Best of Dallas®

Best Of 2016

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Concert
Kraftwerk at The Bomb Factory

If historical significance alone were enough to rank local concerts, Kraftwerk's September visit to The Bomb Factory would easily be No. 1. The German quartet may not be a household name, but with songs like "Autobahn," "Trans-Europe Express" and "Tour de France," they've have had an impossibly huge influence on the past four decades of music, from rock 'n' roll to hip-hop to electronic dance music. They may or may not have ever even played here before this year: Bootlegs exist of a show supposedly recorded in Dallas in 1975, but there are strong indications that it was recorded elsewhere and little outside evidence to suggest the show even happened. But none of that is necessary to understand why Kraftwerk's stop in Deep Ellum was so remarkable. It was a show that played by an entirely different set of rules from other concerts, from the breathtaking use of 3-D imagery to the ingenious deployment of robots that took the place of the band members at one point. Kraftwerk's music still feels ahead of its time, but even as they revisited their past work they pushed it into the future, redefining what the concert format itself is capable of.

2713 Canton St., Dallas, 75226
MAP
214-932-6501
Best Art Exhibition
Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots at the Dallas Museum of Art

It comes as no surprise that an exhibit of work by abstract expressionist luminary Jackson Pollock would be a draw for the Dallas Museum of Art. There's a reason his drip paintings are ubiquitous. They're good. Really good. But the exhibition Blind Spots, organized by DMA curator Gavin Delahunty, focused on Pollock's later work, a series of rarely seen black enamel paintings. Curated in low-ceilinged, carpeted rooms, the exhibition gave the viewer a mid-20th century experience. Yet, it felt new and exciting, and ultimately emotional. The turmoil, the chaos of Pollock's work was on full display, and with more than 70 works, the exhibition demanded numerous visits to the museum.

1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas, 75201
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214-922-1200
Best Actor
Brandon Potter

This has been Brandon Potter's year. In just a few months, the unknown MFA student at Southern Methodist University became one of the city's most promising acting talents. The dude's in his early 30s and he played a believable 55-year-old President Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way at Dallas Theater Center. In the same year, he played a killer King Richard first at Shakespeare in the Bar and then at Shakespeare Dallas' Shakespeare in the Park. Sure, they're both conniving powermongers, but Potter made them irresistible.

Best Actress
Joanna Schellenberg

Mary Tyrone is one of the American theater's most iconic characters. The matriarch losing touch with reality in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night is a role rife with complications. It's a challenge for even the most serious actress and one rarely available. So, it's a treat to see an actress as gifted as Joanna Schellenberg step into the character. An actress seen so rarely on Dallas stages it's criminal, Schellenberg gave a bone-rattling performance as the drug-addled, fading woman.

Best Theater Company
Ochre House Theater

In a year in which theater companies struggled to hold onto — or even find — performance spaces, Ochre House Theater remains the little theater that could. Against all odds, playwright/director Matthew Posey's company continues to produce new works in a small storefront in Exposition Park. Attending a production is an investment in the unexpected. The only thing your ticket promises you is something you've never seen before. And the risk itself is worth the $15 price of admission. From a play about an egg salesman to a bawdy musical about a small town girl named Indigo Sue, there's no end to the creativity at this little company.

Readers' Pick:

Dallas Summer Musicals

825 Exposition Ave., Dallas, 75226-1743
MAP
214-826-6273
Best New Play
<i>Jonah</i> by Len Jenkin at Undermain Theatre

There are a number of playwrights whose names you hope to see on an Undermain Theatre season announcement. The company has its go-to living playwrights, like Erik Ehn, Meg Miroshink and Len Jenkin. They work closely to commission or develop work by these writers, often to incredible results. Such was the case with Jenkin's Jonah, which Undermain's artistic director, Katherine Owens, developed alongside him at the Sundance Theatre Lab. Owens directed the world premiere of the work this year to critical acclaim. The frenzied take on the Biblical beach tale featured kaleidoscopic characters and heartwarming stories interwoven in a way that was meaningful, intellectual and fun — an Undermain hat trick. It was also one of the best uses of the basement theater space we've ever seen, thanks to John Arnone's theater-in the-round design, which put the audience inside a circus tent.

3200 Main St., Dallas, Dallas, 75226
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214-747-1424
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Best Concert: Kraftwerk at The Bomb Factory

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