Photo by Evan Michael Woods

There's something special happening at Amphibian Stage right now. It's the world premiere of the play Miss Molly (A Marital Deceit of Honest Intentions), written by Christine Carmela and directed by Evan Michael Woods, TCU alumni who were roommates back in the day.

Since graduating, Carmela made her Off-Broadway debut at SoHo Repertory Theatre and has accrued 6.4 million likes on TikTok, all while gaining her master's in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. While Woods is known as a multidisciplinary theater artist in DFW, Miss Molly marks his directorial debut.

Carmela also stars as Molly Houseington, with Logan Graye (Genevieve Houseington), Brayden Raqueño (Aloysius Thurston), and Luke Atkison (lighting designer) making up the rest of the TCU grads involved in Miss Molly. The remainder of the cast includes Parker Gray (Matthias Manley), Laurel Collins (Baroness Ella Manley), Shannon McGrann (Baroness Bertha Thurston), and Emily Scott Banks (Viscountess Petunia Houseington).

Miss Molly is an homage to Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, offering the same humor and charm of Wilde’s work while incorporating modern references and exploring queer themes. It’s 1889 London, darling, where the only game in town is the pursuit of the perfect partner. Lifelong friends Matthias and Aloysius are convinced they’ve struck gold with the dazzling sisters, Molly and Genevieve. The stage is set for a perfect match…or is it? Enter the ever-discerning Viscountess Houseington, who detects a whiff of something fruity surrounding her daughter’s potential suitors, not to mention the boys’ formidable mothers are determined to put their future in-laws through the ultimate test.

CultureMap recently caught up with Carmela and Woods to discuss the play's history, its importance to queer theater, their friendship, and why Fort Worth will always be their artistic home.

CultureMap: Where did the inspiration for Miss Molly come from?

Christine Carmela: It all started when I first discovered the absurd brilliance of Oscar Wilde in high school, when tasked to read The Importance of Being Earnest for a class. I was immediately obsessed. His irreverence. His social commentary. His epigrams. His dialogue. His shameless self inserts. It was all so eye-opening, life-changing, and unbelievably queer. It was not overtly queer, as that was not allowed in his time, but I instinctively knew.

Fast forward to college, where I had begun to take writing seriously, when in the span of a year I watched two brilliant productions of Wilde's plays, which allowed my obsession to be reignited. The vision was to write something that felt vaguely like him (with half his genius), while showcasing a queerness he wasn't allowed to show in his writing, in his time. I dreamed of honoring the lighthearted whimsy of Wilde's plays whilst also honoring the struggle that came with being queer in Wilde's time.

CM: Was there any sort of workshopping prior to this production at Amphibian Stage?

CC:Miss Molly has been through several iterations. I wrote the first draft five years ago. Did a reading. Wrote a second draft. Had a Zoom production of it at my alma mater. Wrote a third draft. I even briefly adapted it into a screenplay. But then came back to the play and wrote a fourth draft.

When Amphibian was gracious enough to pick it up for their season, we came to an agreement that I would embark on writing an overhaul of a fifth draft. That draft was worked on for a whole nine months leading up to the beginning of rehearsals with the help of my director and dear friend, Evan Michael Woods. And even then, in the first two weeks of rehearsal, there were countless tweaks and adjustments made. I had a writing mentor that gave me the genius advice that a script is never done, a deadline is simply met. I now live by that. But this version of Miss Molly is one I couldn't be more proud of.

Evan Michael Woods: Christine, separate from the TCU theater department, hosted a reading of Miss Molly at TCU in 2018. The next academic year, Theatre TCU scheduled a student-directed and designed production of Miss Molly for March of 2020. Due to the onset of the pandemic, this live production was translated into a digitally recorded production with actors on green screens.

After Christine and I found out that Miss Molly was chosen for production in October of 2022, we spent the next eight months working through rewrites. Briefly before rehearsals started we brought on Haley Nelson, a dramaturg, to help aid the final stages of development.

CM: How did Miss Molly come to be part of Amphibian's mainstage season?

EMW: In early fall of 2022, the leadership at Amphibian Stage was beginning to hone in on the 2023 season. [Co-artistic directors] Kathleen Culebro and Jay Duffer were not finding a big summer comedy that they were happy with; especially not one they hadn’t already seen elsewhere a hundred times over.

I had already pitched Miss Molly before but this seemed like the perfect window of opportunity. After discussions with Christine and Amphibian Stage leadership about how the play was going to evolve between selection and production, Miss Molly was a go.

CM: Christine, what has it been like starring in the world premiere of your own show?

CC: My biggest dream and career ambition has always been to write and star in my own work. To be my own Tina Fey, my own Lin Manuel Miranda, if you will. I was told very early on in my career that if the roles you want are not out there, write them. I took that violently to heart and I am finally getting to live my dream. It has been the most artistically fulfilling experience of my life.

Was it exhausting? Yes. Were a few sleepless nights had? Yes. Did my brain get occasionally overwhelmed flipping back and forth between acting and writing? Yes. But who am I to complain? It has been endlessly rewarding. I only wish to continue doing it.

CM: Evan, what has it been like making your directorial debut in general?

EMW: Directing Miss Molly has been the biggest challenge of my career; it’s also been the most rewarding project of my career. I come to this project as a first-time director but an experienced theater artist in various fields (acting, designing, producing, marketing). Directing requires insight into all aspects of production and it has been so fulfilling to really use all of those theater muscles in unison toward one goal.

I have never put more of myself into a project, and therefore…it is unlike anything else to have other people watch your work! My mom always told me that when she watched me perform she got so nervous for me she would hold her breath while I was onstage. I always considered this sweet but very silly. Now I understand that feeling.

Miss Molly is the first play that I had a strong vision for on the stage; it’s the first play that scratched my director's brain. To make my debut on this play feels surreal to say the least.

I’m so grateful for the trust that Christine, the cast, the creative team, and Amphibian Stage put in me. I hope I’ve made good on my promise.

CM: What has it been like working with a longtime friend?

CC: Working with the Evan Michael Woods has been nothing short of a dream. He has been endlessly collaborative and supportive. He has been such a champion of my work for so long. It only feels right for my playwriting debut to be helmed by him. It also helps that he happens to be a brilliant director. I have remained in a constant state of awe of him the entire process. It's his debut, as well as mine, and having a confidante that understands the pressure of it all has been nothing short of vital and reassuring. I assume it will be happening again, and I can't wait.

EMW: It’s been such a gift. When Christine and I went separate ways after college I assumed our days of collaborating together were mostly over. It was almost hard to wrap my brain around the idea that we’d be spending three months together turning this play into reality.

Christine is such a brilliant mind who has created something big, athletic, and dynamic. It’s a big play with big asks and there were certainly times in the rehearsal process where I thought “man, you really didn’t start small for your first rodeo!” Christine never made me feel like it was my first rodeo. She believed in me during this process when I didn’t believe myself. I truly believe we make a good team. We bring out each other’s strengths.

CM: What has been your favorite part of this process?

CC: Without question, my favorite part of this process has been getting to know the entire creative team and seeing what they bring to the table. Every single person that has been involved in this process has been endlessly talented.

Writing can be so internal, but seeing everyone work on this play, externally, in real life, has been nothing short of astounding. Like in any collaborative process, genius spurs genius. Their creative genius has helped me realize things about my own work, and I am eternally grateful. I could write a novel listing my praises for everyone involved, but I've been told we don't have the word count. So for now, thank you.

EMW: Oh my god. All of it.

I love building the world of a play, so developing how Miss Molly looks and sounds was such a treat. The designers on this show were simply top notch.

Seeing the cast take the play and my vision well past what I could have ever imagined.

Watching opening night with a sold-out crowd and watching them take every twisty turn and sudden drop was such an unbelievable feeling. To realize that we really had made the thing, and that people had come to see it, and those people were so enraptured and moved by the play.

So…yes. All of it.

CM: Any plans for the play after it ends its Amphibian run?

CC: Nothing is — for sure — on the docket for the future of Miss Molly (A Marital Deceit of Honest Intentions). But despite me repeatedly thinking Miss Molly was done for, she's still kicking after five years. I have a running joke with my friends that you couldn't kill Miss Molly if you tried. So we'll see how she comes back to life again next. I trust she will.

EMW: That’s Molly’s secret — and a lady never tells


Miss Molly (A Marital Deceit of Honest Intentions) runs through August 13 at Amphibian Stage. Purchase tickets here or by calling 817-923-3012.

Christine Carmela, Evan Michael Woods

Photo by Evan Michael Woods

Christine Carmela and Evan Michael Woods.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

These are the 12 must-see shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for December

Theater Critic Picks

It's here: holiday show time. Many of them opened at the end of November, so we're including them here for your planning ease.

Whether you're looking for something family-friendly, a play the in-laws will love, or a performance that has nothing to do with the holidays at all, read on.

In order of start date, here are 12 local shows to watch this month:

Jada Bells - A Holiday Extravaganza
Uptown Players, through December 10
Dallas drag performer Jada Pinkett Fox, aka Lee Walter, will show off her charisma, stage presence, and voice as she brings her unique blend of glamour, humor, and talent to the stage. Jada will be joined by musical guests, each bringing their own flair and style. The holiday-themed extravaganza, written and directed by BJ Cleveland, features classic holiday favorites and contemporary hits.

Black Nativity
Bishop Arts Theatre Center, through December 17
For 19 years, Bishop Arts Theatre Center's annual holiday production of Black Nativity, inspired by Langston Hughes's iconic 1960 Broadway show, is back with a mesmerizing display of hand-clapping, toe-tapping, and finger-snapping theatrical wonderment like never before.

Poor Clare
Stage West, through December 17
Meet Clare: a stylish teen living in medieval Italy, trying out the newest hairstyles, and keeping up with the latest fashions and juicy town gossip. But everything changes when she meets a man named Francis who has started ranting in the streets. Her mother, sister, and maids don’t understand it, but this man’s ideas are, like, totally starting to make sense – and now she can’t unsee the world he has shown her.

Scrooge in Rouge
Theatre Three, through December 17
After a widespread case of food poisoning wipes out the majority of The Royal Music Hall Twenty-Member Variety Players, three surviving members of the company soldier on through a performance of A Christmas Carol that abounds in bad puns, naughty double-entendres, and witty songs.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Dallas Children's Theater, through December 23
Rediscover the true reason for the season while sharing laughs with the Peanuts Gang along the way. Accompanied by a live combo, Charles Schulz’s classic special will make audiences nostalgic for days gone by.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical
Casa Mañana, through December 23
Based on the best-selling book and play by Barbara Robinson, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical is the story of the Herdmans, who are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, they steal, they bully other kids, and they smoke smelly cigars. There used to be only one place where you’d never see them: church.

A Gospel Black Nativity
Jubilee Theatre, through December 24
Black Nativity is an adaptation of the Nativity story by Langston Hughes, performed by an entirely Black cast. Hughes was the author of the book, with the lyrics and music being derived from traditional Christmas carols, sung in gospel style, with a few songs created specifically for the show.

A Christmas Carol
Dallas Theater Center, through December 30
Three spirits have come to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, and to take him on a fantastic journey through Christmases past, present, and future. Brimming with joyful songs, magical spirits, and holiday cheer, this holiday classic embodies a story of joy, redemption, and the spirit of Christmas.

Safe at Home
Kitchen Dog Theater, December 7-10
An engaging and provocative site-specific work designed to be performed inside a baseball stadium, the second-ever professional production of Safe at Home examines the complex intersection between baseball, politics, and the American Dream. Lead by tour guides, pods of audience members travel throughout the stadium to nine different spaces, ranging from a luxury suite to the men’s room to the dugout, as the patrons — not the cast — move from scene to scene.

Theatre Three, December 7-31
Without a success to his credit for some years, Sidney Bruhl receives a new potential hit script called Deathtrap that was written by his student. Sidney plots with his reluctant wife Myra about how best to plagiarize the play and the evening takes a hilarious and dangerous turn.

The Cher Show
Broadway at the Center, December 14-16
Superstars come and go but Cher is forever. The Cher Show is the Tony Award-winning musical of her story, and it’s packed with so much Cher that it takes three women to play her: the kid starting out, the glam pop star, and the icon.

Les Miserables
Broadway Dallas, December 20-31
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, the production tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption — a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. The epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.

Director Todd Haynes tackles inappropriate relationships in May December

Movie Review

Director Todd Haynes has pushed buttons throughout his career, starting with his acclaimed short film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls to illustrate the late singer’s anorexia battle. He’s at it again with his latest, May December, which tackles the idea of highly inappropriate relationships through a lens that itself has the potential to be upsetting.

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an acclaimed actress, has traveled to Savannah, Georgia to shadow Gracie (Julianne Moore) in preparation for a movie in which Elizabeth will play Gracie. That movie tackles the beginnings of Gracie’s relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), when he was a 13-year-old seventh grader and she was a 36-year-old pet shop worker. The shocking tryst resulted in much controversy, a child, and a jail stint for Gracie, but the couple professed their love for each other through it all.

Twenty years later, they’re still together, having added two more kids to their family, children who happen to be the same age as Gracie’s grandkids from her previous relationship. Elizabeth wants to experience it all, bouncing from person to person to try to understand exactly who Gracie is and was. Striving for authenticity in her performance, however, soon takes her down a Method acting rabbit hole.

Directed by Haynes from a script by Samy Burch, and loosely based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, the film treats Gracie and Joe’s relationship in a relatively straightforward manner. It details a benign life in which they have the love of their kids and some neighbors, even if they occasionally get a box full of poop on their doorstep.

It’s the arrival of Elizabeth that sends things spiraling, as her various conversations trigger responses from both Gracie and Joe that they seem not to expect. Haynes alternates between being serious and being campy, with not enough of each for either for them to seem to be the goal. The score gives off a less-than-serious vibe, and an early scene in which a mundane thing is treated as if it were happening in a soap opera points in the campy direction, but those type of moments are few and far between.

In casting Portman as the obsessive actor, Haynes may have been trying to offer up echoes of her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. It’s no small irony that the person who comes off as the most craven in such a sordid story is the actor who everybody wants to be around, not the woman who became a pariah because she is a sex offender. In that and other ways, Haynes upends expectations, keeping the film interesting even through its slower moments.

Portman and Moore are ideal for their respective roles, Portman because she has a knack for portraying confidence and guile, and Moore due to her ability to manipulate at will. Melton, best known for playing Reggie on Riverdale, pales in comparison due to his less showy role, but he complements the story well. Special notice goes to Elizabeth Yu as Gracie and Joe’s daughter Mary, who shines in her limited scenes.

The story of May December contains elements that will creep certain viewers out, whether it’s the subject matter itself or the performances of the two great lead actors. Haynes has a way of getting under the skin with his storytelling, and this film is yet another great example.


May December will debut on Netflix on December 1.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Photo by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December.