What To Watch Onstage

Stay cool with these sizzling hot Dallas theater picks

Stay cool with these sizzling hot Dallas theater picks

So Help Me God, Julie Johnson at Theatre Three in Dallas
Julie Johnson returns to Dallas in Theatre Three's So Help Me God! Photo by Jeffrey Schmidt
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon. It's here. Finally. Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Casa Manana presents Miss Saigon
Jennifer Pzaz stars in Casa Manana's Miss Saigon. Photo courtesy of Casa Manana
Dallas Actor's Lab presents Jailbait
Katherine Bourne and Mikaela Krantz in Dallas Actors Lab's Texas premiere of Jailbait. Photo courtesy of Dallas Actor's Lab
Peter and the Starcatcher
Peter and the Starcatcher continues the Peter Pan trend into the Winspear Opera House. Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
So Help Me God, Julie Johnson at Theatre Three in Dallas
Book of Mormon
Casa Manana presents Miss Saigon
Dallas Actor's Lab presents Jailbait
Peter and the Starcatcher

Here’s a lovely fact about theaters: more often than not, they come equipped with air conditioning. Heck, Trinity Shakespeare Festival in Fort Worth even includes this fact in its marketing!

As the summer begins to wind down, this cool coincidence becomes even more attractive to overheated Texans who want to seek shelter from the 100-plus-degree temps with some icy entertainment.

Below is a list of upcoming productions that look like they will include — in addition to sweet, sweet AC — some pretty incredible performances.

The Aliens
Upstart Productions, August 8-31

Upstart Productions was poised to become the new “it” group on the Dallas theater scene when it debuted five years ago — and then it disappeared. Now the company is back and producing Annie Baker’s hit Off-Broadway play about two directionless slackers who make a pet of a young coffee shop employee who’s desperate for inclusion.

Another new company, PlaySites, recently presented a well-reviewed production of the show and performed it in an actual back alley. This one is at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park, the same venue that launched local mega-hit On the Eve.

So Help Me God!
Theatre Three, August 8-September 1

Fresh off the national tour of Memphis, Dallas treasure Julie Johnson returns home in a backstage satire penned by the woman who introduced the world to merry murderess Roxie Hart (the character that would later inspire the musical Chicago).

Maurine Dallas Watkins’ 1929 comedy has all the ingredients for a biting, old-fashioned romp through the world of show business: ditzy divas, greedy commercialism and backstage back-stabbing.

In a Forest, Dark and Deep
Second Thought Theatre, August 9-31

Neil LaBute is famously provocative, both onstage and off. Besides writing a trilogy known as The Beauty Plays that includes a play titled Fat Pig, he’s also engaged in some pretty petty online sparring with critics who have panned his shows.

But Second Thought is one of Dallas’ best theater companies, and the group has been known to impress: Playwright Rajiv Joseph was a huge fan of Second Thought’s staging of his Gruesome Playground Injuries a few months ago.

In this psychological thriller, adult siblings confront long-hidden secrets and past bad choices. Regan Adair, whose handling of Red Light Winter in 2011 was masterful, returns from New York City to direct.

The Book of Mormon
Lexus Broadway Series, August 20-September 1

It’s here. IT’S FINALLY HERE. Broadway’s hottest ticket since The Producers arrives in Dallas for 16 performances only, and although a lot of the tickets were scooped up immediately when they first went on sale in June, there might still be time to call in a few favors.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, they of South Park fame, wrote a deliciously un-PC musical about straight-laced Mormon missionaries trying to introduce African “heathens” to their religion. Expect crass language, vulgar jokes, and some surprisingly beautiful melodies in this definitely not-for-kids show.

Miss Saigon
Casa Mañana, August 10-18

Broadway’s Jennifer Paz and Fort Worth native Daniel Rowan (who’s taking a hiatus from his role in Off-Broadway’s The Fantasticks) headline as star-crossed lovers Kim and Chris in Casa Mañana’s ambitious mounting of the Vietnam War-era musical.

Will the famous helicopter make an appearance? Director Tim Bennett is being coy, but he does promise that this version will pour just as much energy into the story as it does into the special effects.

The Zoo Story
Fun House Theatre & Film, September 4-7

They wowed with Hamlet and shocked with Daffodil Girls: Inspired by David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Now Bren Rapp and Jeff Swearingen are back with a pint-sized version of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.

Young Chris Rodenbaugh and Doak Campbell Rapp are taking the bond they formed by playing Hamlet and Claudius and using it to interpret the two men in Albee’s 1959 play, who famously meet on a bench in Central Park and hurtle toward a brutal climax.

Jailbait
Dallas Actors Lab, August 22-31

In only its second production, Dallas Actors Lab is presenting the Texas and DFW premiere of Jailbait, written by Deirdre O’Connor. Undermain Theatre associate director Dylan Key directs this look into what it really means to be a grown-up, as the audience follows two teenagers during a night out clubbing.

Katherine Bourne, last seen as the overachieving little sister in WaterTower Theatre’s Black Tie, and Mikaela Krantz, of WaterTower’s The Grapes of Wrath, star.

Profanity
Undermain Theatre, September 12-October 12

We revealed a tiny preview of this play while discussing Undermain’s challenging upcoming season, but now it’s time to dive deeper. Starring Undermain artistic director Bruce DuBose, Alex Organ, Michael Federico, Shannon Kearns-Simmons and Katy Tye, Sylvan Oswald’s world-premiere dark comedy explores corruption and the unraveling of one family’s foundation.

Family secrets of course play a part, as they always must in drama. But this time there’s squabbling brothers and a nosy secretary to help things along.

Matt & Ben
Echo Theatre, September 12-28

Before she was Kelly Kapoor on The Office and Dr. Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project, Mindy Kaling was writing and starring in this two-woman show about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. That’s right: the wicked-smaht bros who wrote Good Will Hunting and went on to become two of Hollywood’s hottest commodities.

Here, two ladies embody the playful rivalry between the best buds, shown mostly as flashbacks before they hit it big. Charming, funny, delightfully self-aware — and with not a J-Lo in sight.

A Raisin in the Sun and Clybourne Park
Dallas Theater Center, September 13-October 27
and October 4-27
Written in 2010 by Bruce Norris in response to Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 drama about a dream deferred, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park picks up where A Raisin in the Sun left off. Dallas Theater Center presents the two plays almost in repertory, clearly spotlighting the ties shared by the two works and illustrating how well they play off each other.

Tre Garrett and Joel Farrell each direct, and some of the same cast members appear in both shows.

Peter and the Starcatcher
Lexus Broadway Series, September 17-29

Fly may have presented the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in a new, more tribal light, but this inventive take on the Peter Pan myth focuses instead on how Peter ended up in Neverland in the first place.

Using unassuming props and a cast of 12, Peter and the Starcatcher creates a world that relies heavily on the audience’s imaginations yet spins a magical, fantastic origin story that’s as captivating as it is infectious.

Bonus: Pride Performing Arts Festival
Uptown Players, September 5-14

Now in its third year, Uptown’s theatrical Pride Fest invites local companies and visiting performers to present works that express the gay experience. Staged readings, plays and cabaret performances abound during the nine-day festival, with offerings by Second Thought Theatre (Cock), Theatre New West (The Timekeepers), and Uptown itself (Dishing it OutMade in Heaven, Good Boys and True and Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche).

A performance by Chicago-based cabaret duo Amy and Freddy opens the festival.