Brigham Mosley Brings New York Sensibilities to Dallas Theater in Vultures

Categories: Theater

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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.


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

Categories: Theater

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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.


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

Categories: Theater

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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.


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

Categories: Theater

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┬ęDisney. 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.

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Ordinary Days Is Filled with Musical Magic

Categories: Theater

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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.

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Dallas Theater Center Scores Touchdown with Colossal

Categories: Theater

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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).


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

Categories: Theater

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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?

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Prism Co. Paints You a Play In Its Namesake Show

Categories: Theater

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The Striped Heart
Get your hands dirty at Prism.

All painting isn't an act of theater, but it can be. Which is why the next Prism Co. show sounds as much like a live painting event as it does a play. That's the wonderful thing about this young, upstart company: They aren't just stretching the definition of what theater in Dallas looks like, they are also incorporating movement and materiality into their work in surprising, immersive ways. The last time we checked in with them, they were lugging 20 tons of sand into a warehouse to explore Aztec mythology. This time, they're playing with paint and wrestling with the genesis of humanity, and beyond that, the origin of art and war. Of course, all of this might be lost on someone who shows up to see the paint war.


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Granbury Theatre Company's Spamalot Is Bright and Breezy

Categories: Theater

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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

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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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