In a tent erected in a shopping center parking lot, a muscled man is dancing for a screaming crowd. Less than five miles away, in a another parking-lot tent, a different muscled man is body-rolling to frenzied applause.
The difference? One man is part of Channing Tatum's Magic Mike Live. The other man is portraying Jesus in His Story: The Musical.
It's a unique time in North Texas, with these two wildly different — yet oddly similar? — productions pitching their tents so close to each other.
CultureMap recently attended both shows back to back, and is revealing what you can expect with each.
Magic Mike Live: The Tour
Where: Stonebriar Centre, parking lot C (near Dillard's)
When: Through June 11
The basic gist: A female emcee (either Crystal Powell or Nikki Lowe) empowers the audience while teaching "Mike" (Kalon Badenhorst) what women really want, with the help of an ensemble of very in-shape, attractive men.
The dancing and acrobatics are genuinely impressive and expertly executed, and there are several opportunities for the men to showcase other talents like drumming, singing, and piano playing.
Kiana De Van der Schueren contributes to two of the most jaw-dropping numbers, one in a pool of water and the other an aerial number high above the audience.
As expected, there is lots of audience participation both onstage and off, but if you do not wish to be touched or pulled onstage you can simply say the safe word ("unicorn") and the gents will back off. Consent is sexy!
The venue: A multi-story, 600-seat theater with a swanky lobby and indoor-outdoor courtyard for gathering before or after the show.
The release claims that "every fabric, every finish, every detail of the venue has been meticulously curated by Tatum and the Magic Mike Live creative team, led by co-director and film franchise choreographer Alison Faulk with co-choreographer Luke Broadlick." It's very easy to forget you're in a tent.
The vibe: Sexy, with terrific lighting, leather couches, and plenty of Instagram photo opps. The entire endeavor feels luxurious and high-end.
The concessions: Charcuterie boxes, wine, and signature cocktails utilizing Steven Soderbergh’s spirit brand Singani 63. We tried "Permission," a tequila concoction with cucumber and lychee, and the sangria-like "Seduction," each averaging $25 before tip.
The bathrooms: High-end portable toilets, with three times as many women's as men's — an excellent touch.
Key producers: Channing Tatum, Steven Soderbergh, Vincent Marini (who also co-produced the HBO Max reality contest series Finding Magic Mike)
Show length: 90 minutes, no intermission
Audience age: Strictly 18 and up
Souvenirs: Each seat is pre-staged with a few "Unicorn Bucks," the purpose of which is kind of unclear. The cast was unresponsive when audience members tried to give them the fake money (or stuff it down their waistbands), so the pink paper basically functions like confetti for Instagram boomerangs.
Tickets: $49-$299. Options exist for Ultra Seats (front-row seating, complimentary cocktails, personal concierge, post-show meet-and-greet with members of the cast) and the Mike's Exclusive Package add-on.
To order and more information:MMLTour.com or call 833-624-4265
His Story: The Musical
Where: Grandscape, by the Grandscape Wheel
The basic gist: "A Broadway-style theatrical event 2000 years in the making," touts the release, and the show recounts the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Anna Miriam Brown was 17 when she wrote the musical, and the show is definitely youthful. Choreographer Eamon Foley works the young, non-union cast to near exhaustion, with knee pads that get plenty of use.
This is JC for Gen Z, with Hamilton-esque raps and costumes that range from tunics to track suits, accented with temporary tattoos and even a leather harness. Jesus (Max Kuenzer) wears a sleeveless hoodie and a man bun.
The voices are generally strong, though the tunes utterly forgettable. A program insert warns of violence though the least affecting part is the crucifixion, staged by director Jeff Calhoun with Jesus lying down and Judas hammering from several feet away.
Casey Lamont is especially transfixing as Lucifer, while Mat Blasio garners several laughs in a variety of small roles.
The venue: The Broadway Tent at Grandscape, a 1,300-seat theater tent designed by Matthew Churchill Productions, Ltd. with stadium seating, 360-degree overhead projection, and full A/C and heating. It is very easy to remember you are in a tent.
The vibe: Megachurch revival weekend meets traveling circus. The tent and revolving set are repurposed from 2015's Peter Pan 360, and the surrounding projections feel planetarium-like.
The concessions: Popcorn, soda, nachos, beer, and other circus-like fare, all allowed in the theater.
The bathrooms: Separate entrances for men and women ... which spill into one long row of portable bathrooms.
Key producers: Willie and Korie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame), Tony Award-nominated Bruce Lazarus
Show length: 2 hours, including a 20-minute intermission
Audience age: Recommended for ages 8 and up. Children under the age of 2 are not permitted in the theater.
Souvenirs: Take your pick: There's everything from T-shirts, hoodies, and baby onesies to prayer stones, crosses, and picture frames. If you can think of it, there's a branded version for sale here. Credit to the merch department for the deep-cut "James #1" and "James #2" shirts, though.
Tickets: $39-$239. VIP packages include access to the Nebraska Furniture Mart VIP Lounge, a free glass of champagne or sparkling juice, and a free gift.
To order and more information:HisStoryTheMusical.com or call 855-447-7867