The Life and Death of Dallas Theater Center's Jack Ruby, All-American Boy

In 1974, DTC premiered its best show ever. Why was it never seen again?

Playwright John Logan says he'd love to see it revived. Actor Randy Moore, who played Falstaff in Dallas Theater Center's production of Shakespeare's Henry IV in 2010, thinks director Kevin Moriarty should take it on. "That's the natural place for it and that new space at the Wyly Theatre would be dynamite," Moore says. "It's the kind of show that Kevin could eat alive. His staging style is so kinetic. He'd have a ball doing it."

Moriarty says he thinks the play is "do-able," but he would like to see one of Dallas' smaller, alternative theater companies "take up the challenge." (Matthew Posey's experimental Ochre House comes to mind.)

Besides the problematic third act, the play also shorthands many of the details of the events of November 22 through 24 of that year; they needed no explanation in 1974, but they may now. Nearly 40 years later, younger viewers might not be so familiar with that history, says Moriarty.

Randy Moore as the emcee and Rebecca Ramsey as the Statue of Liberty on scenery by Peter Wolf in Dallas Theater Center's Jack Ruby, All-American Boy.
Linda Blase
Randy Moore as the emcee and Rebecca Ramsey as the Statue of Liberty on scenery by Peter Wolf in Dallas Theater Center's Jack Ruby, All-American Boy.
Actors Steve Hetzke, B.J. Theus (as Oswald), Paul Dollar and Ken Latimer (as Jack Ruby) re-created the Pulitzer-winning photo by Bob Jackson.
Linda Blase
Actors Steve Hetzke, B.J. Theus (as Oswald), Paul Dollar and Ken Latimer (as Jack Ruby) re-created the Pulitzer-winning photo by Bob Jackson.

Details

Elaine Liner is the theater critic for the Dallas Observer. Email her at elaine.liner@dallasobserver.com.

"The play assumes a degree of historical and civic knowledge that has faded with time, and some of its most surprising theatrical gestures have since been seen in many other plays, perhaps lessening their impact ..." he says. "The mixture of sexuality and violence, the slow-motion physical sequences, the sideshow framing device."

In other words, Jack Ruby, All-American Boy was ahead of its time. And for now it remains stuck in history as one of Dallas theater's greatest achievements, waiting to be rediscovered. Waiting for its second shot.

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2 comments
LeeHarveyBobblehead
LeeHarveyBobblehead

I hope this gets a revival soon, and would like to audition for a part.

raymondcrawford
raymondcrawford

I was lucky to have seen this production along with my College English class from Mountain View. It BLEW me away, as the writer states. It was so 'over the top' in terms of production quality. It had a style that to me, was a pre cursor to parts of Ragtime, Chicago, Cabaret, and Assassins all rolled into one. I still have my printed program somewhere around the house. Great show that should be restaged.

 
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