If you think children's theater is just about giving a mouse a cookie or putting a hat on a cat, you haven't been to Fun House Theatre and Film, this year's Best of Dallas Best Theater Company. Located in an unglamorous little playhouse behind a Thai restaurant in a Plano strip mall, Fun House, co-founded by Jeff Swearingen and Bren Rapp, is children's theater as re-imagined by, say, Louie C.K. and Quentin Tarantino.
See also: Best of Dallas 2013
Swearingen writes and directs most of the shows, starring local kids age 7 to 17. His big hit earlier this year was his own script, Daffodil Girls, inspired by David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, about a troop of cookie-selling scouts getting a lesson in sales from a tyrannical teenage leader. Then he staged Edward Albee's Zoo Story starring teenage boys. Next was The Sound of Fannie, his original spoof of syrupy musicals like Annie and The Sound of Music, with deliciously subversive swipes at The Producers, Cabaret, Chicago and My Fair Lady.
Produced on budgets of tens of dollars, Fun House shows require their all-kid casts to work hard and nail the punchlines and dance steps like older pros. The results are polished performances of remarkably edgy material.
Via email, we asked Swearingen, an accomplished actor and improv comic, what he's up to with Fun House and if the parents of Plano mind their young 'uns playing tap-dancing Nazis. More »