Theater News

Dallas' Theatre Three crowds upcoming season with movie adaptations and Texas playwrights

Dallas' Theatre Three crowds upcoming season with movie adaptations

Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters in A Little Night Music
Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters in the Broadway revival of A Little Night Music. Photo by Joan Marcus

It's an eclectic upcoming season for Theatre Three, combining '80s hair rock with Swedish Sondheim and sophisticated modern wit, along with a couple of premieres by Texas playwrights. The venerable theater company has dubbed its 55th year the "season of masquerade," though why is not immediately clear.

Perhaps it's because the roster begins with notorious Dallas drag performer Coy Covington at his Joan Crawford best in Psycho Beach Party, a camp comedy by Charles Busch. This is an add-on show that runs June 23-July 10, and it does a hilarious riff on the squeaky clean beach movies of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, throwing in a little Three Faces of Eve for good measure.

Beginning the regular season is Theresa Rebeck's The Novelist, running August 4-28. In this Off-Broadway show from 2000, a Nobel Prize-winning novelist suffering from writer's block has to deal with his feisty wife (aren't the wives always feisty?), two sons, and one of the son's girlfriends. Throw in a new assistant and you get "bitter and funny chaos." The last play T3 did of Rebeck's, Seminar, was a biting exploration of writers, so this sounds promising.

And because we all need more '80s in our lives, up next is The Wedding Singer. Yes, this is the musical based on the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore movie, and yes, it's actually good — as in Tony-nominated. It'll play September 22-October 16, so you might want to stock up on hairspray now before T3 buys it all out later this year.

Acting artistic director Bruce R. Coleman will be staging Day Light, his play that won the Southwest Playwriting Competition sponsored by Fort Worth's Stage West in 2015. Focusing on a widowed mother and three of her four sons during a blizzard in the Texas panhandle during 1867. That will be the last show of 2016, running November 17-December 11.

Another playwright with Theatre Three connections starts off 2017: Pulitzer Prize winner and SMU alum Beth Henley. Her play Laugh is getting its Southwest regional premiere, telling the fable of two innocents, Mabel and Roscoe, as they set off for Hollywood seeking fame and fortune circa 1920. It plays January 5-29, 2017.

Passing Strange went down in history as one of the most ambitious and nontraditional musicals ever to hit Broadway, and now Theatre Three will try its hand at the non-linear, music-filled jam session. Runs March 1-26, 2017.

With religion seeming to be extra topical in the theater lately (see Second Thought Theatre's Martyr and Dallas Theater Center's upcoming season), T3 gets in on the act with the 1940s comedy Susan and God by Rachel Crothers. It's about a New York socialite who joins a cult and can't wait to share her newfound passion with her less-than-excited besties. It will run April 20-May 14, 2017.

Closing out the season is Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night. This complicated tuner had a successful Broadway revival in 2009 (an import from London) starring Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta Jones. When that pair left, the show temporarily shut down before opening again with Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters in the starring roles. Talk about star power. T3's version will run June 8-July 2, 2017.