Theater Critic Picks
UPDATE: MainStage Irving-Las Colinas' production of An Act of God has moved to an online streaming production. Tickets now start at $19 and you have 48 hours to watch the recorded production.
Following phase III of Texas' reopening plan, "fine arts performance halls" are allowed to welcome back audiences at 50 percent capacity. And some theaters are on board, opening their doors to live performances for the first time since March.
Others are all for the live performances, but only outside and still with reduced crowd and cast sizes. There are also a few that are keeping their productions virtual, thanks to different ways of recording.
Here are five local shows to watch this month:
The Zoo Story
Arts Council of Fort Worth, July 10-25
Performing in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center's outdoor Courtyard Gallery, Jason Leyva and a troupe of Texas actors will introduce audiences to Edward Albee's absurdist, one-act play that examines isolation and the never-ending struggle to communicate and connect (timely, huh?). Tickets are limited to 30 guests per performance, and the audience will enjoy pre-show live music and shaded seating on the covered veranda. Tickets are $15 and available here.
The Classics Theatre Project, July 11-12 and July 16-19
In the backyard of a small-town Texas bar, one-time local high-school hero Roy and his little brother Ray work their way through a case of beer. Roy is back in town after a tour in Vietnam and is regaling Ray with tales of his love life and military exploits. With the arrival of Cletis, son of the local hardware store owner, Roy's world begins to collapse as truths come out about what happened during his time away. Director Joey Folsom is staging James McLure's one-act outside the Margo Jones Theater in Fair Park, to audiences of 35 and with all proper safety measures in place (masks, temperature checks, social distancing). Tickets are $10-25 and available here.
The True History of the Tragic Life & Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World
Amphibian Stage Productions, streaming July 16-30
Debuted by Amphibian in 2003 and then staged — in total darkness — in 2012, Shaun Prendergast's real-life tale is the perfect vehicle for an auditory-only production. Using only a 3-D soundscape engineered with the cinematic Dolby Atmos surround sound, the immersive listening encounter introduced audiences to Julia, a Mexican woman who was born with two genetic conditions now known as hypertrichosis terminalis and gingival hyperplasia, which caused her to grow excessive hair all over her body and enlarged her facial features. Often and unkindly referred to as the "Ape-woman," Julia was dragged across oceans by her husband and manager, performing in traveling circuses and sideshows and always searching for the love and beauty she believed life had in store for her. Tickets are $13 and available here.
I Am My Own Wife
WaterTower Theatre, streaming July 16-August 2
Originally scheduled to run in April, Doug Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning play was already in pre-production, the set half-built and abandoned when theaters were ordered to close in March. But because this is a one-person show, where a single actor (Bob Hess) plays more than 30 characters, WTT and director Ashley Puckett Gonzales found a creative and safe way to film the production for online streaming. The play is based on the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, an elegant and eccentric 65-year-old German transgender woman who, against all odds, managed to survive both the Nazi onslaught of WWII and the repressive East German Communist regime occupations of her home. Tickets are $38 and can be purchased here or by calling 972-450-6232.
An Act of God
MainStage Irving-Las Colinas, July 23-August 1
Instead of presenting the large-scale musical Disaster!, MainStage is going with David Javerbaum's divine comedy about the Almighty (Sherry Etzel) and two devoted angels (Eric Criner and Alex Swanson). Seating in the Dupree Theatre will be very limited — about 60 of the 230 available seats — and the company says that all ticket buyers will be provided with safety protocols and measures no less than one week before their performance. Tickets are $29 and available here or by calling 972-252-2787.