Dear God, and/or television programming executives, and/or novelists, and/or filmmakers: May there always be good cop shows and good cop novels from which to make good cop movies. May we be eternally blessed with reruns of Hill Street Blues, Law & Order, NYPD Blue and Oz. May we always have a good story with dicey plot twists and inside-the-station-house perspectives and more than a shivering glimpse inside the criminal mind. Amen. PS: May there be more playwrights like Stephen Adly Guirgis. Kitchen Dog Theater answers prayers, apparently, opening Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the A Train, a cage-rattler drama with wincingly dark humor, on Friday. Jesus tells another pathetic saga of the American criminal justice system, an unlikely criminal and a world-weary public defender within the context of big, contemporary issues--racism, religion, religious cults, the prison system. "It's a very gritty play with in-your-face characters and dialogue," Tina Parker, KD executive director, says. "The script is so good it demands great acting, and in that sense it's a Kitchen Dog show," she says. "We're featuring some new talent, including lead actor Sean T. Perez," she says. Jesus is directed by Dan Day, who characteristically brings text to life. "He's so good at making this seem real and happening in time and space," Parker says. The story of ill-fated Angel, who achieves spiritual transformation through the criminal justice system, is set in New York's Rikers Island prison. Day puts the action up front and makes it personal for the audience, but stops short at a prison rape scene, which takes place offstage. Jesus Hopped the A Train opens Friday and runs through November 6 at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Get the complete performance schedule and tickets ($8 to $20) at www.kitchendogtheater.org or by calling 214-953-1055. --Annabelle Massey Helber
Jail House Rock
Once abandoned to the dustbin of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, puppets have made a comeback of late. Avenue Q swept the Tonys; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is a household name. You won't see such gonzo tactics at the Dallas Children's Theater's latest production, but, like those break-out puppets, the show may remind you just how much magic can be made with a few strings and some wood. On Friday, DCT presents Rumplestiltskin, the story of a mysterious little scoundrel who strikes a deal with the miller's daughter, performed by the revered Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts, which holds one of the country's largest collection of antique marionettes. All the better to mesmerize you with. In the Studio Theater of the Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman St. Tickets are $13 to $15. Call 214-740-0051. --Sarah Hepola
The subtitle for actor Mark-Brian Sonna's upcoming Theatre of Death performance is Six Centuries of Horror on Stage--six centuries performed in a little less than two hours, that is. Sonna has collected six examples of a curious little form of Spanish theater--teatro breve, short plays performed during the intermissions of longer works--and will mount them, along with other actors, from October 6 through October 24. "It's not a morose evening," Sonna explains. The plays--the shortest of which, Lover & Death, from the 14th century, clocks in at four minutes--are "very eerie" and "odd," Sonna says, "but they're funny in a sick and twisted way." They'll be performed at Teatro Dallas, 1331 Record Crossing Road. Visit www.theatreofdeath.com or call 214-747-8833 for reservations. --Claiborne Smith
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Dazed & Hilarious
Our apartment is odd. It has a file cabinet stuffed with receipts from doughnut shops that are filed under D...for doughnut. We also have a vending machine, which means any candy we eat must fall a few feet to reach its maximum flavor potential. And, of course, the apartment is overrun with the cutest infestation ever: koalas everywhere. See, our homestead resembles a Mitch Hedberg stand-up comedy routine, as snippets of his whacked-out, stoner-appreciative humor can be found all over the place. And aside from complaints from the landlord, we don't mind one bit. We might even invite Hedberg over after his Friday appearance at 8 p.m. at the Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St., where he'll perform with singing comedian Stephen Lynch. Heck, after seeing the show, you'll probably want to stop by our apartment, but watch out when the koalas scatter. Tickets are $29 and up. Call Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000. --Sam Machkovech
Despite being ignored, your conscience will get your attention in the end. Whether it was the little white lie that ran amok or bathroom gossip you were tempted to spread, you learn from childhood that rumors lead you down a slippery slope to a swamp of pain. Some things have to be learned the hard way. Based on a true story, Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour examines the turmoil unleashed when a student maliciously accuses two teachers of having a lesbian relationship. The play's issues of deviance and slander are still pushing society's buttons decades later. All performances are in the Margo Jones Theatre on the Southern Methodist University campus at 8 p.m. daily through Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for SMU students, faculty and staff. Saturday's 2 p.m. show is SMU's first "pay-what-you-can matinee." Call 214-768-2787. --Danna Berger