By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Audiences are sparse, production budgets shrinking, but new theater troupes keep popping up, adding to the more than 50 professional and semi-professional companies currently competing for box-office dollars in Dallas and Fort Worth. The local premiere of Patrick Marber's award-winning 1997 drama Closer (opening March 27) will be the first show by the new Enter Stage Left company. Producer Jessica McCartney says "it's a scary time to start a company" but she hopes to appeal to young audiences with "sexy shows, well-written scripts and honest language." Closer is all that, with an extra helping of nudity.
Upstart Productions drew critical raves and strong ticket sales with their first show, Suzan-Lori Parks' two-man drama Topdog/Underdog, at The Dallas Hub in November. Their next is Kenneth Lonergan's acerbic "Me Generation" drama This Is Our Youth, opening March 6. Sign that they're really serious about quality: René Moreno will direct.
Shortly after winning critical raves and winning over sell-out crowds at Dallas Children's Theater for their silent comedy The Boxer, playwright Matt Lyle and actress-wife Kim moved from Dallas to Chicago to pursue improv training with the star-spawning Second City. Lyle recently starred in a short Off-Broadway run of Tom Sime's play My Favorite Animal but then returned to Chicago. His words will be back in Dallas in February with the premiere of his play Hello Human Female by the Audacity Theatre Lab at Ochre House on Exposition Avenue.
Dallas Theater Center's first production of 2009 will be In the Beginning, opening January 21. Kevin Moriarty directs the retelling of Genesis in a medieval style. But it's the show ending December 28 that will be the answer to some prayers. After their bows at every performance of A Christmas Carol, cast members have asked the audience for donations to the North Texas Food Bank. DTC PR guy Jacob Ciganeiro reports that theatergoers over Carol's month-long run have given close to $25,000, averaging $1,000 per night.
Theater that entertains, inspires and feeds hungry families—nice way to ring down the curtain on another year.