Lots of things are ramping up this month: back-to-school prep, political campaigns, and now live theater. Dallas-Fort Worth's drama scene is hot, but the theaters are air conditioned. Take advantage of that.
Here are the 12 shows to see, in order by start date:
L.I.P. Service, August 4-20
After you've shocked audiences with The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? the natural gritty next step is Harry Gibson's intense stage adaptation of Irvine Walsh's Trainspotting. Director Ryan Matthieu Smith takes Irving audiences back to the '80s and into the hardcore Edinburgh heroin scene, where Mark Renton (Dustin Simington) and his friends spend time searching for life's meaning, with a few really bad hangovers along the way.
Theatre Three, August 4-28
Admired actor Gregory Lush is making his T3 directorial debut with this Theresa Rebeck play, which follows a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and his family when they reconvene for the first time in a long while. It's a reworking of Rebeck's earlier play The Butterfly Collection.
I Love You Because
Our Productions Theatre Co., August 4-September 3
The promo shots for this intimate musical are reminiscent of the TV show Friends, and with good reason. It's a modern musicalization of the characters from Pride and Prejudice, young and pretty people who are navigating life while searching for love in New York City. Playing first at the MCL Grand in Lewisville before transferring to the studio space at WaterTower Theatre.
One Man, Two Guvnors
WaterTower Theatre, August 5-28
North Texas native Brian Gonzales left us a while back for Broadway — he's currently in the cast of Disney's Aladdin — but he previously spent time understudying for the lead in the Broadway production of One Man, Two Guvnors. Perhaps you've heard of a guy named James Corden? The now-talk show host won a Tony Award for his exhausting turn in this commedia dell'arte update set in 1960s London, and Gonzales went on for him a handful of times. Gonzales is taking a break from Aladdin for this regional premiere, along with his wife, Ashley Puckett Gonzales.
Stage West, August 13-September 11
Critics went nuts for Robert O'Hara's play when it premiered in 2014, and now North Texas gets to experience this achingly funny look at homosexuality in black culture. Stage favorite Liz Mikel joins Djoré Nance, Natalie Wilson King, Justin Duncan, and Aaron Green in director Akin Babatunde's production.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
AT&T Performing Arts Center, August 16-28
This Tony Award-winning musical is bonkers, and we mean that in the best way possible. One actor plays nine members of the same rich family, whom a distant relative is trying to knock off so he can become the sole heir. There's a lot of silliness and outrageous accents and quick changes, all culminating in morbid musical comedy. The national tour is coming quick on the heels of the Broadway production, which only closed in January.
Circle Theatre, August 18-September 17
Critical darling Lauren Gunderson is back with an all-female "power play," and the timing couldn't be better. It takes place right smack in the middle of political season, a coincidence that the playwright calls "spookily appropriate for this, let's be honest, insane election cycle." Circle's previous mountings of Gunderson's work have been very well received, so this one also looks promising.
Old McDonald's Farm: A Children's Fable About the Obama Presidency
Fun House Theatre and Film, August 19-27
Don't let it be said that today's youth aren't political. After last month's Rush Limbaugh in Night School for the FIT Festival, Fun House returns with another original script giving Obama's tale the allegorical satire treatment. Though it's presented like a children's grade-school pageant, there are some sophisticated opinions about where we are headed as a country.
Ochre House, August 20-September 10
Like most of Ochre House's original works, this one by artist-in-residence Justin Locklear is shrouded in mystery. It's described as an exploration of the "deceptive nature of ambition through the eyes of a brother and sister who run a humble restaurant" and "reveals how these two lost souls' ambition causes their lives to fall apart." Oh, and it's a musical!
Dallas Theater Center, August 24-October 9
Nick Payne's two-person play is a hot property at theaters across the country, but here we get local powerhouses Alison Pistorius and Alex Organ in the roles played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson on Broadway. It's a love story so fantastic that it bends time, but not in the hokey, Lifetime-movie way you might be imagining.
The Toxic Avenger
Uptown Players, August 26-September 11
Of course New Jersey would have a pile of radioactive sludge as its superhero. Campy and catchy, this musical from the team behind Memphis is based on the 1984 cult film. Actor John Campione returns from New York City to star as Toxie, along with Sara Shelby-Martin, Walter Lee, Katherine Porterfield, and Clint Gilbert.
Death The Musical II: Death Takes a Harmony
Pocket Sandwich Theatre, August 26-September 24
A homegrown musical written by some of Dallas' most respected musicians — Scott A. Eckert, Willy Welch , Sonny Franks, and Jimmy Barcus — focuses on a serial killer running amok within a trailer park in 1980s Oklahoma. Yes, seriously. Because it's at Pocket Sandwich, don't expect for this show to take itself too seriously, but do expect an original score performed by some committed actors and musicians.