Summer Theater Picks
10 sizzling summer DFW theater productions, from barbecue to Shakespeare
Even though it's only the beginning of June, we are already feeling the summer heat — onstage, that is. Luckily for Dallas-Fort Worth theater-goers, there are some pretty hot shows coming to local stages.
This is only a sampling of what's on the docket, from an abundance of important musicals to a selection of exciting new and beloved classic plays.
Theatre Three, through July 20
Curl up and dye for this delightfully silly farce, running in the basement space at Theatre Three. The whodunnit invites the audience to solve the murder of the concert pianist who lives upstairs from the Shear Madness salon, run by Tony Whitcomb (B.J. Cleveland, who gives delis a run for their money in the ham department).
Come early to witness the before-curtain shenanigans, and get your conspiracy theories ready, because Officer O'Brien (Bradley Campbell) wants to hear them in the lobby during intermission.
Second Thought Theatre, through June 14
When actor John Wilkes Booth pulled the trigger in Ford's Theater, he changed the course of American history. Steven Walters and Erik Archilla have used a $40,000 grant from the TACA Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund to give their play about the first successful presidential assassin a spiffy production at Bryant Hall.
Montgomery Sutton is eerily spot-on as the charming Booth, and Stan Denman is all steely conviction as the politician who is determined to make him pay. Effective set design by Aaron Jackson and lighting by Aaron Johansen bolster the production.
Kitchen Dog Theater, through June 21
Dallas' own Matt Lyle (we can claim him, because he's moving back here from Chicago) has crafted the perfect summer comedy about two American obsessions: barbecues and zombies. The latter doesn't actually make an appearance onstage, but the former is the perfect setting for a wacky backyard get-together that redefines keeping up with the Joneses.
Lee Trull directs a perfectly cast ensemble, who knows how to deliver Lyle's smart-assery with style, in this opener to Kitchen Dog's annual New Works Festival.
Uptown Players, June 13-22
As its title suggests, this U.S. premiere of the hit London musical is a riff on Cinderella — but it's far from a fairy tale. Impoverished student Robbie (Peter DiCesare) makes ends meet working as a rent boy, but he falls for an aspiring — and outwardly straight — rising political star.
DiCesare, who was hilarious as the soft-spoken Southern belle in Uptown's Pageant, heads up a stellar cast that includes Uptown favorite Linda Leonard (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Stephanie Felton and Kim Borge playing Robbie's outrageous stepsisters.
Lyric Stage, June 13-22
The anticipated Broadway revival of Maury Yeston's musical about the doomed ocean liner may have been mysteriously canceled, but Lyric Stage's production sails on. A cast of 37 and an orchestra of 35 tell the many stories — from first-class aristocracy to third-class immigrants — aboard the ill-fated ship. Drew Scott Harris, who directed Titanic at Lyric in 2003, returns for another voyage.
Trinity Shakespeare Festival
The Tempest, June 10-29
The Comedy of Errors, June 11-29
David Coffee, Lydia Mackay, Chris Hury, Jakie Cabe and Liz Mikel are only a few of the talented folks who appear in these two works of the Bard, which are performed in repertory in the air-conditioned glory of TCU.
Much Ado About Nothing, June 18-July 19
Tartuffe, June 11-July 18
Break out the lawn chairs and uncork the wine — it's time for Shakespeare in the Park. This year brings the popular Much Ado and Molière's Tartuffe, which is famous for offending most of France after its premiere and receiving heavy censorship for its portrayals of the French Catholic Church and aristocracy. Bet it sounds even naughtier after a few plastic cups of wine.
Game of Thrones, Junior
Fun House Theatre and Film, June 20-28
Jeff Swearingen, the twisted (in a wonderful way) mind behind The Sound of Fannie and The Ultimate Thanksgiving Experience, is giving Westeros the Fun House treatment. That means all the sex, murder and gore of the popular adult book series and TV show is sanitized and replaced with juvenile comedy.
Knowing Fun House's track record with young performers tackling adult subject matter, however, this show should be wittier than even Tyrion Lannister. Winter is coming ...
Dallas Theater Center, June 27-August 17
DTC scores the regional premiere of the epic musical based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel, which is also currently enjoying a revival on Broadway. The company has imported plenty of talent to round out its resident company, including New York director Liesl Tommy and leading man Nehal Joshi, who starred in DTC's 2009 production of The Who's Tommy.
An "immersive" experience at the Wyly Theatre is promised, which, given DTC's innovative track record, should entice audiences — you know, if the mega-hit songs like "I Dreamed a Dream," "One Day More" and "On My Own" weren't enough of a draw.
WaterTower Theatre, July 25-August 17
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have earned a reputation as the next "it" composing team. Their songs were featured on the NBC dramedy Smash, their score for A Christmas Story on Broadway earned them a Tony nomination, and their musical adaptation of the film Dogfight created a stir Off Broadway in 2012.
WaterTower is presenting the regional premiere of the unconventional musical, which follows a group of Vietnam-bound soldiers who make a bet to each bring the ugliest girl they can find to their final guys' night out. The majority of the cast will be making their WaterTower debuts.