The new year begins fresh in Dallas, with many shows making their world premieres on our stages while other, more familiar plays and musicals bolster the lineups.
Here's a look at nine of the dramatic offerings you should check out this January.
Death is a Bad Habit!, through January 24
The newest Living Black & White production finds the intrepid and inept detective Harry Hunsacker at a convent, which sure seems a handy setting for the grayscale concept of these unique shows. Playwright and star Kurt Kleinmann is a seemingly endless fount of ideas for Hunsacker and his 1930s mysteries, and this world premiere sounds like a crackerjack of a good time.
Aida, January 15-17
Uptown Players at Dallas City Performance Hall
The 2000 Tim Rice and Elton John musical about a captured Nubian princess and the Egyptian soldier who ends up falling in love with her is mainly remembered for its bombastic pop score. Uptown Players is taking advantage of that by staging a concert version of the show in conjunction with Turtle Creek Chorale, in the tradition of its previously well-received concerts of Sweeney Todd and Ragtime. Hedwig and the Angry Inch couple Kyle Igneczi and Grace Neeley are reunited to play Radames, the soldier, and his betrothed, the vain Amneris, while Feleceia Benton takes on the title role.
Martyr, January 13-February 6
Second Thought Theatre
Marius von Mayenburg's play is about "religious fundamentalism gone wrong." Timely, huh? Garret Storms, who's been racking up the acting and directing accolades in Fort Worth this past year, stars as a teen who's obsessed with the Old Testament, and he has a powerhouse cast surrounding him (Mikaela Krantz, Allison Pistorious, Lulu Ward, Andrews Cope) all under the direction of Blake Hackler.
The New Moon, January 21-24
Famously known as "Broadway's last hit operetta," this 1928 musical is right in Lyric Stage's wheelhouse. It's the third in a string of Viennese-style operettas written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II (they produced another, The Desert Song, two years ago), and this concert staging will showcase the lush orchestrations and strong vocals for which Lyric is renowned.
Oil, January 21-February 14
A whiskey guzzlin' matriarch of a Houston oil clan in 1986 — yeah, that sounds perfectly in line with Theatre Three's recent streak of down-home, countrified, Texas plays (Candy Barr's Last Dance, Kountry Girls, Cotton Patch Gospel). Marty Van Kleeck directed Gene Raye Price to hilarity in Theatre Three's long-running hit Shear Madness, so here's hoping the duo finds the spark again in this world premiere.
Lord of the Flies, January 22-February 14
You probably had to read the book in school, but there's something different about seeing live the savagery of prep-school boys stranded on an island. This regional premiere adaptation by Nigel Williams is directed by Kelsey Leigh Ervi and, if the production photos are any indication, will not be shying away from the horrors of mob mentality.
If/Then, January 27-31
AT&T Performing Arts Center Broadway Series
Original Broadway star Idina Menzel may not be with the tour of this modern musical anymore, but her castmate Anthony Rapp still is. Both Rapp and Menzel also starred in the original production of Rent, but this Sliding Doors-esque show is quite different from the East Village AIDS crisis of the early '90s. It follows the newly divorced Elizabeth, who moves to New York and makes a series of choices that theoretically could lead her life in two very different directions. Hint: It helps to pay attention to when she's wearing glasses.
Romeo and Juliet, January 27-February 28
Dallas Theater Center
Yes, we just saw the tale of star-crossed lovers this past summer at Shakespeare Dallas, and yes, Fun House Theatre and Film did an age-appropriate production last February. But inventive director Joel Ferrell is behind this mounting, so there should be a fun twist in there somewhere.
A Brothers' Harvest, January 30-February 20
Ochre House Theatre
Matthew Posey has a new musical for us, and it sounds like a darker, more cynical spin on the story of a small-town girl who's itching to find a way out. And because it's Ochre House, it'll probably be a little weird too (just the way we like it there).