paramount and help yourself to something that won't disappoint.
Tuna. It's what's for Christmas.

A Tuna Christmas will be performed on:
Tuesday, November 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 23 at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, November 25 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 26 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 27 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.