A Female Playwright’s Garden of Delights: Little Black Dress INK

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle-shells, And pretty maids all in a row….” Substitute Waco-based playwright Tiffany Antone for Mary and her national New Playwright Festival “Planting the Seed” for garden – the answer to the nursery rhyme becomes exponentially across the United States. In 2009 Antone … Continue reading

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Sanitizing Genocide & Dissing Critics at Undermain

Don’t you love it when theatre companies make stuff up and it unravels on Facebook? Here’s a recent example: Email I received from Undermain’s Press Director Dana Cobb on 3/10, re: press seats for 3/22 opening of We Are Proud to Present…: “Undermain Theatre strives to make as many performances accessible for reviewing press. Due … Continue reading

Winners announced: TeCo’s 12th Annual New Play Competition

WINNERS ANNOUNCED: “Strangers In A Chapel” by Antay Bilgutay wins 12th Annual New Play Competition. Literary Prize shared between Steven Young and Elle Vernee. Congratulations to this year’s winners. Every year I’ve attended the TeCo Annual New Play Competition, I have seen the quality of submissions improve substantially. What at first seemed like a casual jumble, … Continue reading

CityRep Soufflé: Cooking Up Much Ado

Producing a play shares similarities with cooking a perfect soufflé. Carefully selected, measured ingredients get mixed with scientific precision (with a master chef or director’s signature touch) and then “baked” at the right temperature for an exact duration. Removed carefully from the “oven” and presented elegantly to its audience at table (or in the theatre), … Continue reading

Sock It To Me, Jesus: “Godspell” at the Winspear

As I hustled out of the Winspear Opera House… …while the Dallas audience gave its customary, if somewhat tepid, standing ovation to the Lexus Broadway Series touring production of Stephen Schwartz’s early 1970’s musical “Godspell”, based on the Gospel of Matthew, two thoughts came to mind. The first: “You can’t make a silk purse out … Continue reading

CORIOLANUS: NT Live’s Gruesome Heart-throb

A mystery at a National Theatre Live screening? When I attend and review the NT Live performances at Dallas’ Angelika Film Center, I generally find myself one of eight silent people in the auditorium. Walking into a full house, wall to wall people, on a Saturday afternoon to see the NT Live showing of Shakespeare’s … Continue reading

“Blue Roses”: Lyric Stage’s Ethereal Launch

Blue Roses…Blue roses. Whisper the words aloud and imagine what those roses might look like. Fragile, haunting, tragic, illusory? When lyricist Mimi Turque plucked the words out of Tennessee William’s drama “The Glass Menagerie” to form the title of the adaptation she wrote with composer Nancy Ford, she hoped their collaborative endeavor would capture the … Continue reading

Gussy Up The Bath House: Hot, Classy Ladies’ Songs

Been to The Echo Room? Whatcha waiting for? Poof! Echo Theatre’s movie idol gorgeous traditional jazz bandleader waves his magic wand. The Bath House Cultural Center black box space transforms into a hot, hopping 1930’s vintage supper club, The Echo Room, with live music, dancing, classy flirtation and adult beverages and light snacks provided by … Continue reading

Uncomfortably Off the Rails: On the Eve

When I think of new or original as regards a play production, and no mention gets made in its press about adaptation of or inspiration from other works, I expect to see unique characters interacting in non-derivative plots and scenes. I, like other regional theatre critics, found myself utterly enchanted by the workshop production of … Continue reading

A River Runs Deep: Tom Sawyer at WaterTower Theatre

Tom Sawyer, that lovable Americana scamp icon, springs to life full throttle on WaterTower Theatre’s main stage through February 16, in a true-to-the-novel stage adaptation by Laura Eason, commissioned by Hartford Stage in 2010. It features regional professional Andrews Cope, perfectly cast in the title role, with bold direction by Emily Scott Banks. Well suited … Continue reading

Len Jenkin’s Reel Fantasy Adventure: Undermain Theatre

Guest review by Equity actor Jason Kane: Undermain Theatre’s long history with playwright Len Jenkin fits very snugly within the company’s body of work, reflecting its respect for lyrical language and magical imagery. Jenkin is a master of language, a good thing. Abraham Zobell’s Home Movie: Final Reel might fade from memory as a cookie-cutter … Continue reading

August, Osage County: Cliff’s Notes Version

Remember Cliff’s Notes?  The ultimate cheat-sheet style study guides designed to “present and explain literary and other works in pamphlet form or online” in condensed format? Frowned upon by serious literature professors, they offer a superficial overview of great literary work without depth or nuance. They exist as the sort of panacea a time-challenged or … Continue reading

Region’s Best On Stage 2013

Best productions, ranked by preference. Criteria include: text merit, director’s vision, integration of design elements, ensemble effect, innovative, dynamic use of space, accessibility for audiences, development of character arcs that adhere to playwright’s intent. Any one of the top five productions could have ended up in the #1 slot. Thoroughly entertaining and illuminating. The Taming … Continue reading

The Sound of Misplaced Ire: Carrie Underwood as Maria

GUEST EDITORIAL by Jonathan Beck Reed, offering a rational perspective on Carrie Underwood’s performance in the recently televised THE SOUND OF MUSIC on NBC: Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, I suppose, so, here’s mine. Carrie Underwood is a strikingly beautiful young lady with an AMAZING, clarion voice, far more impressive exhibited through the words … Continue reading

Seeing “Red” at City Rep: A Splendid Creation

“What do you see? Nothing else exists….”  The idea of anyone writing a dynamic stage play about a famous abstract expressionist painter from the 1950’s that a non-academic would want to read might inspire skepticism and yawns. Producing it in a way that communicates its protagonist’s creative process and philosophical intentions effectively as it soars … Continue reading

Mucking About with Sir Kenneth Branagh: “Macbeth” on NTLive

  Sir Kenneth goes mucking about, and offers nothing new or exciting for his pains. The National Theatre Live screenings present William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, co-directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford for the Manchester International Festival, produced in a deconsecrated Victorian church. In his cozy pre-show chat with NT Live’s host, Ashford reveals that … Continue reading

NT Live’s “Othello”: The Beast in the Desert

NT Live makes good once again on its bold promise of quality, audience-accessible stage performance. London’s incomparable National Theatre offers a contemporary “concept production” of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Othello” that makes the 16th century play feel as if it were written today, as edgy and raw as anything composed fresh on the latest version … Continue reading

Trigger Happy at Theatre Three: Assassins

Squeeze that little finger. “Sic semper tyrannis!” shouts John Wilkes Booth from offstage. It’s not just killing. It’s assassination…. Is there a creepy chill in this theatre? Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins really bothers me. It’s not just the subject matter, which is pretty disturbing. It feels disjointed, with the characters and scenes disconnected … Continue reading

Matt & Ben & Miller & Catherine: Echo Theatre

No doubt about it. Miller Pyke and Catherine DuBord give non-stop, outstanding performances as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Echo Theatre’s oddball, one act farce Matt & Ben, running at the Bath House Cultural Center through September 28, 2013. Pyke, tall and rangy in gesture and energy, bulks up readily like a guy with … Continue reading

Strike Two at Undermain Theatre

Would it not seem logical if a theatre company invites a critic to attend its shows that the company would seat that critic in a good seat? A prime location with unobstructed views, where the critic could obtain the fullest, most positive impression of the creative team’s earnest work? With some companies in the North … Continue reading

DFW Theatre Critics’ Forum Awards: 2013

Critics’ Forum Awards in 2013: a testament to the diverse, dynamic thespian output produced in our North Texas region, from originals to Classics, contemporary and edgy to the beloved, tried-and-true. In 2013 a youth theatre program figures prominently in the honors, and a 12-year-old member of its dedicated ensemble earns recognition for giving one of … Continue reading

Game of Luv: JAILBAIT by Dallas Actor’s Lab

Ever had a memorably awful experience in the “bar scene”? Dating Game gone all to Hell? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Laugh, gasp, wince if you must: but don’t look away from Jailbait, Deirdre O’Connor’s 2009 dramatic comedy about hetero mating rites and wrong. Very, very wrong. Dallas Actor’s Lab, under the founding artistic direction of University … Continue reading

The Gay Blades of Theatre New West: Ole!

Viva la gay blade. Have you ever dreamed how lovely Edgar Estrada might look in a flowing, provocative gown? Wake up and smell the roses…. Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown runs through August 31 at Teatro Dallas off I-35, and it’s currently one of the best stage shows on Dallas area boards. … Continue reading

Xanadally-Do at WaterTower Theatre

WaterTower Theatre chills down the summer’s swelter with a peppy production of Douglas Carter Beane’s Tony award-nominated stage adaptation of the 1980 movie musical flop Xanadu. Hard to imagine this treacle-laced paper napkin of a show getting nominated for a distinguished award, but maybe it was a slow year for musicals? It’s 1980 in Venice, … Continue reading

They Killed in Bedford: Assassins Onstage

  Supposedly Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins is his only musical about which he asserts he “wouldn’t change anything”. It’s a sprawling, unruly, anachronistic, absurdist pastiche, a darkly animated view into the anguished minds and twisted motivations of desperate, angry, delusional people who assassinated US presidents, or made the attempt. Chilling, unworldly, as if brewed up by … Continue reading

Diverse, Dynamic, Dramatic Dallas Welcomes the TCG Conference

“It’s death by art,” she grins, ruefully. Referring to her killer arts schedule as Kitchen Dog Theater’s Co-Artistic Director, Tina Parker welcomes Theatre Communications Group’s annual national conference descending this week on Dallas TX in stride. Multi-tasking? No problemo for this canny, creative, ‘wondrous’ woman…. She just opened two major productions at her unique theatre … Continue reading

Going Gurney Class at WaterTower Theatre

Characters Velma and the Prison Matron sing it best in the Tony Award-winning musical Chicago…  Whatever happened to fair dealing? And pure ethics And nice manners? Why is it everyone now’s a pain in the ass? Whatever happened to class? Class…. Class and good manners take a genteel beating in A.R. Gurney’s 2011 situation comedy … Continue reading

FIT 15: Yang & Yin in Balance

Fifteen seems to be the Year of the Woman at FIT, the Festival of Independent Theatres held annually at the Bath House Cultural Center on the shores of White Rock Lake in Dallas. Not complaining — it balances out other heavily testosterone-laden regional offerings. Five of its eight short productions are penned by women: from … Continue reading

Slinging Misfortune’s Arrows as Night Flies By

A riddle: why are some contemporary rock musicals like drinking diet soda? Answer: They both leave a taste that is flat and not refreshing; both are “sweetened” with unhealthy gimmicks. Such is the case of the much hyped, insignificant, little rock musical playing currently at the Kalita Humphreys Theatre, aptly titled Fly By Night. Is … Continue reading

Petal-Plucking Princess Wars Please at Fun House Theatre

  Youth theatre with a raw edge? Find it by the compost heap-full at Fun House Theatre and Film in Plano. Performing through May12th, this Sunday, Jeff Swearingen’s cadre of talented, dedicated mademoiselles present Daffodil Girls, his comic parody adaptation of David Mamet’s celebrated drama Glengarry Glen Ross and come out Olympic champs. Swearingen turns … Continue reading

Glory Affirmed: “Glory Denied” at Fort Worth Opera

Penetrating, sharp as razor wire wrapped around a bamboo prison compound. Resonant, brimming over with grief, suffering and bitterness — yet transcendent, profoundly humanizing in its poetic homage to a forgotten American hero…. Composer Tom Cipullo’s one-act opera Glory Denied, playing through May 11 as part of Fort Worth Opera’s 2013 Festival, captures the somber … Continue reading

Spice Up the Night with Nina Katrina at Sammons Cabaret

Want to spice up your Sammons Cabaret Night with international flavor? Add Nina Katrina; tune up her accompanists, and feel Kurth Hall sizzle. This Thursday, April 18, is your chance to experience the unique styling and world-class repertoire of this Dallas-based international songbird. You don’t want to miss her. The eldest child born into a … Continue reading

The Importance of Earnest Cooperation: Oscar Wilde in Oklahoma City

Imagine if Stephen Colbert wrote and directed a full satire episode of “Downton Abbey”. That’s what Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” feels like in Oklahoma City University’s accommodating thrust Burg Theatre space. A standout, signature co-production by Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre (City REP), Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park and OCU’s Theatre Department, it … Continue reading

A Harry Tale of Lust, AIDS & Hope by John Michael

I have seen the Harry Penix, and I’ll never feel quite the same…about half-melted ice cream, or frosted cupcakes. That naughtiest of charming, shape-shifting sprites, John Michael, summons forth — from the dark bowels of 24 year old male reflection — a tale that’s part personal history, part AIDS awareness fantasy. And all sparkly, crinkly, … Continue reading

Three-Cornered Theatre: Getting Earnest in OKC

  “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist Balance and harmony by design: consider the integrity of a three-legged stool. Each independent element shares equal weight-bearing support with the … Continue reading

Flower Mound’s Wiser & Deeper Tuna: Review 6.3.2009

Head down to Greater Tuna for a dose of impeccably timed comedy and the gentle revelation of universal human truth. The show runs through June 7 at the cosy FMPAT performance space at 830 Parker Square in Flower Mound, just west of Lewisville on FM 1171.
Tickets: http://www.fmpat.org 972-724-2147
Make it an entire evening. Dine ahead of time at one of the finer Parker Square restaurants: http://www.parkersquare.com Continue reading

Git Mo’ Sausage: The Cockfight Play

There is more hot sausage in this clip art cartoon than in the entirety of Mike Bartlett’s graphically named Olivier Award-winning play, euphemistically referred to as “The Cockfight Play” by print publications that can’t print its title. Too bad. It could be interesting to see a play dealing directly with many aspects of the human … Continue reading