Theater Critic Picks
The 6 most memorable onstage moments of Dallas-Fort Worth theater in 2022
A few years ago, I discontinued "best of" lists. Best is subjective, plus there's no way I could see every single play and musical in Dallas-Forth Worth in order to compile a list that's truly all-encompassing.
But there are moments throughout the year that stick with me. Here are some of my favorite onstage moments from 2022:
Audra McDonald at Turtle Creek Chorale's Rhapsody
Okay, so this technically wasn't theater but if anyone deserves an exception, it's six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald. She was the special guest at this year's Rhapsody fundraising gala for the Turtle Creek Chorale, and her one-hour set at the Meyerson Symphony Center was sublime. From Porgy & Bess' "Summertime" to her signature "Stars and the Moon," McDonald held the audience in the palm of her hand.
The set reveal for Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus at Kitchen Dog Theater
Taylor Mac's wacky, in-your-face extension of Shakespeare's bloody tragedy is as irreverent as it is shocking, and one of those shocks comes early when the red velvet curtains draw aside to expose a lot of naked dead bodies. Like, a lot. Two lowly servants, Gary (Randy Pearlman) and Janice (Karen Parrish), have the Sisyphean task of cleaning up the mountains of male soldiers left behind after General Titus' rampage. Set designer Justin Locklear and prop designer Cindy Ernst-Godinez more than delivered on the, erm, anatomically correct shock and awe.
That stained glass window in Dallas Theater Center's The Sound of Music
If you saw this production, then you know the one. A larger-than-life, cathedral-style, kaleidoscope of color designed by Tony Award winner Beowulf Boritt and gorgeously lit by Jason Lyons. It provided a dreamy backdrop for several of Tiffany Solano's big moments as Maria, including her wedding to the dashing Captain Von Trapp (played by Cinderella heartthrob Paolo Montalban). Just as the stunning set piece was huge and captivating, so was the cast — this was the first "big" show, both in cast size and production value, that I'd seen seen happen since the pandemic.
Stede Bonnet: A F*cking Pirate Musical at Theatre Three
Pinning down a favorite moment of this new musical, written by local husband-and-wife team Nicole Neely and Clint Gilbert, is next to impossible. From the toe-tappingly good songs to the clever jokes to the all-in performances from each member of the cast (but especially Parker Gray as the terrible pirate himself), this refreshingly original show was a winner. If Stede Bonnet can decide to give up his cushy life as a wealthy landowner to become a laughably bad pirate, then I can decide to choose every moment in this show as my favorite.
"Raise You Up/Just Be" in Kinky Boots at Uptown Players
After two years of quiet, contemplative, usually heart-wrenching shows during the pandemic, Uptown Players officially declared big, bold, beautiful musicals to be back with this uplifting show about acceptance. For those not familiar with the movie or stage version, Charlie Price (Max Swarner) has inherited a shoe factory from his father and forms an unlikely partnership with cabaret performer and drag queen Lola (Lee Walter) to produce a line of high-heeled boots and save the business. In the process, Charlie and Lola discover that they are not so different after all. The triumphant finale was the energizing, uplifting moment of connection we'd all been missing during the past few years of streaming alone.
A unique Cabaret finale at Arts Mission Oak Cliff
Full disclosure: Cabaret is my favorite musical. I've probably seen it a few dozen times, from Broadway and national tours to Lyric Stage and Dallas Theater Center, but this independent production produced by The Lost Boy Presents reinvigorated a story I know so well. Director Sasha Maya Ada devised a finale that truly shocked me — and was like nothing I'd ever seen before — for the intimate, immersive, darkly sexy production. I won't spoil what it was, because after closing prematurely this summer due to flooding, this production is being remounted January 11-20, 2023, at Arts Mission Oak Cliff.