Capsule Reviews

Our critics weigh in on local theater

The Santaland Diaries This is the fourth year Dallas actor Nye Cooper has channeled the Spirit of Christmas Gay in David Sedaris' minty, flinty one-man show about a New York newcomer hired as a lowly Santa's helper at Macy's Herald Square. With fresh direction by WaterTower Theatre's Terry Martin and a spiffy new set by Clare Floyd Devries, it feels like a brand-new show. Cooper, as always, can generate laughs just with the strategic arching of one black eyebrow. But now he's comfortable enough with the audience to take his time telling the story of the cynical elf-for-hire who finds himself caught up in the strange magic of life inside Santa's "magic tree." In short chapters, we follow "Crumpet" through elf training, his first long days on the job, his crush on fellow elf Snowball, the psychic wounds of being shrieked at by harried parents and the final run-up to the big day when at last he can shed his velvet knickers and pointy hat. Cooper's performance catches all of Sedaris' wry timing (the author first read this material as a series of essays on National Public Radio), but he brings his own wry touches to the part. He makes one delicious Crumpet. Through December 23 at the Stone Cottage, Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, 214-450-6232. (E.L.)

Snow White The British call the kind of production under way at the Trinity River Arts Center a "panto," which means that the audience should hiss and boo when Queen Isawicked (Allyn Carrell) tromps onstage and blithely accept that Prince Gerald, who saves Snow White (Emmy Gladney) by kissing her, is played by a woman (Lauren N. Goode). But since the opening number is a little rap that goes "I'm gonna tell ya a little story/'Bout a girl named Snow," audience members get their bearings early on in this distinctly non-Disneyfied Snow White. Jacque Mellor's script, and the actors performing it, capture the verve and irreverence of childhood imagination where many children's plays stodgily posit the wee tots as little adults, with adult expectations. The producers haven't meddled with Snow White's story so much as they've enlivened it: She must overcome Queen Isawicked, her vengeful stepmother, by surviving a poisoned apple as well as the hapless Hunter Bob (Kevin M. Connolly), who knows he is "not the brightest candle in the window." And The Mirror (Robert Silva) still knows who's the fairest of them all, but in Theatre Britain's Snow White, he's mordant and a little sassy, a thoughtful nod at pleasing the adults attending this children's show. Through December 19 at the Trinity River Arts Center, 2600 N. Stemmons Freeway, #180, 972-490-4202. (C.S.)

The Underpants Two years ago, Steve Martin adapted Carl Sternheim's 1911 satire of stolid German bourgeois morality, Die Hose, by Americanizing the original playwright's language and by extending the play's gags to his own daffy uses. The result is like an hour-and-a-half American sitcom that just happens to be set in Dusseldorf in 1910. It's springtime, so when young and beautiful Louise Maske's (Amy Storemski) panties inexplicably fall to her ankles one day at the train station, everyone in town happens to be out enjoying the weather--and Louise's underpants. That happens to you all the time, you say? But do you have a boorish husband who refuses to have sex with you because he's measured out every last penny and decided a child would not be financially advantageous? Poor Louise is soon hounded by potential renters--a dashing but pompous poet (Mark Shum) and a sickly barber (Jon Paul Burkhart)--who profess to have non-amatory reasons for wanting to live under the same roof as Louise. Plano Repertory's cast pulls off more than a few genuinely laugh-out-loud moments but also relies on hyperbolic gestures where more inventive physical comedy would have carried the mood. Through December 19 at the Courtyard Theatre in Plano, 1509 H Ave., 972-422-7460. (C.S.)

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