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Broadway Is More Expensive Than Ever, So Try These Local Theaters Instead

The Pocket Sandwich Theatre wants you to show off your own skills.
The Pocket Sandwich Theatre wants you to show off your own skills. David Fletcher
You’ve probably heard the news by now: Hamilton is back. After a year of closures, the musical favorite (at least among the people who don’t listen to musicals) will be returning to Broadway in September, along with other marquee favorites such as The Lion King and Wicked. This time around, Broadway appears to be relaunching with some of its most popular shows ever, so sorry fans of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Dallas theaters are also gearing up for the summer, and resuming the process of rehearsing, producing and performing after a year of virtual auditions isn’t an overnight transition. Dallas Summer Musicals’ Best of Broadway series will return with Wicked in August and continue with Hamilton and Jersey Boys in the fall, but you’ll have to wait until 2021 for shows like Hadestown, Rent, Come From Away, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mean Girls and Oklahoma!

Musical fans need not worry; there are still a lot of great productions planned for the summer at smaller venues and local theaters. Now is a better time than ever to support emerging talent and artists, so consider lending your ears (and cash) to these five local theaters this summer.

1. The Firehouse Theater
2535 Valley View Lane, Farmers Branch
Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, this community theater has a unique origin. After operating as The Farmers Branch Community Theatre, the theater made the Farmers Branch Fire Station #1 its performance venue location when the firefighting staff moved to a new and upgraded facility. In addition to outreach and education programs, the Firehouse Theater plans to resume its main stage and children’s productions over the summer with a lineup to be revealed soon. Currently, the G-rated Cotton Patch Gospel runs until May 23 for family audiences.

2. The Denton Community Theater
Campus Theatre & Black Box Theatre, 214 W. Hickory, Denton

College towns frequently give aspiring actors the chance to step in the spotlight amidst their busy class schedule, and Denton’s Community Theater is conveniently located close to the University of North Texas. The theater was originally separated as the Denton Community Theater and the Music Theater of Denton, but the two bodies merged in 2017 for a unified theatrical output. This summer’s lineup leans more in a musical direction with Always … Patsy Cline running from June 4 through June 20 and Matilda playing in August.

3. Repertory Company Theatre
New Driegert Theatre, 770 N. Coit Road, Richardson
The next generation of performers is always in need of support, and Richardson’s Repertory Company Theater provides yearlong workshops and programs to empower, train and showcase younger artists. Upcoming productions offer performances from performers of all ages with series Broadway Musicals, Classic Plays and Special Outreach Presentations featuring the REP Company. Next up is Camelot running June 18-27, followed by Big Fish on July 23- August 1.

4. Undermain Theater
Virtual through Undermain Theater’s website
If you’re missing familiar favorites such as Jersey Boys and Wicked, then this summer might provide a good chance to enhance your taste with more experimental theater. Originally operating out of a transformed warehouse basement, Dallas’ Undermain Theater strives for experimental and poetic stage productions, including classic texts and work from new writers. The theater will be digitally streaming its next round of productions, including Hedda Gabler from May 26 to June 13 and Lonesome Blues from June 19 to July 3.

5. Pocket Sandwich Theatre
5400 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 119, Dallas

One benefit of being fully vaccinated is that you can enjoy live theater and pig out on snacks, and Fort Worth’s unique dinner theater venue provides the opportunity to do both. Described as “The Most Fun You Can Have in a Dinner Theatre,” Pocket Sandwich Theatre encourages heavy audience participation and hosts a full dinner menu. The theater’s current run of the horror spoof Drac in the Saddle Again runs until June 19.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.