Theater Critic Picks

These are the 13 can't-miss shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for October

The 13 can't-miss shows in DFW theater for October

Stage West presents Life Sucks
Aaron Posner's Life Sucks is at Stage West. Photo by Evan Michael Woods
Stiff
Sherry Jo Ward brings her play Stiff to Stage West for three performances. Photo by Mark Oristano
Rent 20th anniversary national tour
Rent's 20th anniversary tour comes to Bass Hall. Photo by Carol Rosegg
Amphibian Stage Productions presents A Lost Leonardo
Amphibian Stage Productions presents A Lost Leonardo. Photo by Parker T. Lunsford
WaterTower Theatre presents Pride and Prejudice
WaterTower Theatre presents Kate Hamill's adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Photo by Evan Michael Woods
Theatre Three presents Adding Machine
Adding Machine is at Theatre Three. Photo by Jeffrey Schmidt
WingSpan Theatre Company presents Edward Albee's Occupant
Wingspan Theatre Company presents Edward Albee's Occupant. Photo by Lowell Sargeant
Stage West presents Life Sucks
Stiff
Rent 20th anniversary national tour
Amphibian Stage Productions presents A Lost Leonardo
WaterTower Theatre presents Pride and Prejudice
Theatre Three presents Adding Machine
WingSpan Theatre Company presents Edward Albee's Occupant

There is a definite spooky vibe in the air this month, as theaters turn to not only supernatural themes but also to those that can be far scarier: family, dating, and getting naked in front of strangers.

Here are the 13 shows to see, in order by start date:

Adding Machine
Theatre Three, October 1-22
Elmer Rice's expressionistic play on which this musical is based may have been written in 1923, but a lot of the themes — inability to connect, the encroachment of technology, a fear that you're wasting your life, the urge to kill your boss — are still startlingly relevant. Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loewith adapted Rice's play into a musical that ran Off-Broadway in 2008 and is now having its regional premiere in Dallas. Expect a stylized take on life and death, as Mr. Zero follows through on one urge but is unable, even in the afterlife, to acknowledge his other feelings.

Occupant
WingSpan Theatre, October 6-21
WingSpan's 20th anniversary season is dedicated to Edward Albee, who passed away in September 2016. Susan Sargeant, arguably DFW's best interpreter of Albee's work, is directing this two-hander about flamboyant New York sculptor Louise Nevelson and an unnamed interviewer, who questions Nevelson's private and public accomplishments and turmoils. From her unique vantage point beyond the grave, Nevelson answers his queries with a clarity born of the distance provided by death.

Life Sucks
Stage West, October 12-November 12
Much like last season's Stupid Fucking Bird, an excellent "sort of" adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Aaron Posner has loosely adapted Chekhov's Uncle Vanya into a modern comedy. An extended family spends the weekend at their country house, but unrequited love, jealousy, and an unexpected bombshell complicate matters in this regional premiere.

A Lost Leonardo
Amphibian Stage Productions, October 12-November 5
Following an acclaimed staged reading in 2015 under the title Daedalus, David Davalos' comedy returns in a fully realized production. If Davalos' name sounds familiar, it's because he's the scribe behind the award-winning Wittenberg (performed at Amphibian in 2011). But here he follows a pre-Mona Lisa Leonardo Da Vinci as he shuns art for scientific pursuits, building technological creations under the patronage of Cesare Borgia ... and realizing the job is not what he thought.

Shadow Woman
House Party Theatre, October 14-28
From House Theatre's new play development wing comes a dark, supernatural thriller by Dallas playwright Claire Carson. The world premiere will incorporate movement, spectacle, and visual storytelling to immerse the audience in the world of a 17-year-old girl who starts to realize there’s something in the house no one but she and her cat seem to notice.

Pride and Prejudice
WaterTower Theatre, October 16-November 5
New artistic director Joanie Schultz is kicking off her inaugural season with Kate Hamill's adaptation of Jane Austen's great novel about the entanglements of family, love, marriage, and money.

Stiff
Stage West, October 17-31
After being lauded with critical praise during its premiere at the Festival of Independent Theatres, Sherry Jo Ward is bringing her one-woman autobiographical play to Fort Worth for three performances only (October 17, 24, and 31). In it, she tells of her diagnosis of and subsequent living with the incredibly rare disease Stiff Persons Syndrome (only about 300 people in the United States have it). When she's not remounting her own work, she's appearing in Life Sucks at the same theater.

Rent
Performing Arts Fort Worth, October 17-22
Whether you want to believe it or not, it's been 20 years since Jonathan Larson's rock opera about East Village bohemians and the AIDS epidemic premiered. The 20th anniversary national tour is celebrating the work, which, despite a few fashion choices and lack of technology, still feels as immediate today as it did when it opened Off-Broadway in 1996.

The Full Monty
Uptown Players, October 20-November 5
Six down-on-their luck steelworkers in Buffalo come up with a bold way to make some quick cash in the Americanized musical stage version of the 1997 British film. A book by Terrence McNally and a score by David Yazbek provide the base for director Cheryl Denson.

Application Pending
Circle Theatre, October 19-November 18
Janelle Lutz plays more than 40 characters in Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg's comedy about the cutthroat world of kindergarten admissions. At an elite Manhattan prep school, the head of admissions is ousted due to scandal on the final day of applications, so a kindergarten assistant is thrust into the role and must balance beleaguered applicants, incompetent administrators, and an army of parents who will stop at nothing to get their kids in.

Ironbound
Kitchen Dog Theater, October 26-November 12
This regional premiere by Martyna Majok centers on Darja, an independent Polish immigrant who over the course of 20 years, three relationships, and three presidents, negotiates for her future with men who can offer her love or security, but never both. KDT co-artistic director Tina Parker helms the show, which is described as "heartbreakingly hilarious."

Lear
Theatre Three and Prism Movement Theater, October 26-November 17
Shakespeare's tragedy about the king and his three daughters is adapted into a wordless piece of dance theater by Prism co-founder Katy Tye. Marianne Galloway is the gender-swapped Lear, who descends into madness through Tye's choreography, Jeffrey Colangelo's direction, and Ivan Dillard's original music.

Original Man
Ochre House Theater, October 28-November 18
Artistic director Matthew Posey is back with his latest, an original musical about a young man named Joe who fights to be free from an abusive father and a cruel, ruthless world by creating his own imaginary world. Original music and magic realism are just two of the elements that Ochre House audiences should expect.