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These are the 12 can't-miss shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for July

These are the 12 can't-miss shows in DFW theater for July

Denise Lee
Cabaret queen Denise Lee. Photo by Mark Oristano
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder!
This will be the last time Kurt Kleinmann (right) plays his famous character Harry Hunsecker. Photo courtesy of Pegasus Theatre
Rush Limbaugh in Night School
Alex Duva in Rush Limbaugh in Night School for FIT. Photo by Chuck Marcelo
Blake Stadnik and Company in national tour of 42nd Street
The national tour of 42nd Street taps its way to Bass Hall. Photo by Chris Bennion
End of the Rainbow at Uptown Players
Janelle Lutz is crashing Red, White & Broadway at the Firehouse Theatre. Photo by Mike Morgan
Second Thought Theatre presents A Kid Like Jake
Christie Vela, Ian Ferguson, and Jenny Ledel in A Kid Like Jake for Second Thought Theatre. Photo courtesy of Second Thought Theatre
Denise Lee
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder!
Rush Limbaugh in Night School
Blake Stadnik and Company in national tour of 42nd Street
End of the Rainbow at Uptown Players
Second Thought Theatre presents A Kid Like Jake

There's a little bit of everything for the Dallas-Fort Worth theatergoer this month, what with the annual Festival of Independent Theatres, a Broadway tour, the premiere of a new series, and the farewell performance of a North Texas icon. It all starts early too, so hop to it and get your tickets fast.

Here are the 12 shows in order by start date:

Red, White & Broadway
The Firehouse Theatre, June 30-July 3

The DFW theater community is getting patriotic on our country's 240th birthday. Noelle Mason, Gregory Hullett, Elisa Danielle James, Peter DiCesare, and special guest Babakayode Ipaye will join an ensemble of 30-plus singers and dancers, plus a 10-piece live band, for this original tribute. Rumor has it that Janelle Lutz will be reviving her acclaimed Judy Garland character, so don't dawdle.

Stacy Has a Thing For Black Guys
The Tribe, July 1-10

The artist collective known as The Tribe specializes in new works, and this one from Ruben Carrazana (making his professional playwriting debut) definitely sounds provocative. A generic couple has their ideas challenged and pasts uncovered when a guest joins them for lemonade, setting the groundwork for a comedy about sex, race, and the illusions of intimacy. It plays at the Latino Cultural Center.

A Kid Like Jake
Second Thought Theatre, July 1-23
The kids of Second Thought Theatre have certainly been having a challenging year, from the teenage religious zealot in Martyr to the men revealing their childhood abuse in The Great God Pan. Now a gender-fluid toddler is making his parents question prestigious Manhattan schools in A Kid Like Jake, starring Jenny Ledel, Ian Ferguson, Christie Vela, and Kia Boyer.

Festival of Independent Theatres
Bath House Cultural Center, July 8-July 30

FIT is back with a strong lineup from theater groups that include WingSpan, Echo, Proper Hijinx, House Party, Cry Havoc, L.I.P. Service, and Fun House Theatre and Film. Just a sample: Lulu Ward performing Samuel Beckett and a 12-year-old playing Rush Limbaugh.

42nd Street
Performing Arts Fort Worth, July 12-17

Those dancing feet are tapping straight from Dallas Summer Musicals over to Bass Hall in Fort Worth. The national tour includes quite a few Texas faces, from Arlington's Sarah Fagan to Mady Modic of Coppell, and even Peggy Sawyer herself, played by Houston's Caitlin Ehlinger.

Crossing the Line
Amphibian Stage Productions, July 14-August 7

Imagine you and your SO are out for a lovely walk, when suddenly a new policy turns the outing into a ridiculous situation of bureaucratic absurdity. That's the premise of this play by Kieran Lynn, starring Kelsey Milbourn, Matthew Minor, and Justin Lemieux at the acclaimed Fort Worth theater.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Murder!
Pegasus Theatre, July 15-August 7

Kurt Kleinmann pioneered Dallas' iconic Living Black & White plays, writing the scripts for the comic mystery thrillers and starring as the inept wannabe detective Harry Hunsacker for years. This new play will mark his final performance in the role, as longtime understudy Scott Nixon prepares to take over. See Kleinmann July 14-17 and again August 4-7, and see Nixon July 21-31. If you save your ticket stub from the first show, call the box office and tell them you'd like a "return trip" ticket — and see the other Harry for half-price.

It's Only a Play
Uptown Players, July 15-31

Can't get enough Terrence McNally? On the heels of his somber Mothers and Sons, Uptown Players is mounting his dishy backstage comedy It's Only a Play. B.J. Cleveland is taking on — you guessed it — the role that originated on Broadway with Nathan Lane, with Chamblee Ferguson is playing the part of Matthew Broderick.

Romeo & Juliet
Shakespeare in the Bar, July 18 and July 25

This seems an appropriate choice of plays, since intense, short-lived romances tend to blossom in bars. The first immersive showing of the Bard's tragic love story will be at Eight Bells Alehouse in Expo Park, and the second a week later at the Wild Detectives in Oak Cliff. As always with these wildly popular productions, get your tickets now.

Dallas Cabaret Festival
Denise Lee Onstage and Fair Park Dallas, July 28-30

Denise Lee has been cultivating a cabaret presence in Dallas for a while, but now she's taking it up a notch with the first-ever Dallas Cabaret Festival. It's part of the ongoing "Life Is a Cabaret" series Lee has been presenting at the Women's Building in Fair Park, and it will kick off with an all-star Dallas version of Jim Caruso's Cast Party. The Manhattanite will return to Big D with pianist Billy Stritch. Other performers on tap for the festival include Julie Johnson, Linda Petty, and Marisa Diotalevi.

Billy Elliot
The Firehouse Theatre, July 28-August 14

This Farmer's Branch theater landed the regional premiere of the British movie-turned-musical, and eight choreographers to go with it. That's because (spoiler) there's quite a lot of dancing in this show, which is about a young lad from a tough background who just wants to dance.

Smokey Joe's Cafe
Jubilee Theatre, July 29-August 28

The classic Leiber and Stoller songbook musical is a treat for even those who don't know much about music. That's because from "Love Potion No. 9" to "Poison Ivy" to "On Broadway," chances are you're familiar with at least one of these songs.