Photo courtesy of Dallas Millennial Gala

Dallas young professionals will be working hard and playing hard for their favorite causes this fall. Organizations all over the city - from arts groups and museums to health-focused charities - are working hard to cultivate a new generation of big-hearted patrons and philanthropists. And they're doing so with epic parties and high-octane, black-tie balls. Here are the eight must-attend events of the season for Dallas YPs. For a longer list of Dallas galas this fall, go here.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala After-Party, September 30
If the full $1,250 DSO gala evening is a stretch, there’s a popular option for young professionals that includes just the concert and after-party. This year's Gala Concert stars maestro Fabio Luisi and the DSO with pianist Emanuel Ax playing Chopin and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard singing selections from the opera Carmen. Afterwards, a “Midnight in Paris”-themed party will rev up in the Meyerson lobby, with live music by Q The Band. Guests can expect cocktails and bites while dancing the night away; tickets to the concert and after-party start at $140. Find out more about the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Young Professionals group on their Facebook page.

Dallas Opera Crescendo Opening Night Celebration, October 13
The Dallas Opera’s Crescendo networking and social group helps to make opera fun and relevant for a whole new generation of patrons (ages 21-45). Members can enjoy pre-show mixers before performances, and get significant discounts to each show. This fall, members also will receive a special invitation to an Opening Night Celebration to welcome Dallas Opera’s 2023-24 season. Crescendo Memberships are $60 for an individual and $120 for two, available here.

African American Museum, Dallas' Disco Gala, October 21
The African American Museum's Young Professionals Council just relaunched, and now it's time for YPs to get their groove on with museum patrons at the Disco Gala and Auction. The 35th annual gala celebrates the museum's 30th anniversary since opening in its building in Fair Park and supports its many programs and exhibitions. The gala will take place at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel and will include a reception, seated dinner, awards, and dancing the night away to The Dennis Edwards Temptation Revue. Attire is cocktail - or "divine disco." Tickets, $200, are available here.

AT&T Performing Arts Center Turn Up the Lights, October 21
The AT&T Performing Arts Center Auxiliary Board hosts its fourth annual Turn Up The Lights fundraiser, meant to be an exclusive event for Dallas' new wave of arts patrons, ages 25-49, invested in supporting the Center's mission as a cultural hub. An alternative to the Center's higher-priced Bravo! Gala in November, this ticket starts at just $50 and promises an evening filled with live music, dance, food, and drinks. The multi-level event will unfold across different levels of the Wyly Theatre, starting outdoors on the Brierley Esplanade. Performances will be given by Clover the Violinist, DJ Endolena, Dr. Gorilla, Aurora Bleu, and The Manhattan Band. The night will include food, raffles, and a speakeasy presented by Wild Turkey. Tickets to the 21+ event are here.

BubblyQ, October 26
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, this champagne-infused fundraiser at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton remains one of the most popular fall fundraisers on the Dallas YP scene. It's hosted by Young Texans of the American Cancer Society (formerly Young Texans Against Cancer). In addition to bites from top local restaurants selected by chef Dean Fearing (Eataly, El Carlos Elegante, Monarch, Meridian, Salum, and more) there’ll be cocktails by Parliament, an epic silent auction, beats by Jaxon Taylor, and a rockin’ after-party. All proceeds support local cancer initiatives. Tickets are $200 or $50 just for the after-party, available here.

Dallas Autumn Ball, November 3
Hard to believe this high-energy, black-tie dance party is 10 years old. Established in 2013, the be-seen gala of fall welcomes young professionals to Hotel ZaZa for a fun night benefiting local education-focused nonprofits. The special 10th anniversary edition will include a VIP pre-event dinner and exclusive glam portraits, dancing to the Ice House Band, a casino room, and more. This year’s proceeds benefit Philanthropy Kids. Tickets are $175 or $250 for VIP, available here.

Junior League Auction Party, November 4
Themed “Leagueapalooza,” this year’s Junior League of Dallas party heads to House of Blues for a night of silent auctions, live music, dancing, food and drinks, and more surprises - all in a festival atmosphere. (Be sure to wear your best "music festival chic.") Auction Party benefits the Junior League of Dallas Community Service Fund. Tickets are $125 or $250 for the full VIP experience, which starts an hour early; available here.

Millennial Gala, November 11
The 2023 Dallas Millennial Gala moves to an exciting new location: the new JW Marriott Hotel in the Dallas Arts District. The black-tie ball that touts itself as a “celebratory charity event for changemakers that support STEM education, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship for underserved students” will recognize and celebrate eight changemakers in business and philanthropy. Theme: “The Art of Change.” Attendees can expect drinks and bites, dancing to live music and DJ, a fashion show, and much more. Proceeds will benefit Big Thought and Junior Achievement; tickets ($50-$160 for earlybird through October 1) are here.

Dallas Millennial Gala

Photo courtesy of Dallas Millennial Gala

Dallas Millennial Gala moves to an exciting new location this year.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

New book by Dallas author will be a dishy tell-all about true crime TV

Author News

Dallas-based journalist and podcaster Claire St. Amant has agreed to a deal with BenBella Books to publish Killer Story, a memoir revealing the inner workings of national TV crime coverage, while also offering a behind-the-scenes peek at her journey in mainstream network news.

In the book, St. Amant will recount her days as an investigative crime reporter and producer at CBS News' 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, where she lived the high-stakes game of network television. It promises a peek at the ruthless world of true-crime television reporting, behind the yellow tape and the camera flashes, to show what it really takes to get a killer story.

BenBella Books has published pop culture/celebrity bestsellers such as The Actor's Life, The Geraldo Show, Pretty Little Killers, Presumed Guilty, and Family Don't End with Blood.

In a statement, BenBella Books publisher Glenn Yeffeth says he's "thrilled to be publishing Claire's fascinating account of her career as an investigative crime reporter."

"The only thing more interesting than the true crime cases she covers is the behind-the-scenes accounts of how she breaks the news," Yeffeth says. "Claire is relentless, brilliant and does what it takes to get her story. I could not put this manuscript down!"

Told through the framework of headline-grabbing murder trials, Killer Story is St. Amant’s personal journey into—and out of—true crime television. Can you say Bombshell?

St. Amant was a founding editor for CultureMap Dallas when it launched in 2012, and subsequently spent nearly a decade in network television, pitching, producing, and writing about the biggest true crime stories in the country: American Sniper Chris Kyle, the Parkland School Shooting, and the Murdaugh Murders.

Her stories on Keller "black widow" Michele Williams are still among the top traffic-getter stories for CultureMap since they were published in 2013.

St. Amant has been face-to-face with serial killers, hit men, and cold-blooded murderers. She didn’t start out with any connections to the national media, but built an award-winning body of work that had the big three networks chasing her reporting all the way down to Texas.

"Most people would not believe what actually goes on behind the scenes when you are making true crime TV. It’s a cutthroat business in more ways than one," St. Amant says. "This book has been a dream of mine for years, and it's really exciting to see it come to life."

St. Amant, who also launched a true crime podcast series in 2021, is represented by Carrie Pestritto at Laura Dail Literary Agency. The book is set for publication in February 2025.

Director Todd Haynes tackles inappropriate relationships in May December

Movie Review

Director Todd Haynes has pushed buttons throughout his career, starting with his acclaimed short film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls to illustrate the late singer’s anorexia battle. He’s at it again with his latest, May December, which tackles the idea of highly inappropriate relationships through a lens that itself has the potential to be upsetting.

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an acclaimed actress, has traveled to Savannah, Georgia to shadow Gracie (Julianne Moore) in preparation for a movie in which Elizabeth will play Gracie. That movie tackles the beginnings of Gracie’s relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), when he was a 13-year-old seventh grader and she was a 36-year-old pet shop worker. The shocking tryst resulted in much controversy, a child, and a jail stint for Gracie, but the couple professed their love for each other through it all.

Twenty years later, they’re still together, having added two more kids to their family, children who happen to be the same age as Gracie’s grandkids from her previous relationship. Elizabeth wants to experience it all, bouncing from person to person to try to understand exactly who Gracie is and was. Striving for authenticity in her performance, however, soon takes her down a Method acting rabbit hole.

Directed by Haynes from a script by Samy Burch, and loosely based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, the film treats Gracie and Joe’s relationship in a relatively straightforward manner. It details a benign life in which they have the love of their kids and some neighbors, even if they occasionally get a box full of poop on their doorstep.

It’s the arrival of Elizabeth that sends things spiraling, as her various conversations trigger responses from both Gracie and Joe that they seem not to expect. Haynes alternates between being serious and being campy, with not enough of each for either for them to seem to be the goal. The score gives off a less-than-serious vibe, and an early scene in which a mundane thing is treated as if it were happening in a soap opera points in the campy direction, but those type of moments are few and far between.

In casting Portman as the obsessive actor, Haynes may have been trying to offer up echoes of her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. It’s no small irony that the person who comes off as the most craven in such a sordid story is the actor who everybody wants to be around, not the woman who became a pariah because she is a sex offender. In that and other ways, Haynes upends expectations, keeping the film interesting even through its slower moments.

Portman and Moore are ideal for their respective roles, Portman because she has a knack for portraying confidence and guile, and Moore due to her ability to manipulate at will. Melton, best known for playing Reggie on Riverdale, pales in comparison due to his less showy role, but he complements the story well. Special notice goes to Elizabeth Yu as Gracie and Joe’s daughter Mary, who shines in her limited scenes.

The story of May December contains elements that will creep certain viewers out, whether it’s the subject matter itself or the performances of the two great lead actors. Haynes has a way of getting under the skin with his storytelling, and this film is yet another great example.


May December will debut on Netflix on December 1.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Photo by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December.

These are the 20 best things to do in Dallas this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

The first weekend in December will feature an array of holiday-themed events, from theater to music to festivals. If you're not quite ready to commit to the season, there are a few other choices, including a big comedian, a theater production that pays homage to the Harry Potter series, and a dance production.

Below are more best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, November 30

Dallas Theater Center presents A Christmas Carol
Three spirits have come to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, and to take him on a fantastic journey through Christmases past, present, and future. Brimming with joyful songs, magical spirits, and holiday cheer, the holiday classic embodies a story of joy, redemption, and the spirit of Christmas. The production runs through December 30 at Wyly Theatre.

The Firehouse Theatre presents Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street tells the story of single mother who doesn't want her daughter's head filled with romantic notions. Their neighbor tries to woo the mother by charming her daughter and taking her to see Santa Claus at Macy's. When it turns out that Macy's Santa may, in fact, be the real Kris Kringle, a wave of love spreads across New York City that melts even the most cynical hearts. The production runs through December 17 at The Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch.

Bishop Arts Theatre Center presents Black Nativity
Bishop Arts Theatre Center's annual holiday production of Black Nativity, inspired by Langston Hughes's iconic 1960 Broadway show, is back with a mesmerizing display of hand-clapping, toe-tapping, and finger-snapping theatrical wonderment like never before. The production runs through December 17.

Andrea Bocelli in concert
Iconic Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will perform songs from his extensive repertoire, including music in honor of the holiday season. Selections will include his recent No. 1 album, A Family Christmas, his 2020 solo album, Believe, as well as a variety of arias, crossover hits, and love songs. The concert takes place at American Airlines Center.

Friday, December 1

Majestic Theatre presents Pete Davidson
Comedian Pete Davidson has seen his profile raised immensely from the time he joined Saturday Night Live in 2014. He shot his first one-hour stand-up special for Comedy Central in 2016 and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 the same year, and was listed as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2022, the same year he left SNL. He also co-wrote and starred in the semi-autobiographical film, The King of Staten Island, and recently wrote and starred in the Peacock comedy, Bupkis. He'll perform two shows of stand-up comedy at Majestic Theatre.

Ballet Ensemble of Texas presents The Nutcracker
There's no shortage of Nutcracker productions to take in this time of year, and Ballet Ensemble of Texas will add their version to the list. Updated in 2022, the production rings in the holiday season with humor, tradition, and splendor. The production will feature Melody Mennite, principal dancer with the Houston Ballet, as guest artist, and more than 200 young dancers from the Ballet Academy of Texas. There will be four performances through Sunday at Irving Arts Center.

Garland Civic Theatre presents Puffs
Puffs gives audiences a new look at a familiar adventure from the perspective of three potential heroes just trying to make it through a magic school that proves to be very dangerous for children. Alongside them are the Puffs, a group of well-meaning, loyal outsiders with a thing for badger. Their epic journey takes the classic story to new places and reimagines what a boy wizard hero can be. The production runs through December 17 at Granville Arts Center.

Art Centre Theatre presents A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story is a beloved holiday classic that follows the wintry exploits of youngster Ralphie Parker, who spends most of his time dodging a bully and dreaming of his ideal Christmas gift, a Red Ryder air rifle. Frequently at odds with his cranky dad but comforted by his doting mother, Ralphie struggles to make it to Christmas Day with his glasses and his hopes intact. The production runs through December 17 at Art Centre Theatre in Plano.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents Christmas Pops
The tradition of Christmas Pops continues with the Dallas Symphony Chorus performing anthems, holiday favorites, and sing-along carols. The concert features an appearance by you-know-who, a bit of snow, and the joyous music of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. There will be nine performances through December 10 at Meyerson Symphony Center, as well as Family Christmas Pops, an hour-long, family-friendly version on the next two Saturdays.

Theatre Arlington presents A Christmas Carol: The Radio Show
It’s Christmas Eve, and with the actors snowed in and unable to make it to the studios of WXMS for the live radio performance of A Christmas Carol, the sound effects person decides to take the audience through the classic tale himself. This telling is performed as a 1940s radio play with one person providing all of the characters’ voices and sound effects. The production runs through December 17 at Theatre Arlington.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre presents Black on Black
Audiences can step into a world of creativity and inspiration with Black on Black, an evening of intimate and captivating performances, all produced and choreographed by Dallas Black Dance Theatre company members. There will be performances on both Friday and Saturday at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre Studios.

Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas and Camp Death Productions presents Santa Claus vs. The Martians
Based on the 1964 infamously bad cult movie Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Santa Claus vs. The Martians recreates many of the hilariously bad acting moments and low budget props from the original film, as Martian leader Kimar kidnaps Earth's Santa Claus in order to bring happiness and laughter to the children of Mars. Opposing Kimar in his plan are Martian villain Voldar, as well as two Earth children, Billy and Betty Foster. The production runs through December 17 at Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas.

Theatre Coppell presents The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
In this hilarious tale, a couple struggling to put on a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the Herdman kids - probably the most inventively awful kids in history. You won’t believe the mayhem - and the fun - when the Herdmans collide with the Christmas story head on. The production runs through December 17 at Coppell Arts Center.

Richardson Theatre Centre presents It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
It’s a Wonderful Life is about the life of George Bailey, a generous and well-meaning man who has become too downcast and tired to continue living. It will take help from a lovable angel to show George what life would be like if he wasn’t born for George to have a change of heart and understand the true spirit of the holidays. The production runs through December 17 at Richardson Theatre Centre.

Saturday, December 2

Dallas Holiday Parade
The Dallas Holiday Parade is the city’s largest one-day, outdoor event and has become a holiday tradition for thousands of families throughout North Texas. The show-stopping parade commonly known as "The Miracle on Commerce Street" begins at Commerce and Houston, and finishes up at Dallas City Hall. After the parade, the fun will continue at Main Street Garden with a festival featuring over 20 vendors, 10 food trucks, and entertainment.

Klyde Warren Park presents Tree Lighting Celebration
Klyde Warren Park's annual Tree Lighting Celebration will feature a festive day of activities and entertainment, including photos with Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, face painting, crafts, games, and snow flurries. The day culminates with live music from the Emerald City Band, visits from Frosty and Rudolph, and the lighting of The Mayor's Tree. Visitors can then go across the street to...

Reliant Lights Your Holidays
Reliant Lights Your Holidays will feature the illumination of hundreds of thousands of LED lights, with a holiday concert featuring The Poylphonic Spree. There will also be a Christmas-themed drone show, a wintery snow playground, kids craft area, photos with Santa, and miniature golf on the Reliant Putting Green. The event takes place at Sammons Park, outside of Winspear Opera House. (For a longer list of the best Christmas lights in the area, go here.)

The City of Carrollton presents Santa on the Square
The City of Carrollton's annual Santa on the Square features festive lights, face painting, a trackless train around the Downtown Carrollton Square, and holiday crafts. Later in the evening will be the official tree lighting ceremony and Carrollton’s 160-drone light display presented by Sky Elements Drone Shows. The event takes place in Historic Downtown Carrollton.

City of Grapevine presents Merry & Bright Christmas Drone Show
Grapevine’s Merry & Bright Christmas Drone Show takes the Christmas Capital of Texas to new heights, with a fleet of 160 drones creating Christmas magic in the sky over Main Street in front of Grapevine Main Station. There will be shows every Saturday night through December 16.

The Colony Parks & Recreation Department presents The Colony Christmas Spectacular
At the Colony Christmas Spectacular, visitors can enjoy the jolliest hits of the season. 99.9 FM will highlight holiday ballads set to a light show display which visitors can enjoy without leaving the warmth of their cars. The show will take place nightly through January 7 at the Central Fire Station in The Colony.

Dallas Theater Center presents A Christmas Carol
Photo by Jordan Fraker

Dallas Theater Center presents A Christmas Carol at Wyly Theatre through December 30.