From arresting to amazing

From body slams to tossed cookies, the 10 most unforgettable moments in Dallas theater 2012

From body slams to tossed cookies, the 10 most unforgettable moments in Dallas theater 2012

WaterTower Theatre embraced farce and cross-dressing with "The Mystery of Irma Vep."
Who's who? Bryan T. Donovan and Regan Adair ham it up in The Mystery of Irma Vep. Photo by Mark Oristano Photography
Dallas Theater Center presented "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" in October.
That had to hurt: Corey Jones shows Jamin Olivencia who's boss inside the ring in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Photo by Karen Almond Photography
Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad took us to the Trojan War at Undermain Theatre in Dallas.
An army of one (with some musical help): Paul Semrad and Bruce DuBose in An Iliad. Courtesy of Undermain Theatre
"Side Show" the musical was performed by Pfamily Arts in Plano.
Mallory Michellann and Jad Saxon share everything as conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in Side Show. Photo by Fermaint Photography
"1776" the musical by Lyric Stage in Irving.
History never looked so good: David Coffee, Brian Gonzales and Bryant Martin contemplate the Constitution in 1776. Photo by Mark Oristano Photography
"Avenue Q" at Theatre Too in Dallas.
Not all monsters are related: Megan Kelly Bates sings with Kate Monster during Avenue Q. Courtesy of Theatre Three
"Oklahoma!" at Lyric Stage in Irving starred Bryant Martin
Bryant Martin as Curly in Oklahoma! at Lyric Stage. Photo by Mark Oristano Photography
"God of Carnage" at Dallas Theater Center.
Chris Hury and Sally Nystuen-Vahle may look refined until you get to know them in God of Carnage. Photo by Karen Almond Photography
"The Addams Family" at Dallas Summer Musicals.
Douglas Sills and Sara Gettelfinger embodied the iconic Gomez and Morticia Addams in The Addams Family. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
"Santa Claus vs. the Martians" at Level Ground Arts in Dallas.
It's red vs. green in Santa Claus vs. the Martians. Courtesy of Level Ground Arts
WaterTower Theatre embraced farce and cross-dressing with "The Mystery of Irma Vep."
Dallas Theater Center presented "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" in October.
Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad took us to the Trojan War at Undermain Theatre in Dallas.
"Side Show" the musical was performed by Pfamily Arts in Plano.
"1776" the musical by Lyric Stage in Irving.
"Avenue Q" at Theatre Too in Dallas.
"Oklahoma!" at Lyric Stage in Irving starred Bryant Martin
"God of Carnage" at Dallas Theater Center.
"The Addams Family" at Dallas Summer Musicals.
"Santa Claus vs. the Martians" at Level Ground Arts in Dallas.

It’s list time: end of the year, top 10, best of and all the rest. In all the theatrical performances I have seen this fall, there were inarguably a few moments that simply refused to leave my brain. Because I’m not physically able to see every production, there may be some I missed. But these are my favorite onstage moments from this past year.

Most Realistic Smackdown: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
This Dallas Theater Center show tackled a lot of heavy, serious themes through satire, but most of the play’s fun came from watching the actors tackle each other. Intense fight choreography by Christian Litke meant that we heard every thud, crack and crash — when we weren’t too busy gasping and groaning at the drop-kicks and body-slams.

Quickest Quick Change: The Mystery of Irma Vep
Irma Vep has eight characters but only two actors. Ergo, Regan Adair and Bryan T. Donovan worked just as hard offstage at WaterTower Theatre as they did on, scrambling to switch from one character to another. The speed at which both their clothes and characters changed was lightning-quick, which in turn made the Gothic farce even more madcap and hilarious.

Most Exhausting Performance: An Iliad
I honestly don’t know how Bruce DuBose did it. He transported Undermain Theatre audiences back to the Trojan War in An Iliad with only a handful of props, some neat sound design and musician Paul Semrad to accompany him. For 96 minutes, DuBose wailed, trembled, lectured, roared, wept and sang his way through this update of Homer’s epic poem, laying bare his soul. And then he went on to do it all over again the next night.

Criminally Under-Attended Opening Night: Side Show
There were only five of us in the audience at Pfamily Arts in Plano. By the middle of the opening number, I felt truly sorry for everyone who was missing out on Side Show, the cult Broadway musical about Depression-era conjoined twins who became superstars on the carnival and vaudeville circuits. It may have had its rough points, but musically this production was thrilling. Watching Mallory Michaellann and Jad Saxton sing “Leave Me Alone,” a hilarious examination of the frustrating concept of privacy, especially drove home the passion these performers possessed.

Best Hair: 1776
A period piece like 1776 promises one thing: awesome wigs. Phillip Plowman outfitted the large cast with intricately curled, styled and pony-tailed locks, making the men behind the Declaration of Independence some of the most well-coifed to strut the stage all year. The two women in the cast also benefited from the elaborate hairpieces, with their towering curls making the intricate costumes by Drenda Lewis even more splendid and era appropriate. 

Most Life-Like Performance: Avenue Q
It may have been a show mainly about puppets, but Theatre Too’s Avenue Q boasted some of the most realistic performances of the year — from both its flesh and felt contingents. At the close of act I, Megan Kelly Bates and her puppet counterpart Kate Monster belted the heck out of “It’s a Fine, Fine Line,” one of the most heart-wrenching breakup songs in musical theater. Rumor has it that Theatre Too will be remounting the production with the same cast in the spring, so Avenue Q can become one of your most memorable theater moments of 2013 if you missed it the first time around.

Most Shiver-Inducing Opening: Oklahoma!
When I reviewed Lyric Stage’s Oklahoma! I led with the magical first moments of Bryant Martin singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” Months later, it’s still my favorite opening moment of the year, thanks to his lush voice and the support of Jay Dias’ full orchestra. The anticipation of those first few offstage notes was palpable, and the show only got better from there.

Most Disgusting Surprise: God of Carnage
If you didn’t catch Dallas Theater Center’s God of Carnage, you might want to skip this one, lest we ruin the play’s biggest shocker for you. But for those who did see it, I hope you weren’t in Sally Nystuen-Vahle’s splash zone. The tense — and often hilariously ridiculous — take on the innately savage nature of supposedly sophisticated humans required its cast to toss pillows and various other props, but hardly anyone was prepared for the moment when cookies were tossed too.

Most Welcome Monster: The Addams Family
No way around it, The Addams Family was a Halloween dud at Dallas Summer Musicals. But there was a tiny moment when Morticia (Broadway goddess Sara Gettelfinger) was comforting her son Pugsley (refreshingly non-annoying child actor Patrick D. Kennedy) about something I already blocked out, and the bed they were sitting on began to creep across the stage. Turns out the monster under the bed was not only real; he wanted to escape this production as quickly as possible. It was a weird, random and genuinely giggle-worthy moment, one of precious few in the entire show.

Best Use of Rollerblades: Santa Claus vs. the Martians
Campy and low-budget, Santa Claus vs. the Martians at Level Ground Arts worked best when it was at its most random. And it didn’t get more random than Michael B. Moore, all glammed up as a sexy Mrs. Claus, sailing across the stage like a deranged roller derby queen. His entrances never failed to induce an avalanche of laughter, even if sometimes all he did was fling fake snow in the faces of his castmates.