By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
3. Our Town. Borrowing the severe, no-frills aesthetic of director David Cromer's 2009 New York City production, WaterTower Theatre in Addison brought subdued grace and fine-tuned acting to its staging of the Thornton Wilder play. By staying unsentimental and natural in performance as George and Emily, actors Joey Folsom and Maxey Whitehead, two of Dallas' best young talents, made the characters feel modern and truthful—and profoundly real.
2. My Fair Lady. We could have danced all night with Lyric Stage's lovely revival of the Lerner and Loewe classic, staged by director Len Pfluger with a 38-piece orchestra and a bang-up 31-person cast led by Kim Whalen as Eliza Doolittle and J. Brent Alford as Professor Higgins. Sonny Franks' joyous gallop as Eliza's dad, Alfred P. Doolittle, in "Get Me to the Church on Time" was the happiest song-and-dance bit of the year.
1. Moby-Dick. Operas like this are why Dallas needed the Winspear Opera House. In its world premiere here in May, the massive adaptation of Herman Melville's great American novel was a visual and musical stunner. Jake Heggie's score offered a thrilling mix of Wagner's pomposity and Verdi's romanticism; librettist Gene Scheer pared the mythic saga of man vs. whale to the bone, saving the famous first line—"Call me Ishmael"—for just the right moment for a powerfully emotional wallop. Tenor Stephen Costello, as Ishmael, and Wagnerian tenor Ben Heppner, as Captain Ahab, were spectacular singers and actors, ably supported by dozens of local male chorus members and supernumeraries from area climbing clubs hired to scale the towering masts of the Pequod. The dazzling design of the opera—combining enormous set pieces, cinematic projections and computerized lighting effects—made grand use of every whizbang technical trick the Winspear has to offer.
And slow claps for: An Evening With Al Pacino at the Winspear, The Beauty Plays at Dallas Theater Center (particularly performances by Regan Adair and Lee Trull), Adam Carolla redefining standup comedy at the Addison Improv, Alice in Wonderland at the Festival of Independent Theatres, Something Intangible at Circle Theatre, the reading of Preston Jones' long-lost teleplay Bradleyville by a cast that included actors from the original productions of The Texas Trilogy in the 1970s at Kalita Humphreys Theater, Xanadu at Dallas Summer Musicals, Spring Awakening at the Lexus Broadway Series, Mike Daisey performing his monologue How Theatre Failed America at the Out of the Loop Fringe Fest at WaterTower Theatre and Miss Nelson Is Missing at Dallas Children's Theater.