Theater Critic Picks
These are the 10 can't-miss shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for July
This month's headline is a little misleading, because there are way more than 10 shows to see. That's because the Festival of Independent Theatres is back to inject some short-play goodness into the summer. FIT was founded in 1998 as a way to aid local theater companies that didn't have a permanent performance space, and now the participating one-act plays are paired in two-show blocks that run in rotating repertory for the festival's two-week duration.
Here are the 10 (ish) shows to see, in order by start date:
Cry Havoc Theater Company and Kitchen Dog Theater, July 7-15
This is the second run of the acclaimed documentary-style play about the July 2016 Dallas police shootings, and it coincidentally opens on the event's one-year anniversary. The show, a co-production with Kitchen Dog Theater that's staged at the Trinity River Arts Center, is a compilation of stories from police officers, protesters, and community members that was gathered by students in the fall of 2016. The stories and the company's reflections on them offer a snapshot of race relations in Dallas and the community's hope for the future.
Second Thought Theatre, July 7-29
Local theatermaker Blake Hackler has penned a world premiere about sex, love, loneliness, and belonging. Directed by Joel Ferrell and staged in Bryant Hall, STT's final show of the season centers around four new inhabitants of a very small East Texas town: a former minister yearning to escape his past; a disgruntled Wal-Mart employee hoping to do the same; an eccentric Reiki therapist looking for love; and her estranged son, who has a penchant for night sky-gazing and Battlestar Galactica.
Hood: The Robin Hood Musical Adventure
Dallas Theater Center, July 7-August 6
Fresh off winning a Tony Award for best regional theater in the country, DTC is proving why with the world premiere of this new musical by five-time Tony-nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane and composer Lewis Flinn. The duo previously wrote Give It Up! for DTC, which went on to play Broadway as Lysistrata Jones. Here they reimagine the Robin Hood myth with a fresh score, larger-than-life puppetry, and lots of sword-fighting. Broadway performers Alysha Umphress and Ashley Park star alongside Nick Bailey and a cast of talented locals.
The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)
Amphibian Stage Productions, July 7-August 13
This fast-paced comedy by Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor was Amphibian's highest-selling production of 2013, so it only made sense the company would bring it back. Original actors Brandon Murphy and Scott Zenreich return, to be joined this time by Aaron Fouhey on "an irreverent roller coaster ride through the Good Book."
AT&T Performing Arts Center, July 11-23
Thanks to playwright James Graham and composers Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, the popular film starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet got the musical stage treatment. Now the national tour of the Broadway production is coming to the Winspear for a quick two-week run, sprinkling pixie dust with its story of Peter Pan creator J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired him.
La Cage Aux Folles
Uptown Players, July 14-30
Familiar with the Nathan Lane movie The Birdcage? This is the musical the film is based on (and the musical is itself based on a French play by Jean Poiret). Bob Hess and Mikey Abrams star as Georges and Albin, a happily unwed couple who run a St. Tropez nightclub where Albin is the star performer. When Georges' son (fathered during a one-night fling) announces his impending marriage to the daughter of a bigoted, right-wing politician, the men try to pass themselves off as a "normal" family.
Festival of Independent Theatres
July 14-August 5
In its 19th year, FIT is keeping it interesting with two festival founders, two recently revived organizations, two recent festival participants, and two newcomers. Matt Lyle's The Boxer was a popular FIT offering in 2007, and this year, Bootstraps Comedy Theater (which hasn't produced in Dallas since, thanks to Lyle and wife/star Kim briefly moving to Chicago) brings it back with most of the original cast. Other festival highlights include Sherry Jo Ward's Stiff, which enlightens audiences about the one-in-a-million disease Stiff Person Syndrome (from which Ward suffers); WingSpan Theatre's mounting of the rarely produced Edward Albee play Finding the Sun; and Dustin Curry's clown-focused and folklore-inspired Fiddler's Cave. Shows run under an hour and are presented in rotating pairs, all performed at the Bath House Cultural Center on White Rock Lake.
Dallas Summer Musicals, July 18-30
Famous singer Deborah Cox plays a famous singer in this stage adaptation, which is based on the popular film of the same name that starred famous singer Whitney Houston. The musical has shifted the focus from the bodyguard himself to the woman he's assigned to protect, and incorporates even more of Houston's chart-topping songs such as "So Emotional" and "How Will I Know?"
Divine: Live at the Boom Boom Room
Giant Entertainment, July 20-30
Benjamin Lutz's new play is an immersive dive into the alternative party world of the early 1980s, with director and designer Ryan Matthieu Smith leading you with New Wave music and memorable drag performances. The Margo Jones Theatre will become a full-on party, thanks to the performances of Bradford Smith, Jonathan Barnes, and Joey Casoria, and the infamous icon of bad taste cinema, Divine.
Hit the Wall
WaterTower Theatre, July 28-August 20
Ike Holter's play is a dramatization of the Stonewall Riots, a routine police raid on an underground gay hot spot that became a foundational moment for the modern gay rights movement. Prior to its regional premiere, WaterTower Theatre is hosting a free screening of Robert L. Camina’s powerful documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge on July 10 at the Magnolia Theatre in Uptown. You should make it a a point to attend both.