Images on the video screen swell right along with the singer as she reaches the chorus of "Livin' on a Prayer," inciting her friends to stand up from the wraparound booth and pump their fists. It's a typical evening at Austin Karaoke, where visitors belt, croon, and warble their favorite songs until 4 a.m. on weeknights and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Nine karaoke rooms accommodate small parties of up to 8 or large parties of up to 50. Ensconced in these private studios, songsters search the computerized catalog for their standard baroque numbers, grab the microphone, and then pour their souls into a premium sound system.
Chi Chi Randolph has choreographed routines for hip-hop artists including Nelly and the Black Eyed Peas. Kari Lehman has 15 years of ballet training experience. Viviane Bressan turned her love of belly dance into a career, traversing the globe while teaching and performing the ancient art. At Dance Austin Studio, these three number among more than a dozen dance instructors whose dazzlingly diverse backgrounds enable an array of classes for everyone from preschoolers to grownups and fitness buffs to serious students of dance.
Zumba combines fast-paced cardio choreography with dynamic Latin rhythms, and the 18-and-older Sexy Stiletto Fit class uses high heels to tone calves and build confidence. Students can choose to learn fundamental positions, steps, and vocabulary during structured ballet, lyrical, and jazz programs, or they can develop video-ready swagger during hip-hop classes. The studio’s sense of fun occasionally spills out into the community—it recently teamed up with the city’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to spark a flash mob at city hall, held to raise awareness of emergency preparedness and help officials practice what to do if invaded by dancing aliens.
Penfold Theatre Company takes offense to the notion that the best theater comes from New York. In every successful season, the Round Rock stock of actors and artists give the Great White Way a run for its money with inspired productions. Hatched in the summer of 2007—after an 18-hour road trip led its founders to the dramatic potential of the hills of north Travis and Williamson Counties—Penfold quickly blossomed into a community jewel and a critics’ darling. Winner of the Austin Critics Table Award for Best Musical Production for the third year in a row, the troupe embarks on a new season filled with comedy, drama, and music—all while breeding new stocks of young thespians in their Penfold Players acting classes and summer camps.
Filling a chamber with music is as pleasing to the senses as filling a bathtub with warm pudding. Fully grasp this truism by checking out today's side deal: for $12, you get one ticket to one concert (a $25 value) during the Austin Chamber Music Festival, organized by the Austin Chamber Music Center. The festival's eclectic lineup of talent spans the musical divide, tickling the tonal reaches by way of piano trios, string quartets, and tango-inspired quintets. Depending on your flavor of chambered love, choose one or more of the following concerts:
Cavani String Quartet on Friday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
The Bad Plus on Saturday, July 17, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Brentano String Quartet on Sunday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m., Bates Recital Hall, UT Butler School of Music, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Raul Jaurena and The Texas Tango Five on Friday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Claremont Piano Trio on Saturday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Der Golem performed by Carpe Diem String Quartet and clarinetist Paul Green on Sunday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Escher String Quartet on Friday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m., First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover Avenue
Festival Finale with Kelly Willis on Saturday, July 31, at 7:30 p.m., Brentwood Christian School, 11908 N. Lamar Boulevard
Tickets for all performances are uniformly priced. Guests who would like to sit together are encouraged to purchase multiple Groupons under the same name.
The Austin Chamber Music Center's performances have been featured in the Austin Chronicle and on the Austin American-Statesman blog, Austin360.com. The center has won several awards, including the award for Best Chamber Performance at the 2007–2008 Austin Critics' Table Awards.
Austin Children's Theater's executive director, Talena Martinez, knows how to inspire kids: not only do her national credits include youth productions of Jekyll & Hyde and Les Misérables, she has also staged Shakespearean and musical pieces at the Scotland Fringe Festival. Together, Talena and her talented staff of artists nurture the natural talents of kids of all abilities who are eager to explore musical, dramatic, and European theater.
Programs—which range from the intensive Conservatory of Theater to a full roster of summer camps—can help impart a variety of skills, including increased self-esteem, a healthier body image, and stronger performance abilities of future Tony Award winners while ensuring inspirational fodder for acceptance speeches.
After radiating do-re-mis through Carnegie Hall and China's 2010 World Expo, the Austin Civic Chorus of Chorus Austin embarks upon its 47th year of harmonious belting, energized by a placing among 10 finalists nationwide for the prestigious American Prize in 2011. To kick off the new season, the choir sings the poignant notes of Rossini's “Petite Messe Solennelle,” an 1863 composition that the composer dubbed, “the last of my sins of old age” in reference to his penchant for plagiarizing songbirds. As music director Ryan Heller conducts the tapestry of 130 voices with an experienced ear, two pianos and a harmonium hum along to the beat. Four soloists stand to flex their professional pipes and singing biceps, including soprano Mele Dailey, mezzo Kathryn Findlen, tenor Nicholas Simpson, and bass Bruce Cain.