Theater Critic Picks
You want theater? Dallas-Fort Worth has theater again! This month is bursting with world and regional premieres, revisited favorites, famous names, and even a creepy kid (Halloween is coming, y'all).
In order of start date, here are 15 — yes, 15! — local shows to watch this month:
A Raisin in the Sun
WaterTower Theatre, September 1-12
Lorraine Hansberry's Tony Award-winning drama tells the story of the Youngers, a black family living in 1950s Chicago, whose yearning for a piece of the American Dream includes moving to a modest home in a majority-white community. This story is about identity, justice, and moral responsibility: a story about an American family that remains as powerful and relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
The Last Wide Open
Circle Theatre, September 2-25
Fate plays its hand in this romantic regional premiere play by Audrey Cefaly that features original songs by Matthew M. Nielson. Lina and Roberto have been working together for years but rarely talk. When a late-night thunderstorm finds them alone in the restaurant at closing time, they find their lives intersecting in surprising and mystical ways.
Walking On Wire (Stories from the Feet)
Hip Pocket Theatre, September 3-5
This world premiere is devised by the ensemble and directed by sisters Lorca Simons and Lake Simons. Through the magic of collaboration and improvisation, the ensemble presents an inventive and poetic series of stories through the use of visually striking imagery. The action invites the audience to consider, as Gabrielle Roth has profoundly asked, "What will we find on the other side of all that we know?"
The Imaginary Invalid
The Classics Theatre Project, September 8-25
Influenced by its Commedia dell'arte predecessors, Molière's rollicking precursor to the modern farce has no shortage of over-the-top characters, physical comedy, and zany situations. Argan, a miserly hypochondriac, is treated for a range of ills by a multitude of doctors indulging his "sufferings" for their benefit. He plans for his daughter to marry the son of a doctor, to have one nearby at all times — and at a discount. She has her own plans to marry another man she truly loves, while her stepmother plans to have her sent to a convent, in order to claim an inheritance for herself when Argan meets his seemingly imminent demise. Soon the entire household is embroiled in madcap schemes as the maid and Argan's brother argue and trick their way through this three-act comedy in an effort to save true love, give the doctors a taste of their own medicine, and mend the family broken by Argan's obsession.
Dallas Theater Center, September 8-October 16
This world premiere comedy from playwright-in-residence Jonathan Norton was written specifically to welcome audiences back to the theater. The Scott County Community Playhouse is the pride of Cedar Oak, Texas, a city recovering from the second largest drug-fueled HIV outbreak ever to hit small-town America. With the launch of their first ever “AidsFest!” it seems the town is finally turning a corner for the better. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuts down the playhouse production of Angels in America, best friends LeAnne (Sally Nystuen Vahle) and Tweedy-Bird (Liz Mikel) leap into action to make Angels soar again. But to do so they must confront Cedar Oaks' dark past and their own carefully buried secrets. Running in repertory with Tiny Beautiful Things.
Romeo & Juliet
Shakespeare Dallas, September 8-October 16
Travel back to the totally tubular '80s in this version of Shakespeare's most popular tragic romance. Directed by Shakespeare Dallas' associate artistic director, Jenni Stewart, the outdoor production encourages its audiences to back a picnic, blanket, and lawn chairs for theater under the stars.
Tiny Beautiful Things
Dallas Theater Center, September 8-October 16
Based on the bestselling book by Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild), this play follows Sugar (Christie Vela), an online advice columnist who uses her personal experiences to help the real-life readers who pour their hearts out to her. It runs in repertory with Cake Ladies.
Bright Star: Concert Version
The Firehouse Theatre, September 9-26
This popular production returns as a concert, with Lucy Shea Allen starring again as literary editor Alice Murphy. Set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and '40s, the story begins when Alice meets a young soldier just home from World War II. Haunted by their unique connection, Alice sets out on a journey to understand her past — and what she finds has the power to transform both of their lives.
Fort Worth Fringe Festival
Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc. and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, September 10-12
Dallas' own Elaine Liner and her Sweater Curse headline the fifth annual fringe, which features eights acts total. Another Dallas performer, Sarah Powell, is premiering her cabaret The Glamorous Life: Parenting in a Pandemic. For a full schedule, go to the festival website.
Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas, September 10-25
Christine Penmark seems to have it all: a lovely home, a loving husband, and the most perfect daughter in the world. But since childhood, Christine has suffered from a terrible, recurring nightmare. She becomes alarmed when one of her daughter’s classmates drowns mysteriously at a picnic. As the details from the tragic event start to come to light, Christine questions whether her daughter is as innocent as she seems ... and only her father knows the truth about her nightmare.
You Send Me: A Salute to the Life and Music of Sam Cooke
Casa Mañana, September 14-25
Twist the night away in the Reid Cabaret Theatre with the stories and music of the King of Soul, Sam Cooke, sung by Curtis Wiley. A singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, and civil rights activist, Cooke fused soul and pop, pioneering the sound for future R&B artists.
Bridges: Sisters of Salem
Flexible Grey Theatre Company, September 16-18
Part of the AT&T Elevator Project, this show shares stories from modern day women in power against stories from women in the past who were persecuted for using their own voice. Flexible Grey’s use of the Donor Reflecting Pool is intended to be reminiscent of the era where women+ were drowned as punishment and proof of their offenses.
Stronger Than Arms
Undermain Theatre, September 16-October 17
The newest work from the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group is a new adaptation of the classic Greek play Seven Against Thebes by Danielle Georgiou and Justin Locklear. As the generational conflicts of territory and birthright ravage the cities around them, the Theban chorus is divided, revealing their individual conflicts and motivations. Told through poetic verse, dance, and multi-media, Stronger Than Arms examines the universal themes of myth, status, aggression, and fate. Following the live performances of the show (September 16-October 2), the production will be available to stream October 3-17.
It's My Party!
Echo Theatre, September 17-October 10
Based on real, historical figures, It's My Party! by Ann Timmons delves into the messy, often violent, backstory of the women’s suffrage movement. Following the live performances of the show, the production will be available to stream October 10-17.
A Very Sordid Wedding
Uptown Players, September 24-October 3
It's 2015, 17 years after Peggy tripped over G.W.'s wooden legs and died in Sordid Lives, and life has moved into the present for the residents of Winters, Texas. Based on the 2017 hit film of the same name, A Very Sordid Wedding explores the questions, bigotry, and the fallout of what happens when gay marriage comes to communities and families that are not quite ready to accept it.