Spring Theater Fever

Designing Women revamp and Val Kilmer's Twain top the list of 8 great shows for the season

Re-Designing Women and more must-see shows hitting the stage

Re-Designing Women at Uptown Players
Michael Moore, Mikey Abrams, Ashton Shawver, Jamie Morris, Chad Peterson and Darius Anthony Robinson star in Re-Designing Women at Uptown Players. Photo by Mike Morgan
Jerry Russell as Clarence Darrow at Stage West
Jerry Russell will return to the role of Clarence Darrow at Stage West in Fort Worth. Photo courtesy of Stage West
Undermain Theatre, Ghost Sonata
Ghostly visions at Undermain Theatre's The Ghost Sonata. Photo courtesy of Undermain Theatre
Val Kilmer in Citizen Twain
Val Kilmer brings his one-man show, Citizen Twain, to Dallas. Photo courtesy of AT&T Performing Arts Center
Pfamily Arts presents A Little Night Music
A weekend in the country: Pfamily Arts presents Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Photo courtesy of Pfamily Arts
Re-Designing Women at Uptown Players
Jerry Russell as Clarence Darrow at Stage West
Undermain Theatre, Ghost Sonata
Val Kilmer in Citizen Twain
Pfamily Arts presents A Little Night Music

Back in January, we gave you a list of shows to help beat the winter doldrums. Hopefully you caught at least one of them, and a few — Wicked, Enron and Fly By Night — are still coming up in April and May.

As spring slowly inches its way in, here are eight more shows set to open soon that caught our eye.

Re-Designing Women, Uptown Players
April 5-May 19

This unauthorized parody of the popular 1980s sitcom is right up Uptown Players’ alley. That makes sense, because it was written by cast member Jamie Morris, who’s also the scribe behind Uptown’s previous shows The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode, Mommie Queerest and Silence of the Clams.

Director Andi Allen is eminently capable when it comes to camp (remember Santa Claus vs. the Martians?), so this outrageous Southern romp — in which Suzanne Sugarbaker and the gals get their own Bravo reality show — should be full of big whoo and even bigger hair.

Dreams of Slaughtered Sheep, Ochre House
April 6-27

Matthew Posey’s latest original work promises to explore loneliness and existential crisis in a “very Appalachian” way. Centered on a man (top Dallas actor Justin Locklear) who works at a slaughter house and fears counting the doomed sheep each night as he falls asleep, Dreams also includes live music and puppets.

As those four elements — Posey, Locklear, music and puppets — are usually the recipe for a memorable, unique experience in experimental theater, we’re curious to see what Ochre House has cooked up this time.

Clarence Darrow, Stage West
April 7-24

Stage West founder Jerry Russell is resurrecting David Rintels’ one-man show about the life of the famous criminal defense lawyer, who’s most widely known for the Scopes “Monkey” trial and the trial of teenage Chicago thrill killers Leopold and Loeb.

Besides an opportunity to see the always interesting Russell onstage again — he performed this show once before in the ’80s and again in 2002 — the show is also the inaugural piece for the new 61-seat Studio Theatre.

The Ghost Sonata, Undermain Theatre
April 13-May 11

If Kitchen Dog’s The Chairs whetted your appetite for avant-garde theater, you’re in luck: Undermain has a little Strindberg lined up for you. Concerning ghosts, mummies, vampires and a seriously unhappy happy trapped in a Swedish apartment building, the chamber play toys with our senses while testing our ideas about family, death, and happiness.

It’s a challenging one to be sure, but Undermain has a knack for taking scripts that aren’t always considered immediate crowd pleasers and giving them an accessible entry point.

Citizen Twain, Val Kilmer
April 18-21

If you follow actor Val Kilmer on Twitter, you received a tease last November when the actor was visiting Dallas for the Art of Film. He sent out a picture of himself posing in front of the Wyly Theatre, and rumors swirled that he was checking out potential venues for his one-man show about Mark Twain. Now the (extremely limited) dates are set for the workshop production, in which Kilmer channels the famous raconteur to discuss topics both humorous and poignant.

As a special bonus, each production is slated to end with a talkback where Kilmer will interact with the audience while having his extensive makeup removed. As one of only four cities chosen to host the show, we think that speaks pretty highly of our arts-loving city.

A Little Night Music, Pfamily Arts
April 18-27

Although it takes place in Sweden like The Ghost Sonata, this musical is a little more concerned with aristocratic bed-hopping than ghostly visions. Ever heard “Send in the Clowns”? This is its origin, along with a host of other Stephen Sondheim tunes that are classic in their savage lyrics and haunting melodies.

A fading actress assembles lovers both current and past, as well as her family, for a weekend in the country. What could go wrong, right? Pfamily Arts showed off some gorgeous voices in last season’s Side Show, so here’s hoping the company is up to the task again.

Angels Fall, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
April 19-May 12

René Moreno has a golden director’s touch, and his previous collaboration with Contemporary — The Night of the Iguana — was a smashing success. In Lanford Wilson’s Tony Award-nominated but rarely revived play, two seemingly mismatched couples seek shelter from a nuclear accident in a tiny New Mexico town, falling under the care of the elderly Catholic priest who runs the mission with his adopted Native American son.

One of the strongest directors in Dallas, Moreno seems poised to mount another hit with Angels Fall.

Se Llama Cristina, Kitchen Dog Theater
May 24-June 22

Not only is this play part of Kitchen Dog’s annual New Works Festival, it’s also receiving its rolling world premiere in conjunction with two theaters in California, where critics called it “riveting” and “poetic.”

Played out in surreal haze of drugs and amnesia, the play opens with a man and a woman trapped in a hotel room. Who are they? How did they get there? Why is there a crib in the corner? Where’s the baby? Is there a baby? There’s no guarantee we’ll get any answers during the play’s 80 minutes, but we are willing to go along for the ride.