By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Mind Over Murder! may not be the resounding revival Pegagus needs to get all of its old fans back in new seats, but it is good to see that even after a long lay-off, Kleinmann and Hunsacker are still on the case.
There was great work to be found on nearly every stage last year. Even Theatre Three, which I usually pound like a dusty rug, managed 90 minutes of beauty with their early fall production of Metamorphoses, a sexy take on mythology played in an onstage swimming pool.
Great theater is made of wonderful little moments that stick with you long after the curtain rings down. Among the best last year: actress Lynn Blackburn's slithery entrance in Theatre Britain's fine production of Noel Coward's Hay Fever; Bryan Keith Moore in Kitchen Dog's staging of Sam Shepard's Buried Child, menacingly ripping pages from a paperback book; Marisa Diotalevi frantically pantomiming a five-minute toilette in Contemporary Theatre's Parallel Lives; Quad C's Julie Painter bustling around the kitchen in The Beauty Queen of Leenane as her old mum (Carolyn Wickwire) sits dead in a rocking chair; Wickwire again, skipping like a schoolgirl in Richardson Theatre Centre's wonderful Mornings at Seven; Terry Vandivort's subtle drunk scenes in Uptown's Southern Baptist Sissies; the actors of Second Thought Theatre fencing with pool noodles in their smart new take on King Ubu; Patrick Johnson singing "Laugh! Laugh! Laugh!" in Our Endeavors Theater Collective's original vaudeville musical The Last One-Nighter on the Death Trail; Ian Lesonand Diane Worman naked and itching with the drug crazies in KDT's Bug and then, in a complete turnaround, Leson playing a gay New Yorker in CTD's heartwarming Visiting Mr. Green; Stephanie J. Block hitting notes so pure and rich as Elphaba in the touring production of Wicked that the first act deserved a standing ovation (the tour returns here in 2007).
Theatergoers live for those goosebump performances. Looking at some of the season lineups for 2006, this could be another bonanza year. Among ones I'm booking early for: the Pulitzer-winning I Am My Own Wife, opening at Dallas Theater Center in March; the provocative 2003 Tony winner Take Me Out, about a gay baseball player, at WaterTower Theatre in May; Dallas Shakespeare's June revival of Randy Tallman and Steven Mackenroth's musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which premiered at Dallas Theater Center 30 years ago and now will be staged by Dallas' best director, Rene Moreno. I saw it way back when--about 10 times, as I remember--and fell in love with the score and the hilarious scenes of Rude Mechanicals and dancing fairies.
Resolved for 2006: See more live theater. Remember, every time a theater seat sits empty, a dancing fairy dies. Or has to get a day job.