At the Winspear, Bring in Da Newsies, Bring in Da Funk

Categories: Theater

S5.jpg
©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer.
See boys dance, see boys jump.

Newsies is Annie with boys. And not young boys either, at least not the cast of the touring production currently tapping, back-flipping and flexed-foot kicking across the stage at the Winspear Opera House. These aren't moppets or teenagers. This is a bunch of cute but short-statured young men pretending to be way younger than they are. (One of the leads has a bald spot, which he tries to keep covered with his newsboy cap.)

They're supposed to be orphans around the age of the tykes in Oliver! But this passel of 1899 parentless boys live in squalor and earn pennies a day, not picking pockets in the streets of old London, but hawking newspapers for a penny a pop in New York City's five boroughs. Exhausting work indeed. Despite meager diets and exposure to the elements, these lads still have enough gumption to dance and sing enthusiastically of seizing the day, carrying the banner and having something to believe in, once and for all. (Those clichés are all song titles in this show. Lyricist Jack Feldman, writing words for Alan Menken's relentlessly perky soundalike tunes, works a cliché-ridden anthem like a dog with a bone.)

More »

For God's Sake, Go See All My Sons at WaterTower Theatre

Categories: Theater

terrymartinallmysons-almond.jpg
Karen Almond
WaterTower's artistic director Terry Martin is rarely seen on stage, which he proves is a shame.

There are just a few truly classic works of theater. Plays or musicals that don't just remain relevant, but the characters continue to introduce new worlds to an audience, the language continues to dance, and the ideas continue to ignite discussions. Arthur Miller's All My Sons is one such play.

Written in 1947 and set in post War World II America, the play is based on a true story of an Ohio family torn apart by the war. A father whose company sold parts for the planes used in war; a mother who refuses to accept that one of her sons might be missing forever; and a young man who now that the war is over feels obligated to stay on at the family company.

In the first few minutes of the play, a storm blows into town, and this nuclear family will never be the same. If you don't know what happens next, WaterTower Theatre is currently presenting a production with crackling drama and some of the strongest acting on Dallas stages this year to date.


More »

Actress Janelle Lutz Boosts the Wattage of Lyric Stage's Lady in the Dark

Categories: Theater

Janelle-Lutz-and-Ryan-Appleby-LADY-IN-THE-DARK_by_Michael-C-Foster.jpg
Michael C. Foster
Janelle Lutz and Ryan Appleby in Lady in the Dark.

You don't have to be in love with the old play-with-music Lady in the Dark to appreciate its artful sophistication. It's an odd one, more psychodrama than full-out musical; there are only 65 minutes of singing spread out over two and a half hours. But because it's almost never produced in regional theaters (it was last near Broadway for a brief Encores! series performance in 1994), you should experience this collaboration of three creative geniuses — playwright Moss Hart, composer Kurt Weill, lyricist Ira Gershwin — to see and hear how they shook up American musical theater in both form and content in 1941. You'll also witness one great big knockout performance.

Now running in a years-in-the-making production at Irving's Lyric Stage, directed and choreographed by Ann Nieman and partially subsidized by the Kurt Weill Foundation, Lady in the Dark is a relic worth revisiting. It is retro chic, full of references to the Stork Club, Hattie Carnegie and Tommy Manville, but with satisfying surprises for audiences inured to formulaic modern schlock adapted from dumbed-down Disney movies. With no overture, no bing-bang-boom curtain-raising show tune, the lights simply go up in silence on a therapist's office. Magazine editor Liza Elliott, played by the phenomenally talented Dallas actress Janelle Lutz, enters for her first session of Freudian psychoanalysis with a kindly shrink (Sonny Franks).

More »

Brigham Mosley Brings New York Sensibilities to Dallas Theater in Vultures

Categories: Theater

vultures-mosley.jpg
Scott Wayne McDaniel

Imagine if the Rude Mechs had a love child with Taylor Mac (or Daniel Alexander Jones), and then named Young Jean Lee the godmother. You might find him crawling around Dallas theater today introducing himself as Brigham Mosley.

Of course, you won't need to know the cultural lineage of Mosley's new play, Vultures, to recognize its magic. The Southern Methodist University graduate, who recently returned to Dallas after five years in New York City, has created a monologue-driven piece that needles the contemporary zeitgeist, currently onstage at The Basement Gallery through Monday.


More »

At Contemporary Theatre, Paul Zindel's Mildred Wild Stumbles Through Scenes of Cinema Dreams

Categories: Theater

secretaffairs.jpg
Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

For some playwrights, winning the Pulitzer Prize for a first or second play marks the end of a promising career as a dramatist. It happened with Margaret Edson and her 1999 Pulitzer winner W;t (she's never written another play). With Charles Fuller and A Soldier's Play (1982). And with Paul Zindel, whose first play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, won the 1971 Pulitzer. Zindel wrote a few others after that, but he never had a follow-up stage hit. He found more success as author of young adult novels, publishing 53 of those, including My Darling, My Hamburger and the popular Pigman trilogy, before his death in 2003.

Zindel's best play was Gamma Rays, made into a so-so film starring Joanne Woodward. But it's one of those Pulitzer winners (and there are more than a few) that hasn't held up over time. It's never been revived in New York and rarely turns up in regional theaters. It focuses on fractious people in a bleak environment. Most of Zindel's plays - others were And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little and Ladies of the Alamo - were like that, revolving around two or three shrieky women characters who make life miserable for everyone around them.

The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild, which played only 23 performances on Broadway in 1972 and is now at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, is such a play, two hours of noisy bickering, a tragedy pretending otherwise. The title character is a frowzy Greenwich Village housewife in her 60s, married for 40 childless years to Roy, a spineless twerp in a too-obvious toupee. They live in a squalid apartment above a failing candy store that's due to be wrecking-balled, leaving them homeless.


More »

When an Artist Lives a Human Life, Like They All Do

Categories: Theater

ALL_MY_SONS_CENTER_TERRY_MARTIN_L_R_DIANA_SHEEHAN__43123795.JPG
WaterTower Theatre
Cast of All My Sons.

When writing of WaterTower Theatre's production of All My Sons, which opens tonight, the Morning News' Nancy Churnin raises an interesting point about the show's playwright Arthur Miller. She says that in the past decade her admiration for Miller has been challenged by the 2007 revelation in a Vanity Fair article that he had a fourth son with Down syndrome whom he failed to acknowledge during his lifetime. Essentially, he dropped off his son, Daniel Miller, at a home for the mentally challenged and never spoke of him again, not even mentioning him in his memoir.

When the original story hit eight years ago, it sent ripples through the Internet. What did this mean about Miller? Would we need to reject his place in the theatrical canon? Would we redact his heroism in the face of Congress when he refused to point fingers and call Communist? That original article's author, Suzanna Andrews, even suggested that Miller wasn't quite the same genius that he'd been before Daniel's birth. Surely this was a sign that he was plagued by guilt like we all might hope he'd be.


More »

Newsies' Choreographer Chris Gattelli Seizes His Chance to Lead Others to Dance

Categories: Theater

newsies-attpac-credit-disney-Deen-van-Meer.jpg
©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer
Newsies' Chris Gattelli hopes his choreography inspires other young men to leap into dance.
Even though we're terribly far away from the East Coast, Dallas frequently plays host to some of the most beloved Broadway shows when they head out on the road. If you're interested in the theatre and don't mind seeing a touring cast, you can damn near see any Broadway musical that you like via the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Lexus Broadway Series.

This time, they've brought the stage adaptation of Newsies, a Disney film about a paperboy strike that originally starred Christian Bale, later adapted for an incredibly successful run on Broadway -- including a Tony Award for best choreography. The man behind that choreography, Chris Gattelli, has choreographed some of theater's best loved shows, among them South Pacific and a forthcoming version of The King And I and has starred and directed in plenty of others. Ahead of Newsies' run in Dallas, we talked to Gattelli about his first exposure to Newsies, how he came to work on this incredibly successful show and how he hopes that his work inspires a future generation of dancers.

More »

Ordinary Days Is Filled with Musical Magic

Categories: Theater

ordinarydays-ourproductions.jpg
Courtesy Our Productions
Juliette Talley and Matthew Silar in Ordinary Days.

A small show that packs a mighty emotional wallop, the four-person musical Ordinary Days has a few more performances by Our Productions Theatre Company in the studio space at Addison's Theatre Center. If you like bittersweet sung-through mini-musicals like [title of show], this one, just 80 minutes long, will leave you smiling and full of warm fuzzies.

Composed by Adam Gwon, directed by Stephanie Riggs, with musical direction and keyboard accompaniment by Mark Mullino, Ordinary Days follows the intersecting lives of two New York City couples. Adorably goofy artist Warren (Matthew Silar) stands on street corners handing out inspirational slogans. Grad student Deb (Juliette Talley) frets over her thesis when she's not losing things from an overstuffed tote bag. Shy Jason (David Price) longs to share his life with emotionally blocked Claire (Sarah Elizabeth Smith), who hasn't moved on from the tragic loss of a previous love.

More »

Dallas Theater Center Scores Touchdown with Colossal

Categories: Theater

DTCColossal.jpg
Karen Almond
Joel Ferrell and Zack Weinstein in Colossal.

As a play about football, but not just about football, Colossal packs more action and drama into its four 15-minute quarters (plus 10-minute "halftime show") than most actual games. Now running at the Wyly Theatre, Dallas Theater Center's production of Andrew Hinderaker's 75-minute drama-with-dance, staged by DTC artistic director Kevin Moriarty, scores big points for sheer spectacle.

Visually, it's a stunner. The Wyly interior has been transformed by scenic designer John Coyne to look and feel like a stadium, with hash-marked green turf covering half the floor and 380 seats arranged in steep rows on one side. A countdown clock ticks down the first quarter as the audience enters to the crashing percussion of a five-member drum line. On the "field," a dozen players in UT Longhorns practice uniforms run noisy drills and drop for push-ups on orders barked by their coach (DTC company member Hassan El-Amin).


More »

Welcome to Night Vale Host Cecil Baldwin Talks About Ultimate Theater of the Mind and Having a Third-Eye

Categories: Theater

cecil_baldwin.jpg
Courtesy of C3 Presents

Inevitably when something in pop culture becomes officially popular, there is a rush from production studios and fans to spin it off into as many different forms of media as possible from a series of TV show spinoffs to a Saturday morning cartoon to a supremely sugary breakfast cereal.

Welcome to Night Vale may eventually reach that plateau if Hollywood tries to turn it into a movie or a TV show made by someone who clearly doesn't know enough about the source material. For now it's best savored in its current form. The podcast, created by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, tell tales about about some strange desert town that may or may not be stuck in an existential worm hole. It presents the setting through a series of radio broadcasts hosted by Cecil Palmer, played by actor Cecil Baldwin, informing the citizens of the goings-on in their community whether that be the latest activites of the sheriff's secret police force or the operational hours of the local dog park where people aren't allowed because of hooded figures, which are contained by electric fencing.

Sound weird?

More »
Loading...