The Bath House Cultural Center is an Art Deco landmark, a former recreation center from when White Rock Lake was a swimming hole and Dallas' first neighborhood arts center. But each summer it also becomes a makeshift homeless shelter. Not for people or for stray animals. But for the tired, the poor, the independent theater companies yearning to produce plays for fans new and old. Called the Festival of Independent Theatres, the three-and-a-half-week celebration of arts going on east of downtown features, in its sixth year, 10 plays, a children's play, a cabaret, two comedy troupes, a playwrights workshop and four discussions about theater, featuring casts and crews. Despite the diversity of the lineup, FIT's purpose is to give small companies without permanent performance spaces a place to perform new, rare and groundbreaking works. This year's schedule ranges from the transcendental (Daisy Cutter, a "multimedia performance inspired by the I Ching and modern America" with writing, direction and acting by Kim Corbet for Core Performance Manufactory) to the wacky (Bootstraps Comedy Theater's Breast Men, about how one friend's "two perky secrets" change the dynamics of a guys' weekend in the Poconos). In between are stories of Graceland and Hostess Sno Balls, the aftermath of September 11, women trying to get pregnant, mothers and daughters, an Irish homicidal furniture salesman and a real estate agent whose goal to find a perfect buyer for each house meets a daunting challenge. FIT has its own daunting challenge: convince art patrons that compelling theater takes place outside of the Majestic Theatre/Music Hall at Fair Park/Kalita Humphreys Theater trifecta. FIT starts Thursday and runs through August 7 with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays; noon, 2 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and noon, 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $5 to $15. Festival passes are $45. Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive, White Rock Lake. Call the TITAS box office at 214-528-5576. --Shannon Sutlief
Going with Goes
Cole Porter may have led an existence that was largely de-lovely, as his elegantly rakish songs attest, but the genesis of his greatest hit, Anything Goes, was a whole lot of de-scandale. Its producer first thought it up while ensconced in a fishing boat off the coast of Panama, where his American creditors couldn't find him. Once back in New York and all paid up, he amassed a full sweep of 1934 Broadway legends (Porter, Ethel Merman, P.G. Wodehouse, among others) to create a musical about passengers on an ocean liner about to shipwreck. Just as rehearsals were to begin, 134 people died when a fire broke out in a ship returning to New York from Havana, so a second draft of the musical, which became Anything Goes, had to be concocted (the title refers to the producers' desperation to get the show off the ground). This is Garland Summer Musicals' 22nd season as well-established entertainers, so the likelihood seems certain that the performers will be able to pull off Porter's comedic masterpiece without the dramatic setbacks of its initial run. Tickets are $19 to $22; all performances take place at the Granville Arts Center, Fifth and Austin streets in downtown Garland. Call 972-205-2790. --Claiborne Smith
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There are few plays that make one long for a chain lock more than George M. Cohan's Seven Keys to Baldpate. The play, which sounds like it may have been the great-grandfather of Salem's Lot, tells the tale of William Hallowell Magee, a novelist who sequesters himself in an empty summer lodge after his friend challenges him to write a great novel in 24 hours. Though Magee has been told that he holds the only key to Baldpate, the title hints otherwise. As the night wears on, other guests of the lodge emerge and create much angst for our protagonist (and much hilarity for us). The production, directed by Theatre Three veteran Michael Serrecchia, runs through August 14 at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10 to $35. Call 214-871-3300 or visit www.theatre3dallas.com. --Mary Monigold
D.L. Hughley is less dad and more bad onstage
Entertainment media moguls and agents hang out at comedy clubs, hoping to find the next Seinfeld or Rudner or Ferrell or Spade to hang the next hit sitcom or blockbuster comedy around. What's funny to us is that most standout stand-ups get down and dirty and very, very blue onstage. It's hard to picture Jerry Seinfeld advocating sex with donkeys or Robin Williams effing his way through a ménage-à-trois monologue. We can't even imagine baby-faced, daddy-type D.L. Hughley, who's such a family man on The Hughleys, spitting out expletives until we split our sides, but he probably will. Hughley's on for three nights at the Addison Improv, 4980 Belt Line Road, with shows at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Hughley burst onto television before his sitcom, appearing on The Best of Def Comedy Jam, Def Jam's Comedy All-Stars, A&E's Evening at the Improv and MTV's Comedy Half-Hour. Tickets are $27 on Friday and Saturday and $25 on Sunday. Call 972-404-8501 or see www.improvclubs.com. --Annabelle Massey Helber