Bill’s 5 things this weekend: Fly with ‘Dumbo,’ Tech football, ‘Divas,’ spelling bee, dance and cupcakes

When Lubbock Lights devised the concept of weekly Best Bets, I recognized this would provide an opportunity to showcase the variety that is Lubbock entertainment. And no, not every event falls under the heading of arts and entertainment, in part because the city as a whole remains a loud, proud supporter of the Red and Black. At the same time, excitement is generated by visiting Broadway divas and choreographers luring audiences with, of all thing, cupcakes. The word entertainment has far-reaching boundaries. On the other hand, this city’s arts support owes much to its willingness to try new things. Thus the emphasis on variety.

Then again, film has been my dance partner since I arrived, and it is a safe bet my own Best Bets will include a movie title, although those looking closely might see my fingers crossed during certain seasons. Let’s kick things off there.

“Dumbo”

Interest arrives from two directions. First and foremost, there is curiosity generated in Disney’s intention to offer live action remakes of animated classics. This year alone, “Dumbo” precedes “Aladdin” in May, “The Lion King” in June and a “Maleficent” (Sleeping Beauty) sequel in November. “Dumbo,” of course, will be a combination of CGI and live action. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green and Alan Arkin. Almost as important is direction by filmmaker Tim Burton, who delivers occasionally dark themes and, always, an unpredictable,  imaginative and lively approach. One already senses the thrill that is Dumbo spreading his ears and flying around the top of the circus tent.

Texas Tech Red Raider Spring football game

As I understand it, Tech opens up its spring football games three times to the public. But the latter two are played in Midland and Frisco. Locals wanting to see how new Texas Tech Football Coach Matt Wells is progressing with Red Raider players are urged to check out the spring game at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at Jones AT&T Stadium, located on the Tech campus at the southwest intersection of University Avenue and Fourth Street. There is no admission charge and an autograph session immediately follows the game.

LSO Pops Concert, Broadway Divas

This season’s Broadway Pops concert will find Lubbock Symphony Orchestra maestro David Cho (seen conducting above) providing the music for a series of Broadway hit songs performed by friends Ali Mauzey and Nicole Parker at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre, 1501 Mac Davis Lane. Each singer co-starred in Broadway’s production of “Wicked” – although in different years. Saturday’s full concert, however, will include a sampling of the best songs that Broadway delivered in dozens of shows.
Tickets are $50, premiere level; $38, student premiere; $40, choice level; $33, student choice; $25, standard level; and $15, student standard. With Masterworks reservations sold for two nights and the Broadway Divas singing on only one, tickets may be tough to find by Saturday.
Meanwhile, Cho, appreciates music for the stage. He made his own “debut as a Broadway musical musician” in the 1988 production of “King of Hearts” at Palos Verdes Estates in Southern California. His favorite experience with Broadway music arrived when he conducted the Lubbock Moonlight Musical “The Little Mermaid” in 2016. Although he added, “One certainly cannot top the 2017 experience of conducting ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ featuring David Gaschen, Marissa Hernandez and Sarah-Clementine Mire. All three artists are exceptional Texas Tech alumni. It was a magnificent collaboration between Tech’s University Opera Theatre and Lubbock Moonlight Musicals.” In addition, Cho has full confidence in the LSO supporting the divas Saturday.

“The Lubbock Symphony Orchestra is a world class ensemble. Being first rate in this art requires one to excel in serious music, as well as letting your hair down and having fun with Broadway musicals,” he said.

Spelling Bee

Frankly, I do not know many students who even own a dictionary, much less bother to use the dictionary app on their computer to expand their vocabulary or nail down spellings of new words. Will it matter later? OK, maybe not. Yet there can be inherent drama, tension and fun in just watching an annual city spelling bee. Yes, really. Besides, it’s free, so why not take the kiddos and see if you can predict who might win?

Sponsored again by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the bee takes place from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 30, in rooms 111 and 112 at the southwest corner of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, 1501 Mac Davis Lane. Fifteen students will compete, with the winner of this regional spelling bee advancing to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Flatlands Dance Theatre, “Delicious: An Evening of Dance and Dessert”

The Flatlands Dance Theatre will stage a series of dances called “Delicious” at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, March 29-30, in the Firehouse Theatre at LHUCA, 511 Ave. K. However, the ticket price also includes a dessert bar that opens at 6:30 p.m. and features one-of-a-kind cupcakes from the Lubbock bakery called The Ruffled Cup.

Ticket prices for the 6:30 p.m. dessert bar and following performance are $30 for the general public, and $20 for seniors, children and students with valid IDs. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Select-A-Seat (770-2000), online or at the door on the night of a performance.

I was curious how the two businesses linked, and Ali Duffy, Flatlands Dance Theatre artistic director, said, “When we talked to Ruffled Cup baker Bea Farrell and owner Deanna Hurt about their processes, we (the choreographers) discovered we had much in common – that we work long hours, are incredibly passionate about ‘getting it right,’ and negotiate bodily tensions and stresses in order to achieve our best work.”

Flatlands choreographers are Allison Beaty, Duffy, Sarah Mondle, Sarah Sabin and Rachel Ure. Flatlands dancers are Allison Beaty, Sulma Benitez, Ashlyn Brown, Duffy, Sarah Estrada, Courtney Ferguson, Almendra Gonzalez, Sarah Mondle, Kris Olson, Megan Reyna, Molly Roberts, Madison Sandvig, Tamara Smith, Rachel Ure and Breana Young.