Cliff-diving with Wendy Welch: Sonia in CityRep’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

  This coming weekend, Oklahoma City Repertory Company (CityRep) opens the #1 most produced play in the United States, Christopher Durang’s fine-tuned comedy with Chekhov-inspired characters and themes, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, featuring a diverse, talented, seasoned cast. The play opened Off-Broadway in 2012 then transferred to Broadway in 2013. There it won … Continue reading

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Follow the Path to Ferguson: AART’s “Detroit 67″

On Halloween night 2014, African American Repertory Theatre’s (AART) regional premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s award-winning period drama Detroit 67 opened its run at the KD Studio Theatre with an enthusiastic standing ovation from its sold-out multi-generational, multi-ethnic audience. The crowd hung around after to congratulate the cast and bask in the play’s artistry and discuss … Continue reading

Finding True Home with Lyric Stage’s “The Golden Apple”

Imagine this : An American Puccini wins a Guggenheim grant and writes an epic American musical score based on Western civilization’s most catalytic Greek myth with a wunderkind “Jules Verne” lyricist in the early 1950’s…. and you have The Golden Apple: exhilarating, stately, saucy, poignant, immersive, seductive, demanding amazing depth, scope and stamina from its … Continue reading

Back to the Garden: “Flower in the Machine” @ THE OCHRE HOUSE

Creation is the Buzzword at Matt Posey’s The Ochre House, where collaborator artist Kevin Grammer’s original play Flower In The Machine surprises the audience with a tender, budding love fable that emerges from a grim, robotic, computer-dominated desolation drama. Simple language and sympathetic, intriguing characters ricochet off of a drab, ultra-compartmentalized Orwellian existence. Hope flourishes! … Continue reading

Bite Down: “The Golden Apple” at Lyric Stage

 1950’s Broadway audiences backed away from The Golden Apple. It was all Greek, all intimidating Classical Greek, to them, they reasoned, even if it was sung in English. It didn’t follow the era’s conventional format for successful musical theatre. Never mind that the critics praised it highly with almost unanimous voice. Never mind that it … Continue reading

WHY THINGS BURN: Trick or Treat with Van Quattro

Performance Art with a Fright Night Deadline! Most of you folks in the North Texas theatre community recognize Van Quattro as the world-weary donut shop owner who stole the show in Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts at Theatre Three in 2012 or as the grim psycho with a freaky hand fetish in Second Thought Theatre’s A … Continue reading

Oklahoma honors Steinbeck in theatre, music and history

Troubadour Everyman and mythic storyteller. Play narrator and occasional actor. Interpretive instrumentalist, weaving an evocative score underneath searing human drama. Guardian of the precious flame of human spirit…multi-faceted, professional performance artist and musician Sonny Franks wears a number of significant hats in the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s celebrated novel The Grapes of Wrath, as … Continue reading

2013-14 DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards

Some of these shows I did not see. A number I  would not honor with awards. EVER. I am disappointed that neither Ochre House’s Christhelmet (directed by Matthew Posey) nor Diana Sheehan’s  Full Gallop or her sophisticated cabaret,  Searching for Gertrude Lawrence at WaterTower Theatre met the critical popularity threshold. I am quite thrilled for other wins. Call it a draw…. Direction: … Continue reading

Festival of Independent Theatres 2014: A Reluctant Pass

  Several of this year’s participants in the Festival of Independent Theatres have presented productions of extremely limited worth, in my opinion. These shows, as they exist, lack cohesive artistic merit: in terms of content, in terms of production values, in terms of aesthetic. I have stared at a blank page on my MacBook numerous … Continue reading

No Error In Sight: Junior Players’ Comedy of Errors

  No “errors” noted in William Shakespeare’s early comic farce The Comedy of Errors, presented 1920′s film-style by Junior Players in collaboration with Shakespeare Dallas at the Samuell-Grande Amphitheatre through Sunday July 27. As part of its yearly arts outreach to nearly 6000 Dallas area youth, Junior Players mounts a full-scale, fully costumed, professional caliber … Continue reading

Grace in Styrofoam: CHRISTHELMET at The Ochre House

As posted on Dallas Morning News online: http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/arts/headlines/20140717-matthew-posey-packs-a-punch-in-christhelmet-at-the-ochre-house.ece Glide from chaos to redemption with the Ochre House’s Christhelmet, a vaudevillian drama with a transformative twist, written and directed by Ochre House founder Matthew Posey and featuring him in the title role.  A fixture of local theater for more than 20 years, Posey has carved out a … Continue reading

Mostly Entertaining Millie at Prism Theatrics

Lofty aspirations always merit praise, setting the bar high, while adding a dose of hubris can be off-putting. New venture Prism Theatrics states their vision on the inside cover of the show program of their inaugural production, Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, with music by Jeanine Tesori. “By bringing a Broadway caliber … Continue reading

Feasting Beggars, Flying Inspectors: DTC’s “Les Miserables”

I sympathize with the Dallas Theater Center. I comprehend the in depth planning behind their “concept” productions and note their fascination with descriptive words like “new, innovative, modern, and accessible to all”. I get the fact that the powers making artistic decisions there generally don’t seem to trust plays or their characters as written or … Continue reading

Trinity Shakespeare 2014: Oh, blessed brave new world!

AESTHETIC — noun A guiding principle in matters of artistic beauty and taste; artistic sensibility. An underlying principle, a set of principles, or a view often manifested by outward appearances or style of behavior. Nearly all theatre companies in this region function with mission statements, action plans of a sort, some better crafted, better articulated and … Continue reading

Dr. Who and Downton Abbey Actors perform Texas playwright’s London reading of THE LADY REVEALED

Celebrated Dr. Who and Downton Abbey  actors join the cast of the British premiere reading of Texas-based playwright and eminent theatre scholar Dr. Andrew Harris’ original work THE LADY REVEALED at Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden, London, July 4, 2014.  About the play: “I have had great difficulty in containing myself or making myself go off … Continue reading

Triumph of the Soul’s Dark Night: Lyric Stage’s TITANIC

When I attend Lyric Stage’s resplendent productions I often feel I am not just enjoying superior entertainment, I am gaining a unique, immersive perspective into the richness of the American musical theatre genre not available elsewhere. Peter Stone and Maury Yeston’s “Titanic” fits into that category, at full tilt. From the exquisitely arranged orchestrations conducted by … Continue reading

Gone Southie: Watertower Theatre’s GOOD PEOPLE

David Lindsay-Abaire’s homage to the work-worn, hard-edged folk of South Boston (known as ‘Southies’), “Good People”, gets a sincere production from a strong acting ensemble in WaterTower Theatre’s regional premiere running through June 29 in Addison. Its 2011 Manhattan Theatre Club production won numerous prestigious award nominations from the reigning East Coast set, winning Tony … Continue reading

Tickets Going Fast: BOOTH at Second Thought Theatre

SOLD OUT! SOLD OUT! CALL FOR WAITING LIST! “For Second Thought Theatre, turning away patrons by the dozens is a great problem to have….” A Second Thought Theatre creative  driving force and playwright and director of the historical drama BOOTH, Steven Walters expresses sheer amazement at the overwhelming audience response to the original work, now in … Continue reading

No Waiting for Mendes’ Lear @ National Theatre Live

Within the first ten seconds that National Theatre Live’s “King Lear” opens on the screen, minus any credit roll or “Tour London Now” commercial distraction, Simon Russell Beale storms through immense leaden upstage center doors into the austere, militaristic, shadowy set like a mad bull on a rampage and snatches the ominous, dread-filled scene by … Continue reading

Sock It To Bernard: “Boeing Boeing” Flies High at GLCT

French people often get recognized both for their rudeness and their risqué sense of humor. Marc Camoletti’s romantic farce “Boeing Boeing”, listed in 1991’s Guinness Book of Records as the ‘most performed French play in the world’, explores both aspects of the French personality and delivers a hilarious evening of fun, fluff and frou-frou. If … Continue reading

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

The Gods Must Be Sandy: TEOTL at Cara Mia/Prism Co.

Who or what is a teotl? I’m not versed in Aztec myth. Wikipedia, that shaky source of sometimes-correct information, defines it as a “Nahuatl term, a central idea of Aztec religion, often translated as “god”, maybe possessing “more abstract aspects of the numinous or divine.” And who or what are Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca? Going back … Continue reading