Bad Taste, Good Time at Trailer Park Christmas Musical

Categories: Theater

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Karen Almond Photography
Sara Shelby-Martin, Cara Statham Serber, Megan Kelly Bates (front) with Amanda Passanante and Tony Daussat (back) in The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at WaterTower.
If you have soured on The Nutcracker or are humbugged by too many Christmas Carols, pull into The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, now onstage at WaterTower Theatre in Addison. It's a hot mug of sassy-crass tea, two hours of low comedy with a high-caliber cast.

Christmas season has arrived at Armadillo Acres, a swampy clump of rusty RV's that may or may not be squatting illegally somewhere in Florida. A nasty feud has erupted between half of the trailer park's residents, who have decorated their "manufactured homes" with plastic baubles and Star Wars-themed nativity scenes, and the local Scrooge, a meanie named Darlene Seward (Amanda Passanante), whose last name is pronounced "C-word." (The down-and-dirty script by Betsy Kelso and lyrics by David Nehls recycle trashy wordplay throughout the show. It's def R-rated. Do not bring the kiddies or sensitive elders to this one.)

When a loose wire sends enough volts through Darlene to light up death row, she switches to loving all things yule. She also has a change of heart about her bully of a boyfriend, Jackson (Greg Hullett), proprietor of a Hooters-like pancake house called Stacks. During her 12 days of amnesia, she falls for scruffy neighbor Rufus (Tony Daussat, doing a cuddly Jack Black thing) sparking a tinsel-wrapped tussle for who'll come out on top. Of Darlene.

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Get in the Holiday Spirit with 10 New Plays at A Very Nouveau Holiday

Categories: Theater

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Christmas Time is Queer Again by David Bernard Houck

Christmas comes early thanks to the group over at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. Nouveau 47 is back with the second annual A Very Nouveau Holiday, and keeping with the group's commitment to developing new works, the entire show is 100 percent new. All ten of the plays are premieres from local playwrights--which is refreshing, and dare I say, a Christmas miracle?

A Very Nouveau Holiday is representative of how the Margo Jones Theatre stays occupied throughout the year, filled with an array of small companies. From Soul Rep Theatre to Nouveau, to Audacity Theatre Lab, these theater troupes keep the billing fresh and varied, and you'll see a sampling of each of their individual style in Nouveau Holiday.


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Book of Mormon Tickets Are On Sale Now

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I'm not sure anything more needs to be said. Last time the tickets went on sale, they were gone in a matter of hours. This South Park-based, Tony Award-winning hit musical keeps audiences laughing from beginning to end with its story of two Mormon missionaries who head to Africa on the mandated coming-of-age trip.

When Jamie Laughlin saw it, she said she was laughing so hard her "face [felt] like I fed it psychedelic mushrooms instead of dinner."

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Theatre Britain's Beauty & the Beast Purrs

Categories: Theater

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Steve Freedman
Matthew Stepanek as Beast, Kate Dressler as Belle.
Theatre Britain's annual British "panto" fairytale at the Cox Playhouse in Plano is always a holiday treat. This year Beauty & the Beast, not the talking furniture Disney musical, but a campier comedy by Jackie Mellor-Guin, uses all the traditional gimmicks we now know to expect. Kiddies will latch onto lonely Belle (Kate Dressler) and the fuzzy-faced Beast (Matthew Stepanek) who wins her heart. But "Mrs. T Time" (Ivan Jones in a glam-drag, sparkly dress dangling with teabags) and "Mr. Nob" (Michael Speck) are there to make sly, slightly bawdy jokes grown-ups can grin at. Caitlin Duree plays Felan, a name that cues plenty of puns throughout for the girl-in-boy's-britches part.

Company founder and director Sue Birch goes all out with her pantos. The scenery by Darryl Clement spans the stage with faux-stone castle walls. Costumes by Tory Padden clad the mean stepsisters (Octavia Y. Thomas and Devon Rose) in candy-box pastels.

The rules of panto call for the audience to stand for a sing-along and to warn characters aloud whenever the ghost (Rose) appears. Audience interaction is a big part of panto fun. Go ahead and hiss the Beast, then "aww" when he turns back into the prince.

Beauty & the Beast
continues through December 28 at Theatre Britain, Cox Building Playhouse, 1517 H. Avenue, Plano. Tickets, $11-$21, online at theatre-britain.com or 972-490-4202.


Wave the White Flag for T3's Civil War Christmas

Categories: Theater

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Jeffrey Schmidt
Qynetta Caston, Brandi Andrade (standing), Stormi Demerson (seated), Stan Graner (standing), Vontress Mitchell.
Settle in for a long winter's nap at A Civil War Christmas at Theatre Three. It's a mournful 150-minute drama with music, all public domain stuff ("Silent Night," "There Is a Balm in Gilead," and even "The Yellow Rose of Texas").

Author Paula Vogel won a Pulitzer Prize for How I Learned to Drive. With this play she seems to be aiming at an end-of-year burst of royalty payments from theaters avoiding shows about Tiny Tim and red-nosed reindeer. A Civil War Christmas comes off as a hacky patchwork of Wikipedia entries about Civil War figures, with stories told in awkwardly paced, alternating vignettes interrupted by enervating singing.

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DTC's Christmas Carol Comes Wrapped in Surprises

Categories: Theater

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Karen Almond
Morgan Laure and Seth Magill waltz in A Christmas Carol at DTC.
The latest production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol by Dallas Theater Center at the Wyly Theatre will make you forget ghosts of Carols past. DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty has adapted the familiar story his way, with pointed political commentary about the plight of the poor and a noticeable emphasis on the message that "the world is becoming a hard and cruel place," where people are used like machines and the rich begrudge the working poor the smallest perks and privileges. Like getting holidays off.

Directed by DTC company member Lee Trull, the show is large-scale spectacular, scattering actors (who also play instruments) all over the Wyly's balconies and catwalks and even into the air. Jacob Marley's ghost (played with great vocal texture by Cameron Cobb) and the Ghost of Christmas Present (confident 9-year-old Salma Salinas at the preview reviewed) leave the ground assisted by Flying by Foy, the technicians who've created theatrical flying effects going back to Mary Martin in Peter Pan. Watching a sparkly little ghost tumbling overhead definitely adds zing to the visuals. Lighting by Jeff Croiter is dramatic and precise.

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100 Dallas Creatives: No. 38 Man Behind the Music Gavin Mulloy

Categories: Theater

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Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order.

Gavin Mulloy knows music, knows pretty much everyone in Dallas, and wants to put on some seriously good shows that get you out of your house, away from the TV and your favorite reality stars, and off of YouTube, because the best music happens live. Seriously. It does, and Mulloy, the Marketing Manager at Trees and the Bomb Factory, is well aware of that fact.
But how did Mulloy go from concert poster-making artist to marketing maven? It's all in the timing, baby.

"Clint and Whitney Barlow took a chance on reopening Trees when Deep Ellum wasn't at its strongest and made a tentpole for the neighborhood. Last spring, I was kind of looking for work, and they were expanding...timing is everything but sometimes you have to nudge it."
And Mulloy was just the person they needed to revitalize the venue since he has a knack for getting people to come to events and getting those events publicized.

"As a kid, I always had this dream...that I had an island and my friends and I were the only ones who got to go there. And it was like magic. That's what drives me to day. To make someone's night feel like they made it to that island. To make someone's night excellent. I always wanted to make my parties better, different, new..."

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Dead White Zombies' Immersive Theater Is Reborn with Karaoke Motel

Categories: Theater

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Alisa Eykilis
The Zombies are back. The back-alley-crawling, crack house-dwelling immersive theater company currently inhabits an abandoned ice house, and they've redecorated it to look like a motel designed by Norman Bates - basement and all. Karaoke Motel is creepy choose-your-own adventure theater with a disjointed narrative about what it means to be alive.

If you've never been to a Dead White Zombies show before, this is a good place to start. Unlike T.N.B., last year's performance set in a former drug house in West Dallas, there are no gunshots fired here (blanks, of course) and no simulated rape. Karaoke Motel is meant to be the third in a series about death, the afterlife and rebirth, respectively. But having not seen the first two, I can attest this to be just as fun as a single entry -- a museum of theatrical oddities that you're encouraged to explore mostly unguided.

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DGDG's New Dance Work, NICE, Has Spice

Categories: Theater

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DGDG
Dancers in DGDG's new piece NICE: Sarah Dye, Joshua Nichols, Tamara McCarty, Jana Duplechin.
The new Elevator Series in the sixth-floor performance space at the Wyly Theatre allows plenty of space for the dancers to run in NICE, the fascinating new piece by Dallas choreographer Danielle Georgiou and her company, DGDG.

"It's nice to be nice," croons singer-pianist Paul Slavens, who composed the score for a show that takes all the old tropes about how ladies should behave -- back to 1920s etiquette maven Emily Post, whose insipid rules for debutantes are read and recited by the dancers -- and smashes them to bits. Know that YouTube video about the woman getting catcalled on New York streets for 10 hours? NICE is its succinct, artistic response.

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Folklore Gets a Sexy Feminist Twist in Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls

Categories: Theater

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Undermain Theatre
Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso, Mei Mei Pollitt, Katherine Bourne and Alexandra Lawrence fight the "vicked vitch" in Undermain's Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls.
Tasty baked goods, glowing ovens, scary beasts, flying witches and dark forests. This is the stuff of classic children's fairy tales. Throw in 6-inch stiletto heels, push-up bras and glossy lips, and it's also the stuff of The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, a toothsome play by Meg Miroshnik about three Russian tarts and a smart American cookie. The dark comedy, which premiered earlier this year at Yale Rep, is getting its regional debut at Undermain Theatre.

The Red Riding Hood of this adventure is Yankee student Annie (Katherine Bourne, speaking with Kardashian flatness, as befits her generation of young women). She leaves a worried mom (Joanna Schellenberg, who plays other roles, too, and all delightfully) at home in So-Cal to spend a few months in Russia, which her family left as Jewish émigrés when Annie was a child (the story is based on the playwright's own experiences). Annie's going back to study Russian language "for business" and see what capitalism has wrought upon post-Soviet culture. "Sleep with one eye open," her mother warns her. "Vicked vitches is crazy bitches."

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