Hotel Crescent Court & LoveShackFancy

Spring is officially here and there’s a two-day, floral-themed afternoon tea party with shopping to celebrate. Also get ready for backyard barbecuing with a pitmaster class. Multiple pairing dinners, including wine, whiskey, and tequila, help round out the list. Save room for a soul food festival by Sunday.

Tuesday, March 21

Herman Marshall Whiskey Dinner at Urban Rio
Experience Wylie-based Herman Marshall Whiskey during this four-course pairing dinner at Urban Rio Cantina & Grill in Plano. The $70 ticket includes tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, March 23

Taste of Texas at Elm Street Cask & Kitchen
It's an evening of Texas fare including dinner, meet-and-greet with Texas spirit vendors, and a local musician performing tunes from Texas-born artists. Menu by chef Jasmine Copeland includes venison with sweet potato, crab, red ceviche, Texas BBQ oyster, bison short rib, and pecan cheesecake, and is accompanied by Texas wine, beer, and bourbon. Diners get take-home recipes and goodies. It runs from 6:30-9:30 pm and is $130, with attendance limited to 30 guests. Reserve online.

Tequila Dinner at Cantina Laredo
Get a taste of Mexico City during this four-course dinner at Cantina Laredo in Frisco. Each course will be paired with a different cocktail made with Tequila Corazon. Courses include ceviche, fresh asparagus soup, choice of red snapper or New York strip, and mixed berries with tequila cream. Dinner is $79.99, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 7 pm. Call 214-618-9860 for reservations.

Saturday, March 25

Pitmaster University at OAK’D
Learn how to smoke brisket with the best of them during this Saturday morning barbecue class. OAK’D chef and pitmaster Michael Lane will lead the instruction, sharing his secrets on selecting and trimming meat, controlling temps and timing, and creating rubs and marinades. The hands-on class is $99 and will run from 8-9:30 am.

LoveShackFancy Afternoon High Tea at Hotel Crescent Court
The vintage-inspired feminine lifestyle brand LoveShackFancy Dallas will partner with Hotel Crescent Court to host a whimsical garden tea party and pop-up shop Saturday and Sunday. Wear your fanciest floral dress and visit the hotel for flower-laden tablescapes and a multi-course menu, including caviar, lobster salad on pumpernickel bread, roasted duck with apricot glaze, and strawberry chiffon cake. The $225 ticket, plus a service fee and tax, includes a $100 gift card to the LoveShackFancy pop-up shop and a canvas tote bag. Add endless bubbly for a ticket price of $250. Seating times are 10 am and 12 pm on Saturday and 12 pm and 2 pm on Sunday.

Sunday, March 26

Selena Brunch at Peticolas Brewing Company
The Dallas brewery will commemorate the life and music of the Tejano superstar, who died tragically on March 31, 1995. Visit from 11 am-3 pm to hear her music (there’ll be room to dance) and enjoy food trucks serving tacos, burgers, pizzas, and even Selena-themed cookies. The brewery will also bring back their michelada and beermosa bar for the occasion. The first 50 people to arrive in Selena-themed gear will get a rose.

Doughnut Pairing at Oak Highlands Brewery
Chef Diana Zamora and her Nena Postreria bakery concept are partnering with the brewery for a doughnut pairing, combining four brews with four gourmet doughnuts including a corn cake doughnut with Mexican whiskey caramel, pan dulce, al pastor empanada, and a Bunuelo Mexican fried cinnamon sugar, paired with Raspberry Porter. It starts at 11 am and it's $20. Reserve tickets online.

Dallas Soul Food Festival
There’ll be live music, kids’ activities, and soul food galore during this Sunday afternoon festival to be held at The Lofty Spaces at 816 Montgomery St. Prepare to indulge in pork chops, oxtails, candied yams, greens, fried chicken, fish, barbecue, funnel cake, tacos, and even vegan options. Food will be available for purchase from individual vendors and admission is free with an RSVP. The festival will run from 12-6 pm.

Monday, March 27

Euro Trip Wine Dinner at Urban Seafood
The Plano seafood destination will take diners on a trip around Europe during this four-course wine dinner. Each course will be paired with a different European wine. The $95 ticket includes tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 6:30 pm.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Endless creativity of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse keeps superhero story in overdrive

Movie Review

The blast of pure fun that was 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse accomplished several goals, but none more important than reclaiming the character from being part of just the Marvel Cinematic Universe. By not participating in the never-ending connecting stories of the MCU, the filmmakers could do whatever they wanted, first and foremost using Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) instead of Peter Parker as its main character.

It was also at the forefront of multiversal storytelling that has become the rage in the MCU and elsewhere. Given the multitude of Spider characters that have existed in the comics over the years, it was uniquely suited to telling a story with people from multiple universes. That concept is taken to the nth degree with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, a film that has seemingly limitless levels of creativity.

Miles, having separated from Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson), and other Spider-people at the end of the first film, is doing well as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, casually protecting people from threats big and small. But when a highly unusual villain named The Spot (Jason Schwartzman) proves especially tricky, a series of events has Miles follow Gwen into a portal where he encounters every other Spider character in existence.

Lest you think that’s hyperbole, among the people he meets are Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), Miguel O’Hara/Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac), Hobie Brown/Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya), Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider (Andy Samberg), and Spider-Man India (Karan Soni), and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Revelations made while meeting all of them lead Miles to a whole new understanding of himself and the multiverse in general, with far-reaching consequences.

The filmmakers, once again led by writers/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, fill the screen with so many visual elements that at times it can be overwhelming, but in the best possible way. Unlike most animated films, there are multiple different styles employed throughout, and never knowing what to expect gives the film a kineticism that borders on manic, although it always stops short of being incomprehensible.

The storytelling is much more complex this time around, no surprise since it involves so many more characters. But the personal stories of each of the Spider characters, especially Miles and Gwen, maintain a grounded nature that keeps the plot anchored even while delving into increasingly fantastical territory.

Although this film deals with some darker themes, there is still plenty of humor to be had. The intersection of so many Spider characters highlights their differences, and the way they interact can’t help but be entertaining. Miles is still a 15-year-old kid, and the way he navigates the world(s) has a lightness to it that is a sharp contrast to the various adults in his life.

Moore, who’s not as well-known as some of his co-stars, has proven to be the perfect voice for Miles, making him relatable and powerful at the same time. Everyone else gives similarly great performances, although the fact that many of them are famous for their non-voicework doesn’t really play a factor in how well they come across here.

A third film, Beyond the Spider-Verse, is teased with a cliffhanger, and unlike other franchises where multiple films are unnecessary, there are no such reservations here. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse equals the success of the first film, and there is no doubt that the filmmakers will bring the same level of attention to detail to the end of the trilogy.


Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse opens in theaters on June 2.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Animation

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Gourmet 'better' burger fast-food restaurant in North Dallas says bye

Burger News

An innovative Dallas restaurant that tried to make a better fast-food burger has closed: Bizzy Burger, which opened by the Galleria at 13251 Montfort Dr. in November, closed its doors at the end of May.

The concept was founded by restaurant mastermind Mark Brezinski to embrace the "better burger" trend but in a fast-food setting. But Brezinski said in an email that they were unable to make a go of it.

"We had an incredibly loyal following that was growing slowly and mirrored our most recent reviews, just not enough," he said.

"It is a brutal fact for all new businesses that it takes time to build a new brand and that success is always measured in revenue first and foremost," he said. "We simply could not get the traction we needed despite stellar ratings on Google and Yelp. Not that all ratings determine success, but reading reviews helps others get an idea and that idea being shared was that Bizzy could have become the 'disrupter' of the fast food burger world."

Brezinski's idea was to do a quick-serve restaurant like a McDonald's or Wendy's, with premium burgers but at an affordable price, and he recruited credentialed chef John Franke to help devise the menu, which definitely had gourmet elements, including burgers made from HeartBrand Premium Akaushi Beef, from Harwood, Texas; and buns from foodie favorite King's Hawaiian, known for their fluffy texture and sweet taste.

Its veggie burger was particularly unique, with thinly sliced eggplant, red pepper, mushroom, and squash that formed an irresistible "stack."

The biggest and perhaps most welcome distinction was that Bizzy departed from the current trend of obscenely large burgers (half-pound and up) by featuring smaller patties a la White Castle, the Ohio-based chain known for its petite burgers.

Bizzy was a participant in the Burger Throwdown at CultureMap's 2023 Tastemaker Awards, and also recently hosted a clever promotion where they challenged people to compare their burgers to a Big Mac.

After efforts to renegotiate the lease stalled, the decision was made to vacate the space immediately.

Brezinski says he has faith in the concept and hopes to continue to operate the location at Sky Harbor Airport as well as make use of the Bizzy food truck in Dallas.

"My team executed the brand perfectly, the food quality and hospitality were always given great reviews," he said. "I think our concept of 'better fast food' has a future but unfortunately not on Montfort any longer."

These are the 19 must-see shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for June

Theater Critic Picks

It's a joke in the news industry that things more or less slow down in the summer, but theater apparently never got that note.

This summery month sees 19 — two more than last month! — shows opening in Dallas-Fort Worth, plus the return of Shakespeare in the Park, a special role reprisal, and concerts by two absolute Broadway legends.

In order of start date, here are 19 local shows to watch this month:

Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical
Uptown Players, through June 11
In an epic game of cat and mouse, two diabolically charming step-siblings place a bet and vow to destroy anyone who gets in their way. Seduced by passion and revenge, this devious duo spins a web of dangerous liaisons and find themselves entangled in the cruelest game of all: love. Based on the cult classic film and featuring favorite '90s hits, this new jukebox musical is utterly intoxicating. This is a co-production with Fort Worth's Stage West.

The Last Flapper
Belle Sauvage, through June 11
Is she mad… or just angry? Alone in a mental hospital, Zelda Fitzgerald, icon of the Jazz age, asks the questions her doctor should have. Did F. Scott steal her words? Did he claim she was insane just to gain his freedom? Can a woman decide her own fate? In this poignant, playful, and truthful one-woman show, Zelda finally gets to tell her side of the story. Adapted and performed by award-winning Dallas actress Catherine D. DuBord and directed by award-winning Texan Lydia Mackay, the historical play wrestles with issues that are not at all a thing of the past.

Amphibian Stage, through June 14
SparkFest features a variety of events, workshops, performances, staged readings, and parties over a two-week period. See the link for full schedule.

Tiny Beautiful Things
Circle Theatre, through June 17
The play is based on Cheryl Strayed’s journey as the beloved anonymous advice columnist for “Dear Sugar.” Over the years, thousands of people turned to “Sugar” for words of wisdom, compassion, and hope. Reluctant to claim that she has all the answers, Sugar looks to her own past and draws on her life experiences to bring light, laughter, and humanity to others.

The Way She Spoke
Undermain Theatre, through June 18
This haunting and theatrical one-woman play travels from the stage to the treacherous streets of Juárez, Mexico, where thousands of women have been murdered in an epidemic of violence that has yet to stop. Written by Isaac Gómez based on his intimate interviews, the play is a raw and riveting exploration of responsibility: one playwright's journey to give voice to a city of women silenced by violence, fear, and a world that has turned a deaf ear to their stories.

Next to Normal
Theatre Three, through July 2
The Goodman family is just a “normal” family: Dad's an architect, mom packs lunches and makes birthday cakes, and their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens. Under the surface, their family is anything but. Next to Normal is an emotionally charged, Tony Award-winning musical that explores a family’s raw and emotional journey with a mother struggling with chronic bipolar disorder as they navigate a world of therapists and medication.

Praise the Lord and Raise the Roof
Jubilee Theatre, June 2-18
Written by Celeste B. Walker, this light-hearted comedy is set in the fictional town of Rule Hill County, Virginia, where an African American church takes in a friendly white drifter amidst fear and suspicion about a rash of local church burnings. When tragedy strikes, they must reconcile their own prejudice with their Christianity.

Miss Saigon
Casa Mañana, June 3-11
In the turmoil of the Vietnam War, Chris, an American soldier, and Kim, a Vietnamese girl, fall in love and marry but are distressingly separated when Saigon falls. As years pass, Chris, remarries and attempts to move on with his life. Kim, however, gives birth to Chris’ son and waits faithfully for Chris’ return. When circumstances bring Chris back to Vietnam, he learns the truth. Legendary actor Lou Diamond Phillips stars as The Engineer.

Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show
Broadway Dallas, June 6-8
This is a powerful and stirring reinvention of the beloved favorite, celebrated the world over for its Grammy Award‐winning score and the thrilling energy and passion of its Irish and international dance. Twenty-five years on, composer Bill Whelan has rerecorded his mesmerizing soundtrack while producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have completely reimagined the groundbreaking show with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection, stage, and costume designs.

Much Ado About Nothing
Shakespeare Dallas, June 7-July 16
For some in Much Ado About Nothing, love begins at first sight. For others, love has been forsworn. The war is over. Pedro Prince of Aragon, with his followers Benedick and Claudio, visits Leonato, Duke of Messina, father of Hero and uncle of Beatrice. Claudio fights for his love for Hero, and Benedick has forsworn women until his friends make him believe that he has caught the eye of Lady Beatrice. It plays in repertory with Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The Last Truck Stop
Kitchen Dog Theater, June 8-25
The Mainstage production of the 25th annual New Works Festival, The Last Truck Stop is a world-premiere production that centers on a tenacious trucker-turned-truck-stop-owner and her poetic, gun-toting postal carrier, who debate staying or going when their desert town becomes a no-go zone. Should they trust the colorful stranger who arrives with a story they desperately want to believe? A journey into a not-so-distant dystopian future; with blistering heat, resilient heart, and dreams of the open road.

New Works Festival
Kitchen Dog Theater, June 10-24
The 25th annual edition includes a Staged Reading Series and the 22nd year of Playwrights Under Progress (PUP) Fest, co-produced with D-PAC (Dallas - Playwriting Arts Collective), an alliance between KDT, Dallas ISD, and local youth organization Junior Players. See link for the full schedule.

Two Gentlemen of Verona
Shakespeare Dallas, June 14-July 14
Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays and also one of the most rarely performed. It's about betrayal, love, and disguise. When two best friends fall in love with the same woman, chaos ensues. Proteus is determined to destroy the betrothal of his friend, Valentine, and the lovely Silvia, but he also forgets his own beloved Julia in the midst. Resolved to win back his love, Julia travels to Milan to find Proteus. It runs in repertory with Much Ado About Nothing.

I Wanna F*cking Tear You Apart
Stage West, June 15-July 9
Best friends and roommates Sam and Leo are an unbreakable team. United by their cozy co-dependent diet of mutual self-loathing and Grey’s Anatomy marathons, this "us-against-the-world" pair loves each other to absolute death. But when a new friend enters the scene, doubt creeps in and a shattering secret is about to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light.

Fly By Night
Theatre Arlington, June 16-July 2
In this darkly comic rock-fable, a melancholy sandwich maker’s humdrum life is intersected by two entrancing sisters. A sweeping ode to young love set against the backdrop of the Northeast blackout of 1965, Fly By Night is a tale about making your way and discovering hope in a world beset by darkness. David Coffee reprises his role as Mr. McClam, which he originated in the world premiere at Dallas Theater Center.

Lea Salonga In Concert
AT&T Performing Arts Center, June 17
Multiple award-winning actress and singer Lea Salonga is best known for her Tony Award-winning role in Miss Saigon. She was also the first Asian to play Eponine in the musical Les Misérables on Broadway and returned to the beloved show as Fantine in the 2006 revival. Many fans of all ages recognize Lea as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin and Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II.

Chita Rivera In Concert
The Eisemann Center, June 23
A theatrical icon and one of Broadway's greatest triple-threat talents, Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history, having earned 10 nominations, two wins, and the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. She will recreate signature moments from her legendary Broadway career, from West Side Story, Sweet Charity, and Bye Bye Birdie to Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Visit, and more.

The Butterfly's Evil Spell (El Maleficio De La Mariposa)
Hip Pocket Theatre, June 23-July 16
Written by Federico Garcia Lorca and last produced at Hip Pocket in 2011, Lorca's poetic world of beetles, fireflies, and other magical creatures is disrupted when a hypnotic, wounded butterfly enters their dewdrop paradise. Boy beetle is cast under the spell of love, and Scorpy is sure to shake things up in this timeless tale of longing and beauty.

Broadway at the Bass, June 27-July 2
Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Hadestown intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and King Hades and his wife, Persephone — as it invites the audience on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and director Rachel Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love.