Theater Critic Picks
These are the 15 can't-miss shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for August
Now that you had a breather in July, it's time to gear back up for a full roster of plays, musicals, premieres, one-minute new works, and an extravaganza that brings together hundreds of community performers, all in the name of Shakespeare. And speaking of The Bard, if you feel like watching his plays in a theater is too formal, then pull up a seat at the bar.
Here are the 15 shows to see, in order by start date:
Heisenberg and Actually
Theatre Three, August 2-26
A double feature opens Theatre Three's new season, with two short plays presented together on the same bill. T3 artistic director Jeffrey Schmidt, who directs Heisenberg (Katy Tye directs Actually), says, "This is an evening stripped down to the bare essentials of playmaking and storytelling: a blank stage, four actors, two scripts, and the audience." Heisenberg, written by the Tony Award-winning playwright of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, follows the unexpected aftermath of a brash and surprising kiss between two strangers on a crowded London train. Actually dives deep into the murky waters of sexual ethics, evidence, and unveiling truths on a college campus.
Hand to God
WaterTower Theatre, August 3-26
Texas native Robert Askins thrusts WaterTower audiences into a surreal church basement (with general seating), where a young man's foul-mouthed hand puppet — that may be possessed by the devil — wreaks havoc and exposes hypocrisy with ruthlessness and side-splitting humor. Director Joanie Schultz first staged a production of the immersive show in Chicago, where it was nominated for six Helen Hayes Awards.
Measure for Measure
Shakespeare in the Bar, August 6 & 13
It's known as Shakespeare's "problem play," and who better to tackle it in an informal setting than Dallas' favorite barely-rehearsed ensemble? Two shows, one at The Wild Detectives and the other at Deep Ellum Art Co., encourage audiences to grab a drink (or two — it's common for everyone to drink when an actor shouts for their line) and watch The Bard at its rowdy, most unpredictable best. Tickets go super fast for these shows, but there are 50 first-come, first-served tickets (one per person) available starting at 6:30 pm on the night of the show.
Love Never Dies
Broadway at the Bass, August 7-12
Did you know The Phantom of the Opera has a sequel? Andrew Lloyd Webber's follow-up to his smash musical hit premiered in London in 2010, but then mostly faded into obscurity (except for a 2012 DVD recording of the West End production). But now it's on tour! Check in with the Phantom and Christine, who are now in Coney Island 10 years after the big showdown at the Paris Opera House.
A Proper Man
What happens when you cross Blackadder with William Shakespeare and toss in a touch of Monty Python? Local playwright Steven Young's newest is a rollicking, bawdy look at Merrie Olde England, and was the winner of last season's inaugural new comedy play festival, Fresh Reads. Down-on-his-luck Restoration playwright Stephan Kickham (Esq.), decides to buck the new trend of female roles being played by actual females. He bites off more than he can chew when Margaret Hughes, England's first professional actress, decides to crash the auditions.
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience
AT&T Performing Arts Center, August 9-12
Two-time Olivier Award-nominated actors Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner took on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. Even if you don’t know the difference between a horcrux and a Hufflepuff, you'll be able to laugh along.
One Minute Play Festival
Kitchen Dog Theater, August 11-13
Back for its fifth consecutive year, this fast and furious event pairs 84 original one-minute plays by 42 local playwrights with 12 directors and 60 actors. It's one insanely wild night of theater.
School of Rock
Dallas Summer Musicals, August 15-26
Broadway at the Bass, August 28-September 2
Based on the hit film, the stage musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pint-sized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school's beautiful but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within. Ironically, this Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater musical follows on the heels of another of their big tours, Love Never Dies.
Circle Theatre, August 16-September 15
When two actors with a history are thrown together as romantic leads in a forgotten 1930s melodrama, they quickly lose touch with reality as the story onstage follows them offstage. Director Emily Scott Banks leads a cast that includes Jeremy Schwartz, Adolfo Becerra, Patrick Bynane, Natalie Earl, David Fenley, Sarah Rutan, and Ashlee Waldbauer.
Ochre House Theatre, August 18-September 8
This world premiere dark musical written and directed by Carla Parker has all the hallmarks of an original Ochre House work. Things have gone rotten in the world of toys, and Mrs. Mousey Marti Etheridge) launches into the dangerous journey that questions the very existence of their innocent lives. Rebellion and unrest erupt and turn the toys' once-harmonious lives into bittersweet chaos.
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.
Second Thought Theatre, August 22-September 15
To be a woman in the 21st century is to experience — and embody — a world of contradictions. To express them all in one play is impossible, but playwright Alice Birch and director Christie Vela are going to do it anyway. This bold, provocative, and riotous play promises to be unlike anything that Dallas has ever seen before.
Uptown Players, August 24-September 2
To close its 17th season, Uptown Players is staging the regional premiere of Topher Payne's dramedy that was inspired by the true story of the earliest stirrings of the American gay rights movement. It's 1950, and new colors are being added to the Red Scare. Two U.S. State Department employees, Bob and Norma, have been tasked with identifying sexual deviants within their ranks. There's just one problem: both Bob and Norma are gay, and have married each other's partners as a carefully constructed cover.
Stage West, August 30-September 30
The Terrebonne plantation is in upheaval: the Master has died, and his naïve young nephew is trying to hold things together but the evil neighbor is out to buy the land. Meanwhile, the slaves chat and gossip, and the beautiful, young ward of the estate has a secret that will change everything. Based on a controversial classic, this Obie Award-winning play is part period satire and part meta-theatrical middle finger. It's a provocative and moving challenge to the racial climate of "the land of the free" in both the antebellum South and today.
The Winter's Tale
Dallas Theater Center, August 31-September 2
The groundbreaking community engagement and participatory theater project designed to deliberately blur the line between professional artists and Dallas community members is back. Kent Gash directs Todd Almond's adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, which features five professional actors and 200 Dallasites. Tickets are free, and can be picked up at any of the partnering community organizations, or online and by phone at 214-880-0202 beginning August 21.