April onstage seems to be all about what's new, with several world and regional premieres joining fresh interpretations of dramatic classics. Like a Greek tragedy staged outside with the audience wearing headphones, or a new musical about an Old West legend that's written by a country superstar. That kind of new.
Here are the 10 shows to see, in order by start date:
Dallas Theater Center, April 4-May 21
Artistic director Kevin Moriarty said he encountered a lot of pushback and skepticism when he first presented his ideas about staging Electra: outdoors, with the audience following the action around rather than sitting and watching. Oh, and they'd be outfitted with headphones through which the Greek chorus would voice their lines. Regardless of the resistance, Moriarty's vision is happening in Annette Strauss Square, with a later-than-normal curtain time of 8:30 pm to account for later sunsets.
Straight White Men
Second Thought Theatre, April 12-May 6
"[This play] is asking me to have compassion for a group of people who have not always shown me such compassion.” That's a quote from director Christie Vela, a Mexican-American woman, about this play by a Korean-American woman who confronts straight, white male privilege in the 21st century. “If we want to affect change, if we want those who have marginalized us to see us for who we are and what we really have to offer, should we help them see themselves first?”
Undermain Theatre, April 12-May 6
Photography is the framework for this play by Jackie Sibblies Drury, which is making its Dallas premiere with Carson McCain at the helm. In it, three people's lives intertwine as they search out their common history and explore what artists leave behind as their legacy.
Medea Myth: Love's Beginning
PrismCo, April 13-23
The first of this season's Elevator Project shows is, presumably, a movement-based retelling of Medea. "Presumably" because there isn't a whole lot of info available yet, but PrismCo's entire ethos is built around physical interpretations of myths, fables, and other tales, so expect the company to use full advantage of the Wyly Theatre's versatile 6th-floor performance space.
The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord
WaterTower Theatre, April 14-May 7
The play's description jokes, "A Founding Father, a Victorian novelist, and a Russian revolutionary walk into a … stop if you’ve heard this one." For 90 minutes, three historical figures hash out their thoughts on scripture and the true meaning of existence, all through the voice of playwright Scott Carter, executive producer of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
Susan and God
Theatre Three, April 20-May 14
If you've been watching Feud and upping your Joan Crawford intake, perhaps you came across her performance in the 1940 film version of Rachel Crothers' 1937 play. In it, she portrays a self-centered socialite who discovers a new religious cult and begins forcing the new fad on all her friends. Crothers was "the Neil Simon" of her day, with more than 30 shows on Broadway and a Pulitzer Prize nomination, yet hardly anyone remembers the playwright today.
Circle Theatre, April 27-May 20
Denise Lee and Lisa Fairchild head the cast of this psychological thriller, which also has the added layer of racial contention. One coworker receives a promotion that means she now monitors the other — and things obviously don't go well.
Lyric Stage, April 28-May 7
Grammy Award-winner Larry Gatlin has a new musical up his sleeve, about the last Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, and his mostly white family's settlement of 19th-century Texas. There has been some controversy surrounding the casting of David Phelps as Quanah, but Gatlin and Lyric Stage are adamant that the Grammy winner's voice is the only one that could do justice to Parker's story.
Amphibian Stage Productions, April 28-May 21
Amphibian staged Kieran Lynn's Crossing the Line last summer, and now it's presenting the world premiere of Lynn's newest work, which sounds to have all the hallmarks of an absurd dark comedy. A pair facing deep financial struggles decides their only option is to clean out the safe at their work, a payday loan company, only to find their gambling-addicted boss has the same idea.
Cara Mía Theatre Co., April 29-May 14
Part ghost story, part urban fable, part cracked fairy-tale — Caridad Svich's world premiere follows two young people who are yearning to escape yet unsure of their direction. The Obie-winning playwright's newest work is directed by Cara Mía artistic director David Lozano.