Second Thought Theatre's Bull Is a Hot, Fierce Workplace Drama

Categories: Theater

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Karen Almond

At a brisk 55 minutes, Mike Bartlett's four-character one-act Bull is just the right length. A minute more and the heightened tension in this piece might cause spontaneous human combustion. It's that hot, that fierce. And that good. Second Thought Theatre's production of the brutish British drama, directed by Christie Vela upstairs at the Wyly Theatre, is paced like a prizefight, with a verbal knockout punch at the end that leaves an actor on the floor, heaving sobs, and the rest of us ringside glad we aren't down there with him.


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2015 Looks Like a Good Year for Theater in Dallas

Categories: Theater

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Matt Mrozek
The talented and attractive cast of Wilde/Earnest.

Years ago, my love for theater was my entry point into journalism. A poetry student dog paddling in the social tsunami that was Southern Methodist University campus life, I signed on to write a few articles for the student newspaper about theater. Next thing I knew I was taking journalism classes and eventually running the Daily Campus' arts section. The first thing Mark Lowry, who had not long before launched TheaterJones.com, said to me was, "Oh, you're that student seeing all the shows." I saw every show in town my senior year, even more than I see now as the arts editor of the local alt weekly. I've known and loved Dallas theater for years.

To hear Katherine Owens speak of her 30 years at Undermain Theatre is to hear of a scene that has ebbed and flowed. One that embraced experimental work in the 80s, to move into a slightly more conservative 90s, eventually adopting a self-awareness in the late 2000s, as the arts in Dallas were seeing civic recognition with expensive gestures like the Dallas Arts District. Last year, I wrote a piece for Arts & Culture Texas about the rich history of the Dallas theater scene. One on the forefront of the regional theater movement, thanks to pioneers like Margo Jones and Norma Young. And a scene that, like the rest of the city, has wrestled with its identity, in light of its neighbors: the refined Houston, and the progressive Austin.

But right now, I just want to take a minute to say that I don't think I've ever seen the theater scene healthier than it is right now.


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Kinky Boots Taps Lots of Clichés

Categories: Theater

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Matthew Murphy

Kinky Boots, now playing at Music Hall at Fair Park, is a size 6 show in a size 13 production. What a minor piece of musical theater, blown up and spread out on a big stage. And what a major disappointment for a show that won Tony Awards in 2013 for best new musical and for its songs by pop singer Cyndi Lauper (with book by Harvey Fierstein).

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Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget Is a Brief, Bizarre Ride

Categories: Theater

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Justin Locklear
The cast of students and puppets in Doom McCoy.

Count on actor-writer-director-puppeteer and Ochre House regular Justin Locklear to bring his unique brand of weirdness to Doom McCoy and the Death Nugget, his original student-acted production (from an idea by Thomas Riccio) now at UTD's University Theatre.


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Mississippi Goddamn and Miss Evers' Boys Open Wounds in Black History

Categories: Theater

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Courtesy South Dallas Cultural Center
Ashley Wilkerson and Whitney LaTrice Coulter in Jonathan Norton's Mississippi Goddamn at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

For his new play Mississippi Goddamn, Dallas playwright Jonathan Norton does something unexpected and a bit radical in his look back at the 1960s civil rights movement. Instead of simply lionizing Medgar Evers, the NAACP field secretary who worked to overturn Jim Crow laws and was assassinated on his own front porch in 1963, Norton explores what it might have been like to live so close to controversy.

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AT&T Performing Arts Center Brings Broadway Blockbusters Matilda, Jersey Boys, and More

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Joan Marcus
Jump! For Broadway!

For musical lovers, the hottest ticket in town is the season subscription for the AT&T Performing Arts Center Broadway Series. These are the people who have brought Book of Mormon to Dallas twice, and continue to book Broadway's blockbusters. Monday night, the theater announced its 2015/16 season, which doesn't disappoint.

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We'd Watch Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac in Anything, Especially The Last Two People

Categories: Theater

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Paul Kolnik
We'd watch these two do just about anything.

If you pitched me a musical theater revue in the end times that weaves obscure show tunes with original music, I'd spit my burnt coffee in your face. But we're talking about you, not Taylor Mac and Mandy Patinkin. Those two could spill a jar of toothpicks and spend two hours picking it up and leave audiences mesmerized. They can also spit out the lyrics to R.E.M's "End of the World" halfway through 90 minutes of non-stop song and dance with speed, clarity and panache. Then, 10 minutes later mash-up Gillian Welch's relatively unknown "My Morphine" with "Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage" from The Boy From Oz and turn it into a meaningful, rousing number.

These men are veritable institutions of the contemporary theater and it's a real treat to see them onstage in their latest project, The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville, which plays at the Eisemann Center through Sunday.


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Fun House Casts Teenagers in Heartfelt Production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Categories: Theater

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Chuck Marcelo

This year Dallas theaters are in love with Shakespeare's suicidal teenagers. Get ready for half a dozen productions of Romeo and Juliet, including big ones at Shakespeare Dallas and Dallas Theater Center.

Plano's Fun House Theatre and Film is doing a small one, but it's lovely, with heartfelt performances by a cast of teens. Director Jeff Swearingen has edited it down to just over two hours and added subtly improvised live accompaniment by pianist Thiago Nascimento.


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Uptown Players' Gilligan's Fire Island Is a Raunchy, Smart Two-Hour Tour

Categories: Theater

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Mike Morgan

Cast away all doubts about Gilligan's Fire Island, the latest comedy bamboozlement (with bamboo) from playwright Jamie Morris, who hasn't met a classic TV sitcom he didn't want to turn into an R-rated, cray-cray gay romp. Uptown Players' laugh-till-you-wheeze production is awash with silliness on the Rose Room stage in Oak Lawn.

The original characters are there, plus a cute twink named Cody (Angel Velasco) who washes up on the beach after toppling overboard on his way to the Hamptons. Don't wince. That makes just as much sense as the original CBS show's premise about a cabin cruiser with two crew members and five passengers going astray at sea during a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour.


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Likable Actors Can't Save Drippy Comedy Sexy Laundry at WaterTower

Categories: Theater

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Kelsey Leigh Ervi
Bob Hess and Wendy Welch make marriage a chore in Sexy Laundry at WaterTower.

Dallas actors Wendy Welch and Bob Hess struggle to make laughs happen as they ham their way through the one-act two-hander Sexy Laundry by Canadian playwright Michele Riml, now on in a production directed broadly by Terry Martin in WaterTower Theatre's studio in Addison. Even these talented pros, so funny together as brother and sis in Christopher Durang's Chekhovian spoof Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Uptown last season, can't make a silky comedy out of a sow's ear of a play.

Sexy Laundry borrows Neil Simon's old Plaza Suite set-up about a middle-aged couple who check into a posh hotel for what the wife hopes will be a naughty weekend. Sexy Laundry's Alice has brought along filmy lingerie and a copy of Sex for Dummies. Henry isn't as concerned about his lack of libido as he is about the price of the room and the flimsy towels in the bath.

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