Theater Critic Picks

Dallas-Fort Worth theater critics offer a standing ovation to 2017-18 stars

DFW theater critics offer a standing ovation to 2017-18 stars

Kitchen Dog Theater presents Pompeii
Cameron Cobb, Michael Federico, and Max Hartman's Pompeii!! at Kitchen Dog Theater won big. Photo by Matt Mrozek
WaterTower Theatre presents Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue
Chris Ramirez won three acting awards, including his star turn in Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue at WaterTower Theatre. Photo by Jason Anderson
Imprint Theatreworks presents The Revolutionists
Jessie Wallace's costumes for The Revolutionists snagged an award for Imprint Theatreworks. Photo by Jessie Wallace
Ruined at Echo Theatre
Ruined won a directing award for Pam Myers-Morgan. Photo courtesy of Echo Theatre
Revolt. She said. Revolt again. at Second Thought Theatre
Revolt. She said. Revolt Again. at Second Thought Theatre won for outstanding ensemble and direction by Christie Vela. Photo by Karen Almond
The Great Distance Home at WaterTower Theatre
The Great Distance Home at WaterTower Theatre was movement-based and devised by its cast and director, Kelsey Leigh Ervi. Photo by Evan Michael Woods
Kim Fischer in Dallas Theater Center's Frankenstein
SMU grad student Amelia Baransky had her set designs recognized for Frankenstein at Dallas Theater Center and Empathitrax at Second Thought Theatre. Photo by Karen Almond
Kitchen Dog Theater presents The Royale
Jamal Gibran Sterling, the ensemble, and director of The Royale at Kitchen Dog Theater won awards. Photo by Matt Mrozek
Hair at Dallas Theater Center
Kevin Moriarty's immersive Hair at Dallas Theater Center won several awards. Photo by Karen Almond
Stormi Demerson and M. Denise Lee in Bread at WaterTower Theatre
Stormi Demerson and Denise Lee each won acting awards for the world premiere of Bread at WaterTower Theatre. Photo by Evan Michael Woods
Parker Gray & Shannon McGrann in Hand To God at WaterTower Theatre
Parker Gray and Shannon McGrann each won acting awards for Hand to God at WaterTower Theatre. Photo by Jason Anderson
Kate Shindle and Robert Petkoff in Fun Home national tour
The national tour of Fun Home won AT&T Perfoming Arts Center an award. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kitchen Dog Theater presents Pompeii
WaterTower Theatre presents Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue
Imprint Theatreworks presents The Revolutionists
Ruined at Echo Theatre
Revolt. She said. Revolt again. at Second Thought Theatre
The Great Distance Home at WaterTower Theatre
Kim Fischer in Dallas Theater Center's Frankenstein
Kitchen Dog Theater presents The Royale
Hair at Dallas Theater Center
Stormi Demerson and M. Denise Lee in Bread at WaterTower Theatre
Parker Gray & Shannon McGrann in Hand To God at WaterTower Theatre
Kate Shindle and Robert Petkoff in Fun Home national tour

Fresh faces and local legends alike walked away with awards from the Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum, as this year's eight critics gathered to debate and vote for their onstage favorites from the newly closed previous season.

Newcomers included Zander Pryor for a remarkable performance in Stage West's Hir; Imprint Theatreworks and its strong inaugural season; and SMU graduate student Amelia Baransky, who earned two nods for her set design.

It was also a strong year for new works, with plays tackling issues both local and national and even a homegrown musical popping up on the list.

Not everyone's picks made it through the voting process, which needed either more than 50 percent of the votes or a unanimous decision if only two or three critics had seen the production. Look for personal favorites not included here to pop up in critics' end-of-year lists.

Without further ado, here are the awards:

Outstanding Direction:

Outstanding New Play or Musical:

  • Babel by Cry Havoc Theater Company Ensemble, Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Bread by Regina Taylor, WaterTower Theatre
  • Cedar Springs or Big Scary Animals by Matt Lyle, Theatre Three
  • Cyrano by Jason O’Connell and Brenda Withers, Amphibian Stage Productions
  • In the Tall Grass by Paul Kalburgi, Bishop Arts Theatre Center
  • Pompeii!! by Cameron Cobb, Michael Federico, and Max Hartman, Kitchen Dog Theater

Outstanding Performance by an Actor:

  • Tyrees Allen, Ruined, Echo Theatre and Denise Lee Onstage
  • Parker Gray, Hand to God, WaterTower Theatre
  • Max Hartman, Ironbound, Kitchen Dog Theater; Pompeii!!, Kitchen Dog Theater; Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Second Thought Theatre
  • John-Michael Marrs, Cyrano, Amphibian Stage Productions
  • Mark Oristano, Glengarry Glen Ross, Imprint Theatreworks
  • Zander Pryor, Hir, Stage West
  • Chris Ramirez, Hair, Dallas Theater Center; Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue, WaterTower Theatre; Empathitrax, Second Thought Theatre
  • Jamal Gibran Sterling, The Royale, Kitchen Dog Theater

Outstanding Performance by an Actress:

  • Jessica Cavanagh, Self Injurious Behavior, Theatre Three
  • Stormi Demerson, Hillary and Clinton, Second Thought Theatre; Bread, WaterTower Theatre
  • Kate Hamill, Cyrano, Amphibian Stage Productions
  • Jenny Ledel, Pride & Prejudice, WaterTower Theatre; Empathitrax, Second Thought Theatre; Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Second Thought Theatre
  • Shannon McGrann, Hand to God, WaterTower Theatre
  • Denise Lee, Ruined, Echo Theatre and Denise Lee Onstage; Bread, WaterTower Theatre
  • Elly Lindsay, John, Undermain Theatre

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Cast:

  • Cyrano, Amphibian Stage Productions
  • The Great Distance Home, WaterTower Theatre
  • Hair, Dallas Theater Center
  • Pompeii!!, Kitchen Dog Theater
  • The Revolutionists, Imprint Theatreworks
  • The Royale, Kitchen Dog Theater
  • Three Sisters, Undermain Theatre

Outstanding Touring Production:

  • The Color Purple, Dallas Summer Musicals
  • Cry Havoc!, Amphibian Stage Productions
  • Fun Home, AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • The King and I, AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • The Humans, AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Waitress, Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth

Outstanding Design or Creative Contribution:

  • John Arnone, scenic design, so go the ghosts of méxico, part 2, and Three Sisters, Undermain Theatre
  • Amelia Bransky, scenic design for Frankenstein, Dallas Theater Center and Empathitrax, Second Thought Theatre
  • Cameron Cobb, Michael Federico, and Max Hartman, music and lyrics, Pompeii!!, Kitchen Dog Theater
  • Design Team, Hair, Dallas Theater Center
  • Jeremy Dumont, choreography, A Chorus Line, Uptown Players
  • Ensemble, music and lyrics, Original Man, Ochre House
  • Kelsey Leigh Ervi and Ensemble, movement, The Great Distance Home, WaterTower Theatre
  • Sam Lao, music, and Brian McDonald, sound, Bread, WaterTower Theatre
  • Justin Locklear and Carla Parker, music and lyrics, Mousey, Ochre House
  • Bart McGeehon, set and projection design, Babel, Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Korey Parker, properties design, A History of Everything, Cry Havoc Theater Company
  • Ryan Rumery, original music and sound design, Frankenstein, Dallas Theater Center
  • Jessie Wallace, costume design, The Revolutionists, Imprint Theatreworks
  • Ashley H. White, fight choreography and intimacy direction, Murder Ballad, Imprint Theatreworks

Special Citations:

  • Mara Richards Bim, the founder of Cry Havoc Theater Company, and her teen ensemble, for conducting thorough research and creating compelling verbatim drama, including this year's Babel, about gun violence.
  • Amphibian Stage Productions for its Comedy Series, curated by Baron Vaughn, for giving stand-up comics a place to workshop new material in a week-long residency.
  • Trinity Shakespeare Festival, for a decade of indelible performances, glorious sets and costumes, evocative sound and lighting, and penetrating directorial insight.

Participating Critics:

  • Lindsey Wilson, CultureMap
  • Nancy Churnin, Dallas Morning News
  • Janice L. Franklin, TheaterJones.com
  • Jan Farrington, TheaterJones.com
  • Martha Heimberg, TheaterJones.com and Dallas Weekly
  • Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice
  • Mark Lowry, TheaterJones.com
  • Jill Sweeney, TheaterJones.com

Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum is an organization of professional, paid critics that recognizes outstanding theatrical contributions in North Texas. Members see 45 or more productions per season (Sept. 1-Aug. 31) and are not practicing theater artists.