Granbury Theatre Company's Spamalot Is Bright and Breezy

Categories: Theater

Granbury Theatre Company
Emily Warwick as the Lady of the Lake.

Like the canned meat product for which it's named, the musical comedy Spamalot is a funny-looking conglomerate of weird ingredients, some easily identifiable, some a bit gross. Granbury Theatre Company, the community-based troupe at the historic Granbury Opera House south of Fort Worth, has a tasty fry-up of Monty Python's Spamalot going on. It's silly as hell, a little rough around the edges, but delivers all that this show promises, namely big songs and plenty of grins.

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Dallas Summer Musical's King and I Whistles (and Sings) Happy Tunes

Categories: Theater

Chris Waits
DSM is getting to know better musicals.

Dallas Summer Musicals, so often the host of half-baked road-weary tours of recent Broadway flops, has produced its own fairly lavish and beautifully cast revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic The King and I, now winding up its short run at Fair Park. It's a good time to get reacquainted with the 60-year-old show. There's a big new King and I opening April 16 at New York's Lincoln Center starring Ken Watanabe and Kelli O'Hara. And there's something about the subject matter -- a despotic 19th century ruler learning modern lessons of tolerance from a spunky lady English teacher -- that feels more contemporary, and more necessary, than ever.

DSM learned its own lesson on this topic in January when it was announced that they'd cast a non-Asian actor in the role of the King of Siam. After a letter of protest from members of the Asian American Performers Action Coalition, DSM's president and managing director, Michael A. Jenkins, and the show's director, Glenn Casale, recast it with Broadway and TV soap opera veteran Alan Ariano, who has played the king elsewhere.

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Video: Behind the Scenes at Shakespeare in the Bar

Categories: Theater

Jourdon Aldredge

"This isn't your English class' Shakespeare," Katherine Bourne says in our new video of Shakespeare in the Bar, the wildly popular theater series at Wild Detectives. She's right about that.

We've told you how much fun we've been having at these pop-up theater performances at the bookstore/coffeeshop/bar in the Bishop Arts District, now we're giving you a behind the scenes look, courtesy our videographer Jourdan Aldredge. Watch it here.

It's the Final Countdown at Rover Dramawerks' One Day Only Play Festival

Categories: Theater

Courtesy of Rover Dramawerks

It's often been said that writers and artists work best when they have a gun to their head. A theater in Plano will provide five casts with that kind of motivation, and since this is Texas, we should probably mention that it will only be a proverbial gun.

Rover Dramawerks will present five short plays at 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday, all of which were written, rehearsed and produced in the previous 24-hour period as part of their 24th annual One Day Only short play festival.

The production of these plays will start at 9 p.m. Friday at the Plano theater. Carol M. Rice, the executive artistic director for Rover Dramawerks, says that the cast will consist of five directors and writers and a cast of 30 or so actors and actress. They'll start with a brainstorming session and throw those ideas into a hat for the playwrights to choose. The writers will get their play topics and spend the entire night writing a script for the actors and directors to block out and rehearse right up until the opening curtain at 8 p.m. Saturday.

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The Fewer the Merrier in Theatre Three's Frenetic Hot Mikado

Categories: Theater

Cameron Cobb
None of these people are the leads in T3's Hot Mikado.

The fewer people onstage in Theatre Three's heavily populated Hot Mikado, the more fun the show. A 1986 adaptation by David H. Bell and Rob Bowman of an even older jazz version of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, this one is directed and designed with an emphasis on frenetic movement and clashing colors (fuchsia! orange!) by Bruce Richard Coleman.

"We are Japanese," say the actors in a winky running joke about how nobody in the cast is Japanese. They are a diverse lot indeed, of many sizes, ages and ethnicities. It's just that there are so many of them crowded onto T3's small in-the-round stage. Choreography by Kelly McCain follows the usual pattern in T3 musicals of everyone walking in rhythm counterclockwise, then turning and shuffling the other direction with their hands in the air. (They've cut one tap number.)

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Have Faith in Shannon Kearns' Star Turn in Controversial Testament of Mary

Categories: Theater

Katherine Owens
Shannon Kearns is a Mary quite contrary to the gospels in The Testament of Mary at Undermain Theatre.

The woman we meet in Irish-born writer Colm Tóibín's The Testament of Mary is no ethereal virgin. She's a pissed-off mother of a wayward son, tired of the "misfits" who followed him around, angry that 20 years after his death she's a prisoner of apostles who just want her to get the story straight.

Undermain Theatre has done everything right in its regional premiere of Tóibín's 75-minute monologue, starting with director Katherine Owens' casting of Dallas actress Shannon Kearns in the title role. Kearns brings fury to the part, but it is calibrated to the millisecond. She hits emotions in a slow build punctuated by an occasional flash of dark humor. Kearns' eyes get fiery, then moments later brim with tears. Her hands, strong not delicate, claw the air with anger. As she speaks Tóibín's exquisitely simple and poetic words, her voice stays clear and deep. What a performance.

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Agatha Christie Mystery Is a Hit for Theatre Britain

Categories: Theater

Mark Trew

Agatha Christie's 1943 whodunit And Then There Were None is packing them in at Plano's Cox Building Playhouse. Audiences love a well-done mystery and this one, creaky as it is, and so repetitive in its three acts that you might wish the murderer would kill faster, is sufficiently entertaining.

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Kitchen Dog Bounces All Over Wildly Updated The Importance of Being Earnest

Categories: Theater

Thumbnail image for wildearnest.jpg
Matt Mrozek
Max Hartman, Jenny Ledel, Martha Harms, and Matt Lyle in Wilde/Earnest.

"I am sick to death of cleverness," says the character Jack Worthing in Oscar Wilde's 1895 comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. "Everybody is clever nowadays. You can't go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left."

Oh, Jack. Oh, Oscar. We do not lack for fools today. Just look at Congress. And Fashion Police.

Yet we are eyeball-high with cleverness, too. It is the currency of social media (and all other media straining to remain relevant). It is delivered in odd-numbered listicles, late-night monologues and TED talks. Why be smart or serious when being clever gets retweeted?
And it loves the theater. Making a sneak attack, clever stuff onstage can be refreshing. When it announces itself with bright lights and girls on trampolines, however, jump back.

Kitchen Dog Theater's latest production, Wilde/Earnest, cleverly, and somewhat foolishly, tries to one-up Oscar Wilde by updating his viciously witty satire of Victorian mores. Writer-director Lee Trull has deconstructed the original script -- three acts of wickedly funny froth that send up the lifestyles and attitudes of a couple of upper-class twits and their girlfriends -- and downsized it to 95 minutes of frantic silliness. Trull has drenched his version in an overworked awesomesauce of current pop-culture and tech-speak, placing it on Skittle-colored scenery by Rob Wilson, in costumes by Melissa Panzarello so hipster-ugly/chic they deserve their own Portland ZIP code.

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Donald Fowler's Musical Thriller, Creep, to Debut at WaterTower Theatre in October


In fall of 2013, tucked away in a small upstairs space in the Kalita Humphreys Theatre in Turtle Creek, a small cast of actors began to sing the first few lines of a musical. Recognizable from a staged reading at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival in 2010, the work had a new energy. In this workshop production, Donald Fowler's thriller musical deconstructs the story of Jack the Ripper, under the long but apt moniker, Creep (the very, very sad but unfortunately true and completely fabricated tale of Jack the Ripper). This week, WaterTower Theatre announced it will present the official world premiere of the musical as its season opener.

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DTC's School for Wives Marries Quaint Rhymes with Broad Acting

Categories: Theater

Karen Almond
Chris Hury, Morgan Lauré, Liz Mikel and Chamblee Ferguson test the limits of rhyming dialogue in DTC's The School for Wives.

How much you'll enjoy Dallas Theater Center's production of Molière's The School for Wives might depend upon your tolerance for rhyming dialogue. Can you stand an evening of rhyming couplets without the urge to throwy uplet?

It's a quaint old thing, this 353-year-old French comedy about one man's desire to wed a much younger woman unsullied by education or other men. Fifty-year-old bachelor Arnolphe (played by DTC's company clown Chamblee Ferguson) grooms Agnès (SMU student Morgan Lauré) for marriage, first by becoming her legal guardian, then by locking her away in a convent for a decade before moving her into his house as a virtual hostage. "She's like a lump of wax and I can mold her to whatever I may like as I grow older," Arnolphe says.

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