Body-Hopping, Science Fiction and Avocados: Gordon Dahlquist on Tomorrow Come Today

Categories: Theater

Undermain Theatre
Vanessa DeSilvio and Montgomery Sutton might be playing the same character....

It's little wonder Gordon Dahlquist's newest play is science fiction. The first words of the upcoming Undermain Theatre world premiere,Tomorrow Come Today, were penned at a 10-day silent retreat in West Texas.

"It's not just not talking," the Brooklyn-based playwright explains over lunch at All Good Cafe. "It was eight-and-a-half days of no gesturing, no eye contact, really no communication. Everyone there does this together."

The playwriting retreat, led by Erik Ehn, another playwright familiar to Undermain, approaches the words on the page with an almost Buddhist or Zen mentality. For Dahlquist, who's spent much of his career in science fiction, this was the perfect milieu for creating a futuristic dystopia where the affluent can upload their existence into a digital cloud, hop from body to body, avoiding -- at all costs -- death.

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2013-14 DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards Include Big Wins for New Work

Categories: Theater

Thumbnail image for boothdallasawards.jpg
Second Thought Theatre
The new play, Booth, was one of this year's Forum winners.

It's rare that one of the more difficult categories to choose for the DFW Theater Critics Forum Awards is "Best New Play or Musical." But with Dallas Theater Center leading the charge and the smaller companies rising to the occasion, this year in Dallas/Fort Worth theater featured numerous new plays and musicals, which is something to celebrate.

Every September, the city's working theater critics meet to deliberate on the good, the bad, and the ugly in Dallas theater. There are the occasional unanimous nods when a member nominates a show, but mostly it's a morning spent debating (and sometimes fighting for) the shows we think deserve recognition. The final list contains the shows, actors, designers, etc., which received a quorum vote from the dozen critics on the forum. But what we unanimously agreed upon was that this year was a great year in Dallas theater.

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Michael Urie Is the Perfect Tour Guide to Barbra Streisand's Basement Mall

Categories: Theater

Michael Urie in the hit show, Buyer & Cellar

By Monica Hinman

How to deal with the trials and travails of life? Anxiety about the future, the disappointments of today and the scars from yesterday can be ameliorated with a Xanax or a bottle of wine, a little shopping or a gallon of ice cream. Or if you are a diva in need of comfort, you open a build a row of underground shops to house a collection of belongings.

Buyer and Cellar -presented by AT&T Performing Arts Center this weekend in a limited run - gives us a peek into the fantasy shopping world Barbra Streisand has created in the basement of a barn on her Malibu estate. That part is real and can be verified in her 2010 coffee-table book My Passion for Design in which Barbra (note the missing 'a' ) gives readers a glimpse into her "dream refuge". Yes, that's right she really built an old-fashioned strip mall, complete with a popcorn machine and a frozen-yogurt shop where she is the only customer.

While Buyer and Cellar is built around the world of Barbra Streisand, the star of this show is the charismatic, and unbelievably funny, Michael Urie. This critically acclaimed actor has his roots in the Dallas area -Plano to be exact - where he attended Collin County Community College (casually referred to as Quad C) before moving on to New York City's Juilliard School, followed by success on Broadway and television. This show may not have been written for him, but it showcases his unassuming charm and comedic timing to great effect and ends with lots of laughs.

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Stage West's Beyond Therapy Gives an Unstraightforward Look at Love

Categories: Theater

Buddy Myers
Dana Schultes and Mark Shum in Beyond Therapy.
If therapy has ever been in vogue, it started somewhere after the mid-20th century. When Chrisopher Durang's Beyond Therapy first premiered in New York City in 1981, this idea of therapy was almost trendy. A hip socialite might ask, "who's your therapist?" directly after asking about the designer of your evening gown. Freud, meet Balenciaga.

Enter Durang's absurdist comedy, a tale of romance sparked through personal ads that takes place primarily on the therapy couch. The main characters find themselves struggling to navigate a culture in which being gay or unmarried in your thirties is more common, but still taboo. Prompted by his therapist to seek a woman, in spite of his live-in boyfriend, Bruce pens an ad in a newspaper through which he meets Prudence. Thrust together by a desperate need to find straight-laced companionship, they find themselves meeting over and over.

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Teco Theatrical Productions' PlayPride Festival Puts Money Where Its Heart Is

Categories: Theater

Teco Theatrical Productions
The playwrights of PlayPride Festival

When Teresa Coleman-Walsh, founder and artistic director of TeCo Theatrical Productions, received a submission to the company's annual New Play competition entitled Three Guys in a Bed, she immediately wanted to help bring it to the stage. But the play was far too edgy --think full frontal nudity-- for the fairly traditional festival, and Three Guys in a Bed was set aside. However, when the board at TeCo began reflecting on the trends in their recent submission cycles, they landed upon an idea for a separate, all LGBT festival.

"What we had been seeing from the admissions process was a lot of gay themed plays," Walsh says. "It was time to offer an LGBT festival. That's how we created the PlayPride event. It's an opportunity for us to serve our community. It was a niche that had not been given a platform."

PlayPride LGBT festival will take over the Bishop Arts Theatre Centre Thursday, September 4 through Sunday, September 14. Six one-act plays from Texas playwrights will be performed each evening during the run. There's also a competitive element, and it's for a good cause. At the end of each evening of performances, audience members will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite play, and the winning playwright will earn $1,000 for the LGBT community organization of their choice.

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Dallas Theater Center Kicks Off with a "Kickass" Rocky Horror Show

Categories: Theater

Dallas Theater Center
The wonderfully weird cast of Rocky Horror Show.

Dan Domenech wears jeans and a casual blue hooded sweater as he sips a root beer. Standing over 6 feet tall, it's easier to imagine him dribbling a basketball than wearing fishnets and eyeliner. His dark brown eyes light up in sheepish amusement when he admits that he walks around his hotel room in heels to rehearse for his role in Dallas Theater Center's Rocky Horror Show. But it's not wearing the heels that he finds embarrassing; it's the possibility he won't be comfortable enough in them. As the show's Frank-N- Furter, he'll need to nimbly slink across the boards if he doesn't want to be booed offstage.

"It's not my first time wearing heels. I did that in Rent years ago," Domenech says with a laugh. "But I'm training a muscle I don't normally use. I have to do a lot of strutting."

Plus, he wants to do the part justice, because hundreds of die-hard Rocky Horror fans will be in the audience and Domenech has iconic heels to fill.

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The Year of the Rooster Is Another Tired Story About a White Man and His Cock

Categories: Theater

Upstart Productions
Brian Wickowitz (right) bets big on his bird Joey Folsom in The Year of the Rooster.
For centuries, white male narrators have dominated storytelling. We're talking everyone from Homer's Odysseus to Shakespeare's Hamlet to America's Rick Perry. Western cultural mythology is steeped in white male hegemony. And at the center of most of those stories is a tricky little devil known as ego. Whether characters are pursuing love, war, power, fame or money, they will be battling an ego along the way. It's a simple metaphor for manhood, or a male's need to seek fulfillment outside of himself. Basically, it's all about the penis.

That we haven't moved into a more sophisticated, gender-friendly world in 2014 is enough to send a modern woman into the doldrums. And to ask her to sit through an extended metaphor about a man and his cock on a Friday night might inspire the filing of a metaphorical restraining order. But what almost saves The Year of the Rooster from theatrical regression is its Dickensian self-awareness, even using the daily routine of male fowl to emphasize that there truly is nothing new under the sun.

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Audacity Solo Salon Offers Early Glimpses at Three Solo Stage Works

Categories: Theater

Steve Young, ElizaBeth Bontley and Van Quattro will present works in progress at Audacity Solo Salon.
In May, Brad McEntire and Audacity Theatre Lab brought eight artists and eight solo shows to town and stacked them all together inside the Margo Jones Theatre. For the first festival of its kind here, Dallas Solo Fest went well. So well, in fact, that McEntire has devised a quarterly workshop event, the Audacity Solo Salon, to foster an environment that provides ongoing support for Dallas solo performers.

With the Solo Salon, audiences and artists are given a chance to see solo acts present their works-in-progress, providing a front-row seat to the development of the pieces. Things could go terribly wrong, actors could fall flat on their asses or things could go terribly right and you have the chance to catch a beautiful moment in creative history.

"This will be a way for solo artists to rehearse, experiment and develop their work in front of supportive audiences. The Audacity Solo Salon artists have the opportunity to perform and try out new work in a safe and informal setting," McEntire says. "It is my hope that it will serve as a gathering place so solo artists and their audiences can meet and inspire each other, maybe cultivating a collaborative network of solo performers, playwrights, directors and so on."

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Plano Native, Ugly Betty Star Michael Urie Brings His Hit Off-Broadway Show Home

Categories: Theater


It's a sunny day in May, and I see Michael Urie's toothy smile before I've even opened the glass door to the City Performance Hall. He's home from New York City for the weekend, quietly hosting press conferences before heading to Austin for a wedding. The tour of his hit off-Broadway show, Buyer & Cellar, hasn't been announced yet, but Urie is giddy to put a September stop in Dallas on his calendar. It's set to be the last stop on the mini-national tour and the season opener for the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Off-Broadway on Flora series at the City Performance Hall, September 3-6.

"I'm excited for my high school teachers and some family to see me on stage," says Urie, a Plano Senior High School graduate. "I wouldn't have guessed that I'd spend this much time with Barbra Streisand."

He's not sharing the stage with Babs -- at least, not exactly. Since 2013 he's been acting in a one-man show about a struggling L.A. actor who works in the basement of her Malibu home, where the eccentric madame built a shopping mall.

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Dallas Theater Center Does Just About the Nicest Thing Ever

Karen Almond
Marius and Eponine get a hipster update.

The Dallas Theater Center's version of Les Miserables has turned quite a few heads for its contemporary take on the classic tale of the French Revolution. Director Liesl Tommy's politically charged update has earned comparisons to Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring. The musical when placed in a modern context signals the story's timelessness, as well as the repetitive nature of history. And this courageous interpretation has earned DTC mountains of press throughout the globe, placing it in front of the eyes of many an interested theater-goer. Including, it turns out, a 16-year-old girl named Anna in Alaska.

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